My Favorite Shows

I have a literal love-hate relationship with the television.  As a kid I was a TV-junkie. After school, I’d watch anything, from Sesame Street to Mr. Rogers and especially Power Rangers (but NOT Goosebumps or Saved by the Bell). My older brother would record V.R. Troopers every morning before school and I’d watch it when I got home; in the evenings the family would watch Sliders, or Star Trek: Next Generation, or MacGuyver, or Earth 2. TGIF meant Full House and America’s Funniest Home Videos with Bob Saget.  Saturday mornings were for lounging on the couch and watching kid shows like Wishbone, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Little Mermaid, and my personal favorite, Reboot.

We moved to Germany at a time in my life when I was learning the true meaning of trusting God. When I heard that a mustard seed faith can move a mountain (my mom explained that it wasn’t literal, although it could be if God wanted it to be), I decided to try it out: I told the TV to “go jump in a lake!” It was a half-joke as I imagined the TV growing legs (like Mike the TV!) and running out to find the nearest lakeside to jump into, but I was serious, for a 13 year old. Needless to say, 2 years in Germany and only one American (news) channel to watch, I learned to do other things.

The family still loves TV, and a part of me wants to indulge in a good show; sometimes I do give in at suppertime. We’ve watched shows that I enjoy like Emily of New Moon, Chuck, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and Body of Proof, and shows that I don’t care for like The 100, Lost, and Arrow. There’s a few shows that are actually good enough to add to my collection of DVDs…

MY TOP 5 SHOW SERIES

#5 Dr. Quinn

starring Jane Seymour and Joe Lando

I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Quinn. After re-watching it with my family, I decided: I love Jane Seymour as she plays the brilliant Medicine Woman from Colorado Springs.  The show’s end was melancholy, as if some of the cast didn’t want the book to close on their story, so to speak, but it was a fitting end.

#4 Monk

starring Tony Shalhoub and Ted Levine

“Unless I’m wrong, which, you know, I’m not…” –Adrian Monk

There are some shows that are enjoyed because it’s bizarre and strange, and then there are others because of it’s relatability.  For some reason Mr. Monk’s story has an uncanny resemblance to my life, or at least how I perceive my life to be.  The series finale gave the show a perfect surprise ending which resolved all the issues that were introduced in earlier episodes.

“…I could be wrong now, but I don’t think so! ‘Cause there’s a jungle out there.” -(Monk’s theme song: It’s a Jungle Out There, Randy Newman)

#3 Primeval

starring Andrew Lee Potts, Hannah Spearritt and Ben Miller

Monk may be relatable, but Primeval is bizarre and strange. It started out quirky, hard to follow, and it didn’t compare to the other British dramas I had watched: Wild at Heart and Monarch of the Glen.  But my little brother, fiercely into dinosaurs, was so excited about the family’s interest in the new sci-fi show that we gave into him and took a chance.  I tried to decide whether I liked the show enough to keep watching, but as the characters grew and the story-line was revealed, I was intrigued; and when it ended, even though it ended with a definite cliff-hanger and lead in to another series (or season, as we Americans call it), it was the ending of the show that finally tipped me over the edge to make me realize just how much I liked it and was going to miss it.  The cast that the show ended with was amazing; they told their story very well.

#2 Three Kingdoms RPG

starring Kenneth Ma, Raymond Lam, and Tavia Yeung

Lacy and I have recently (the past few years) gotten into Chinese history after playing Koei-Tecmo’s video game series Dynasty Warriors; we got hooked.  Three Kingdoms RPG would probably be my #1 favorite TV show of all time, except the finale’s ending was unnecessarily bad.  Next time we watch it, we’ll stop 30 minutes before the end. It’ll be perfect.

#1 BBC’s Merlin

starring Colin Morgan, Bradley James, Katie McGrath, Angel Coulby, and Richard Wilson

This show has had a bad rep since the show’s end. Fans (and no doubt the cast) can feel the taboo that enshrouds the show’s legacy.  But the truth is Merlin takes its place as my favorite show. The cast, script, and directing were magic. The storytelling was superb. But the show’s finale left fans feeling betrayed and hurt from tragedy. Personally, we had to wait for the ending to show on Netflix, so after reading the viewer comments online, how Christmas was ruined for many, I was pleasantly surprised when I enjoyed the show’s conclusion; the cast played it spectacularly.

