Thursday, January 31, 2008

You've Gotta Try Jack's Special Salsa

You can get it at Scott's, Kroger's, and Meijer's. I've tried three different varieties:
* Jack's Special: Mild - Southwestern-style salsa with extra cilantro
* Jack's Special: Medium - Southwestern-style salsa with extra cilantro
* Thick & Chunky: Medium - Big chunks of extra green peppers & onions

There are plenty of different varieties. It's just that I've enjoyed these three so much, I've not tried the others. But I will...

Go ahead and visit their website - Garden Fresh Gourmet - and see all their tasty products. Their tortilla chips are tasty, and I can't wait to try their hummus!

Let me know what you think...

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

My Silly Son Levi

Our bedtime routine includes a prayer time, hugs and kisses, and then before we tuck them into bed, the guys get to pick up to three stuffed animals to sleep with them. Usually they take turns on a stuffed Cat in the Hat, Isaac typically has Max the dog from the Grinch story, and Levi always has a puppy dog or a snake.

Tonight, when it came time for the guys to pick out their animals, Levi requested his Fruit Loops box. Huh?

"You want to sleep with your Fruit Loops box?"


"What do you want to sleep with a Fruit Loops box for?"

"I want my Fruit Loops box."

"Is it empty? Where is it?"

"I hid it so that Eli couldn't get it."

"You're not sleeping with a cereal box. Pick an animal."

"No, I want my Fruit Loop box."

"Oh, all right, I'll go get it. Where is it?"

Some of Levi's speech is hard to catch, so I thought he said that it was up on a shelf, and I assumed he meant in the pantry. Of course it wasn't there, I couldn't find it anywhere. Eventually Tara came down, muttering something about having Levi just come down to get the cereal box. She found it hidden under the lampstand, with the Christmas Grinch stuffed inside of it.

You should have seen the smile on my son's face as he embraced his Fruit Loops box...

Silly kid.

This is him getting his big box of Fruit Loops for his birthday from Aunt Shirley and Faye.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Seek, but do not Find

"In an age of "I'm OK, You're OK" spirituality, he added, "American spirituality has glorified 'searching' for spiritual meaning, but de-emphasized 'finding.' In other words, it is good to be looking for spirituality, but it is intolerant to actually believe you have found a right faith. ... Intolerance is defined to mean actually believing that your faith is the correct one."

Terry Mattingly quotes Ed Stetzer concerning the current status on religious tolerance in the USA. It's hip to be searching for faith, but uncool to find something definitive. You can read the whole article here

This insight rings true, especially as I continue to have dialogue with many different people who are searching, but not finding. Oh, they find something here and there, but it isn't anything definitive enough to say that the searching is over.

I find this true in my life. There are a few things that I think I have "found"; but there is enough that I am searching that I feel like I can idenitify with all those other searchers. But when I have conversations with those searchers, I am amazed at how unrooted the searching is, how biased the tolerance is for searching. Ironically, what they end up claiming to find is often popular half-truths or uncritical acceptace of biased slander.

For example, it is okay to believe that the Bible is "the good book." It is not okay to believe that it is God's good word to humanity on reality, truth, salvation, and love. It is okay to read the Bible for historical literature, but not okay to insist that God influenced the writing. I am running into more and more people who believe that Constantine basically put the Bible together; the implication that the Bible is man-made, a tool of the empire used to oppress while consolidating power. With a belief like that, no wonder it is easy to discredit church, sermons, preachers, and Christianity.

Of course an intolerant belief like that tends to reveal more about the one who expounds it than it does anything about the Bible, Jesus, or the Church.

P.S. Constantine did not create the Bible. The Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh) were completed before the Fall of Jerusalem; the Gospels and Epistles were all in major circulation before the end of the 1st Century (100AD). Constantine didn't convene the Council of Nicea until 325AD, at which the issue of which books to include in the Bible was NOT part of the agenda. Why particular books were and were not included is another issue, which is simpler than conspiracy theorists like to insinuate.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

What's Your Theological Worldview?

At the bottom of the right-hand column is a survey result of my current theological worldview.

I found the survey on my friend Justin's blog Freshdirt and found it very interesting, so I took the survey as well.

It's not that I'm trying to be theologically troublesome by identifying with the Emergent movement, it's just that I find myself lining up with many of their positions. Not so much maybe specific doctrinal positions, so much as attitudes towards them. I am one to question traditional doctrine, in asking questions I'm not trying to weasel out of obligation. It's just that something doesn't ring true for me, and so I'm trying to identify why that is so, and research an answer that does ring true.

In being identified as an Emergent Evangelical, I still take seriously the major tenets of our faith-stream: evangelism, the Cross, the Scriptures, and conversion (see David Bebbington). It's just that there is confusion in my mind on how we go about understanding and living out these faith-tenets in this day and age: from a Reformed perspective? Anabaptist? Wesleyan? Neo-orthodox? Lutheran? Catholic? Orthodox?
I'm not trying to be novel, just faithful to the questions I believe the Spirit prompts me to ask and then seek answers to.

