Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
You might want to also tune in the following week, February 14, for the short and delightful Northanger Abbey. Give an hour and a half to giggle and sigh over the silly but likeable Catherine Moreland and her hero, Henry Tilney. See my full review here.
Also to update you on my Jane Austen movie preferences, I could not excuse myself for failing to point you to the good adaptation of Persuasion, BBC's 1971 miniseries starring Ann Firbank. It is old, but much closer to the book. Live for the moment when Mr. Elliot's notice of Anne reawakens Captain Wentworth's attention, or that letter, the perfect letter, at the end of the story.
April, 2010 - I LOVE this movie!. See my review of Emma starring Romola Garai.
To God be all glory.
A brother she had, whom she loved. A king she had, like a father to her. A people she had, who would follow her. They that went with the puissant soldier on the paths of the dead went because they would not be parted from him. She stood alone weeping as she watched him go, but he from whom she could not be parted was her uncle. Where will wanted not, her way opened. Disregarding formation, she rode close to him. In the battle she learned that what she wanted more than death, more than glory, was to preserve the beloved lives of her friends. Alone she stood, facing death, shielding self and kindred from his icy blows.
And then she wasn’t alone. Her little companion, brought out of sympathy, stood up and began a change in the woman. Valiantly, for no other reason than that the desperate woman should not die alone, he reached up to stab at death. Together they brought him down. Together these two unlikely heroes suffered, both sleeping in the triage houses in the city. More came, not for glory or to make whole again their human weapons. The healers came to restore the broken, to call back the fevered wanderers.
She woke in the middle of a journey. No healer had she been; her hand ungentle, left to fight its own battles. And here at last beside her, appointed also to stay at home, stood a man who could outmatch any of the revered men of valor she had known. Yet he spoke not of the love of fighting, but of love for that he defended. He did not love being a ruler, but loved that which he stewarded. His own glory meant nothing, but he wanted to do what was wise and brave and therefore praiseworthy. He would forfeit his life to keep an oath.
Her reflection stood before her, cast in new light. She also fought, stewarded, took pity, and offered her life. Now she saw what it was for, and it went deeper than opposing the things she feared and hated. As the days passed, the man grew to love her. No more did she miss someone to stand for her, to speak for her, to plan for what pleased her. He was there. And her heart changed, or else at last she understood it: to be a shieldmaiden no more, but to be a healer and lover of all things that grow. Turned from the dark battle and dirges to the life that had been crumbling, she found peace and love and bliss.
To God be all glory.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
This is a short book that summarizes some of Dr. Morris’ favorite topics, from Creation to early post-Flood history through end times and the New Earth. His focus is to describe the way that God uses nations, and how He determines when they will be succeeded.
Nations began, says the biblical scholar and scientist, after the flood when God instituted human government in the form of capital punishment. Nimrod is supposed to be the first dictator. His rebellion against God in the form of building Babel (an extra-biblical story) brought God’s intervention in languages, causing the dispersion of nations. One of the most interesting parts of the book is Henry Morris’ speculations on the descent of modern nations from the Table of Nations in Genesis.
God selected Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be the forefathers of the nation set apart to deliver God’s truth to the world. This country, Israel, gets a lot of focus in the Bible and in God and the Nations. Their time is not ended, but suspended until the end times. Mentioned is the Daniel 9 prophecy of 70 weeks. Someday in the future a majority of the people of Israel will embrace Jesus as the Messiah and take up their role of proclaiming their King to the world.
In the Millenial reign of Jesus Christ, there will be nations, presumably made up of survivors of the Great Tribulation. These nations will gather again to rebel against the King of Kings at the end of the 1,000 year kingdom, to be finally defeated. This final victory ushers in the New Heaven and New Earth, in which there will, again, be “nations,” bringing their wealth and glory into the New Jerusalem.
According to Dr. Morris, there are several measuring sticks by which God judges existing nations. First of all is the dominion mandate, God’s command to Adam and Eve (repeated to Noah and his sons) to fill the earth and subdue it. This includes both population increase and dispersion, as well as technological advancements. Secondly, nations are judged by how they treat God’s Chosen People, Israel. Finally, the author suggests that the prosperity of a nation is dependent on its response to the Great Commission from Jesus to “Go into all the world and make disciples.”
Though I am a fan of Dr. Morris, this one of his last books was disappointing. If a reader was unfamiliar with fundamentalist Christian ideas, this would be an intriguing introduction. But there was no new information presented. Neither was this book a Bible study on the doctrine of nations. In fact, the times the Bible was quoted, the conclusions Henry Morris made did not seem well-founded. There is a lot of repetition in the book, and speculation and assumption. I was hoping for more.
To God be all glory.
Monday, December 14, 2009
A single person is in the perfect position to start his own business. They have free time, small expenses, and no responsibility to be successful. Starting a business is a learning experience, and if the business takes off, a person has an independent income for as long as they want to continue the business. If things don’t work out, a person with the initiative to start their own business has the coveted work ethic employers are looking for, and shouldn’t have trouble finding a job. Or, if no new responsibilities or opportunities arise, at this stage of life one might try again, starting a second or third business.
Commonly, unmarried Christians will take advantage of their freedom, and explore the possibility of a call to singleness, through missions. Week-long trips, month-long, or even longer missions are uniquely suited to the unattached. They provide great spiritual formation, opportunities to build friendships with likeminded people, and possible paths for the future. World travel is greatly encouraged, but it can be argued that mission trips do a better job exposing young people to real life in other cultures than tourism does.
Money being freer during single years, I have invested a lot in building a library. The contents are for rereading, referencing, sharing, teaching, and – ahem – reading for the very first time. The books on the shelves encourage and challenge me, teach me and inspire me. Some of the books are almost a part of me. Time is also freer at this stage of my life, so I have done a lot of reading – something I anticipate tapering down when, God willing, I start a family.
Staying up late into the night.
Doing devotions before bed.
Not cleaning my room.
Serving friends through babysitting, fellowship, home improvement.
Building relationships with siblings and parents.
To God be all glory.
Modesty is a word that, in Christian circles, usually refers to the hot topic of dress codes. Should women wear swimsuits in public? What is appropriate for church? For everyday? Is only the motive important, or is there an absolute line that should be drawn: you can see this much skin and no further, this much shape and no more?