Lacy does remind me: as she and I read spoilers and prepared ourselves for the worst of the worst (what we saw other fans expressing), we created our own conclusion; one that continued beyond the ending and resolved the Dragon’s final prophecy: “Though no man, no matter how great, can know his destiny, some lives have been foretold, Merlin. Arthur is not just a king. He is the once and future king. Take heart, for when Albion’s need is greatest, Arthur will rise again.” Maybe I’m biased, but our creativity helped me realize just how great Merlin continues to be, despite the silence of fans everywhere.

Other shows that ended too soon: Eleventh Hour (with Rufus Sewell and Marley Shelton), Terra Nova, and Animorphs.

Childhood favorites that I want to watch again: Due South, Early Edition, Lois and Clark, and Reboot.

So. With that said… Three Kingdoms RPG, Eleventh Hour, Due South, Merlin… is anyone up for an encore?

What’s YOUR favorite TV show, and why?

5 Signs of Sin Infestation

What is sin? The Bible, from cover to cover, explains it so well: sin is pictured diversely, as the muck in a dirty cup, as fiery arrows shot by the devil, as yeast in bread, but how about this for a picture: fleas. They crawl and lay their eggs, multiplying until they infest a pet or person’s hair; like that, sin finds itself a place in the heart, where feelings abide. It first plants itself in a mere thought, dormant and quiet. I hate my job. My husband doesn’t think I’m beautiful anymore. I wish my child was more obedient. Then like a flea egg, sin hatches, feeds, grows, and spreads.

The Bible actually does describe sinful people similarly in Isaiah 59:5, except as snakes and spiders, not fleas:

“They hatch cockatrice’ eggs, and weave the spider’s web: he that eateth of their eggs dieth, and that which is crushed breaketh out into a viper.” (KJV)

If you have a sin infestation, there are certain behaviors you might notice about yourself. Below are 5 signs to spot:

Sign 1 – Do you justify yourself instead of apologize?

Have you ever had someone catch you doing a wrong, they’re mad at you, and you’re like, “Don’t overreact!” or “That’s not who I am most of the time…” Yes, you have reasons, it’s your life and no one can make your choices, but talking yourself out of dealing with the guilt isn’t good. Best remedy is to acknowledge what’s wrong, say sorry and try to do right.

Sign 2 – Are you secretive and avoid telling the truth?

Keeping a secret is not a sin by principle, but covering up the truth may be a sign of sin. For example, imagine a man texts his ex. They flirt, and he sends her a picture of his recent trip to Hawaii, without explaining he went there with another girl. Later his girlfriend asks how her friend’s friend knows about Hawaii and he plays dumb to spare the lecture… yeah. That’s when the fleas are biting. In those cases, being an open book is the right thing.

Sign 3 – Do you feel hypocritical in how you act?

It’s tough to be called a hypocrite, but it’s worse when you notice it yourself. An example is a preacher on Sunday, condemning divorcees to hell, when he himself has been divorced 3 times. At the end of his sermon, he smiles and mentions how the saints will be called to heaven, teasing an elderly woman for her seat on the heavenly train next to him.  It’s not until he’s at home he realizes, “I’m a Pharisee.”

That’s spiritual fleas. The way to prevent the “double standard” problem is to live by God’s rules, not yours; refresh your knowledge of the Bible every day; and judge yourself before judging others.

Sign 4 – Has sin become habit, and a clean conscience not important?

Known as a numbed, or seared, conscience, a symptom of numbing is when you realize a guilty conscience is the lesser of two evils, the greater evil being life without sin. That means you will sin to stay satisfied and ignore the guilt. For example, imagine a woman has a hobby of reading romance novels. It’s indulgent, yes, but loneliness feels bad, she tells herself. The book leads her to sin, because she cannot stop reading when it comes to the graphic love affair. Afterwards, she feels guilty for reading it, but frankly, the reason of “Don’t read that, my conscience must stay clear” is not a convincing reason.

