Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Clearwater Beach --Still Pristine!

We spent our last Florida Day at Downtown Disney, followed by a ride to Clearwater Beach on the Gulf Coast. We got there in bright sun at 3 pm and the first thing that happened: we were swarmed by black flying bugs on the sidewalk as my daughter was smearing sunscreen on the boys. Maybe the bugs liked the sunscreen, because we didn't have any problem thereafter. But at this point, the boys felt like victims in the movie The Birds --and were getting hysterical about these black flying insects who were relentlessly seizing on us --no stings that we noticed. The exasperated mother stuck the boys in the van all slathered with sunscreen.

Eventually, we all got to the water's edge on what my husband says the Travel Channel calls the whitest sand beach in the world. They had sales booths on the nearby boardwalk dock, and acrobatic break dancers, a big inflated water? slide, cabanas for rent and a cloud right over us much of the time --which I didn't mind for it was so BRIGHT with sun and sand and water. Even I got into the ocean where the waves were just big enough to be fun but not so powerful as to knock me down as I was trying to come out of the water.

There were some scenes to be sighted, a couple of beautiful girls like magazine models in bikinis, self-consciously strutting their stuff --and a couple of gals in their 70's at least --who were BIG, obese women in TEENSY bikinis --preening and strutting --well tanned --very leathery, wrinkly, saggy and frankly, REALLY unattractive. And we wondered WHY such tiny suits --why such un-self-conscious display? I think they may have been from a nudist camp, so free were they. Not that I looked better for being a few years younger than they --but I cover up what's far from ideal on me! And recommend it. But to each his own, I guess.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Disney Highlights --Journal Finale

Besides the ones I already mentioned, other "must sees" are here in my final installment.

Soarin' --Soaring --Flying is what it's like! 7 people sit in a ski lift chair with feet dangling. They provide a space under your seat for loose shoes and other belongings. You are swung forward over what must be a gigantic, seamless screen--and you are "flying" at various speeds over beautiful scenes --and you feel the sensations as though you really were speeding up over a mountain top --over trees and water, cities, forests, etc. You feel you need to lift your feet or they'll drag into the tree tops! A fabulous thrilling ride.
But too short! (Did I already mention this one? think so)

You want to get fast passes for this one --as the line was very long without the pass. Again, being disabled was another way to go in sooner. I don't know if our fast pass was necessary or helpful or not. One way or another, we didn't wait long.

Another event was an interactive comedy show, bringing in people from the audience on screens. The Laugh Floor by Monsters, Inc. My grandson laughed really loudly on this one, because they had a laugh-o-meter --and he wanted to help them reach the top.

Micky's Philharmagic --(like Philharmonic) This is a delightful 3D movie in the Magic Kingdom with a music/orchestra theme --good old Disney movie stuff.

It's Tough to be a Bug --inspired by A Bug's Life --was in the Animal Kingdom --this one is the one that scared the kids but was enjoyable for us adults.

Downtown Disney is a shopping area that's quite fun to visit. They have a big LEGO Store with a huge Lego dragon out front, a family with cameras, and lifesize dogs --all made of legos. There is a classic toy store with some of the older toys still available.

We went to see the Country Bear Jamboree which used to be a must-see event but seems a little "dated" now. Perhaps we were seated too close. Also General Electric's Carousel of Progress at the Tomorrowland side of Magic Kingdom. I still enjoy that one and think it is instructive about the development of electrical use in homes, etc. It was first seen by me and my family at the NY World's Fair in 1964?--along with It's a Small World and the Hall of Presidents.

My husband tells me that Kruschev saw It's a Small World at the World's Fair and determined that he would want to go to Disney World.

My son-in-law and the boys most loved the Buzz Light Year ride in The Magic Kingdom. ON that ride there were video game shooters for every rider to "man" and you could accumulate points for shooting at certain X targets --My son in law was really good at it and into the hundreds of thousands of points compared to my 20,000.

Dinosaur --in the Magic Kingdom was a ride in the dark with lots of scary creatures leaping at you. This scared the boys, too, and was when our grandson said he just kept telling himself Grandma's words, "It's just pretend! It's just pretend!"

Another EPCOT ride also featured dinosaurs, The Universe of Energy, featuring Ellen Degeneres as a comedic guide. It did explore the various sources of energy and the various advantages and problems of each. I didn't think it demonized any groups as liberals tend to do on this subject. It said our minds were unlimited resources and suggested hope for our energy difficulties would come through human ingenuity.

The Swiss Family Robinson tree house was climbed by the others in the family.

Regrets would be that we didn't take time to watch any parades and we didn't stay for the fireworks in the Magic Kingdom. But we did see the closing light show at EPCOT which is worth seeing --but a good idea to hug the fence around the EPCOT lake to reserve a place with visibility--as some of the light show is at lake level. We were also warned that it could get pretty smoky from the fireworks if you watched them downwind --which we did not.

Two reserved restaurant dinners planned by my daughter, our excellent tour guide --were the Liberty Tree Tavern at noon in the Fort Wilderness area of the Magic Kingdom --which is an early American tavern in an early american village with paddle wheel boat to ride and a train into the frontier --neither of which we did this trip. The Bear jamboree and one of the roller coasters is here.

And also a French Restaurant in the evening at EPCOT --which was very pricey with what seemed to me to be rather Americanized French food. We had a table with a view and it was a nice way to finish the day before the fireworks.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Disney Disappointments --Eisner Changes?

Maybe it was their CEO --one Disney employee told us that Eisner didn't like Figment of the Imagination event in EPCOT. So he had the ride re-designed to exclude Figment. NOw, Figment is back, but the ride is not restored to its former glory, music, etc.

Another disappointment for my husband was the change in music of the Peter Pan ride in the Magic Kingdom and he says the experience of flying out the window was missing. We thought the ride was better with that experience and the former music.

Small World and the Pirate rides seemed the same to me --though he thinks they backed down the traditional music on the pirate ride. They've added Captain Sparrow to the scenes for a comic touch.

The Tiki Bird pavillion announced itself as "under new management" --and it was irritating to hear Gilbert Godfrey's grating voice throughout and you couldn't understand the dialogue very well. They omitted the original comedy and music for a whole new approach and it just fell short. Previously, the music built in intensity more effectively and had a more native flavor --instead of the jazz. I guess they tried to make it more contemporary and they probably think people will come to see something if it's new. But it wasn't BETTER --it fell flat. They didn't do as much with the totem poles, etc.

My daughter and my husband rode on the test track for cars, a high speed ride. Afterwards, they concluded we could have all gone, but we didn't because Disney's promotion so emphasized the negatives as though some would not enjoy it but find it frightening, bad for heart and health. They felt it did not match the benefits of the former Motion building which it replaced --which was about the history of transportation and quite entertaining and educational.

The Spaceship Earth was much as we remembered it and a great experience.

At the Imagination building there is a 3D movie that was based on the theme of "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" --using those actors --only they shrunk the audience. This was a lot of fun, I thought

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Monday, April 28, 2008

Disney Delights and Slight Disappointments

GREAT WEATHER --sunny, slight breeze, 70's and 80's, but lots of shady places to retreat to throughout the week.

First Day was the Wild Animal Kingdom. A Sunday, but the crowds were less than the other two parks. We went on the Jungle Safari --which was really great. Wheel chairs and scooters went through the lines like everyone else, same wait, but were ushered in to the ride separately. With many rides in the older parks, the scooter/wheelchairs are assets, because they do accommodate you in separate and much shorter lines--and they keep your family together.

On the safari, we saw animals "in the wild" --or seemingly so --elephants, giraffe, cheetah (a rare sight the driver told us), gazelle, hippos, rhinos, flamingos and other birds, and many other "wild animals" in the Disney Nature Conservatory --or whatever it was called. Really a fun ride with REAL animals, pretend poachers and nearly disastrous bridge --but not so wild that you needed seat belts in the big lumbering African-style (I assume) safari trucks.

IN that park, we saw a walking vine --really a girl on stilts with two extended stick arms --all green with a green painted face and we thought it was animated at first --as she would lean on a building and then come to life with her long limbs and hug the trees and maneuver steps into the woods --very fun to see.

The scenic Mt. Everest or Kilmanjaro or whatever it was --with the Buddhist temples in the foreground with fruit and vegetable offerings gave us opportunity to have a little Sunday School lesson about man-made idols that can't eat the offerings made to them --this was part of Asian section. They showed the baskets of laundry by the river, too. Africa featured grass thatched roofs and native music, drums for kids to play.

The mountain houses a roller coaster that my daughter did twice with her husband and once with her dad. They are not for me. I feel panicky and want out of those rides.

There was a kids' playground that enabled them to climb up rope net bridges as though from tree to tree, hanging on to a rope fastened at both ends --entirely safe but took some bravery and gave a feeling of "manly" accomplishment --then they'd slide down a chute.

The Lion King musical show was fantastic, a colorful, joyous "must -see", sort of "under the Big-Top." It's not the story as seen in the Broadway version--but a show featuring stilt walkers who were amazing and death-defying --considering all the dancing feet around them and the high speed movements. There were trapeze artists as comedic monkeys who put on a great show. Music and live singing from the movie and musical.