But modesty originally had more to do with attitude than appearance. The word is often applied to what we wear, which is a good use for the term. But have you not heard someone responding to a denied compliment: “Don’t be so modest!” In this sense, modesty is a synonym for humility. We get an idea of not praising oneself. Do not desire the praise of men, but certainly don’t praise yourself before men. Let your own works praise you in the gates…
Attention is a big theme of modesty. Are you demanding attention? It is not modest to dress so provocatively that others must notice you. Nor is it modest to talk often of yourself, whether what you tell is good or bad, true or false. To be modest is not the same as being shy. Modest people do not need to hide in the shadows or refuse compliments. They are gracious and grateful, cheerful and others-centered.
Today I am convicted by a different form of modesty that I had never considered. Complaining. First of all, the Bible specifically condemns grumbling, so that should be sufficient reason not to do it. Secondly, being around complaining people is unpleasant. And it brings me down. Focusing on the bad is the opposite of thankfulness and contentment. Speaking about it is the opposite of modesty.
Frustrated with my displays of discontent recently, I examined what was driving me to complain. And I realized that I complain for something to say and so that people will listen to me and notice me and be forced into my concerns. Complaining is different from asking for help. My whining at times has been a plea for help, but too proud to be expressed. There is a short road, then, from the attention-grabbing complaint to pride and bitterness and being quite rude to people.
Love is not rude. It is not self-seeking or puffed up. Love is modest. I am called to love my neighbor. I serve a God jealous for glory, who resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Grace is something I could use a lot of.
In order to pursue God’s glory and loving my neighbors, I am going to:
- Get someone to smack me when I complain.
- Practice asking for help.
- Ask questions about other peoples’ lives rather than ranting about my own.
- Practice thankfulness.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
Before I had real money to speak of, I decided to budget when I played Monopoly. I kept a ledger and gave myself a $200 allowance each time around the board. The allowance rolled over, but this budget was not the best strategy for Monopoly. Property is, as you might expect, key in Monopoly. (Allowances reduce spending power when the most properties are available.) In Monopoly, finishing the game is important. Long term strategy requires that you invest cash now in the future, planning to finish the game as the only player not bankrupt. Stopping earlier cheats the strategists.
Learning financial principles and investment strategies can be useful, and Monopoly is a versatile tool. We know there are versions of Monopoly for all sorts of things, changing the wording and the pictures on a board to match a theme: Golf, Disney, Dinosaurs. Some of these, like Lord of the Rings Monopoly, even offer optional new rules. Inspired by these game-twisting ideas, my friends and I have come up with some of our own new rules. Far different than "house rules" (using Free Parking as a lottery), these are made to challenge the way you strategize, and how you think about capital, commerce, and taxes.
Here are a few Alternate Monopoly Rules. -- All games must be finished. Early terminations necessarily end in a draw, with no winners. Versions are meant to be played one at a time, and not combined. However, feel free to modify these rules for your own use. Unless stated, all rules are as printed in the Monopoly Rule Book. As a general rule for inventing alternate rules, keep things simple.
Every time you pass Free Parking, your cash will be assessed and 25% will be returned to the Bank. Properties will not be assessed. Your salary upon passing GO remains the same.
Ultimate Portal (Aughenbaughs)
Use 2 Monopoly Boards, preferably with slightly different cards (vintage, specialized version). Landing directly on Go on either board shoots you to the opposite board. Also switch the chance and community chest cards from the two versions. When a Chance or Community Chest card tells you to go somewhere, go there on the opposite board. Everyone starts on one board.
Swiss Bank Account
Play like Ultimate Portal with these additions.
Any cash COLLECTED while your piece is on the SECOND board goes into a Swiss Bank Account. The player may take cash out of that account at any time, but cannot arbitrarily add money. Income Taxes and Bankruptcies cannot touch any cash in the Swiss Bank Account. It stays there through the whole game, even if you are bankrupted in the main game. At the end of the game (when only one player in the main game has any money), the initial winner adds his main game money to his Swiss bank account. If his total is greater than the balances of his opponents in their Swiss bank accounts, he wins.
When you roll three doubles, get a “Go directly to Jail” card, or land on the “go to jail” space on the board, if you do not have a “Get out of Jail free” card with which to bribe the judge, your game is over. You are capitally executed and your assets are returned to the bank in full.
All taxes are doubled.
If you land directly on any of the four corner squares, you have been drafted. Roll the dice to determine your fate:
1-Tour of Duty. Sit out 3 turns. Come back (to GO) exempt from future service and any taxes.
2-War Hero. Same as 1 with $1,000 bonus.
3-Casualty. Game over. Return assets to the Bank.
4-Draft Dodger. Sit out 3 turns. Resume play from GO. If on any turn afterwards you land on a street property, you may buy any unowned properties in that color group. If you subsequently land on Go to Jail or get a Go to Jail Card, your game is over.
5-Amputee. Sit out 1 turn. Resume play from GO. All future turns, roll both dice and divide by 2, rounding up.
6-Did not Qualify. Proceed with game as normal.
At the start of the game all properties are shuffled and dealt to the players. All rents are the prices posted on Indiana. Chance and Community Chest cards that involve spending or receiving money apply to everyone.
If at any time the least propertied player has 3 or more properties LESS than the next richest player, EVERY player must return his lowest-priced property to the bank.
Pay taxes and fees to Free Parking. If anyone lands on Free Parking, the pot is divided evenly among all players, with remainders going to the player who landed on the space.
Every time a 7 is rolled, all mortgages are automatically forgiven. Every 7th time around the board, all rent is free.
Every player must spend money on each trip around the board. If he completes a circuit without spending money, he must pay a fine of $50 to the bank.
If you own a mortgaged property, you do not have to pay any taxes.
If a player lands on a mortgaged property, he may pay 110% of the mortgage value to the bank and acquire that property.
Taxes and jail are cancelled.
Make up your own rent. If you own a property, you have 2 options. You can charge a tenant the printed rent. Or you can make up your own rent, at which point you have a shoot-off with the tenant. You each roll one dice. The higher number wins. Winner (landlord or tenant) collects the made-up rent from the loser. In case of a tie, both players pay printed rent to the bank.
