Monday, December 7, 2009

The White Horse King

The White Horse King by Benjamin Merkle

The White Horse King is a compelling and interesting book about the only English monarch ever to be titled great: King Alfred the Great. Alfred was a great leader and a wise and learned man. Under his leadership the English people would band together to fight and defeat the Viking raiders who were constantly attacking the island of Great Britain.
Alfred was born in the mid-ninth century in Wantage, Wessex, England. His father was the king of Wessex. Alfred was by no means the heir to his father's throne, having several older, battle-hardened brothers. However all those in line ahead of him died untimely deaths, either in battle or due to illness, so that Alfred was left on the throne.
Alfred became a great scholar before he took the throne, and during his reign, England experienced a revival of learning, particularly Christian learning. Alfred expected those in leadership in his kingdom to learn to read and write at least their own language. He codified a system of laws that ended some of the feuding and revenge killings that had been epidemic in his kingdom. Alfred's reign also signaled a revival of Christian worship.
Alfred was also a very pious and godly leader, even going to the point of sponsoring in baptism one of his chief Viking opponents, Guthrum. However his piety by no means meant he was a weak opponent to face in battle. He stood steadfastly against those Viking raiders who would invade the island of Great Britain and pillage ruthlessly, leaving destruction in their wake. In so doing he caused them to go back to their homelands and raid somewhere else.
Alfred was the first king to unite all the Anglo-Saxons into one kingdom. His grandson would become the first to rule over the entire island of Britain. Merkle writes, "England, and the many nations descended from her, still have Alfred to thank for a substantial portion of the heritage and freedoms that they enjoy today. The title 'Alfred the Great,' so strangely offensive to the modern ear, was well deserved by the Anglo-Saxon warrior-king. Of course these words of unreserved praise are all in need of much qualification. Alfred was, after all, a mere mortal and certainly had his fair share of foibles. Nevertheless, he was a fierce warrior, a devout Christian ever thirsting for wisdom, deeply committed to justice, a lover of mercy, and a king who gave himself for his people. He was practically a myth and a much-needed reality. He was the king of the Whitehorse--Alfred the Great."
Disclosure of materials connection: In return for this review, I was given a copy of the book by the publisher.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Read-a-thon update 2

Since my last post I read Maggie's Miracle, Sarah's Song, and Hannah's Hope, by Karen Kingsbury. The entire collection, the four books I have read, are 620 pages.

Read-a-thon update

Since my first post I read 5 psalms, 1 chapter of Proverbs, 4 chapters of the Gospel of Luke, and the books of Haggai and Zechariah. I also read Gideon's Gift by Karen Kingsbury.


I am participating in Dewey's read-a-thon! Check out their site here
I am reading from Dawsonville, GA, about 50 miles northeast of Atlanta.
At the moment I have 5 books in my to be read pile- the Red Gloves series by Karen Kingsbury, and the Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
I would like to finish at least two of the books.
Follow me on twitter at
My face book page is

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Search for God and Guinness

The Search for God and Guinness, by Stephen Mansfield, is a very interesting, however brief history of the Guinness beer company and its founding family. It highlights the magnanimity of the founding fathers of Guinness, especially in the ways that they cared for their employees in an era and place where such things were unheard of. It shows how some people with money choose to use it to help their fellow man. It also shows the various things that have sprung from the Guinness brand, including the Guinness book of world records, which was created at first to give pubs and bars as a promotional item. I found especially interesting the history not just of Guinness, but of beer itself, which dates at least to the Sumerians.
The Guinness family has also produced several great ministers, who were as well-known as Charles Spurgeon and others. In several generations the eldest son and heir chose instead to devote himself to the work of God, leaving the family business in the hands of their siblings. This is testament to the piety and devotion of the founder of the company, Arthur Guinness, who created the beer in part to relieve Ireland from the scourge of alcoholism caused by whiskey. It did, and it also elevated the lives of all who worked there; they were given medical care by an on-staff doctor, and also opportunities for education and recreation. Dublin, which was once one of the filthiest cities in Europe, was transformed.
This book reminded me once again of what is truly important in life. That which the Guinness family achieved with their fortune should be an inspiration and example to us all, as should their forward thinking attitude and their striving to always produce the best product possible.In the end, though their beer and factory is large, productive and successful, what is remembered by many about them is their devotion to their faith, their generosity with the wealth they had been given, and how they always strived to better the lives of their employees and their families. This is an interesting book which would be enjoyed by history buffs and also those who love Guinness stout.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


For the past 2 or 3 years I have been able to read the average of a book a day--that is 365 books a year or better. This year, due to laziness, illnesses like sinus problems and migraines, or the busyness of life I have not as yet been able to reach that goal. I have been beating myself up about it mentally for the last couple of weeks. I think I may have to be a little more forgiving of myself. I sometimes expect the impossible from myself, things I maybe would never expect from another person. I cannot predict whether or not I will reach my desired total this year, but I hope to not beat myself up about it if I do.
Another thing I beat myself up about is my inability sometimes to exercise the way I would like to and feel I should. I would like to be able to do the 3-Day walk, but again, illness primarily has kept me from it. I was doing well a while back but was sidetracked by a bout of bronchitis. Last winter I had a serious UTI. Again, I hold myself to impossibly hard standards.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