The Nemo musical on a stage with characters duplicating the roles of the fish puppets they maneuvered as they performed the songs --was also delightful. A shorter version of the movie about a father losing his little gold fish son to an aquarium.

We ate in a Rain Forest Restaurant --with furry animated animals about, and starry sky, complete with storm.

There was a 3D bug movie with characters from A Bug's Life? (Correct me, Steph, for the archives!) --I think it was in this park--and it was the first of the 3D experiences for the boys --with their seats activated and water sprinkled on them from these ferocious angry looking bugs and it scared the kids --and not just ours. I think they would have been ok had they seen some of the other 3D events first. So I started to talk to the boys about "it's just pretend --just make believe scarey --not really dangerous." We went on another ride and Jacob closed his eyes and said, "it's just pretend --just pretend!" We got into so many good rides that some of them have run together in my own mind, and I can't tell you which ride that was. They began to feel good about their ability to withstand scary things --and did better the next two days.

Their mom had planned our days and knew about the Fast Pass? tickets you get which tell you to come back to the popular rides at a designated time when you will get on quickly. They give out so many of these tickets in the early part of the day at the rides to spread the crowd out. Without them, you wait a designated amount of time which changes according to the length of the lines (we saw times ranging from 20 to 90 minutes) --though the handicapped scooter was another way to disperse crowds and get in sooner than one might otherwise. I think the newer park features where they made room for it, have the scooter families wait along with others until the end where they are split off --to discourage people from using scooters needlessly. It wasn't needless on my part. I couldn't begin to walk a place like this. It's one time when a disabled family member is a real asset!

This was supposed to be a low attendance time at Disney, but you couldn't tell at the other parks. We know some of the northeastern schools were on spring break --met some Vermont people who were, e.g. There were tons of little kids and strollers --way more strollers than scooters and wheel chairs. I felt sorry for some people who looked like they needed a chair or a scooter but didn't have them. My daughter had an umbroller stroller to carry a little cooler with drinks and treats.

I was amazed at how my family has such stamina --the boys, ages 8 and 6, didn't whine or fuss or ever ask to be carried --or beg to sit and rest at any point --and my daughter said she was doing fine. IN fact, they opted to walk home from Epcot rather than riding the ferry, and stood to watch a magician-entertainer on the way home. There were always these circus-type-clown-magician acts on the boardwalk at the Epcot Resort Area --hired by Disney.

In fact, for all that is said about obese Americans, it seemed that the vast majority at Disney were NOT terribly out of shape --and doing quite well at walking the huge parks all day long. Granted, the events give a sit down respite.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

POST-VACATION ROOT CANAL and Other Dreaded Procedure Follow Vacation

I knew they were to finish up my root canal today, but didn't remember when and couldn't remember the dentist's name so didn't call during the trip. The name came to me in the middle of the night as rhyming with palomino. The Dentist's office ans. service said they were in surgery this AM and not opening phones until 9 A.M. I thought my appointment was in the morning and earlier than I would like --but that's my hysteroscopy/D&C scheduled for NEXT week, I decided. Because after I rushed around, got dressed, ate breakfast and drove to Sylvania, they finally opened the office phone when I cell phoned them and said my appointment was at 2 PM.

Meanwhile my car developed an ominous whine/squeak, so I dropped down to AAA car care on Airport where the nice man didn't charge me to empty a few bottles of power steering fluid into my car --with the hopes that I would bring it back to him. Said their must be a leak somewhere. This ol' '95 Cadillac bought in '96 at reduced price for a nearly new car, hasn't had heat all winter --just a smidgeon of heat from the engine, I guess,as the windows would slowly defrost some, and I was able to get to church with teeth chattering. One repair place said it would need a new computer somethingorother to regulate the heating/AC at great expense --and AAA put in a new fan motor and it worked for a few days --but no more and since Rob was away at school, I didn't have my handy dandy driver to accommodate my car fix-it trips. So I just let it go --but I can't stand not having AC, so that's the next big expense. There are only 76,000 miles on this 13 year old big friendly roomy gas guzzler and my husband tells me it should go another 75,000 before giving up the ghost but wonders if we should look into a Prius --which he would drive and leave me the van, since I don't drive as often--however, he's not happy in "cars built for midgets," he says.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Last Stage of Disney Report --Lost Items --but not the final installment

We had been trying all week to be organized and keep our stuff in order. The first day I was at Downtown Disney, a shopping area near where we were staying when I noticed I didn't have my rings on and had left them at the hotel. They were not valuable except to me. There was a room safe, so I figured that meant the maids couldn't be guaranteed trustworthy. So I called the hotel and they gave me security and I reported that I had left my rings in the room and wondered if anything could be done about it before we got home --and they said they'd probably be alright but they might mention it to housekeeping. They were there when I got home.

A couple days later, we came to our room and found the safe standing open. My husband did that. But my big wad of keys was missing. So after checking my purse and some drawers, I called security and told them we stupidly left the safe hanging open and I was sure I had keys in there. Thought I remembered seeing them there. Security asked what use those would be to anyone. I said, well, if someone had an uncle in Toledo who was inclined to a little house burglary, keys and our ID info that was also in the safe could be used --say if someone copied keys and sent them to Uncle Mort. I knew this was far-fetched, but it also was risky to leave keys and other things out when we had a locking option. So after all that calling, I suggested my husband look in the van which had been driven by our kids while we flew, as he was downstairs puttering around doing goodness knows what men do when they are out puttering around--and he found them in the car. I felt bad for my suspicions and reported to the desk that the keys were found. Meanwhile the hotel had graciously sent out an alert for the keys to their housekeeping staff.

The first night there, my daughter heard a ruckus in the hall about 4 am --and the next morning we found someone had removed the battery from the scooter and unplugged the charger -- so after that, we kept it in the room. It managed to work MOST of the day at Wild Kingdom --in fact, it went dead on the way to the van in the parking lot --picked up a little (with prayer) --to get it on the lift on the back of the van. And it recuperated enough juice to get it upstairs to the room where we plugged it in for the next day. We had no shortage of power for our other long days at Disney.

One day, my husband left the room intending for me to follow --but he had my scooter keys and had to bring them back so I could take the scooter with us.

On the last day, we arrived at Detroit Airport and my husband put me in a wheel chair and our two heavy, huge carry-on duffle bags on the back of it and no one routed us
toward the tram when we got off the plane. They said, "follow the signs to the baggage claim." So jon wheeled me the whole length of the airport. There were a couple of those flat auto-people movers that you stand on --but otherwise, no one routed us to the tram that would've taken us most of the way. We found the Detroit Airport very user-UNfriendly --compared to Orlando, which had lots of helpful personnel.

When we got to our luggage, we engaged a fellow to push it on a cart and he led us to the parking garage, via elevators, etc. There was no way Jon could push me plus the 4 heavy bags. Plus we didn't know where to go --and the cart fellow was a guide. But Jon knew he didn't have the parking ticket for where we left our car. So he left me with the cart guy while he started off a couple of floors up where he thought he may have left the car. I sent the cart boy to help him look. And he returned and said no luck. so I asked, isn't there an electric golf cart used by parking personnel? O yes, right over here. Well, I said, could you go and get that person? so they rode off to find my husband --and then they found the car. But Jon had walked 3 levels or so looking for his car. Then he found the ticket where I was careful to have him stuff it in his wallet --he just didn't see it at first. I knew I had told him to do something specific with that ticket when I found it at the hotel on the dresser. But I couldn't remember whether he put it in his wallet or in the safe with the plane tickets or where. It was the wallet.

I was constantly looking for my cell phone --which was always in my purse --which isn't that big, but crowded. I tried to keep it in a center zipper pouch but it would sometimes land elsewhere. I'd work my hand around every which way--and the only way to find that cell phone was to empty my purse. We used them a lot to keep our party together.

When we went through airport security on the first day, I had a panic because I couldn't find the boarding passes that I had set on the chair where the inspector told me to put them while she checked my body for noises of hidden metals, etc. After that, I had set them on this table where our trays of belongings were placed because I had to empty my hands to put my sleep apnea machine in its bag within the duffle bag.

It was like that all week--moments of panic because we couldn't find things, couldn't remember the best laid plans. IT must be alzheimers! Although, I think it's been a life-long problem for me. I think Jon's problems seem newer.

I once had a dream that I had put my baby daughter in an airport lock box --and couldn't find her. In the dream I am looking everywhere for the right box. Looking for stuff --my lot in life!

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Disney Trip - Part 3 --The Gecko

Day 2 --we see a gecko -a bright green Geico Gecko --in the corner of the room on the wall. This is something to show all the kids --who think it's real cool. It doesn't seem to be going anywhere, so we left it alone.

