Friday, July 31, 2015

Early morning road trip

We watch everything on the road as we're driving and talk about all we see going on; construction trucks throwing rocks, tire snakes, and the occasional Mario Andretti. This morning it went something like this.

Me: Andrea, put on your cop glasses. I think I need to pull this guy over. 
Andrea: I don't have any cop glasses. What's wrong this time?
Me: Then make those finger circles around your eyes because look at that pipe on the back of that's hopping around. I don't think it's tied down. He's going to harpoon someone and I feel like an endangered species following this guy.
Andrea: Police officers are declining in the public opinion polls. I'm not sure my impersonation will help them any.

The pipe jumps back 20 inches.

Me: I'm turning on the lights. Make a siren noise so we can get this guy to pull over.
Andrea: Okay fine. You drive. I'll tell him.
Andrea: I don't think he can read lips at 75mph. Wave him over.

I wave him over. We pull off the interstate. 

Me: I'm going to go talk to him.
Andrea: No. You stay here. I'll talk to him.
Me: Are you sure? I can go with you.
Andrea: No. Stay here.
Me: Okay fine. Radio for back up if you need me. 

She hops out and tells him. He thanks her and she hops back in. 

Me: What did he say?
Andrea: He said I made a pretty good siren noise now turn off your lights and let's go.

Five minutes later...
Me: That was pretty easy to pull him over. He's lucky we weren't pirates.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Woman's Wear

Woman's Wear

Originally published  June of 2006. This article has been updated.

Just In case you are in need of some feminine advice, here is our response to a letter we received.
First the letter:

Hello ladies, I really had a question, not a comment..... My question concerns firearms. My husband and I are taking a concealed carry class this weekend, and since taking the "dressing challenge" my wardrobe has changed considerably. Where precisely do you find space to carry if you do? Your 'hidden arms' link won't exactly give me a modest way to access my carry weapon.... any advice? I'd prefer not to leave it in my purse, for obvious reasons. Just thought you might have some ideas for me.

Thank you,
Janine from Oregon

A word on concealed carry...

Hello Janine-
It's nice to meet you. Andrea and I have been carrying for several years now and have been doing so while wearing dresses. I am glad to hear that dressing in a feminine fashion is important to you also. Rest assured it's only a perceived inconvenience or difficulty to carry while maintaining our womanly appearance. It becomes second nature fairly quickly.

Also, dressing in modest, feminine, respectable attire proves the point that we are just that. We who enjoy our right to carry arms are not dangerous trouble making maniacs. When we travel across country on business and have to fly rather than drive, we prove the point that gun owners are not what the liberal media portrays them to be? Pictured below, Andrea is as sweet as she looks and she does arouse looks of curiosity when she checks in at the airline ticket counter and declares her firearms to the agent.

A lovely day at the duck pond in Wasilla, Ak.

But on to what we've done to conceal properly. I am glad you agree that a purse isn't a good option. A police officer once told me that when you enter a scene (or in our case find ourselves in a life threatening situation) you are bringing a gun into the conflict (in our case, by default). If the "bad guy" can take it from you, you're rooting for the wrong team. Purses are easy to snatch in other words.

Since most women carry a purse anyway, they might as well own a conceal carry purse. They often have a locking compartment with a holster inside.

Our experience has been with Coronado leather who has very high quality conceal carry purses. I only recommend using one when you are surrounded by your Dad, husband, brother(s) and their male friends & associates if they understand their responsibility to protect and right to carry. Do realize that you are becoming, to a slight degree, lax when you do carry in a purse. It is also a slower draw.

Tom Russell, founder of America Firearms Academy and another of my friends suggests that it is a perfectly natural scene to see a woman with her hand in her purse as she's walking along. You can even shoot through the purse if the need arises.

There are two points I want to clarify before getting into other carry options.

Consider carrying at all times, establishing good carry habits so you won't cause yourself confusion. We are creatures of habit and our habits need not conflict with each other. If you are in the habit of carrying all the time, you'll never be caught off guard. If you have a habit of carrying only when you are alone, when you do go somewhere with your son or husband, you'll be unarmed and if you have to separate temporarily, say at the grocery store or something your habit produced an unarmed scenario.

Another good habit to establish is "carry the same gun the same way every time" if possible. Make sure you're well practiced on your draw from that holster. Obviously your life or the lives of your children may depend on it.

