Friday, June 28, 2013

In Today's News.....

Wow.  So much has been going on in the news since I last had time to blog, my mind is reeling. 
  1. Edward Snowden, who publicly revealed classified national security info about telephone and Internet monitoring of U.S. citizens and is now on the run from the U.S. as a traitor. He is presently believed to be stuck at an airport in Moscow awaiting asylum in Ecuador or Iceland or somewhere.  (I suspect the drones know his location.)
  2. The racially charged George Zimmerman trial is now in full swing in Florida. As much as we'd like to see racism today through rose colored glasses - it has proved to be alive and well.  If there's any doubt, just read the comments spewed from all sides under any news posting on the internet about the trial and you'll see how deep its roots are.  
  3.  Paula Deen was recently canned from Food Network (no pun intended) over a lawsuit brought against her claiming she and her brother regularly operated under a broad array of discriminatory practices at their restaurant in Savannah, GA, namely, sexist and racist practices. 
  4. The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This ultimately means that the government on the federal level will not define what/who constitutes a marriage.  Therefore, each individual state is free to decide whether or not to make same sex marriage legal. In the second case, they declined to hear the case of Proposition 8 of California which was a popular vote to amend the state constitution to ban same sex marriage.  The amendment was later declared unconstitutional in a subsequent court challenge.  The supporters of the proposition, on grounds of it being a popular vote not upheld by the state, brought it to the supreme court.  The Supreme Court said it would not hear a case that a state had already thrown out.  And round and round they go.......
  5. Then there's the brewing debate over a free press and informed public  vs. national security and blissful ignorance; the suspicious death of a journalist in LA being investigated by the FBI and reportedly on a big case; the controversial drone program; increasingly numerous reports of freedom of religion infractions.....specifically against anything/ anyone having to do with "God" or Christianity; the gun control fanaticism from both sides; the IRS targeting of conservative groups filing for tax exempt status; do we arm the possibly extremist, Anti-American Syrian rebels or do we  turn a blind eye to Assad's atrocities?; and on and on.   Those are just a few of the issues in particular that have blown up all over the news lately that are dream come true scenarios.....for conspiracy theorists. 
  6. Finally, Kim and Kanye had their baby.  It's a girl! They named her North……as in North West. 

Where do I even start??
Sea World.  I’m going with Sea World.  Then we’ll discuss the Dodgers. How’s that sound? This will be the Brown Family News today. 

The Living Section:

We recently had our first visit to Sea World in San Diego and I have to say… deserves a little blog attention. We LOVED it!  Well worth the money.  The shows were great and more elaborate than just the fun animal routines I thought we’d see….they had a lot of choreography, theatrics, etc.  Jude loved the princess/castle theme of the dolphins and the boys loved the funny, tv show spoofs in the sea lion show.  There were water rides for the boys and fun kiddy rides for Jude.  The exhibits themselves were rather impressive to me…..especially the Arctic exhibit.  I was impressed with the size and realistic environment for the animals.  As for the kids…Jude got to see a polar bear….her favorite right now for some unbeknownst reason and the boys……well, they were completely mesmerized by the ice wall. Here's a few snippets:
I couldn't believe she actually would pet these bat rays!
They stayed wet a good bit of the day from rides ....Plus, like a good mom, I made them sit in the "soak zone" at the animals shows:) 


Oh and the extra kiddo in the pics is my nephew, Luke, who flew in from Tennessee to surprise the boys.  See, we wanted to do something special for the boys as their first school year in California wrapped up for the summer to show just how proud we are of them and the way they've handled the changes….something they wouldn’t forget.  So, in collaborating with my sister, we arranged for my nephew Luke, who is their age and was one of their life long partners in crime in Tennessee, to fly out to surprise them and spend a week. 

 They were COMPLETELY surprised when Luke showed up and rang the door bell..... and TOTALLY thrilled! Excuse the pj's.  That's their usual gaming attire!


