Monday, December 31, 2007

Regarding My Last Post...

OK, here are my thoughts. First of all I have no need for a TV preacher sitting in my living room. I belong to a local church and have people there that pray with me and for me and from which I receive guidance. I am familiar with the "name it and claim it" doctrine since it came to my area in the late '80's. There was such a backlash against it in my church that there wasn't much of a chance that I would believe it. Actually I never heard any of that doctrine preached I only heard it called "blab it and grab it"- my Dad coined that one.

I hate, hate, hate bad theology. Bad theology can ruin lives. Bad theology is what causes men to walk for miles on their knees to earn their salvation, to whip themselves, starve themselves, take vows that humans weren't meant to endure (Rolando del Campo took a vow to crucify himself every good Friday for 15 years because God delivered his wife and child safely through a difficult labor), to endlessly confess Hail Mary's or any other endless repetition in order to be saved or to be closer to God or to repay Him for some act of kindness. Or it can fool people into thinking there is no need to confess Christ as their savior. That being "good" is enough.

I lost a friend to bad theology. "C" and I met during my sophomore year in college. He hadn't been saved a long time but he was very focused and was a pre- seminary major, I think. And according to he and other people that I was friends with the Lord taught him how to play the piano. He wasn't a concert pianist but he could lead worship from the keyboard (how very 90's). Anyway, he and I sang one night during a worship service and ended up having a connection through worship. It had only been about a year since my divorce and it was actually that night that really confirmed to me the direction my life would take. So "C" and I would talk and he'd ask me every time how my "devotions" were going. And I'd always say something like "oh yeah, I should do that" or "Um, I prayed in the shower this morning". And finally he said "Amy, if you don't seek the Lord you will always stay the same". His words really struck me and it was the beginning of my really seeking the Lord and of a tremendous time of spiritual growth for me.

So how does this tie in to the article you ask? Well, just wait there's more. Southeastern started a worship ministry with an alumnus as the leader and "C" was his right hand man. Part of the ministry was called Worship Choir and the other part was worship class. It wasn't for class credit or student ministry credit I just took it because I was passionate about Christ and worship was the area to which I felt called. And the crux of what the worship classes was based on grace. The grace of God that covers a multitude of sins. The grace that doesn't look at what we do for acceptance into God's kingdom but at the blood of Christ covering us as our acceptance as righteous. Sounds good, eh? Well, it should because it's true. However, when you separate one nugget of truth- albeit and incredibly important nugget- from the rest of the truth you can find yourself out on a limb. And "C" was no dummy. He recognized that. I clearly remember him drawing a tree with the trunk representing Christ and saying that if you climb out on a doctrinal limb- such as grace- you're separated from Christ. But that's exactly what happened. He and several people (close friends) moved a few hours away to a "prophetic" church. I went there and I saw things that happened and it was messed up. The doctrinal issues were small- almost undetectable- but the fruit of it was obvious. The pastor and her husband divorced and the worship leader left her husband and married "C"s best friend- 30 years her junior. C's best friend was my friend too and it made me ill to see him married to the sea hag. C and I had a falling out, I don't remember the exact context but it was big and our friendship was over. I actually don't think I have ever had a fight like that with someone where there was no possibility for reconciliation. It was a really tough time for me personally and thankfully my voice teacher was there to be the voice of reason in my life- to talk me down from a ledge, so to speak. Because there was some seriously weird spiritual 'mumbo b'jumbo' going on.

So my point in that is that bad theology typically has a nugget of truth, which is why people don't reject it outright. And back to the article, the Bible does talk about giving and God blessing you. But any responsible preacher, pastor, teacher, evangelist, etc. has a responsibility to put that in proper context. In the new testament the church members were selling everything they had and giving it to the church to be distributed among those that needed it. But in reference to the woman in the article that has given everything she had, what she could borrow, and what she got from payday advance places, there is no scriptural precedent for giving what you don't have or have to borrow at 99% interest. I understand her desperation for a miracle but she's believing a lie and apparently doesn't know the scriptures. I know, I know I'm blaming the victim but it is true. It is most definitely looking to God as being your genie in a bottle. I understand the desperation and "black hole" that financial strain brings so I understand why she did it. I'm not without compassion for her. On the contrary I'm disgusted that there are preachers on TV that preach this crap- there I said it.