You may try a few or many carry options before you settle on the one that works best for you. Don't get discouraged. 

Andrea and I started out by using fanny packs (in the front of course, often called waist packs now) as our choice carry. At the time it worked well in casual situations and waist packs were not uncommon. (Grocery store, walking around the neighborhood, etc.) We have graduated from tactical pistol courses in skirts and using Fanny Packs.

People often say they are a dead giveaway. In my many years of carrying with a fanny pack I've only had one person recognize it. It was a police officer and he smiled broadly like a proud father when he saw it. On that note, they aren't very fashionable now and far less common except in special situations. They are great when worn in a context when you'd be wearing one anyway. Hiking, biking, etc. If you become known as "the fanny pack woman" around town it might be a bit much. If people can't place it, if it looks out of the norm to them curiosity and/or suspicions may be raised. I think a black pack is more likely to be a dead give away. There are colored ones that seem a bit more normal.

In our course taught by Jim Crews we learned a very safe and quick 4-point draw for presenting our firearms. In 2 seconds we are able to draw from our packs and stop a threat which illustrates the efficiency of the fanny pack. What is most important is that the pack completely opens exposing the firearm so you can draw without hanging up on something.

I have not used this particular pack. The photo illustrates ease of draw due to the wrap around zippers and quick entry draw strings. The draw strings would normally be dangling outside the pack once it is zipped shut.

Fanny pack lunch break during our shooting class. Now I would say that, one dead give-away is when your pack is as big as you are. In the photo above, if I had a water bottle attached and maybe a flashlight on the other side, it would look like an outdoorsy rig. Over-sizing everything works too. But this really doesn't work any more for everyday wear. A fanny pack and a dress probably isn't going to fly these days. The "just above the ankle" skirt length pictured above was the look of the day and fanny packs weren't uncommon either. We wore denim skirts on the range to 'duplicate' what we wore mostly every day which was dresses.

Now a cargo skirt (pictured below) perhaps with leggings or some similar athletic skirt would be the norm. I would look for a more slim line pack as well and colored as mentioned earlier.

Once you've been trained you'll understand that there is a baseline for the environments you enter into. In other words, what is normal. What is normal at the grocery store. Most shoppers are quiet and we usually make minimal eye contact, mind the rules of the road down the isles, keep a comfortable amount of space as we stand in line waiting to check out. That's your baseline or what is considered normal. When something out of the ordinary happens in an environment that you're used to, we all naturally become more cautious. Being aware of your surroundings in one of the skill sets that will help you survive a self-defense scenario.

Now turn the scenario around. You can't wear a ski coat in the middle of Tx summer to conceal your firearm. It's just not normal and people will notice. If you're going to conceal and conceal well, don't set off any red flags.

As nannies we used our packs for over a decade and as I mentioned before, in casual situations. When surrounded by little ones and constantly pulling tissues out of the front zip pocket to wipe runny noses and such, you appear more or less like a mom or big sister on-the-go.We did get quite a bit of use out of them. Now I would go with something a bit more slim line and sporty looking.  

A couple things to consider when choosing a fanny pack. Some come with a detachable holster inside the pack. This allow you an option others do not. The holster is often velcroed to the back wall of the inside of the pack. Being able to rotate or angle the holster so that you comfortably grab the pistol grip is optimal.

Other packs have a band which retain the firearm perfectly horizontal, some angled. You get what you get. Being as comfortable with your draw as possible is important. If it works out great.

Then there are packs like the Galco fanny pack. I really appreaciate Galco's thigh holster but my experience with their fanny pack leaves me uncomfortable. The Glaco is slimmer and that is great but the problem I have with the their fanny pack originates from having to slide the firearm into a tight narrow slit in the neoprene  back wall for retention. The neoprene is so tight and stretchy that in order to draw quickly you have to rock the firearm grip away from your body and barrel towards yourself to get it out. You are also unable to angle the gun the way you like.

You can see a retaining strap in the photo above. Some pack make these detachable. Some do not. Personally I think it is one more thing in the way of you defending yourself. But as I understand it some states require a retaining straps be used with holsters. Be sure to check your local laws and those of the states within which you travel.

The good guys always were white hats.
Andrea (in pink) with a .45. Kelly (in green) watches from behind.