But two nights before we left, I was on the phone again, asking front desk if the vouchers had arrived and they still had not. We learned later that they were in the package department at the Dolphin. So later, while we were on our way to Clearwater Beach, someone finally transfers me to the package room at the Dolphin, where they do indeed have our mail from AAA. And I got them to agree to deliver them to the front desk at the Swan which is joined to the dolphin by a bridge, because we weren't going to get back before the package room would close and we needed the vouchers by the next day or else. But that night when I was still tracking the vouchers, I just hung up from the front desk when this gecko skittered from one shoulder to the other in front of me and down my arm and behind the night stand. I screamed. My daughter told my son-in-law next door that she thought it was some drunk in the hall --and her husband said, "No, I think that was your mother!" So she came in and brought two cups and chased the gecko along the wall behind the love seat in our room but couldn't get it. So I called the front desk and then housekeeping or security or somebody --who sent up a guy with a spray can.

I looked at it and said, "What are you going to do with THAT!?" He said in a foreign accent, "This is what we use to get the roaches and ants." I said, "Well, we don't want to be fumigated with poisen --and it's not a bug. It's a lizard." He seemed puzzled. I said, "You know, green, a lizard. About 6 inches long in total." He said, " A lizard? Green?" Yes, a lizard.

So he takes out his pen light and shines around and next thing I know, the exterminator man is on our bed --which was turned down by the cleaning staff --and pawing over our pillows and says, yes, he sees it. And Jon says, "You'll need a vacuum sweeper. Just let him get it tomorrow, Barb."

"Nothing doing. I'm not letting this guy slither over me in the night! Been there, done that!"

So the exterminator leaves and Jon leaves on some errand after grumbling about having the roach man on our bedding. I pull up the spread, take off the pillows. And Enrico comes back with a shop vac and a long dirty looking hose to drag over our bed. But he gets one of our towels and tells me to call up housekeeping if I need more. He says, "You still have 3 towels." And he spreads it on the bed and puts the shop vac on it after I explained that my husband was a little creeped out about the idea of the equipment being on the bed.

So Enrico puts his left hand on the hose --and his right hand on the switch and tries to turn the switch on at the same time he's trying to make contact with the gecko --so it races back and forth --Enrico spots it every time and goes back and forth, back and forth --and he's getting frustrated, I can tell--and embarrassed at his lack of success. I've told him a couple of times that I think he should turn on the sweeper first --and then zap the gecko. He says, No, that will scare him --the feel of the air. I said, No, Enrico, just try it. It's a vacuum --it doesn't blow air on it but sucks him in! As you get close enough, he won't have a chance against the suction. And at this point, I could see the gecko --by the electic outlets behind me where I was sitting on the love seat. So I said, do it --turn it on first --try it! and so, looking skeptical, the exterminator follows my directions and sure enough! Zaps the critter.

And that's the end of the gecko story. And sadly the end of the gecko, I assume.

Enrico said this was a first for him. How did I know!?

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Disney Trip - Part 2 --The Voucher Fiasco

We try to register at the hotel and give them the papers we have from AAA who helped us with a "Disney package" that may have been worth a little discount on Disney tickets but little else. The hotel said they give no discounts to AAA. Anyway, they said, these were not the "vouchers" they needed. I didn't know anything about "vouchers." So after much running around by front desk folks, they sent us up to our rooms. They said if they didn't get the vouchers, showing we had already paid through AAA, we would be charged again and have to have AAA reimburse us. I would later learn that the AAA travel agent believed she had called both me and my daughter to tell us we needed to stop by for our Disney packages. And I suppose she did, but it sure fell off my radar and out of my memory--and my daughter said she didn't think she was told either --and she has a 'steel trap' mind, compared to me. I noted to AAA that I did remember that the airport ticket gal called me to tell me my plane reservations were confirmed --and to remind me to pick up the tickets --and again to try to sell me extra insurance --and to remind me of what time the plane left. And another gal called to have me pay for my AAA membership which expired in March.

Finally in our rooms, we look out the windows and note that we have a balcony but are looking on to a flat roof and the roof of a round restaurant, part of the hotel. Not a good view. I said to Antonio, the Bell Captain who took us to our room, "You know we asked for rooms with a view and had reservations." He said, "Call the front desk; I'll wait." (IN fact, we chose this hotel because they said they could get rooms with a view --whereas the Wild Animal Kingdom Lodge, where our daughter first wanted to stay, only had rooms looking on a parking lot --so we felt we had made a hotel choice on the basis of getting a view and therefore should get one.)

So I did, and they took a while to offer us something else. We had 2 rooms, adjoining and she said the adjoining room request was honored before our request for a view and she didn't know if she could find both together --but she managed. Meanwhile, we learned Antonio was Italian, did not admit to being Mafia, played guitar and bass in a band that performed around Orlando, was single still in his early 40's, had gone with a girl for 6 years but they broke up, etc. etc. He was very friendly, gregarious, and pleasant --waiting to move us again. We only had 4 bags since we sent many things in the van with our son-in-law and daughter and grandsons. But they were heavy bags on a cart so we hung on to our bell captain until settled.

As for me, I scheduled a "scooter" as I could never keep up or walk the distances of a Disney day. So I had a scooter delivered to the hotel by a company called "Walker Medical" --or "Mobility" or something. Which was actually a dollar cheaper than getting the scooters at Disney--and those could only be used at the park, whereas my rental was useful for me in the hotel, on the boardwalk which went to the swim area, the Hollywood Disney/MGm and Epcot.

We eventually got to the new rooms with a view of the Disney Dolphin Hotel and the lagoons around it --the board walk --all in the Disney Epcot Resort Area. We were in he Swan Hotel that faces the Dolphin. There were huge dolphins and swans on the top of the respective hotels --both were a green stucco with a peach stucco wave pattern and a pattern made of different style windows, some with balconies and some without. These new rooms for us didn't have balconies or the full length windows, but we settled. The view was great though the windows were dirty on the outside.

Next installment: the Gecko

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Home Again, Home Again--Back from Disney --Part 1

Part I --the Credit Card Fiasco

We get on the plane and my husband realizes he has neither of his 2 credit cards. So we call Rob --who looks high and low in the house and can't find them. So after we get established in our hotel, I call Rob again and he goes to one of the cars at home as instructed by Jon, and sure enough, there it is. Between the seats.

But what about the other card? I call the bank. The 800 number. I finally get a live person and they want to know my password. I tell them what I think it is --but it isn't. I try another that it might be. They say they can't tell me if there has been any unwarranted activity on the card since I don't remember my password. All I want to know is where the card was last used to see if we recognize the purchases. Because if we don't, we had better cancel the card as someone else is using it! Sthe guy offers to put a hold on the card. I said, "no, no --wait until we look some more." And then I wondered, how can they put a hold on a card they aren't sure is mine! Boy, that would really tick somebody off, if any old stranger can do that! They seemed to believe I was me for cancellation purposes but not to tell me the recent expenditures so I could verify if his card was being mis-used.

During our plane ride, we had told Rob to call a couple of places where Jon knew he had shopped. He did. No luck. So I call the bank again, and get a different live person. This gal puts me through the rigmarole again and I ask for her supervisor --we finally go two supervisor/managers "up" --to talk to an intelligent person. And we tell him about our checking account and a recent check we wrote. NOW he's willing to talk to us, having seen that check in our records. (Although if someone had stolen our check book, they would have that info.) But he understood that the info we were asking for wouldn't be useful to a thief of our card. We wanted to know where the card had been used, so we could tell if we should try to cancel the card or not. The irony is that they were willing to stop action on the card without proving that we were US by a password -- --and then later, they wouldn't even do THAT! realizing that it was illogical to let someone cancel a card if they didn't know the password. But then I said, "Now, supposing our card really IS stolen and people are spending up the wazoo on it and you won't let me cancel the card!! because i can't remember a password.

The remedy they had was for us to go into a branch bank --except we were in Florida and our banks are in Ohio --and it was Saturday afternoon and our own branch bank was closed so we couldn't phone them.

But now Jon remembers that he went to the Rite Aid for an Rx. So we call there and the guy remembers that Jon came in. He said sometimes they put the credit card in the medicine bag when the customer comes through the drive-thru as Jon did. Sure enough, Rob found the 2nd card in the script bag at home in the kitchen. Jon had not opened it as he didn't need to pack this Rx for the trip.

But in the meantime, many phone calls were made --the bank was no help --until we talked to a 4th person who had some independent initiative to understand that all we wanted to know was if our card was being used to buy things back home or somewhere where we weren't.

Next installment: the AAA Voucher Fiasco

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

BEN STEIN'S "EXPELLED ~ No Intelligence Allowed --is a "Must See" for Both Sides of the Debate!

Ben Stein has made an excellent film. People of faith should support it. People like evolution-believing bloggers Mud-rake, Microdot, and Whynot should see this film, for their own enlightenment.

One fellow was ostracized in his career because he said MD's really don't have to believe Darwinism in order to be good MD's. Now, who said THAT before? I did, because my husband is an MD who does not believe Darwin's theory of origins and it does not affect how he practices medicine --except that he is very life-affirming, unlike some Darwinian physicians who believe in eugenics and practice abortion.

