Experimenting With Cookie Decorating!

My oldest daughter (almost 9 years old) and I went to a cookie decorating class in December! We had so much fun learning how to decorate cookies with royal icing! Before now, I have always used a powder sugar glaze on my sugar cookies. Now, I am loving the look of the royal icing.

Here are the cookies I decorated at the class:

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Here are several other photos of Christmas cookies I decorated since the class:12345561_10208275397351707_9197156553318296614_n

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And these are character cookies that I was just experimenting with. Chewbacca is my favorite! My husband wanted me to try and duplicate his patch and that obviously needs a lot of practice.

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It has been fun! I will post more photos whenever I experiment again. There are a ton of Pinterest ideas that I want to try!

Frozen Birthday Party-Part 2: Decorating

Finally, here is Part 2 discussion & photos of our Frozen themed birthday party from back in January! This post will focus on decorating! Thank you to my friend Erin who took the photos for me!

If you missed Part 1 click here:

Frozen Birthday Party-Part 1: Food

Thanks to Pinterest, there are a ton of great ideas for a Frozen themed party! Many of my ideas came from Pinterest and other ideas are my own! Frozen allows for many great possibilities but way too many for one party on a limited budget.

IMG_2602To recap about the food table, I started out with a purple plastic tablecloth. I stretched out blue and purple tulle over the length of the table as runners. We used paper plates (with purple & blue flowers), plastic forks, and purple & blue napkins, blue basket. The party favors included, Frozen notebooks & pencils,  and Frozen tattoos. I also used blank food tags & water bottle labels to label everything! See where I found everything  in my Part 1 post.IMG_2606

I bought helium filled balloons from our local grocery store to scatter above the food table. During Christmas season, Hobby Lobby has many items that can be used for a Frozen theme. I bought fake snow,  purple  &  teal glitter snowflake ornaments, purple & teal snowflake garland strands, and clear icicle garland strands all from Hobby Lobby. If you are on Hobby Lobby’s mailing list, you get weekly 40% off coupons and if you watch their sales you can find whole sections of the store already discounted.

IMG_2604I bought these lovely Frozen themed decorations from Oriental Trading Company. I hung the banner above the window in the dining room. I hung the swirl decorations around the dining room above the table and in the living room above all the doorways. They just added the needed touch to complete the actual Frozen theme. IMG_2603

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IMG_2655We already had these Frozen pillows that the girls received for Christmas! Olaf of course was the favorite among the guests! Olaf was purchased at Target and the throw pillows were purchased at Walmart.

 

 

 

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IMG_2629Now comes the kitchen bar decor. I topped it with fake snow, hung the snowflake & icicle garland, and the snowflake ornaments. I put the cake & dessert plates on the bar until it was time to serve. The glass candy jars are filled with decorative candy from Hobby Lobby. A friend uses these for baby shower decorations and she allowed me to borrow them. She tied ribbon on them to match my color theme. Of course, a Frozen themed party is incomplete without Elsa & Anna! These dolls were given to the girls two Christmases ago and were the perfect addition to the bar. IMG_2624Under the bar, I used Frozen bags that we found at Target (in the dollar section!) and stuffed them with tissue paper. You can also see a single snowball! We have a set of indoor snowballs that I scattered all over the living room floor. These were the highlight of the party because the kids had an indoor snowball fight!

IMG_2642IMG_2635 And last but not least: the gift table! I covered the coffee table with the same purple table cloth that is on the food table and topped it with the Frozen mylar balloons found at the local grocery store. Gifts for the girls were placed on and around the table. I tried to specify one side for each girl but that did not work out so well (and it really did not matter).

 

 

Here are some free party tips!

Party Keepsakes!

  • Buy a Mylar Balloon that matches the theme of your party. When it looses most of its air (or when you are tired of looking at it), cut a small hole at the base of the balloon to let out the remaining air. Fold the balloon and place it wherever you keep your child’s keepsakes.
  • Save one filled out invitation to put with your child’s keepsakes.

Save Gift Wrap!

