Wednesday, March 23, 2011

It almost seems like the perennial plants in Michigan feel just as we do when the weather starts to get even just a little bit warmer.

If the temperature gets up to the forties the kids declare, "It's Spring!" They refuse to wear anything but a light sweatshirt outside..."Mom, it's WARM out!" If it gets into the fifties they don't want to wear a coat at all. "Mom, it's SOO WARM!!!"

The plants seem to do the same thing. Just a couple warm days and they are popping up shouting for joy, "It's Spring!" I want to say, "Not so fast. You're going to get smacked down!" It happens every year.

Here are my beloved hostas just dying to greet the sunlight again...

And wouldn't you know. Today we have a winter weather advisory. Freezing rain and sleet, possibly some snow accumulation. Teehee. Oh well. They'll survive. They always do. I'm sure it's a little bit of a shock for them. But they can handle it. Just like the kids :-).

Now this plant I bought at the Farmers' Market. They're winter pansies. I just had to have some blooming flowers. And you know what? These babies can freeze solid and still survive. You don't even have to bring them in. Now that's a flower for Michigan. I love it. I bought two of them. Two for ten dollars. I thought that was a bargain for a blooming potted plant that doesn't need me to remember if there's going to be a freeze, which will happen quite frequently in March.

Spring Blessings!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

"How to Find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul"-- A book Review

Well known chastity speakers Jason and Crystalina Evert have written a new book, How To find Your Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul, and it is a gem. Let me tell you first off that this book will be required summer reading for my two teenage daughters. Yeah. It's that good. It's available here. In order to get their message out, the Everts have also made available for a limited time the paperback edition available in bulk quantities for $2.00 a copy!

So why am I so enthusiastic about this book? There are a lot of reasons. This book is a gift to women of our times. Feminism has brought us all kinds of consequences that have gone way beyond pay equity between men and women. While claiming to bring respect to women in the workplace it decimated respect for women in the social sphere. All in the name of declaring women's independence and autonomy, feminism gave men a pass on chivalry. Many men gladly accepted this notion and completely absolved themselves of the responsibility to treat women with the respect, the dignity, and, yes, even the protectiveness that they deserve.

Don't get me wrong. The Everts don't even mention feminism in any way. I am just very happy that someone has written a book that holds a mirror up to the sexual ethics of our culture. It speaks to the truth that is written in a woman's heart-- that she deserves better, that her sexuality is a gift she must protect to maintain her personal dignity-- and that any man who tries, in his own selfish desires, to convince her otherwise is not worthy of her attention. Amen.
This book is a wake up call to women of all ages to hold their heads high, to maintain their integrity, to hold out for the self-sacrificing love that only a real man, a good man, can give them.

Neither prudish nor preachy, the Everts unapologetically argue for God's plan for human sexuality. They speak of the virtue of purity with none of the subtle hesitancy that sometimes comes through in works like these. None of that here. They use the words purity and chastity. No euphemisms. There is a boldness to their tone that can really appeal to the teen who, as we know, is always drawn to confidence.

Jason and Crystalina address women across the entire spectrum of commitments, or lack thereof, to chastity. The book is addressed to members of the culture at large, not to a Christian group where there is an assumption (often incorrect) of chastity and a reticence to suggest that mistakes may have already been made. And yet their viewpoint is very much Christian and unabashedly so. The Everts speak to those who are trying to maintain their purity against peer pressure, and also to those who have made mistakes after believing the lies of a culture committed to self-indulgence. While acknowledging that there are very real choices of right and wrong here, they manage to stay quite nonjudgmental in tone. I think those who are not committed to chastity could read this book and not feel accused or condemned, although they will find their viewpoints gently and charitably challenged.

What I love about this book is that it appeals to logic and natural law. Young people love to use their reason to come to conclusions about the truth and not to just be told what they should believe. The Everts allow them to do just that. Included are many revealing emails from teens who have been hurt by their choices. Without the slightest hint of finger pointing or condescension, Jason and Crystalina explain how the thinking of these teens could be redirected and their dignity reclaimed. This is so important. They speak to the deepest feelings of these wounded young people-- recognizing their pain, revealing the fallacies of the assumptions that got them where they are, and appealing to the natural law that a woman recognizes in her soul. The natural law that tells her what deep inside she already knows....that she deserves better.

Finally, I recommend this book because it is easy to read and cleverly written. While dealing with a serious subject the tone remains positive and even fun. Consider the following description Jason gives as he answered the following question from a student. "Should I break up with my girlfriend if she won't have sex with me?"
With silent anticipation, the student body awaited my reply. "Yes!" I announced. "Absolutely." Eyes bulged and jaws dropped. For a moment the faces of many girls looked disappointed, while pockets of male students chuckled in glee. I then added. "You should definitely break up with her. Why? Because she deserves someone infinitely better than you." Cheers followed from the girls.
So many lines will leave you smiling such as the following. "If a guy ever tells you that he can't live without you, trust me: He doesn't need a girlfriend. He needs a therapist."

