Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Medicinal Herb Course on Sale until December 31st!

*Note to previous students: you will need to change the email address for  sending questions.  Comcast recently bought out Adelphia in our area.  Just change the word "adelphia" to "comcast" and you will be fine!*

Just a reminder for those who might have missed my post:
I am putting my Medicinal Herb Course on sale for $15.00 between now and midnight December 31. This is $10.00 off the normal price! I have been teaching this course here on the farm for 5 years and this is the first time this course has ever been on sale.

Also, anyone who purchases my Medicinal Herb Course between now and the end of the year will receive an extension on the email mentoring portion of the course. Instead of 30 days from the date of purchase….you will receive….(can we say “ta daaahh!” ?) free mentoring until the end of February!!

I will also offer this extension for anyone who has ever purchased this course…so, my previous, faithful students….grab your notes and questions and give it all you’ve got until the end of February!!

Merry Christmas from The TNfarmgirl :)

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas!

I will be taking a blogging break for the next week with the desire to devote that time to my family during this special season. I may post sporadically or I may not post at all :) However, I'll see you back here for sure the first week of January 2008.

I want to wish all my readers a Merry Christmas! This is a wondrous time of year when we stop to remember Jesus, the baby who was born crucified for our sins...our sins...yours and mine...what an awesome gift for us...sinners saved by grace. Take time this Christmas to spend time with Jesus the Christ who came to lay His life down for you....I want to leave you this Christmas Eve with the words to one of my favorite speaks to my Mama's heart..did she know? Could she fathom the miracle of it all?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day walk on water?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary did you know that your baby boy would give sight to a blind man?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would calm a storm with his hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.

Oh Mary did you know

The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the mute will speak, the praises of the lamb.

Mary did you know that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary did you know that your baby boy would one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy is heaven's perfect Lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great I am.

Written by Mark Lowery

Thank you all for spending a bit of your precious time with me this year. I am grateful and I have enjoyed meeting many of you both in person and in cyberspace. I am thankful for the friendships that have come into our lives because of this blog.

I wish all of you a joyous Christmas and pray that our Father's richest blessings be with each and everyone of you during this holiday season and I pray that He would draw you ever closer to Him in the coming year!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The Tradition of the Straws...revisited

Last year I shared with you one of our family traditions...The Tradition of the Straws. You can read that post here. Many of you have written to me to share that your family has also begun the Tradition of the Straws! This blesses me! I have also had several of you write and ask about a pattern for the manger...

Paula shared this information:

You can find the book again--possibly different pictures than before, it looks like a different publisher. I found it on Paula Palangi is now Paula McDonald. If you have a pattern for your manger that you wouldn't mind sharing, that would be wonderful!

I don't have a pattern. Josiah went out to the shop and came back with the manger. However, I have taken some close up pictures and hope that this will help you.

This picture looks down on the empty manger .


A view from the end.


A view from the side.


A view of the bottom.


Looking down again, this time with the straw...the boys have been busy this year :)



And finally, our table in the living room that is always dedicated to our Tradition of the Straws.


Thanks to Paula and the others who have written, I hope you all get your mangers built and enjoy this tradition in your own family.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

I have good news and bad news....

The good news...


If you don't understand this picture read this.

The bad appears that this is not the only the traps remain in place. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, December 21, 2007

My Christmas Gift to You

With a desire to bless my readers this Christmas, I have chosen something that I hope will benefit you and your family now and for years to come.

I am putting my Medicinal Herb Course on sale for $15.00 between now and midnight December 31. This is $10.00 off the normal price! This would also make a wonderful Christmas gift for you or for someone you love :)

Also, anyone who purchases my Medicinal Herb Course between now and the end of the year will receive an extension on the email mentoring portion of the course. Instead of 30 days from the date of will receive....(can we say "ta daaahh!" ?) free mentoring until the end of February!!

I will also offer this extension for anyone who has ever purchased this, my previous, faithful students....grab your notes and questions and give it all you've got until the end of February!!

Merry Christmas from The TNfarmgirl :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Holidays...the good, the bad, and the ugly....

hhmmmm...make that the good, the rotten and the horrific. Here is just a sampling of what we have been doing and seeing around the farm this holiday season.


We have been enjoying lots of family time, reading, baking, cooking and game playing with an occasional Christmas movie thrown in. We have been going through our game collection, partially to play some things we haven't for a long time and partially because I am sneakily wisely taking notes to clean things out. Several years ago a bunch of us ladies grabbed all of our kids and spent a week at a beach house. While there we played a game called Cranium. Cranium involves charades, sketching, sculpting, spelling (forward and backwards!), knowledge of facts (useful and silly) and lots of other fun stuff.

We have been re-visiting that game (caution: you need to weed some of the cards out) and have thoroughly enjoyed it! Here Jeremy is doing a song and dance for the acting portion.