This past week I realized that I exgaggerate things, especially worries, in my mind, making them far more serious than they really are. The examples that truly made me see this were: there was a rat in my room, and I blew it up in my mind, thinking that the rat would never leave. It, of course, left my room after a couple of days. Another was the power going out and me immediately thinking that it wouldn't be on for hours; it came back on in about 15 minutes or so.
On a car trip with my mother I noticed again how different we are. She responds with anger almost consistently where I would respond with a crying outburst. What made me notice this was we were having a discussion; I got upset and started to/wanted to cry, whereas she just got angry. We react to almost everything differently, and even see the world differently. It illustrates once more how much the Lord and His Word can change a person's way of thinking.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Ladies, run out and buy this book

Marcus Buckingham has appeared on Oprah and conducted career workshops with her, and now he has written Find Your Strongest Life. This book, aimed specifically at women, is designed to help ladies find out which part of their lives strengthens them, as well as learning which parts weaken them.
Buckingham describes nine roles that women fill, and through taking the Strongest Life test at
the reader is able to determine which of those roles is their strongest role, as well as learning their secondary role. The roles are: Advisor, Caretaker, Creator, Equalizer, Influencer, Motivator, Pioneer, Teacher, and Weaver. (My lead role is advisor, and my secondary is teacher.) Once the reader has taken the test, Buckingham goes on to demonstrate, through practical tips and personal stories of other clients, how to live so that we are doing more of what strengthens us, and maybe less of the things that we are capable and even competent about, that we do not enjoy or even hate doing. He stresses that just because we CAN do something, and we're good at doing something, doesn't mean that we should choose that as a career. Instead we should find those activities we do that strengthen us, and work to recreate those moments. We should not aim for a balanced life, but should have an imbalanced life that is filled with those activities that strengthen us.
Also Buckingham points out that we, in this country especially, look for our weaknesses and the weaknesses in others. By so doing, we amplify those weaknesses, until they may become truly crippling problems. However, when we look for our strengths and play to those, those weaknesses disappear.
This is a great book for all women, but especially those of us who are struggling to find ourselves and what our true purpose in life is. It is filled with helpful advice and concrete tips on how we can truly do those things that strengthen us, which leads to life strengthening us instead of draining and depressing us, as it does for so many women. I would recommend this book to all, most especially those who are stuck in a career they don't feel fulfilled in, and those who are doing things because they feel they have to. This would be a great gift to most anyone, as we all long to know our true purpose and highlight those areas that are truly our strengths.

Friday, September 25, 2009


I thoroughly enjoy all of Ted Dekker's work, and Green is no exception. This is book zero in The Circle series, which also consists of Black, Red and White, and also ties into the Paradise novels: Saint, Sinner and Showdown. This book is the beginning and the end of the series. In these novels, a man named Thomas Hunter is able to, for reasons unknown to him, move between the present time and 2,000 years in the future. In the future, however, all spiritual realities are visible, including God, Satan, angels, and demons. The only bridge between these two realities is Thomas' blood; using this bridge, several others are able to switch realities.
In both times, the world is on the brink of disaster, thanks to the forces of evil. However, the situation is more dire in the future. Those faithful to God, a number which represents the church, are arguing amongst themselves, despairing of God's very existence, and lusting for battle with the forces of evil, namely the Horde. In these stories, the reality of sin is represented by a skin disease similar to scabies. The faithful are cured of this by diving into their holy pools, which represents coming to faith in Christ. There are also half-breeds--those who are not Horde, who believe in God, but have not believed in Christ. The half-breeds and the believers join together to battle the Horde, in the ultimate showdown between good and evil, which also includes angels and devils. As the battle comes to a head, the arrogance of evil is evident, but they are proven wrong and defeated. The book ends with what is the beginning of the series, the beginning of the book Black.
This is a wonderful book, a very clear parable/fantasy world which illustrates the true end of all things, as predicted by the Bible. Anyone who enjoyed the Narnia Chronicles would appreciate this entire series greatly.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I really enjoyed Fearless, though this was no surprise to me. I have been an avid reader of all of Max Lucado's works for many years. Fearless really spoke to me in the place I am in my life. This book encourages us as believers to truly rely wholly on God, and look to Him instead of looking at our fears and worries. Lucado addresses about a dozen fears that are common to most people, and counters them with the truth of God's Words on the subjects. As always, he does this through the use of Scriptural verses, historical anecdotes and quotations, personal anecdotes, and well-crafted prose. Overall it makes for a memorable reading experience.
Fearless, like all of Max Lucado's work, is like a shot of encouragement in the arm of the average believer. This book encourages us to keep our focus on Jesus, not our fears, reminding us that as we do so, our fears fall away until all we have is a reverent fear for Jesus. "As awe of Jesus expands, fears of life diminish. A big God translates into big courage. A small view of God generates no courage. A limp, puny, fireless Jesus has no power over cancer cells, corruption, identity theft, stock-market crashes, or global calamity. A packageable, portable Jesus might fit well in a purse or on a shelf, but he does nothing for your fears." (p. 169)
Like all Lucado's work, Fearless is filled with lovely prose, wonderful quotations from great writers, and something that would appeal to readers of all ages. It reminds us of how great our God is, how truly temporary all we fear is, and of the courage we have available to us as believers. I would recommend this book to anyone, but especially those in the midst of struggle.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