1st Timothy 6:3-6 (-ish because this is the Message and the verses aren't marked)

"These are the things that I want you to teach and preach. If you have leaders there who teach otherwise, who refuse the solid words of our Master Jesus and this godly instruction, tag them for what they are: ignorant windbags who infect the air with germs of envy, controversy, bad-mouthing, suspicious rumors. Eventually there's an epidemic of backstabbing, and truth is but a distant memory. They think religion is a way to make a fast buck. A devout life does bring wealth, but it's the rich simplicity of being yourself before God."

The NASV says, "But godliness actually is a means of great gain, when accompanied by contentment." Contentment? I would say that contentment in whatever circumstances you are in is one of the great "secrets" to life. I can post more about that later.

So what should we do about those wolves in sheep's clothing? I'm not sure. If you google any of the names that are mentioned in that article you'll find thousands of articles of people already calling their bluff. I'm not one of them because I don't follow any of them and don't watch them so I couldn't really tell you anything about them other than what I've heard. I do get nervous about the government intervening and regulating or dictating theology. That is a slippery slope. However, when the government gives a tax-exempt status for ministries they have every right to investigate that and determine whether that is being abused. I don't want the government to be that answer. But when you have "mega-stars" that aren't accountable to anyone there is no way for a church body to govern that.

I'm not sure that I've said everything that I have to say. One could debate endlessly on everything that's wrong with such things. But I think I've said enough.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Well, This is Something to Chew on With Your Christmas Leftovers

I'll post about Christmas later, mainly because I think everyone is on a blogging hiatus and I wouldn't want you to miss a moment of the Button family Christmas 2007. But while we're still basking in the warm glow of the holiday season I thought I'd pass along this little article. I figure this could be a landmine but hey, I still love you even if we don't agree. Of course, I'm not telling you what I think yet ;)

Friday, December 21, 2007

Elf Yourself

Travis just sent this to me and it is super funny. Just so you know the elf with the black face is Sophie.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Happy Birthday Halle!

It's Halle's third birthday. I'm excited and thankful that her first three years have been wonderful. She, however, is clueless. Every time I tell her happy birthday she'll say "happy booday to YOU Mommy!" or "IZ NOT MY BOODAY!". So I decided to quit telling her. And I don't feel even the least itty-itty bit guilty about not having a big party for her.

We took her out for dinner last night to Chili's. We could have (and maybe should have) gone to Chick-Fil-A but my parents gave us a gift card for Christmas to Chili's and since it's been six months since the Buttons have been to a for real restaurant we thought it was a good idea. It wasn't. Halle isn't used to having to sit for so long (Chili's was packed and it took a long time for our food to get there) and so there was lots of wiggling and bouncing and trying to get away. And since she was in "big girl panties" for the very first time there were several trips to the bathroom. It was a bit stressful. Then we went to look at Christmas lights and after just a few minutes of that we heard a little voice in the backseat say "I hafta go to da bafwoom". So we headed back home and she "held it" until we got there. So my little one is out of diapers before her third birthday- whew! I wasn't sure we were going to make that one. I can't say that she's completely potty trained because we still have some issues with some things but she's not really having any accidents either. Yay!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Party People Everywhere

You have to check out this site. I don't need to say anything else.

My Thoughts On Christmas

Posting ones thoughts on Christmas is shaky territory because *everybody* has their own opinion of how things should be celebrated. I had friends in college that would gripe about the commercialization, etc. but it didn't really bother me. I bought presents, ate cookies, and received presents. When Amanda was born I decided that I wouldn't do Santa Claus with her because I never believed in Santa (despite elaborate efforts by my parents) and it just wasn't my thing. I actually really ticked off a nail tech (that was working on my nails) when Travis and I first got married. I told her my daughter didn't believe in Santa Claus *or* the Easter Bunny (I didn't know you were supposed to *believe* in the Easter bunny). So this really isn't a diatribe on how anybody except the Buttons will celebrate Christmas.