Put a sticker on a community chest card, and one on a chance card. Shuffle both decks (separately). Play Monopoly as usual. When the special Chance card is drawn, 2012 has arrived; the End of the World has come. Clean up the game. There are no winners. If you draw the special Community Chest card, you can play it as written. Or you can keep it as a Cycle Card. If the holder of that card so chooses at the End of the World, he can play his card. Instead of the world ending, it merely begins a new cycle or phase. The game is still over, but assets are summed and a winner is declared.
Whenever doubles are rolled, players keep their same pieces but all assets shift clockwise (to the left). No new rents are paid as a result of the exchange until the next turn.
Optional: Each player has the option at the beginning of the game of receiving a reduced Go paycheck of $150 as insurance against Utilities and Railroads. The extra $50 goes into the middle of the board and pays Utilities and Railroads charges unless there is no money in the pot, at which point the rents/fees are still charged at $0.
When someone rolls a 12, he becomes Mayor. He holds the special mayor piece. Property improvements (houses and hotels) are half price to him while he holds that piece. Mayors are exempt for the duration of their term from property assessment cards. The next person to roll a 12 is elected the new Mayor. No special privileges are retroactive.
Feel free to share your own special rules in the comment section!
To God be all glory.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
We could have health insurance, an investment to pay large, unexpected expenses if they come up. There are a few plans that cover only catastrophic needs. These are not the kind provided by employers in our market today. Of course, if employers want to pay for preventive healthcare and common doctor’s visits, that is their competitive option. It shouldn’t be mandatory, any more than a salary cap should be mandatory.
Employers could also provide grocery coverage: the planned, necessary expense; for each employee and his family. The price of food would go up, and options would go down, and companies would do better to just pay well for their labor, letting the consumers determine the demand and value of food. Consumers are less extravagant, more cost-conscious, and diligent to hold providers accountable for their products and services.
What makes us think that paying rows of middle men for our health care payment system will result in saving money or improving care? Are these middle men doing something I couldn’t do myself? No – they’re distancing me from information about my options in health care and the shocking costs of some procedures.
My solution is this:
1. Do not require an employer to do anything for his employee that
does not concern his job: cover injuries caused by the job and keep work
2. Also eliminate what is essentially a tax break on the benefits
provided by employers. If wages are going to be taxed, so should the
health care benefits and retirement plans.
3. Do not require insurance companies to have a minimum amount of
coverage, nor any specifics. Instead, enforce contract law: openness of
the agreement being made and stiff penalties for either party dropping their end
of the bargain.
4. Do not require individuals to have health insurance of any
kind. If the problem is in collecting payment for emergency services
rendered to the poor, this needs to be addressed in a wider question of
bankruptcy laws and debt repayment. Leaving individuals to the option of
health insurance reduces the weight on the health care industry by discouraging
unnecessary doctor’s visits and encouraging preventative lifestyles.
5. Allow increased competition by revoking the state line
restrictions on insurance policy sales.
6. Reduce the cost to healthcare professionals by reforming the
system that allows doctors to be sued without probable cause. Our economy
and government is almost completely biased against businesses in favor of
consumers. The customer is not always right; sometimes the “customer” is
To God be all glory.
Friday, December 04, 2009
My brother summed their plight with the poetic description: He laid a gift on the moment's grave.
Tonight I was reading the dictionary - not just to read it, but as one does when one is trying to get somewhere in those pages, and must journey through dangers and distractions like those of Odysseus. (I'm such a terrible speller of Greek; is that right? I am only newly acquainted even with the story of Odysseus, and most disappointed in his character.) My brother is reading The Federalist Papers, great essays on government and history and economics, which employed the word "temerity." It happens to mean foolhardy or brash, but before I discovered this, I saw a picture.
To be honest, I almost always get caught by pictures, and carried away by root words. That is the way dictionaries have with me. This picture was of a little hog-like rodent, and the caption was like a Boggle-champion's dream: tenrec. How simple. How very likely to occur in Boggle. How unheard of. Honestly. Have you ever heard of a tenrec?
No? Well, I suppose that is to be forgiven, since it, like so many interesting creatures, makes its home on Madagascar. The tenrec is a hedgehog-like mammal that eats insects (thus the nose looking like a pig's, though it could have looked like an anteater and made itself more obvious). Our dictionary's entry reported that this beast inhabits Madagascar and the adjacent islands.
Adjacent Islands!!! Who ever thought? Almost an oximoron! I mean, we're not talking about islands connected at low tide but not at high. Maybe they were connected during the ice age. But then they weren't islandS; they were AN island. So my meticulous brother commanded (he's the one with leadership skills) that I look up "adjacent." And it turns out that "adjacent" has as its first definition, "to lie near." Still, I think that "Adjacent Islands" would be a great title for something. The image is so poetic.
Movies are almost always on in my house, maybe coming from so many of us enjoying long movies, or maybe because there are so many of us who think we need our own turn at choosing the program. Tonight there was yet another movie, and it was simply horrible, because the message of the movie was that when grown ups lie to children, the children owe it to them to sort of believe, because they want to believe, and miracles happen when you believe... The end of the movie had very little to do with this subject, as it consisted of the main little girl receiving three separate pairs of roller skates for Christmas. The last pair came from a blind man. And the little girl responded that she had a gift for him, her arms now full of metal and wheels. The most natural thing to expect her to give was a pair of roller skates. But then we pictured a blind man skating down the road... Don't give such gifts to blind men!
Oh! I signed up for all sorts of restaurant email updates, and have coupons and freebies rolling in! Mostly they just want to give me something free with purchase, but I have plenty of choices! There is something so pleasing about having a coupon in one's purse. Tonight I used a Kohl's discount they sent in the mail, and saved a whole $1.50! The best sign-up's so far are Coldstone Creamery, Red Robins, and Lone Star Steakhouse. Wendy's gives a coupon for a dollar off. But I'm still waiting to see what happens on my birthday. I'll let you know.