Ladies Tactical Pistol Course. Or Home School Legal Defense as we like to call it. 

When fanny packs are a little too casual or if you find them uncomfortable, or are unable to wear one, you can use an Uncle Mikes Inside-The-Pant Open Style Holster or something similar. I use this mostly and rarely use my fanny pack. I have trained with this holster and do a similar 4-point draw just as quickly as with a fanny pack if not quicker.

One obstacle that I ran into with this type of carry is that not all skirt waist bands are sturdy enough for a pistol and holster and as fashions change, some skirts have no waist bands at all. The remedy for this is a hidden belt you can wear under your skirt. The inside-the-pant holster goes beneath the belt. The holster's belt clip can now be clipped over the belt and the skirt waist band if you choose. Essentially you can convert any of your skirts with the use of the belt. I also purchase or make my skirts with a little more room in the waist area.

I wear, for the most part, skirts and loose button-front tops untucked with my hip holster. We have found in colder areas of the county it is easier to conceal a revolver in a hip carry because there was rarely a time when we wear only one layer of clothing. While I lived in Ak. I generally wore a fleece vest over my blouses. Vests often have a drawstring or edge binding that pulls the bottom in to keep it over your firearm.

The length of the top can become an issue if it is too long because you need to be able to draw without hanging up on too much fabric. If it is too short  your carry may become revealed when bending moving or with climbing toddlers.

Insert gown photo here

We are often in settings that require business dress and sometimes formal attire. In times like these, and when I am wearing a full dress as opposed to a skirt and top, I use my Galco Thigh Band Holster. It is not the choice holster for taking a conceal carry class for obvious reasons, but it does allow you to be armed while in a full dress. The holster will slide down over hosiery. The solution is a pair of Shapewear shorts over the hosiery and under the holster's thigh band.  It was not long before I became very comfortable wearing this holster. It also works well when you're in the company of children.

Hairy legs not required.

Andrea offers Hiddenarms which is designed for use by men at this time. The chest band sits on top of the pectoral muscles and so a custom order of longer shoulder straps would be required for use by women. Some ladies will find, as we did, that they are too petite to wear a HiddenArms holster. But others are able to conceal in an under arm carry just fine.

HiddenArms is categorized as a deep carry rig. The holster has extra compartments for spare magazines, ID cards and cash. These holsters also have a retaining strap to secure the firearm and are made of 100% breathable washable cotton.

Hopefully that answered your questions. Please feel free to ask any questions and by the way, I grew up in Oregon and travel back now and then.

All the best,

In the Wallowa Mountains.

Picnicking after a horse ride with a .357

Fishing in Alaska. I caught a hundred dollars worth of lures and made the guide's day...
Fanny pack is hidden in shadow.

Fishing and sporting my fanny pack since bears like fish too!

Monday, August 18, 2014

SOLD: A Searle Classic

This Full length cashmere coat with beautiful Norwegian Fox Fur Collar and cuffs, is a Steve by Searle label, and can be easily worn with a jacket or chunky sweater beneath. Perfect for Autumn / Winter nights out on the town or a evening at the Opera.

Spliced princess cut seaming makes this coat perfect for any body type.

Email for more information and to purchase.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Thoughts on Health and Eternity in a Letter to my Friend

Dear Friend,

Andrea and your mother both mentioned that you were meditating upon eternity, it's value, it's glory. When I was really sick I was also. Wishing for that heavenly place and seeing all the world as nothing in comparison

I was just reading scripture so I thought I would pass on what I am meditating on tonight.
Rom. 6:10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.
I looked up Matthew Henry so as to understand how Christ "lived unto God," making no assumptions simply because He was always living unto God as logic would dictate. Out of curiosity I looked to see if there was more depth of understanding.

Matthew Henry says,

He rose to live unto God, to live a heavenly life, to receive that glory which was set before him. Others that were raised from the dead returned to the same life in every respect which they had before lived; but so did not Christ: He rose again to leave this world. Now I am no more in the World,
John 13:1, Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.

John 17:11, And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thing own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.

He rose to live to God, that is, to intercede and rule, and all to the glory of the Father. Thus must we rise to live to God: this is what he calls newness of life.

