Monday, September 28, 2009

Does Iran Not Have Oil?

What the heck is the President of Iran thinking? Talking about wiping Israel off the map, test firing long range missiles and developing nuclear capability? They obviously don't need nuclear "power", for peaceful purposes, as he says. Does Iran not have oil?
Regimes like that are not threatened by sanctions or stern words. He needs to tread carefully, or he may receive a secret visit from some special forces from the U.S., the U.K., or Israel, to put his nuclear plants out of commission.
I fear that while the U.N. sends strongly worded letters, he will continue to work on his nuclear capability and one day, the world will wake up to a nasty surprise, and be outraged; all too late.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Moving On

Sept. 26, 2009

Outside my window...grey, cool, overcast. Looks like rain today. We're on the QEW from Toronto to Hamilton.
I am thinking...I feel sad for my mom. One of her brothers died this week. He was 62. He was a chain smoker since he was a child and had his first heart attack when he was 47, and now this fatal one 15 years later. I think my mom's thinking about her mortality and the fact that she's had cardiac issues this year, with chest pain and angioplasties. She deals with things by not dealing with them. Whenever she starts to get sad, she finds something to distract herself. An irony was that yesterday, she received a postcard from the brother who just died. He had been in Turkey the week before he died. It was kind of weird for her to see his handwriting.
I am thankful family. I love them, I like them, and I appreciate them. Our eldest daughter was home from university for just one night, so we went shopping for fall clothes last night, and then for a manicure/pedicure and lunch this morning. Now we're driving her back to Hamilton because we bought her and her roommates a toaster oven and it's too bulky for the GO-bus.
From the kitchen...meatballs, okra, salad.
I am wearing...white Capri pants, a white camisole and a mauve cable knit sweater.
I am reading...The Jesus You Can't Ignore, by John MacArthur, about the bold confrontations of Christ.
I am hoping...that Oleksandr, our goldfish, will be okay in his home in Hamilton. Our daughter took him to live with her.
I am hearing...the radio, on our way home to Toronto.
Around the house...we've talked with my mom, who lives in our basement apartment, and have decided to sell our house next Spring/Summer. We have a Realtor coming over next Friday. He's the same one we used when we bought this house 17 years ago.
One of my favourite things...being able to buy my girls everything they need. It's such a contrast to most of my life. Such a blessing.
Some plans for the week...clean the church when we get back to Toronto, clean our house, watch soccer, go to church tomorrow, work three nights next week.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Celebrating Life

Sept. 22, 2009.

Outside my window…First day of autumn, but hot and humid. Rain yesterday, the first time all September. It’s been a pleasant month.
I am thinking…that life is good. I am very content. I’m also surprised that I’m so content. I am very blessed in all areas of my life.
I am thankful for…having to buy new clothes because I’m losing weight. I bought new dress pants and three pairs of jeans, as well as a faux leather tan coloured jacket that makes me look like a young chick.
From the kitchen…dinner out at Memories of Japan. My free meal of the week. Miso soup, salad, fried rice, sushi, stir-fried vegetables, cod, shrimp and filet mignon, wine and ice cream. My favourite place to eat out. We were celebrating our friend Leah’s new job as a full time College English Professor. It was eight years in coming.
I am wearing…black dress pants, a black and white top.
I am reading…Pirate Hunter by Tom Morrisey.
I am hoping…that I won’t regret that I offered to lead the next Ladies’ Meeting devotional. I’m a little shy, but I’m excited about my topic: Radical Hospitality.
I am hearing…a soccer game between Chelsea and Tottenham. I’m going for Chelsea.
One of my favourite things…a night off mid-week.
Around the house…We are planning to decide this week whether or not we’ll sell our house in the spring. As I said, I’m content and would be happy to stay, but we also know it’s now or never if we want to upgrade to a more modern house. I’m sure once we move, I’ll wonder why we waited so long. I’m especially looking forward to having a house big enough to build a sauna in.
Some plans for the week…work Wednesday and Thursday night. Go shopping with my eldest daughter. Go for a manicure and pedicure with her on Saturday, clean the church. Church on Sunday, of course.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Unexpected Depth

The Yada Yada Prayer Group
By Neta Jackson

This was my first time reading Christian chick-lit. I wasn't sure what to expect, and I wouldn't have even bought it, except for the recommendations of friends.
At first, it didn't seem to be 'about' anything, just a bunch of seemingly mismatched women, who are thrown together at a Christian woman's conference. So I expected it to be about the characters; an ex-con, a former drug addict, a real estate broker, a college student, a married mom of two, and several others. But it was also about the group growing together as a prayer group, in spite of their differences, to become close friends. The problems in their lives were real, but they all learned what it meant to be "just a sinner, saved by grace."
I found the race issues to be very typically an American thing, though, with worshipping in either "white churches" or "black churches" and never having anyone from another race into your home. I couldn't relate to that. The author brings those issues up in the discussion questions at the end of the book, as well.
This book blind-sided me with a depth of emotion I didn't expect from the whimsical cover and title. It was a great introduction to a series that I didn't think I would be interested in, until now.

