Thursday, January 31, 2008

black



Red-winged Blackbird

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: EMOTION (Happy, Joyful, Contented, Surprised, Fearful, Distressed, Angry,...)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

new - 12

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea.

Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

- Revelation 21:1-5 NKJV

Monday, January 28, 2008

"it's God here..."

Does God still speak? Does He speak to you? How? What does He say?

Acts 16 has an interesting story of a time when the Holy Spirit spoke to Paul and his entourage giving them the unusual command NOT to spread the gospel. We're not told how God communicated this -- through inner promptings, prophetic utterance, external circumstance, an audible voice, or...?

Later when they were in the place God told them to go (through a vision) and there were problems, they did no second-guessing, no questioning about whether they had actually heard right. Instead they faced arrest and jail with their trademark reaction: joy, prayer, praise.

God does still speak today. Last night I listened to an archived It's A New Day TV show where Todd Bentley gave his testimony. You'll be amazed at how God got through to this profane, addicted 17-year-old ex-con biker-boy raised by a single (deaf) mother and alcoholic father on B.C.'s Sunshine Coast. (January 22, program 33042 - linked on this page)

I love the verse: "Your ears shall hear a word behind you saying, 'This is the way, walk in it.' whenever you turn to the right hand or whenever you turn to the left" (Isaiah 30:21). That's how closely I'd like to be tuned to God. That's how clearly I'd like to hear Him.

But it doesn't end there. Hearing demands a response. May my response be like that described by Oswald Chambers (I quote the original Chambers edition):

"Be resolute when God speaks, act in faith immediately on what He says, and never revise your decisions. If you hesitate when God tells you to do a thing, you endanger your standing in grace. Take the initiative, take it yourself, take the step with your will now, make it impossible to go back. Burn your bridges behind you -- "I will write that letter, I will pay that debt." Make the thing inevitable."
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (May 10)

"Get into the habit of saying 'Speak Lord,' and life will become a romance."
- Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest (Jan 31)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

new - 11

"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it." - Revelation 2:17 NKJV

Saturday, January 26, 2008

book review: Talk of the Town by Lisa Wingate


Title: Talk of the Town
Author: Lisa Wingate
Publisher: Bethany House - February 2008
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
ISBN: 0764204904

Twenty-one-year-old Amber Anderson, gospel country singer, has made it to the final five on the American Megastar Show. Of course no one is supposed to know that until the moment of the big reveal in her home town of Daily, Texas. Now it’s American Megastar’s associate producer Mandalay Florentino’s job to make sure that all the plans for that disclosure are made but kept secret from Daily’s Amber-crazy townsfolk. Not that Mandalay’s presence hasn’t already caused a stir in Daily. Word at the café is that she is only the first of a horde of journalists and paparazzi about to descend on the town.

For Mandalay’s part, the sudden rainstorm that introduces her to Daily is only the first of a chain of catastrophes that threatens to tank her career. In Talk of the Town Lisa Wingate takes us through that whirlwind weekend that not only changes the course of Mandalay’s life but introduces her and us to a whole townful of salt-of-the-earth Texans who make us laugh, cry and promise ourselves to look for other books by this warm and funny novelist.

The tight time frame of the story is the perfect vehicle for Wingate to spin her comedy-of-errors plot. Of course she throws every possible obstacle into the mix -- from Mandalay getting arrested to a missing starlet -- so that the action never stops (although it does slow down with some days going on until it feels like we’ve lived through several). Using a dual point of view to tell the story (alternating first-person chapters by Mandalay and Imagene Doll, a Daily widow) help us keep on top of how things are playing to both sides. A hunka love interest for Mandalay and close-up glimpses of Amber’s family toy with readers’ emotions and help spin this into a tale with just the right balance of laughter and heart.