That’s why sin needs to be approached differently. A clean conscience should not be the reason, but rather, the reward, for not sinning. Piety cannot stop sin. Law has no power in the spiritual war. Love does, however. That’s why God created spouses, so a man or woman will not grow lonely, and He sent Jesus to cleanse us of all unrighteousness. But we should stay diligent in fighting the battle, otherwise, like fleas, sin will infest us and our hearts will soon begin to doubt, mock, deny, reject, and worse, even blaspheme God.

Sign 5 – Are you not able to have peace?

When peace can’t be had, and guilt stalks you, sin is somewhere nearby, but it might take detective work to find out where. For example, imagine a young, new defense attorney takes the case of a robber who stole from the store. The attorney decides, by suggestion of the thief, to steal the tape, edit the video, and remove the minutes where the thief enters the store and steals the item, gaining him the victory in court. It is a lawless and unethical way to win a case, but he doesn’t care.

Time goes by, he finds no peace within himself, and comes to the knowledge of God and believes. He finds it impossible to feel peace, but after learning about sin, realizes he must confess his sins. Robbing the store owner becomes the top of the list. Once right with God, peace flows.

That’s the opportunity we have in Jesus Christ. Faith, baptism, and prayer together make peace. God’s love is deep, far, wide, an ever-flowing fountain of peace. Ponder on it and it is yours.

Listen to my audio for more on fleas! #WorshipLog #PrayerPetition

Melania: To Design or Not to Design

Shakespeare’s famous quote “To be or not to be, that is the question” seems to be the motto of designers lately, when it comes to America’s next First Lady, Melania Trump: to design dresses or not design, that is the question.

Sophie Theallet, the fashion designer who asked her fellow designers to protest Melania as First Lady with her, has designed dresses for Michelle Obama, so I can only think she feels a sense of loyalty; when other designers decide whether they should join her, they can remember, it may not apply to their career the way it does Sophie’s. Unless a designer has endorsed Michelle Obama at some point, they need not follow the trend, just to suddenly “fit in”. Until Mrs. Obama makes a public statement protesting Mrs. Trump herself, telling loyalists to do the same, even designers who are Democrat can keep their integrity, continue forward with stride, and be willing to design for Melania Trump.

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The Saints Should Never be Dismayed

“Each one of you is part of the body of Christ, and you were chosen to live together in peace. So let the peace that comes from Christ control your thoughts. And be grateful. Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. Whatever you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, as you give thanks to God the Father because of him.” Colossians 3:15-17 (CEV)

The saints should never be dismayed, nor sink in hopeless fear; For when they least expect His aid, the Savior will appear.

William Cowper was a poet and hymnist living in 1731-1800.  He suffered from severe depression, so much that his friend John Newton asked him to co-write the hymn book Olney Hymns with him.  Cowper wrote many songs that mirrored his extreme melancholia, including “Far from the World, O Lord, I Flee”, “Heal Us, Emmanuel”, and “O for a Closer Walk with God”.  In the song that he wrote titled “The Saints Should Never be Dismayed”, he encourages Christians to never give up hope, no matter how impossible the circumstances are.  The song gives 3 different stories that we can take hope in.

This Abraham found, he raised the knife, GOD saw, and said, “Forbear;” Yon ram shall yield his meaner life, behold the victim there.

God asked Abraham to sacrifice the son that had been promised to him.  Through Isaac, Abraham would become the father of many nations, and yet God had asked him to place his son on the alter and sacrifice him.

Abraham could have lost hope in the circumstances. Why would God ask him to do that?  But Abraham trusted in God, and in his complete obedience God saved Isaac and praised Abraham for his faith.

And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built the altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar, upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of Jehovah called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him; for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and, behold, behind him a ram caught in the thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovah-jireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of Jehovah it shall be provided. And the angel of Jehovah called unto Abraham a second time out of heaven, and said, By myself have I sworn, saith Jehovah, because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heavens, and as the sand which is upon the sea-shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.” Genesis 22:9-18 (ASV)

Once David seemed Saul’s certain prey, but hark! The foe’s at hand; Saul turns his arms another way, to save th’ invaded land.