  • Gift bags are getting to be expensive! Fold and save all gift bags for future use then you have a stack on hand to choose from without having to run to the store last minute.
  • Tissue paper can be smoothed out and folded neatly for future use. Since tissue paper is usually scrunched into bags, most people will not notice that it has been reused.
  • Wrapping paper can also be smoothed out and folded for future use. Unfortunately, my kids tear into wrapping paper and most of the time it is not salvageable.

The Soup Club Cookbook

This book by: Courtney Allison, Tina Carr, Caroline Laskow, Julie Peacock is a cookbook filled with recipes for every type of soup you can think of and more! It includes brightly colored photos, easy to follow instructions, detailed recipes, tips, personal stories, etc. The premise of the book is that 4 friends (the authors) decided to start a soup club. Each week, one of the friends would make a large batch of soup (and sides) and deliver it to the other 3 friends. Each friend had an assigned week and day that they would be responsible for the shopping, cooking, and delivering. This allowed for each family to have a different types of soup every week during the month and they did not have to make it for 3 of those weeks!

I love soup so I jumped at the chance to review this cookbook! I really like the concept of a soup club, however, I can also imagine all the ways it could go wrong. Several years ago, I attempted something similar when I started a Once A Month Cooking Club. 4-5 friends made 4-5 different recipes in bulk and then we exchanged them with each other once a month. This fully stocked our freezers for several weeks at a time. It worked well for the first couple of months, then as more people added to the group, there were disagreements over portion sizes, complexity vs simplicity of meals, etc. SO, based on my personal experience, I would be reluctant to start another food exchange club. Unless, there was a limited amount of participants (4 is a good number), previously agreed upon portion sizes per family, and the issue of complexity of the meal all discussed ahead of time. Whether or not you are interested in a food exchange club, the recipes in this book sound (and look) absolutely delicious! I am very excited to use this cookbook and introduce new types of soup to my family (and maybe friends)! I would highly recommend this book if you want to try to make a variety of different soups!

In accordance with the Federal Trade Commission I am required to disclose that Clarkson Potter/Publishers provided this book for free in exchange for my review. I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions I have expressed are my own.

*****

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Amazon

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Frozen Birthday Party-Part 1: Food

My girls have birthdays that are 2 weeks apart in January. We have always had joint birthday parties for them which makes it more convenient for me! Until they start putting up a fight and insisting that they have separate parties, we are going to continue the tradition! On their individual birthdays, we allow them to choose a restaurant of their choice for their birthday dinner so that their day is special. For the parties, we always invite entire families who all of us spend time with on a regular basis (instead of random friends who get dropped of at the house). This allows for fellowship with our friends while we are celebrating the girl’s birthdays. We pick a theme (discussions for the next year’s theme usually starts soon after the party is over) and throughout the months leading up to the party, I keep an eye out in stores or online for decorating ideas. I always have a ton of fun decorating and making the party day special! I have finally gone through the hundreds of photos taken at my girl’s Frozen birthday party and narrowed them down to just… 55! So, I do not overwhelm you, I will post the pictures in different blog posts. This post will focus on food! Thank you to my friend Erin who took the photos for me!

Thanks to Pinterest, there are a ton of great ideas for a Frozen themed party! Many of my ideas came from Pinterest and other ideas are my own! Frozen allows for many great possibilities but way too many for one party on a limited budget.

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I started out with a purple plastic tablecloth. We bought a tablecloth roll about 5 years ago and we have used the same roll for every birthday party since then! A friend gave me blue and purple tulle after an event that she decorated for. I stretched them out over the length of the table as runners. We used paper plates (with purple & blue flowers), plastic forks, and purple & blue napkins from the local grocery store. The blue basket came from Hobby Lobby. The party favors, Frozen notebooks & pencils, came from the dollar section at Target. Frozen tattoos came from Big Lots. I found my blank food tags & water bottle labels from a pinterest post from Delicate Construction.

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Hallmark has a new product called Itty Bittys! I bought the entire princess line for the girls for Christmas. I saved Anna & Elsa for their party. They were very excited! Chocolate hearts were labeled “I wanna stuff some chocolate in my face!” Hershey Hugs were labeled “I love warm hugs!” I found the blue & white swirled lollipops and blue diamond gems  from Oriental Trading Company.

