Come visit Monochrome Friday for more of the world in black and white.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Title: The Last Jihad
Author: Joel Rosenberg
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Forge / Tom Doherty Associates, Hardcover, 352 pages (December 1, 2002)
The political thriller, The Last Jihad by Joel Rosenberg is a little dated (Sadam Hussein was still around in 2002 and figures large on the book’s villain list) but a fast-paced and exciting read nonetheless. His fleshing out of the worst ‘what if” terrorist scenario, as witnessed by the political insiders closest to the fictitious U.S. president, is detailed, realistic and unthinkable.
The story is told in a fast-paced, almost cinematic way. The cat-and-mouse action switches from Denver, to Israel, to London, to Jerusalem to Air Force One within chapters. I must admit once in a while I wondered exactly where I was, with whom, and had to check the back story to remind myself of what they did.
Maybe the largeness of the cast and the flatness of the main actors in this plot-driven tale were partly to blame. No one sparkles, but why Rosenberg chose Jon Bennett, the most wooden of the bunch, as his main man is beyond me.
This is a book that is friendly to America, Israel and Christianity. Though Rosenberg handles the theme of having a personal faith in Jesus with subtlety, it comes through in the words and actions of the President and the main female character.
Another theme that pervades the book is Rosenberg’s obvious delight in food. From hamburgers consumed on the run to spicy roast lamb dinners served in exotic middle-eastern settings, his luscious descriptions of cuisine of all types practically jump off the page.
This Clancy-type thriller will probably keep you riveted into the night – though I can’t guarantee you won’t experience the occasional temptation to get up and check what’s to eat in your fridge.
Watch his interview with 100 Huntley Street (October 2007), where he tells the story of how The Last Jihad, which was his first novel and spent 11 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list, came to be written.
Monday, January 26, 2009
We had a visitor this weekend. Our little guy is now 10 months old and growing up way too fast. He's not walking yet but getting around very well on all fours, so why spoil a good thing?
He's starting to mimic behavior. He made cow sounds when we dumped out the farm set and later made zooming motions with his hands to copy what his mom does with the spoon when she feeds him.
He hates hats, but when Grandpa plopped his birthday hat on Liam's head, he held very still so I could take the photo.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
"They were forbidden by the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia." (Acts 16:6)
It is interesting to study the methods of His guidance as it was extended towards these early heralds of the Cross. It consisted largely in prohibitions, when they attempted to take another course than the right.
.... Beloved, whenever you are doubtful as to your course, submit your judgment absolutely to the Spirit of God, and ask Him to shut against you every door but the right one. Say, "Blessed Spirit, I cast on Thee the entire responsibility of closing against my steps any and every course which is not of God. Let me hear Thy voice behind me whenever I turn to the right hand or the left."
In the meanwhile, continue along the path which you have been already treading. Abide in the calling in which you are called unless you are clearly told to do something else.
F. B. Meyer, Paul (Quoted in Streams in the Desert by Mrs. Charles E. Cowman)
Photo: Footbridge over the Nicomekl River - Langley, BC - Closed earlier this month when rain and melting snow caused high water levels and flooding.
Friday, January 23, 2009
These are from a book called Disorder in the Court, and are things people actually said in court, word for word, taken down and now published by court reporters who had the torment of staying calm while these exchanges were actually taking place.
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci sweats and Reeboks.
ATTORNEY: This myasthenia gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget.
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATTORNEY: What was the first thing your husband said to you that morning?
WITNESS: He said, 'Where am I, Cathy?'
ATTORNEY: And why did that upset you?
WITNESS: My name is Susan!
ATTORNEY: Do you know if your daughter has ever been involved in voodoo?
WITNESS: We both do.
WITNESS: We do.
ATTORNEY: You do?
WITNESS: Yes, voodoo.
ATTORNEY: Now doctor, isn't it true that when a person dies in his sleep, he doesn't know about it until the next morning?
WITNESS: Did you actually pass the bar exam?
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the twenty-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: Uh, he's twenty.
ATTORNEY: She had three children, right?
ATTORNEY: How many were boys?
ATTORNEY: Were there any girls?
WITNESS: Are you for real? Your Honour, I think I need a different attorney. Can I get a new attorney?
ATTORNEY: How was your first marriage terminated?
WITNESS: By death.
ATTORNEY: And by whose death was it terminated?
WITNESS: Now whose death do you suppose terminated it?
ATTORNEY: Can you describe the individual?
WITNESS: He was about medium height and had a beard.
ATTORNEY: Was this a male or a female?
ATTORNEY: Is your appearance here this morning pursuant to a deposition notice which I sent to your attorney?