I went upstairs to the bathroom in my mother's bedroom this morning, hoping to relax my muscles with a warm bath, when I noticed these mushrooms growing there. I have no idea how they got there, but I thought it was neat in a weird way. It's probably partly because of the dampness of the environment in there, and maybe a little due to our cleaning abilities. Either way, I still thought it was interesting that they were there. I think they look a little like parasols.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Let Go by Sheila Walsh

I really enjoyed Let Go. This book is written especially for those women who struggle within themselves, especially in thinking that they are not good enough for anything (and let's face it, that's ALL of us at one time or another). Walsh goes through many of the destructive and imprisoning thought patterns that many women face and deconstructs them, mostly by reminding us that our God is a God who delivers and He can and will deliver us, because of His great love and grace toward all of us. Each chapter begins first with inspiring quotes, from varying authors and Scripture, and then with a short vignette that presents a real-life situation that most if not all women will face. This book also points out a lot of the destructive behavior those who may mean well in the Church practice, among ourselves and unbelievers.
One of the chapter-opening sketches, that I think is my favorite, is: "She looked at the dress lying on the bed, and it was all wrong. The style was wrong and the color did nothing for her fair skin. She tried it on, and although it fit, it seemed to hang on her as if mocking her shape. She wished she didn't have to go, but she knew how that would hurt her mother's feelings. Her mother had been so excited to show her the dress. Working on such a small budget, it was a miracle her mom had been able to buy anything at all. She would have to go.
She knew how it would be, for she had lived these kinds of moments before. She would stand at the edge of the crowd and try not to make eye contact with anyone. She might offer to help with the refreshments so that she looked busy, and she would get through it as she had done before.
The dance hall was beautiful, lit up like a Christmas tree. Music called to everyone to find a partner and take to the floor. She kept her eyes on her shoes, which didn't match her dress. She was aware of the sounds of laughter and excitement all around her.
But then everything suddenly hushed. She looked up to see what had happened and there he was. Standing in front of her was a beautiful young man holding out his hand to her.
"I...I can't dance," she said.
"Oh, yes you can," he replied. "You've always been able to dance. You just didn't know it."
Let Go is like a shot of encouragement in the arms of women everywhere. It deals with issues such as unforgiveness, judgementalism, temptation and letting go of the past. Each chapter ends with thought-provoking questions and a prayer. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and believe that all women would find at least one of their issues dealt with in this book, and appreciate the stories and personal anecdotes it contains.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

My new car!

Friday morning we set out to look at a car I found online at Auto Trader's site, in Alpharetta. We arrived to the car lot a few minutes ahead of my dad. Upon arriving there, we looked to see if we could find the car I'd seen. We located what we thought was it, but it was marked much higher than the online price. We found a salesman, showed him my printout, and were assured that it was the same car; it was marked down online. When my dad arrived, he inspected the car and deemed it worthy of a test drive. After the test drive he still liked it, so we went into the office and settled on a price. We ended up getting it for more than $200 off the price they posted on line, and $3000 less than the sticker price. I was so happy that we were able to get it for that price.
It has been wonderful, for the first time in about 2 years, to be able to back up and park like a normal person. It's wonderful to have air conditioning. It's wonderful to not have to worry about the car breaking and me being stranded somewhere. It's wonderful to not get wet when it's raining outside. It's wonderful to not have a steering wheel that gets sticky when it's humid. It's wonderful to be able to lock my car and open my trunk. It's wonderful to have a radio that gets good reception. It's wonderful to have a rearview mirror. It's wonderful to have a car that doesn't leak anything. The only problem is I can't find a way to get my iPod to play in the car. The cassette adapter I have works a little, but it starts trying to flip the tape back and forth and won't play. I got an FM transmitter, but I didn't like it because there's a lot of static on it, and also because I had to change the station a lot to get it to play at all. Overall I am very pleased, and the car seems to be driving better now that I've driven it some.
I am so thankful and grateful to the Lord for leading us to this car, and for providing me with the resources I used to get it--I used the money from the sale of a stock I was given in an oil company who're drilling for oil in Eretz Israel. I signed up for their newsletter and information because of my deep interest and love for the nation of Israel and the Jewish people. I think this illustrates Genesis 12:3-
"I will bless those who bless you, and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."

Thursday, August 6, 2009

All that's wrong with my old car

There are probably more things than I can think of, but here is my list of the car's problems:
The rearview mirror fell off
The rubber that goes between the body and the door fell off, letting cold air/water in
The windows don't always roll up
The air conditioner is broken
The reverse in the transmission is shot, so it doesn't back up
It leaks oil and antifreeze
One of the headlights is out on low
The blinkers don't work
The brake light switch is blown, so they stay on sometimes
The fuel gauge is unreliable
The gear indicator is broken
The fuel pump is bad
The radio antenna is broken off, so reception is spotty
My grandnephew lost the door/trunk key, playing in the garage when he was about 3
There's a problem with the ignition switch, so it has to be jiggled with to turn over sometimes
Needless to say it will be quite liberating to have a car that actually functions in every gear the way it should.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