So, needless to say, they had a great time at Sea World and really…..the entire week was all go, no quit.  Making up for lost time, I guess.  I thoroughly enjoyed just hearing them chit chat….they all sounded so much older when not just talking about nerf guns and video games. (Though, there was still a lot of that, too!) They talked about school, girls, sports, and the boys had a couple of things they were actually excited to show Luke.  Which, was news to me because they rarely let on like they’re impressed with the different scenery out here.  In fact, they make fun of me for being so impressed and taking so many pictures. 

Anyway, we were super busy….Sea World, the beach, the park, nerf wars, video games, the beach again….oh…. and a Dodger’s game!

. The Dodgers game was a lot of fun, too. The boys had been to the Dodgers once before but, it was my first pro baseball game. I wasn't sure what to expect in the cheap seats, nor what to expect out of Jude at a hot, long baseball game.(Not that she hasn't been to a thousand hot, long little league games for her brothers already!)  But, the pro that she is, she did GREAT!! She loved the music, the food, and even watched the game! They ALL loved the kids' promo that day.....Dodger's compression sleeves! Jude said it was the best thing she'd ever had on her arm.  The boys hardly took theirs off for 2 days.  The Dodgers were playing the Braves and lost.  But, we didn't care....we all had a ball!

Our little Sports enthusiast:) And if anyone wonders...., she had on sunblock.  She did not burn.  The heat turns her red.  Have had to clarify this a few times already so, thought I'd give that disclaimer!:).

You can't tell by the looks on their faces, but they LOVE when I make them stop for pictures!:)In


Health News:

In other news at the Brown household since my last blog, we had our first bout with gaping wounds and stitches.  Not with the boys, as one might suspect, but from the 3 year old girl.  Miss Grace that she is was dancing in the living room, "working on her lesson", and got a little airborne jumping over some books in her routine, landing flat on the hard floor, directly on her chin.  I could tell when she hit that it jarred her and the cry they have when they are really hurt kind of makes mamas jump into action. I swooped her up and didn't see any immediate knots but then the blood started to drip out from under her chin revealing the gash....and off to urgent care we go.  I'm not bragging (well, maybe a little), but she did WONDERFUL.  Not one tear or whine the whole time we were there.  Which, took us straight to the Disney Store when we were done for new princess attire:)   All in all I'd have to say, she really was Miss Grace that day.

I w



Most recently, she found a pair of scissors in my bathroom and proceeded to cut her hair.  Fortunately, I noticed she was too quiet fairly quickly and the boys and I started calling her.  Peter went upstairs and found her door locked to her bedroom.  She unlocked it like he told her to and as he walked in, she handed him the scissors.  He didn't notice the chunk of hair missing.  As she came down the stairs, Preston said, "She's been up there cutting her hair!!" (WHAT?!?!)  I was relieved to see it looked like a failed attempt at cutting some bangs on one side.....and slanted the wrong way.  But, still..... we were SOOOO close to being able to pull it ALL back in a pony tail without barrettes or anything to keep it out of her face.  Oh well, what can you do? We had a nice little chat about scissors.  I'm still trying to decide which route to take with the hair.  As I was looking at it, assessing the damage, Jude says, "What you think? Does it look pretty good?"  Never a dull moment, I tell ya. 

 Sports Edition:

In the Sports Edition of the Brown Family News, the Brown boys, Peter #17 (pitcher, second base, short stop) and Preston #12 (catcher, pitcher),  have been in practice the last two weeks for All-Stars.  Their first tournament is coming up this weekend in Manhattan Beach. 
Sorry...couldn't resist. :D  Seriously, though, they are having a great time and really enjoy being with the kids on their team.  It's been a blessing and great learning experience already.  So, don't misunderstand, as I think all baseball moms can relate when I say this: I'm glad they were chosen to play.  I'm excited for them and I pray they learn a lot, play well and have a great, memorable experience.  But, I won't be sad if they are put out in the first tournament :) That said, Go Silver Spur!