In the last several years since Travis and I have been married I can only remember two Christmases that haven't been incredibly difficult mostly financially but three years ago it was difficult because we were living with my parents. I remember sitting in the bedroom Travis and I were staying in and all of our earthly posessions were in my parents basement and I was 9 months pregnant. (If you don't know, we moved to AL to help my parents start a church. )And all I could think of was how crummy of a Christmas it would be. And the Lord really convicted me of thinking that our circumstances should dictate "how good" of a Christmas it would be. So over the years and as things have gotten more difficult for us I've just kind of let go of the celebration aspect. What's it all about anyway? I've heard it said that "Christmas is for children", "Christmas is for families", Christmas is for giving, Peace on Earth, Goodwill toward men, etc. And I'm ashamed to say that I hadn't ever examined it closely enough to know if any of that is true. I did the same stuff my parents did. I'm not sure why they did it, that's just how we celebrated Christmas- and it was all about the presents. I'm sure my parents felt a trememdous amout of guilt if they couldn't get us everything we were expecting. So is Chrismas about presents, bonuses, fourth quarter earnings, black Friday, grumpy shoppers, exhausted Mommies, endless traffic, endless lines?

I decided to take a cranial approach to the whole thing and find out why we celebrate the way we celebrate. And what I found out was that Christmas was started by the church to be competition for a pagan holiday celebrated on the same day. Individuals birthdays weren't typically celebrated so I guess they felt that they had to bring out "the big guns" to drag folks away from pagan revelries. But regardless why they started it the day is still the celebration of the birth of our savior- so my point is not that it is a pagan holiday as I've heard some Christians say. Then I looked at symbolism and where this thing comes from and why do we do that, and what I found out is that Christmas traditions are celebrated according to local customs. Everybody does it differently. But it was gnawing at me-

So finally I just prayed, "Lord how do you want us to celebrate Christmas?". I think I might have been expecting to hear him say that it is pointless and there is no need to celebrate it at all- to validate my cynicism. But what I heard him say was "how would you celebrate the birth of a king?". How should I celebrate God becoming human flesh to walk among us and change the course of mankind's destiny? Well, when you put it like that I think that I can only celebrate and worship. Not having the money to "celebrate" like we're used to doesn't negate the fact that Christ came to earth and lived among us so that we could have a relationship with our creator. So we will celebrate, and worship and do our very best to give our children an understanding of why we celebrate Christmas. Which is difficult when nearly every program on TV is about Santa Claus coming to town.

I'm not familiar with Advent. My Christian heritage is pentecostal and when the pentecostal movement happened I think they shunned any type of formal or liturgical worship in favor of being "led by the spirit". I know why they did. My Dad was raised Lutheran and didn't even know he needed to be "saved" until he was in his 20's and then it was because a couple with pentecostal or charismatic roots reached out to him. And while I'm not picking on Lutherans or any other Liturgical church- I know that for some people it represented "dead worship". I, on the other hand, have read some liturgy and it is completely beautiful. It couldn't have been written by someone versed in "dead worship" because that type of worship comes from a soul that knows Christ- they could not have written it otherwise. So it seems (though I don't have a good grip on it yet) that Advent could very well be incorporated into what we do. I just know that now I understand what all the decorating and feasting and celebrating is about. It's about Christ and that is something that I can wholeheartedly celebrate.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Mommy, Have Nanni and Poppi arrived yet?

Wow, Chloe is growing up so very quickly. Have my parents arrived yet? Um, no but they should any second. We're not traveling for Christmas this year and while I miss seeing our families in FL I am really excited to establish some traditions with just our little family. I've actually been struggling through my feelings on Christmas and traditions and what the point of it all is. I doubt that I have time to write it all down now because my parents should be here any minute now. And I haven't completely come to grips with what I'm feeling so there's no need to drag you all along on my journey, right?

So I really wanted to post about a humorous little thing- well humorous to me anyway. Well, as some of you may know I have had a Southern Living subscription for a long time. And if I haven't had a subscription then I got my Mom's hand me downs that have accompanied me to workout rooms and pick up lines for pretty much forever. My oldest magazine is from 1997- and I still have it. So, I was reading December's issue (2007) and got to an article about decorating with magnolias for Christmas. I immediately thought "Ah, it's a re-run!" and was appalled because I knew I'd seen that buffet draped in magnolia leaves. But then I remembered that I'd seen them decorate with magnolias before but this was a different setup. Then I recognized the grasscloth wallpaper on the walls that had been painted red and the magnolia tree decorated with Christmas lights in the living room and I realized that I had seen it before but it was because it was my Aunt Cindy's house and that was her decorations from last Christmas! I remember thinking last year that their decorations looked like something SL would do. But then I went to the magazine online to try to link it for you and the article they had was from a few years ago and was the original article I was thinking of. Funny. And my parents are here now.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Of Stockings and Such

