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Melting Chocolate Bunnies

Oh man!

This is both peaceful and kinda disturbing all at the same time. Plus, it made me giggle a little bit. So, I don't know if this makes me happy or sad, but I'm definitely calm... I think.

[So, there used to be this great little video of melting chocolate bunnies right here. It was great. But, sadly, there were some inappropriate 'related' videos YouTube had attached to this video. I did not realize this when originally posted, and apologize to anyone who may have been offended. I chose to remove the video. In it's place, I'll share a slightly longer, but equally entertaining little video of bwack (of the dc*b) mowing his grass. That man's crazy smart. Enjoy!]

Nothing's played with my emotions like this since I was in the eighth grade! I don't know what to do...

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A Quote for Friday

"To the person who does not know where he wants to go, there is no favorable wind."


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Girls' Body Image

Issues of young teens and body image, especially among young girls, are kinda a big deal, yeah? The questions of identity and self-image the swirl around in the adolescent years can be enormous. Here are two videos I thought were noteworthy on this. One, from the Dove Beauty Campaign, is pointed and meaningful with a valuable message. In fact, we've used it in one of our youth messages. The other, from The Onion, I guess still has a message, but is much more tongue-in-cheek about it. (Btw, there's slightly questionable content in The Onion video, but thought I'd still share it here with this warning. So, you're warned.)

Bratz Dolls May Give Young Girls Unrealistic Expectations Of Head Size

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Marketing in the Church

a purple cow is remarkableMany people don't like to think in terms of marketing a church. Many people are uncomfortable with the 'consumer/product' terminology when it's applied to the church - and in many ways they're right. God's love for Creation is not a commodity to be exported. It's not something you swing by a local church on Sunday morning to pick up your supply for the week. There's a danger when faith becomes consumer driven. Faith is an invitation to live in a relationship. But it is helpful, though, to make use of marketing language as we look for compelling ways to show people the truth of God's love.

Many have been calling for an overhaul in how the Christian church in the US functions. I think the "need for an overhaul" is not as recent as the economic situation we're currently in, and I think the needed "overhaul" has been happening, little-by-little, in small ways for years now. And I think it's a good thing. It's a necessary response to changes in culture.

Just as the first century Church had to figure out what it meant to live as Jesus followers under Roman government and Jewish religious influence; just as the advent of the printing press revolutionized communication and changed the availability of the Bible; just as other significant changes in history have come along, the Church has continually sought ways to "go and make disciples of all nations... teaching them to obey all" Jesus had taught. As cliche as it may sound, the Internet has changed the world we live in. The availability of information, the global connectivity of people, and the volume of our entertainment are just some of the ways that our world has changed in significant ways in the last twenty years. Historically, about every 500 years the Church has undergone intense renovations, much in response to cultural shifts, and I think we're in the midst of one of those times.

SO... I think that Church marketing (visible, remarkable ways of showing God's love) can be helpful in gaining someone's attention, but in a world that is not at a loss for information, presenting information is not enough. It's about (and maybe always has been about) where that information is coming from, or rather WHO that information is coming from. And that's where we see the importance of relationships in ministry. Call it customer service, call it followup, call it incarnational ministry... whatever... but it is important to consider how God's love is presented, and then how that's lived out in context of relationships -knowing and caring for people.

As we think of marketing in the church (telling the story we've got to tell), the message doesn't change, but the means of communicating that message must change. And I think the best way of communicating God's love with people, here and now, is not through force (think Crusades) or cultural institution (think government backed religious systems) or through just intellectual arguments and information (think the Renaissance and the Enlightenment), but is best communicated through personal relationships expressing the love of God.

(Btw, maybe read seth and cms.)

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A Quote for Friday

"Greatness is not in where we stand, but in what direction we are moving. We must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it -- but sail we must and not drift, nor lie at anchor."

Oliver Wendell Holmes

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Obama Provides Support for Abortion

Warning! This is about government and politics.
And it's a little long.

I don't often talk much about politics. There are several reasons for this. For one, I often don't know what I'm talking about. I'm sure there are plenty of people who are more well informed than I am, and I figure I leave the public wars about political issues to be waged by those people. Two, it's almost always divisive. Most people who are informed enough to have meaningful conversations about political issues have strong opinions regarding those issues. And lots of people don't disagree well. It turns too personal too quickly, and becomes about more than the issue at hand. And three... well, I guess it's maybe just those two. But this morning, I read about something I wanted to speak up about.