As for the actual news I listed at the beginning, I'm sure investigative journalists are thrilled to be serving in that capacity in this particular era (unless maybe they are one of the ones being targeted).  I, however, am not an investigative journalist.  Like millions of other Americans, I am a commentator.  Aren't we all? Though, like Clarie in Steel Magnolias, I may be more of a "color commentator". :)  So, on that note, I won't get too far off on any particular soapbox...I'll just keep it short and sweet as possible. 
I can't pretend I'm not alarmed at recent trends being reported in the news.  They don't represent what we know and love about America.  But, I love America.... the land of the free and the home of the brave. There's nowhere else on this earth I'd want to live.  But, I'm not alarmed for the reasons you might think.  Let me explain. 
In regards to the issues of racism, the jury is still out in both cases and all sides should be given the chance to plead their cases before sentencing.  That's how we roll in America. Let's get the facts folks. However, I will weigh in with my own preliminary opinion:
 I think in both cases, the defendants' long running, flawed thinking caught up with them. George can say he wasn't acting based on the color of the kid's skin when he got into an altercation with him and ended up shooting him in what he says was self defense. But, the root question remains: would he have been in such a heightened state of alert if it were a white man walking through the neighborhood? Paula says she is not a racist and has done many things for people of color. I have no doubt that she has been generous and has done a lot of good. I don't think she thought of herself as prejudice. The problem for Paula, regardless of whether any of the other points in the court complaint are true or false, is that when she admitted to wanting a plantation style wedding a few years ago for her brother, complete with all black wait staff, that kind of nostalgia sort of gave her root beliefs away. I think she may have deceived herself into thinking that her acts of generosity, while admirable for a person of any color, were enough to disqualify her from the label "prejudice". In my opinion, she deceived herself. and it has led to disaster for her.  There's a good lesson for each of us in that today as there seems to be a pandemic in our country: self deception.... in many dangerous areas.   
As for all the leaks and national security issues....I'd have to admit that I'm undecided on just how many measures taken in the name of national security I'm comfortable with. At the moment, I'm more concerned with the implications of our free press being inhibited and the ramifications of any form of government influence over what can and can not be reported to the American people. I'm still sort of moved by Lincoln's line:
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."


Now, I'm not saying we're perishing....yet.  Just that I am increasingly aware that my hope is not and never should be in my president, my government, or in my country.  The freedoms we pride ourselves on have always been intended and given by God.  People change. People, in fear of the world around them or out of selfish pride or gain, turn from God and subsequently..... countries rise and fall.  Our only real hope.....and only real freedom lies in personally knowing God, who sees it all and holds it all in His hands. Regardless of what party is in the White House, what laws we amend or don't amend, what regimes rise and fall around the globe, it would be to our good if we did not deceive ourselves.....God does... not... change.   
I heard Francis Chan make a statement recently about deception.  He quoted James 1:22 "But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves." 
Paraphrasing what he said: "Satan is the father of lies (John 8:44).  I'm afraid that when he looks at many of the people in church services in America today that believe they are Christians because they prayed a prayer at some point on their timeline, he is laughing and saying, "Look....I didn't have to lift a finger.....they're deceiving themselves!"
What Francis said sounds reasonable.  But, he would also tell's so hard. It is hard because those who live the life of a disciple....even in the church are going to find themselves a minority.  As I heard our pastor say recently, "No matter what era you look at throughout scripture, the people who followed hard after God always run counter-cultural." See, my alarm is not over the "what-ifs" of all the conspiracy theories out there and all the possible outcomes with the changes we see in our society, "where is our country headed?", etc.  My alarm is over the sheer fact that so many are deceived.....they don't know God and don't want to....and so many claim they know Him, but don't. I'll sum up my opinion of the vast turmoil in our country and our world with my own "what-if" scenario: 

What if the Lord is about to show His believers in America.... the land of plenty, the free, and the brave.....just what Jesus meant when he said,
"Whoever does not take up his cross daily and follow me is not worthy of me.  Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake.... will find it."                 ~ Matthew 10:38-39
I love the United States of America and all she stands for (or once stood for). But, it's not my home.