And Josiah is trying to make us say the word rodeo...(you can't see Elijah...he is on the floor doing an admirable imitation of a raging bull!).


And finally, Elijah is just being...well...silly George Foreman doing his "Buy My Grill...I have a hundred sons named George" routine. I wish I had that one on video!


Of course, all of this fun is accompanied by hot cider or eggnog and a lot of homemade Christmas cookies and must be carried out wearing p.j.s :)


Then we move on to....

THE ROTTEN...stinker that is :)

This little one shared with me that he had a "bad day". He was very "lonely" and shed quite a few tears. When I headed to sleep a few hours later to tuck him in...he wasn't where I thought he would in his own bed....I found him in mine (Elijah likes to play musical beds and is known to sleep walk!). However, he is so could I be mad?tn_100_5119_1.JPG

Please note that he is on MY side of the bed and on MY pillows!

And then there is ...


There has been much whispering among my older boys. I have just chalked it up to Christmas suspicion was aroused when I kept hearing the word "grain" and there were multiple trips out to my little garden shed. I most distinctly did NOT ask for grain for Christmas. The night that there appeared to be much celebration between the two boys with high 5's etc., I finally grilled questioned them. They explained that they had been on a "quest" and had finally won....they took me out to show me their prize...YUCK! A MY shed! And, they have lovingly informed me, it isn't the one that they really hoped to catch...the really BIG one. Grrreeeaaatt...I have a freezer out there....guess the boys will be fetching and carrying for me until they catch the "BIG ONE".


Hold onto your hats gets worse!!! Hard to believe but true!

A few weeks ago, we noticed some threads hanging out of what appeared to be a vent in the back of my truck. I thought it odd and pulled them off and threw them away. We had just begun to use the heat so I thought perhaps it had something to do with that. About a week later, I went to the grocery store and when I opened the back to put the groceries in, there were GOBS of threads hanging out of this vent. One word went through my horrible, frightening, disgusting word.....NEST!

I just KNEW that we had a mouse in my kids thought I was silly. They didn't say it in so many words but a mother can tell thank you very much. I was looking for proof. I found it this week. I lifted Elijah's booster seat (in TN he is still required to be in one) and underneath was what I was looking for (well not EXACTLY what I was looking for but it WAS proof!) lots of little mouse droppings! YUCK!!! Then, a few days ago I was at Sam's and brought home a bag of chocolate chips for some wonderful cookies. By the time I got home there was a little hole gnawed in the bag....double YUCK!, Jeremy *my hero* took the back apart and this is what he found...


A NEST! And you KNOW that where there is a nest...there are ...


BABIES!!! Beyond yuck! Although my boys kept telling me how cute they were....I didn't buy it. I kept thinking of what the newspaper would say...."Truck found overturned at the side of the road...reason for the accident unknown"...however they would figure it out once they did the autopsy and found the mouse up my pant leg!

It is amazing how much damage one small mouse can cause...


Look at all of that shredded mess. Insulation...straw...paper towels and plenty of food thanks to my "eat ALL the time" boys. The worst part is that we never found mama mouse. We left traps intact and hope to entice her tonight with some of her apparently favorite food...chocolate chips.

What happened to the babies you ask? Can you say kitty kitty?

*UPDATE* I hauled grain last night - something nibbled into the bag on the way home...mama mouse is STILL in my truck....can you guess what I want for Christmas?

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Momma's of little girls...

I'm not one. I have 4 surviving children....all boys! However, this time of year I shop for my niece. She is 6 and she lives in Florida. She is my brother's daughter...adopted from China. Her name is Makayla. She has a birthday in November and then of course there is Christmas.

Her birthday this year was easy....she was here for Thanksgiving and I gave her a china tea set and an apron that had been my Mom's and then mine. It has a farm theme....there is a question there someplace for my mother :) Makayla loves the farm. She loves to cook with me and I always wear an apron in the now we can dress alike.

*From this point on proceed with caution...rant in progress!*

I spent some time in Toys R Us looking for something wonderful for Makayla....I spent a lot of time. I feel sorry for Mommas of little to choose from. I haven't been in a Toys R Us for a long time and I didn't look at little girl things when I was there. This time I did and I was shocked. The sexualization of toys for little girls grieved my heart.

I saw some dolls (?) called Bratz....they looked like their name. Barbie on steroids. I saw lots of "movie star" things...right....I want my niece to imitate Paris Hilton???? Even Polly Pocket (my boys loved those when they were little) looked a bit over the top. What happened to sweet and innocent? Why do we want our 5 year olds to desire to bare it all? Why are we presenting them with the big bust, tiny waist, round hips, big lips, Cleopatra eyes and revealing FIVE???? What message are they trying to sell your niece? I was utterly disgusted!