President Obama took the office of president earlier this week and seems to be going to work right away. I'll state up front, throughout the campaigning and since the election, I've been impressed by Obama's poise, presence, and demeanor. He certainly comes across as a leader and someone whom people can rally behind. I've heard about our current president being responsible for accomplishing more just this week than I remember hearing the former president accomplish in his last six months in office (other than "economic bailout" talk). And, I'll also say that I've been skeptical of some of the decisions I've heard President Obama was hoping to make in office. I read about one of those decisions this morning.

Just a day after the anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs Wade, President Obama will be signing orders to lift a ban on federal funding for international groups that promote or perform abortions. This has been, according to the article, an on-going roller coaster of executive orders:

The policy was first instituted by President Ronald Reagan in 1984 and continued by President George H.W. Bush. The policy was reversed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, and re-instated by President George W. Bush in 2001.

Now, what this will do is this:

The so-called Mexico City policy requires any non-governmental organization to agree before receiving U.S. funds that they will "neither perform nor actively promote abortion as a method of family planning in other nations."

And, as government and politics usually goes, there's finger-pointing and accusations of back-tracking:

"President Obama not long ago told the American people that he would support policies to reduce abortions, but today he is effectively guaranteeing more abortions by funding groups that promote abortion as a method of population control," said Douglas Johnson, legislative director of the National Right to Life Committee.

Here are the observations I want to point out:

This isn't a brand-new policy.
This isn't something that is being done for the first time. As the news report said, it's been an ongoing back-and-forth from administration to administration. And this is something that President Obama has been expected to do. But...

This is a significant statement on the value the US as a country places on human life.
The timing of this order, the day after the anniversary of Roe vs Wade, is what makes this so striking to me. Clearly, "abortion" and "women's rights" and "right to life" and buzz-word phrases like that have been the fuel for many debates. But [and this is coming from a dad who is right now waiting for the birth of his second child] contending that "life" doesn't begin until the fetus leaves the womb is pretty ridiculous to me. Even the concept of "viability of a fetus" is so subjective and doesn't provide clear, definitive guidelines.

Whether you argue that life begins at conception or argue that it begins at birth or if you think it's somewhere between the two, abortion of a baby is at the very least claiming the rights to and authority over the life (or potential life) of that person. I hear and respect the points made about endangering the life of the mother and about a woman's right to her body and instances of rape and concerns for the health and welfare of the child, etc... It is important, though, to recognize the weight of the authority claimed, even in those situations.

To what extent should US government money be used to support other country's healthcare needs?
I'm not at all opposed to "those who have" giving to and sharing with and supporting "those who don't have." In fact, I think that's something that everyone should look at and consider, but on a personal level. I think that should be the responsibility of the individual, not the government. I think that should be executed by the private sector (private businesses or organizations) rather than instituted, mandated, and over-seen by the government. I understand there are pros and cons either way this is handled, and ultimately comes down to one's opinion of the role of government. Even the order that President Obama is reversing was still providing US government money to international, non-government health agencies.

In sharing any of this, I'm not looking for heated public debate. I don't have the time, energy, or interest in long, constant, online arguments. Your thoughts and comments are obviously welcomed and I'd appreciate hearing some of your responses to any of this. It's just something that struck a chord with me and I wanted to hash out some of my thoughts a bit more and pass the thoughts on to some of you.

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In Awe - guration

I didn't watch much of the inauguration celebrations during the day yesterday, but did catch headlines and stuff about it on the news last night. Wow.

There had been a lot of coverage before yesterday of the expected size of the crowd. There were so many people all over the place. I read somewhere that arrangements were made for 5000 portable toilets. That's a lot of porta-potties! -The jokes about Washington being "full-of-crap" are just too obvious.- But then I saw these satellite images and thought 5000 may not have been enough!?! There are so many people that from these pictures they look like ants. Crazy big crowd!

It was cool to see this sort of celebration. Other than useless toilet trivia and some cool photos, I'll just say I think it's interesting to think that people had such a variety of reasons they were celebrating. For some, it's the civic duty of celebrating a new president. For others, it's the celebration that it's a NEW president (ie: dislike for former President Bush). For some, it's a landmark in the history of American civil rights to have the first ever black (african-american) president (which, technically, is only half correct)*. For others, it was self-centered opportunity to be able to say "I was there." And for others, it was the chance to be a part of a cultural phenomenon like this. And not even just the people who attended the events in Washington DC, but people around the world in other countries who celebrated the USA having a new leader.