Oh, and for Kim and Kanye:  The Lord has been speaking names of babies into the hearts of mothers since the beginning.   I was blessed to have that experience with our daughter, Jude.  Often, those names caught a lot of flack from those who didn't understand their choice.  I'm sure you're catching plenty of flack for choosing "North" and well..... it was to be expected I'm sure.   Regardless of whether her name was a gift from God, there is no doubt that North is.......and I pray His blessings on her.  I guarantee you, if she's anything like my girl, you can put Hollywood aside and still rest'll never have a dull moment!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Little Heaven on Earth

Memorial Day weekend was fabulous this year. Knock on wood, the weather has been nearly perfect here in Southern California for about a month now.  But, Memorial Day weekend was perfect....bright skies, nice temps, ocean breeze, and very little fog all weekend.  We played baseball, grilled, went to church, grilled some more, had a co-worker of Steve's for dinner, played more baseball, and wrapped it up with the boys going to their first Dodgers game with one of their friends and......grilling some more! I don't care for going to the beach on holidays because it's packed. But, we certainly enjoyed the long weekend outdoors.  We took the long way home Sunday after church and that is often a spiritual experience all its own.   A little taste of heaven on earth!

So, it was a beautiful and wonderfully busy weekend but, I think by Memorial Day, we were all looking forward to not having to be anywhere and sleeping in.  Well, if you can call 7:30 "sleeping in."  God had other plans, I guess, because I woke up at 3:30 wide awake! I don't know any other reason.  I was PLENTY tired.  I wasn't worried or anxious about anything.  I WANTED to sleep. So, after 30 minutes of trying to doze back off, I didn't want to waste anymore time as it was obvious my brain needed to engage in something other than dreams, I decided to go downstairs so I wouldn't disturb anyone with a light. I took all my geeky, early morning stuff with prayer journal, my laptop, my notebook, my bible study workbook and my bible so I could spend some quiet time with the Lord. I, of course, got a little brain food, too.....some sprite and lemon wafers:) But, knowing how tired I was, I fully expected to fall back asleep as I began to write in my prayer journal.  But, I didn't and it was a lengthy entry! Then I decided that while everyone was asleep, it'd be a great time to watch the next session of the bible study on David that I'm doing so I could move on with the daily homework that I was behind on.  The session really spoke to me and I was so glad I had gotten up early to focus some attention on God. Just after I finished that session, I wrote down some thoughts in my handy dandy notebook. (Thanks to Blues Clues, I don't think I'll ever look at a notebook without saying the phrase in my head, "handy dandy notebook". I guess that would make the corner of my sectional, my "thinking chair"!)

There were some thoughts I just wanted to write down, not about the video session, but about my experiences with God.  So, I'm going to share those on here just as I wrote them that morning. 