Sophie's stocking is finally finished. Actually I finished it a couple of days ago and started Halle's stocking. I made Halle's bigger because I felt that Sophie's was pretty elaborate and my daughter must have something bigger and better than my cat. My dilemma is this- since looking at the picture I think that the cat's tail needs something. Possibly the dots or small stars. The original thinking was that doing the tail too would make it too *busy*. But now I just think it looks unfinished. Which is sad because I've since sewn the whole thing up- by hand. Yes, my cat has a completely hand sewn, hand embroidered stocking- funny.

So on to Halle's stocking. My original thought was to do something simple, elegant, and icy feeling. I love the combination of blues and plus my Christmas tree is in shades of blue. But now that I'm partially done it just feels sort of bland- especially when compared to Sophie's stocking. And my Christmas tree might not stay blue and silver forever. Every year since I moved out of my
parents house (9 years) my tree has been various shades of blue and I still like it but I'm starting to get tired of it. So do I really want Halle's stocking to just be blue and maybe silver? I'm not sure. I could just embroider smaller colorful snowflakes around the large one, which I was planning on doing anyway only in shades of blue and silver. But I'm not sure that it will have the same impact as starting with pink floss to begin with. It definitely won't be as bright and cheerful. I guess I'll figure it out and keep you posted.

And I don't think I ever posted pictures of my completed kitchen island project. I just took the panes of glass out of the drawer fronts, cut some fabric to fit, sprayed it with spray starch and put them back in. There were pieces of wood designed to keep beans and things in the drawer fronts (remember when that was in style?) but I left the wood out and it gives me and extra inch or so of drawer space. I'm sure that doesn't sound like a lot but the drawers don't open very far and they're really impractical for storing things so the extra space really does help.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Just More Randomness Since I'm Sick and Can't Do Anything Else...

Well, except maybe watch Rudolph with the girls. I probably should since Eon (the big vulture) is scaring Halle. Anyway, I found this while checking out the Handmade pledge from Tisra's site. I love pretty much everything in this store but I'm especially drooling over this, and this, and this. Fun stuff.


I got one of many, many Southern Living offers in the mail again a few days ago enticing me to "celebrate 40 years of the South's Best Cooking!" by purchasing a cookbook. I already have several SL cookbooks and rarely make anything from it because of the extensive ingredient list. But they gave me a "freebie" on the advertisement which sounded super simple so I thought I'd give it a try. I actually had everything except the pasta on hand which was awesome. It took a little more time to prepare than what I originally thought since you're basically making a parmesan cheese sauce to accompany the meat sauce but it was totally worth it. I doubled the recipe thinking that there was no way that one pound of hamburger would feed the Buttons but I didn't take into account that it calls for a 13 X 9 baking dish. So I seriously had baked ziti (I used Rotini because the only ziti I found was made with white flour) in 3 casserole dishes. Which turned out to be a good thing since my sickness got worse instead of better and everybody was able to eat a decent meal for several days (3 or 4, I can't remember exactly when I made it). Everbody (including the budget- it's pretty cheap for the amount of food you end up with) loved it and demanded that it be a regular on the menu. So since we're all super-busy this Christmas season I thought I'd share a delicious, hearty, and easy to make recipe. Enjoy!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Sophie's Stocking

I've been intending to blog about Thanksgiving since, um, last Monday but a wonderful bug of some sort has descended on the Button house and has decided to stay for a while. But while I'm laid up (probably a sinus infection) I decided to work on a new stocking for Sophie (our cat in case you didn't know) and Halle. It's made from a fleece type material that I had lying around and I embroidered (well I used embroidery floss, I'm not sure that this counts as embroidery) the design. Being the genius that I am I sewed the whole thing up first and then figured out that it would be impossible to sew the design so I had to take it apart. I figure that I'll be able to finish it tomorrow and then start on Halle's. Actually, I'm past the "this is fun" part and am now to the "gaaa, I wish I was done with this" part but I'm pretty happy with the way it looks so far.
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