The characters in Talk of the Town are each one of a kind and go hand-in-glove with the setting. Imagene shines as the voice of the Dailyians. Her way with a story, told in the language and cadence of small-town Texas, had me laughing out loud in places. (Wingate could have gone lighter on writing in the accent though.) Imagene’s friend Donetta, proprietor of the beauty parlor complete with exercise room and choice of three exercise tapes, is another star on the comic side. Carter, on the other hand, is the straight and is just mysterious and strong enough to be a match for feisty first lady Mandalay. She would have come off as a somewhat cold and trying-to-be sophisticated bumbler if the chapters narrated by her hadn’t been countered by Imagene’s segments where we see her vulnerable side. Ursula is the ultimate in evil bosses and comes to life mostly in Mandalay’s imagination via her thick Swedish accent.

The themes Wingate addresses range over singleness, love, community values and faith. Both Imagene and Mandalay are single and facing their share of issues over it. I enjoyed watching Imagene morph from the timid, depressed widow to someone eager to again take risks. Wingate explores family love through Amber’s family, especially the way her brothers treat their drunken granddad. Romantic love also gets lots of space. The story plays out in a town where the Christian faith is a foundation value and loyalty to the town’s own comes before pretty much everything else. Finally, Carter plays a big role in showing us how faith comes to the rescue in tough times.

This lively tale of Hollywood getting its comeuppance is sure to delight. I expect Talk of the Town to be a big hit when it comes to bookstores next month.

Friday, January 25, 2008

frivolous friday



Thursday, January 24, 2008

nature


Angora leggings

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: BLACK (Night, Dark, Licorice, Clothes, Animals, Cars,...)
rose

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

make this tasty versatile food


Is this a picture of

a] sour cream?
b] ice cream?
c] pudding?

Would you believe none of the above? It's homemade yogurt.

On our trip to the prairies last fall, several family members served us the most delicious yogurt. To our surprise we discovered they made it themselves.

Now I once had a yogurt maker. It was a Salton, a longish contraption with round holes into which you put glass cups filled with cultured milk. You then covered it, plugged it in and some hours later, it was yogurt. But I found the product was unreliable, usually runny and all the pouring into cups made it fussy. So the Salton got retired and sat idle in the cupboard for years. I finally graduated it to the thrift store last summer when we moved.

The Yogourmet yogurt maker that my brothers had was different. It consisted of one large tub into which you put the milk. That feature along with the great taste and the fact that E. and I like yogurt a lot convinced us we needed to splurge and buy our own Yogourmet system. We found one at a little health food store in Saskatoon.

The first batch I made was pretty much a runny disappointment though. One percent milk alone doesn't make great yogurt. So I decided to follow the additives advice in the recipe book that came with the it. After a little trial and error we've come up with yogurt that we figure is well-nigh perfect. Here's how I make it:

Ingredients:

- milk (I use 1%) enough to fill my 2 quart casserole bowl to about 3/4 inch from the top.
- 1 1/2 cups skim milk powder
- 1 package gelatin
- yogurt starter (I use a few tablespoonfuls of unsweetened yogurt from the last batch)


What you do:

Pour the milk into casserole bowl, cover, place in the microwave and heat at high temperature for 14 minutes.

While this is heating pour a little cold milk into a glass container and sprinkle gelatin on top to soften.

When the milk in the microwave has started to warm, take a little out and mix with the cold milk/ gelatin mixture. Stir to dissolve the gelatin in the milk entirely (I usually place the cup of milk/gelatin on top of the covered casserole dish in the MW for about a minute to totally dissolve the gelatin -- but watch that it doesn't boil). When the gelatin is totally dissolved, add it to the milk and continue to heat.

After 14 minutes the milk will be near boiling point. It should get to 80 C or 180-185 F.



Place the casserole dish with hot milk in a sink full of cold water to cool the milk. Let it cool to about 40 C or 115 F. (The Yogourmet system comes with a handy little clip-on thermometer that has the add culture temperature marked. One could also use a candy thermometer.)


Pour the warm milk into the Yogourmet container.