WITNESS: No, this is how I dress when I go to work.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All my autopsies are performed on dead people. Would you like to rephrase that?
ATTORNEY: ALL your responses MUST be oral, OK? What school did you go to?
ATTORNEY: Do you recall the time that you examined the body?
WITNESS: The autopsy started around 8:30 p.m.
ATTORNEY: And Mr. Denton was dead at the time?
WITNESS: No, he was sitting on the table wondering why I was doing an autopsy on him!
ATTORNEY: Are you qualified to give a urine sample?
WITNESS: Huh....are you qualified to ask that question?
And the best for last:
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practicing law.
Thanks to my s-i-l Marilyn and her good old email chainvine for this.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Big congratulations to Shelley Haggard, a fellow poet and member of MSA Poets Potpourri for having three of her poems included in The New Poetry - In Love - a collection of poems published by Copeland Books of North Wales, UK.
Way to go, Shelley!!
Maybe you're tempted to try your luck in a contest.
The Ontario Poetry Society sponsors several. Their Golden Grassroots Chapbook Contest has a deadline of April 30, 2009. All the details are here.
I heard from The Ontario Poetry Society about another contest -- today in fact. The results of the Open Heart Poetry Contest were announced a week ago. My poem "To Mother" placed among the top 19 (winners included one first place and 18 honorable mentions). This came in today's mail. (So sweet:)
For Christian poets, The 9th Annual Utmost Christian Writers Poetry Contest is now taking entries. All must be postmarked on or before February 28, 2009.
When you take pictures from inside a moving vehicle, you don't know what you're going to get. I like the painterliness of the hills upon hills and the soft peach-yellow of the sky in this scene. It's a view of Okanagan Lake from the road between Vernon and Kelowna, BC.
Next Week: CONTAINER (Cup, Can, Box, Basket, Bog, Pan, Envelope, Shipping,...)
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I first posted this in 2005. I re-post it today as part of the Wednesday series of life-changing stories.
Here are a few paragraphs from John Bunyan’s autobiography Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners (Part 2) telling of some of the events surrounding his conversion.
HIS CONVERSION AND PAINFUL EXERCISES OF MIND, PREVIOUS TO HIS JOINING THE CHURCH AT BEDFORD.
37. But upon a day, the good providence of God did cast me to Bedford, to work on my calling (he was a tinker); and in one of the streets of that town, I came where there were three or four poor women sitting at a door in the sun, and talking about the things of God; and being now willing to hear them discourse, I drew near to hear what they said, for I was now a brisk talker also myself in the matters of religion, but now I may say, I heard, but I understood not; for they were far above, out of my reach; for their talk was about a new birth, the work of God on their hearts, also how they were convinced of their miserable state by nature; they talked how God had visited their souls with his love in the Lord Jesus, and with what words and promises they had been refreshed, comforted, and supported against the temptations of the devil.
Moreover, they reasoned of the suggestions and temptations of Satan in particular; and told to each other by which they had been afflicted, and how they were borne up under his assaults. They also discoursed of their own wretchedness of heart, of their unbelief; and did contemn, slight, and abhor their own righteousness, as filthy and insufficient to do them any good.
38. And methought they spake as if joy did make them speak; they spake with such pleasantness of Scripture language, and with such appearance of grace in all they said, that they were to me, as if they had found a new world, as if they were people that dwelt alone, and were not to be reckoned among their neighbours (Num 23:9).
39. At this I felt my own heart began to shake, as mistrusting my condition to be nought; for I saw that in all my thoughts about religion and salvation, the new birth did never enter into my mind, neither knew I the comfort of the Word and promise, nor the deceitfulness and treachery of my own wicked heart. As for secret thoughts, I took no notice of them; neither did I understand what Satan's temptations were, nor how they were to be withstood and resisted, &c.
40. Thus, therefore, when I had heard and considered what they said, I left them, and went about my employment again, but their talk and discourse went with me; also my heart would tarry with them, for I was greatly affected with their words, both because by them I was convinced that I wanted the true tokens of a truly godly man, and also because by them I was convinced of the happy and blessed condition of him that was such a one.
41. Therefore I should often make it my business to be going again and again into the company of these poor people, for I could not stay away; and the more I went amongst them, the more did question my condition; and as I still do remember, presently I found two things within me, at which I did sometimes marvel, especially considering what a blind, ignorant, sordid, and ungodly wretch but just before I was; the one was a very great softness and tenderness of heart, which caused me to fall under the conviction of what by Scripture they asserted; and the other was a great bending in my mind to a continual meditating on it, and on all other good things which at any time I heard or read of.