The movie from last night (Wednesday) was Sense and Sensibility. There are 4 versions I know anything about. The earliest was made by BBC in the 70's or 80's, and according to my brother, who picked it up by mistake, is acted by robots who sit on teeter-totters sideways trying to converse with each other. Next in importance/quality is a strange version made in India. In fact, I believe the English is dubbed. Not anywhere near as good as India's Bride and Prejudice. Now we come to the competitors. In the 90's, Emma Thompson wrote the screenplay for Sense and Sensibility. She also starred as Elinor. Alongside her were Hugh Grant and Kate Winslet, the latter reporting that she scarcely had to act; her personality was so much like Marianne Dashwood that Kate simply had to play the part. That movie is beautiful. Funny. Sad. Thoughtful. With the exultantly happy ending highlighted by the perfect score. I have my objections. Hugh Grant - he's not handsome, and his stuttering is annoying. Colonel Brandon (I should know his name) isn't very handsome, either, and Jane Austen movies aren't known for their realism, so we should aim for attractive. Finally, the version we were watching is the latest BBC adaptation, made in 2008. It is about 3 hours long, with pretty scenery. Other than that, the characters are poor imitators of the really good Sense and Sensibility. Andrew Davies failed to convey emotion with his screenplay, and I don't think most of the actors understood their characters. The movie has its moments of interest. Anyway, the actor who plays Colonel Brandon was recognized by all watching, but we couldn't place him, so I looked him up. IMDB is great! I have been spending a lot of time there lately, for one reason or another. The actor is David Morrissey, whom I recognized from The Water Horse. Ah, the relief of answers!
Have a good night. Don't waste your day.
To God be all glory.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
If the friend invites me in, I can see how they live when they aren’t expecting company. I know that they’re letting me inside their everyday lives. And much depends on how I handle myself as a guest. Sometimes I go bearing gifts. Complimenting artwork, furniture, or the atmosphere is great – if I mean it! Whatever the reception, I try not to overstay my welcome or be too much of a burden. For the first attempt, it can be useful to drop by between appointments, so that the potential length of my visit is established.
Why does it work? Friendships that revolve around real life go deeper. They’re more useful, as they turn into a sort of discipleship or accountability. I end up being friends with whole families instead of just one person. There is no pretension when my friends don’t have time to straighten up or dress up. Visits happen more often if you just go for it than if you try to work out schedules. Frequency goes a long way in building relationships.
Of course I can’t pick on the same friend too often. I wouldn’t drop by unannounced more than twice a month. One must be careful not to burden the amount of supper set on the table by stretching it to feed an extra, especially if the friend is watching their budget. Also women, at least, tend to neglect their work if they have a friend nearby. Discourage this. Try offering to help – but not in a way that implies you’re uncomfortable! Waiting around for a friend to arrive if they were not home initially is not recommended. I do sometimes call ahead about 5 minutes. One of my friends has been known to greet unexpected visitors with a knife behind her back!
The success of this method in building close friendships is amazing. Almost every friend since high school has been subjected to random visits. My first try lived down the street, so before I could drive, I walked there. Now she has moved but I have a car, and I drop in and help her fold laundry and sweep her kitchen, making dinner together for her family. My younger friends get occasionally kidnapped to the mall, used bookstore, or Coldstone Creamery. One of my most recent first-visits included a loaf of homemade bread, and resulted in holding her newborn all afternoon while discussing theology, family, books and movies. “Let’s be good friends,” she says. Which is exactly what I mean to do.
To God be all glory.
To God be all glory.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I love drinking water from a glass.
Kitties asleep on the top of couches is so cozy.
"Let me explain: yes."
So I'm studying a chessboard, and all of a sudden there is a droplet of chocolate ice cream on a square. I look up and there is a drop on my brother's cheek, and another one on his eyelashes. He was hand-stirring an ice cream shake.
We're playing chess. He's been practicing against the computer and I... haven't. I'll let you know who wins.
I won. I am not a genius. My brain slowly processed options, and got an idea of what could happen if I moved a certain piece. But not the chess foresight genius. No. And I didn't have to win. The game could have drawn, I think.
To God be all glory.
I got up early this morning and went to sidewalk counsel at the abortion clinic. I haven't been around for a save in a long time. Some fellow-counselors were saying how important it is to have a female voice speaking to the mothers - and I was the only of the 3 females talking at all. Once I was the only person talking. When the next mother came in and some of the men around came over to help, I was relieved. And just a bit later another woman came, a dear woman who has been sidewalk counseling for years. She encourages me and shares the load of pleading for the lives of the babies.
Earlier this week I got to talk to a woman going in. I told her that Planned Parenthood murders innocent little babies, and she asked "Before or after they're born?" So I got a chance, walking down the sidewalk with her, to explain that there is no difference, that we have all of our unique DNA at the moment of conception, and that the only thing added is food and shelter from poison or violence. The woman went inside anyway, but I know she heard me.
Last night at a Bible study some of us were talking about how it is hard to share the gospel with people who don't want to hear. God tells us to preach the gospel to every creature. And Jude says to have compassion on some and to save some as though pulling them from fire. Whatever that means. Jude is confusing. Whatever it means, our responsibility is not to make people respond, but to be sure that they heard. "How shall they hear without a preacher?"
After the abortion clinic I came home and drank some chai tea with a new latte mix I just got. It came from Costco, and I hadn't tried it yet. So when it tasted good, I knew the $10 was worth it. I'll have take-along chai tea powder for months to come.
Then I cooked some leftover turkey, eaten with a homemade roll and real butter. Special occasions! My sister and Mom and I went to the mall, and the only thing we bought there was food. We wandered through the Christmas stores especially. And I took the highway home, so I got to drive fast: 65 miles per hour! Sometimes I think I go to the mall just to enjoy the drive.
Back home I did some mending, braided my wet hair (should last for a couple days!). Casablanca was on, so we watched some of that. And we already had supper, more turkey with grilled cheese sandwiches this time. I decided that celery without peanut butter tastes just fine, but Mom objected saying that it has no nutritional value by itself, and I thought that was crazy. I'm not putting myself through celery torture if it isn't good for me. But I googled the matter, and discovered celery actually has some vitamin c, some fiber, and is antioxidental. But I'm stalled, half a stick left of my serving.