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Strawberries dipped in candy melts from Hobby Lobby are labeled as “Frozen Hearts.” Sandwiches labeled as “We finish each other’s sandwiches.” I made chicken salad, scooped it on hamburger buns, and cut them in half.

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Powdered donuts are labeled as “Snow Balls” and the veggie tray is labeled as “Troll Food.”

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I set up several snacks (marshmallows, pretzels, carrots, raisins, snowflake candy, and labeled them “Do you want to build a snowman?” The kids had fun and were really creative!

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The “Stormy Seas” Punch is made from Blue Hawaiian Punch, Sprite, raspberry sherbet, and vanilla ice cream. There is not a set recipe, just make it to taste. Pour the sprite over the ice cream to get the fizzy look on top! Water bottles are labeled as “Melted Snow.”

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And of course, the Frozen birthday cake! There are many cool ideas for custom cakes on Pinterest. I did not have the time (or the talent) to try and attempt to make one. This came from the local grocery store. The decal is printed on edible paper. I told them the colors I wanted for the colored frosting (to match the rest of the party decorations).

See Frozen Birthday Party-Part 2: Decorating for more!

Trying New Things!

I am having a lot of fun making Noriko try new things!

When I found out she had never eaten Pumpkin Pie, I had to make it for her. This is an American dessert that is a staple during autumn! She loved it! And of course my girls did too 🙂

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I also made her try Black Licorice… She did NOT like that!

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Other things I have made her try include: pumpkin cake, homemade tapioca pudding, potato soup, homemade jam (of different flavors), sour patch kids, Big Mac, and much more. She likes most things that I have given her (or at least she says she does 🙂 ). She loves to eat!

 

Questions & Answers…Preparing To Host A Student

First, I will say that it was not my idea to write a question/answer post but I thought it was an excellent idea from The Ann Arbor Exchange. The following questions come from them. This is their second year hosting a student so they included how their previous expectations actually worked with their first student and what changes they will be making with this year’s student. For this post though, I only have my current expectations to go on. Maybe after we have had our student for awhile I can revisit this to see if my expectations were reasonable.

So the idea behind these questions, is to evaluate your expectations before you choose a student. If you know the answers to these questions then when you receive student profiles you can compare common interests and look for red flags that might affect your family. This may help you avoid major conflicts throughout the time your student is a part of your family.

1. Is your family religious? How would you feel about hosting a student with a different religion? No religion? Can you commit to transporting a religious child to services if they are a regular attendee? Can you provide a quiet, distraction-free place for prayer if this is needed? If you are a non-religious family these questions are just as important!

144185625539529204_KGDI6yf4_cAbsolutely! While we don’t necessarily use the word religious to define ourselves, that is how most other people would define us. We are Christians. We go to a Baptist church. Our faith in God defines who we are and how we live our daily lives. We read our Bibles, we pray, we worship, we attend church services and activities throughout the week.

Although it would be easier to host a student with no religion, we would be okay with hosting a student with a different religion. We will ask our student to visit our church services and activities but we will not force her to come if she chooses not to. The youth group at our church will be very welcoming and would be a great way to meet friends since the majority of them go to the same high school. Also, there are 3-4 exchange student host families who attend our church and our hope is that they will be more comfortable here if they spend time with the other students and families.

 It would be difficult to transport a student to and from services of a different religion if they were during days/times that conflict with our schedules or own church services. If our student desires to attend services at another church or religious place, we would more than likely require that she makes transportation arrangements with someone whom we have met and who we are comfortable with driving her. If she chooses to pray privately, she will have her room to do so.

We have not brought up religion in our emails with Noriko but according to her profile she has no religion. We know from our experience living in Okinawa, Japan that Shintoism and Buddhism are the most common religions there and that one or both of them will probably have influenced her belief system whatever that may be.

2. Is your family active? Do you want a student who will be open to being active?

Shane is active. I am not. I do not think that this will be a problem for our family. If she is active, we will find avenues (like school or community sports) for her to be a part of.

3. Are you financially ready to provide three meals and snacks? Can you pay for school activities or will the student? How will you handle expenses? Will you work with the natural parents ahead of time to decide on the student’s allowance? Will the student give you cash? Or will you have them pay for an equivalent dollar amount of things?