This week I sold some stock I was given and got over $1000 to put toward my new car. I endured two trips to the movies with the brat and company. Mostly I endure this by turning up the volume on my ipod as loud as I can bear it, to block out everything. (This week my artist of choice was Josh Groban.) My parents and I went yesterday to a couple car lots and looked at several possible cars, but alas, none were just right. So the hunt continues as our deadline of school starting nears.
Also for the first time yesterday evening I tried for the first time a white chocolate mocha at Starbucks. I really liked it, and I think if they weren't so expensive I would get them a lot.
Yesterday because of the car hunt I spent a considerable amount of time in the car with my mother. Because of this we talked about what she sees her (and our) future as being. Since I have had seizures since I was 23, she seems to be fearful of me having a real job or any semblance of a real life. She has this idea that I should (and want) to live with her forever, but this is simply not true. I have felt for a long time that the Lord has a special purpose for me, one that somehow involves the nation of Israel, the Jewish people and the city of Jerusalem. I also have faith that the Lord has something greater in mind for me than to stay here in GA and live with my mother for the rest of her life! I have faith that the Lord wants more for me than for me to work an idiot retail job or work from home online. Neither would be totally terrible, but I am sure that I could do more with what the Lord has given me than that. I feel like He has given me intelligence and knowledge and wisdom and abilities for a reason, and because of that I don't feel right settling for a menial job, either at home or in public. Most of my resources would be totally wasted in those arenas. I am not totally sure what I should be doing, but I feel a real block in my spirit about those areas, at least right now.
I also believe that there is someone out there that the Lord has created for and meant for me. I have been praying for and believing for him for almost 15 years now. I also believe that the Lord has revealed certain things to me about him and our lives together. Some times I feel overwhelming doubt about him and those things, but last night as I was in a caffeine rush from the mocha yet trying to sleep, I decided to remedy this. I decided to take an action of faith when I feel that doubt, especially by making something for him. Today I am doing my best to knit a yarmulke for him. I don't know how it will turn out.
As I say goodbye and good riddance to the old car this week I am going to list all that is wrong with it one day here. Pray for the Lord to lead us to the right car.