There was a small smattering of lifelike baby dolls, some very expensive PLASTIC ktichen equipment (non-working of course!) and the usual Disney fairy/princess stuff. I saw very few educational items directed towards girls, very little to support being a Mommy...however if you want to encourage your daughter to walk the streets when she grows at Toys R Us! I hope that other stores have a better selection than ours...I was afraid to even look in the clothing section! How do you ladies do this? Where do you shop?

So...I left without making a purchase. I bought Makayla a real rolling pin of her very own, some real cookie cutters, a spatula, a Christmas dishtowel and some sprinkles to go with the sugar cookie mix I am sending. I hope she will enjoy an afternoon in the kitchen with her Mommy baking cookies - two gifts in one really :)

I am thankful I have boys....compared to you Momma's of little girls, I have it easy!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Join the revolution!

A wonderful article by Chuck Baldwin. If you haven't checked out how Ron Paul stands on the issues....please!!! yourself a favor, do some research. Back when I worked on the Hill, Dr. Paul was known as "too truthful Paul". His fellow members of Congress mean it as a mockery, I thought it one of the greatest recommendations for a politician statesman...and he truly is a statesman....not a politician. Here is Mr. Baldwin's article in full:
Who Are These Kooks?
By Chuck Baldwin
December 18, 2007

This column is archived at

According to the Associated Press, "Republican presidential hopeful
Ron Paul's supporters raised over $6 million Sunday to boost the
10-term congressman's campaign for the White House."

The AP report also said, "The [Paul] campaign's previous fundraiser
brought in $4.2 million."

According to the Paul campaign website, "In a 24-hour period on
December 16, the campaign raised $6.026 million dollars, surpassing
the one-day record of $5.7 million held by John Kerry.

"During the day, over 58,000 people contributed to Dr. Paul's
campaign, including 24,940 first-time donors. Over 118,000 Americans
have donated to the campaign in the fourth quarter.

"The $6 million one-day total means the campaign has raised over $18
million this quarter, far exceeding its goal of $12 million."

Now, if one listens to most of the political pundits in the major
media, Ron Paul is some kind of "kook," and his supporters are also a
bunch of "kooks." So, the question must be asked, Just who are these
kooks that are supporting him, and why are they giving Ron Paul all this money?

First, let's take a look at this "kook" who is receiving all this
money. Ron Paul was born the third son of Howard and Margaret Paul,
and was brought up with a work ethic in which one worked six days a
week and went to church on Sunday. His first job was at age 5 helping
his uncle wash bottles. He worked all the way through his youth mowing
lawns, delivering newspapers, working in a drug store, delivering
furniture and laundry, etc.

In high school, Ron was a track star, winning state as a junior in the
220-yard dash and running 2nd in the 440. His time in the 100-yard
dash was 9.8. That's pretty good. I was never able to break 10-flat in
the 100. Although, I bet I could have beaten him in the 50-yard dash.
He also wrestled in high school. Coincidentally, so did I. But here
Ron leaves me: he was president of the student council and an honor
student. I never accomplished that. I was just glad to get promoted to
the next grade. Even as a senior statesman, Ron Paul keeps himself in
terrific shape. Have you seen him lately? He still maintains a
rigorous exercise regimen.

Ron's two brothers are both ministers, and he became a medical doctor.
He graduated from Duke University School of Medicine. When the Cuban
Missile Crisis arose, Ron became a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air
Force. He also served in the Air National Guard.

As an OB/GYN physician, Dr. Paul has delivered more than 4,000 babies,
and he and his wife, Carol, have been married for more than 50 years.
They have 5 children, 18 grandchildren and 1 great-grandchild. Ron
Paul is currently in his 10th term as a congressman from Texas.

As a congressman, Ron Paul has never taken a government-paid junket.
He is not accepting a government pension. He returns a portion of his
office budget every year to the taxpayers. As a member of Congress, he
has never voted a raise for himself. Do you know any other member of
Congress that can make such a claim? Of course you don't, because Ron
Paul is truly one-of-a-kind.

Former President Ronald Reagan said this about Ron Paul, "Ron Paul is
one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national
defense. As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our
armed forces, and he always puts them first. We need to keep him
fighting for our country."

Perhaps this helps explain why many of the "kooks" supporting Ron Paul
are active-duty military personnel. In fact, Ron Paul has received
more campaign contributions from active-duty military personnel than
any other Presidential candidate from either party.

But who are the other "kooks" supporting Ron Paul? What kind of people
give more than $18 million in a quarter-year to a Presidential
candidate that is almost universally ignored by the mainstream press?
What kind of people give record contributions to a Presidential
candidate that is lampooned by his fellow Republican Presidential

For example, Mike Huckabee recently said he could support any of the
other Republican Presidential contenders (including Rudy Giuliani),
except Ron Paul. That means, Mike Huckabee would rather support a
pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-gun control liberal such as
Giuliani than support the pro-life, pro-traditional marriage,
pro-Second Amendment candidacy of Ron Paul. Why is that?