*NOTE: In regards to the whole discussion of race that comes up about President Obama, I want to be clear that I think that's an issue that takes a back-seat to any of the political, economic, international relations, and leadership issues that should be the priority. It IS symbolic of some of the great strides that have been made in racial equality in our county, but I think racially equality has been much better than mainstream media portrays much of the time. I did think this Doonesbury comic that ran the day after the election was very funny.

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Why Touch a Mouse?

Why touch a mouse? Don't you know they carry germs and diseases. Btw, I'll have to tell the story of catching a mouse in my college apartment sometime. But this isn't really about mice; not those kind, anyway.

(Alternate title: Keys to a Happy Life. I thought it was a nice play on words, but it just sounded pretentious.)

One of the things I love about my Mac is the keyboard shortcuts. (Yes, Microsoft Windows includes some keyboard shortcuts, too. I used them as much as possible. Try 'alt-tab' or 'windows key + d'.) But, when I'm working at my computer, it's quicker to keep my hands on the keyboard, rather than go hunting for the mouse, and find the cursor, and blah, blah, blah. It's just quicker to hit a couple keys and I'm done. Plus, I work on a laptop, so most often I don't even have a mouse connected, just using the trackpad. That's still not as fast or convenient as keyboard shortcuts. It takes some practice, but I think it's like playing piano or guitar or learning how to type; pretty quickly your hands go on auto-pilot. So...

If you use Safari, enjoy this list from Apple. I don't use all of these - it's more than I have use for - but some are really helpful. Favorites: Cmd-L = address bar, Cmd-Opt-F = search, Cmd-T = new tab, Cmd-Shift-right or left arrow = switch between tabs, Cmd-click link = opens link in new tab/window.

Also, try using some of these shortcuts in Finder and other programs, just to get around. Favorites: Cmd-W = close window, Cmd-Q = quit program, Cmd-Tab = switch between open programs, Cmd-H = hide program, Cmd-Shift-3 = Screen grab.

Two-finger scrolling and the new four-finger expose on the trackpad are terrific and used all the time. And if you're not using Spotlight (Cmd-Spacebar) to launch programs and open files, well, you're just giving yourself unnecessary headaches!

BONUS: If you ARE on a Mac, take a deep breath and press Control-Option-Cmd-8. Smiles!

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A Quote for Friday

Just because it's cold outside doesn't mean it must be cold in your inside. Enjoy this week's quote...

"Laughter is the sun that drives winter from the human face."

Victor Hugo

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It Won't Be Like This for Long

Every once in a while, you discover something just when you're in the mood for it. That's the case with this song by Darius Rucker, of Hootie and the Blowfish fame. It just paints a nice picture of words I need to remember sometimes; savoring the moments and soaking up the memories I want to be able to look back on. For me, the song implies, "So you better love it now."

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Happy Birthday, Shannon!

Shannon in the tree at Bly GapThis is just a short post to say "Happy Birthday" to my favorite girl in the world. You don't read my blog, but maybe someday you'll see this and smile to know I was thinking about you. ilu.

(Picture is from a summer hiking trip. Shannon was posing in "the tree" at Bly Gap on the AT.)

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Thought I would share a short little video we used to promo our confirmation class.

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They're Back!

Spring semester just began at GSU today, and that means the 'boro is crowded again. FEMA has actually issued a federal disaster warning for Wal*Mart. But the people and crowded stores and all that doesn't bother me. I like college students and all.

It's just... (and I say this with the most sweeping of stereotypes and in the most lovable way possible)... it's just that so many of them are such bad drivers. I had a girl in what I'm almost certain was her mama's SUV pull out right in front of me today. I'm willing to bet it was a Fulton county tag.

Welcome back, GSU-ers!

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Death of a Dream

i had a friend of mine talking to me about how so much of life is learning to cope with the death of a dream… we have something in mind, something we want in life or how we expect things to play out according to our hopes and expectations… like a little girl’s fairy tale of a life… and then it blows up, falls apart, changes, shifts… somebody died, or we lost the job, or he said no, or that person let us down… and not always that it turns out bad, but just different… thought you’d be married by xx age but still aren’t even dating , always wanted to have xx job when you grew up, but circumstances changed the plan… whatever. not so much “settling for” but “coping with”.

"I'm old enough to know April showers make a garden grow."

-jon black

"In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps."


"Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails."


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