No one is emailing me, which is ok since I'm not emailing anyone else, either. But I wish other people would email me. Or blog or something. The other day I read Peter Pan, and JM Barrie compares Captain Hook to the pirate Barbecue, and I'm trying to find out whether that was a real pirate. They surely didn't have barbecue food back then, did they? I mean, ketchup is even a recent invention. But Barbecue, upon further research, is the cooking method (and it is rather vague). The pirate is Long John Silver, whom Stevenson nicknamed Barbecue in his novel. Who knew?
The weather was quite a bit cooler today than I had anticipated. So I tested my "natural" air-activated hand warmer, and it worked pretty well. Still warm 7 hours later, maybe longer.
This week I bought a new battery for my laptop, which has been power cord dependent for over a year. And now my cell phone battery is dying again.
At the mall I saw a picture frame made of wire, and I want to try making a few. If they turn out, I'll post pictures. Copying an idea I saw on a blog, after our Thanksgiving walk I put a few of our autumnal finds in recycled glass bottles as decoration: just dry leaves and twigs. It looks rustic and different. *Shrug*
Babies are the best. I love holding them. Last week I held one all afternoon. And this week I found out one will be moving about 5 minutes from me.
My church search is slow. I don't know what to do next. But God is faithful to provide me with encouragement and with challenges from the Bible both from my reading and from what others share. But I'm looking for where God would have me do ministry. I like to coach, but not sports. I like to disciple/coach. And I believe I have the gift of teaching. And faith. So using those would be good. Working on improving my boldness in sharing the gospel.
I am very very grateful for friends. There are a lot, of varying closeness, who have encouraged me and taught me and challenged me and given me opportunities for love and patience and teamwork.
The TV show Monk is almost to end, and I think Monk is going to find out what happened to his late wife 12 years ago. Football is going relatively well. I am going to watch the 2008 BBC Sense and Sensibility with my brother soon. All 9 copies are checked out of our very good library system. So we have to wait. Meanwhile he is reading 1984, the Federalist Papers, and apparently rereading the Man Who Was Thursday. I am nearing the end of Your God is Too Safe, and craving other books filling my shelves. I love books. Someday when I get ambitious and update my media list, I will upload the file to Wordpress and post it so you guys can see what books interest me. The books I own are for reading, referencing, rereading, and sharing.
This week I will try to do a photo shoot for some of my Mi-Re-Do.com items, especially the hooded bunny bath towels. A friend is going to loan me her beautiful old-fashioned style bathroom. I'm excited.
Talk to you later.
Which reminds me: at the mall, employees want your attention. "Are you finding everything today?" "Shopping for someone special?" "Can I help you?" And I say, like a robot, "We're fine, thank you." Fortunately, on one of the busiest shopping days of the year, they are content to leave us alone and move on to customers with greater potential.
I say "Talk to you later," and "Nice seeing you again," a lot. So you can feel just like everyone of the semi-acquaintances I run across during my week. Talk to you later.
To God be all glory.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
That’s an interesting idea, isn’t it, that before we’ll give financial aid to people who can’t make ends meet, they have to be so poor they’ll probably never recover. For example, my grandparents own a house. It is possible that in the next year or so, they may be able to live there again. At which point their cost of living would be a lot cheaper, in a house that is paid off: no rent, no mortgage. Instead, before welfare kicks in with Medicaid coverage for long term medical care in a nursing home, they have to sell their house. So they will be irrevocably government-dependent, and the government will have to pay more money to find them a place to live.
I don’t even believe in welfare; I don’t think my grandparents should have applied. But if the government is going to offer it, couldn’t they use common sense and try to make the program efficient?
To God be all glory.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Talking to strangers is never so difficult after I've opened my mouth at first. She was wearing a head-covering, the kind girls wear in the Middle East. And I suppose that is where her family is from. She probably grew up in the United States. Right now she is in community college, having earned her diploma in a public high school. It is possible she knows the mainstream American culture better than I do. But she has a little bit of that cultural slant that comes from being Muslim. Whether she approves or disapproves, she is accustomed to their mindset.
I told her that I had been reading about the story of Cain and Abel, and did she know it? Muslims share some stories with Christians, so I was curious what she may have heard about it. Actually she encountered the story in public school, when they read East of Eden and studied its influences. She said that her class decided Cain was a pragmatist, and even though he may have been marked, was more likely to survive in the world, to do what worked for him. The world, they agreed, was more like Cain. He would expect what he found there, and know how to thrive. Abel, he is the kind of guy who tells everyone what they should do, and God likes a man who wants to do what is right. But people don't like prophets, so he would probably be shot.
And while most of my new friend's high school class though that was sad, she said it made her laugh. I think she was appreciating the irony.
But I asked her why God would let the world be that way, where those people who please Him are more likely to get shot. "I don't know; I guess god knows what he's thinking," she said.
That was the end of our conversation. I don't know what God was thinking having me bring up Cain and Abel with her, but I trust Him. No objections.
This morning I went searching for a quote by the Catholic, GK Chesterton. And on one of the sites the sidebar advertisement was for a Muslim matrimonial website. With the veil surrounding the face it is hard to tell, but the smiling woman on their ad looked a lot like my friend. What do you make of that?
To God be all glory.
After a list 18 inches long, I began to notice that my left hand didn’t often have to stray from its side of the keyboard. Almost all of the words that attracted me live on the left side of the keyboard with a brush from the right, a single stroke, finishing the details. I had thought to do an analysis of these words, separating vowels from consonants to see if the patterns are the same – if the sound has something to do with their fascination. Or maybe I like the words with certain vowels, the rich round o’s and u’s? But there is absolutely no explanation for being fond of words mostly contained on the left side of my keyboard.
To God be all glory.
Monday, November 23, 2009
I read a story last week: Return of the Guardian-King (Legends of the Guardian-King, Book 4)
. Fourth and final of a vividly epic fantasy series written by a woman who knows my world, my type, and my God. Her name is Karen Hancock, and her stories have invaded my imagination permanently.
It is a book about temptation, I told a friend. Resisting in the slow way, wearied by the persistence, common days, small things. And massive temptations: to betray all you have believed in, to denounce the promises of God for the power of ruling kingdoms, to trade love in the good God and His simple gifts to the extravagant suit of the alluring devil. But the large and the small are the same.