We do not feel that adding one more person to feed will be that much of an added expense. We tend to cook enough to have left overs. Our girls are hit or miss as to whether they will eat a whole meal or not. And I try to save money by buying produce through a co-op and couponing (not extreme couponing) as I am able too. Our exchange organization requires that the student will have a $300.00 (or more) per month allowance. This money is for the student to pay for all school and extracurricular expenses. If she chooses to buy lunch at school, that will be her expense also. We personally will require her to have a cell phone and she will be responsible for paying the monthly bill. When the student arrives we will set up a savings account with a debit card at our local bank. We will also help the student budget her money so that she does not over spend and so that she plans ahead for larger expenses that she may have while here.

4. What are your family’s unspoken rules? Being aware of these is imperative – an exchange student will not simply intuit them.

The biggest one that I can think of is that Shane is military and his schedule is always changing. We as a family need to be respectful and understanding if he needs extra sleep, will leave for work extra early, will get home extra late, or will be away from home for days, weeks, or months.

Because we have never had a teenager live with us, there may be things that come to our attention along the way. I think we need to be somewhat flexible but if something starts to bother us (that wasn’t already mentioned as a “rule”) that we should explain it to the student tactfully.

5. What are your expectations for school? Chores? Technology? Dating? Social stuff? Curfew?

This question is a little hard for us since we have never had teenagers. So, I think there may be some learning on our part as to what is appropriate for our student. If something comes up that we are unsure of, we have several friends that we can go to for teen parenting advice 🙂 But here are some initial thoughts…

Our exchange organization requires that students maintain a C or higher in all classes. I feel that this is reasonable but will highly encourage Noriko to do her very best to get A’s and B’s. If she brings home C’s I will more than likely be talking to the teachers and arranging tutoring.

We do not really have set chores. Shane and I do what needs to be done as needed. We take turns when we can but more often than not, I take care of indoor chores and he takes care of outdoor chores. I asked Noriko what chores she likes to do and she said she likes to do dishes and vacuuming. It will be easy to set up a schedule for her to help with each of these. As well as, general care of her room and bathroom. We will probably have her help with watching the girls on occasion.

Our exchange organization has limits of 1 hour per week of communication with student’s home family and friends (phone or Skype). They feel that the more a student is interacting with home, the harder it is for them to adjust to being here. Their limit for internet (email, facebook, etc.) is 2 hours per week with the exception of school related internet usage (studying, research, etc.).

We will meet all friends and dates before Noriko spends any significant time outside of school with them. We will encourage her to invite her friends to our house and we will be open and honest with her about any concerns we may have about someone. We will not allow her to ride with friends unless we have met them and feel comfortable with them driving. We will also have an open policy with her. If she feels at all uncomfortable, she can call us and we will come get her. She can use us as an excuse to get out of an activity or date by saying she needs to be with us at that time.

We will have a 9:00 curfew on school nights, a 11:00 curfew on weekends, and a 12:00 curfew on special occasions (like prom). Exceptions may be made if Noriko specifically asks ahead of time (for instance, she is going to a movie and it will get out later than curfew).

6. If you have other children in the house how do they feel about hosting?

Our girls are ages 6 and 4 years old. We honestly did not consult them before deciding to have a student. In fact, we avoided talking to them about it until we knew for sure that our application was accepted and that we would be getting Noriko. After we were approved, we talked to them about it and told them that it would be like having a big sister while she was here. It took a few times of talking about it before they really understood that she was coming for more than just a short vacation. Now they both seem to be excited about having Noriko here!

7. Do you have pets? Have you honestly assessed their behavior? Have you shared any pertinent information about them with your student? What are the pet-related expectations for your student?

0ES1We have a black cat named Hashi (Japanese word for chopsticks) who is about 3  years old. He doesn’t like a lot of commotion or attention and usually hides away in our room throughout the day. He tends to explore during the night. It is not unusual for him to come out to the living room while guests are here (as long as it is somewhat quiet and calm) but if anyone moves in his direction he usually retreats back to the bedroom. He tolerates me the most out of anyone in the family. He will be okay with a student once he gets to know her.