Everyday Greatness

Everyday Greatness, with commentary by Stephen R. Covey and compiled by David K. Hatch, is a wonderful and inspiring book. This is a collection of inspiring stories and quotations, some humorous, some serious. It contains stories by many of the great authors, celebrities, athletes, and leaders of our times, as well as everyday people who did extraordinary things in the face of adversity, drawn from Reader's Digest.
The book is broken into seven sections, with an introduction by Covey in which he defines the three choices that lead to everyday greatness: the choice to act, the choice of purpose, and the choice for principles. The sections of the book are Searching for meaning, Taking charge, Starting Within, Creating the Dream, Teaming with Others, Overcoming Adversity, and Blending the Pieces. These are further subdivided into three chapters named for characteristics, such as integrity, simplicity, and perseverance. Each chapter ends with some inspiring quotations about that subject by people such as Will Rogers, Abraham Lincoln, and others.
One good example of a story from this book is found in the section Searching for Meaning, in the chapter Attention.
"How Love Came Back by Tom Anderson
I made a vow to myself on the drive down to the vacation beach cottage. For two weeks I would try to be a loving husband and father. Totally loving. No ifs, ands, or buts.
The idea had come to me as I listened to a commentator on my car's tape player. He was quoting a Biblical passage about husbands being thoughtful of their wives. Then he went on to say, "Love is an act of will. A person can choose to love." To myself, I had to admit that I had been a selfish husband--that our love had been dulled by my own insensitivity. In petty ways, really: chiding Evelyn for her tardiness; insisting on the TV channel I wanted to watch; throwing out day-old newspapers that I knew Evelyn still wanted to read. Well, for two weeks that would all change.
And it did. Right from the moment I kissed Evelyn at the door and said, "That new yellow sweater looks great on you."
"Oh, Tom, you noticed," she said, surprised and pleased. Maybe a little perplexed.
After a long drive, I wanted to sit and read. Evelyn suggested a walk on the beach. I started to refuse, but then I thought, Evelyn's been alone here with the kids all week and now she wants to be alone with me. We walked on the beach while the children flew their kites.
So it went. Two weeks of not calling the Wall Street investment firm where I am a director; a visit to the shell museum, though I usually hate museums (and I enjoyed it); holding my tongue while Evelyn's getting ready made us late for a dinner date. Relaxed and happy, that's how the whole vacation passed. I made a new vow to keep on remembering to choose love.
There was one thing that went wrong with my experiment, however. Evelyn and I still laugh about it today. On the last night at our cottage, preparing for bed, Evelyn stared at me with the saddest expression.
"What's the matter?" I asked her.
"Tom," she said, in a voice filled with distress, "do you know something I don't?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well...that checkup I had several weeks ago...our doctor...did he tell you something about me? Tom, you've been so good to I dying?"
It took a moment for it all to sink in. Then I burst out laughing.
"No, honey," I said, wrapping her in my arms, "you're not dying; I'm just starting to live!"
To this, Covey adds, Tom "chose to love" by setting aside his Wall Street worries and personal interests to focus undivided attention on his family, chiefly Evelyn. What resulted provides further evidence that in focusing on individuals--particularly those we love the most--we often make the most meaningful and lasting impact. In Evelyn's case, she was so surprised by the attention that she was receiving that she thought something must be wrong--even had thoughts that she might be dying. She turned out to be just fine, but there are many people in the world who are dying for a little attention. See if you can find them and cure them of what ails them."
Everyday Greatness is a wonderful and inspiring book. It would be a great gift for anyone, but especially anyone going through a trial such as illness or a recent loss. It would also be a great gift for someone graduating or starting a new venture in life.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Last night my grandnephew was playing with the phone or something and accidentally dialed 911. A while later the police came, to find my mom and nephew making supper and painting in the kitchen. They said everything was OK so the cops left. Later the boy admitted he'd done it, crying for a while and trying to hide because he thought he was in trouble. He was trying to hide under the stairs and under the sofa pillows. It was intense as it was happening, but it's pretty funny in hindsight.
On Friday afternoon my dad and nephew put the new fuel pump in my car. It was OK then. Yesterday I went to get a burrito, and in the less than 10 mile trip the car died twice. When I got home I saw the brake lights were on, so I thought it was just the battery. This morning on the way to church it did fine. Then after I left church, I was sitting at a red light and the car just died. I was helped to get it onto the median by a man behind me. His wife drove me over to the nearby McDonald's. There my mom, who had been working at the nearby Home Depot, came and met me. We thought then that it was just out of gas, so we got it over to a gas station across the street. Once it had a little gas in it it cranked right up and ran fine. We went across the street to Kroger, where I got more gas and met up with my dad. He followed me home. I thought everything was fine, even later when I went to Kroger and Wal-Mart. I went to the pretzel stand and got lunch. En route home, it started to act like it had been yesterday, and I barely made it home. I don't think I want to drive it anymore after the way it acted today. I can barely go 5 miles in it without it dying. Thankfully we found several good options for a new car this weekend online, and we can cash in our stocks and pay for a new one almost wholly.
I have to say it will be a great relief and a liberation of sorts when I get a new car. The car I have now has had a bad transmission for about two years, and I have been without reverse. This limits where I can go, because not everywhere has a place for me to park. Also I am without air conditioning.
If there is anyone out there besides me reading this, thank you.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Last weekend, because of Spongebob's birthday, they had a marathon of Spongebob all weekend. Friday night they showed the Spongebob movie, and to celebrate my grandnephew and I made the Spongebob pasta I have and mixed it with some spaghetti-os. I have to confess that I watched Spongebob most of the weekend. Sometimes I think I like it better than he does. On that note, Wednesday I got Nick magazine, which had a great poster of Spongebob and many of the characters that have been on the show over the last 10 years.
Last Saturday my mom said we can get the part we need for the car and my dad can fix it. We got the part at Advance, and my dad is coming tomorrow possibly to fix it :)
Last Sunday my mom went to work, and I went with her. Then, in her car, I went to Starbuck's, got coffee, and sat and read until it was time for me to go to church. After church I went to the store and got lunch at the pretzel stand.
Also because of the very difficult week/10 days I have been having, I have fallen in love with Josh Groban's voice, his first album in particular.
If you like vitamin water, you should try the flavor sync. On each lid there's a code, and you redeem it for music at Amazon. Also Kroger has vitamin water on sale now, and you can get 10 for $5.
The people who live here, especially my nephew, are still bothering me, and to combat that I have been keeping my door locked a lot this week. I usually close the door when I hear him moving around in the house, to block the noise. I'm not sure why but right now his very presence annoys me. My mother reminds me daily that he will be going to jail soon, for a DUI he got in March. I wish the justice system operated faster. I have been feeling a lot of silly, conflicting emotions, that when I think about them rationally seem stupid. A lot of them are probably hormonally fueled, as are a lot of my meltdowns. One of them is that no one here cares about me; at least my mother and grandnephew do, and they really do show it consistently. I just wish I could hurry this process along and get my nephew gone. Part of me knows that I need to shine the light of Jesus to all who live here, including my nephew, but most of me just wants to hide in here and not even deal with him.
God decreed destruction for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. A mound of ashes was all that was left—grim warning to anyone bent on an ungodly life. But that good man Lot, driven nearly out of his mind by the sexual filth and perversity, was rescued. Surrounded by moral rot day after day after day, that righteous man was in constant torment.So God knows how to rescue the godly from evil trials. And he knows how to hold the feet of the wicked to the fire until Judgment Day. (2 Peter 2:6-9)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Real Church

I found Real Church by Larry Crabb to be interesting, challenging and thought provoking. At the beginning of the book he confesses that he has gotten to the point where he really feels no need to attend church. He goes on to describe at length the kind of church he would enjoy attending.
The church Crabb envisions would fully proclaim the entire Gospel of Christ as described in the New Testament, but would also fully embrace the sinfulness and struggles every believer faces, whether they willingly admit them or not. The main struggle we face is the warring of the two natures in those of us who are reborn: our old, sinful man, and the newly created man that comes with believing in Christ.
The church Crabb describes would be based on spiritual theology, spiritual formation, spiritual community, and spiritual mission. Spiritual theology is our understanding on God and His actions, especially as revealed in the person of Christ. Spiritual formation is the process we as believers are undergoing in becoming more and more like Him. Spiritual community would be a group of like-minded believers being totally transparent with one another, especially about their struggles. Spiritual mission would be taking our knowledge about God and His workings to those outside our community. Crabb discusses each idea in depth and also how the church is failing at or fulfilling these. He willingly acknowledges that this perfect vision will probably never be fulfilled until heaven, but prods us on to trying to fulfill them. He reminds us that though we can experience God on earth, most times we will not. He reminds us of our position in Christ and God, and the hope we have in our future of becoming like Him. He closes with reminding us that Jesus prayed for our unity (see John 17) and said that our relationships as the church would be what drew unbelievers into our body, and few of us are fulfilling that.
This book was a challenging read, though I enjoyed it as well. It truly has gotten me evaluating where I am in my relationship with the Lord, and also how far my church is to the place Crabb sees us all getting to. I think this book would be good for those who are evaluating their walks, and especially for pastors and those in ministry who would like to move their ministries closer to the ideal that Jesus has for all of us who make up His body.

