Thursday, April 27, 2017

New Website

So, it's been a while since I utilized this blog on a regular basis.

I have been doing a lot of writing in my private journals, but I just haven't felt comfortable coming back to post a lot of it here. This blog is such an important part of my history, and I don't want to delete it, but I also knew I needed a fresh start.

So, I've started a new blog at - if you would like to continue to read my writings and follow me there please feel free to do so; a lot of my first posts are going to be reflections on some of the posts I made in the first year I had this blog (especially the more popular ones).

I have turned off the comments on this blog as well, as I'm just not going to be coming back here to engage at all going forward.

Thank you for reading - see you in the netosphere.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Wrestling with Substitionary Atonement

It has been 2,029 days since I last published a blog post.

Over this year, 2016, I have had so many post ideas bouncing around in my head, and I even started several on paper before I lost the need to get them out of my head. I know that I am a better person when I write regularly though, especially if I hold myself to developing it as a habit, and even more so when I am sharing thoughts with others through my blog, rather than just keeping all my thoughts to myself. (Or just bursting the thoughts out in random, disjointed sentences on Facebook or Twitter when I just can't keep them bottled up anymore inside.)

I have a lot of writing in me that I want to get out over the coming weeks, months, and (hopefully) years, but here's what I have for now. I was having a conversation with some friends in a private Facebook group recently about Penal Substitionary Atonement, and the following are my current thoughts on the issue.

I'm a highly sensitive person, so thinking about the pain Jesus experienced in the cross often moved me to tears when I was growing up, but the phrase "Jesus died for your sins" for some reason always rang hollow. I couldn't connect to that concept emotionally, except through guilt and shame.

I was taught that Jesus' death and his blood literally washed my sins away. But also (talk about mixed metaphors) that my sin was a literal, real - although spiritual - barrier that separated me from God; that it was literally impossible for me to have a relationship with God because my sin was something He was not capable of being in the presence of because of His holiness. (And yet, He was also omnipotent.)

I was taught that somehow Jesus' death made a bridge over/crashed a hole through that sin barrier, so now I had the OPTION of crossing over/through to salvation and a relationship with God. (By faith alone in Christ alone, of course.)

The more I've thought about it, the more "magical" it's seemed to me; the more that what he did was a spell that undid some supernatural hold of sin on my soul, keeping me from being truly alive. I'm not denying the existence of the supernatural, but in this instance it just didn't make sense. I'm not sure I can adequately explain why right now. I never got a satisfactory answer as to how his death, his blood, did what I was told it did. The closest I got was because of God's absolute holiness, God couldn't make the choice to forgive our sin until it was paid; either paid by our eternal suffering in hell/the lake of fire, or by the ultimate sacrifice (God paying for our sin Himself through the death of His Son).

I can't believe in that kind of God anymore though-I can't accept substitutionary atonement. It leads me to conclude, maybe Jesus' death wasn't necessary after all in order for us to have a relationship with God? I don't know.... I'm still really confused. This is something that I'll probably keep thinking and writing about for a while.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mr. and Mrs. Mark Driscoll's Opinion on Stay-at-Home Dads - 1 Timothy 5:8

Before I make any comments regarding the content of the above video, I should be honest and state that I already disliked Mark Driscoll before seeing this video. (Just look at the book I have advertised on my sidebar, and you'll understand why. If you don't, Google "Mark Driscoll and The Shack". If you love, or even just liked the book The Shack , beware, if you watch Mark Driscoll's video on how The Shack is a "modern day heresy" it will probably make you angry. I made it to 1 minute 13 seconds and had to stop because I wanted to punch something.)

Now that I've been honest and given the disclaimer regarding my already existing problems with Mark Driscoll, let me say that I wasn't more than a minute into this video and I wanted to scream.

In case you are reading this without watching the clip first, Mr. and Mrs. Driscoll are responding to a question asking them their opinion on stay-at-home dads. The verse they reference most often in this clip is 1 Timothy 5:8. In the New King James the verse is "But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."