In the film, the famous atheist who just wrote a book defending atheism, what's his name, Dawkins, was interviewed and admitted that he didn't know how life began. And that some intelligent beings may have dropped us off on the planet.
What we learn from this film is that very successful scientists with great accomplishments have been fired for entertaining the possibility of intelligent design behind our existance --for doubting Darwin.

We learned that there is deep establishment prejudice against scientists who profess faith and/or question Darwin. We learn that atheists have shut the door on academic freedom in favor of their smoky orthodoxy.

We hear it from Germans that Darwin inspired Naziism. There is a running theme --that without faith in a Creator, we lose sense of the inalienable rights of man.

We just returned from Disney World. We saw again the Hall of Presidents which opens with the Declaration of Independence as our defining document --not the constitution --but the statement about the "Creator" endowing us with "certain inalienable rights."

Ben so describes the Spirit of Mudrake, you'd think he knew him. Everything I've heard on the blogs was in the movie: 1. Stein was told that real scientists don't doubt Darwin. (He proved otherwise.) 2. He was told there is no conflict between religion and evolution ---yet atheists are the most vigorous supporters of the theory. 3. The Public School science leaders want to convince us that there is no conflict between religion and science --because if parents and churches realized just how much conflict there was, they would get involved in opposing the militancy of the Darwinists. 4. The study of Darwinian orthodoxy does produce atheists.

The movie didn't do as much as it could have to teach the public the evidence for intelligent design in nature --or the evidence against Darwin's theory. Nevertheless, it showed that academic freedom is needed in the sciences.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Abstinence-based Sex Ed. Still the Best Way to Go

On the Religion Clause blog, some yokel commented that people stubbornly refuse to realize the failure of "abstinence-based sex ed." Mine is not an article on the statistics --but I remember being on the school board and reading about the stats for schools who quit their value-free programs and took up abstinence-based curricula.
I'm not sure what schools are doing today when the critics refer to the failure of "abstinence-based" curricula.

I just remember that value-neutral, non-judgmental, "don't have sex until it seems RIGHT to you" sex ed was an abysmal failure BEFORE the abstinence-based programs improved the stats.

In schools where traditional values and chastity and monogamous marriage are promoted as giving the greatest safety to one's emotional, physical, and future economic well-being --the teen pregnancy/abortion rates declined after having steadily increased under liberal ("elitist" --promoting moral relativity) sex educators in years prior.

That doesn't mean we shouldn't urge those who insist on being sexually active to use condoms.

But there needs to be a strong emphasis on the limitations of condoms --when it comes to hpv --broken hearts --lost self-esteem from feeling "used and dumped," and the possibility that the condoms will fail or the guy will fail to use the condom despite a girl's intentions to be safe.

Girls are putting themselves at great risk to start early sexual activity. Men and women have not changed that much--boys still refer to sluts and girls suffer when the label fits--and boys become jerks thinking they can bed and not wed.

Sex educators should not suggest as they do that early sex activity is harmless as long as you use condoms.

The AIDS crisis would end tomorrow if all young people valued chastity and monogamous marriage.

There are people yet today who wait for marriage because of their faith and upbringing. There are many others who at least commit and remain faithful during and after their courtship, whether or not they are virgins at the altar. Chastity and virtue are still possibilities in a sex-saturated culture.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Monday, April 14, 2008

Topic about Frankenmuth, MI. from The Religion Clause blog

Sunday, April 13, 2008
Frankenmuth, Michigan In Church-State Controversy

Another city, this time Frankenmuth, Michigan, finds itself in the midst of a church-state battle. After city resident Lloyd C. Clarke argued that they violate the Establishment Clause, Frankenmuth removed two 1-foot tall crosses from its Main Street bridge. Clarke is also considering challenging a cross that appears on
Frankenmuth's city shield. That cross is part of a symbol of Lutheranism called the Luther Rose. (Saginaw News, Apr. 9). In response to all of this, three churches in the city have offered to make 1,000 3-foot wooden crosses for members to display at their homes and businesses. Clarke says he thinks that is completely appropriate. Another Frankenmuth group plans to sell shield pins with yellow ribbons that residents can wear. (Saginaw News, Apr. 11). Frankenmuth attracts over 2 million tourists annually to a year-round retail store, Bronner's Christmas Wonderland, that sells Christmas decorations and Christmas-themed items.

Posted by Howard Friedman --PermaLink: 1:42 AM


Barb said...

Clarke needs to take a vacation. Find a worthy cause like helping the poor.

Frankenmuth is known for its Lutheran and German roots --and Christmas emphasis. Does Clarke want all the cities to look alike, bearing no remnants of the religious heritage of the first founders of the American towns?

All our so-called "church-state violations" in city seals, on public buildings, in public ceremonies, etc. should be retained as part of our diverse American history which ichincludes religious diversity as well. Good traditions are just that: good traditions. Christmas and Easter are two of those traditions --public prayers --town seals that reflect the original purpose and faith of founders.

If we go to Salt Lake City, we expect to see remnants of the Mormon religion of the settlers there.

Same with Frankenmuth.

Calm down, Lloyd, and ask yourself what your real purpose is here in insisting on constitutional "purity" that would try to revise history.
Sun Apr 13, 03:18:00 PM EDT

Anonymous said...

Here we go again with the tradition/heritage defense. I realize these are not in the same category but you wouldn't advocate keeping images of slaves on the Seals in the South would you? That was traditional at one time.

I've said it before, I'll say it again, tradition is a lousy justification for anything.

Having said that, suing to take it off the Seal might be going a bit far. It would be nice however if the good people of Frankenmuth said to themselves, "You know, this might be a problem. Maybe we should put together a committee and see if we can't come up with a really nice Seal that includes everyone." I'm sure they could if they put their minds to it.

Instead, people get all defensive and insulted and hurt, etc., and I ain't talking about the Atheist here.

-American Atheist
Sun Apr 13, 06:57:00 PM EDT

Barb said...

But it IS the atheist that wants the town to change to suit him --and HIS feelings/sensitivities.

They already tampered with the seal of Zion, Il --which the Christians founders thought of as a Zion:

" A place or religious community regarded as sacredly devoted to God.
An idealized, harmonious community; utopia"

Cities do not want to pay what it takes to defend the symbols of their religious history and heritage, so they cave to the hyper-sensitivies of the atheistic minority. Haven't you atheists got something better to do than wipe out the vestiges of the past which really were NOT offensive to the people when they settled the town --and shouldn't be since?

Racist elements should only be preserved to prove that we DO have a racist history. Not as a heritage we are proud of. E.G. preserving a slave ship, as they have done.
Sun Apr 13, 09:52:00 PM EDT

Anonymous said...

Maybe we Atheists should follow our Christian brethren's good example in how to spend our time wisely. Sign me up to help make one of those 1,000 three-foot high crosses they're putting together in protest. That would be a much better use of our Atheist time instead of educating ourselves about the fundamental importance of the separation of church and state or standing up for our rights and stuff.

Personally, I vote with you Barb that the Seal should be preserved to prove to future generations that we do have a religious history. But, like the slavery allusion, not something to be proud of.

I say, move on to a new Seal.

-American Atheist
Sun Apr 13, 11:44:00 PM EDT

Barb said...

There is nothing to be ashamed about in a religious heritage. You show some bigotry toward most of our forefathers here by your view. Much that is good about the USA is because of that Christian heritage informing our view of civil rights.

It is Christianity that ultimately inspired the idea of the equality of man--because Jesus had died for all --and Paul said we were all one in Christ Jesus --and Jesus said we were all sinners --all needing repentance --and he elevated the poor, the lame, the halt and the blind --saying they should be invited to the banquet feast of the bridegroom --to the Church as the Bride of Christ. Jesus emphasized the importance of compassion for all people --and identified Himself with the poor, the widow, the hungry, the naked, the prisoner.

REal Bible study leads to the conclusion that "There is no male nor female, Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free in Christ Jesus" --but all equal in value.

and the Ten Commandments suggest equal rights for all, the right to property, and the value of justice, honesty, marital fidelity, honoring parents, etc.

It was this foundation that made America the best.
Mon Apr 14, 02:00:00 AM EDT

CrypticLife said...

Does Clarke want all the cities to look alike, bearing no remnants of the religious heritage of the first founders of the American towns?

Actually, no. He approves of the 1,000 crosses. At least that's what the summary indicates.

Barb, intentionally misrepresenting your opponent's position is offensive.

The idea that a seal representing a town should not include elements directly antithetical to a substantial portion of the population is not "bigotry". Essentially, Barb, by supporting these elements you're saying that Americans should be religious. While you have the right to say that as a personal matter, having the government say it is wrong.

You complain fairly regularly about "victims" of the ACLU caving because they simply don't have the resources to fight state-church battles. You do realize, you presume those are battles worth fighting? Like many of your fellow theists, you presume it's important to fight tooth and nail to preserve government-supported religion, and that's why these things ever get to the point of lawsuits in the first place?

You claim that atheists want to eliminate all displays of religion in public. This cannot be honestly be said to be a general position of atheists. Let me ask you, though -- what is the goal of theists? What would Christians do, given unlimited power to shape society as they see fit?

