Archives for September 2013

Facebook debate: productive or not?


The other night there was a minor skirmish on facebook between some people I care about and in the midst of feeling unhappy on everyone’s behalf, I told John, “Facebook is the only place where my friends fight.”  Maybe that’s a bit melodramatic– people can argue without it being World War 3.  But the incident got me thinking facebook might not be the place for conversations that change minds.

First of all, lots of people are sensitive to being embarrassed in public, and being told ‘you’re wrong’ on your wall in front of a few hundred friends, even the facebook type, usually makes folks (and those who love them) a mite defensive.  Yes, sometimes people are that it makes you grit your teeth.  And sometimes an issue is legitimately, truly important. But I still think to actually change minds, the topic is best broached privately and gently by someone who has a real relationship with that person– you know, someone  you know well enough to have already chatted in a friendly way about other issues.  This is especially important if the issue is important. The reason most folks enter into debates is because we DO want to sway someone’s opinion, right?  Why not be wise and gentle and relational? The vast majority of the time, it is only within the context of relationship that we’ll be able to sway hearts anyway.

What I’ve noticed with facebook debates is that they just cause people to take sides, aligning themselves with what they already believe, and whoever they are already most loyal to. Are hearts ever swayed? Occasionally, maybe. I doubt it’s the norm, however. People tend to cling to their own beliefs.  They tend to be less kind in expressing their feelings when not face to face.

Don’t misunderstand me: I have plenty of strongly-held beliefs, about faith and morality and breastfeeding and circumcision and immunization, and all sorts of other highly debatable topics. I’ll give you my opinion on those things if you ask me.  And you’ll be able to guess some of them without asking me by reading what I post on facebook.  (Tho please don’t assume I agree with everything a blogger espouses just because I shared something that resonates with me in some way.)

But there’s a big difference between stating your own belief on your own wall or blog and shooting down something that someone else shares on their own wall, especially in the way it feels to the recipient. If I read something on your wall that doesn’t jive with what I believe, I’ll think about it, and decide whether that information offers a valid reason to reconsider my beliefs.  But if you lambast me on my own page, I may be so busy feeling defensive that it may be hard for me to even consider the legitimacy of your point.

I understand that sometimes folks feel compelled to speak because they don’t want an untruth to stand unchallenged and be believed by more people. But even in that case, we need the utmost of humility and love. And Christians– shouldn’t our words be seasoned with the sweet aroma of Jesus’ love?  There are folks out there watching, wondering if Jesus really makes a difference in people’s live.When Christians  (or no-Christians) are out there picking apart each others’ beliefs with a magnifying glass, I think the love kinda gets lost, even if true concern for the other person is what led you to speak in the first place.

I understand that there are folks who love a good argument and see debate as a healthy way to hone and challenge our beliefs.  I’ll be honest about my bias here: despite some of the conversations I have with my 15 year old kids, I’m not a debater. I hate fighting, always have. Overall, I tend to value relationships more highly than my right to disagree publicly with someone. So all that plays into my feelings. But most of the time on facebook, I don’t see minds changing.  I see hurt happening.  And that makes me sad.

What do you think?  Are facebook debates more likely to change minds or wound relationships?  What do you think are important components of a constructive and thought-provoking discussion?  Can it be done on facebook?

to break every chain

break every chain

There is power in the name of Jesus 
To break every chain, 
All sufficient sacrifice, 
So freely given, such a price,
Bought our redemption 
Heaven's gates swing wide 

There's an army rising up 
To break every chain

Listen to our hearts

Carissa Woodwyk is an adult Korean adoptee who shared this talk at the Created for Care conference this spring, as well at the Christian Alliance for Orphan Summit. (I wrote my thoughts about it here.)  In my opinion, this is a must-watch for parents, and also for older adopted teens.  Such thoughtful, vulnerable words.

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Frugal finds

Yesterday three of my daughters and I went to a HUGE kiddy consignment clothing sale, big enough to fill what used to be a Toys’R’Us store. It was the first day, and we got there a couple hours into the sale.  The checkout line was already snaking around the inside perimeter of the entire building.  The girls and I divided to conquer.  I spent just a few minutes hunting down the main thing that I wanted– a good toddler-size car seat that I could keep strapped into my van, to make it easier to take the grandbabies erranding with me.  I found a nice one, a Britax Marathon (almost identical to this one) for a cool $75.  Not bad.