My thoughts on the passage and MH's explanation:

I find that now that I am well and can engage in life and relationships I am beginning to be swept up in the cares of this world as if eternity is far off and hard to be understood. And here I had such a keen understanding just a short while ago. Christ maintains His view of eternity always. All in the present, though we plan and toil, is towards that end. Nothing that we do here fits us for heaven. Only Christ's continual work in us has merit.

We will share in His glory. It is set before us also. Unfathomable and humbling. The nature of understanding spiritual things is that it derives a greater degree of humility. It is impossible to be proud of our good graces. Anyone who is, is graceless indeed. What could possibly compare to sitting with Him in glory? Or even now knowing how He works, how He worked in us and continues to work here on earth, and working along side Him until we meet Him in eternity.

We rise to leave this world also. Everyday we do. Everyday we are a day closer. Every day we have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Our confidence is that the God of heaven rules and superintends over all we would leave behind. He is our confidence.

Should we stay a while longer, we too will intercede and rule over our homes. Our jurisdiction for the time being. We rise and we live unto God. That is our witness. Whether we rise a little, or are restored to full health that we may do quite a lot it is all done in newness of life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

We are the benefactors no matter what the circumstances.

In Christ,

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Second Great Embarrassment

Karl Marx was a mediocre writer, but his reference to a great philosopher has been quoted and re-quoted: “Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.”
If we could laugh off current evangelical scandals, our situation would not be so dim—but we cannot. Historians lecture on the Great Awakening (1730s-1740s) and the Second Great Awakening (1800s), but in our time we could mutter about the Great Embarrassment (1987-1991) and the Second Great Embarrassment (2006-present).
Read the rest here.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Our Love-Hate Relationship With Christian Art

or most people, Christianity and art no longer resonate as a glorious pairing. It's a sad and sorry truth that even as Christians, we've largely lost our respect and reverence for "Christian art."
Wandering through Western Christendom, in which artists are currently arting, I've sampled just about all the flavors of Christian creator and Christian consumer. The too-sugary-sweet, message-is-master types. The respect-me-at-all-costs-hard-bitten types. The ironic. The naïve. The truly talented. The posers. The Christians who can't tell a story without an altar call and the Christians who write as if all of reality fits into that one guilt-ridden moment when Cain was busy slaying Abel—giving man's sinful nature the last word. And of course, there are also those Christian artists who don't want their art to be "Christian" at all. (And the Christian consumers who feel the same way.)
Despite the vast confusion of taste in the kingdom, and the proliferation of art of varying quality, we share one profoundly common bond: Everyone is insecure about the branding of Christian art. Everyone worries about being labeled cheesy—even the cheesiest people I know. Some artists delude themselves into thinking that they aren't, and others attempt to divorce their faith from their creations with a secular firewall.
Many actually believe that they are building something that has never been built before, like they are the first to stand against the raging tide of schlock and do something worthwhile. They are in pursuit of Christian art, but, you know—good this time.
As Christian artists and Christian consumers, it is all too easy for our eyes—particularly (but not only) the eyes of the young—to look ever sideways. Is this cool? Is it cool enough? We get embarrassed by a movie celebrating life and grieving over abortion carnage and bemoan the state of Christian film. Why? Because of the camera work? Because of the acting? Maybe. But more likely because we believe a worldly lie about our own branding.
I come to you with strange news. Brace yourselves. There is a hundred times more schlock and garbage in unbelieving art than in ours. More terrible camera work. More bad acting. More mindlessness. More soul-lessness. More pitiful lyrics. More misery. not to excuse our own inadequacies (which are all too real), but we should stop fearing the snarkiness of those performing worse than we are.
Need some confidence? Take a look beyond our own pop-frothy moment.
Christian art? Are you kidding me? Christianity has produced the greatest art of all time. Get some swagger, people, because we're undefeated. Did a culture of atheism bring us Handel'sMessiahBach? What faith fed the Dutch masters? Give the cathedrals a glance and then find me better architecture. Have a listen to some American spirituals. To the blues. To gospel. Our brothers illuminated manuscripts (and don't you forget it). Narnia. Hobbits. Folk songs. Symphonies. Through the history of the Christian church there runs a wide and roaring river of artistic glory, feeding believers and unbelievers alike.
Now before you start pointing to some of the unbelieving masters, watch me cheat: all beauty is God's. All truth is God's. All goodness is God's. Even those who hate him are made in his image, and if they, by grace, craft glory, we should thank them very much for their contribution and swipe it.
Read the rest here.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Meditating On Future Life - John Calvin