When David heard that Philistines were attacking a city, he asked God if he should go and save the city, and God’s answer was yes.  He asked twice when his men were afraid to go because they were being hunted by King Saul.  They knew that the city wasn’t safe for them, but God told them to go and defeat the Philistines, despite the fear they had.

When Saul heard that David had come to Keilah to protect the city, he thought that God had given David over to him.  He quickly went to Keilah to find David; but David hid in the wildernesses of Ziph and Maon and God protected David. Saul did not find him that day.

“And Saul went on this side of the mountain, and David and his men on that side of the mountain: and David made haste to get away for fear of Saul; for Saul and his men compassed David and his men round about to take them. But there came a messenger unto Saul, saying, Haste thee, and come; for the Philistines have made a raid upon the land. So Saul returned from pursuing after David, and went against the Philistines: therefore they called that place Sela-hammahlekoth [the rock of divisions] . And David went up from thence, and dwelt in the strongholds of En-gedi.” 1 Samuel 23:26-29 (ASV)

When Jonah sunk beneath the wave he thought to rise no more; But God prepared a fish to save, and bear him to the shore.

Jonah had fled from God’s calling for him, and when a storm hit and it seemed the boat would be lost, Jonah knew that God’s judgment had come for him and he couldn’t get away.  He was ready for death by drowning; embracing the judgment of his sin, he told the sailors to throw him overboard.  How could he have known that a fish would come and save him from the deep waters filling his lungs and ending his life?

And Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.”  Jonah 1:17 (ASV)

Blest proofs of pow’r and grace divine, that meet us in his word! May every deep-felt care of mine be trusted with the Lord.

The Bible shares other stories where the impossible causes circumstances to seem hopeless. In these stories, God shows his proof of power and grace divine.  We can have faith that our deep-felt care can be trusted with the Lord.

Think of the time Jesus met a widow who was burying her son. Her son had died, and she didn’t think there was any way out of her troubles.

When Jesus came near the town gate, he saw some people carrying a dead body. It was the only son of a woman who was a widow. Walking with her were many other people from the town. When the Lord saw the woman, he felt very sorry for her and said, “Don’t cry.” He walked to the open coffin and touched it. The men who were carrying the coffin stopped. Jesus spoke to the dead son: “Young man, I tell you, get up!” Then the boy sat up and began to talk, and Jesus gave him back to his mother.” Luke 7:12-15 (ERV)

Or also when Jesus and his disciples were out at sea, and a great storm blew over the sea.  Waves were filling the boat with water, and no doubt the men inside feared that the waters would overtake them. They didn’t realize the power that their Lord Jesus had over nature.

“When He got into the boat, His disciples followed Him. And suddenly a violent storm arose on the sea, so that the boat was being covered by the waves; but Jesus was sleeping. And the disciples went and woke Him, saying, “Lord, save us, we are going to die!” He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was [at once] a great and wonderful calm [a perfect peacefulness]. The men wondered in amazement, saying, “What kind of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” Matthew 8:23-27 (AMP)

Possibly the most amazing proof of God’s power to change circumstances is the story in John 20.  Mary Magdalene weeps because Jesus’s body is missing from the tomb, but her weeping quickly turns to joy as God shows his grace divine to mankind once again.

“Then the followers went back home. But Mary stood outside the tomb, crying. While she was still crying, she bent down and looked inside the tomb. She saw two angels dressed in white. They were sitting where Jesus’ body had been, one at the head and one at the feet.

They asked her, “Woman, why are you crying?”

She answered, “They have taken away my Lord. I don’t know where they have put him.” When Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know that it was Jesus.

Jesus asked her, “Woman, why are you crying? Whom are you looking for?”

Mary thought he was the gardener. So she said to him, “Did you take him away, sir? Tell me where you put him, and I will get him.”

Jesus said to her, “Mary.”

Mary turned toward Jesus and said in the Jewish language, “Rabboni.” (This means Teacher.)”