Add the culture and mix thoroughly.




Pour a little warm water into the large Yogourmet container, place the small container into the large one, cover and plug it in. (The warm water rises between the two containers and that plus a small element keeps the yogurt at the right temperature during the process.)

Five hours later - voila! Yogurt - the best you've ever eaten!




Of course it's possible to make yogurt without a yogurt maker. Here's one set of directions.

new - 10



"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another." John 13:34 NKJV

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

blogging the weather

We're having a stretch of stellar weather and here's proof.

The photo below was taken on Sunday (driving east on Highway 91, Burnaby highrises in the distance). Note the fresh snow on the mountains and the clear blue sky.



Monday was just as beautiful. And no matter which weather web site I consult, the forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday are just as grand. It's cold (for us) but the sunshine is so welcome!







For more blogland weather, see Rebecca Writes.

He shoots, he shoots ...

This story about an autistic boy and basketball will warm your heart.

Monday, January 21, 2008

did you say 'establish'?

Has it ever happened to you that you keep bumping into the same idea?

One of my new year's resolutions this year is to memorize a new Bible verse every week. Here are two I've been working on so far:

"Roll your works upon the Lord -- commit and trust them wholly to Him; [He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and] so shall your plans be established and succeed." Proverbs 16:3 (Amplified)

"Let Your work [the signs of Your power] be revealed to Your servants and Your glorious majesty to their children. And let the beauty and delightfulness and favor of the Lord our God be upon us; confirm and establish the work of our hands, yes, the work of our hands, confirm and establish it." Psalm 90: 16, 17 (Amplified)

Now one of the good things about memorizing Scripture is the way it causes me to focus on words. When I focus on words, I want to know exactly what they mean. So I go to the dictionary and look them up -- even the ones I think I know the meaning of.

A word that appears in both of these verses is 'establish.' Of course I looked it up. Here are some meanings:

1] To make secure, stable or permanent; fix firmly in a particular place or condition.
2] To set up, found or institute on a firm or lasting basis: to establish a government, colony or business.
3] To cause to be securely or permanently settled in a particular place, position, occupation, etc. : to establish oneself in a new home.
4] To introduce (a law, custom, practice, etc.)and gain lasting acceptance for; initiate and cause to last: to establish a precedent.
5] To cause to be widely or unquestioningly recognized and accepted: to establish oneself as a writer.
6] To clear from doubt; demonstrate convincingly, prove: to establish one's innocence.

I believe there is something inside all of us that wants to feel our work and life are important, count for something, have significance. These two verses talk about that longing. We're promised that when we roll our work on God (commit and trust it to Him), he will establish it or make it fixed, secure, stable, permanent, lasting, recognized. In the Psalm 90 verses, God's establishment and confirmation of our work is spoken as a prayer and pronounced as a blessing.

On Saturday my daily Bible reading was Psalm 40. Verse 2 says:
"He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay
And set my feet upon a rock
And established my steps."


Do you see that? Another 'establish'! I'm beginning to wonder if there's a message here. Perhaps God is telling me personally to keep alert and watchful for ways that He wants to / will do some establishing in my life in 2008. (Of course I'll need to keep up my end of the bargain and entrust that work to Him in the first place.)

How about you? Have you been stubbing your toe on the same idea over and over. Perhaps God is trying to get your attention about something He has for you in 2008.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

new - 9


"Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new."

2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV

Saturday, January 19, 2008

sneak peek

I'm having a lot of fun posting my children's devotional, Bible Drive-Thru. One of the things I enjoy most (and which takes the most time) is finding graphics to go with the stories. In my hunt for public domain illustrations, I've run into some wonderful sites with pictures that bring to mind Sunday School paper illustrations from my childhood, like this one, and this one.

In case you haven't gone over to take a peek at the kids' devotionals, today I'm posting one over here (I have had emails from a few adults who said they enjoyed them too!)