WHATEVER be the kind of tribulation with which we are afflicted, we should always consider the end of it to be, that we may be trained to despise the present, and thereby stimulated to aspire to the future life. For since God well knows how strongly we are inclined by nature to a slavish love of this world, in order to prevent us from clinging too strongly to it, he employs the fittest reason for calling us back, and shaking off our lethargy. Every one of us, indeed, would be thought to aspire and aim at heavenly immortality during the whole course of his life.

 This life, though abounding in all kinds of wretchedness, is justly classed among divine blessings which are not to be despised. Wherefore, if we do not recognize the kindness of God in it, we are chargeable with no little ingratitude towards him. To believers, especially, it ought to be a proof of divine benevolence, since it is wholly destined to promote their salvation. Before openly exhibiting the inheritance of eternal glory, God is pleased to manifest himself to us as a Father by minor proofs, viz., the blessings which he daily bestows upon us. Therefore, while this life serves to acquaint us with the goodness of God, shall we disdain it as if it did not contain one particle of good? We ought, therefore, to feel and be affected towards it in such a manner as to place it among those gifts of the divine benignity which are by no means to be despised.

 Were there no proofs in Scripture, (they are most numerous and clear,) yet nature herself exhorts us to return thanks to God for having brought us forth into light, granted us the use of it, and bestowed upon us all the means necessary for its preservation. And there is a much higher reason when we reflect that here we are in a manner prepared for the glory of the heavenly kingdom. For the Lord hath ordained, that those who are ultimately to be crowned in heaven must maintain a previous warfare on the earth, that they may not triumph before they have overcome the difficulties of war, and obtained the victory. Another reason is, that we here begin to experience in various ways a foretaste of the divine benignity, in order that our hope and desire may be whetted for its full manifestation. When once we have concluded that our earthly life is a gift of the divine mercy, of which, agreeably to our obligation, it behoves us to have a grateful remembrance, we shall then properly descend to consider its most wretched condition, and thus escape from that excessive fondness for it, to which, as I have said, we are naturally prone.

Wait Til It's Free - Support the Project

My friends Colin and Emily Gunn are busy about another project. This time their focus is Obamacare.

Wait Till It's Free (Teaser Trailer) from Wait Till It's Free on Vimeo.

They are less than $5000 away from their goal with 8 days to go. Visit the Kick Starter Page to see how you can become a part of this important project.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

He Must Be Repentant

True repentance is the result of an accurate understanding of the significance  and gravity of sin, coupled with an overwhelming desire for the remission of that sin through the person and work of Christ and a turning from sin and dead works to faith and obedience. Jeremiah Burroughs, in his book Gospel Remission, gives us a portrait of true repentance as only a Puritan writer can. In describing the penitent believer's attitude toward his sin, Burroughs writes:

Oh, I see the angry countenance of an infinite God against me, whose eyes are a flaming fire looking with indignation upon me! I see a dismal cloud of the displeasure of the Almighty hanging over me! I see woe, misery, and destruction,  pursuing me! I see blackness of darkness and desolation even surrounding me! I both see and feel the woeful accusations of a guilty conscience within me, condemning me, continually grating upon my soul and terrifying me with dreadful visions of eternal miseries to betide me! I see the chain of black guilt and horror on my soul, that I carry with me wherever I go! I see the bottomless gulf of eternal horror and despair with the mouth of it wide open to swallow me up!

This type of imagery is anything but familiar to those of us who are used to trafficking in the seeker-friendly, purpose-driven, best-life-now drivel of our day. Seldom do we hear about the "black dismal cloud of the displeasure of the Almighty" anymore. However, this is how the repentant sinner thinks about sin.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Luther on Praying for Piety in Marriage

[My] dear son and daughter, you need not consider praying for a pious spouse a disgrace, For you do not consider it a disgrace to ask God to give you a sound hand or leg...Now a pious spouse is as necessary as a sound hand or leg. For if a husband or wife do not turn out well, you enjoy few good days or hours and would prefer to have a paralyzed hand or leg instead. -Martin Luther, What Luther Says