John 20:10-16 (ICB)

Wait for his seasonable aid, and though it tarry wait: The promise may be long-delayed, but cannot come too late.

Wait on the Lord.   He will come to your aid in His perfect timing.

My Original Song, Arpeggio Abduction

I must be a music geek somewhere in my core, because no one else in their right mind would be inspired by the music term “arpeggio” to compose a melody. Do you know what an arpeggio is? Quite a common music term, it is the fancy word for a broken chord, which usually is 3 or 4 notes long, but may be longer, ascending or descending tones. It makes a lovely sound. Beethoven used the technique, Bach used it, and video game music composers are fond of it, too, as is anyone. Final Fantasy fans may recognize the song title “Kuja’s Theme” from Final Fantasy 9, that has a series of arpeggios playing in the left hand of the piano, or at least, I think they are arpeggios, otherwise, they’re just a series of shattered chords, like broken glass… ascending it begins: D, A, D, F; then it descends: D, Ab, D…etc.

So lately, I’ve been neglecting my music. I haven’t played music in a long time, years maybe, which is bad for any budding musician. I simply have not the time for everything. It’s like when you are hungry, and you have to choose between meals, but you’re famished and want to eat everything on the menu; how can I make a choice when creativity can go whichever direction, but not all at the same time? I’m an octopus who can only move one tentacle at a time, ha ha.

However, I had to get back to music. I’ve been told that if I don’t play my Roland workstation, it’ll grow worn and the circuitry goes bad. So I went to it, pulled off the old, white sheet covering and dusted it, switching the ON switch, watching the green and red squares light up. My eyes grew a bit misty with regret from neglecting my talent. Music and I are old friends, yet we have been through a lot of arguments and debates, what with all the self-criticism and failed attempts.

One of my hardest troubles of composition is the technical side of audio recording. Lately though, I’ve decided to deem it a hobby rather than a profession, something I do for fun. I will be a bit easier on myself from now on (Lord willing lol).

I want to share one of my songs with you:

It’s titled “Arpeggio Abduction”. When I composed it, I pictured a great composer playing music in the night, when suddenly, he is beamed up into a UFO of dancing green aliens. At the end of the song, he is returned to his piano bench, and his playing continues, but he is forever changed…

 

 

The God of Many Chances

“Can you count the stars of evening that are shining in the sky?
Can you count the clouds that daily over all the world go by?
God the Lord, who doth not slumber, keepeth all the boundless number;
But He careth more for thee, but He careth more for thee.”

-verse 1 of “Can You Count the Stars?” by Johann W. Hey

“He counts the stars and names each one.” Psalm 147:4 (ICB)

The story of Jonah begins with God speaking to His prophet.  “Go and preach against the great city of Nineveh, for it is an evil place” was his call.  But Jonah knew the evil that was at Nineveh, and he decided to flee God’s call for him.  He wanted to go in the opposite direction, as far away from God’s call as he could.  So he headed to Tarshish instead.

God knew what Jonah was doing.  So he sent a storm to intercept the ship.  Jonah could not flee from His call. God had a plan for him.

But God used Jonah’s decision to flee for His glory. As the storm was raging, the men questioned Jonah about his God, and Jonah answered them truthfully, saying “I am a Hebrew; and I fear Jehovah, the God of heaven, who hath made the sea and the dry land.” (Jonah 1:9, ASV)  This caused the sailors to fear God and they offered sacrifices and vows to Him. God allowed Jonah to flee because He cares not only about His people the Hebrews, but also about the sailors who didn’t know Him.  God is the God of first chances.  He gives all people the chance to know Him personally.

“Can you count the birds that warble in the sunshine all the day?
Can you count the little fishes that in sparkling waters play?
God the Lord their number knoweth, for each one His care He showeth;
Shall He not remember thee? Shall He not remember thee?”

-verse 2 of “Can You Count the Stars?” by Johann W. Hey

“Look at the birds in the air. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns. But your heavenly Father feeds the birds.  And you know that you are worth much more than the birds.” Matthew 6:26 (ICB)

Jonah told the sailors to throw him into the water, and they did.  The storm ceased, and Jonah 1:17 tells us that “…Jehovah prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah; and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” (ASV)

Jonah prayed to God while he was in the fish’s belly, and then God heard him, and then spoke to the fish, and the fish spit Jonah out on dry land.