And if you know of any kids who would enjoy such a devotional, please pass along the URL: http://bibledrivethru.blogspot.com. It's updated daily.

(This devotion, "Perfect Timing," is for February 5)
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TODAY’S SPECIAL:
Genesis 41:1-16, 39,40

TO CHEW ON: “Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘Since God has made this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.’” (Genesis 41:39,40)

Two years passed after the cup bearer was set free, Joseph was still in prison.

One night Pharaoh had a dream. It scared him and he wanted to know what it meant. But when he called his wise men and magicians, they couldn’t tell him the meaning of the dream.

Then someone remembered a dream he had had, and the young Hebrew prisoner who told him what it meant. It was the cupbearer. At last he remembered Joseph!

Servants came for Joseph. They took off his prison uniform, put new clothes on him and brought him to Pharaoh.



Pharaoh told Joseph his dream – and Joseph told him the meaning! Then Pharaoh did something amazing. He made Joseph the second boss in the whole land.

I’m sure Joseph often wondered, will the cupbearer ever think of me? Will I ever get out of here? But when it was God’s time, Joseph went from being a prisoner to a prince in one day!

PRAYER: Dear God, You have a perfect time for everything in my life. Thank you! Amen.

SUPERSIZE IT: Luck, Coincidence – or God?
Sometimes when things fit together perfectly, we call it good luck, or coincidence. But such times are really examples of God putting things together in the perfect way, at the perfect time.

Can you tell a story of a time when God did this for you?

Friday, January 18, 2008

new - 8


"This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who, being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.

But you have not so learned Christ, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Jesus: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God in true righteousness and holiness."

- Ephesians 4:17-24 NKJV

Thursday, January 17, 2008

small



Clematis and guest

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: NATURE (Birds, Bees, Trees, Rocks, Mountains, Rivers, Clouds,...)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"A system part Kafka, part Stalin"

Words Ezra Levant used in his opening statement to describe Canadian Human Rights Commissions.

In the YouTube he makes his opening statement, then goes on to answer the commission examiner's questions.



Hat tip: Muslims Against Sharia Law

Sign petition "A Free Dominion Against HRCs"

book review: Searching for Eternity by Elizabeth Musser


Title: Searching for Eternity
Author: Elizabeth Musser
Publisher: Bethany House, 2007
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
ISBN: 076420372X

America with its strange food, impossible-to-understand English, and terrifying school -- bullies the size of football players -- is the last place Emile de Bonnery wants to be. Even finding a friend is small comfort. For he belongs back in France, living in the Lyon chateau with grandmother Mamie Madeleine.

He longs to be close to Papa, who comes and goes at the whim of his mysterious work. He wants to hear the story of the watch -- the birthday present Papa gave him two months before his fourteenth birthday. Always before Papa was there to tell him the stories behind his curious birthday presents. But a few days after he got the watch, he and Mama had to leave. “He’s taken up with another woman,” Mamie Madeleine told him. Then she sent Mama and him home to Atlanta to live with Grandma Bridgeman. Now Papa is out of his life entirely.

Elizabeth Musser begins Searching for Eternity by plunging us into these early days of Emile de Bonnery’s in 1960s Atlanta. She goes on to tell the story of how Emile makes his fatherless way through the next decades.

The plot is captivating, full of surprises and set within actual historical events. Despite appearances, Emile is sure that his father is really a spy and in trouble. After all, he was part of the French Resistance during the war and has always disappeared without explanation for weeks on end. Only this time he hasn’t come back.

Eternity, his one friend, a girl who is as much of an outcast as he is, mocks his theory until they make a discovery about his birthday watch. Eternity has her own issues which complicate things and entrench her and her siblings firmly into Emile’s world.

We follow Emile closely for the first while and then drop in on him at more sporadic intervals. Several decades after the narrative begins -- at the time of Klaus Barbie’s arrest and subsequent trial in the 199os -- all the various plot ends tie together.