You've given us a taste of it, of course. Outlawing sodomy and homosexuality would be a start, apparently. Clearly you want prayer re-instituted in schools as well, so my kids would be taught prayers ("volutarily"? You should probably admit there'd be little voluntary about it) and probably have a Bible course. Would atheists be allowed to testify in court? Be judges (Bush has said they should not be)? Hold office? I would think a resurgence of Christian dominionism would lead to all of these things being prohibited. Christians have shown no reluctance to use symbology to argue for principles, so it's not just "feelings" that concerns atheists here. People use God in the Pledge and motto not only to recognize tradition, but also to claim that atheists are not American. The Bible does not teach that all are equal. It specifically segregates people based on religious belief.
Mon Apr 14, 11:43:00 AM EDT

Barb said...

Sodomy and homosex were already outlawed --though tolerated in the closet. I asked for no change in cultural morals --the liberals and the atheists and the homosexuals are doing that. I'm resisting change --not advocating it.

Since the beginning of the nation, prayer was a feature of public life --and public school was established to teach reading so people wouldn't be ignorant of the Bible and tyrannized by wrong use and deliberate mis-interpretations of it by leaders -- and schools were established for teaching of religion (NW ordinance) --not enough to proselytize or make anyone devout or members of any one group--just enough to acknowledge the same Supreme Being, Divine Providence, our Creator-God, that Congress, the Supreme court and the Continental congress and many presidents acknowledged through the years --as evidenced on the walls and in the artwork and in the speeches and writings of early america --because, silly them,they believed there really was a supreme being who said, "In all thy ways acknowledge me, and I will direct your paths." The believers thought this was important to do --the non-believers didn't really care; it didn't bother them --no one was making them believe anything.

The Constitution's establishment clause was about not having a church state like Roman Catholicism of Italy and many other nations--and Anglican church in England --and Cromwell's PUritans there --and Lutherans in Germany, etc.--because all of these tended to persecute the other churches --not being into Biblical love teachings, evidently.

You say I mischaracterize this man's intentions --saying he wants all communities to seem alike, devoid of their historical religious origins --I'm saying that's the effect of what he wants. I really believe he wants no evidence in the city of the religious roots that motivated this city's founding --that characterized this city's history. He wants no reminders that this city's people came together as a religious community.

So he SAYS, "FINE, put the crosses in your yards." But he wouldn't REALLY like that either--because it is a defiant act against his actions.

He is asking the town to conform to his sensitivities as an atheist with a strict application of the establishment clause, and he can use the establishment clause to do that --but if we do it everywhere, we'll have to deface and erase history and art from the walls of our D.C. buildings and many local courthouses.

We ought not change the past that way. That's who we were. Let it be. We are in grave danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater --if the bathwater is our evidence of religious heritage --and the good aspects of that heritage are thrown out with it --such that we no longer have any sensible approach to marriage laws, no idea of public decency, no regard for the lives and moral innocense of children, no respect for religious faith, just a desire to silence the religious.

The salt will lose its savor. the preservative of our best inclinations as civilized people will be lost as we no longer remember the difference between right and wrong --or realize why heeding the difference is essential to our survival as a great nation.

As de Toqueville said it, "If America ceases to be good --she'll cease to be great --the secret of her goodness is in her churches with pulpits aflame with righteouseness." And that faith did spill over into public, agreed-upon sentiments of religious faith in our seals, on our money, in our pledge, on our walls, in our school and community traditions. Let it be! Christian majority of the Biblical sort is the best friend the other religions ever had.
Mon Apr 14, 12:19:00 PM EDT

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Sunday, April 13, 2008


San Francisco is the epicenter of an epidemic of a flesh-eating disease which is resistant to known anti-biotics. Follow the link and see why you do not want your kids to think that gay sex-perimentation is safe under any circumstances.

Boston has a high concentration of victims, also.

There is also a feared strong possibility of throat cancer caused by HPV for people who have engaged in oral sex. Technically, promiscuity is the issue. Your chances of incurring throat cancer are 250% higher if you had oral sex with five or more partners instead of no oral sex at all. But, in fact, we know that it only takes one time to contract an STD, so the best word to give youth today is to avoid oral and anal sex like the plagues that they can cause.

HPV --the human papilloma virus --causes cervical cancer in women and is the reason why women get an annual PAP test. Over 90 per cent of college girls are said to be HPV positive by the time they graduate from college --so promiscuous are young people these days. (This surprises me, however, because so many of the girls I know didn't get any dates at all! but the fraternity, sorority, and binge drinking crowds do.) This throat cancer is from oral sex with people who have the HPV. Venereal or anal warts and dysplasia or cancer of the cervix are evidences of this virus. The cervical cancer, of course, is invisible, a silent killer, and a reason for the annual PAP exam.

That means, like it or not, boys and girls, you need to come to terms with how God made you as male or female and conform yourselves to the only healthy outlet for sex --monogamous, straight sex with a lifetime spouse. There is NOTHING that homosexuals can do with each other that is healthy. Oral sex for them might not be injurious if they were two virgins who stayed together for life --but this is not a liklihood in the gay lifestyle. I'm not sure that we can say that the mouth was ever intended to give orgasms --not sure what health risks are possible for two virginal people, gay or straight --from putting our mouths on the waste eliminator portals (how's that for a euphemism?)

You can take your chances with condoms that may rupture, that don't cover all the germs on the skin (HPV), and you can take the risk that a partner won't use the condom or use it correctly, that a virgin isn't really a virgin, etc.

It used to be that one had to be tested for all the STD's before getting the marriage license. Then people could be treated for their own good and would not infect the spouse. If both were diseased, of course both would be treated and would hopefully never have a moral lapse leading to new infections.

Now, we assume everyone has been sexually active, no tests are required, and people don't know what they are being exposed to --sometimes until it is too late.

I'm all for a pre-college test and a tatoo next to the belly button --a discreet but visible red A for AIDS, H for Herpes, and P for HPV. Then a partner will know if they want to continue with careless and unprotected sex with this partner who has an incurable disease. Granted, HPV is curable on the cervix --but I'm not sure about the throat cancer --and how you detect the HPV throat infection before it becomes a cancer. In any case, is it worth the misery and the risk of incurable and sometimes fatal diseases to keep experimenting with our sexuality in ways the Bible already warned us against???

The Bible says we "receive the recompense" in our bodies for homosexual activity -and for hetero promiscuity, as well.

Let's play it safe. It's a lot more fun in the long run!

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


Here follows a typical exchange between a liberal, pagan thinker and myself --from the Religion Clause blog (click link on the right of this home page):

Blogger Chimera said...

Ah, but when you insist on preaching at people who clearly state they don't want to listen to you -- that IS harrassment. And it's not Christian, but it is fundamentalist. And it's illegal.

A true Christian would accept a person's being exactly as he is, recognizing that if some diety didn't like him that way, it would find a way to change him without burdening him with the interference of another human and his faults.

A true Christian would lead by example only, trusting that his own actions would speak far louder than any words he could say.
A true Christian would trust his diety implicitly and explicitly.

Only a fundamentalist thinks his diety's design needs improvement.

Sun Apr 13, 12:36:00 PM EDT
Blogger Barb said...

Funny you should say that --I would have thought that only a liberal would think the deity's design needs improvement --improved by gay marriage, by transgendering, by changing biblical laws and standards, by radical reinterp of the scriptures.

"Faith comes by hearing the Word of God." "How shall they believe if they do not hear --and how shall they hear if no one tells them?" "Go ye into all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature..."

Nothing in scripture says that we lead only by example --the words and THE WORD are to be proclaimed. You prefer a silent witness because it doesn't bother you --it doesn't really affect you --it doesn't really challenge your thinking.

The person who lives his faith but never explains it or teaches about it or proclaims how to be saved --gathers all the accolades for himself --but he doesn't point anyone to God. Everyone gives the faithful person all the credit for his niceness --instead of the Savior who was the source of it-- because the man never said a word to give Jesus Christ the credit. You may know he's a Christian --but if he doesn't introduce YOU to Christ and explain how God loves you and has a plan for you eternally, perhaps you will remain ignorant about essential knowledge for eternal life.

Granted, you will say that your dislike, disapproval --"dissing" of me because I'm "in your face" on this blog? (I think you're in mine just as much, BTW) --you will say this dissing of me makes you all the more resistant to the Christian message --but Jesus predicted that.

He said, "They will hate you (my followers) because they hated me."
He said we would be hated and persecuted for His sake --for righteousness sake.

Jesus is usually admired, but He made people so mad they crucified Him. Should I then therefore expect to be respected? And conclude that if you don't respect me, it's my fault?

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Young Women Series will be Continued! We have so many who do us credit as a church!