God gave Jonah a second chance, because Jonah was His prophet whom He cares about. God is a God of second chances. He is eager to encourage His people to do the right thing, even after a rebuke is given.

So God called for Jonah to go to Nineveh again, and this time Jonah went and did as he was told.

“…Nineveh was a big city, very big-it took three days to walk across it. Jonah entered the city, went one day’s walk and preached, ‘In forty days Nineveh will be smashed.’” (Jonah 3:3-4, MSG)

The people of Nineveh heard Jonah’s warning, and they listened to him.  They mourned for their sins and fasted, proving to God that they were repenting of all the evil they had done.  Even the king did it when he heard Jonah’s proclamation.  He ordered everyone: “Not one drop of water, not one bite of food for man, woman, or animal, including your herds and flocks! Dress them all, both people and animals, in burlap, and send up a cry for help to God. Everyone must turn around, turn back from an evil life and violent ways that stain their hands. Who knows?  Maybe God will turn around and change His mind about us, quit being angry with us and let us live!” (Jonah 3:7-9 ,MSG)

“Can you count the many children in their little beds at night,
Who without a thought of sorrow rise again at morning light?
God the Lord, who dwells in heaven, loving care to each has given;
He has not forgotten thee, He has not forgotten thee.”

-verse 3 of “Can You Count the Stars?” by Johann W. Hey

“Be careful. Don’t think these little children are worth nothing. I tell you that they have angels in heaven who are always with my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:10, ICB)

It was a glad day in Nineveh, when God heard the repentance of the king and people of Nineveh and forgave them. Just as He gave the sailors a chance, and He gave Jonah a second chance, God gave the people of Nineveh another chance, too, because God is a God of many chances. He is always ready to forgive.

It wasn’t a happy day for Jonah, though.   “I knew this would happen.” He says in Jonah 4:2 (ICB).  “I knew it when I was still in my own country. It is why I quickly ran away to Tarshish.  I knew that you are a God who is kind and shows mercy. You don’t become angry quickly. You have great love. I knew you would rather forgive than punish them. So now I ask you, Lord, please kill me. It is  better for me to die than to live.”

Can you imagine?  Jonah ran away because he knew that God would forgive the people whom he was sent to preach to, if they cried out to God in repentance. That was the reason for the storm at sea and the great fish; all because Jonah didn’t want God to forgive the people of Nineveh! Even after God forgave him for running away.

God asked Jonah why he was angry, but Jonah had no answer for him.  Instead, he left the city and sat outside to see what would happen to the people there, as if their judgement  was a spectacle to be seen.  While he was waiting, God let a plant grow up to shade Jonah from the sun. This made Jonah very happy.  But when God allowed the plant to die the very next day, and Jonah felt the hot sun on his head again, he grew angry and prayed to die.

“God said, ‘What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?’ ” (Jonah 4:10-11, MSG)

Bookworm’s Tragedy

“If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”

– Marcus Tullius Cicero

The first thing I do when I handle a new book is open it up and take a whiff of the smell.  I love the smell of ink on paper,  along with the binding and glue of the book… Some will smell better than others, but the breath of a nose stuck in a book is never a breath wasted.

I was lucky to grow up in a house with a library.  A very large one.  We had so many books, it was a genuine collection; one that I loved to contribute to. I would always buy a book or two along with a cute kitten poster from the school book fairs; my parents would let me order a whole slew of books from the scholastic book clubs; and while others wanted to shop in the music and electronics shops or the sports section, I would choose the small bookstore (called the “Bookmark”) any time I had money to spare. What’s an allowance for, if not to spend on my next book to read?

I remember the beloved “book it” program at my elementary school.  Read a book and then illustrate what was read. After earning a set amount of stars, the reader would win a free personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut.  I would read a book a week.  Every Friday I would turn in my illustration, and I would receive a star sticker on my book it button.  That’s…. no doubt what trained me to read so many books.

