Thursday, January 31, 2008

My Political Strategy

Super Tuesday, and the Georgia Primary, are rapidly approaching. At this stage in the game, I have decided that the best thing I can do is cast my vote as a strategic, "pre-emptive strike" against Hillary Clinton, rather than vote for someone who I think would be the best "fit" for the Presidency. Now, don't get me wrong.... despite the above graphic (which is quite funny, don't you think?) I really don't think Hillary is evil... I just don't think she'd make a good president.
I've always been somewhat hard to categorize, politically speaking. I'm a registered Democrat, and have been since college. And, in many ways, I'm still very loyal to the ideals the Democratic Party espouses - social justice and equality; racial harmony; proper taxation; level corporate playing field; etc. However, I'm also strongly pro-life and very squeamish about stem cell research, cloning, gay marriage, etc. So, I'm not easy to pigeonhole, and I don't follow a "party line".
The two main Republicans running for office leave me feeling "underwhelmed" and unimpressed. It's like being presented with brussel sprouts and steamed cabbage, and asked which one I'd rather have. "Ummm, can I just have a slice of chocolate cake instead?"
McCain leaves me cold. His mean streak really bothers me. And what about Mitt Romney? He's just a little too squeaky-clean for me. I picture him drinking a lot of milk. I do like Huckabee, quite possibly because we share the same beliefs, but I have a feeling he won't be running much longer.
So, next Tuesday I'll pull the lever (electronically speaking) to vote for Barack Obama. I realize my state will most certainly go Republican in the Fall, so my vote for Obama next Tuesday will merely be my small strategic contribution to keep The Shrill One from winning Georgia delegates. So, looking forward, what if Barack actually did win the presidency? What if it's not the "fairy tale" that Billary proclaimed it to be? It's certainly a possibility. Would he make a good president? Beats the heck out of me.
It will be most interesting to watch it all unfold.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A Father's Love Letter

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. Psalm 139:1
I know when you sit down and when you rise up. Psalm 139:2
I am familiar with all your ways. Psalm 139:3
Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. Matthew 10:29-31
For you were made in my image. Genesis 1:27
In me you live and move and have your being. Acts 17:28
For you are my offspring. Acts 17:28
I knew you even before you were conceived. Jeremiah 1:4-5
I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12
You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in my book. Psalm 139:15-16
I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live. Acts 17:26
You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14
I knit you together in your mother's womb. Psalm 139:13
And brought you forth on the day you were born. Psalm 71:6
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me. John 8:41-44
I am not distant and angry, but am the complete expression of love. 1 John 4:16
And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. 1 John 3:1
Simply because you are my child and I am your Father. 1 John 3:1
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could. Matthew 7:11
For I am the perfect father. Matthew 5:48
Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. James 1:17
For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. Matthew 6:31-33
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope. Jeremiah 29:11
Because I love you with an everlasting love. Jeremiah 31:3
My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. Psalms 139:17-18
And I rejoice over you with singing. Zephaniah 3:17
I will never stop doing good to you. Jeremiah 32:40
For you are my treasured possession. Exodus 19:5
I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul. Jeremiah 32:41
And I want to show you great and marvelous things. Jeremiah 33:3
If you seek me with all your heart, you will find me. Deuteronomy 4:29
Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart. Psalm 37:4
For it is I who gave you those desires. Philippians 2:13
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine. Ephesians 3:20
For I am your greatest encourager. 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4
When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. Psalm 34:18
As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. Isaiah 40:11
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes. Revelation 21:3-4
And I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. Revelation 21:3-4
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son, Jesus. John 17:23
For in Jesus, my love for you is revealed. John 17:26
He is the exact representation of my being. Hebrews 1:3
He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you. Romans 8:31
And to tell you that I am not counting your sins. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. 2 Corinthians 5:18-19
His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you. 1 John 4:10
I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love. Romans 8:31-32
If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me. 1 John 2:23
And nothing will ever separate you from my love again. Romans 8:38-39
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. Luke 15:7
I have always been Father, and will always be Father. Ephesians 3:14-15
My question is…Will you be my child? John 1:12-13
I am waiting for you. Luke 15:11-32.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Portland's Prodigal Poet

Don Miller is my kind of man.