Engaging chapter titles such as "No Missionary Dating"and "Break Up, Even if He Smells Good" also serve to draw the reader in. I love the lists that many of the chapters include. Lists make the points easier to follow, even with a lot of interruptions (like this mother gets :-). There is, for example, the list of "The Top Ten Guys to Avoid." "The Problem Child (aka: The Fixer Upper)", "The Walking Hormone," "The Smooth Criminal," "The Control Freak," each with a description to help you recognize these men who, to put it kindly, come with red flags. I could just see the more experienced women nodding and thinking. Yeah. I know that guy. And thank heavens for allies like the Everts who are telling our daughters what to watch out for!

Then there are the Ten Rationalizations each of which the Everts reveal as having a basis in fear. These are really good. They also offer six guidelines to "help you avoid temptations before they begin," and the top ten lies that keep women in dead-end relationships. Good stuff.

While this book provides a clear and cogent argument for chastity, it is also very much a pep talk to women to maintain their standards even when they feel very alone. They write, "As every girl knows, if you practice purity, you'll be called a prude or a tease....Although it's difficult to hear the insults of those close to you, know that all of heaven is applauding you." Yes. That's what I want my daughters to know.

My congratulations to Jason and Crystalina Evert for confronting and clearly defeating the common and false arguments of our age regarding the dignity of human sexuality. And may God continue to give them the courage to proclaim the truth that love requires self sacrifice, that women should stand firm, and that, regardless of where we've been, God wants the very best for each of us.

The Everts offer this encouragement.
If you decide to follow the principles of this book, we can't promise that you'll meet your soulmate next month. We can't guarantee you'll receive ten marriage proposals, let alone one. But we can guarantee that if you never give these twenty-one secrets a try, you'll always wonder what could have happened if you did.

If you're a single woman or if you have single women in your life, I urge you to run and get this book. The world is not going to give you this message.

Again, you can order this book from Bulk copies of the paperback can be obtained for $2.00 a copy (if you order a case). Think youth groups, high schools, Bible studies, etc. There is also a study guide available for download.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

In honor of my Irish mother Helen Rose Kane, and her parents Nellie and Vince Kane, and all those who came before them, and in honor of my great great great great grandfather (on my father's side) Joseph P. Shanks, I wish you a very joyous

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!!!

When Irish eyes are smiling....sure they'll steal your heart away.

May the Lord continue to bless the Irish people and all their descendants, through the intercession of good Saint Patrick

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Thank you all for your prayers!

I was able to make it to the retreat. We go to the Abbey of Gethsemane in Trappist, Kentucky. I have gone for a number of years now and it is always a peaceful, restful, silent retreat. I felt so awful on Thursday I really didn't know if I could make it. My good friend Sally, who was also going, talked me into it. She pointed out that Mary could drive the whole way (6.5 hours)...and she did. And that I could rest all the way down and the entire time there. As Sally put it, there is no better place to rest. It's completely silent. There are no interruptions. And all your meals are prepared for you :-). Sally's arguments and the fact that my oldest daughter was driving from Atlanta to meet us there, and my daughter Mary was coming for the first time, tipped the scales in favor of going.

Anne's drive was a little shorter than ours, but only by a half hour or so. She has come with me to this retreat for many years and didn't want to miss it. I think it was strange for her though to be coming alone from an entirely different route. She discovered that northern Georgia is a very beautiful drive. She described passing Abraham Lincoln's birthplace which we had visited together a few years ago, in spite of it being the opposite direction from our way back to Michigan. And she mentioned how strange it felt to be turning right into the monastery drive instead of our usual left. It was wonderful to see her. I miss her so much.

Mary enjoyed the retreat too which I was very happy about. She wants to come again next year. I love these little trips with my daughters..

Well, believe it or not, I'm still sick even after a restful time at the Abbey. Before I left I went to the doctor who described what I have as an "influenza-like illness." She told be it could last 7-14 days. So..I'm on day 10 and feeling much better than last week but still tired, scratchy throat, headachy, you know.....dragging. I did have a flu shot. Probably would have been much worse if I had not.

Anyway....hope to start writing more here soon. Stay well.....

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Sick. Yuck.

Ohh. Feeling very sick. Totally worn out. And I'm supposed to go on retreat this weekend with two of my daughters. I really want to go but not if I feel like this. Prayers appreciated.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

I enjoy the four seasons of Michigan. I do. And I even enjoy the snow.

But when March comes along I have to say it starts to get a little old. I get tired of being so cold, so often. And because this year we have had quite a bit of snow, it's been rather hard sometimes to walk Lucky through the neighborhood. Some of the sidewalks are not cleared and now that we've had some above freezing temperatures, we have the frozen bumps and ice puddles of slush that refreeze and make for a hard, uneven, and unpredictable surface.

But, with March, the snow starts to melt off the roof. Some times during the day there are actually puddles on the sidewalk that have WATER in them, rather than ice.....but they usually refreeze before they completely evaporate and then we have very slick spots on the sidewalk. I don't dare wear my Merrells, the shoes I was wearing last year when I actually slipped and fell to the pavement THREE times while walking around the block.

But I'm just fine in my boots with the good tread.
The driveway is looking like this. At least we can see some pavement. But there is ice and crunchy, frozen slush to walk over.

In like a lion, out like a lamb, as they say about March. I'm ready. The sun is shining brightly today and the snow is gorgeous, sparkling in the sun. It's on its way out, I know. I'm enjoying it while I can and also wishing it farewell. I'm looking at my flower beds and thinking about what I'm going to plant. It's time.

Stay warm.