In school, I would spend my recesses or bus rides reading.  My reading habits weren’t appreciated by my best friend, who threatened to steal my book and keep it for the rest of the day if I didn’t put it away and hang out with him instead.

As a teenager, I had a calendar that I recorded all the names of the books that I read.  My calendar was filled with book titles, sometimes months holding 10 or 12 titles, one right after another where I read the book in a span of 2 day’s time.

Unfortunately, growing up hasn’t been good to my bookworm tendencies. And now I miss the times when I could read 13 books a month.  My time is spent hard, running my own business and managing my life.  It seems to me that I don’t really have the chance to read anymore.  I have a rather large lineup of books, piled on my nightstand or tucked under my pillow or hidden in a spot to remind me to read… sometimes I even catch myself carrying a book around, partially out of habit and partially wishful thinking.

If it were just my lack of time then I’d fix the problem easily. I could fit a few moments before bed to read a page or two. But it seems more complicated than that. My diagnosis is much more severe.

I open a book to read it, flip to the first page, and my eyes skim the first line, the second, the third and fourth. Upon stopping to process the first lines of the book, I realize that my brain is completely blank, void of the information that it failed to retain.

I try again, and a third time. I even smell the pages to try to entice my thoughts into a frame of mind for the book, but to no avail. My brain no longer focuses on reading a book.  I would try to listen to an audio book, but if my brain isn’t actively involved in the story, either by problem-solving or inventing or reasoning out a solution or searching for answers to something, then I cannot focus on the story at hand.  No matter how hard I try, I cannot focus on reading my book.

A Prayer for the Children of the World

Yesterday was International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). Tomorrow is Election Day for the United States of America. Soon, the US will have a new president.

My concerns are with the children of the world. What will happen to the next generation? How can US play a role in saving as many children as possible from poverty, homelessness, violence, and chaos? Who is the right person to lead the country I live in, which has been known to influence the world in good ways and bad ways, and is there a way to prevent war?

I say my prayer for this pivotal moment of time, in dedication to Christian youth facing trials of many kinds. (I regret not mentioning Europe in my prayer; I’ve read how Swedish people suffer, Germans suffer, French suffer; it seems persecution is global.)

Surely the Lord must have a plan to combat all the suffering, surely? Yes, he does. Jesus talked to us about why we suffer and who we are called to be. In a prayer He said to the Father, on behalf of all believers, He explained the plight we Christians face:

I have given them Your word; and the world has despised them because they are not products of the world, in the same way that I am not a product of the corrupt world order. Do not take them out of this world; protect them from the evil one.

Like Me, they are not products of the corrupt world order.Immerse them in the truth, the truth Your voice speaks. In the same way You sent Me into this world, I am sending them. It is entirely for their benefit that I have set Myself apart so that they may be set apart by truth. I am not asking solely for their benefit; this prayer is also for all the believers who will follow them and hear them speak. Father, may they all be one as You are in Me and I am in You; may they be in Us, for by this unity the world will believe that You sent Me…”

(John 17:14-21, VOICE)

Please close your eyes and pray with me:

Foxxie Compares Problems to Dirty Laundry

Foxxie is a life-long character (and beanie baby friend) of ours. He’s motivational, no matter what, although his ideas are a bit far-fetched. His creative personality encourages those he befriends, which is anybody who crosses his path. His favorite interjection is the word “Dah!” meant as affirmation and praise. He wanted to write on our blog this week to give workaholics some friendly advice.

What’s up? I’m the fox, Foxxie, and I have a question for you!

Do you work, work, work, all day and all night, just to SLAM brick into a wall? Not literally but. Do you ever topple into a dumpy slump? Like, when you’re doing your job, if you’re a writer, and you’re writing a book, you get writer’s block. I compare problems to a pile of dirty laundry! A big, STINKY mess of clothes! Yuck!

If you do get in a mess, don’t let it get to you! Those somedays of dirty laundry aren’t your fault. Dah! If it was up to you? You’d keep it clean, but it’s LIFE that makes it dirty.