Then I got into the checkout line while my oldest two daughters continued to shop and my youngest perused the toys.  After half an hour or so of waiting, Amanda was still going strong, but Erika was done shopping for Ranger’s winter wardrobe, so Erika came and stood in line with her loot, and I went off with Julianna to find her some clothes. Here’s Ranger showing off some of his new clothes.  (He and cousin Ascher spent the morning playing at Erika’s with some of their aunties, which make the shopping trip a bit less complicated.)

Ranger modeling some of his new clothes


Purple dress

Pretty purple dress

I ended up with three complete outfits plus a dress for Julianna for a grand total of $33– not bad at all!  Julianna was glad to have new duds, and was especially thrilled that we found her TWO pair of skinny pants, one grey and one denim with some very cute pockets.  The grey sweatsuit that she is modeling in the second photo also has a jacket, which should be a nice versatile layer this fall.

Ready to work out!

Sweater and grey skinnies

Sweater and grey skinnies

Another to show off her hairdo– she’s had twists all week– they turned out fun.

Skinny jeans and a cute ruffly T

Another to show the length of the T-shirt. So cute and comfy.

(She and Emily had great fun doing a photoshoot this morning to show off our finds. Can you tell? They did it entirely by themselves.)

By the time I got done shopping, Amanda was done too. She found lots of great clothes for her kids, plus a double stroller and a fun tent for Ascher to play in. Another half an hour or so in line– the babies slept in baby carriers on their mommas the whole time— and we were outa there.  All in all, the trip was a great success! 🙂  Great fun to find such cute things for such affordable prices.

Ascher showing off his new tent

Lies that steal peace


Along this mothering journey, I’ve found that my hardest days come when I allow lies to creep in and let them take over my thinking. Do any of these lies make your life harder than it should be?

LIE #1 – My child’s success is up to me (and my failures will doom my child).

We take so very much on ourselves as mothers. It is so easy to begin thinking that if we don’t handle everything just right…(Click here for the rest of the story)

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did I come from your tummy?

Several years ago I wrote for on their Ethiopia adoption blog. Back then I had a series of posts that consisted of a single sentence, describing a moment in time. Here’s one of them, telling an experience my daughter and I shared when she was 4:

My girl

I’m talking with my 4 year old about her auntie, my sister, whose baby is due any day now, and I tell her the baby is coming soon and even though we have talked about this before, she asks me if I have a baby growing in my belly too and when I tell her no she asks who did grow in my belly, and I list off the names of her four oldest siblings, and though she has asked me this before and knows the answer, she again asks me if she grew in my belly, and when I gently remind her that she grew inside her Ethiopian mommy, she is suddenly and dramatically sobbing her heart out, flinging her long-legged 42 pound self against my chest where I cradle her close to my heart and tell her I love her and that I’m sorry and I wish it too, that I would have loved to have known her since before her first breath and seen the beautiful infant she doubtless was, but that her birthmom loved her and hugged her and cherished her, and God watched over her and guarded her well on her journey to me, and my words feel weak and futile against the storm of emotion, but I keep petting and hugging and murmuring my love while she pushes closer and closer almost as if she’s trying to climb right inside me, and just when I think she may never stop sobbing, she sits up with a rainy smile and asks me if I want to play Candyland, and blinking I gratefully say yes, glad that we made it through this round of processing her loss, hoping desperately that when this comes up next my comforting arms will once more be enough to get her through.

Breakfast artistry

Most school mornings we get out the flat skillet and the toaster, set out eggs, potatoes and bread, and let kids make their own food. We’ve been doing this long enough that kids all have their own food preferences. The teen girls are brisk and utilitarian: an egg and a piece of toast. Done. But the rest of the kids get creative. One of my teen sons usually makes himself a plateful of nicely sauteed veggies to go with his egg: onion, sweet peppers and mushrooms, sometimes adding kale or spinach if we have it. (He is the healthiest 15yo I know!)  My elementary age girls specialize in beautifully plating their creations. Here’s what my 8 year old did entirely for herself this morning: an egg in a frame, surrounded by sliced peaches and grapes. How could I resist a photo? 🙂

Breakfast3 (800x290)

In other news, the winner of the Knitted Slipper Book is commenter #28 Jillbert of the blog Simply Jill.  If you go to check out her blog, be sure to check out the cool chevrons she painted on the floor of her patio this summer.  SO cute!