old lists

--When I'm identifying with Jeremiah-e.g. Oh, that I had in the desert a lodging place for travelers, so that I might leave my people and go away from them; for they are all adulterers, a crowd of unfaithful people. Jer. 8:2 In a note in the NIV study Bible-The prophet wants to get as far away from his wicked countrymen as possible. See also Jeremiah 14:8-9
When I'm willing to go sit at McDonald's in Wal-Mart just to get out of here and away from everyone.
When I'd be willing to work retail to get money to maybe be able to get away from here.
When I feel rich if the money I have is in double digits.
When I feel more mature than my sister who's 15 years older than me.
When we feel lucky to get McDonald's.
When I get more interaction with people on Sunday at church than I did all week at home.
When my convict family can all get work and I don't have it.
When I cut my hair and no one notices.
When the Nike+ guy on my iPod is more encouraging of my walking than my housemates.

I didn't have to listen to a screaming whining kid all the time
I had someone to talk to who really understood me and was with the Lord
Someone didn't come in my room and take my things without asking while I'm gone
Someone was sympathetic when I felt bad
I wasn't treated like a 10-year-old
I didn't feel like I live in a consumption ward
I wasn't around people who cursed so much
I didn't get snapped at when I make a perfectly innocent remark

Friday, July 17, 2009

A bad day

This morning started pretty normally: I got up, did my devotions, went about my daily routine. I went upstairs to take a shower, realizing upon getting into the shower I had left something downstairs. I then found that my towels had gone missing; upon investigation I found that the boys had them. This is just one more insidious way they are creeping in here, and for some reason it really upsets me, and of course no one else here gets it.
I went to Gainesville. My first stop was Starbucks for coffee. I had a little trouble parking there but the stop went without incident. I made a quick stop at Target and left without getting anything. When I left there my car wouldn't start. Upon investigation I found that the brake lights were on (again), draining the battery. I got them off after a minute. I put the hood up and sat in the car for a few minutes, hoping someone would stop and help me by jumping me off. Finally I turned the switch to see what would happen and it started normally. I then went to best buy and checked prices on something, and to FCS. There I sat and read an entire (130 pg.) book. I bought 2 books, and got them for less than half-price. Then I went to Cici's for lunch. I ate and watched a favorite NCIS episode on my iPod. When I left there, intending to head for our hometown Wal-Mart, my car would turn over but would only stay running a few seconds. I was thinking it was the battery again. I called my dad, who fortunately had the day off. While I waited for him I did my Bible readings for the day. When he arrived he diagnosed the problem as being the fuel pump, not the battery. He got it running again, then followed me the fifteen or so miles to my home. When we got here we looked online at possible prices for a fuel pump and found a new one would cost about what the car is worth. We decided to look in earnest for a new car and not use my old one. Which is good and bad. Good-I'll be getting a new car pretty soon probably. Bad-I'll be stuck here, totally dependent on others to drive me places, like a prepubescent adolescent. I pray that something good comes from this. Sometimes it's hard to believe that.
A little after we all got home and my dad left, we all set out to the store. I have learned the best way to deal with these trips-stuck in the back seat with a squirrely seven year old-is to turn up my ipod loud enough to drown them all out. This is what I did today. I ran in Wal-Mart, got drinks and chex mix, and picked up some photos. Then I sat at McDonald's and had a sundae until the others came.
Almost always on these trips, I feel 1)like I've regressed to being a child, and 2)like it's 3 against 1 in there, and I'm the odd one out. No matter what the seven year old does to me, if I say anything about it, I get yelled at. Which is a big part of why I try to blot everything they do out with my music. At least it is positive.
I don't know why but right now I just hate the rowdiness that my nephew and his crowd bring to this house, and that includes the seven year old. I am at the point now where I just hate the sounds of them moving around, coughing, etc. I do not want to interact with them at all. (If you haven't guessed, they weren't made to leave.) This may make me a horrible Christian, but I don't know how to do otherwise right now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

It has finally happened

The day that I have been longing for for a long time has finally happened. This morning my mother walked into the room my 28-year-old nephew has been living in for over 4 years and decided she had finally had enough. He is an alcoholic and a total slob. The room was so dirty that she had to pull up the carpet to get rid of it. She cleared out the room which resulted in about 5 bags of trash. She has threatened him with this several times but has never carried it out. I was thinking that she would probably never make him leave, but this morning she proved me very wrong, and for that I am very grateful. I have been wanting this for many months; I am the one who has to listen to and deal with him the most. He lives pretty close to my room and my bathroom is next to his room. Now I don't have to worry about dealing with drunks when I have to go to the bathroom, and I don't have to listen to his yelling, especially at his son. This will lighten the financial load tremendously on my mother, and will also improve the way his son acts. My nephew can be very belligerent when he is drunk, which is most of the time. When he is drunk he can be hateful and mean, and he picks on the kid and they get in shouting matches a lot. I think this happening is very positive and will be a good step for us all.
Also yesterday in the store I found something I'd been wishing for-BBQ Chex mix. I cannot tell you how long I have wanted this.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Our first complete shawl