The characters are strong against deception and temptation when they have been faithful in the daily denying of self. To live for others, in kindness and patience, prepares each person against bitterness and despair. Immersion in the truth and promises of God is comfort and hope. Even if their prayer is a single cry for help from God, bad things trun to good when people talk to their God.
The story isn’t about what is happening on the outside as much as it is about whether the characters are trusting God, whether they know with all their might that He loves them and that His plans for them are good. When they are rebelling against him, they are miserable. So are those around them. So am I.
Kiriath is in the hands of the jealous and vengeful brother Gillard, possessed by a demon rhu’ema. Already they treat and ally with the archenemy, Belthe’adi, Abramm had warned them of. Abramm is known to be dead. But Abramm is also walking the mountains, chafing under the waiting in a snowed-in monastery. Maddie is back at her childhood home, a palatial life she never embraced, and her newest royal duty is to marry some rich aristocrat who can offer troops to defend the last stand of her homeland. But her dreams linked with her beloved’s are back, and something tugs hope alive in her that maybe Abramm survived after all.
Shapeshifters, dragons, and the critical people who are supposed to be his friends plague Abramm on his Odyssey-like journey back to his wife and sons. Trap and Carissa mirror Abramm’s struggle with pride and longing but in a quiet domestic setting. Detours take the exiled king and longed-for husband to places of faith and doubt he never would have imagined – and sometimes wishes he had never asked for.
Every character learns the power of friends: locking them against temptation, praying for their dearest concerns, teaching and challenging with the truth, dividing the attacks of dragons, delivering messages, watching with unbiased eyes, guarding against betrayal. Again Abramm learns that it is not his strength that conquers, and that God has not gifted him with leadership and military prowess to fight God’s battles for Him. He is but a vessel.
Maddie meets a charming man who is attractive in all the ways Abramm never was. Tirus wants her, wants to help her. He understands her and shows her off, showers her with gifts and protects her from scorn. How long can she wait for her husband whom even her dearest friends still believe is dead? Will she believe the light-born visions and promises from God, or the technological, repeatable sight from the stone sent to her by her suitor? Will she change her mind about regal living and the purpose of marriage? The things that stood in Maddie’s way when she wanted to marry Abramm, and the undeniable need they had for each other – will she forget those?
When things go from bad to worse, whose job is it to protect the ones they love? At what cost will they buy safety and love? Will the armies of the Moon, and the powers of the air – dragons winging terror across the skies – will they succeed in doing their worst, in taking everything from those faithful to God? Or will they be utterly defeated? If they cannot be defeated, what is the point in fighting and sacrificing?
And when God’s people fail, bitterly weak, The Return of the Guardian King resounds with display of God’s mercy. God knew we were weak when He chose us. He knew we would fail when He sent His Son to suffer for those sins. And a single prayer, sometimes the end of God’s longsuffering chase, brings grace empowering His servants to do the right thing. He cannot deny Himself. His promises will be true, however faithless we are.
To God be all glory.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
The Preacher and the Presidents by Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy (a modern history book looking at leadership, politics, and big decisions as associated with Billy Graham.)
A Walk With Jane Austen by Lori Smith (Single Christian girl in early thirties goes to England to trace Jane Austen’s life. She dreams of love, finds something special, and goes on to share her very human, very female thoughts about life, love, and God – often borrowing words from Jane Austen herself.)
The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare: I'd say the book is about making choices, and the freedom that comes from doing the right thing even when you don't understand what's going on. And it has to do with contentment and waiting and hard work. I see my friend, who recommended the book, in the pages. It's the kind of thing she would like and live - and the kind of thing I would like and try to live. Kit grew up in the free, warm Atlantic equatorial islands. When her grandfather, who raised her, died, she decided to move in with her penpal aunt in New England. The Puritan atmosphere doesn't quite suit Kit, who looks for friends who share her sense of freedom. Life doesn't turn out quite how she imagines (through failure of imagination of consequences), but she means well. Her influence gently softens the community, but eventually she is still tried as a witch.
I recently read GK Chesterton’s first novel, Napoleon of Notting Hill. It was a quick read, interesting and fast-paced. It follows the life and career of the most unique humorist of England, one Auberon Quin, who was elected by lottery the king of England according to the consummate democracy of his fictional future government. Auberon enjoys making people confounded and annoyed, by being himself completely ridiculous. I have a feeling that this would be an even less popular course in England than in America.
Young, Restless, and Reformed by Collin Hansen took a tour of the country to find out about this multi-rooted movement of 'young Calvinists.' He did a great job of filling pages with information about theology, denominations, organizations, authors, and what's so exciting to us about God's sovereignty. Grace, a consistent description of the world, a God worth worshiping - we have lots of answers, lots of paths that are bringing us to become part of the revival of Calvinism in the West. Why is God doing this? We wait to see.
Brave New Family by GK Chesterton is a compilation of many essays written about the Home and Family, about relationships between men and women and children. It is excellent, but I read it so long ago that I can’t remember all that much about it.
The Man who was Thursday by GK Chesterton is a sort of allegorical tale about sovereignty and the war of the anarchists. It is filled with character sketches. The full impact of this book did not hit me until after I had read it and proceeded with life, when I began to encounter ideas and people frighteningly similar to those in this book. I think Chesterton based some of them off real people whom he had met as well. Hang in there for the end of the book. It will blow your mind.
Ekklesia, edited and compiled by Steve Atkerson of the New Testament Reformation Fellowship, is an exposition of the New Testament’s descriptions of and instructions for the Church. Apart from the business model, consumer structure of traditional church meetings, the authors argue from the Bible for a more personal and interactive gathering in homes. There was very little in this book with which I could disagree. Not only was it informational, reading Ekklesia was also challenging and encouraging. The theology and exposition is spot on, well supported with biblical references. In an age when God is working in many hearts to produce a desire to engage in community and God-powered ministry, this is a good book for direction. An added bonus is that NTRF has not copyrighted Ekklesia, encouraging you to distribute portions to your friends or quote it in publications.