The Love Dare

By Eric Wilson

I've heard of screenplays based on novels, but this is the novelization of a screenplay by Alex and Stephen Kendrick. I had heard about this movie being shown in churches, but hadn't yet had the opportunity to see it. It stars Kirk Cameron.
The story came highly recommended as an encouragement for married couples to hang on through the tough times and work to improve their marriage.
It's about a firefighter who, at work, lives by the adage, "Never leave your partner," but at home, as he and his wife make plans to divorce, he does what he wants. Unfortunately, people assume that if you have problems in a marriage, (and who doesn't?) that you have only two options: stay in an intolerable situation, or leave. There is a third option; make it better.
His father challenges him to "the love dare" a forty day experiment.
The story was realistic, heart-breaking, funny and heart-warming at the same time. It made me cry a few times.
The idea of a marriage being fireproof is not that it won't experience fires, but that when the fires come, they'll be ready for them.
It doesn't just assume that a few gifts or romantic gestures will improve a marriage, but that big sacrifices and small kindnesses every day, with God at the centre of a marriage, are the true secrets to a happy and lasting marriage.

He Chose the Nails--What God Did to Win Your Heart

By Max Lucado

I bought this book from the bookstore in Max Lucado's church in San Antonio, Texas when I was there recently. (I would have liked if it was autographed, but I digress). I had never read his books before. He is an engaging communicator and I found this to be very devotional and touching. It's the type of book that has so many fresh insights that you just have to share.
He takes you to the Crucifixion of Christ and draws your attention to things you may overlook--the soldiers' spit, the crown of thorns, the nails, the sign over Jesus' head, the two crosses on either side, the path, the garment, the torn flesh, the wine-soaked sponge, the blood and water, the cross itself, the burial clothing, and the empty tomb--and looks at them in a new way. I thought I had seen the Cross from most angles, but I was blown away by the beauty and depth I found in this book. It shows the depths God went to win your heart. To win my heart.
A study guide follows the book. The only chapter I didn't agree with was called, "I will let you choose". But then, I'm a Calvinist, and he's a confused Calvinist, I mean, an Arminian. :)

Jesus On Trial

By Phillip Ryken/James Montgomery Boice

There aren't too many books out there that focus on the trial of Jesus Christ. This is a fascinating and devotional look at the 24 hour whirlwind kangaroo court that sentenced Jesus to die.
Boice and Ryken explain some of the miscarriages of justice, like the unlawful cross-examination of Christ by the High Priest, and the wickedness of Pilate in sentencing Christ to death even though he admitted He was an innocent man.
They also compare the legal system to ours, and bring out the truth that Jesus allowed this to happen. He was innocent yes, but not a victim. He was in control, and went to His arrest, trial and execution willingly, because He knew, if He had saved Himself, He could not save others.
The book makes you make a decision about who Christ is and what He came to do. It was a beautiful look at the most important day in human history; the day when history was split in two.


Sept. 17, 2009

Outside my window...darkness, except for the city lights. The beautiful skyline facing west toward Mississauga and southwest to Lake Ontario. I'm at work tonite.
I am thinking...that my co-worker, who was struck by a car a year ago, will not likely be returning to work, at least, not here. She's still dealing with the effects.
I am thankful...for a feeling of contentment with my life. My husband wants to move in the Spring. We probably will, but I'd be just as happy to stay.
From the kitchen...baked chicken breasts, green beans, corn on the cob and tomatoes from my daughter's tomato plant.
I am uniform.
I am reading...Enduring Justice by Amy Wallace about the FBI and racially motivated crimes.
I am hoping...that we'll have a favourable response from my daughter's landlord about the newly discovered mold in the house she's living in at university.
I am hearing...a quiet nursing unit, except for the incessant bell ringing as they service 3 of our 4 elevators tonite.
Around the house...My husband is busy at work with the annual M.O.E. inspections, and we have alot happening at church lately, too. My work is threatening to change as well, with rumours that we may lose the surgical component of our unit altogether and have to be open on weekends, too. I'm not happy about either of those things at all, but they're looking at the bottom line, not what's best for patients. Our daughters are hard at work in school again. My youngest just became the co-chair for a business club she's involved with.
One of my favourite things...Lick's Burgers, done at home on the BBQ. That's my "free" meal of the week, tomorrow night.
Some plans for the week...finish my fourth night, bring my daughter to school, buy groceries, bake some cupcakes for the youth group at church tomorrow night, sleep a little bit, send in the numbers for Carey to the camp, attend a first Ladies' meeting at church on Saturday,shop with my daughter in the afternoon, have my mother-in-law over for dinner Saturday night, cook something for our church luncheon on Sunday.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Banana Banana Bread

I've searched for a long time for a moist banana bread recipe. I tasted this at work and got the recipe from a patient's mother. I made it yesterday. I used brown sugar Splenda, but you can use regular brown sugar. I'd attach a picture of it, but it's all gone. That's how good it is.