My friend Anita and I are trying to start a prayer ministry at our church. This involves knitting and crocheting shawls to bring comfort and prayers to those who are hurting because of grief or sickness. Yesterday afternoon we had the first one blessed by our pastor at church. It's for a lady who has cancer. The picture is of it just as I was finishing it. Anita crocheted a border around it and added some charms to it, then we and our pastor and the lady's daughter prayed over it and anointed it yesterday. It was a wonderful experience overall.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Family craziness

This morning my 7 year old grandnephew came in my room and asked me for 2 pieces of bread. As I was talking to him about it I asked him why he yells so much. (He screams like a banshee a lot, especially at his father.) He said he doesn't; I raised my voice at him to demonstrate how I hear him talking a lot--our whole downstairs area is open, so I hear a lot of what goes on from my lower story room. He got upset that I raised my voice to him and ran off in a huff, crying, which is another common occurrence. I don't know if this is normal or abnormal for a child his age.
This afternoon we all went to Wal-Mart. En route my grandnephew was playing with my mother's bag; she got onto him and I tried to tell him that he hates it when one of us touches anything of his, yet he continually does it with our things. Of course I got scolded for saying anything. Sometimes I feel like it's 3-against-1 at our house. Everyone is on his side. What I have to say is a valid opinion and may even be right, but if I'm right then he's wrong, and they're not having that. It's kind of like Obama and the media right now--they thrust him into power, so he can do no wrong.
I feel so disconnected from almost everyone I am related to. I act differently, I apparently think differently, I find different things entertaining and interesting, etc. A great deal of this is due to the Lord, but some of it is just my personal preferences. I feel closer and more connected to my church family than I do almost everyone I'm related to. When I hear the word brother or sister, my church family is what I think of, although I have 3 natural siblings and 4 step siblings. I feel sometimes I was switched at birth with someone, and that person lives now in a household of believing scholars and totally sticks out there, the way I do here. I wish I could make myself like things like barbecues and long boat trips and things, but to me they're just uncomfortable places where you roast in the sun and get bug bites. I don't like the food that much, and I don't drink, so that eliminates a real reason to go there. Also I feel awkward and uncomfortable around them, with the exception of my teenaged and young adult nieces. A lot of them are crude, and I don't especially like that. But as Jesus said, "Don't think I've come to make life cozy. I've come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don't deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don't deserve me." (Matthew 10 34-37)

Spiritual blindness

Right now I live in a house (and extended family) full of unbelievers. My mother and 7 year old grandnephew are probably the best of the lot, as I'm not sure they are unbelievers. My mother just curses like a sailor, but with the way a lot of our family acts, sometimes I want to too. My nephew, however, is different. He lost his mother (my sister) less than three months ago to alcoholism, but he continues down the same path as hard as he can. I tell people sometimes I feel like I live in a consumption ward, because he coughs all the time, yet he keeps smoking. His mother was like this--she spent over half a year in jail for a DUI, got clean of alcohol and tobacco, and on the night she was released she was drinking and smoking. It continually amazes me the level of blindness to the repercussions of their actions these people have, and the deepness of their denial. I know that "whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away" (2 Cor. 3 16), but how hard is it to grasp that your addictions are not only killing you but destroying your family, especially your children?
I tell people sometimes that these people make me feel so smart. I was blessed enough to get in church and with the Lord just as I was hitting puberty. At 14 I got involved with a youth ministry, and when they started their own church about a year later, I went with them, and that's where I still attend. There I got the first Bible I really studied and read, which has been a major theme in my life. I hung around with the youth group in high school. I have never drank or smoked. I have never had sex, having made the True Love Waits pledge around 1994. Thus I broke several trends in my family. Half of my nieces had babies as teenagers. I also completed high school and college, the first in my immediate family to do so. As I look back on my life, the decisions that I have made have been heavily influenced by the Lord and His church, and considering the path my family has followed, I know I have chosen the right path. And I am thankful I did not have to experience all the problems these supposedly fun things have caused them.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Getting better & other random thoughts

Yesterday morning I went to the doctor for what I thought was a UTI. I was honestly dreading it because I had one back in December and its treatment was an antibiotic that made me dizzy and very weak. For the whole week I took them I could barely keep my eyes open and couldn't eat anything. I thought maybe I'd caught this one early enough that that wouldn't be necessary but wasn't sure. So I gave a sample, the doctor tested it and said I didn't have a UTI. He examined me further and then said I had a yeast infection, probably caused by poor hygiene in my case. He wrote a prescription for a pill--1 pill, taken once. I was relieved to say the least. I took it yesterday and I already feel better. This is confirmed by the fact that I had 2 fairly large glasses of soda today at lunch, and felt no discomfort. The last two weeks or so every time I had anything carbonated I felt pain. I am so glad that this problem was less severe than I thought and so easy to cure.
Also, random thoughts I have sometimes:
1) Why are the kids in Trix commercials so freakin' stingy? It's not like there's a finite amount of cereal in the world. Maybe Trix is bad for bunnies, like chocolate is for dogs.
2) Am I the only one who hates the sounds of people eating? I cringe mentally every time some commercial comes on that has vivid sounds of someone eating the product. Seeing people close-up chewing is almost as bad.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl

I really enjoyed Notes from the Tilt-A-Whirl by N.D. Wilson. From the beginning it draws you into it, with very descriptive language and random thoughts surprisingly strung together in a coherent manner.
This book begins with the author comparing this world as we know it to a carnival. It goes on to explore this world, especially the insect kingdom and the earth itself. The author invites us to truly marvel at the vastness of our universe and to appreciate and thank the God who made it all. He mentions the fact that what holds the world together is truly the breath of God, and that if He so chose all things would cease to be.
This book contains some wonderful descriptive language and some wonderful, memorable images and phrases. The book is peppered with the author's imaginary conversations with the great thinkers of the past. An example: "Jean-Paul Sarte, in his play No Exit: Hell is other people. A writer for Wired modified that slightly: Hell is other people's music." (p.168) It also contains some wonderful images of God and some wonderful names for Him--the Poet, the Painter, etc.
This book is a wonderfully vivid experience, and it helped me see God and His creation with a new, clearer focus. I would recommend it to anyone who believes in God or is struggling with their faith.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Hormonal rant

Today is one of those days that I wish I could just get in my car and never come back home. My nephew and grandnephew have been gone for the last 3 days, but returned this afternoon. Of course they went down to the lake behind our house and my nephew promptly got drunk and passed out, leaving my 7-year-old grandnephew unattended. Sadly this is not an unusual occurrence. I feel hormonal, weepy, and drained, and because of sinuses/allergies, my throat is sore. Also everything I eat seems to be giving me diarrhea.
I had to run to the store again this morning because I needed more cranberry juice (I'm trying to ward off a UTI). Also at the grocery store I found a little coffee grinder for $10--six dollars cheaper than the cheapest one Wal-mart had. I also got a nice cup of Pike Place Roast from Starbuck's. I am 31 years old and I think that I am really starting to love coffee.
As usual during this time of the month, I hate even the sound of my nephew and grandnephew in this house. I thought that maybe the way my sister died would've shocked my nephew enough to stop his destructive behavior, but that doesn't seem to be what is happening. The real victim, however, is his son.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A great book

I have to say that I love David Gregory's book The Next Level. (His previous works, Dinner With A Perfect Stranger & A Day With A Perfect Stranger are great, too.) It is a story, really a parable, about a young man, Logan, who goes to work at a company called Universal Systems, Inc. His job there is to go from level to level (there are five) and determine what each level's greatest problem is. As he does so he discovers how differently people can interpret things, and how far off the truth people can be led because of little rumors. He first meets the director of the company, and reports directly to him as he diagnoses each level.
Each level seems to represent a belief system somewhere in the world.
On the first level, noone is really working for the company; they spend their time at work doing their own thing, working on things that have nothing to do with their job. I think this level represents those people in the world who don't subscribe to any particular belief set.
On level two, the employees have a very strict level of conduct, regulating even the kind of furniture polish used and the number of candies employees are allowed to have at their desks. Their adherence to these rules consumes much of their time and they do not do much work either. I think this represents those people who subscribe to a belief set but get so caught up in the don'ts in their religion that they forget to do the dos. An example is the Pharisees in the New Testament. Also there is an international division of this level that helps a great many people overseas.
On the third level, there are five major departments and eight minor ones. Logan meets with the managers of the five major departments and gets very varied answers from them about the whole purpose of the company and their work. I think this level represents the religions of the world other than Biblical Christianity and possibly Judaism, although the argument could be made that Level Two applies to the Jewish faith. Each department seems to symbolize Islam, New Age teaching, Buddhism, etc. Because they disagree on the overall purpose of the company, they are unable to work together toward a common goal, and also are working to please themselves, not the company.
On level four, the environment is nicer--they have coffee bars, nicer workstations, etc. They are aware of the owners of company and are trying to please them. Yet they are still working mostly to please themselves; i.e, they want to do what THEY want, not what their bosses want. I believe this represents a good portion of Christianity, who try to fit God's plans and desires into theirs, not the other way around.
As a bonus assignment Logan assesses Level Five, where people work exclusively with the Director, his father the Shareholder, and the Advocate. Those who work here basically go down to the other levels and help other people by doing menial tasks such as filing, cleaning etc. Here on this level Logan sees displayed the companies true product: self-giving love. It was first displayed by the Shareholder and Director, then they were joined by others in the company. Also mentioned is a sacrifice made by the Director: he was framed by a former employee for a crime he did not commit, yet he allowed himself to be found guilty to keep the company afloat.
I believe the characters of the Shareholder, Director and Advocate throughout the book represent the members of the Trinity. The one Logan interacts with most is the Director, who represents the person of Christ. The Advocate is the company's chief counsel, and fills a troubleshooting role, representing the Spirit. The Shareholder is the Director's father, and represents the Father. The real secret of level five is that the people who work there have learned to have the Shareholder and Director's outlook on things, and they work for their goals. This makes them the happiest and most profitable group in the company.
In the end Logan is offered a job on any level he wishes, including the fifth.
I think this is a wonderful parable and it really makes you think about how people in the world believe.

Monday, June 22, 2009

For once it is peaceful and quiet here at our house; my nephew and grandnephew have gone to visit his dad for a few days. I have been reading some books I bought last week today and knitting a little on a shawl I'm making. I'm also trying to ward off another UTI and what feels like a sinus infection.
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