Go ahead and take the survey yourself, you might be surprised at the results.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Christmas

We had about five Christmas' we were fortunate to celebrate with family. Here are a few pics of our joyous celebrations.

This is one of the hundred attempts to take a Christmas photo of the kids for our Christmas card. This is one of them that didn't make the cut.
A fun Christmas tradition includes the nephews and nieces getting together for Cookie Day with Grandma Karen; this year we hosted the event. Each year it gets more fun as the kids help make the treats.
Alia was too cute; obviously she has learned well to eat the whole cookie and clean her whole plate!
Poor Eli, he had to just sit there and watch.
Hannah had fun being held, and she even got to nibble on some cookies.
Jamil and Hannah supervise Isaac and Alia putting on the finishing touches of a very special cookie.
Grandma Karen and Levi make a good team.
So cute...
The gang hard at work...

Our first Christmas was with Papa Jim and Naomi; we had a great feast and then lots of fun playing with their dress up stuff.

Later that evening we trekked on over to Aunt Carol and Ken's new (and beautiful) home for the Simmons Christmas. One of the highlights is the Gift Exchange. I was lucky enough to choose a home beer brewing kit! Jason wins the award for giving the most unique gift. Alas, later on in the exchange he stole his own gift from me. would have been fun to experiment in making beer that I couldn't drink. Fortunately for Jason, Dave was there to pass on his brewery lore, giving him tricks of the trade on making your own beer at home. It's just one of those gifts I never expected to receive...I do love surprises!
Grandma Simmons and the Hallman grandkiddos...
Josh and Levi know how to ham it up!

Sunday morning on Christmas Eve Eve at Anchor, a fancy photo with Salma and Isaiah Sauder.

A Sunday afternoon Christmas photo at Grandma Karen's. Of course hardly anyone is looking at the camera...
We decided that our kids would open Christmas presents in style; no lounging pajamas for us today, only suits and fancy attire! it is time for the pajama picture; the day is almost done...what a fun Christmas weekend. And we're not even half way done yet!

Christmas Eve included an early dinner at our home, the Christmas Eve service at Anchor, and then dessert at Amy and Jamil's. Alia baked a birthday cake for Jesus, and all the kids had fun singing Him the birthday song and blowing out the candles. And eating the cake and ice cream, of course.
Once everyone got cleaned up from the cake, it was time to dance! Come on Alia, don't be scared, it's only Emma!

Ahhh...Christmas Eve night, at home, in soft, warm, new jammies; a traditional Christmas Eve present.

It's Christmas morning! Yippeee!
For those of you who are observant - yes, Emma is not wearing the pajamas in which she went to bed...she will change pajamas two or three times in a night. On this particular night she had plenty of new jammies to try on...
These are the skates Emma wore for the photo shoot with Cleo & Dot in November, she can't wait to go skating with her Daddy!
Tara surprised me with a book she made of my blog entries from the last year. It is a beautiful hard cover book that she used with her Creative Memories software. Amazing.
Tara and Emma ooohing and ahhhing over some diamond earrings. Just like last year...
And the long awaiting Celtic Women Christmas that Christmas is almost over. My timing is not that good...
A whole living room full of toys and books, and what are my kids doing? Playing with the boxes on the kitchen floor, using their imagination! I believe they are riding boats down the river.
After a very late pancake breakfast, we lounged around the house, the guys played with their remote cars, Tara and Emma played a card game, and Eli went down for a little nap. It was a fun way to spend the day.
While everyone played, I enjoyed a fresh cup of coffee while I read through the book Tara made for me. The sun was shining, the kids were laughing, there was gift wrapping everywhere... it was perfect.
Later in the afternoon, Grandma Karen came over for a bit and ended up reading quite a few stories.

Boxing Day is when we celebrate Christmas with the Hallmans. We spent Christmas night at the Lake, and in the morning we feasted on our traditional fare of Monkey-Bread. Yum!
Emma was fascinated by our game of Skip-Bo. Jerm and I hadn't played for quite awhile, it was good to hang out and play.
The Feast-Table gets bigger and more crowded each year!
Levi and Aunt Maria are happy, but Lydia isn't so sure about saying "cheese!"

Each year we make a special drink consisting of vanilla ice cream, lime sherbert, 7-Up, Squirt, and Canada Dry. It's quite the concoction, and this year the kids were eager to help.

With all the presents we had to open, Uncle Jerm and Grandma Rozer had to keep a tight hold on Eli and Lydia, lest they disappear amongst all the gift paper.
Levi likes his Backyardigans guitar.
We had a lot of fun digging the gifts out of the big box that the MacFarlanes sent us!
Papa Ger and Grandma Rozer make quite a pair each Christmas. They are very funny to listen to.
Aunt Shirley is grateful for the homemade calendar Tara made for her. Tara is very creative!

Of course, on Boxing Day Eli was nine months old. And of course, this picture was taken the next day. The twenty-sixth was a bit to crazy for pictures like this...