Thursday, May 26, 2011

"What then shall we say to these things?"

Last weekend, I went to Chicago. It was my boyfriend's birthday on Saturday - lots of jokes about the end of the world, etc. Since he had stubbornly refused to give me any hint about what he wanted as a gift, I got him tickets to the White Sox-Dodgers game. He isn't a huge fan, but hey - baseball games are always fun! Unless the team I'm rooting for loses. Which didn't happen on Saturday. The SouthSiders cleaned up on the boys from L.A, 9-2. (If they were still in Brooklyn I'd be a lot more sympathetic to them.) After the game, we headed for downtown and had dinner (Boyfriend's choice) on Wabash at a place called Flat Top Grill. Good, goooood stuff. And the dessert was better. Mom, you'd like the chocolate. :)

Sunday was church, where for the first time we sat in the balcony. At my church, this is a regular occurance. Not so much at his - but the school kids were singing, and he had to supervise. As far as I could tell, there were no shenanigans. That must mean Boyfriend is effective with discipline. :)  After church, we drove around until we found a place where we could sit outside and have lunch. It ended up being an Irish pub. Good eats, again.

Then it started raining, which meant it was time to go home.

I usually spend a lot of the time driving home on the phone. It's a good time to catch up with family. I did so this time, first with my sister. Then I called my parents. We were well into the conversation when there was this exchange:

Mom: "Do you hear that?"
Me: (hearing nothing but wind going by my car at 65+ on the highway) "Uh, no. What?"
Mom: "The sirens are going off."
Me: "Oh." (presses phone harder to ear) "I think I hear them now."
Mom: "Your father is saying we need to go downstairs."
Me: (thinking, Why are you still on the phone?): "Are you going?"
Mom: "Yep. Just getting my shoes on. I'll call you back after, okay?"
Mom: "Love you too. Bye!"

Well, it wasn't a false alarm, like so many are. It wasn't a "conditions are ripe for a tornado so this is a precaution" type storm. Mom called back, and she and Dad were fine, as was their home. Many others could not say the same. Today is Thursday, May 26, and by now the entire planet knows what happened Sunday evening in the middle of America. There is nothing to add.

"You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you...For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways."   -Psalm 91:5-7, 11

"For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience. Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?"               -Romans 8:24-32

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Writing and Blogging

I intended to blog about it earlier, but...other things took priority. I started attending monthy meetings of a local writers' group back in February. They were (although not the only) impetus for me to finally start actually writing a story that has been banging around my head for several years. At the meetings, people bring samples of their work. Someone other than the writer reads the sample aloud, then everybody gives their two cents. At the first meeting, what struck me was how constructive and encouraging everyone was. This is not a group that tears everybody down. They find the best in the writing and seek to make it better. They give positive suggestions to make improvements. Seeing this type of feedback in action was a huge confidence booster - not the less because one of the most terrifying experiences a writer can have is to have work read, and the audience rip it completely to shreds.

Anyway, the BookEnds (as the group is known) have another meeting next Wednesday. Which means I have the rest of this week and the beginning of next to finish and edit the next section. Sorry if this means my blog suffers...

As for the weekend proper, a rather large chunk of it will be dedicated to cleaning. And you all know how much I love that.

Oh, and for those of you who may not know, there are five BookEnds who have been/will be published. So we're not all novices.

Happy Thursday!


Monday, May 9, 2011

It Just Goes To Show

That I should read my linked blogs before posting a new post. This one's for you, Pablum's wife. I was super excited the first time I made bacon and didn't burn it. This was probably the thirty-seventh attempt. I was living in my duplex the first time this happened. (Going on two years here. The previous five years were spent in a one-bedroom apartment. My old landlords were probably relieved when I moved out. On the other hand, the smoke detectors were always in perfect working order.)

Anytime anyone wants to watch The Big Bang Theory, I will. Sheldon is one of the those so-annoying-you-want-to-slap-him-repeatedly-but-can't-get-enough-of-watching-him characters. How I Met Your Mother is also a funny show, in my humble opinion. Not that I've watched either show recently. YouTube is a wonderful thing.

Bells, Chocolate Ice Cream, And Ceiling Fans

I didn't know Maury Povich was still on the air (other than re-runs, that is). How many episodes can he make "You are NOT the father!" into? A lot, apparently.

Is it optimistic to assume the ratings from the show come entirely from doctors' offices?

On Sunday at late service the entire congregation under the age of three was making a racket like I haven't heard for a long time. Happy Mothers' Day, indeed.

What's better than sitting outside on the patio on a lovely spring day in the sun? Sitting there with someone you love. :)

Whoever founded Cold Stone Creamery is evil, and they must be destroyed. Chocolate ice cream, mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.....................