I’m making progress on my writing this week!   I hope to have the first half of the book delivered to my publisher for edits by the end of the month.

on suffering and woundedness



I’m deep in the midst of the book at the moment, but I wanted to share a few quotes that I came across this morning that got me thinking, and ended up feeling all connected to each other, in my mind at least.


The first is by Viktor Frankl, from “Man’s Search For Meaning”  (HT: Daniel Koontz)

“The way in which a man accepts his fate and all the suffering it entails, the way in which he takes up his cross, gives him ample opportunity–even under the most difficult circumstances–to add a deeper meaning to his life. It may remain brave, dignified and unselfish. Or in the bitter fight for self-preservation he may forget his human dignity and become no more than an animal. Here lies the chance for a man either to make use of or to forgo the opportunities of attaining the moral values that a difficult situation may afford him. And this decides whether he is worthy of his sufferings or not. …Such men are not only in concentration camps. Everywhere man is confronted with fate, with the chance of achieving something through his own suffering.”


The second is by Robyn Gobbel, LCSW, and relates to parenting traumatized children:

Our parenting goals must change. The question is not “how do I change my child’s behavior.” The question is “how do I increase regulation, solidify safety, and built connection with my child?” Until those things are in place, behavior modification is futile. If your child can’t seem to ‘learn’ or change their behavior, then you are asking the wrong question.”


The third is actually two quotes posted together on the Empowered to Connect Facebook page:

“A scar is evidence of a wound but also evidence that we can heal” — Scott McClellan, Tell Me a Story
“As we are reminded of our children’s past may we remember rightly not only the hurts they have suffered, but also the healing work that God has done and is doing in their lives. And may we be faithful to join Him in this work as it transforms not only them, but us as well.”






You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise
We pour out our praise
It’s Your breath in our lungs
So we pour out our praise to You only

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

All the earth will shout Your praise
Our hearts will cry, these bones will sing
Great are You, Lord

How to freeze corn

Corn (1)Every fall we devote a few hours to freezing some of our abundant corn crop.  It’s a fairly simple project, but after three people in two days asked me how we do this, I thought it might be worth offering a brief tutorial here.

Start by husking the corn and removing all the silks.   My kids have discovered that rubbing a dry washcloth gently on each ear assists greatly in removing the pesky silk. Then the corn needs to be blanched.  Fill the biggest pot you own about 3/4 full of water, and let the water come to a rolling boil.  Once the water is boiling,  set as many ears of corn in the pot as can be submerged, and let it cook for 3-5 minutes.  Remove the corn from the pot.

At this point the official wisdom is to immediately plunge the corn in ice water for a minute or two, to stop the cooking process.  If you only have a moderate amount of corn, no problem.  But we tend to have such ridiculous amounts to process that I run out of ice quickly, and frankly, I don’t see any problem with the corn continuing to cook for a few more minutes.   So I simply set the hot corn on the counter on a nice absorbent bath towel, and let it cool.

Corn (2)

Once it is cool enough to handle, slice the kernels off the cobs.   You can use a special doohicky if you have one, but I find that a nice sharp knife works quite well. About 6 passes of the knife down the length of the corn cob, rotating the cob a little with each pass, does a great job of removing the kernels.  You want to go deep enough to get most of the kernel, but not so deep as to cut into the sharp membrane kernel-holders stuff deep in the cob– you know, that stuff that gets stuck between your teeth if you bite too deeply into an ear of corn.

I find that it works well to cut the corn onto a cookie sheet or casserole dish, because the lip of the dish keeps the corn contained. Another option is to set each ear on the center post of a bundt pan so that the cut kernels of corn fall into the pan.  Once you have a good heap of corn cut, you can transfer it to whatever storage containers you’ll be using.

CornThink about what constitutes a reasonable amount of corn for one meal for your family.  The year I chose to use gallon size ziplocks, I regretted it.  Packaging was easy, but the quantity was just too much to use in one meal.  This year I froze some corn in 3-cup plastic containers, and the rest in sandwich size zip-top bags that hold about 2 cups of corn.   I’ll need to thaw a couple bags for a side dish for a meal for my family, or maybe just one bagful if I want to add corn to a winter soup.

Once the corn is packaged, with as much air removed from each package as possible, simply put the bags or boxes in the freezer.  You’re ready to enjoy late-summer corn goodness all year round!

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