He's an absolutely incredible writer: intellectual, but not overly cerebral; wickedly funny, but in a dry, self-effacing way; wise, but not condescending; and, most important, Don loves God with his whole heart.

Don came to speak at my church several years ago (before he was famous), and I found he really appealed to the person I was back in college - the idealistic left-wing liberal. I always find it so refreshing when a committed and passionate follower of Christ is also a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat who truly cares about social issues (I guess I jut love to "explode" stereotypes....) :-)

Regardless, Don was interviewed by Steve Brown ( and I wanted to include a link to the audio portion of the interview. It's really fantastic and definitely worth a listen. (Links below - Click on the "play" icon once you're re-directed to the SBE webpage.)
Don Miller Interview - Part One
Don Miller Interview - Part Two

Friday, January 25, 2008

Fresh Air

Fill your lungs with a deep, fresh BREATH.....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Warm Weather & Waterfalls

I'm REALLY tired of Winter. It has been unusually cold for the South - in fact, it's supposed to be 17 degrees tomorrow morning when I wake up. Bummer.
Therefore, since warm weather and Spring flowers are still a good 2 months away, I thought I'd post a video that would help clear out "mental icicles".... so watch the below, enjoy the sights and sounds, and relax. Spring will return; it always does. :-)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Winter Hibernation

I discovered this morning that I have unwittingly acquired a winter hibernation body.

Because I work for myself, at home, I'm in sweats and sneakers most of the time. I rarely even wear makeup anymore, unless I'm going out to lunch with a friend, or to church, or whatever. But on your regular run-of-the-mill workday, I am here at my computer, dog at my feet, wearing a sweatshirt, sweatpants (usually unmatched), no makeup and hair pulled back in a ponytail. "Glamour, Interrupted" for sure.

It's rather humorous because I used to be somewhat vain. I used to be the girl who NEVER left the house without makeup and hair "just so". I also have a whole closet of gorgeous clothes that I never wear anymore, now that I no longer participate in the daily Fashion Show that IS the Modern Corporate Workplace.

Why do I bring this up? Well, today I looked in the mirror and saw the woman above. Not REALLY, but it was amusingly close. I guess I've been avoiding my image in the mirror for the past several months but today it became apparent: too many muffins for breakfast; too many paninis for lunch. Not enough veggies; not enough gym time.

I am..... drum roll please: Mrs. Frump.

My husband doesn't seem to mind, but I guess I should probably ask him. I'm sure he misses the hot babe that he married 16 years ago, but she is long gone (I do joke with him that for me to fit into my size 2 jeans again, famine will have to strike our fair land...).

I guess this is much less a personal crisis than just an interesting observation on how passing time can really change what one views as important. Size 2 jeans, perfect hair and flawless makeup aren't even on my Daily Importance Radar anymore and to be honest, I couldn't care less.
So.... Welcome, Mrs. Frump. Come on in, and bring an extra babushka.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Conflict Resolution

Thank you, Dr. King.

And thank you, Pastor Bronner, for this post on MountainWings today.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Earth Laughs In Flowers

  • Fear defeats more people than any other one thing in the world.
  • Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.
  • Beauty is God's handwriting.
  • Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.
  • Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen.
  • What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.
  • A man is what he thinks about all day long.
  • Can anything be so elegant as to have few wants, and to serve them one's self?
  • As we grow old, the beauty steals inward.
  • Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved.
  • It is not the length of life that matters, but the depth of life.
  • God enters by a private door into every individual.
  • To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.
  • Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.
  • Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as to think.
  • Earth laughs in flowers.