Furthermore, why are the entire major media and establishment
Republican machine either ignoring or lampooning a distinguished Air
Force veteran, medical doctor, and ten-term Congressman? What is it
about Ron Paul that the elite are so afraid of?

Here is something else: while Ron Paul's contributions have exploded,
Mike Huckabee is all but broke! How can that be? How can a political
"front-runner" be out of money, while a man who "doesn't have a
chance" is breaking fundraising records?

So, who are these "kooks" who are sending Ron Paul so much money? And
just why are they sending him so much money? I will tell you who they
are, because I am one of them. They are rank-and-file, tax-paying
citizens who are sick and tired of out-of-control federal spending and
deficits. They have had it with an arrogant federal government that
runs roughshod over both the Constitution and the liberties of the
American people. They are people who have had enough of the IRS, the
BATFE, and a thousand other federal agencies that have "erected a
multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass
our people, and eat out their substance." (Declaration of

They are people who see through the phony, disingenuous federal
politicians who only want to fleece the American citizenry for the
purpose of building their own personal fortunes. They have had it with
the Military-Industrial complex that desires to build international
empires at the expense of the blood and sacrifice of the American
people. They have had it with David Rockefeller and his Council on
Foreign Relations. They have had it with the arrogance of George W.
Bush and Nancy Pelosi.

They are sick and tired of paying outlandish taxes for a public
education system that produces high school graduates who cannot read
and write. They are sick and tired of working for 30 years to pay off
a mortgage, only then to be forced to pay extortion money (a.k.a.
property taxes) for the rest of their lives to the feudal state. They
are sick and tired of the government telling them what they can and
cannot do with their own property. They are sick and tired of watching
people with food stamps buy T-bone steaks and expensive Nike tennis
shoes while they are forced to buy fatty hamburger and cheap sneakers.

They are sick and tired of watching their manufacturing jobs go to
China and India. They have had it with money-hungry businessmen who
hire illegal Mexicans at slave labor wages. They have had it with
labor unions promoting politicians who support NAFTA, CAFTA, and the
FTAA. They are sick and tired of being bled dry at the gas pump.

They have had it with this phony "war on terrorism" that sends
trillions of dollars to nations throughout the Middle East, but
refuses to close our own borders to illegal immigration. They have had
it with the "war on drugs" and the "war on terror" being used as
excuses to trample people's freedoms. They have it with Vicente Fox
and Felipe Calderon. They have had it with Bush's North American
Union. They have had it with Joel Osteen and Rick Warren. In short,
they have just had it!

They also know that a vote for any other Presidential candidate is a
vote for more of the same. Democrat or Republican: it is more of the
same. Ron Paul, and Ron Paul alone, will bring a revolution of freedom
and independence to America. Believe me, the Ron Paul revolution is
bigger than Ron Paul. This is the beginning of a movement.

No matter what ultimately happens to Ron Paul's candidacy, the fight
to return America to its roots of freedom and independence has
started. The fire is lit. There is no putting it out. There will be
other Ron Pauls, other campaigns, other spokesmen, other fundraising.
The people supporting Ron Paul will not be silenced; they will not be
ignored; they will not be intimidated. In truth, Ron Paul's campaign
may just be the beginning of the end of the elitist, globalist,
stranglehold over America.

As one who is also fed up with the globalist goons that dominate the
two major parties, I join the Ron Paul revolution and vow to fight for
the rest of my life for the freedom and independence of these United
States. This means I will never again support a business-as-usual,
millionaires-club, globalist toady from either party ever again! I
will only support candidates who are fully committed to restoring
constitutional government. If that makes me a kook, so be it.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Pay It Forward

I found this post over at Gwen's blog. I like the concept of "pay it forward". It is something I work on with my children...doing for others with no expectation to receive. I love being able to do these things at Christmas especially....also called, in our family, "ring and run".

Some of our greatest joys have come from dropping an unexpected surprise on someone's doorstep, ringing the bell and running off. I really think it blesses us more than the "ringees". :)

Another thing we do at this time of year is to fill some Christmas sacks with a small new testament, a tract, a drink and some non-perishable ready to eat food. We hand these to the people standing on the street corners holding signs that say "hungry". I don't like to give money that then might be used for drugs or alcohol so providing a meal is a good alternative.

In the spirit of "Pay it Forward":
I will send a handmade gift to the first 3 people who leave a comment on my blog requesting to join this pay it forward exchange. I don’t know what that gift will be yet and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week, but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog. Please remember to email me your address.

Go for it!

Friday, December 14, 2007

A reader asks for help....

I had the sweetest note from a reader asking for help. I know that I have many "lurkers" and although I could point this young lady in one direction...I am hoping that some of you might be able to point her in others.

Here is her original note:
Dearest Cheri,
Came across your website today and have read many of the posts. When I married three years ago, I felt the encouragement from God to start growing my own food, learning how to prepare foods from scratch and to be more self-sufficient. I have learned so much in these three years, and I recognize so many of the learning moments you and your family had, I was a city girl too!