I'm not sure which translation the Driscoll's are using, but he recites the verse as "If any man does not provide for the needs of his family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

Here are a variety of translations and one paraphrase of the same verse:

In the New Revised Standard: "And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

In the NIV: "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

In the New Living: "But those who won't care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers."

In the New American Standard: "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

And in The Message: "Anyone who neglects to care for family members in need repudiates the faith. That's worse than refusing to believe in the first place."

If anyone can point out to me which translation Mark Driscoll used here, I would really appreciate knowing, as I couldn't find it at

Before I examine the way I believe he has misquoted and misapplied this portion of Scripture however, let's just examine his version alone. "Any man who denies the needs of his family....."

What are the needs of a family? Mr. and Mrs. Driscoll seem to be presenting this verse as if the only needs a husband and father is responsible for are the financial ones.

Yes, they acknowledge that he is "part of the equation" when it comes to the rest of the aspects of family life, but the only thing that is his responsibility is making sure that his family is taken care of financially.

I disagree that that is the only responsibility that God has placed on the shoulders of fathers and husbands. A husband is responsible for loving his wife, as Christ has loved the church. A father is responsible to his children to raise them and not "provoke them to wrath". And what about all those verses in Proverbs written from a father to his son? I don't think that father believed his only responsibility to his children was financial.

I don't think Mark Driscoll believes that either, but in order for his argument to make sense, that is what this verse would have to mean. It's the father and husband's job to make sure the family is financially stable, and it's the wife and mother's job to make sure the family is emotionally stable. I don't disagree with everything the Driscoll's state in this clip, I completely agree that it is a huge responsibility and incredible honor to raise "the next generation" as she put it. But why is that only the mother's job? If the husband and wife are equal, as Mark Driscoll states, the raising of the children is the responsibility and honor of both!

If a father decides God has called him to stay at home with his children while his wife works, that doesn't mean he is denying the needs of his family, it just means God has called him to be responsible for needs other than ones that are financial.

(As far as women staying at home versus working outside of it, that's a whole 'nother kettle of fish and one I don't want to touch on too much right now, perhaps at another time. Let me say though that my mother stayed home with me and my siblings while we were growing up, and I know she wishes she could still be a stay at home mom. There is something very special about a parent being able to stay home and just take care of their children. But I believe that goes for either parent, and I know that God-fearing, well-rounded children can be raised in a home where both parents need/want to work as well. It's all about what the focus is. Are the parents focused on their family, or their careers alone? There needs to be a balance, only focusing on one or the other can cause problems.)

Now let's take a look at the actual context of 1 Timothy 5:8 - Here's verses 1-8 (New American Standard):
"1 Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, 2 the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity. 3 Honor widows who are widows indeed; 4 but if any widow has children or grandchildren, they must first learn to practice piety in regard to their own family and to make some return to their parents; for this is acceptable in the sight of God. 5 Now she who is a widow indeed and who has been left alone, has fixed her hope on God and continues in entreaties and prayers night and day. 6 But she who gives herself to wanton pleasure is dead even while she lives. 7 Prescribe these things as well, so that they may be above reproach. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."

So what is the context preceeding verse 8? It's the author's instructions on how widows should be cared for in the church; verse 8 (and also verse 16: "If any believing woman has relatives who are really widows, let her assist them; let the church not be burdened, so that it can assist those who are real widows.") stating how families should care for those in their own family who are no longer financially supported or unable to financially support themselves.

Besides this revelation of what is the actual context of the chapter, let's look at the word in verse 8 that Mark translates as "man", but all the other translations (even the NKJV) translate as "any", "whoever", and "anyone". It is the greek word tiv. If you click the link, you'll see that it is an "enclitic indefinite pronoun". "Enclitic" according to the Bing Dictionary is an adjective that is "depending on preceding word: describes a word that depends on a preceding word for its formation or pronunciation", and an "indefinite pronoun" is an "unspecific pronoun: a pronoun that does not refer to a specific person or thing, e.g. "someone," "nothing," or "anything" in English".