The world's largest exporter of cocoa is Cote d'Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast. Cocoa Coast doesn't have the same ring. I learned the tidbit about cocoa exports during one of the frequent trips up and down I-55. NPR is good for some things.

Isn't listening to bells in church like hearing an echo of heaven? The bell choir played a version of "God's Own Child, I Gladly Say It!". They rang the eighth notes.

Our district president preached on Sunday. When he was a vicar, he lived in an apartment on the top floor of my grandmother's house. He said that "She was a special lady. She was taken too soon." True.

It didn't feel like spring this past weekend. It felt like summer. It's supposed to be above 90 tomorrow. The air's not on yet. The fans are going, though. I like the white noise almost as much as the cooler air.

What is the expiration date on t-shirts? After church, I wore an old t-shirt the rest of the day. And only noticed when I went to bed that it has a tiny hole in it.

Who's up for picking a fight with the Navy SEALs? Anybody? No? Bueller?

Here's to the happy shrieks of nephews heard secondhand over the phone.

Have a good week, everybody. Go Cards!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Because It's Just Too Geeky NOT to say

As seen on London's Daily Telegraph website today: "May the fourth be with you".

Thirty-four years ago today, the original Star Wars movie was released. According to the DT, the five most beloved characters in the saga are: 1) Han Solo 2) Darth Vader 3) Princess Leia (bad hair and all) 4) Chewbacca and 5) Yoda.

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Death Of Ignorance

It's been almost twenty-four hours since the news of Osama bin Laden's death was announced. I'm not sure how I feel about it.

I am glad the Navy SEALS caught up with him. I am glad that some Americans celebrated publicly (understandable). I am glad that politically, this act "sends a message" to terrorists worldwide - namely, that the United States will catch you eventually. How this squares with fundamentalist Islamic terrorists who welcome death, I don't know. I don't know how effective it will be. I think the fact that the head of al-Qaeda spent his last moments hiding behind women is very telling. I think this fact should be spread as often, and as broadly as possible.

I was not surprised that he was found and killed in Pakistan.

I do not think that this ends anything militarily. If anyone thinks so, they are either delusional or not paying attention.

This morning, while listening to the local radio morning show crew discuss the news, it was not surprising that they seemed more contemplative than euphoric. That's how I feel. Does this really change anything? By this afternoon, there was already a lot of talk that "the next big thing" could be coming to America or Europe, out of retaliation for bin Laden's death. Which brings me back to the morning radio show.

These are people who rarely, if ever, talk about politics. Their hours on air are devoted to mostly trivial things involving celebrities. (Lest anyone think that this is the pot calling the kettle black, I know that I spent a ridiculous amount of space on this blog describing the royal wedding. It's not wrong to talk about those things. It is wrong for people to wholly devote themselves and all their time to keeping track of those things. Exhibit A: Ryan Seacrest. Digression over.)
One of the women on the show said something to the effect of "Well, Osama's dead, but there's always another Osama out there!" If she said it, how many people could be thinking it? A lot.

I don't want anyone to misunderstand: I am glad he is dead. Wanting salvation even for an enemy does not mean I think he should have been excused from the earthly consequences of his actions.

But I'm not euphoric. It would have been different if this had happened five years ago. But in a strange way, maybe it's better that it didn't happen earlier. On the whole, Americans have short memories. It may have lulled us into a false sense of security. I think it will take a lot longer for people to be lulled. For example:

2004 - the bombings in Madrid
2007 - the London bombings
2009 - the protests in Iran
2010-present - the protests/upheaval/government overthrows in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain, Syria, JordanKuwaitSaudiArabiaLebanon, etc. etc. etc.

And that's not the half of it. Or counting the natural disasters that have happened in the last decade.

Almost ten years ago, members of al-Qaeda, headed by Osama bin Laden, destroyed the bubble America was living in. They forced us to face reality. And the reality is that evil is never wholly defeated. There will be a Day when that comes. But the human race has no power to bring it about. Those who believe that the natural order of the universe is one of peace and tranquility are wrong.

The image of a peaceful world ended for Americans almost ten years ago. The death of one man will not bring back blissful ignorance. However, as Christians, there is no need to be in "the depths of despair" as Anne Shirley said.

The Psalm is apt for today, Psalm 146:

Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!
I will praise the Lord as long as I live;
I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.
Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation.
When his breath departs he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.
Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free; the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down; the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over sojourners; he upholds the widow and the fatherless, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
The Lord will reign forever, your God, O Zion, to all generations. Praise the Lord!

The first verses of the Old Testament Reading today are these (Exodus 22:20-24)

Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction. You shall not wrong a sojourner or oppress him, for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt. You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry, and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.