I am reaching out to you today for prayer and encouragement. After three years of marriage, my husband has decided to follow the ways of the world and is divorcing me. As the house is in his name, I will soon be looking for a new place to live. I am not tied to this area so am free to move anywhere.

I feel strongly that I am to continue on my path of self-sufficiency and embrace even more the christian agrarian lifestyle, but am unsure of whether I can do it all by myself. I have no family here, and we have no children. Do you know any other single ladies that are living this lifestyle and succeeding? I know that God has me covered, but encouragement from fellow christian sisters would be wonderful right now! I thank you for the time you take to write up all you do, it's comforting to know you're out there!
Many blessings,

I was able to send her to this wonderful blog but I am sure that there are others out there. So, if you are able to point her to other women...please leave a comment or drop me an email and I'll make sure to pass them along.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wonderful project for kids...big and little!

I just received this from a good friend. Xerox is doing something neat for the holidays!

If you go to this web site,, you can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to some member of the armed services.

How AMAZING it would be if we could get everyone we know to send one!!! Please send a card. It is FREE and it only takes a second.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if the soldiers received a bunch of these? Whether you are for or against the war, our guys and gals over there need to know we are behind them.

I know that my boys and I will be sending cards this week. Please join us :)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A neat surprise!

I opened my email to find a mysterious note from Marci asking me to check out her blog. When I got there I was surprised to find out that my humble little blog won an award. Thanks Marci! I find it amazing that so many of ya'll like to read my ramblings and even more amazing that someone gave me an award.


Eric Novak came out with the Christian award "Blogging with a Purpose" in late April of 2007. With so many secular awards around, Eric thought it would be a good idea to come out with a Christian award.

1. Awarded parties must nominate five people who have not received the award.
2. The blogs that receive the award must serve some purpose.
3. In their post about the award they need to link back to this entry.
4. Awarded parties must post the award banner on their site. The banner must remain linked to this site.

So, now it is my turn to hand out the awards. The winners are listed in no particular order :)

1. Julie and Michael at 3 Fold Cord. Julie and Michael blog as a team to share the Joy in the Journey. They share their lives and godly insights along with the antics of children and life on a farm. I have been blessed to know Julie and Michael personally for about 7 years (is that right Julie?) and she has been a life line to me in this trial that I have been enduring. Our family has seen this family walk out their faith and we love them all!

2. Julie at Seeking the Old Paths. Julie shares her wisdom as a Mom of seven in many areas. She also has a desire to share about our Hebraic roots as her family strives to serve Yahweh. She is conducting an awesome study on her site now on Restoring the Early Church. Check it out! We are also blessed to know this family personally and have enjoyed sweet fellowship together. They have blessed our family in many ways and have ministered Jesus to us in tangible ways during this time in the valley! We love you guys!

3. Cheri at Northwoods Ramblings. Cheri's blog inspires, uplifts and encourages all of us to seek the Father every day. Again, I have been blessed to know this wonderful lady, her husband and parents (Hi DOD!) personally. They have taken time on their travels to stop by and encourage my family and uplift us in prayer. We love you!

4. Lynn at ND Homekeeper. Lynn's blog shares about the joys and difficulties in establishing a new homestead and the faithfulness of our Father to be there in both. She shares the good times and the bad but always with a joyful heart. Lynn writes with an honesty and style that truly encourages her readers. The care and concern that Lynn has expressed to me during this difficult time has meant so much to me.... I feel blessed to call her a friend.

5. Walter at No Walter blogs to keep us aware of how harmful the USDA's National Animal Identification System is to small farmers, homesteaders and pet owners. In fact, Walter actually established a seperate blog for his writings on NAIS. Walter has compiled an amazing site and all small farmers, horse lovers, pet owners and homesteaders owe him a debt of gratitude. If NAIS is defeated, Walter's effort and work will have had a major part in that defeat. If you haven't heard of NAIS, please visit Walter's site. Thank you Walter!

So, there are my five winners, although there were many others I could have named. Check out their web sites, you will be blessed, encouraged, uplifted and informed.

Marci, thanks again!

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Tale of a Charlie Brown Christmas Tree!

Christmas is one of our favorite times of year and it has nothing to do with presents! I don't have to deal with the dreaded "I-Want-i-tis" that often appears this time of year. Since we have no commercial T.V. of any kind and the "Toy Catalogs" go straight to the burn pile, my children have never suffered from that disease. In fact, it is not unusual to have to pump them for a list of things they might like.

Traditions are a big part of our celebration...along with friends, fellowship and food (I'm a southern woman...did you expect different?). We began decorating our home after Thanksgiving and decided to postpone the tree for a week or so. I was worried about getting a tree.....with this valley we are in I just didn't know if I could afford one. I had already prepared the boys that this Christmas would be "slim pickins" as Grandma used to say. But I assured them that there would be plenty of good food, traditions and time together with each other. They were fine with that. Fortunately my kids are not very materially minded :) But a tree.....