Don’t nag yourself for the spiral going outta control. Like, when the big washer sloshes around – buh-roo, broo, broo,– making some sound: that’s your life forcing you into a swishy wad. You’re the victim to unfortunate events. Yeah? It’s not your fault.

Let me tell you what I mean! There’s five things I can think of, where the dirty laundry hatches its mean plans, and you’re just kinda holding your head… “Aww, what happened!” … cuz you were doing your job so well, then boom! Life gives you a stinky, soggy disaster.

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1. Overloaded Routine: Mixing Whites with Colors

Nobody mixes whites with colors in hot water or else stuff changes. It all ruins! Well, the same goes for routine: one task gets a little dicey, before you know it, boom, boom, boom! Everything white’s now pink! The whole schedule’s hours, days, even weeks behind.

But Foxxie’s got advice for you – dah, I can help. If your routine’s in a rut, sliiiide it off your back. Chill! On purpose. Wear the now-pink-white as if it was always the plan. Don’t fret it! You can do it!!! Keep reminding yourself you can do it and don’t count lost time, just move on! Start anew.

2. Sad Things: Splattering the Bleach

Isn’t it harrowing when bleach splashes your best shirt? You get it outta the dryer, and there’s an ugly spot sitting there, staring at you. SAD! Like, “Once upon a time I was your favorite shirt… now I’m history.” Wah! I compare that moment to when it all becomes too much. When you work so hard on the job, then that feeling creeps up, making you think: I’m a failure. My work isn’t good. I should do something else. WELL DON’T LISTEN! IT’S NOT TRUE! You’re a winner!! Never surrender to spotty thoughts blemishing you. Instead, put on some music and keep trying! Keep it up!! Get it done!!!

3. Uninvited Company: Grass and Ink Stains

It happens! Like, when you’re about to start typing a new chapter in your story, then a person comes to your house and starts babbling nonstop: it’s like the nasty grass stains on dirty clothes that no stain remover can remove. You’re sitting there, staring at your screen, crying in your mind, because your precious story won’t write itself… you wanna put the blame on the uninvited company… creativity whooshes to the far reaches of your mind, perhaps never to be inspired again, it seems… the stain of interruption forever changing everything…

If it’s a salesman, that’s abominable rudeness, but if it’s a friend who interrupts, they’re ok. They need love!

So I’ve heard – you think it’s true? – smart folk say socialness helps your mind get more creative, not less! Maybe they’re right. Hard to say. Take a break from work, then, and you’ll do even better than if you’d been left alone! You’ll return saying, “Hey! I know how to make my story even better!” So I guess it’s ok to sacrifice a little of your time, when people are involved.

…If you’re not convinced, hey, think of it this way! Unless you wanna be Emily Dickinson and wait post-mortem for fame, you gotta get fans somehow!

4. Machines Stop Working: Washer Stops Washing

You know it! Air conditioners go out. The coffee pot stops brewing. Or your computer’s the problem. It stops working right in the middle of your best work. It freezes, turns blue, becomes a zombie! That’s when your life is like the washer that stops washing. You either can’t work at all – waiting for the maintenance man to come fix it – or you have to work in an inconvenient way. Kinda like scrubbing clothes by hand, scrub’o dub dub.

Broken machines make your life impossible! But it’s really not your fault. Hey, give yourself a pat on the back. Say “It’s ok! I got this.”

5. Yucky Health: Running Out of Soap

My personal worst is when the soap runs out! Dirty laundry can’t be washed and just keeps getting dirtier: hours get too long, body runs out of energy, and you just have to sleep in order not to die. Seriously! If you feel this happening, take care of yourself! Get some sun, or shade if your work’s outside. Drink some water! Watch TV! Take a nap. Care about yourself. You gotta stay well to see your dreams through ’til the end. It kinda sounded like I was teasing Emily Dickinson before, but hey, maybe she had to stay in her room, to stay well enough to write all those poems. It’s ok to rest. Foxxie wishes you well.

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When bad stuff happens, if there’s no way out of the dirty mess, and the only thing you can do is wait, no need to sit and mope. Have a pizza party! That’s what I do! It’s fun not to work all the time. Dah?