In other words, gender neutral.

How can a pastor base an entire philosophy regarding whether or not being a stay-at-home dad is Biblical on a verse that he first of all takes out of context, and then mis-translates?! Not only that, he goes on to say that he sees violation of this "principle" as grounds for spiritual discipline in his church.

I am not a parent myself, but this is based on my own opinion on what the author of 1 Timothy was actually talking about, and my own witness of an amazing stay-at-home dad. (My uncle.)

Any stay-at-home dads and moms, or working dads and moms out there with an opinion about this? I would love to hear your thoughts.

/soap box

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Women of Faith Conference - Des Moines - May 13th and 14th, 2011

The Women of Faith Conference dates were announced on a Sunday morning at my church a couple months ago. Soon after that, the groupleader for the event from our church approached me to let me know that someone had bought some extra tickets so that other women who normally wouldn't be able to afford it could go, and she was wondering if I would want one. I had never heard of the Women of Faith Conference before, but I thought if someone was offering a free ticket I might as well go and see how it was. Between then and last week when I saw I had taken 5/13 off from work and couldn't remember why, I'll be honest that I had completely forgotten about the conference and hadn't looked up any information about it whatsoever.

On top of that, someone else had told me that the conference was kind of like a women's version of Promise Keeper's. I know that that organization has been a big help and encouragement to a lot of men, and I'm not going to make any statement either way on how beneficial it is as I've (obviously) never been to one and that's not the purpose of this blog post or what I would want to focus on anyway......

But regardless, I wasn't sure if a women's version of PK was what I really wanted to spend a whole weekend taking part in. Since someone else had paid for me to go, I was still planning on going on Saturday, but Christopher had to talk me into going on Friday night - he felt I was misjudging what I may or might not get out of it and thought I should at least try it before deciding how beneficial to me it would be.

I'm really glad Christopher talked me into going. My favorite speeches definitely happened today, but if I hadn't gone last night as well I don't know if my heart would have been as ready to receive what these women had to say. I was a little bit skeptical because I had no idea what to expect. Anytime I've been to a women's conference or even large-scale get-together before, it's been one of two things: either a "spiritual love fest", with no real content and focused only on how the praise music is supposed to make you feel about Jesus, or it's seemed like the speakers were expected to only bring forward and teach "tutorials" on how to live the Christian life - as a woman - in certain contexts and situations. Nothing personal is talked about, except for the occasional funny family story, and you leave with a myriad of caveats to take home that you may or may not remember a couple weeks later. To be clear, I have nothing against (most) Praise and Worship music, and I love hearing new perspectives on the Bible to apply to my life; but in my personal experience a focus on feelings without Bible teaching leads to a shallow spiritual experience, and Bible teaching without bringing in personal experience and teachings leads to a lot of head knowledge without much personal spiritual growth.

At the Women of Faith Conference this weekend, there were all these things - the worship team was awesome and the songs were heartfelt and sincere, and I never felt like I was being expected to respond a certain way outwardly. These were just women happy to present their love and faith in God through song, inviting the guests there to join along in worship. The speakers and musical groups (Mary Mary and Selah) were very sincere, and there was a lot of Bible teaching and exposition. There were even plenty of funny family stories. (I can't remember the last time I laughed so much.)

But even though all these things were wonderful and memorable and extremely encouraging, they are not the reason I am walking away from this weekend hardly able to wait for next year's conference. It's because the women who shared this weekend were so open and vulnerable with the audience, that soon we no longer felt like guests, we felt like - as they said they were hoping we'd feel - like a whole arena full of girlfriends, there for each other, to encourage each other and grow together.

The whole experience was just so encouraging. Every single woman who got up on that stage looked so put together; they all had cute shoes and great clothes and perfect makeup. I think, from experience, they knew how it can appear to those who don't know much about them. They immediately did their best to show us that they were just normal people. (Mary Mary especially talked about that - as Grammy winners and musicians much more in the public spotlight than the average Christian signer - they acknowledged that people might be wondering "what's so hard about your life? You're beautiful, famous, popular and talented! What on earth could be so hard in your life that you can understand and empathize with what I've gone through?") One reoccuring theme through the whole weekend was how everyone - no matter who they are or what they do - have brokeness that needs to be healed by God.

Sheila Walsh shared how she experienced brokeness as a child when her father suffered brain trauma that resulted in mental illness. Before his injury, she had been his daddy's little girl. Conversely, after the accident, whenever he went into one of his rages, she was the one he targeted. She knows now that it was the affect of the trauma, and that he didn't know what he was doing, but imagine what it would be like to be four years old and see hatred towards you in your father's eyes. Eventually, his rage got so out of control that he tried to kill Sheila, and her mom had to call the police. It took 6 men to drag him out of the house and bring him to a pyschiatric hospital; that was the last time Sheila ever saw him, as he later snuck out of the hospital the first night he was moved from the high security ward and drowned himself.

Nicole Johnson shared how her parent's divorced when she was 6 years old, and as her parent's could not work out together the custody issue regarding her and her sister, they went to custody court. Sheila and her sister were both put on the stand and had to answer the judge when he asked them to choose which parent they wanted to live with. This so wounded Nicole, she decided she would live her life doing her best to never disappoint anyone ever again.

Angie Smith's story was so heart-wrentching, but also so filled with hope and grace. She and her husband Todd - one of the singers in the band Selah - have three beautiful little girls, but when she was 20 weeks pregant with their fourth daughter, at a doctor's appointment they discovered that the baby would not be "compatible with life." Her kidneys had not developed correctly, neither had her lungs. They decided to carry her for as long as God would allow them to have her, and Angie was able to carry her long enough for her to be born. She was born alive, and they were able to spend some precious moments with her, and then she was gone. One of the most touching things about Angie was how nervous she was about speaking. This weekend was only her second time being a speaker with Women of Faith, last weekend being her first in Columbus, OH. Her legs were shaking so badly when it came time for her to share, Sheila Walsh and Lisa Harper had to support her as she made her way up the steps to the platform in the middle of the arena.

There were so many other stories of heartbreak, brokeness and trial that the women shared with us this weekend. The thing that so amazed me was that that's why they were there! They weren't there to teach anyone how to fix their lives, or to give a list of steps to take to get out of this situation or that. They were there to share the brokeness they had experienced - in some cases still experiencing - and to share how God had healed and continue to heal them. The women at this conference only had one purpose: they want Christian women to know the mercy, love and healing they have experienced by the grace of God.

It was just so refreshing and powerful, these women being so vulnerable with us and willing to share some of the darkest parts of their lives and how God met them there.

One other thing Sheila Walsh shared that I want to touch on right now: her wounding as a child from the experience with her father's brain trauma and mental illness caused an emotional wounding in her that led to a battle with mental illness herself. She is now very open about talking about it and sharing it, and I was very affected by a story she told about her first night in the psychiatric hospital. Because of where she was at emotionally and mentally, she was on suicide watch the first night and a nurse would come and check on her every 10-15 minutes. She didn't sleep in the bed in her room that night, she just grabbed the blanket and curled up in the corner. Around 3am she heard someone stop by the room again, but it had happened so many times already she just assumed it was the nurse checking in her rounds again. She didn't realize this visit was different until she saw a man's feet in front of her and felt a hand on her shoulder. She looked up, she didn't recognize him, but she didn't think much of that as it was her first night there. But then he handed her a stuffed animal - a lamb. He then walked toward the door to leave, but before leaving turned back to her and said "Sheila, I just want you to know that your Shephard knows where to find you."

Sheila shared that she was at that hospital for several months, and she never saw that man again. She is convinced that that man was an angel.

I'll continue to process the experience over the next several days (and maybe weeks), and I'll continue to blog about it. What Luci Swindoll (yes, sister of Chuck Swindoll) had to say especially spoke to me personally. I'll try to share more of that specifically tomorrow. I'm also hoping to get some of the books by these women and I'll continue to write here about my processing through them as well.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


I friend of mine, someone my fiance went to college with, just posted this on his blog this morning:

Relax, this won't hurt.

It's a suicide note. Please, anyone who reads this, pray for Joel. I've been through this before, I don't want to see another mother lose her son this way.

I wrote two pretty harsh notes to him, hoping if he sees them he'll change his mind. That's all I want, I just want him to change his mind. Oh I pray someone gets to him before he does this. Please Lord, please!

Thank you to everyone that prayed. It was too late though. Please keep Joel's family in prayer, his mother especially. Joel's dad died when he was young, and he had no siblings. Thankfully his extended family is very close, but she could use all the prayer she can get.

Joel, we miss you.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009


I'm so incredibly happy, and so is Christopher.

We met on eHarmony in October of 2007, and started dating in May 2008. Sometime last year we were at a Walden Books browsing the children's book section - one of my favorite pastimes - and while looking at the Sandra Boynton books I found one called Your Personal Penguin. So you can get the idea of the book, here's a video of Davy Jones of The Monkeys putting the book to music.

After reading it, I said offhand that it would be a really cute way for someone to propose to someone, and then I eventually forgot about it. But Christopher didn't.

Christopher and I both love animals, and we like going to zoos, especially the Omaha Zoo. I didn't know why, but Christopher had been trying to get me to Omaha Zoo since September 12th. We had gone to a Cubs game on September 11th, so I was really tired and talked him into staying home the next day.....*head smack*

He finally got me there this past Saturday however, and after seeing the rainforest, the butterfly house, the cat house, the desert, the nocturnal exhibit, the bears and the aviary, we made our way over to the aquarium - our mutually favorite part - to see the penguins. My feet were hurting so I had already suggested that we sit for a while to watch the penguins, and of course Christopher agreed. We sat for a few minutes, during which time Christopher later told me he was waiting to see if the other people who were there were going to leave. (They didn't, but that's ok, I ended up being much too preoccupied to even realize other people were there.) Christopher couldn't wait anymore eventually though - I'd inadvertently already made him wait a month - and saying "by the way, hun" he got down on one knee in front of me and pulled out a little penguin book with the ring inside of it and asked me to be his "penguin pal." It took me about 30 seconds to process what was going on, as I had been expecting that he would be waiting until after Thanksgiving. Once I understood though, I started crying. And of course I said yes.

My ring is SO BEAUTIFUL. And it's the one I wanted too! Several months ago we had been talking about rings and he asked me what I wanted. It's really good we talked about it too, because I didn't want a diamond. I knew that if he were to get me a diamond, the only thing he would be able to afford would be a simple solitaire. And I REALLY don't like solitaire rings. I wanted an opal, surrounded by small diamonds. (What girl still doesn't want something sparkly?) So we started searching online, and I found one from a company called Flash Opal based out of Australia. It was almost 2 whole sizes smaller than my ring size though, and I thought it wouldn't be possible to resize it to my finger. I really like it though, so I showed it to Christopher and told him "something like this." Once he was ready to get the ring, he contacted the people at Flash Opal about a different similar ring, but there was an issue with it's quality or something, so they suggested another ring - the one I loved in the first place! They told him the gold was a really good quality and that they'd be able to resize it to my finger. So I got the one I wanted after all!! Below are some of the pictures of the ring from the website, but I have to tell you they DO NOT do the ring justice. Nothing can compare to seeing in person the way the opal changes color as I move it, and the way it reacts to different light and being wet and of course how it looks on my finger. :)

Christopher and I are planning on a early September wedding next year, so I'll keep people posted!!

According to the info we received from the people at Flash Opal, the weight of the opal is approximately 1.2ct, it's colors are electric lime green and blue, it's pattern is floral/roll, it's quality is flawless, and it's brightness - judged on a scale of 1-5 - is 5+++. It's such an amazing ring!!!! AND I'M GETTING MARRIED!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Choosing a Name

I'm choosing a name for my main character in my new story right now, and at the moment I'm trying to decide between Marit, Liv and Karina. Marit means Pearl, Liv means My God is a vow, and Karina means Pure. They are all Scandinavian in origin, as my heroine is Scandinavian as well. Below I have the descriptions given by the Kabalarians website regarding the meanings of these three names. I know I can make my character whatever I want, but seeing descriptions like this is entertaining, and does help me make my decision.


* Your first name of Marit has given you a studious nature, and the ability to concentrate on whatever you are doing.

* You could excel in mathematics or in positions where persistence, independence, and individuality are required.

* In personal associations, a lack of finesse in verbal expression often creates misunderstandings with others, especially with those close to you, because you find it difficult and embarrassing to express depth of feeling when situations arise requiring diplomacy, understanding, and affection.

* Although the name Marit creates the urge to be original and self-reliant, we emphasize that it limits self-expression and friendly congeniality with a moody disposition.

* This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment, and success, as well as cause health weaknesses heart, lungs, bronchial area, and tension or accidents to the head.


* Your name of Liv creates a very sensitive, inspirational, and idealistic nature.

* You have an appreciation for all the fine and beautiful things in life, and could excel in music, art, drama, or literary undertakings, where you could find an expression for your deeper feelings that you would not find otherwise.

* As a result of your love of the out-of-doors, you would experience the most peace and harmony out in the quiet of nature.

* Your sensitive nature causes you to lack self-confidence, and to withdraw from arguments or turmoil, as any discord reflects quickly through your nervous system.

* Although the name Liv creates idealism and the urge to help others, we emphasize that it limits self-expression and friendly congeniality with a moody disposition.

* This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment, and success, as well as cause health weaknesses in the nervous system, heart, lungs and bronchial area.


* Your first name of Karina has given you a friendly, likeable nature, and you could excel in artistic, dramatic, and musical expression.

* With this name, you desire the finer things in life, but you do not always have the resolve and vitality to put forth the effort necessary to fulfil your desires.

* Your emotional feelings are easily affected and you will always be involved in other people's problems as a result of your overly sympathetic nature.

* Though the name Karina creates the urge to understand and help people, we draw to your attention that it causes an emotional intensity and sensitivity that is hard to control.

* This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment, and success, as well as cause health weaknesses in the fluid and nervous system.

I have also already decided on the hero's name, who I have christened Richard. (I don't have any last names yet.) For fun, here's the Kabalarian report for the name Richard.

* The name of Richard gives you a very individual, reserved, serious nature.

* You prefer to be alone with your own thoughts, rather than in the company of others.

* This name restricts spontaneity in association and the fluency of your verbal expression.

* When you are required to express yourself in personal matters requiring finesse and diplomacy, you feel awkward and embarrassed.

* Although you realize perfectly well what is expected of you, you are unable to find the right words, and hence you end up saying something inappropriate in a candid way.

* You can express your deeper thoughts and feelings best through writing.

* While the name Richard creates the urge to be creative, independent and original, we point out that it limits self-expression and friendly congeniality with a tendency to be moody.

* This name, when combined with the last name, can frustrate happiness, contentment, and success, as well as cause health weaknesses heart, lungs, bronchial area, and tension or accidents to the head.

First of all, I LOVE the description of Richard. That's pretty much exactly how I imagined him. (He's a man in his mid-thirties, and he's an English professor at small, private liberal arts school.)

As far as the heroine goes, I think I like the name Liv the best. I was originally going to go with Marit, but I think Liv probably fits the character better.

It might seem silly to work so hard on figuring out the name, but until now I'd been using the name "Jenny," simply because it was the first thing that popped into my head when I started writing. But I don't think that name fits the character at all, so when I write, that's all I can think about instead of developing the story. Now I'll be able to concentrate and write much better, having decided on a name that I'm very happy with.


Heroine: Liv Victorson
Hero: Richard Ahlberg