We headed to the tree lot last Monday. I had $25 in my pocket but really needed to get a few things at the grocery store. I prayed....a lot! In previous years trees were $40 and up....I had seen the $25 table top trees....pretty I prayed some more! When we got there we noticed that their sign said trees from "$20 and up". The previous day that sign read "$25 and up". I prayed... again.

I asked where the $20 trees were and they showed us some trees leaning against two racks. We picked one up....not even 5 feet tall and pretty sad. I sent the older boys off scouting with the admonition that we would have to check prices. Elijah stayed with me. As we walked around the last rack, Elijah told me he saw a pretty tree laying down. I asked how he knew it was pretty if it was laying down and he told me he could just tell. The gentleman that worked there picked it up and held it out for us....a good 10 feet tall, a little thin with a bare spot or two - but pretty. The gentleman called it a "Charlie Brown Christmas Tree". This had meaning for me but not my boys since they hadn't seen the movie. I like that movie. You don't see things like that anymore....I love how it ends with the reading of it this season.

I called the older boys over and we discussed the tree - thin was good for where we wanted to put the tree - the bare spots could go against the stairs....we asked how much and I held my breath......."I'd let it go for $15" he announced. Yes.... I said FIFTEEN DOLLARS!!! Did I mention that I had prayed? I happily forked over the money, made a run to the grocery store and we headed home.

We were amazed at God's provision. We are still amazed! Has anyone ever heard of a $15 Christmas tree? We had to cut it off at both ends to get it to fit our 9 foot ceilings. The holes were a wee bit larger than we realized after the limbs warmed up and dropped a little but we love our Charlie Brown Christmas Tree. Here is our tree in the stand before decorating:


And after we spent the afternoon stringing lights, eating homemade Christmas cookies, hanging ornaments, listening to wonderful hymns and Christmas carols, sipping eggnog and having a generally wonderful looked like this:


It was a wonderful day with my four boys. This may turn out to be our most favorite tree ever because we see it as a gift from Father. Once again, we have seen Father reach down to provide beyond our most basic needs....he provided the desire of our hearts. We are so very thankful!

Now we are off to watch the Charlie Brown Christmas movie so that my boys will understand what a Charlie Brown tree is, how beautiful it became and be reminded that the REAL meaning of Christmas lies not in trees or in presents but in the little baby, born crucified, that we may live... Jesus the Christ, our Messiah.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A reader's response about The Golden Compass

I had an interesting response to my blog about the movie that was released this weekend called The Golden Compass. "S". writes:
Umm.... what's wrong with intercision? I don't get it.... It's just a plot point in the book where children are separated from daemons, how can't that be mentioned? You're over-reacting, children are going to know its just fiction. They read about stuff like witches, wizards, demons, goblins, the arcane, its all in fantasy books. They know it isn't all real.

I'd like to respond :) First of all, many children have parents, like me, who protect them from reading ungodly literature that is fraught with witches, wizards, demons, goblins and the arcane. There is plenty of room for fantasy in our lives as long as it measures up to the Word of God. I am a firm believer in garbage in...garbage out. I prefer to use Father's advice when it comes to our reading lists:


Psalm 101:3 I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.

Phil: 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.

I once had a sweet young lady ask me why I limited my children to one belief, one God, one way of thinking. In her mind I should raise them and allow them to choose from the banquet table of all the world religions. My answer to her was this:

"Picture yourself with your little ones at your feet. If you took them to a banquet and on the table were good and delightful things mixed with things that would lead to certain death, would you not guide them to the good and delightful things and help them to avoid the things that would lead to their death? Of course...any momma would! These other religions, the occult and perverse and unholy things will lead my children to certain death...eternal is my duty before Father to guide my children to those things that will lead them to life...eternal life...and to service in His Kingdom!"

So, the Golden Compass will not be on my children's viewing list and here are a few more reasons why (Caution: not for children's eyes!):

Dr.Al Mohler's Blog
The Golden Compass -- A Briefing for Concerned Christians
The release of The Golden Compass as a major motion picture represents a new challenge for Christians -- especially parents. The release of a popular film with major actors that presents a message directly subversive of Christianity is something new. It is not likely to be the last.

Having seen the movie at an advance viewing and having read all three books of His Dark Materials, I can assure Christians that we face a real challenge -- one that will require careful thinking and intellectual engagement.

Why is this movie such a challenge?

First of all, The Golden Compass is an extremely attractive movie. Like the book on which it is based, the movie is a very sophisticated story that is very well told. The casting was excellent. Nicole Kidman and Daniel Craig (the latest James Bond actor) are joined by others including Sam Elliott and newcomer Dakota Blue Richards, who plays the central role of 11-year-old Lyra Belacqua. Kidman is chilling as the beautiful but evil Marisa Coulter and Craig is perfect as Lord Asriel. Actor Ian McKellen (Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy) is the voice of Iorek Byrnison, the armoured bear.