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

My Rant in Defense of US Christian Heritage

News item below is from the Religion Clause blog (link on my blogroll, right side of home page here)

India's High Court Permits Churches To Aid Christian Victims In Orissa

As previously reported, last December six Christian churches in the Indian state of Orissa were attacked and burned by Hindu extremists. Homes were also destroyed.Yesterday's Calcutta Telegraph reports on subsequent developments. In January, after the rioting and arson, Orissa's district collector ruled that no charitable or religious organization could carry out relief work in the area, arguing that relief groups would create further tension by focusing their aid only on a particular community. The Orissa High Court refused to intervene, so the archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar, Raphael Cheenath, appealed to India's Supreme CourYesterday in Cheenath v. Union of India & Ors., the Supreme Court overturned the ban so church groups can now assist Christian victims of the rioting and arson.

This illustrates why American Christians and Jews (who coexist peacefuly) need to be making the babies and why we need controlled immigration. If the foreign religious minorities expand here by higher birthrates --and start demanding their traditions here as they are doing in Europe especially, with their Islamic polygamy, e.g. --or just bringing their bigotry and chronic terrorism and selfish, poverty-enabling attitudes to America (Hinduism), we are in deep trouble.

Consider what this article tells you about these Hindus: Karma means you should endure whatever situation you are in --and not help others who are enduring their Karma. Thus India has huge areas and cities of squalor in the midst of a bustling economy that make our slums look like Snob Hill. These officials saw no reason to help the persecuted Christians in their midst. Thanks to the Hindus' terrorism, the Christians should just have to suffer their Karma. The Hindus of the courts would transcendentally meditate above the need and injustice around them.

There is no reason to apologize or forgive or make amends, either, in Hinduism. One of my online pen pals is an attorney from India who hasn't spoken to his mother or his sister-in-law for at least 15 years though they live in the same house --and they pile the roach and vermin infested goods into his room --and he says nothing to them --because he is rising above the whole thing.

America needs to recognize what is good about her religious underpinnings and preserve them, respect them, and honor them as a good heritage (not establish them or deny others their freedoms.)

As philosopher deToqueville of France put it in the 19th c. --"America is great because she is good --with secret of her goodness lying in her churches with pulpits aflame with righteousness -if she ceases to be good, she will cease to be great."

A blogger at the Religion Clause site demonstrates the inability to see any difference between good and evil in the morals department--thus, what is wrong with polygamy? he wonders. A lot is wrong with polygamy. Do we have to try everything out and test it in order to know what our Hebrew and Christian ancestors could see plainly a long time ago?

Someday, we'll realize, when we are all covered with sores of the flesh-eating bacteria from San Francisco gay life (sores predicted in Revelation) --and the HPV throat cancer of oral sex --when we all have loved ones dying of AIDS because they got into homosexual lifestyle and didn't know they had it until it was too late to sustain them with drugs --and because more and more who ARE sustained will continue to spread HIV/AIDS to guys like L. Craig in public bathrooms, taking it home to wives who infect their babies --and to men in youth trying homosexuality thinking it's now safe and acceptable and so prevalent --and because they didn't have dads to make them proud to be men in every normal sense of the word.

When we finally figure it out, we'll once again make sodomy illegal as harmful to public health and morals--if we survive the wrath of God to come for our unbelief and our unrepented immorality, for calling good evil, and evil, good. And perhaps we'll also figure out that God DOES exist --and He IS a God of morality --just as the Bible says--just as the majority in the once greatest nation on earth used to believe.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ben Stein's Movie On Evolution vs. ID Science- trailer address here

Go here:

This is an excellent site to see the trailer about Ben Stein's new movie (and new book of the same title) --the sound is better here than on U-tube. The movie is Expelled: NO Intelligence Allowed.

He tells how Evolution is scientific/religious orthodoxy, protected from challenge by media and educators. He tells of the discrimination and persecution against anyone who wants to follow scientific evidence, even if it leads to the probability of intelligence behind origin of life.

A young Valparaiso U. 4th year philosophy student told me she had visited the creation museum in Kentucky recently. She said it was excellent, that she had spent 4 hours there and it wasn't long enough. She was very impressed.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


From the Religion Blog (link on my blogroll):

Since Thursday, police authorities have removed 159 children and 60 adults from the YFZ Ranch in Eldorado, Texas. The ranch is home to as many as 400 members of the polygamous sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, formerly led by Warren Jeffs. (CNN)

The legal background for the raid is outlined in a story published yesterday by the San Angelo (TX) Standard-Times. On March 29 and 30, Texas police authorities received a call from inside the ranch by a 16-year old girl who said she is married to-- and has an 8 month old child by-- Dale Barlow who has previously been convicted of conspiracy to commit sexual contact with a minor. In response, on Thursday afternoon police obtained a warrant from state District Judge Barbara Walther ordering tharrest of Dale Barlow, and authorizing seizure of any records or documents on the marriage of Barlow to the 16-year-old and the resulting birth of their child. It also orders the seizure of computer equipment, hard drives and data storage equipment, DVDs, videotapes and photographs. (San Angelo Standard Times).

Once inside the compound, authorities used evidence of past or imminent abuse or neglect to remove children and women. (Deseret Morning News.). On Friday Judge Walther issued another order-- this time a gag order to prevent further information about the investigation being released. (Ft. Worth Star Telegram). Judge Walther also issued an order directing officials to bring all children, including boys under age 18, out of the compound. (Salt Lake Tribune).

If you go to the Religion Clause blog you will find links to the various sources of this article.

This is a result of defying our marriage laws--I said before that polygamy lends toward abuse of women and underage girls --and causes indiscriminate breeding by one man --children he cannot properly afford and care for --and I doubt very much that one phone call was the only suggestion of wrong-doing before authorities went in.

We know they have kicked the young male offspring out of these cults for some rule infractions--just to get them away from competition for the older men men who rule the roost and desire to take the younger women as wives. Don't you all see how the system lends itself to abuse by lustful, greedy men who think they can take any brides they want as long as they can get to them first --or seduce them in by the natural sexual desires of youth? It's a Peyton Place under the guise of religious sanction--a hot bed of old men lusting after girls --and bedding and wedding them because "they can."

But our laws say they can NOT --and we need to enforce the law for many good reasons based on facts about polygamous groups.

There are books written by women who experienced this inequity perpetrated by men if they could get away with it by religious teachings --making the women feel that it was their religious duty to give themselves to these old ginks and middle-aged lotharios and to put up with competing wives brought into their home. There were some books written by the first Mormon wives who protested and saw that the system was just a justification for old boys' lusts --and harmed the first wife especially --as Hiram said, "Well, Rebekkah, I think you need help in the bedroom, don'cha, Darlin'?" (If some do welcome help in the bedroom--it's a sad commentary on their marriages.)

Civil liberties in the name of religion! MY FOOT!

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

No. 5 in Series: Young Women of the Holland FM Church of Whom I am Proud !

Another young and admirable woman in our church, Jenni, sang a solo in the service yesterday, Thy Word, an old Amy Grant standard. It perfectly complimented the pastor's sermon which started with The Ten Commandments and concluded with a charge to "hide God's Word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him." (He distributed packets of memory verses for us to master, one per week, and has to make more, the demand was so great.)

Tune into this excellent service and hear Jenni and others and the excellent sermon on April 13, 11 AM, at --click the radio tower icon at the top of the home page. On the radio dial, the station is 102.3FM. To visit our church, however, the services start at 10:40 AM with announcments.

Jenni, a soprano, has a really smooth, lovely, professional sound. She sings with our choir and worship team on occasion, but is pretty busy for music with her CPA husband and her three children. I remember a Christmas cantata which I directed around 1980. I auditioned and found 3 sets of sisters capable of performing excellently and in tune, a duet part with the children's choir singing, "Christmas isn't Christmas 'til it Happens in Your Heart." Jenni was one of these girls. All these girls were equally talented singers --so one set sang at the mall; another at the prison; and another at the home church concert. Today, at least three of the 6 are still performing solos (two are the music teachers, Steph and Chris, mentioned earlier.)

Jenni says she thought she probably would never get married --and then her Mr. Right, a few years younger than she, took an interest and took hold. She praises God for the good blessing of having such a nice and kind husband, who is head of finance for a tax-supported non-profit. He served as our church treasurer for several years. He, too, has gone on the Katrina mission trips. I think, like Inga, she introduced her husband to Christ and church life, if memory serves me correctly. She was previously a successful jr. high English teacher in the TPS. She is spunky and plucky, always upbeat, and can out-maneuver any jr. high student with her verbal wit and just a bit of orneriness --and a tad of what the old blogger Microdot would call sarcasicity!

Jenni considers that the church helped to raise her and her sister, who were adopted, as their mother was a single divorced mom and their father was not a part of their life. I mention the adoption, because in today's climate, they might have been aborted instead. What a loss that would have been! She tells how our then youth director, Ike Ruckman, became a substitute father to her. Ike was wonderful to be an extra resource for our teen kids, a back-up support for our parenting ideals, one whom the kids respected even when they were out of sorts with parents. He would attend the kids' school events with his wife, and plan excellent lessons and activities for them. Unfortunately, his company took him to Columbus. Continuing the Christian mentoring for Jenni and her sister was the Spring Arbor University, one of our church colleges. She and her sister were always hard workers and worked their way through school, in addition to whatever other aid they were elegible for.

