Scrapbook 911 in San Antonio

Joal and I spent the first weekend in March together on a trip to San Antonio with many of his colleagues. If you've been around a while, you might remember that we have been on several cruises, courtesy of NWYC and Joal's dilligent work. This year, instead of a cruise, he earned us a spot on the land-lovers trip to San Antonio.

One of the highlights of the trip (for me) was a quick trip to Scrapbook 911, one of San Antonio's many (yes, I'm jealous) local scrapbooking retail establishments. My time for shopping was limited so on the advice of the Peas, I picked this store to be the one I would visit. Peas did not lead me wrong. :) What an excellent place!

I can feel a great scrapbook store within about 10 seconds of stepping in the door...and boy, did I enjoy every minute I spent in this store. It was warm and well-stocked with lots of my favorite scrapbooking brands. The American Crafts Thickers **wall** was to die for as was the fabulous and generous array of ribbons and trims sold by the yard. There were great layouts all over the store and the crop area looked very spacious and comfortable.

The ladies in the store were very friendly and helpful. As usually happens when I travel to stores in other areas, the lady checking me out, asked if I was on the mailing list and the usual conversation ensued. "No, I don't live here."
"Really. Where are you from?"
"Well, what brought you here?"
"My husband's work...we're here for the weekend."
"Well, we are glad you stopped by."
"Thank you. You have a great store. I'm glad I snuck away." (The big stack of things she's ringing up should be an indicator of how great I think her store is.) :)
"I bet you have great stores in Nashville?"
"No, not really."
"Wow. That's surprising."
"It's crazy. There are no stores in Nashville, except the chains. The closest real scrapbook store is about an hour away."

I have this recurring dream that someday I'm going to have this conversation with someone somewhere and that person is going to say something like "I've been looking for the perfect place to open our next location...maybe Nashville would be perfect. What do you know about the West Side?" I know, it's a pipe dream...but I hold onto it nonetheless. :)

Anyway, I acquired a nice sack of scrapbooking goodness, including the We R Memory Keepers Corner Chomper that Kristina Werner is so fond of. It's in one of those crazy, impossible-to-open I haven't gotten to use it yet...I need to find a big sturdy knife or pair of scissors.

So now you know, if you're in San Antonio, Scrapbook 911 is the place to go.


Samaritan Ministries

Our family has been members of Samaritan Ministries, a faith-based, medical needs sharing co-operative for almost ten years. We sought out this alternative to traditional medical insurance after the highly-rated, big name medical insurance company we had been insured by for more than three years *illegally* dumped all its client in the state of Tennessee without informing us. The big insurance company acted illegally and as a result, Julian and I became uninsurable.

Samaritan Ministries is a co-operative of like-minded Christians who have banded together and committed to sharing the costs of their medical financial needs. The ministry, which opened its doors in 1994, currently has about 14,000 member families from all across the United States.

Samaritan is not an insurance company and what they provide is *not* traditional medical insurance per se. There are obvious limitations, but we have no problem operating inside those limitations. They are spelled out clearly and no one tries to hide the program limitations.

Samaritan Ministries was profiled in a report on NPR this week, primarily because certain facets of the current healthcare reform legislation may seek to impede our right to choose to participate in a private medical co-op, buying forcing all Americans to purchase traditional medical insurance.

NPR's report did a decent job of summarizing what Samaritan is and what they offer to members, however the subsequent discussion in the comment board exposed to me how scarred many Americans are when it comes to the mistrust of anything that mixes money and religion. Deep are the scars, deep are the wounds that have been inflicted upon those who struggle with their faith when someone in leadership in the Christian community "falls from grace" (which is a misconception, but that's another post) . 

Part of me doesn't understand the notion that it's acceptable to judge an entire segment of the population (the whole of Christendom) on the "big names" of Robertson, Roberts, Bakker, Haggard, etc. Understand it or not, people on the periphery of the evangelical community are indeed judging all of us by the standards (or lack thereof) of our fallen "names". Why are we being judged in the light of the lowest common denominator? 

I have zero connection to those men and they have zero connection to me. It frustrated me that their use of the media has taught the world their names and subsequently has made their failures synonymous with all of Christianity. This is not logical. It makes no sense. It's shallow.

Will we now distrust all married golfers and expect them to be lying, deceitful clods who cheat on their wives because that's who Tiger Woods is?

Will we expect every governor of every state to run off to a small country in South America to find a mistress at taxpayer's expense, now that we know that's what the governor of South Carolina did?

Will we no longer trust a single doctor because one decided to get high and continue to practice?

No. Any responsible person can see that these scenarios are the universal equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater. It's not the way of the thinker, but of the shallow person.

I am not a believer in the LCD, especially when it comes to my faith. I do not deny that it appears that those men (the big names) failed in their walk on many levels and did so in a very public way. They made bad choices, behaved badly, participated in things that were illegal and immoral and made a mockery of what it is to be a servant of Christ, but their failures should not be reflective of me any more than the failures and sins of Tiger Woods should be reflective of the average golfer at the course by the Harpeth.

Being a believer in Christ is an individual sport.

I recoil at the thought that the general population of the world would assume and presume that all things Christian are now tainted based on the failures of a few former pedestal-dwellers.

I also believe that as long as we, the Christian community, continue to raise up pedestal-dwellers, (or allow them to raise themselves up unchecked) we will continue to be judged on their less-than-elegant dismounts. As long as we continue to allow the names of mere mortal men to be raised over the name of Jesus, we will continue to be the bastion of disappointment and lack of character. When we follow a man instead of the One who saves, we set ourselves up...and by extension, we set up our communal character for direct asassination by those around us.

Men fail.
Men are lured away from what is right and true.
Men disappoint.

Jesus never fails. Never goes away. Jesus never disappoints.

Samaritan Ministries has been a vital part of our lives for a long time. It works systemically (the co-op concept is certainly nothing new) and on a faith-level as well. Where traditional insurance has become unaffordable, greedy and hard-to-understand, Samaritan has remained true, affordable and simple. When a "highly-rated" top-notch insurance company maneuvered to illegally dump a large number of high risk clients in the state of Tennessee, thereby committing legal and moral crimes that went unchecked, Samaritan was there.

Samaritan is not flashy, hard-to-grasp concept. It's a very simple idea. And it works. Well. 

Healthcare and Health insurance are not the responsibilities of our government. These are private matters, best handles by private individuals and private doctors. Government has very little place dictating medical care. In his first inaugural address, President Clinton stated "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America". I agree 100%. When government does not interfere, Americans can generally come up with ways to fix what ails this case, repairing an ailing health care/insurance industry. 

Samaritan, and the concept of the medical co-op, is a viable alternative to traditional medical insurance. It's the stripped-down model that is based on scriptural principles, personal responsibility and helping ones fellow man. 

Galatians 6
1Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. 3If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

4Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. 5For we are each responsible for our own conduct.

6Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them.

7Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. 8Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. 9So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. 10Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.