0ES2We also have a black dog named Bear (lab mix) who is around 9 months old. He is all puppy. Very hyper and loves attention. He likes to play bite (but won’t intentionally hurt someone) and he chews anything he can get his teeth on (toys, brushes, headbands, bowls, cups, etc). We keep him locked up in his kennel at night and when we are not at home. We also make a habit of closing bedroom doors or putting up a baby gate so that he cannot get into them.

One of our requirements was that there be no animal allergies. I really liked everything about a Brazil girl’s profile until it said she was allergic to cats. This is something that we just cannot work around. Noriko’s profile said that she has a cat and loves pets. She said as much when we had the opportunity to Skype with her this past weekend. She was surprised that Bear was an indoor dog though.

8. How long will your student be with you before school starts? How will you handle the downtime?

Noriko will be with us for 5 days before school starts. There really will not be much downtime. We will allow her to sleep and rest for a couple of days but we also have to go to a school appointment to get her registered and make her class schedule. We will most likely need to do some shopping. And we will be spending a lot of time discussing rules and expectations, answering questions, and generally getting her settled and preparing for school to start.

9. Do you have any dietary restrictions? Does the student? Is everyone comfortable with this?

We do not have any dietary restrictions. According to Noriko’s profile, she does not either. We looked at several student profiles and a couple of them were vegetarians or vegans. Initially, I wanted to say that it wouldn’t be a problem. After thinking about it, though, I realized that with young children it would be almost impossible to cater to a dietary need or preference. Maybe when our girls are older (or out of the house) it would not be an issue but for now my girls need to be the priority when it comes to food preparation. I need to be able to prepare what I know they will eat. We do eat a wide variety of foods but having to eliminate whole food groups because of an allergy or preference just is not practical for us at this time.

10. What are your expectations around travel? Holidays? Family time?

We want to travel to visit our families in Iowa and Delaware while Noriko is here. Right now we do not know if we will have the finances to be able to take these long distance trips or not. Our plan is to start saving for them now and hope that we are able to do them. I feel that if we can help Noriko see other parts of our country, it would be a great experience for her. If we make it to Delaware, I will most definitely take her to Washington DC for a day and possibly New York City as well. For most travel (long distance or not), we will require that she pays her portion of the trip. If we fly, she will have to pay for her plane ticket. If we go to a museum or amusement park, she will pay for her entrance tickets.

375547_2593634049248_1506571575_32756780_628022001_nFor holidays, we will celebrate them the way we usually do. Most holidays that we celebrate have a Christian theme or history (Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, St. Patrick’s Day, etc.) and we will make it sure she knows the purpose and/or history behind each holiday. Our church is planning to do a Passover dinner next spring which will also give her a the experience of a Jewish holiday. The only major American holiday that we don’t really celebrate is Halloween. We tend to participate in whatever our church does for this holiday (harvest parties, trunk or treat) but we have only been attending our church since February so I don’t know what they do. I also plan to ask Noriko about her holiday traditions and would like to incorporate them into ours while she is here.

Most of the time family time is spent at home at meals and watching tv or movies together. I am a stay at home mom who homeschools, so family time (at least with the girls and I) is usually not an issue. When Shane is away for an extended period of time or due to long hours at work, the girls may start to be clingy and start to act out (attitudes, tantrums, etc.). When I notice this happening, I usually suggest that we go out to eat as a family so that we don’t have the distractions of being at home. We also try to go out as a family to the pool or park to spend time together. We will treat Noriko as a daughter and a part of the family. We want her to feel we are her family away from home.

How would you answer these questions? Can you think of any others that may be helpful?

First Year Of Gardening

The title says it all. I have never had a garden. I have always liked the idea of it but I never pursued the hobby. Due to several friends having a garden and enjoying fresh produce, I decided that I wanted to attempt the project. So here is the story my amateur gardening process.

119I enjoy having indoor plants and I generally keep plants that survive my stupidity of forgetting to water. I even transported several of my plants all the way from North Dakota to New Mexico during freezing temperatures and most of them survived! They are now thriving in our new home.

Step One: As soon as we moved into our home in December, I bought an outdoor garbage can with a lid and had Shane drill holes all over it. This was the start of my composting attempt. We put some dirt and all of the kitchen scraps we saved over the course of several months. I turned it frequently and kept it from being too dry or too moist.