Her children are so cute and bright and probably musical. Two beautiful little girls and a boy between. Their little boy has a birth defect caused by the placenta wrapping around his arm and shortening its development. My grandson had often played with this boy and one day when they were all at McDonald's around age 4, he came up and said, "Mrs.__, Mrs. ____, Josh only has 3 fingers!!!!" He had never noticed. And he went away informed and counting his own. "I have five, one, two, three...." Children are blessed with seeing only the beauty and perfection of those they love, aren't they?

This little boy is such a bright little delight and has just the right parents and sisters. There was a question about whether he would get some insurance-related coverage or not, so the mother had to take him to a meeting. At the age of three, he brought tears to the committee's eyes -and got the funding --as he told them about his "short arm," that God had made him that way --or allowed it, and therefore it was OK to be different in that way. Jenni said with a twinkle in her eye, it wasn't beyond her to use "cute" to get something they needed!

And sing! O he can sing on pitch and loudly! I think we'll be hearing good things from him all his life. But sometimes he does feel bad about his difference, and his mother is just one to not let him wallow too long in self-pity, to help him count his blessings and rejoice in all that he can do, in all that is normal and healthy about him. He has his parents' intelligence and his mother's zest and verbal and theatrical gifts.

I remember when the Covenant Players visited our church last year and they did a skit with children where they enacted the story of the Good Samaritan. They chose Joshua (because he was little and willing --which they needed) to be the victim along the side of the road --because they had to place him on another student's back who played the donkey who the Samaritan uses to take the victim to the inn for care. It was so fun and so cute --and all the little boys loved it --playing the robbers, playing the two passersby, the inn keeper, the Good Samaritan --and the donkey.

The mothers of special needs kids have an extra burden in life and an extra heartache, but the church makes a loving extended family, a place of belonging apart from sometimes cruel peer groups and schools. I expect Josh and his family will sing God's praises all their lives, because, even in the midst of disappointment and imperfection, Jesus is the all-sufficient lover of our souls --and He gives the joy in the midst of earthly trials --and the promise of complete wholeness in the eternal life to come --where there are no more sorrows or tears, death or disability.

Jenni directs our children's Christmas program and will direct our VBS this July. Previously she worked with the youth on Wednesday nights. We look forward to whatever she puts her hand to --and hope she will always find some time to make music as we don't all have that gift as she does.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Sunday, April 6, 2008

No. 4 in Series: Young Women of the Holland FM Church Who Make Me Proud

No. 4 is Courtney. I won't tell her full name because she's still a student and she might run into a Prof. Mudrake-type or acquaintance who would grade her down just for being my friend.

Courtney, in her early 20's, is one of the most energetic, resourceful, proficient gals I know --and her newly engaged fiance is right up there with her. We call them a "power couple." Power for intelligence and competencies which they share with our church whole-heartedly. Her fiance is a computer whiz and assists with the technical aspects of our worship services. He, too, is a full-time student.

Courtney cleans houses for a lot of people, including me, while being a full-time English education student. She attended our church off and on throughout her childhood --and then went to Monclova Christian Academy where she was valedictorian and a classmate of Derrick Merrin's, the young mayor of Waterville. She became really active in our church during her later teens. She sings in the choir and on the worship team with a good sense of pitch and a voice that blends sweetly --musically intelligent. She also has public speaking skill, and occasionally leads in worship. She can dance gracefully in our productions and also has talent and boldness for drama.

She and her fiance are also the coaches of the Bible Quiz Team, and planning to take them to Nationals at Spring Arbor University this summer. She is planning the 2nd-annual fundraiser, "A Night on the Red Carpet" to raise money for the quiz team trip. This was fun last year. People dressed in evening wear and were interviewed on the red carpet (just like at the Oscars), asked who designed our gowns, when was our latest movie coming out, did we patch up the latest scandal with the spouse, etc. --all the while not knowing that we were being videotaped and broadcast live in the banquet room before the others.

I don't know how she keeps up her grades, being as busy as she is, but she is a good student who makes her deadlines. She also has LOTS of friends. She has that gift of making people feel that she values THEIR friendship, and so it is that many of us feel close to her.

She exhibits teaching and leadership skill with children in her work with the CLC of our church. I've no doubt that she will be successful in the classroom.

What's interesting to me about her and all these young women is that they seem to do all they do with confidence, without needing to be validated --without any self-conscious, self-doubt but with a clear sense of purpose.

It gives me great pleasure to validate them all.

There are more to come in the series. I started with these four because Courtney really helped me dig out a mess on Friday, and the other 3 girls really shone at the events we attended Saturday. There are many laudable people in our church--and I guess you might say, "We belong to the mutual --admiration society!" Which is what Jesus would want church to be --a place of mutual respect and appreciation. So "they will know we are Christians by our love."

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

No. 3 in Series: Young Women at HFM Church Who Make Me Proud!

Last night, three of us went to the Holy Family Catholic Church in North Baltimore to see a performance of Franz Schubert's Mass in G, performed by the Elmwood High School Choir, directed by Christine Rohrs. It was spectacular. We've watched this public school choir develop over the last 6 years under Ms. Rohrs' direction, with the excellent accompaniment and administrative support of Mr. Dean Bell, ass't. principal who was the choir director there for many years, 6 years before Ms. Rohrs came. When he went into administration, they changed directors every year until she arrived. The high school has 400 students, but she teaches grades 5-12.

The choir is 64 voices, but there was only room for the 40 or so who could make this Saturday performance. The work is all in Latin, of course, and the students mastered it beautifully with a lovely blend and balance of voices. The acoustics of the church were excellent, enrichening the sound. Each section achieved a beautiful unison blend, most evident on the fugue. The dynamic contrasts were exquisite, and the students and director were much commended afterward by the hostess of the artist series, for which they performed.

The first performance of this piece featured soloists from BGSU on the previous Thursday where they performed at the school for a standing-room-only crowd. The 2nd performance was at the church, with a smaller, yet appreciative audience. This time, 3 students from the high school performed the solos, with the exception of the soprano solos which were performed again by the BGSU student (as Elmwood's soprano was stricken with laryngitis.)

They learned this work in lieu of competing at the OMEA choir competition, since their musical, Suessical, had to be scheduled on the contest day.

Raising student awareness of the plight of the homeless, these two concerts were performed as fund-raisers for the Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, because the students had visited the mission on their recent trip. The mission allowed them to see the taping of an old-fashioned-style radio show, Unshackled, and also fed them a meal. They also heard a sermon in black Gospel style of preaching from one of the resident chaplains there.

Ms. Rohrs and the band director had just returned with 60 plus students and 18 chaperones from this Chicago trip, which also included band and choir seminars at Vander Cook College of Music, trips to the art museum, the museum of science and industry, the aquarium and the Navy Pier. They also attended a sports comedy club which featured Elmwood photos and info the club aquired from the school's website. The students also enjoyed Ed DeBevicks' Restaurant, a famous 50's style diner, and a highlight was certainly the Broadway show, Wicked, a take on the two sister witches in The Wizard of Oz. The choir had performed music from this musical in their concerts the previous year.

All of this followed a year that included a fall concert, a madrigal dinner, the Broadway show,Suessical, honor choir participation by select students, OMEA solo-ensemble competition with all ensembles and most soloists receiving superior ratings. STill to come is the Jr. High Musical, Annie, in May, and a spring concert on April 24, and also the Spring Arts Fest --Memorial Day and Graduation performances. Junior High also goes to Solo-ensemble competition.

The Royal Troubadours, the show choir, performed popular, Broadway, and classical love songs, throughout the dinner, plus a floor show culminating with the choreographed, ever-popular In the Mood for a Valentine fund-raiser at our church. Their final number on that occasion tied in with a Biblical love theme about love as the greatest gift. The Show choir performs elsewhere through the year.

Needless to say, Ms. Rohrs is totally dedicated to her work. She is another of the dedicated choir directors/choreographers of our church music productions and a member of the worship team, leading with voices on Sundays.

She, too, is a graduate of the Wheaton College Conservatory of Music where she was an honor choral director of the chapel choir.

A fond early memory is of Christine marching her friends around her house pretending to be "Marching Generals" (the school band) in the 3rd grade or so. She and Stephanie ___, each directed a youth choir musical when they were 16, doing all the direction themselves without adult assistance, traveling around the tri-state area to perform. One was Friends Forever by MW Smith and the other People Need the Lord. Christine continued to develop youth choir at our church. They are still presenting the same message in their church music, and when they teach in public schools, setting a good example with good character and helping students learn and appreciate all kinds of music.

Together, they present an annual Christmas musical for the church, with Stephanie leading there while Christine leads at her school.

She's just one more of the younger generation who is taking the church forward in ways that exceed the energies and skills of their parents.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Series: Young Women of Holland FMC Who Make Me Proud! --Part 2

At the same church baby shower, another young wife and mother, Stephanie, was the emcee and she provided a musical activity for all the ladies and little girls who attended. She has been an elementary music teacher and director of children's musicals for her school in Chicago -before moving here to be near family and run our church music program.