42. 'By these things' my mind was now so turned, that it lay like a horse leech at the vein, still crying out, Give, give (Prov 30:15); yea, it was so fixed on eternity, and on the things about the kingdom of heaven, that is, so far as I knew, though as yet, God knows, I knew but little; that neither pleasures, nor profits, nor persuasions, nor threats, could loosen it, or make it let go his hold; and though I may speak it with shame, yet it is in very deed a certain truth, it would then have been as difficult for me to have taken my mind from heaven to earth, as I have found it often since to get it again from earth to heaven.'
(Complete index for Grace Abounding)
For more ‘Faith Stories,’ check postings and links at Rebecca Writes
Monday, January 19, 2009
The Grinch, Nature or Old Age gave me a gift on Christmas Eve. I first noticed it as a darting spot on the computer screen when I checked my email.
I rubbed my eyes, blinked numerous times then looked at the monitor again. It hadn't gone away. Instead it hovered right beside the words I was reading and then, the second I moved my eyeball to see what it really was, darted away like a mischievous child.
Now I'd had visual impostors before. Floaters, they're called. Always in the past they had drifted through my visual field - occasional lazy black snowflakes that just disappeared. This was different.
Since I had no pain and could easily function I ignored the nuisance through a hectic Christmas day. However, when it was still there on the 26th I decided to do some deeper sleuthing.
Googling "visual spots" and "retina" yielded some alarming possibilities - retinal tears, detachment, blurry vision, vision loss. Frightened, I made an ASAP appointment with a local optometry clinic.
The result was a relief. A floater it was, though a big one, the optometrist said. The bad news, it will hang around indefinitely. More good news, our brains typically weary of registering such non-objects, learn to ignore them and we become oblivious to their presence. Unfortunately my brain isn't there yet.
This constant companion brought to mind a little poem I memorized as a kid. Here it is, modified just a tad to fit my situation.
(With apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson)
I have a little floater that goes in and out with me
And what can be the use of her is more than I can see.
She is very very jumpy like a little black fruit fly
As she swoops and flits and quivers 'round the corner of my eye.
The funniest thing about her is the way she never stares
me full face-on but rather lurks beside me unawares
like a glass chip in a window, cobweb fragment, spot or thread
she’s a bit of protein darting through the humor of my head.
She hasn’t got a notion of how floaters shouldn’t stay
within one’s line of vision but should gently drift away.
The way she hovers near me, paranoia it must be
I’d think shame to stick to anyone like floater sticks to me.
Perhaps one morning early when my desktop is alight
I’ll rise and find my page displays without a spot in sight.
My annoying little floater will be nowhere about
because my brain has finally figured how to tune her out!
© 2009 by Violet Nesdoly
Saturday, January 17, 2009
This morning while putting together soup and dessert for Sunday lunch, I had the radio tuned to CKNW. Good choice for a Saturday morning if it's between 10:00 and 11:00 because you get to listen to Wise Quacks - the funniest medical information and phone-in show I've ever heard.
Drs. Dave Hepburn and Rob Sealey are masters of turning serious medical issues into yuck-yucks. But while we're laughing, we're learning stuff as well.
For an example of their humor, here is part of the 2009 Lifestyle Inventory quiz found on the Wise Quacks site:
With the year 2009 upon us, it behooves us to take inventory of just how healthy our lifestyle is. How do you score?
* Realizing that donating blood actually decreases your chance of a heart attack, you donate blood every three months +50 pts
... While playing hockey -35 pts
... For the Leafs -99 pts
* Your LDL cholesterol is low and your HDL cholesterol is high +50 pts.
* Your blood pressure is low and your hemoglobin is high +60 pts.
* Your prescription medicine is unexpectedly low and your roommate is high -75 pts.
...and on it goes.
Today the topic was body stones. We've all probably heard about gallstones and kidney stones, but I had no idea there were prostate stones, saliva, tonsil and cochlear (ear) stones as well. Apparently wherever an organ is a channel for fluids, stones can develop.
Wise Quacks broadcasts on the Corus radio network across Canada. Times and stations are listed on the Wise Quacks website too. If it broadcasts in your area, give it a listen. Visiting a doctor was never this much fun before!
Friday, January 16, 2009
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
(seen on Telegraph Cove whale watch trip
off Vancouver Island, BC)
Next Week: EXPERIMENTAL (Interesting Photographic Effects, Failed/Strange Photos, Blurry, Overexposed,...)
Of course I'd liked to have scored higher. But when I plugged in one of the best written blogs I read, Cerulean Sanctum, and found my blog rated higher, let's just say I take these results with a largish grain of salt.