The Shack, by William Young, is a novel of a man dealing with the tragic death of his daughter and his feelings about God. He ends up spending a weekend with God, dealing with classic issues of the problem of pain and our acceptance of God’s goodness despite what we feel. God is incarnate in three persons, with whom he has many vivid interactions and conversations. At the end of the story, he is left with more peace about God and the life he has experienced, but still does not have answers about what God expects of him. The story is written in a way that tempts you to believe it is based on a true history. At the end when I read the “making of” that told me it was only fiction, I was much relieved. There is enough truth in the philosophy and theology that I could not believe the book represented demonic activity (producing the supernatural things described). But there were also enough problematic elements (God as a girl wearing blue jeans) that I could not believe the events were truly from God. Realizing that the author used fiction to introduce his own thoughts on theology must allow for him to be mistaken yet in some areas. Most concerning are the indications that God would not send any of His creations to hell, because He loves ‘all His children’ – with an unbiblical definition of God’s children. The semi-gnostic tendencies and references, including a conference with Sophia, the goddess of wisdom, provide insight into the background of Mr. Young. The book is not keen on the Bible or church, either. For a best seller, this book is a quick read and an interesting visit to theology. But God gave us the Bible as His personal revelation; don’t substitute anything for it.
The Midnight Dancers is Regina Doman’s fourth fairy tale novel. I don’t know whether she was a rebel herself or consulted heavily with people who had been there, but all of her observations on motive and inner conflict resonated well with my observations, and actually explained things. Her main character is very human, torn between desires to be responsible and to be appreciated as an adult, between her love of freedom and her love of people. Midnight Dancers also shows the slippery slope of sacrificing even a little bit of discernment while justifying your freedom and pleasure. Like all of Mrs. Doman’s books, I was entranced. However this edition, similar to Waking Rose, got pretty graphic and even too intense for my spirit to remain healthy. I skipped a few pages near the end. Fairy tales are fairly predictable in their endings, and this is no surprise. They all lived happily ever after.
Mark is a book that transports me immediately back in history. Full of action with little explanation, it is a biography of acts more than teachings, of impact rather than influences. Beginning with a scene straight from a screenplay, of a voice crying in the wilderness, climaxing with the compassionate passion of a good Man suffering in the place of others, and closing with a simple instruction to pass the story on, Mark is a book for the ages. Even though Jesus is the main character, the other characters are just as active and many are vivid personalities. Mark himself may even make a cameo in a humble role at Gethsemane. First to last this gospel is glorious.
It never ceases to amaze me how many facts are tucked into Genesis. Details of the lives and failings of men who lived so long ago surprise me with their human reality. Places and people, kings and battles, ancestries and inventions cover the pages. Of course Genesis begins with creation, establishing the understanding of matter, time, energy, life, marriage, science, music, farming, boats, rain, rainbows, government, justice, worship, sacrifice, truth, possession, family, and judgment. The generations are also sprinkled with hints of redemption and unwarranted preservation and forgiveness, of the second man supplanting the first. Read in light of the New Testament’s references to this first book, Genesis is remarkably alive with parables and theology. My favorite part in this reading was the theme of changed lives.
Treason by Ann Coulter is a history book with a strong political bent. She documents how the Democratic Party is always cheering for and or supporting America’s enemies. In the very least they have a record of opposing any efforts Americans make to defend themselves against enemies. She describes the myth of McCarthyism, pointing out that all those people whose lives McCarthy’s trials (and just his influence) supposedly ruined were either open Communists or eventually found out to be Communists. And most of them enjoyed long, pleasant lives (not getting everything their way, but who does?). McCarthy, on the other hand, died young, at age 48. But Ann Coulter doesn’t stop with the post World War II McCarthy. She goes on to discuss Vietnam, the Cold War, North Korea, and the War on Terrorism. History is dirty, and she both addresses some mature issues and references them to make jibes. But I appreciate the excessive documentation of the habit of Democrats to stand up on the side most opposed to America’s interests. They used to call such blatant and effective acts “treason.”
Medieval Iceland: Society, Sagas and Power by Jesse L. Byock (see full review)
Sphere by Michael Crichton (see full review)
Alien Intrusion by Gary Bates (see full review)
Godcast: Transforming Encounters with God; Bylines by Media Journalist and Pastor Dan Betzer (see full review)
Lady Susan by Jane Austen (To balance the post-election doldrums this week, I read Lady Susan, a complete short novel written by Jane Austen, the last on my list of her works to read. Consisting entirely of letters except for the last two or three pages (which summarizes both why the story could not be continued in letters and the fates of all the main characters). For my part I wish that the story had been developed more. I want to know the young Miss Frederica, and the smart Mr. Reginald de Courcy. Perhaps the value is in the art by which Miss Austen communicates so much leaving almost the whole unsaid. One feels that there is a whole story and world of events that Jane Austen knew but wouldn’t share because she didn’t have to. The worldview of the widow Lady Susan is summed up in her words from Letter 16, “Consideration and esteem as surely follow command of language, as admiration waits on beauty.” She is a scandalous flirt and insufferable liar, scheming throughout the novel to acquire pleasure, money, and importance at the expense of all her relations, friends, and even her daughter. Jane Austen tends to end with her villains unpunished. They don’t go to prison, or suffer a life-long illness or poverty or death. The world may scorn them, but generally they never cared what the world thought. We the good readers may pity the partners with whom they finish the tales, but the villains themselves will not wallow, we think, in self-pity for long, rather getting something for which they have always aimed. Lady Susan is a novel where, with the concise style, these patterns are readily exposed. Read Lady Susan. It’s a light, funny story with a background romance. Characters are typically Jane Austen even if we see little of them. And the style makes a good template for understanding the rest of Jane Austen’s beloved books.)
Dead Heat by Joel Rosenberg (see full review)
Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World by Joanna Weaver (There wasn't a lot of new Christian stuff in this book, but it was a good read and some challenging reminders. This book covers topics ranging from worry to service to worship to personal devotions. I love how the book draws everything together into the One Thing conclusion. Joanna invites you to join her journey of seeking a Mary Heart in a Martha World.)
10 Most Common Objections to Christianity by Alex McFarland (This is a book that our high school girls small group went through this fall. It was a really good defense of the Bible and the existence of God. We got a basic course in apologetics through it. The appendix for small groups in the back was a great help. My one reservation is the weakness of his chapter on evolution – but only in the area of the age of the earth. If I were a skeptic, I don’t think I would be flattened by all of the points in this book, but some of them are pretty convincing!)