The characters in the book are strong. Emile, who tells the story in first person, is convincing in his early days of homesickness as he substitutes French words for elusive English ones and aches for the familiar atmosphere, friends, food and family of Lyon. Our sympathies with him only grow as he matures into a thoughtful young man.

Strong, determined Eternity develops from a somewhat bossy, chip-on-the-shoulder adolescent into a beautiful, accomplished yet always mysterious woman. Grandmother Bridgeman gives the story a firm emotional center with her warmth and wise spiritual counsel. Finally, Jean Baptiste de Bonnery, Emile’s father, overshadows the whole book, though he makes appearances mostly in flashbacks in Emile’s memory.

Musser has a captivating storytelling style. We are party to Emile’s thoughts as he tries to make sense of the mysterious pieces of his father’s life, understand why his father abandoned him and gain the courage to embrace adult life in spite of the disappointments of childhood. During this coming-of-age process Musser always manages to be appropriate to Emile’s changing maturity level. Introspection interspersed with action give the story depth -- as in this bit of conversation between Eternity and Emile from his first months in Atlanta. Eternity begins:

I’ve never felt homesick for a place I’ve known ... but sometimes I feel homesick for something I’ll know in the future. Sometimes I can almost see it or feel it. A place where children are happy and grownups get along and there is respect and order and sunshine and I’ll never run out of books to read!'

It was a new idea, being homesick for the future, but I understood and smiled. "Like a gigantic safe room."

…I sat on the steps trying to make this ambush of strange feelings go away. I missed Lyon, missed Mamie Madeleine….Part of me longed to get on a plane a fly straight back to Lyon. But the other part of me ached for Eternity Jones and her family. And I wondered how it could hurt so much to be thinking about people I had known for less than three weeks.

Musser handles the growing relationship between Emile and Eternity with an ever-so-deft touch, making it believable and sweet but never saccharine. Additionally, her familiarity with the French language and culture as well as the city of Lyon makes the book a rich and convincing read.

In the theme department the story explores love in various guises including the love of fathers for sons and sons for fathers, parents for children, extended family and friends for each other, the love of sweethearts, and the love of God for us all. Bullying, from schoolyard bullying to the behavior of abusive parents and war criminals, is another thread that winds through the story. Eternity’s journalistic interest in the civil rights movement focuses our attention on the racial bullying that society sometimes sanctions. Betrayal, revenge and forgiveness also play big parts in Emile’s narrative.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed Searching for Eternity. It opened my eyes to an element of World War II -- the French Resistance -- that I had heard of only in passing. Its double-edged title had me guessing till the finish. And its ending left me with a sense of hope. If you’re looking for a book to liven up the cold, dull days of winter, Searching for Eternity is an excellent choice.

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And a few more goodies...
Elizabeth Musser on the web.
Elizabeth Musser interviewed by Ane Mulligan at Novel Journey.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

new - 7


"Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."

- Hebrews 10:19-22 NKJV

Monday, January 14, 2008

life on the pond

Yesterday felt like spring with sunshine and cheery birdsong. So we went for a long walk in Rotary Park.

For most of the way the paved path follows Nikomekl Creek. But the pathway and the surrounding grassy marshes are low, with water spilling over the pathway in many places. In other spots the path has accumulations of rippled sand or mud where water has recently receded from covering it altogether. We also pass several largish ponds. One of these is home to half of Langley's winter mallard population I'm sure. Here is a glimpse of life on the duck pond in winter.

watoto


We had the Watoto Children's Choir from Uganda in church Sunday morning. It is only one of 31 choirs from Watoto that tour the world, raising awareness and support for the Watoto children's villages. These are presently home to 1700 orphans in Uganda. They are run by Gary and Marilyn Skinner out of the Kampala Pentecostal Church. In 2007 Watoto opened a baby home called the Bullrushes that helps rescue and care for infants up to two years old often found abandoned on the street or in the garbage.

