Democracy: An American Christian’s Prop?

prop: a support placed beneath or against something to keep it from shaking or falling

As a Christian I love living in America.  Mostly because it makes being a Christian really easy.  For example, I don’t actually have to go out and help the poor or feed the hungry or visit the folks in prison – all I have to do is make sure I vote for the person who will put policies that support these things in place.

And if I don’t like this neighbor that I don’t know, and they decide to put a car on blocks in their driveway and I don’t like how that affects the value of my home then I don’t have to walk across the street and find out why their car is on blocks  – all I have to do is write a letter to my Home Owner’s Association and we can pass a neighborhood law prohibiting cars on blocks.  It’s so easy.

The coolest part about democracy is that when I feel my neighbors, or any of the 300 million people in this country for that matter, are living immoral lives, I don’t have to get to know them and try to figure out why they do what they do.  I don’t have to become friends with them and gain influence.  I don’t even have to take time out of my busy day to pray about that issue, or rely on the Holy Spirit to help them (or me) achieve a better life.  All I have to do is start a petition, and call my senator, and try to pass a law that prohibits their immoral activity.  Never mind it doesn’t change the way they act (it only makes it illegal) – I feel a lot better about myself when there are good, moral laws in place.

It gets even better when it comes to foreign policy.  No longer do I have to go anywhere or see anything firsthand.  I don’t have to help start an actual orphanage or touch one of those AIDS infected bodies – all I have to do is donate $100 to the president of my choice.  He’ll take care of it with the next $1 billion international relief budget.

I love democracy.  It makes being a Christian so easy.

Friday Is For Smiling

When you wake up in the morning in August and the house is chilly, and you have to put on a sweatshirt and hot coffee finally makes sense, you know it’s a good day to smile.

But if your smiler still needs a kickstart, check out these oldies but goodies:

And finally, the original “Truth About” video that made Bryan Allain famous: The Truth About Bears

Have a great weekend!

5 1/2 Random Thoughts on a Thursday Morning

Sorry House Studio…actually Thursday mornings are for the random…

1 – If you think can play ping pong like Donkey Kong, check out yesterday’s post about the upcoming ping pong championship in Gap, PA

2 – Either a store is very smart or it’s customers are very dumb (or the place is just amazing), when they can get you to pay for the right to shop there (ahem, Costco; and yes, I am a customer)

3 – Don’t forget to register for the Fireside Writer’s Conference before September 1st if you want to receive the discounted rate

4 – Thanks to Ken Mueller of Inkling Media for helping me set up a Facebook page for the conference…I know, someone my age should probably be able to do that themselves

5 – I spent 3 hours last night hanging out with my Amish relatives, getting information for my upcoming Stoltzfus Family History book – who would have thought that discussions about ancestors, appendectomies and church splits could be so much fun.  I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time.

6 – If I could go to any restaurant right now, at 7:20 am, it would definitely be . . .

(feel free to finish that sentence in the comments)

From Addis Ababa to Lancaster…via ping pong?

Right now, somewhere in Ethiopia, I have a niece or a nephew.

She hasn’t been born yet, probably still about three months from exiting the womb. Her mother might not even know that she’s going to give her up for adoption.  But in about 90 days her mom will give birth, then leave the child at the hospital, or the front steps of an orphanage.

There’s a 50% chance this child is the result of rape. In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that’s a horrendous part of how beautiful little lives enter the world.

But in less than a year, this little child will be living in Gap, Pennsylvania, with four doting brothers and sisters. Between relatives in Lancaster and England, this baby will have five fascinated cousins, six aunts and uncles, and parents who couldn’t be happier.  This baby will be welcomed into a new community, halfway around the world, and that little one will grow up here, in Amish country.

It’s amazing, how the thread of a life can twist and turn its way into a completely new story.

* * * * *

This Sunday at 3:00pm at the Gap Family Center my sister and brother-in-law are hosting a ping pong tournament to help cover the costs for the adoption of this precious child, whom none of us know…yet. The cost to enter the tournament is $25 – there will be two age brackets (under 14, and 15+).  There will be lots of great food and all kinds of fun.  Plus there’s the challenge of seeing if anyone can defeat my brother-in-law, Ben – he’s a tennis instructor and the ping-pong world’s equivalent of Roger Federer.

We would love for you to join us.

I am excited that the community is coming together to help out financially with this – wouldn’t you feel pretty special if, once you grew up, you found out that your adoption had been partially sponsored by the community in which you live?  That everyone had banded together to ensure that you could find a better place in this world?

Somewhere in Ethiopia I have a niece or a nephew.  This Sunday, ping pong will help bring them here.

Tuesday’s Top 10: Best Things That Happen In a Day

Some days are better than others.  Some days I wake up early, feel motivated, breakfast routines for four children go well, and I’m showered and out of the house and writing by 8:30…other mornings, not so much.  These are 10 things that tend to make for a good day:

1) My wife and I roll out of bed (before the kids are awake) and she makes her awesome pancakes which I devour with real maple syrup and butter we buy at the local dairy

2) It’s not a bath morning for the kids so they haven’t used all the hot water and I get a nice, piping hot shower

3) I don’t get all hung up on the computer in the morning and actually enjoy breakfast with my four kids

4) I get 2-3 solid hours of writing in before lunch

5) I get to eat lunch with Maile, preferably curry or something else delicious that she made

6) I write for 2-3 hours  in the afternoon and feel good about life (as opposed to feeling frustrated and distracted, both of which lead me to spend too much time on Twitter and Facebook)

7) A late afternoon that consists of an hour or two working outside, mowing or gardening

8) Some sort of epic sports battle with my older two kids, usually soccer (the goals are created with flip flops or tricycles that our younger two, Sam and Abra, eventually carry off or ride away on)

9) A dinner where all six of us get to sit down and eat together

10) An evening with my wife when the kids go to bed (and actually fall asleep), and the two of us talk about important things and the house is quiet and we listen to music and fall asleep with the ceiling fan on and the windows open.

What are the best things that happen in your days?

What Story Are You Living?

If someone made a movie about your life, what would the plot be like? Would there be a plot, or would it just be a never ending succession of dull days?

What’s the major conflict in your story? Is the main character (you) fighting to get through, or has that person given in to living a quiet life of desperation?

If you’re not satisfied with the story you’re in, you should read Donald Miller’s newest book, “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years”:

If you watched a movie about a guy who wanted a Volvo and worked for years to get it, you wouldn’t cry at the end when he drove off the lot, testing the windshield wipers.  You wouldn’t tell your frinds you saw a beautiful movie or go home and put a record on to think about the story you’d seen.  The truth is, you wouldn’t remember that movie a week later, except you’d feel robbed and want your money back.  Nobody cries at the end of a movie about a guy who wants a Volvo.

But we spend years actually living those stories, and expect our lives to feel meaningful.  The truth is, if what we choose to do with our lives won’t make a story meaningful, it won’t make a life meaningful either.

11 months ago circumstances (or an author) conspired together and forced me to jump out of an everyday sort of story and into a new adventure.  Be ready.  Your new story might be right around the corner.