The Talking Dog

A guy is driving around the back woods of Tennessee and he
sees a sign in front of a broken down shanty-style house:
"Talking Dog For Sale."

He rings the bell and the owner appears and tells him the dog
is in the backyard. The guy goes into the backyard and sees a
serious looking dog sitting there.

"You talk?" he asks.

"Yep," the dog replies.

After the guy recovers from the shock of hearing a dog speak,
he says, "So, what's your story?"

The dog looks up and says, "Well, I discovered that I could
talk when I was pretty young. I wanted to help the government,
so I told them. In no time at all they had me jetting from
country to country, sitting in rooms with spies and world
leaders, because no one figured a dog would be eavesdropping.
I was one of their most valuable spies for eight years

"But the jetting around really tired me out, and I knew I
wasn't getting any younger so I decided to settle down. I
signed up for a job at the airport to do some undercover
security, wandering near suspicious characters and listening

"I uncovered some incredible stuff and was awarded a bunch of
medals. I got married, had a mess of puppies, and now I'm just

The guy is amazed. He goes back in and asks the owner what he
wants for the dog.

"Ten dollars," the guy says.

"Ten dollars?! This dog is amazing! Why on earth are you
selling him so cheap?"

"Because he's a liar. He never did any of that stuff."

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Psalm 91

"He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, "My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!" For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His pinions, and under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark. You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. A thousand may fall at your side; And ten thousand at your right hand. But it shall not approach you. You will only look on with your eyes, and see the recompense of the wicked. For you have made the LORD, your refuge, even the Most High, your dwelling place. No evil will befall you, nor will any plague come near your tent. For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways.
They will bear you up in their hands, that you do not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and cobra. The young lion and the serpent you will trample down. Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known My name. He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With a long life I will satisfy him, And let him see My salvation."
-Psalms 91, NASB

Friday, January 18, 2008

A Beautiful Creed

I've been working on my "personal creed" for awhile now. I know within my heart and soul what I believe about God, but I really wanted to have it on paper, and have it be tangible. Sort of a Mission Statement for my spirit, if you will. Norrmally I write easily and relatively effortlessly but with something this deep, personal and profound I have been really struggling.

So, while surfing some of my favorite blogs, I came upon the below. This is from Ann V's blog: . Ann's writing is truly a gift: it is profound and amazing. I'm sure she would be the first to say she lives an ordinary life - she is a farmer's wife and mother of 6, carving out a simple life in a rural corner of Ontario. I've never met her but her writing has left me speechless on many occasions with its sheer power and beauty.

I have copied her Personal Creed below. This is not my creed, mind you, although it's very close to what I would like mine to encompass. Her writing is beautiful, honest, and moving.

I love the words she chose, and how the clear adoration of her Maker and her Savior shines through. Ann is an inspiration to me, and I know she is an inspiration to many other women as well.

I believe in Jehovah God who created the whirling galaxies, the birds soaring in the sky overhead, the endless crashing waves and all that dances within them.
I believe in Father of all who knits together life, made in His very own image, in the secret quiet of our beings.
I believe in Jesus Christ, the One with no earthly Father, with the dust of this earth between His toes, and with our names etched onto the palm of His hands, right beneath the nail scars…Who now sits at the Father’s right hand making endless intercession on our behalf.
I believe in the stone rolled away, in the Body being raised, in the first fruits of the dead…and us all following soon, very soon.
I believe in the Cross as our only Hope, our only Claim, and our only Foundation.
I believe that in the pounding surf of life we have only one thing to cling to: the feet of our Lord, hanging on that tree, His lifeblood flowing down, washing us whiter than snow.
I believe in the Holy Spirit, moving, whispering, indwelling our very skin.
I believe in living by the Spirit, walking in the Spirit, and producing fruit in the Spirit…in the Spirit who helps us in our weakness with groanings that can’t be expressed in words.
I believe in the infallibility of the Bible, God’s Word - a sure Word, a pure Word, the only secure Word.
I believe the words on those pages are breathed from the very throne room of heaven, and are the love letter penned from the heart of the Lover of our souls; a beacon of light for stumbling feet to find sure footing on a dark path.
I believe there is more than believing.
There is living what I believe.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

How Great Is Our God?