Desiring God by John Piper (Read this book. Don’t get turned off by the term “Christian hedonism.” Christian is an important modifier. God calls you to enjoy Him, for life in Him and through Him to be all about relationship. Get some good teaching on some great verses to help you put it into practice!)
href="http://www.nlpg.com/store/product_info.php?ref=23&products_id=569&affiliate_banner_id=1" target="_blank">Coming to Grips with Genesis by Terry Mortenson and Thane H. Ury (see full review)
The Empty Cradle by Philip Longman (see full review)
Prodigal God by Timothy Keller (see full review)
Old-Earth Creationism on Trial: The Verdict is In by Dr. Jason Lisle and Tim Chaffey (see full review)
The Grand Weaver by Ravi Zacharias (A quick read, unusual for this author, this book is a how-to on finding God’s will for your life, emphasizing faith in the sovereign plan of God. Using the illustration of the father-son teams of weavers who make the wedding saris of India, Dr. Zacharias talks about the perfection of the Father’s plan even when we don’t see the design emerging yet. One of his favorite topics is the Trinity: “unity and diversity in community”, and he uses it to communicate the love of God for us His children. The second half of the book, comparable to other reformed works on the purpose of a Christian’s life, focuses on worship as a way of life. In this book the Anglican roots of the author emerge more than in anything I have read or heard of his, as he revels in the imagery and tradition of the church as it pertains to worship. The best part about this book to me was the quotes, which I can hear Ravi reciting in his crisp Indian-accented English. I wish I could live in his library, because I have no doubt that this Christian apologist owns copies of the cherished volumes he quotes. )
Persuasion by Jane Austen (Yes, I read it again. And it is still wonderful, far exceeding any movie renditions to date. I want everyone to know this sweet story and to emulate the gentle, helpful, good, passionate Anne Elliot. I also wish everyone to have her happily ever after!)
The Eighth Shepherd by Bodie and Brock Thoene (Centered on the story of Zacchaeus, this dramatization of the gospels teaches the importance of humility before the Shepherd-King who hears prayers and has come as doctor to the sick. Enter Jericho. Read of figs, taxes, sycophants, blind men, slaves, and the faith that could set any man or woman free. Ask the question with Shimona whether it is better to be sick and know your need or to be healed by an excommunicant and feel alone. Why does God save and heal? What comes after that? Perhaps God sends out the healed as instruments of more healing. Shimona demonstrates courage, faith, gentleness, and a choice-love that doesn’t make sense but won’t be denied. Can God use the love of His children to soften the hearts of the sick and the lost? I loved the Ezekiel passage about shepherds placed between chapters. What a warning to Christian leaders, and encouragement to those who are fed by the Great Shepherd.)
The Chronology of the Old Testament by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones (see full review)
Ninth Witness by Bodie and Brock Thoene (is another of their novels dramatizing the life of Christ, this time focusing on his twelth year Passover in Jerusalem. I confess I didn't like this one as much as most of this series. The authors seem to be making Jesus and Simon Peter boyhood friends, and they felt it necessary to portray Mary and Joseph as adopting children rather than them being fathered by Joseph and mothered by Mary, the plainest interpretation of the New Testament account.)
The Chosen by Chaim Potok (see full review)
Pagan Christianity? by Frank Viola and George Barna (see full review)
Reimagining Church by Frank Viola (see full review)
The Shadow Within by Karen Hancock (see full review)
Newton's Revised History of Ancient Kingdoms by Sir Isaac Newton (see full review)
Shadow Over Kiriath by Karen Hancock (see full review)
Unveiled Hope by Scotty Smith and Michael Card (see full review)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (Despite contamination with inappropriate and disturbing material, this is a parody of the classic novel beloved by refined women everywhere. I get the impression that Seth believes he can improve Jane Austen's work. Often retaining the original language, he adds his interpretation of the story - things you know he was always longing to say he guessed about the characters' true intentions or activities - and the ridiculous addition of zombies. Most versions of Pride and Prejudice retain the same characters and plot, but this is a rather amusing twist that ends up changing the characters significantly. To describe this book I have told everyone that the famous scene where Mr. Darcy first proposes involves the exact dialogue of the original, but Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are literally dueling. Go figure.)
Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer with Todd Hillard (see full review)
Betrayal: France, the Arabs, and the Jews by David Pryce-Jones (A summary of centuries of French policy and prejudice, including some world history especially in the 20th century. David Pryce-Jones researched the archives at the Quai d'Orsay for internal memos and official reports detailing the Foreign Ministry's policies towards Jews and the Arab world, proving that all France has ever intended was to be more prominent and powerful than the Jews or the 'Jewish-dominated' United States.)
Flood Legends by Charles Martin (see full review)
Frozen in Time by Michael Oard (see full review)
Blink of an Eye by Ted Dekker (see full review)
The cry in Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, is not a yell from rooftops. This is a crying book, with tissue and red eyes and the ache in your throat when you try to hold back the tragedy from taking over you. There are no answers in this book, only the brave resolve to do what is right and to speak the truth, knowing that some things belong to God, and He alone can rescue mankind. South Africa, like all of our nations, has for decades and centuries been in the brokenness that needs God. Still men are praying, and crying for their beloved country.
JRR Tolkien: Myth, Morality & Religion by Richard Purtill (see full review)
Get Married by Candice Watters (Some encouraging stuff and some challenging ideas and some points of view that weren't helpful. I believe God wanted me to read the book, so I did.)
Gertrude McFuzz by Dr. Seuss; Yertle the Turtle by Dr. Seuss; I had Trouble Getting to Solla-Sollew by Dr. Seuss; The Butter Battle by Dr. Seuss (who knew Dr. Seuss didn't just write silly nonsense! Some of his books are actually allegories and parables. I much prefer them if they rhyme, but am rather unhappy when the rhyme is only accomplished by inventing a word.)
The Ultimate Proof of Creation by Dr. Jason Lisle (see full review)
by Karen Hancock (see full review)
Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie (The classic children's story about growing up. Not quite like the movies. Great writing, quirky quotes. I cannot figure out whether JM Barrie was trying to say something with his story, or a lot of things as they popped into his head. He seems to be fond of manners and humility.)