The movie is very well done and will be very attractive to audiences of all ages. The special effects are superior to any previous movie of the type, including the Lord of the Rings trilogy (also released by New Line Cinema). Everything is in place for this to be a blockbuster at the box office.

Second, the movie is based in a story that is captivating, sophisticated, and truly interesting. Philip Pullman is a skilled writer and teller of tales. His invented worlds of The Golden Compass and the entire His Dark Materials trilogy are about as good as the fantasy genre can offer. His characters are believable and the dialogue is constant -- largely due to Pullman's brilliant invention of a companion for each character -- a "daemon."

The bottom line is that these books and this movie will attract a lot of attention and will captivate many readers and viewers.

So, what's the problem?

This is not just any fantasy trilogy or film project. Philip Pullman has an agenda -- an agenda about as subtle as an army tank. His agenda is nothing less than to expose what he believes is the tyranny of the Christian faith and the Christian church. His hatred of the biblical storyline is clear. He is an atheist whose most important literary project is intended to offer a moral narrative that will reverse the biblical account of the fall and provide a liberating mythology for a new secular age.

The great enemy of humanity in the three books, The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, and The Amber Spyglass (together known as His Dark Materials) is the Christian church, identified as the evil Magisterium. The Magisterium, representing church authority, is afraid of human freedom and seeks to repress human sexuality.

The Magisterium uses the biblical narrative of the Fall and the doctrine of original sin to repress humanity. It is both violent and vile and it will stop at nothing to protect its own interests and to preserve its power.

Pullman's attack on biblical Christianity is direct and undeniable. He once questioned why his books attracted little controversy even as the Harry Potter books attracted so much. He told an Australian newspaper that what he is "saying things that are far more subversive than anything poor old Harry has said. My books are about killing God."

Will viewers of the movie see all this?

The direct attack on Christianity and God is toned down in the movie. But any informed person will recognize the Magisterium as representing the Church and Christianity. Of course, in our world the Magisterium is the authoritative leadership of the Roman Catholic Church. In Pullman's world it represents Christianity as a whole.

Indeed, Pullman's tale tells of John Calvin assuming the papacy and moving the headquarters to Geneva, thus combining the Catholic and Reformation traditions into one. In the movie, the Magisterium appears to be located in London. In any event, the point is not subtle.

The most direct attacks upon Christianity and God do not appear until the last book, The Amber Spyglass, in which Lyra and Will (a boy her age who first appears in the second book) eventually kill God, who turns out to be a decrepit and feeble old imposter who was hardly worth the killing.

Is Pullman's attack on Christianity exaggerated by his critics?

No -- his attack is neither hidden nor subtle. The entire premise of the trilogy is that Lyra is the child foretold by prophecy who will reverse the curse of the Fall and free humanity from the lie of original sin. Whereas in Christian theology it is Jesus Christ who reverses the curse through His work of atonement on the Cross, Pullman presents his own theology of sorts in which the Fall is reversed through the defiance of these children. As Pullman insists, Eve and Adam were right to eat the forbidden fruit and God was a tyrant to forbid them the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The supernatural element of Pullman's story is "Dust," which is seen by the Magisterium as original sin but is presented by Pullman as the essence of life itself. In The Golden Compass, Lyra is given an "alethiometer" or "golden compass" which is filled with Dust and tells the truth to one qualified to operate it. Readers are told that a great battle is coming in which forces fighting for human freedom and happiness will confront (and destroy) the Magisterium and God.

In the last volume of the trilogy, a character known as Dr. Mary Malone explains her discovery to Lyra and Will: "I used to be a nun, you see. I thought physics could be done to the glory of God, till I saw there wasn't any God at all and that physics was more interesting anyway. The Christian religion is a very powerful and convincing mistake, that's all."

Is there more to the larger story?

Yes, and it has to do with sex. Surprisingly graphic and explicit sex. Pullman believes that the Christian church is horribly repressive about sex and that this is rooted in the idea of the Fall. As he told Hanna Rosin of the Atlantic Monthly, "Why the Christian Church has spent 2,000 years condemning this glorious moment, well, that's a mystery. I want to confront that, I suppose, by telling a story that the so-called original sin is anything but. It's the thing that makes us fully human."

Puberty is a big part of Pullman's concern. Coming-of-age stories are one of the most common forms of fiction, but Pullman's packs a punch that readers cannot miss. He wants to celebrate the adolescent's arrival at sexual awareness. Remember that the child's daemon can change forms until puberty. At that point it is fixed as a single creature that reflects the personality and character of the young adult.