Step Two: Shane bought lumber from Lowes, stained it, and built me a garden box.

Step Three: Although my compost was not completely ready, I decided to dump the majority of my compost into the bottom of my garden box. We added several bags of gardening soil and raked through to mix the compost and the soil. Then we added a couple bags of gardening soil over the top. This filled the box about 1/2 way.

Step Four: I went to Walmart and bought a seed pod starter kit and several packs of seeds including: tomatoes, carrots, bell peppers, green beans, and broccoli. They started growing quickly and after several weeks I planted them in the garden box.

113The plants started doing very well but while they were still trying to get established, my dog ran through the garden and kicked up most of the plants. This pretty much destroyed the garden.

Step Five: A couple of the green beans, peppers, and broccoli plants were ok. So I carefully removed all of the destroyed plants and raked through the soil. I also planted some pumpkins! Several of the plants still died off but I had a few plants that were really getting established! I decided to keep the few good ones that I had and hope for the best. I had a friend (who has a large garden) come over and see how my garden was doing. She pointed to three plants and said that they were tomatoes. These were in places that I had NOT planted tomatoes! So we assumed that they were coming from my compost!

11On July 3rd, our area of New Mexico got a major hail storm. From a distance, it looked like it had snowed. Our yard was covered in hail and cold water. My plants took a beating and I did not think that they would survive. The following week, I had my friend come and check the garden again (Her garden was not hit by the hail!). She said that some of the plants looked like they would make it. So I did not remove any of them in hopes that would come back.

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We are now in the beginning of August and my garden is looking well! All of the plants shredded by hail came back except for the green beans. The pumpkin plants which were shredded the most are now overtaking the garden and look beautiful every morning with the orange blossoms! A few days ago, I moved the longer pumpkin vines so they run over the edge of the garden box and into the grass. I can see one pumpkin starting to grow! Several more compost tomato plants popped up to the point that I had to remove the smaller ones so that they didn’t overrun the garden. There are a few green tomatoes starting to grow and it looks like they are cherry tomatoes! I also planted several cantaloupe seeds in an area that didn’t have any established plants. They popped up very quickly and I have been thinning them out every few days so that hopefully we will get 2-3 really good plants out of the cluster.

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I am really pleased with my garden so far! I cannot wait until I can start harvesting vegetables!

About Boycotting…

I have spent a week praying about the topic that I am going to blog about today. In the past week, I have also asked several Christian friends their opinions on the subject. I found that most people agreed with me but there were a few who did not. Unfortunately, I was unable to get the opinion of friends who do not believe in the Bible, so I do not presume to know their opinion of the topic except for what I have seen expressed on facebook or in online comments on news articles.

If you have seen the news or have had any presence online in the last week or so, I am sure that you have heard of the conflict between the media and Chick Fil-A. In an interview, the company’s CEO stated that he supports traditional marriage which caused an uproar in the gay and liberal communities. Anyone who knows anything about Chick Fil-A would also know that the company was founded by a Christian man and has been run with Christian based values its entire existence. Despite pressure from communities, Chick Fil-A closes its doors on Sundays so that its employees have the option to go to church if they choose to do so.

(Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post for the New Chick Fil-A song)

What surprises me (well actually it doesn’t really) is that when the company’s CEO was asked his opinion in the interview, and he stated it according to well-known Christian beliefs, the media acted shocked at his response.

Of course, the gay community immediately jumped to the conclusion that Chick Fil-A and its CEO and owners hates all gays. This is something that I do not understand. Why does disagreeing with homosexuality automatically equal hatred towards or afraid of homosexuals? I might disagree with someone on any topic (religion, how to raise kids, what movies or books we like, how we spend our money, etc) but that doesn’t mean I hate them or am afraid of them. In my opinion, only when someone’s actions show that they are hateful or afraid, should that argument be used (such as Westboro church has so frequently demonstrated). Anyway, due to their misguided opinion, a lot of the liberal community has declared a boycott on Chick Fil-A. For some reason, it seems as though gays only seem to have an intolerance toward Christians and Christian companies when Biblically based beliefs are expressed. I wonder if they realize that all Abrahamic religions (Christian, Judaism, Islam) as well as other world religions find homosexuality morally wrong.