Experiencing God
  • Nothing in this world is as profoundly touching or more exciting than having God reveal Himself to you.......Nothing. 
  • You don't have to be a Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer (though He may use them to reveal Himself.)
  • You don't have to be a pastor with a master's in theology.
  • You don't have to be a certain age.
  • Anyone can hear from Him - He reveals Himself to those who seek Him.
 When He reveals Himself, there is no feeling like having a moment with your Creator. 
 - No drug can touch the deepest part of your soul.
 - No man can give you this feeling.
 - Not even seeing your child for the first time can give you this feeling.
 Those things certainly have a profound effect on us.  But, nothing touches us as deeply as having our Creator speak straight to our hearts:
 - whether under conviction
 - whether in instruction
 - and most certainly in words of love
Nothing comes close.  He designed us that way.  It's the privilege of those who believe in Him.
Drugs may take us to a place of euphoria for a while, but they don't change us. (Not for the better anyway).  We only feel despondent when that feeling is gone.  That's why people who do drugs do more and more of them trying to get back to that "high".  This is likely why you'll hear Beth Moore use the phrase, "Ain't no high like the Most High".
Now, spiritual encounters with God can seem as though they are emotionally draining.  You may reel from it for a while.  But, that's from being overwhelmed by the power and presence of our Holy God.  And we are changed by it....for the better.
  • However insignificant the thing is He has addressed, it is a feeling that can't be fully explained with any word in our current vocabulary - nothing else comes close. 
  • When it's significant - an old hurt healed or deep rooted questions addressed - we will be overwhelmed with emotion (exhilaration, "feeling alive", deep gut responses).
The explanation is simple....We are feeling the glory of God on us.  It's not a burden....but, it's heavy.  I don't think this earthly body can take too much of His presence....His glory revealed to us for too long.    That's why I say when a believer leaves this earth, sure - we'll miss them....but, we shouldn't mourn forever.  We should rejoice for them because they have left their shell of a body and are able to enjoy that feeling.....the feeling we can only withstand for a very short period of time for all of eternity. It never ends....and they never tire of it.   
I write things like that down sometimes to clarify, sometimes to remember, etc.  As I was writing though, the thought saddened me that there's many, many, many people out there who have no idea what they're missing.  More than that, there are many absolutely brilliant minds who don't even believe He exists.  Many of those brilliant minds in science and elsewhere today try to the explain spiritual experiences that I was making notes about with what they know about our brains.  They like to think that the moments we have with God, often referred to as "spiritual highs", are really just chemical triggers in our brains.....neurological responses to certain stimuli (music, sermons, etc.)...much like a drug.
Not to diss anyone's taste in movie/tv viewing but, it reminds me of the stuff of cheesy science fiction.  My husband and I have different viewing preferences.  Shocker, huh?  My husband mostly watches murder mysteries and sci-fi.  (British murder mysteries to be exact.  Thanks to Netflix, they are readily available for his viewing pleasure.)  Neither are really my cup of tea but, I have watched many of both genres with him and some of them were actually pretty good. But, I mention them here because, in many of the sci-fi movies, the computers (the brains) begin to start thinking and feeling. Remember 2001: A Space Odyssey? Any of you sci-fi or Will Smith fans see I Robot? Remember when Vickie "evolved" and decided that her "logic was undeniable"?  That's what scientists are saying, basically.  That we are a magnificent product of evolution....a machine that developed its own survival responses....including experiences with our Creator. 
Such irony in that to me. See, in the movies, those machines are either attempting to take over for personal reasons....or they simply think they can understand and run things better than their creators.  This sound familiar?  People thinking they are smarter than any possible creator?  See the irony? Those who subscribe to and teach that theory, in fact, are the "Vickie's" of our world.  And what's sad to me is that while they are searching for the secrets of the universe, there is a way for them to know what they couldn't possibly know.....Only one way......when God reveals Himself. 
Well, long story short....I had considered blogging about all of this that morning but, then I thought maybe it was too of those things He'd prefer for me to keep to myself as He often does.  That Memorial Day, I didn't read my Jesus Calling devo because Jill Savage had posted it as her facebook status.  (This is the one written as though it's Jesus speaking) Now, I don't read it everyday but, the next morning, the 28th, I did read it and this is what it said:
"Let Me anoint you with My Presence.  I am King of Kings and Lord of lords, dwelling in unapproachable Light.  When you draw near to Me, I respond by coming closer to you.  As My Presence envelops you, you may feel overwhelmed by My Power and Glory.  This is a form of worship; sensing your smallness in comparison to My Greatness. 
Man has tended to make himself the measure of all things.  But man's measure is too tiny to comprehend My majestic vastness.  That is why most people do not see Me at all, even though they live and move and have their being in Me. 
Enjoy the radiant beauty of My Presence.  Declare My glorious Being to the world."

Jeremiah 29:13
"You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart."
John 14:21
"Whosoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me.  And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him." 

A Little taste of heaven on earth......