Puberty means the coming of sexual feelings. The Magisterium would prefer that children grow up without experiencing sexual temptation, so it is conducting an experiment in order to separate children from their daemons before puberty, when their daemon can no longer change. This procedure, known as "intercision" makes the child a "severed child" who has no daemon -- and thus no soul. The Magisterium has assigned Mrs. Coulter the job of abducting the children and taking them to the North for this experiment.

As Mrs. Coulter explains to Lyra (who is revealed to be her own daughter) in the first book: "All that happens is a little cut, and then everything's peaceful. Forever! You see, your daemon's a wonderful friend and companion when you are young, but at the age we call puberty, the age you're coming to very soon, darling, daemons bring all sorts of troublesome thoughts and feelings, and that's what lets Dust in. A quick little operation before that, and you're never troubled again."

In The Golden Compass, Lyra and her companions free the children held at this experimental station in the North and destroy it. In The Amber Spyglass, Lyra and Will reverse the story of the Edenic Fall by consummating a sexual act in the garden.

Again, Pullman is not subtle. Keep in mind that this is a series of books marketed to children and adolescents. Lyra puts a red fruit to Will's lips and Will "knew at once what she meant, and that he was too joyful to speak." Within moments, the 13-year olds are involved in some kind of unspecified sexual act.

"The word love set his nerves ablaze," Pullman writes of Will. "All his body thrilled with it, and he answered her in the same words, kissing her hot face over and over again, drinking in with adoration the scent of her body and her warm, honey-fragrant hair and her sweet, moist mouth that tasted of the little red fruit."

Just a few pages later, Will and Lyra will dare to touch each other's daemon. That passage is even more sexually charged and explicit than the first. The adolescents now know "that neither daemon would change now, having felt a lover's hands on them. These were their shapes for life: they would want no other."

What is it about Pullman and C. S. Lewis?

Put simply, Pullman hates C. S. Lewis's work The Chronicles of Narnia. He told Hannah Rosin that Lewis's famous work is "morally loathsome" and "one of the most ugly and poisonous things I ever read." Narnia, he said, "is the Christian one . . . . And mine is the non-Christian."

When the first Narnia film was released in 2005, Pullman described the books as "a peevish blend of racist, misogynistic and reactionary prejudice."

Indeed, Pullman's His Dark Materials is intended as an answer to Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia. What Lewis (and J. R. R. Tolkein) did for Christianity, Pullman wants to do for atheism.

So, what should Christians do?

A good first step would be to take a deep breath. The Christian faith is not about to be toppled by a film, nor by a series of fantasy books. Pullman has an agenda that is clear, and Christians need to inform themselves of what this agenda is and what it means. At the same time, nothing would serve his agenda better than to have Christians speaking recklessly or unintelligently about the film or the books.

This is about the battle of ideas and worldviews. While Christians will not celebrate the release of this film, we should recognize the mixture of challenge and opportunity that comes with millions of persons watching this film and talking about the issues it raises. When the movie is mentioned in the workplace, in school, on the playground, or in the college campus, this is a great opportunity to show that Christians are not afraid of the battle of ideas.

We should recognize that the Christian Church has some very embarrassing moments in its history - moments when it has failed to represent the truth of the Gospel and the love of Christ. Authors like Philip Pullman take advantage of these failures in order to paint the entire Christian Church as a conspiracy against human happiness and freedom. Of course, that charge will not stand close scrutiny, and we can face it head-on with a thoughtful response.

Some Christians have also held very unhelpful views of human sexuality. These, we must admit, would include figures as great and influential as Augustine and, alas, C. S. Lewis. But these figures, rightly influential in other areas of the faith, are not representative in this case of biblical sexuality. We can set the record straight.

Should we be concerned that people, young and old, will be confused by this movie? Of course. But I do not believe that a boycott will dissuade the general public from seeing the film. I am very concerned when I think of so many people being entertained by such a subversive message delivered by such a seductive medium. We are responsible to show them, in so far as we are able, that the Magisterium of The Golden Compass is not a fair or accurate representation of the Christian Church.

I can only wonder how many parents and grandparents will allow children and young people to see the movie and then buy them the books -- blissfully unaware of what is coming in books two and three.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ has enemies; this we know. Christian parents must be informed about His Dark Materials and inform others. We must take the responsibility to use interest in this film to teach our own children to think biblically and to be discerning in their engagement with the media in all forms. We should arm our children to be able to talk about this project with their classmates without fear or rancor.

Philip Pullman has an agenda, but so do we. Our agenda is the Gospel of Christ -- a message infinitely more powerful than that of The Golden Compass. Pullman's worldview of unrestricted human autonomy would be nightmarish if ever achieved. His story promises liberation but would enslave human beings to themselves and destroy all transcendent value.

The biblical story of the Fall is true, after all, and our only rescue is through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The curse of sin was not reversed by adolescents playing at sex in a garden, but by the Son of God shedding His blood on a cross.

So let's get our bearings straight as we think and talk about The Golden Compass. This movie does represent a great challenge, but a challenge that Christians should always be ready to meet.


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