Which brings me to the point of my post. Obviously most people tend to support companies either that support their values and/or that provide goods/services that we need or want. (For example, if I need a Christian book I more than likely will purchase it from a Christian book store instead of a large book store chain unless the Christian book store didn’t have the book I needed). But what reason(s) would make someone choose to boycott certain companies? When I asked this question of friends, I received several responses.

One friend says he has a loose boycott of all large corporations.  Whenever possible he shops local and pays slightly more for things but he does so knowing that 100% of the retail markup goes to local people; who then spend it locally. This doesn’t prevent him from shopping at larger corporations if commissions from his purchases will help a personal friend or if a local shop is closed and there is an immediate need for an item or service.

Another friend tries to avoid all companies that he knows are pro-gay.

Yet another friend has a whole list of companies that she boycotts based on the following three reasons “1) open hatred of Christians in general 2) Use of practices that are in direct opposition to God’s will, like using aborted stem cells for flavor enhancement and 3) support of agendas that hurt the morality of the country, abortion, homosexuality, promiscuity etc. “

Another friend points out that “in 1 Corinthians 8, Paul is telling believers that there is no harm in buying and eating meat that had been sacrificed to idols. The issue he was addressing was one of whether eating that meat caused a brother to stumble, but the context of the verse is that in the first-century, pagan temples funded themselves in part by selling the meat that they sacrificed. A Christian, knowing that idols are nothing, could purchase and eat that meat without fear of incurring the wrath of said idol, but apparently, Paul had no problem with money passing into hands of pagan temples from Christian pockets.”

My husband said that according to the Bible, we should fast in private without announcing it to the world which would bring glory to ourselves instead of God. So he feels that if a Christian is going to boycott a company, they should do it quietly so as to not draw attention to themselves so that they do not seem “more holy than thou, preachy, a bully, or intolerant.”

So, what do I think? I think in most cases, when Christians and conservatives boycott non-Christians and liberals then we are all feeding into a vicious cycle. I think more often than not when this happens, both sides are being hypocritical. We Christians want non-Christians to be to tolerant of our religious beliefs. Gays want Christians to be tolerant of their sexual orientation. Yet when both sides boycott every company that may or may not disagree with our beliefs, both sides are in fact being intolerant. Our country was founded on freedom. In this country, I have the right to be a Christian. Someone else has the right to be gay. I also have the right to believe that homosexuality is morally wrong just as someone who is not a Christian has the right to not believe in my God or my Bible. All that being said, if someone (conservative or liberal) truly has a conviction to boycott a company or cause, I believe they should follow their convictions. But they should do it without spouting hate and judgement towards the company they are boycotting. There are companies/organizations that I do not support because they go against my beliefs. There are also plenty of companies that I still shop at or use their services even though they may have some history of disagreeing with my beliefs. We should stick to our convictions with humility and recognize that others have different convictions without being judgemental towards each other.

I love the following song which reminds us that sometimes we as Christians stand in the way of others knowing Jesus.

Jesus, Friend Of Sinners  By: Casting Crowns

Jesus, friend of sinners
We have strayed so far away
We cut down people in Your name
But the sword was never ours to swing
Jesus, friend of sinners
The truth’s become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You
But they’re tripping over me

Always looking around but never looking up
I’m so double minded
A plank-eyed saint with dirty hands
And a heart divided

Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world
At the end our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus, friend of sinners
Break our hearts for what breaks Yours

Jesus, friend of sinners
The One whose writing in the sand
Made the righteous turn away
And the stones fall from their hands
Help us to remember
We are all the least of these
Let the memory of Your mercy
Bring Your people to their knees

Nobody knows what we’re for
Only what we’re against
When we judge the wounded
What if we put down our signs
Crossed over the lines
And loved like You did

You love every lost cause
You reach for the outcast
For the leper and the lame
They’re the reason that You came
Lord, I was that lost cause
And I was the outcast
But You died for sinners just like me
A grateful leper at Your feet

‘Cause You are good
You are good
And Your love endures forever
*****

And just for fun, here is the New Chick Fil-A song by Tim Hawkins…