If the choir that is currently touring Canada comes to your town, don't miss them. The memory of their energy, joy-filled faces and angelic voices will stay with you long after the performance's last drum beat.

In the YouTube below, they perform one of the songs they sang for us today.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

new - 6


"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them and said, 'Take, eat; this is My body.'

Then He took the cup, and when He had given thanks He gave it to them, and they all drank from it.

And He said to them, 'This is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many. Assuredly, I say to you, I will no longer drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.'”

- Mark 14:22-25 NKJV

Saturday, January 12, 2008

r.a.i.n.



r - regular
a - abiding
i - interminable, incessant
n - non-step, never-ending

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For more bloggy January weather, look here.

ezra levant before kangaroo court

Human rights commissions are quasi-judicial government bodies that have taken it upon themselves to regulate Canadian freedom of speech and religion in ever more intrusive ways. Yesterday Ezra Levant appeared before such a commission in Calgary, Alberta. This was because of a complaint by an imam for Levant's decision to publish the Danish cartoons in the now-defunct-in-print Western Standard.

Before the interrogation began, he delivered an opening statement which lays bare many of the problems with these kangaroo courts and illustrates why every Canadian should be concerned. He may be bloody, but he is not bowed:

"When the Western Standard magazine printed the Danish cartoons of Mohammed two years ago, I was the publisher. It was the proudest moment of my public life. I would do it again today. In fact, I did do it again today. Though the Western Standard, sadly, no longer publishes a print edition, I posted the cartoons this morning on my website, ezralevant.com.

I am here at this government interrogation under protest. It is my position that the government has no legal or moral authority to interrogate me or anyone else for publishing these words and pictures. That is a violation of my ancient and inalienable freedoms: freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and in this case, religious freedom and the separation of mosque and state.

It is especially perverted that a bureaucracy calling itself the Alberta human rights commission would be the government agency violating my human rights. So I will now call those bureaucrats “the commission” or “the hrc”, since to call the commission a “human rights commission” is to destroy the meaning of those words..."


Read his complete statement here.

Related:
-Bishop Henry calls for overhaul to human rights commissions
- Liberalism its own worst enemy

Friday, January 11, 2008

new - 5


"The disciples of John and of the Pharisees were fasting. Then they came and said to Him, “Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but Your disciples do not fast?”

And Jesus said to them, “Can the friends of the bridegroom fast while the bridegroom is with them? As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast. But the days will come when the bridegroom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast in those days.

No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; or else the new piece pulls away from the old, and the tear is made worse. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine bursts the wineskins, the wine is spilled, and the wineskins are ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins.”

- Mark 2:18-22 NKJV

I also blogged here today.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

anything


Sporeville

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Thursday Challenge

Next Week: SMALL (Insects, Animals, Children, Miniatures, Macro Photos,...)


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

new - 4

"He said to them, 'Therefore every teacher of the law who has been instructed about the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his storeroom new treasures as well as old.'" Matthew 13:42 NIV

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

ice? nice!

One of the ways weather impacts our lives is how it determines what we do for recreation. As someone who grew up in Saskatchewan, it was natural for me to take for granted things like skating outdoors in the winter. But you certainly can't count on a winter skate on an outdoor pond in the more temperate lower mainland of British Columbia where I live now.

In this era of indoor rinks, the weather is no longer a factor for activities like hockey, figure skating and curling. However it still is for skiing, snow-boarding, snowshoeing, dog-sledding and - ice sculpting.

Last week I got an email with some pretty amazing photos of ice sculptures. These are from one of the biggest ice and snow sculpture competitions on the globe, Harbin China. You certainly need an outdoor deep freeze to keep these building-sized ice structures intact. But the results, especially with the reflection of all the lights at night, are stunning. Dates of this year's festival are right now - January 6-13








And did you know there were ice hotels? These are actually giant igloos, converted into destination hotels. They are usually built beside rivers or lakes from which the builders draw water, freeze it and cut the ice into large blocks before trucking it into place. A large hotel takes five to six weeks to build.

The original ICEHOTEL is in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden. From an article on How Stuff Works:

ICEHOTEL boasts unique rooms, a starkly beautiful church and the ABSOLUT ICEBAR, where the bar and the glasses are all made from ice. During the day, the hotel opens to visitors who tour the rooms without staying the night. But at 6 p.m., the ice museum closes and overnight guests take over. They leave their luggage with a porter, who takes it to a heated storage area. Bathrooms and changing rooms are also heated. By 9 p.m., most people retire to their rooms. Guests wear long underwear and sleep in mummy bags on ice blocks covered by mattresses and reindeer skins.
- read the rest

There is also an ice hotel in Quebec (Hotel de Glace Inc.). It is Located at the Station touristique Duchesnay on the shores of Lake St. Joseph and comes complete with a chapel for weddings. Check out these photos.

As for the weather here - today I woke up to snow. But it's currently raining. My town would be a heartbreak of a place for ice sculptors.

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To learn more about the weather all over blogland, go this post at Rebecca Writes.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

new - 3



"Then I will give them one heart and I will put a new spirit within them, and take the stony heart out of their flesh, and give them a heart of flesh."
- Ezekiel 11:19 NKJV

"I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."
- Ezekiel 36:26 NKJV

happy birthday Mr. Doré

Today is the birthday of French book illustrator Gustave Doré. He was born in Strasbourg, France, in 1832. Doré's drawings were noticed by the time he was five. He never took art lessons, but by the age of 15 he had published his first illustrated story. At 16 he moved to Paris and became the highest paid illustrator in France. Most of his drawings are wood engravings or steel engravings.

He was given the job of illustrating an English version of the Bible which was published in 1866. The hundreds of Bible illustrations he drew were used in Bibles of every language in the 19th century.



Because his work is now in the public domain, you will find many of his drawings bringing to life the stories in my kids' devotional Bible Drive-Thru.

Mr. Doré died in January 23, 1883. He was only 51.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

book review: Simplify Your Time by Marcia Ramsland


Title: Simplify Your Time
Author: Marcia Ramsland
Publisher: Thomas Nelson, 2006
Genre: Self-help
ISBN: 0849914582

Think about a time management topic, from how to overcome habitual lateness to how to make a five-year plan, and you’ll probably find something about it in Simplify Your Time. This motivational self-help book by Marcia Ramsland, a 23-year organizing pro, could well become one’s time management textbook, stuffed as it is with wisdom and practical suggestions.

Ramsland has written and organized the book for readers who are busy. It is made up of thirty short chapters (one per day for a month). These are divided into four weeks, each one dealing with a different aspect of time management: “Week 1 - Time-saving habits” (includes overcoming habitual lateness, clutter management, how to change a habit), “Week 2 - Time-saving tools” (includes how to control your calendar, choose a daily planner, make a personal project list), “Week 3 - Time-saving skills (includes discovering your weekly rhythm, tips on multi-tasking and delegating), and “Week 4 - Time-saving strategies” (includes how to make a five-year plan, set goals in every department of life, establish a network of family and friends). She rounds out the book with a list time management resources found in print and on the web.

Ramsland’s writing style is direct, yet always warm and encouraging. She entices the reader into each chapter with quotes by time efficiency experts like John Maxwell and vignettes from her interactions with clients. Bulleted lists, charts and font variety add visual interest and clarity. In addition she has sprinkled 101 “Time-Saving Tips” in easy-to-spot text boxes throughout the chapters. These are not a regurgitation of what she’s already said but in addition to it, augmenting in a concise way what she is explaining in the text. Each chapter ends with three practical things one can do to put her ideas into action.

I found the book not only encouraging but inspirational. Pointed bits of wisdom like “Two-minute pickups are tasks that are too short to write on a to-do list but that slow the pace of your life when they are ignored too long,” and “Remember the most important time you spend in a day is the time you spend planning tomorrow,” have already impacted my daily routines.

Warnings like “The reality is that if you don’t plan for your future, other people (boss, coworkers, spouse, children) will plan your life for you, or your daily routine will swallow up any chance you have to change your lifestyle,” have prodded me into thinking long-range.

I like the way the book progresses from talking about small specific things like how to change a bad habit to discussing big general things like implementing long-range planning strategies. This movement from specific to general helped me understand how the cumulative effect of many small changes can make a big impact on the future.

Trouble is, the book is so full of good ideas I couldn’t absorb them all in one read. It’s a book I will want to re-read – and more than once.

If, like me, you’ve resolved to make better use of your time this year, Marcia Ramsland’s Simplify Your Time may be just the book for you too.

Friday, January 04, 2008

new - 2



"Behold, the former things have come to pass,
And new things I declare;
Before they spring forth I tell you of them."
- Isaiah 42:9 NKJV

"Behold I will do a new thing.
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert."
- Isaiah 43:19 NKJV

Thursday, January 03, 2008

web camboree


There's nothing like a web cam for snooping on weather almost anywhere. We usually check the web cams of these mountain passes before we make a trip to the interior.

Coquihalla Snowshed cam (elevation 980 meters)
Coquihalla Summit cam (elevation 1220 meters)
Brenda Mine cam - on the Okanagan Connector (elevation 1230 metres)

Of course, web cams are good for a lot more than checking on road conditions and weather. Cams set up at local spots of congestion - like ferries, bridges and border crossings help gauge the lineups so you can plan your trip.

This B.C. government page has links to web cams stationed on highways all around the province.

This Greater Vancouver Regional District (GVRD) page has links to the dozens of web cams around the lower mainland.



Today the weather where I live is cloudy and mild (9C). The proof is in the web cam shot I just snatched from the screen of the Langley Redwood Golf Course cam (the closest web cam to where I live). Click on the link during daylight hours for our current weather whenever you happen to be reading this.

Should you want to keep an eye on traffic in Croatia, watch Niagra Falls or check on the weather in Capetown, this earth cam page (five pages of links) will give you your fill of cams from all over the world.

They also have a list of the 25 most interesting web cams of 2007.

Now surf on over to Rebecca Writes, especially on any Tuesday and Friday in January to read about the weather in the rest of blogland. Rebecca is hosting a weather theme all month. Join in by posting something about the weather where you live, then go here to find out how to be part of Weather Reporting in blogland.

shopping



Bargain Warriors
(West Edmonton Mall, Edmonton Alberta)

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Next week: ANYTHING (Your all time favorite photo, Your favorite photo from last year, A photo of anything,...)

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

new - 1


He has put a new song in my mouth --
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord
- Psalm 40:3 NKJV

Oh, sing to the Lord a new song!
Sing to the Lord all the earth.

- Psalm 96:1 NKJV

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A little word of explanation. In December this Rebecca did a 12-part series on 'light.' It was all scriptures about light, and how Jesus is the light. I enjoyed it -- how the simple scripture verses stood alone yet resonated with each other and all together painted a lovely picture of light.

It was then I had the thought of doing something like that myself. And so, in keeping with January and its place at the beginning of the new year, I have put together a series of verses about 'new' things. I hope it will give you a sense of new beginnings, new life and the new hope that a new year can bring.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year!




Today I came across another poem featuring the hourglass. In "Testament" Hayden Carruth says

"Yet not only our lives drift down. The stuff
of ego with which we began, the mass
in the upper chamber, filters away
as love accumulates below..."

Read entire

Happy New Year to all who read here. May the hours, days, weeks and months flow smoothly from your future to your past, accumulating a big beautiful pile of love.

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(Psst - today Bible Drive-Thru - my devotional for kids -ages 8-12- goes live.)

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