Want to find out how your blog rates? Go here, plug your blog's url into the search line and click on "search blogs." If it hasn't been rated, you can ask for a rating.
What are ratings based on? "Editor reviews provided by professional editors on the basis of frequency of updates, relevance of content, site design, and writing style."
Hmmm - 'Relevance of content?' - Wonder how they judged that? As far as I'm concerned, if it interests me, it's relevant! Anyone who reads here knows this blog is unapologetically all over the place.
Time for another life-changing story. This time we'll hear from Marcia Laycock, writer and minister's wife from Blackfalds Alberta.
It was on the road to Mayo, Yukon. I was going to visit a friend, determined not to think about God or religion or any of the baffling questions my husband kept bringing up. But no matter what I tried, my mind would not rest. The question of God’s existence and what he had to do with me would not go away. In desperation, I pulled my vehicle into a lookout point about the Stewart River.
The beautiful river valley stretched out below, but I barely saw it. In turmoil, I challenged God to do something to prove He was there. Then I realized how foolish I was, talking to a God I did not really believe existed...
Read Marcia's story "The Day God Laughed".
Saturday, January 10, 2009
E. and I went on a field trip today - to the Vancouver Downtown Eastside.
A little about the Downtown Eastside (DTES). It's about a 10-block-square area which is home to approximately 16,000 people of which 4,700 are intravenous drug users and 1500 are homeless. There are apparently as many people on the streets as there are in shelters. Police report that 50% of calls they get from the area involve mental illness. The DTES has the dubious distinction of being Canada's poorest postal code.
Today we went with a group from our church. CLA's history of helping out on the Downtown Eastside began most directly when a former pastor (Gordon Wiebe) decided to go there as a missionary. Sometime in the early 2000s he resigned his position and moved from his home in Langley into one of the DTES rooming houses. The story of what happened is told more fully here.
Now, seven years later, he lives in the Dodson Hotel and through Community Builders helps run three rooming houses - the Dodson, the Jubilee Rooms and Powell Rooms. In the last year people from our church have been going down the Dodson (25 East Hastings) every two weeks to lend a hand. They work on building relationships with the residents as well as helping with upkeep (cleaning rooms, plugging mouse holes, fixing plumbing etc.). In the last few months they've also helped with a renovation that will see the former pub converted into a kitchen and a meeting room.
This very rainy cold day started out as we boarded the bus at 9:00 a.m.
Even some politicians were in attendance (Mark Warawa our MP and Langley Mayor Peter Fassbender).
Thank you to Lisa who was an amazing tour guide. She filled our drive into Vancouver with interesting facts and stories about her DTES experiences and helped us debrief on the way home.
When we got to our destination, Gordon Wiebe boarded the bus for a few minutes and talked about the "Ten Competing Forces in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside." (I really like the list he gave us of ten helper types with their various philosophies - like harm reduction, missions, social housing, activism etc. It has given me a set of pigeon holes into which I can now file the things I hear about the DTES.)
Next our assignment was to break into small groups and:
1. do a walkabout, looking for examples of the ten forces listed on our handout.
2. eat lunch (we were issued a list of eateries).
3. make our way to the Dodson for a brief tour.
It was about 11:00 a.m. when we got started and we were in the capable hands of "orange shirts" Kevin and Esther, who are frequent helpers at the Dodson. Kevin piloted us to the Carnegie Center where we used the clean public washrooms.
Then we braved the rain again and walked several blocks past the Jacob's Well (one of the DTES missions) to The Jubilee Rooms.
Outside the streets were pretty quiet, but it gradually grew livelier as the noon hour passed. Though many locals carried umbrellas or wore jackets with hoods, they still looked cold, waterlogged, and miserable.
Carnegie Center for lunch. The Carnegie is a central community meeting place with a library, a room with tables for games, even a gym, and of course the kitchen and dining room for meals. Kevin told us memberships cost $1.00 a year. The washrooms are lit with UV bulbs to discourage shooting up in them, and there are no spoons - a handy shoot-up tool - in the cutlery trays. We lined up with area residents for a choice of chicken-mushroom pie or rice with curry sauce, and green or beet salad. It was served in generous platefuls, very yummy and only cost $1.75 (cooked by volunteers).