For the shower she introduced a lullabye and assigned several instruments to the children and 3 of us ladies. We were to make our music at certain points in the song --and all the ladies snapped their fingers at certain points. (She said this was an activity and song she had used with 2nd graders, so we should be able to do it! --and we were!) She used dry erase marker to put red dots on certain piano keys and the children knew when to play any of the dotted notes. The pastor's wife, another for my series, played the lullabye through as a clarinet solo when we put it all together for a final performance in ABA form. Others had shimmery instruments of different sounds --and we sang the song over enough to nearly learn it for our own use in rocking a baby to sleep. It included phrases, "Daddy's watching the sheep -- Baby, go to sleep" --something about the "dream-maker coming down," etc. Very sweet and pretty --definitely a "chick activity."

She also sang a song on the spiritual aspect of being a mother and ran the shower so beautifully, without seeming nervous or frazzled or self-conscious about it as I would. Just quiet proficiency at work.

Stephanie home-schools 2 boys and they are doing very well in their studies --will be able to hold their own in bigger schools some day, taking piano from her, also.
She is the one who sees to it that all the children of the church have singing and performance opportunities, cultivating musical leaders for the future. She prepares our worship service music and leads with her piano and vocal skills, using to good advantage her degree from Wheaton College Conservatory of Music, where she won many honors. She spends many hours on this on a volunteer basis; we should pay our music leader, as most churches do who have professional leadership, but we need to grow more to do that.

She shared today in church that she uses her laundry-folding time for Bible memory practice --and with the boys, they study to learn a Bible verse with their meals, three times a day. The sermon today was on Bible study and memorization. They plan a trip to Disney World and her husband, a CPA, (whom she met through church camp and Bible quizzing) said they could use the time standing in line to memorize their verses. I think he's anticipating the future of the Bible Quiz team in our church --as he once coached our team to a state championship--and his sister (another one for my series) coached our team to a national honor.

Stephanie is another one I watched grow up in the church, and it is a joy to see her surpass my generation in musical excellence for the Lord.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Series: Young Women of Holland FMC Who Make Me Proud!

This weekend was a joy. I saw the wonderful leadership skill of some young women yesterday. I watched them all grow up in the Holland Free Methodist Church, and who could have guessed what mature and beautiful young ladies and what leaders in the church they would all become!

Yesterday, nearly 30 women of our church had a baby shower for a young wife expecting twin boys. She, herself, is exemplary for loving her children and her husband so much; she is delighted to have these babies, though she is very uncomfortable and has a lot of apprehension about the upcoming delivery of her 3rd and 4th children. This is a couple who have weathered some great pressures on their relationship --he is of Muslim heritage and she of Christian background. Despite some difficulties (not about religion, but maybe because of the lack of it), they have nevertheless retained their love and commitment to one another. We wish them well. The shower was an outreach ministry for this couple, as they really are not active in any church at this time, though she and her siblings were raised in our church and her mother attends occasionally.

One woman, Inga, is the main subject of this tribute. She gave a devotional at this shower. Inga never was interested in going to college, she told me in the past, but she would've been a successful graduate with her intelligence and professionalism in all she does. In fact, she did taxes for awhile for H&R Block. She is instead earning a degree for excellence in the School of Life. She is a tall girl, a school secretary married to a very tall, former high school basketball star, who is in a family business now. They are a handsome couple and their children are beautiful with an endless stream of friends to bring to church.

Her mother was a German immigrant; her father, an excellent handyman, but so poor in youth, that he and his brother lived under a bridge for a time, before he joined the military--which is how he met his wife in Germany. Her parents accepted Christ when she was little and church became their second home. She was raised in a lovely mobile home park (I say this for the benefit of bloggers who said I wouldn't know any one who lived in a mobile home; this home and park were really nice) and her parents lavished all their attention on her, their only child.

My daughters loved to visit them, because they doted on the children --and one highlight of my memories as a mother, is when Inga's parents flew my girls in a plane over the house! I said, "YOU WHAT! YOU WENT UP IN A LITTLE PRIVATE PLANE TODAY! YIKES!" but what you don't know before the fact, won't hurt you, I guess! They also taught the girls to play cards --which my husband and I didn't believe in! So we've laughed at what our kids learned from our church friends!

Sadly, both of Inga's dear parents died young of illnesses, mother of multiple sclerosis and father of cancer --so they never had the joy of meeting her 5 children (which includes a set of twins.) Now she is a working mom and heads up our Christian Life Club on Wednesdays while her husband helps with the children and youth and the local Campus Life Club. She also has taught the teen Sunday School class in the past and been a good choir singer.

Inga's husband had no church background that I know of (maybe Catholic, but I don't think so) --but when he married her he turned out to be an active, sincere, articulate young Christian man --with great charisma for youth work, and a heart for the Katrina victims, whom he has helped several times on our mission trips there. He gave eloquent testimony of how God touched his heart on a recent trip. He is literally good as gold as a father and husband.

She wants things to be just so in our children's department. She wants to know that the children are learning Bible stories, verses and songs --that they are being grounded and she keeps after us to have a quality Christian Ed program for all ages. She and her friend Jenni always help with the children's choir because they want these performing experiences for their children, having enjoyed it when they were young. The children get costumes from the Amazing Sue, and sometimes even have some dancing or motions to do--two years ago the Jr. Church Singers had two conga lines for our Christmas program. This year some were graceful angels and all were in the Wise Men's caravan --and previously courtiers in a royal processional. This takes the help and supervision of mothers; Inga and Jenni and some older women are always willing to help.

Inga has a gift for public speaking and leading of young people. For yesterday's baby shower she pulled up many favorite scriptures that help her in her mothering task. There was evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit in her sharing, which is so natural and seems so easy for her. Yet, she said she didn't necessarily feel qualified to inspire, as she had had a hectic week herself. But the Lord inspired us as He inspired her.

She said most memorably that when we feel we are failing as mothers, to not despair if we love and care for our children --even if the results on any given day aren't always to our liking. We are not failing, she said, if we are loving.

Thank you, Inga, for being you --and maturing into the church leader that you are, today --and for finding such a great husband and bringing him into God's Kingdom --and into the ministry at HFM Church.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

For the Benefit of Valerie and Woman of Marseilles-- (WOM) More Soap Opera, Steve

Well, I see we've been having French bloggers over here. I followed the French poster who commented here and her name links back to the infamous French blog --which Kristina, the Russian student, wants everyone to know is a World Blog --since she and some Americans contribute there also.

I found that I'm still a topic over there, with chunks of my blog taken overseas and apparently translated from English to French to English again --or something!! It was pretty garbled.

With the French writers who don't read English --and because I do not read French --even with the Google translators, I don't think we are going to communicate clearly.

HOWEVER, to Woman of Marseilles(WOM), I want you to know that I didn't say that the Bible says having sex is worse than murder. The Bible does not say that. Nor do I think sex is only for making children, as you said of me. It is the union of male and female, soul with soul, for intimacy and child-bearing; God built in a pleasure factor, as well. Marital sex is God's creation for His purposes and our good.

He, however, did not give the gift to us for casual recreation between any numbers of people outside of hetero marriage. It is more than a physical recreation or release. MOre than entertainment. It is for married hetero couples only. It is ordained by God and the marriage bed is undefiled. But sex outside the marriage commitment is risky, dangerous to body, mind and soul. Like others have said, you can't put a condom on a broken heart.

God's Word tells husbands to love their wives like their own bodies --and wives are to respect their husbands. And both are to mutually submit one to another -as unto the Lord --and love one another. St. Paul wrote that they ought not deprive each other of sexual intimacy.

Jeanette was chided for apologizing on the French blog but criticizing certain ones of them on this blog. What's wrong with this picture? They have NEVER apologized to any of us for any of the egregious verbal wounds they have inflicted. Why do they expect that Christians should never get angry with them or say anything insulting? Isn't that interesting? We are held to our own high standard of kindness, forgiveness, and turning the other cheek; but there is no standard too low for them. They hold themselves to no standards of kindness, propriety, apology--and certainly not honesty. The harshest and most distorting things have been said --and the crudest artwork posted. But there is no apology from any of them. Only peer group solidarity --like a teen-aged clique patting each other on the back at the expense of the persecuted minority.

It does indeed illustrate that old scripture, "Judge not --for you do the very same things." I have been temperate in calling a spade a spade over there. It was not my intention to be defending myself all the time. But I felt it was needed for honesty. E.G. When someone says I've told them that the Bible says sex is worse than murder --that ANY kind of sex is worse than murder, that's a gross mischaracterization of my words and the Bible. I've never thought such a thing, much less said it -and the Bible doesn't say that either. So much that I wrote at the French blog in the worst days was an attempt to tell the truth regarding Christians, the Bible and the Christians on the blog.

BTW, I was called lazy for not translating. But I wasn't welcome over there by the time the French writers came, so why would I translate?

I do believe they miss us, Jeanette! Isn't that your interpretation!? No more fun crucifixions and no more Christians in the amphitheatre! Tsk Tsk.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible