Friday, February 18, 2011

New Chapter

I'm tired.  I've been tired for weeks.  First, I got sick.  Then, my dad got sick.  Now, all the stuff with my dad is sinking in.

Dad was rushed to hospital on Super Bowl Sunday, and was in there for days.  I seriously thought we were going to lose him.  The reality washed over me at the time that he will die.  Maybe not today or tomorrow or next year, but in the coming years he will.

You always know your parents will go before you, God willing.  That's the natural state of things.  As a parent myself, I know that there is no greater pain on this planet than losing a child, it's not the natural order of things.  Parents go first.  They continue to lead the way for us, even in death.

And even as well all know this, we don't really accept it.  He's always been there for me, raising me when my mother couldn't, he was my father and mother combined.  He's there for me still to this day--with me being over 40 and he being over 80--to ask advice and lean on.  He's the ever-present rock in my life.

And, now that rock is crumbling.

When my parents got the FL house 6 yrs ago, it was magical.  We'd just moved to NC and so trotting down to FL to see them was easy.  Fill the SUV with our stuff, barrel 8 hours down I-95 and boom, we're there, we're beaching and we're reveling in grandparents.

But, now with my dad's illness, they have to sell the place because he can't travel and stepmom won't travel.  So, in the next month or two, they'll sell the FL place and head back up to IA one last time.  

And then, when we want to see them we have to buy 4 plane tickets...and travel all day in airports...and get up at the crack of dawn...and go through TSA checkpoints...and travel during slow times of the year because I don't do crowds...and...well, it's just a nightmare to think of how difficult it will be to see them.

And, I grieve the life we've come to know with them for the last 6 yrs.  I grieve being able to see them so easily.  I grieve the fun times we've shared at their place in FL.  I grieve the times we've been allowed to use the place, to have our own family vacations there.  I grieve the fact that my dad won't be playing golf, or walking on the beach, or zooming around town making business deals.

And, yet, I'm grateful.  I'm grateful we get to have him longer.  I'm grateful his mind is sharp and he's still interested in debating politics, religion and current events.  I'm grateful we can board a two flights and head up to IA to see him.  I'm grateful he'll have more time with his sweetheart, my stepmom.  I'm grateful that my kids know grampa and gramma and they are excited for our last trip down to FL this Spring.

I'm grateful.  And, I grieve.

The last chapter ended, it's time to start a new one.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

God's Will and Pig Farms

While we're dreaming about our life, things keep popping up.  Like owning a business (we did enjoy it before), moving, having hubby work in another industry, and starting a pig farm.

People who know me had to read that sentence twice.  WHAT?!?  Pig farm????

Yes, we're also attracted to organic farming.  I envision a multi-layered farm of organic meats, fish and vegetables. 

I know, we're city folk.  I know, we like to fine dine.  I know, we like to dress up.  I know, hubby owns a nice ride.  I know, we aren't really "get up at the crack of dawn and milk the cows" type of folk. 

But we could be.

We could be anything.  You see, that's how it is with God.  When He is behind you, you can do literally anything, any crazy, hair-brained idea that comes to mind, but with His blessing it makes sense.  It falls into place.  The pieces fit, and while everyone around you is scratching their heads, you just plow straight forward into God's plan.  That's why I don't mind dreaming large.

When I say large, I don't mean grandiose.  I mean endless possibilites with God in the driver seat.  With Him all things are possible. 

When He determined that I would leave my family and home in California and move to North Carolina with my hubby and 18-month-old daughter while I was 6 months pregnant and we had no home in NC, had not sold our home in CA, and I hadn't been in NC in well over a decade I said, "SURE!"  Because that's how it is with God.  When it's God's will, it works regardless of the circumstance.  There is peace and confidence in the decision. 

However, God also placed on our hearts to open a biz, which we could more easily do in NC than in CA.  We used our heads, we had prospects in NC for a biz.  You see, I never once questioned moving across a continent while 6 months pregnant, never once had regret or thought "we shouldn't do this!"  I just went with no looking back.  God's will is always clear, it won't be fuzzy or changeable.

God doesn't want us taking unneccessary risk.  God gave us brains and we need to use them.  Here's the caveat: God doesn't bless us JUST BECAUSE what we're doing is SO noble, SO generous and SO "Christian."  His will cannot be predetermined by our desires to be a good or godly person.  No matter how wonderful and giving our endeavor, we can't MAKE God bless it.  (Even if we think He should.)

We must be discerning in an earthly way to honor God's will for us. If He wants me to own a pig farm and run a pig farm, I know that my business savvy hubby will crunch numbers and if the numbers indicate that we can survive doing it, we can do it.  I know that we will learn the skills necessary to do it.  I know that we already bring things to the table to help us do it.  I know that God will bless our endeavors to do it IF it's His will.

Regardless of the venture, if we--or you, or anyone--can't make money and survive doing it, then it's NOT God's will to support your family, no matter how badly we want to believe it.  While God can make all things happen, He can also communicate His will to us through road blocks.  Not all road blocks are sent by the enemy!  Sometimes God is saying, "yes, child, this is a great thing and you will help many people, but this is not what I want for you."

In the mix of discerning God's will and using our brains, we also must adhere to our own natures and inclinations.  Those are desires He has placed on our hearts. 

Buying a Subway franchise might seem like a good idea, but do you ever wonder why nearly every Subway franchise owner is behind the counter making sandwiches?  If you like making sandwiches, that could be a perfect fit.  But, if you want a business that you can run, and hire people to work the shop, and you don't want to stand behind the counter putting pickles on a sub, then Subway probably isn't the franchise to buy.  

Do I want to slop pigs?  Maybe.  I grew up in Iowa where there are more pigs than people.  Do I want to make Subway sandwiches?  No.  No, I do not.  Do I want to open a prayer house?  Yes, yes I do.  Can I feed my family with my prayer house?  No, no I cannot. 

Unfortunately, at this point in time hubby and I have to expend our energies on endeavors that will put food on our table and a roof over our head.  Maybe down the line I can think of ways to give back like with my prayer house, but for right now we need to eat, sleep and wear clothing.

So, when looking at future endeavors, we need to determine God's will.  We need to figure out what inclinations God has placed on our hearts.  We need to think outside the box, but use our heads.  Then, regardless of circumstance, moving across a continent is an easy thing to do.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Escalator to Heaven

So, I have given much to God (see prev. post) and I need to give more.

Hubby and I are dreaming.  We just started.  What can our life look like?

When we owned our financial services biz, dreaming was easy.  Dreaming about spending money is always easy.  We'll have this home, this vacation, this car, this "lifestyle."

But, dreaming about a life is different.  We're not dreaming about spending money, we're dreaming about what we look like.  What we do to make money.  What we do as a family.  Who we are as people.  What legacy we think God wants us to leave.

This is different dreaming.  This is harder dreaming.  It also requires a lot more of God's presence in our dreams.  Does God really care what kind of car we drive?  No.  He doesn't care whether we have granite or formica countertops.  He doesn't rate us by the label on our clothing or where we shop for groceries.  We aren't more godly if we shop at Fresh Market or Whole Foods or Food Lion.

Likewise, God doesn't care what we do for a living.  Does He care more about a tailor or a neurosurgeon or a pastor?  Does He rank them?  No.  Pastors or missionaries or church receptionists don't get brownie points with God.  That's earthly thinking.  Not Godly thinking.

Hubby put it into perspective.  There's only one escalator to Heaven and a mass murderer who was saved might be standing next to me.  There's not a gold-covered jewel-encrusted escalator for people who are better, more Godly or lived a better life. 

There's only one, and we'll either be on it, or we won't be.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In God's Hands

This has been the week of putting it into God's hands.

I have been needing to do this.  So of course I haven't, not until I'm forced to do it. 

Sunday, my dad was rushed to the hospital with lung and heart problems.  He's wavering there now.  Not getting better, but not getting worse.  It's difficult to not be there.  But, it's harder to go.

I have been yelling at my kids for two days now.  Not all the time, but enough that I just have to stop.  They are kids, they'll act like kids and I can't expect them to act like robots.  I have very rambuctious kids.  Which is weird because Hubby and I aren't like that.  We're much more mellow and like to hang.  Our kids like to hang, too...while they're swinging from the chandelier.

I am also sick as a dog.  Sore throat and stuffy and not feeling well.  Luckily I've gotten a ton of sleep.  And, I often wonder when I get sick like this--which is rare--that maybe my body gives up and wants sleep and the only way I'll rest is to become ill.  I am a "doer" and like to do things, accomplish things, cross stuff off my "to do" list.  I'm not a good sit around and sleep and watch inane tv person, which is all I can do when I'm this sick.

I want to go to FL to see my dad, but I can't because I'm sick.  I can't risk getting him sick, it might quite literally kill him.  I want to stop yelling at my children and have homeschool be more fun for us all.  I want to live a godly life and enrich everything I touch.  I want to leave the world a better place because I was in it.

I have to give it to God.  I have to let His hands guide my day, guide my life, guide my actions, words and thoughts.  I have to stop trying to control the universe and let the God who does control the universe do His job.  I have to stop being my own stumbling block. 

I put my life into God's hands.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sharia Law is Dangerous

Abdallah Adhami, the Imam in the center of the Ground Zero Mosque controversy, just stated that homosexuals are attracted to the same sex because they were abused as children.  A statement I find reprehensible and childish.  I love my gay brothers and sisters, many of whom are family and friends, and I find promoting this sort of inane information unacceptable at best.

So, how does the American Left, who usually zealously supports anything that's "not Christian" and "not white," react?  They actually got mad!  Wow.  Chalk one up for the Left.

There are many Christians who would embrace their gay cousin, neighbor or coworker.  Ignorant Christians who don't understand--and I mean ignorance in the truest educational sense--need to be taught what Jesus taught us: love your neighbor as yourself.  

While I can speak for many Christians, I can't speak for many Muslims.  Perhaps nearly all of them love their gay cousins, neighbors and coworkers, too.  But, it's hard to tell.  Most Muslims don't speak for themselves, most let their Imams speak for them.   

I think the American Left should take to heart those comments regarding homosexuality from the Ground Zero Mosque Imam.  I think we should all delve into why he would make such a rash statement and where, truly, Sharia Law stands on homosexuality and other issues. 

The reason why need to know more is that there is a current movement to promote Sharia Law here in the US.  Some feel it would be useful, and promote multi-culturalism.  Some think it would help Islam, and promote it as a peaceful religion.

Having Sharia Law here in the US scares me.  I think it's dangerous.  We might all want to take a look at it, a deep, hard, magnifying glass look at it to understand why it would be bad for America.

Here is an excerpt from James Arlandson's article in the American Thinker, where he outlines why Sharia Law is bad for all societies.  Remember, this isn't about bashing a religious text, it's about showing current Islamic Law (Sharia Law) as it is practiced today in Muslim countries.

"Here are the top ten reasons why sharia or Islamic law is bad for all societies.

10. Islam commands that drinkers and gamblers should be whipped.

The Prophet felt it hard (was angry) and ordered all those who were present in the house, to beat him [the drinker dragged into Muhammad's presence]. (Bukhari, Punishments, nos. 6774—6775)

Thus, we see no offer of help for the alcoholic when he is dragged before Muhammad and his followers. Why does Muhammad not offer rehabilitation? Why does he immediately go to corporal punishment?

9. Islam allows husbands to hit their wives even if the husbands merely fear highhandedness in their wives.

The Quran says:

4:34 . . . If you fear highhandedness from your wives, remind them [of the teaching of God], then ignore them when you go to bed, then hit them. If they obey you, you have no right to act against them. God is most high and great. (MAS Abdel Haleem, the Qur'an, Oxford UP, 2004)

Generally, sharia restricts women's social mobility and rights, the more closely sharia is followed. For example, in conservative Saudi Arabia women are not allowed to drive cars. In Iran, the law oppresses women. For example, women's testimony counts half that of men, and far more women than men are stoned to death for adultery.

8. Islam allows an injured plaintiff to exact legal revenge—physical eye for physical eye.

The Quran says:

5:45 And We ordained therein for them: Life for life, eye for eye, nose for nose, ear for ear, tooth for tooth and wounds equal for equal. But if anyone remits the retaliation by way of charity, it shall be for him an expiation. And whosoever does not judge by that which Allah has revealed, such are the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers . . .). (Hilali and Khan, The Noble Qur'an, Riyadh: Darussalam, 1996)

This passage allows for an indemnity or compensation instead of imposing the literal punishment of eye for an eye. No one should have a quarrel with this option. According to the hadith* (*reports of Muhammad's words and actions outside of the Quran), the plaintiff also has the option to forgive, and this is legitimate, provided a judge oversees the process. The problem is the literal law of retaliation.

The hadith and later legal rulings demonstrate that this excessive option was actually carried out.

Islamic law calls all of humanity to march backwards 1,400 years BC and to re—impose the old law of retaliation—literally, and the evidence suggest that the Torah never intended the law to be carried out literally.

7. Islam commands that a male and female thief must have a hand cut off.

The Quran says:

5:38 Cut off the hands of thieves, whether they are male or female, as punishment for what they have done—a deterrent from God: God is almighty and wise. 39 But if anyone repents after his wrongdoing and makes amends, God will accept his repentance: God is most forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)

At first glance, verse 39 seems to accept repentance before the thief's hand is cut off. But the hadith states emphatically that repentance is acceptable only after mutilation. Muhammad himself says that even if his own daughter, Fatima, were to steal and then intercede that her hand should not be cut off, he would still have to cut it off (Bukhari, Punishments, no. 6788)

6. Islam commands that highway robbers should be crucified or mutilated.

The Quran says:

5:33 Those who wage war against God and His Messenger and strive to spread corruption in the land should be punished by death, crucifixion, the amputation of an alternate hand and foot or banishment from the land: a disgrace for them in this world, and then a terrible punishment in the Hereafter, 34 unless they repent before you overpower them: in that case bear in mind that God is forgiving and merciful. (Haleem)

It may be difficult to accept, but the hadith says that Muhammad tortured these next people before he executed them. This scenario provides the historical context of Sura 5:33—34. The explanations in parentheses have been added by the translator:

Narrated Anas: Some people . . . came to the Prophet and embraced Islam . . . [T]hey turned renegades (reverted from Islam) and killed the shepherd of the camels and took the camels away . . . The Prophet ordered that their hands and legs should be cut off and their eyes should be branded with heated pieces of iron, and that their cut hands and legs should not be cauterized, till they died. (Bukhari, Punishments, no. 6802)

The next hadith reports that the renegades died from bleeding to death because Muhammad refused to cauterize their amputated limbs. Then the hadith after that one reports that the renegades were not given water, so they died of thirst. They probably died of both causes: thirst and loss of blood.

5. Islam commands that homosexuals must be executed.

Ibn Abbas, Muhammad's cousin and highly reliable transmitter of hadith, reports the following about early Islam and Muhammad's punishment of homosexuals: . . .

'If you find anyone doing as Lot's people did, kill the one who does it, and the one to whom it is done' (Abu Dawud no. 4447).

This hadith passage says that homosexuals should be burned alive or have wall pushed on them:

Ibn Abbas and Abu Huraira reported God's messenger as saying, 'Accursed is he who does what Lot's people did.' In a version . . . on the authority of Ibn Abbas it says that Ali [Muhammad's cousin and son—in—law] had two people burned and that Abu Bakr [Muhammad's chief companion] had a wall thrown down on them. (Mishkat, vol. 1, p. 765, Prescribed Punishments)

4. Islam orders unmarried fornicators to be whipped and adulterers to be stoned to death.


The Quran says:

24:2 The fornicatress and the fornicator, flog each of them with a hundred stripes. Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment prescribed by Allah, if you believe in Allah and the Last Day. And let a party of the believers witness their punishment. [This punishment is for unmarried persons guilty of the above crime (illegal sex), but if married persons commit it (illegal sex), the punishment is to stone them to death, according to Allah's law]. (Hilali and Khan).

The additions in the brackets, though not original to the Arabic, have the support of the hadith. These command flogging only of unmarried fornicators: Bukhari, Punishments, nos. 6831 and 6833.


This gruesome hadith passage reports that a woman was buried up to her chest and stoned to death:

And when he had given command over her and she was put in a hole up to her breast, he ordered the people to stone her. Khalid b. al—Walid came forward with a stone which he threw at her head, and when the blood spurted on his face he cursed her . . . (Muslim no. 4206)

The Prophet prayed over her dead body and then buried her. The rest of the hadith says that Muhammad told Khalid not to be too harsh, but the Prophet's words drip with irony. Perhaps Muhammad meant that Khalid should not have cursed her. However, if they really did not want to be harsh, they should have forgiven her and let her go to raise her child.

3. Islam orders death for Muslim and possible death for non—Muslim critics of Muhammad and the Quran and even sharia itself.

First, the Muslim deserves death for doing any of the following (Reliance of the Traveler pp. 597—98, o8.7):

(1) Reviling Allah or his Messenger; (2) being sarcastic about 'Allah's name, His command, His interdiction, His promise, or His threat'; (3) denying any verse of the Quran or 'anything which by scholarly consensus belongs to it, or to add a verse that does not belong to it'; (4) holding that 'any of Allah's messengers or prophets are liars, or to deny their being sent'; (5) reviling the religion of Islam; (6) being sarcastic about any ruling of the Sacred Law; (7) denying that Allah intended 'the Prophet's message . . . to be the religion followed by the entire world.'

It is no wonder that critical investigation of the truth claims of Islam can never prevail in Islamic lands when the sword of Muhammad hangs over the scholars' head.

The non—Muslims living under Islamic rule are not allowed to do the following (p. 609, o11.10(1)—(5)):

(1) Commit adultery with a Muslim woman or marry her; (2) conceal spies of hostile forces; (3) lead a Muslim away from Islam; (4) mention something impermissible about Allah, the Prophet . . . or Islam.

According to the discretion of the caliph or his representative, the punishments for violating these rules are as follows: (1) death, (2) enslavement, (3) release without paying anything, and (4) ransoming in exchange for money. These punishments also execute free speech—even repulsive speech—and freedom of religion or conscience.

As it stands, sharia with its prescribed punishments for questioning Muhammad, the Quran, and sharia itself testifies to their weakness since sharia threatens those who dare to differ.

How confident was Muhammad (and today's Muslims) in his message that he had to rely on violence and force to protect his message, besides reason and persuasive argumentation?

2. Islam orders apostates to be killed.

Apostates are those who leave Islam, like Salman Rushdie, whether they become atheists or convert to another religion. They are supposed to be killed according to the Quran, the hadith, and later legal rulings.

Sayyid Maududi, a respected Islamic scholar, argues that Sura 9:11—12 refers to apostates and that they should be put to death.

They should be given time to repent, but if they refuse, they must be killed.

And the number one reason why sharia is bad for all societies . . .

1. Islam commands offensive and aggressive and unjust jihad.

Muhammad is foundational to Islam, and he set the genetic code for Islam, waging war. In the ten years that he lived in Medina from his Hijrah (Emigration) from Mecca in AD 622 to his death of a fever in AD 632, he either sent out or went out on seventy—four raids, expeditions, or full—scale wars. They range from small assassination hit squads to kill anyone who insulted him, to the Tabuk Crusades in late AD 630 against the Byzantine Christians. He had heard a rumor that an army was mobilizing to invade Arabia, but the rumor was false, so his 30,000 jihadists returned home, but not before imposing a jizya tax on northern Christians and Jews.

Money flowed into the Islamic treasury. So why would Muhammad get a revelation to dry up this money flow?

What are some of the legalized rules of jihad found in the Quran, hadith, and classical legal opinions?

(1) Women and children are enslaved. They can either be sold, or the Muslims may 'marry' the women, since their marriages are automatically annulled upon their capture. (2) Jihadists may have sex with slave women. Ali, Muhammad's cousin and son—in—law, did this. (3) Women and children must not be killed during war, unless this happens in a nighttime raid when visibility was low. (4) Old men and monks could be killed. (5) A captured enemy of war could be killed, enslaved, ransomed for money or an exchange, freely released, or beaten. (6) Enemy men who converted could keep their property and small children. This law is so excessive that it amounts to forced conversion. Only the strongest of the strong could resist this coercion and remain a non—Muslim. (7) Civilian property may be confiscated. (8) Civilian homes may be destroyed. (9) Civilian fruit trees may be destroyed. (10) Pagan Arabs had to convert or die. This does not allow for the freedom of religion or conscience. (11) People of the Book (Jews and Christians) had three options (Sura 9:29): fight and die; convert and pay a forced 'charity' or zakat tax; or keep their Biblical faith and pay a jizya or poll tax. The last two options mean that money flows into the Islamic treasury, so why would Muhammad receive a revelation to dry up this money flow?

Thus, jihad is aggressive, coercive, and excessive, and Allah never revealed to Muhammad to stop these practices.


Sharia must never spread around the world. At least that much is clear and achievable. The hard evidence in this article* demonstrates beyond doubt that sharia does not benefit any society, for it contains too many harsh rules and punishments.

*Please see original article for evidence and links to supporting articles at

One of the most tragic and under—reported occurrences in the West in recent years is the existence of a sharia court in Canada. Muslims are pushing for a sharia divorce courting Australia as well. Having a court of arbitration if it is based on western law and legal theory is legitimate, but sharia does not hold to this standard. Whether sharia is imposed gradually or rapidly, Canada should promptly shut down any sharia court, and Australia should never allow one. Such a court should never be permitted in the US, the rest of the West, or anywhere else in the world that is battling Islam.

It is true that the Enlightenment teaches tolerance, but it also teaches critical thinking and reasoning. Sharia cannot stand up under scrutiny. It is intolerant and excessive, and Aristotle in his Nicomachean Ethics teaches the West that excess is never just.

Thankfully, the province of Quebec, Canada, has forbidden sharia. This is the right initiative.

Sharia ultimately degrades society and diminishes freedom."

James M. Arlandson may be reached at