Insite clinic (where people can inject illegal drugs in a supervised and clean environment using sterile needles). Next to the Dodson is a recycle place, which was busy with men and women doing trades of all kinds on the street. Across the street from the Dodson is the Pennsylvania Hotel - an old hotel which the government took seven years to renovate and now contains 44 suites of social housing (it was a big good-news item on the six o-clock a couple of nights ago)
The trip gave us lots to think about. Issues are tough and solutions are complex. Would you be able, in good conscience, to run a rooming house where people don't have to be off drugs to be allowed to stay? What are the options? We had a long discussion when we got home (all the while giving thanks for creature comforts - coffee, muffin and the cozy fireplace).
Friday, January 09, 2009
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
There's nothing quite as interesting and inspiring to me as hearing how God draws people to Himself and works in their lives. In the weeks ahead, I'd like to share a few of these life-changing stories. I'll introduce some with a few paragraphs and a link, others will be told in full here.
Jan Keats is a fellow Canadian writer. Her story titled "My Two-year Journey to the Lord," begins:
My husband and I lived in Fort McMurray in the early 1980’s. Our 3 children were born there. After awhile I began to feel desperately lonely. I wanted my children to be surrounded by family and the only way that could happen was to move back east. With some persuading my husband did agree to take the risk but now it meant that my husband had to look for employment elsewhere.
Soon after our move back to NL, my mother-in-law suggested that I take my children to Sunday school. Like a good Mom I sent them with someone else. It wasn’t long before I was going along to watch my children’s performances in choir and other events at the church. From the very first service I felt something within me that I hadn’t felt before. I couldn’t describe it because I didn’t know what it was. But it made me curious enough to want to go back and try to decipher the experience....
Read the rest of "My Two Year Journey to the Lord" on Jan's blog.
Do you have a life-changing story to tell? Either email it to me, or post it on your blog and leave a comment here with the URL and I'll link to it in a future "Life Changing Stories Wednesday."
Monday, January 05, 2009
We just saw a very disturbing story about compact fluorescent light bulbs - those curly bulbs with which we're told to replace all our incandescent bulbs (in fact, incandescents are set to be banned in Canada by 2012).
Global's investigative journalism show 16:9 exposed compact fluorescents for causing an unsightly rash in some people (the bulbs don't block UV rays) and for causing migraines in others (due to what is called 'dirty electricity' - i.e. some emit radio waves way higher than is normal with other light bulbs).
Even more disturbing is the unwillingness of Health Canada or any other regulating agency to talk about these CFL finds. The show's investigative team finally got some straight answers when they talked to researchers in England.
I have a feeling we haven't heard the last of this.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
For a few hours yesterday we had a reprieve from winter. After having lunch with dear friends, the sun came out so we decided to go for a walk at the beach.
White Rock was bright and gorgeous - with no snow (well, a few rotten piles in the parking lot, but nothing to speak of)! We enjoyed the walking ease, blue sky, boats and birds.
This morning it all seemed like a dream. Back here the snow never disappeared. This morning the sky was pregnant with it again and all day the white stuff sifted down. We are in a world of white. The temperatures are supposed to warm overnight bringing us rain -- days and days of rain.
Am I ever glad we squandered our one clear afternoon at the beach!
Friday, January 02, 2009
...or starting the new year off on the right foot
(though I did not write the poem):
I asked the Lord to tell me
Why my house is such a mess.
He asked if I'd been 'computering',
And I had to answer 'yes.'
He told me to get off my fanny
And tidy up the house.
And so I started cleaning up...
The smudges off my mouse.
I wiped and shined the topside.
That really did the trick...
I was just admiring my work..
I didn't mean to 'click.'
But click, I did, and oops I found
A real absorbing site
That I got SO way into.
I was into it all night.<
Thursday, January 01, 2009
The Gate of the Year
I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
"Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown."
And he replied, "Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!"
So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.
So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?
In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention.
"God knows. His will
Is best. The stretch of years
Which wind ahead, so dim
To our imperfect vision,
Are clear to God. Our fears
Are premature. In Him
All time hath full provision.
Then rest; until
God moves to lift the veil
From our impatient eyes,
When, as the sweeter features
Of life's stern face we hail,
Fair beyond all surmise,
God's thought around His creatures
Our minds shall fill."
by Minnie Haskins (1875-1957) from a poem of hers called "God Knows", in a collection, The Desert, published in 1908.
(Note: the last stanza of the poem was provided by an anonymous reader to the Line upon line blog [where it was published in January 2008]. Thank you! I'm not sure if there should be stanza breaks.)
Minnie Louise Haskins (1875 - 1957)
I first saw this poem on Just Thinking. Nancy tells us the story of the poem and its author here.
Related: "At the Gate of the Year"
This poem became widely known when King George VI quoted part of it in his 1939 Christmas message. Listen to King George VI's Christmas message, 1939 (audio).