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2-1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas (4-5 large bananas)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9X5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake for 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into centre of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Attitudes Toward Service

On our way back from the Carey conference, I told my husband about a potential area of service in our church that's been on my mind for awhile. Over the past few years, I've been dropping ministries. I stopped teaching Sunday school after 24 years. I dropped the Treasurer position after five years. We're dropping the Youth group after 25 years (we've been leading Youth since we were dating). And now we're dropping the Carey Conference finance and admin. after 5 years. I've been thinking that our church had a group that has been missed; the College and Career age group. I also knew that I wouldn't be able to do it myself, as teaching of adults is involved. When I brought it up, my husband agreed right away, which confirmed it for me.
Most of the C&C age people are professed believers so the focus can be both on ministering to them, and mentoring them to find ways to minister.
I know that when it comes to service, sometimes it's not about what you feel like doing, but rather what needs to be done. "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might." That was the case with my teaching Sunday School. I never felt called to teach, but they needed a teacher, so I did it for 24 years. Yet I still felt like a quitter when I stepped down.
The same thing happened when they needed a Treasurer at church. I protested vehemently that I was the wrong person for the job. When we were first married, I didn't even know how to balance a chequebook. I hated filling out government forms, etc. But my husband believed I could do it, no one else volunteered, and so I did it, reluctantly. While I'll never admit to loving it, I did learn a lot, and I think I'm enough of a details person to handle it. My husband referred to me as a bean counter. When a banker became a member, I handed the job off to him.
For the Carey Conference ministry, I admit I went into it kicking and screaming, and I didn't have a great attitude for much of the time (something I wasn't pleased to find out about myself), and yet it was a good learning and growing experience as well.
I say all this to say that the idea of leading the C&C group with my husband feels like something that I don't feel forced into. It's a burden and concern on my heart that I feel God has placed there, and because of that in itself, I feel excited about it in a way that I haven't felt about any other ministry. The others always felt like my husband's ministries that I tagged along with by virtue of being hitched to his wagon. I like that distinction this time. I feel energized by it and can't wait to see if the leadership at church agrees.

Back to School

Sept. 8, 2009

Outside my window…a warmish day, but you can tell summer is over. The leaves are already changing on our Japanese maple. The summer that never was.
I am thinking…that long weekends go way too fast. We had gone to Hamilton to get our eldest daughter moved into her room in a house near the campus. Putting together her daybed and putting up blinds took two days and three trips to IKEA for missing screws. Then Sunday flew by as usual with church flanking my afternoon nap. Monday we cleaned our house, (long overdo) and had my husband’s brother and his wife over for a bbq.
I am thankful…for the fact that our daughter is living in a house with six other Christian girls that she knows from Campus for Christ. Also, our niece, who was not raised in a Christian home, but has come with us for several years to the Carey conference and retreats, is also going to Mac and is attending Trinity Baptist Church. Also, I had a nice surprise when I went to SUREslim to get weighed. I was the Biggest Loser last month. That's a good thing, right? I got a $25 voucher for free stuff, so I bought more seeds and flax. I've also dropped more inches, fat, (another whole percent) and my BMI (body mass index) is almost normal.
From the kitchen…Atlantic salmon steaks (I seem to make those a lot, don’t I?), beans, sweet potatoes.
I am wearing…a black and white sundress and a black sweater.
I am reading…An Eye for An Eye by Irene Hannon; a Christian FBI thriller.
I am hoping…that work isn’t as crazy this week as last week.
I am hearing…the birds chirping outside.
Around the house…back to school and work today. Our youngest is in grade twelve. Our eldest is in second year at Mac studying Health Studies and Social Work. It’s a double major so she’ll have a busy few years.
One of my favourite things…milk chocolate with hazelnut. (That could just be my PMS talking).
Some plans for the week…work three nights. I’ll see how the weekend goes. One weekend this month, my oldest daughter and I want to go camping together. I’ve never done fall camping. I just hope we don’t come across any hungry bears filling up before their winter hibernation.