"My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways," declares the Lord. "As the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts." - Isaiah 55:8-9

To put this Scripture in perspective, consider the following: astronomers have discovered that there are galaxies 12.3 billion light-years away from Earth. Consider further the fact that light traveling at 186,000 miles per second only takes 8 minutes to travel the 93 million miles between the sun and planet Earth. Therefore sunlight is only eight minutes old when it reaches us. However, light from the furthest galaxy that we know of takes 12.3 billion years to get here. I can't wrap my mind around that; can you?

And yet GOD says that is about the distance between His thoughts and our thoughts.

So, the next time you reduce our BIG GOD down to the size of your biggest problem, realize that his goodness, greatness, magnificence and power surpasses your wildness imagination by at least 12.3 billion light years.

Pretty awesome, huh?

Quite Possibly the Cutest Thing Ever

Yes, it's real! Not a hoax; not a photo-shop job. And isn't she adorable?! (Props to my homegirl Suzanne a/k/a BuzyBee for sending!)

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Snow Day!

Snow is predicted in Atlanta's forecast for tonight. This is a rarity for us. The last time we had any measurable snow in Atlanta was (...thinking....) at least four years ago.

My children are praying (literally) for a snow day.

I remember when I was a kid, and the excitement and the giddiness of the impending snow day. I remember waiting and hoping that school would be called off... getting up while it was not yet light out.... straining to see out my bedroom window into the dark (is there snow on the ground?). Yes! Then, of course, there was the agony of waiting through the interminably long list of school closings on the radio. It always seemed like my school system was the VERY last one to announce whether or not they would close.
At long last, it was announced - my school was closed for the day! There was the delicious bliss of being able to go back to sleep for awhile. Then I'd wander downstairs in my jammies; watch cartoons for awhile, and have breakfast. Mom would make french toast and hot cocoa for me and my brother, and she'd have a fire going in the fireplace. Once we were full and ready to brave the elements, the fun would begin. We'd get all bundled up and go outside, meet up with our friends and make snowmen and have snowball fights. We'd stay outdoors until our hands were completely numb and we couldn't feel our toes. So we'd come back in, thaw out by the fire, drink more cocoa, then go out and do it all some more. I also loved walking through the woods with my dog and the way the fresh snow would crunch under my boots and how quiet everything was; and how everything looked so different when it was covered in a blanket of pure white. Beautiful. Silent.

I really hope it snows tonight.
I'll have the french toast and the hot chocolate ready for my kids.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Dancing With God

My mom emailed the below to me. I told her I thought it was definitely "blog-worthy". :-)

When I meditated on the word Guidance,
I kept seeing "dance" at the end of the word.
I remember reading that doing God's will is a lot like dancing.
When two people try to lead, nothing feels right.
The movement doesn't flow with the music,
and everything is quite uncomfortable and jerky.
When one person realizes that, and lets the other lead,
both bodies begin to flow with the music.
One gives gentle cues, perhaps with a nudge to the back
or by pressing lightly in one direction or another.
It's as if two become one body, moving beautifully.
The dance takes surrender, willingness,
and attentiveness from one person
and gentle guidance and skill from the other.
My eyes drew back to the word Guidance.
When I saw "G: I thought of God, followed by "u" and "i".
"God, "u" and "i" dance."
God, you, and I dance.
As I lowered my head, I became willing to trust
that I would get guidance about my life.
Once again, I became willing to let God lead.
My prayer for you today is that God's blessings
and mercies be upon you on this day and everyday.
May you abide in God as God
abides in you.
Dance together with God, trusting God to lead
and to guide you through each season of your life.
This prayer is powerful and there is nothing attached.
If God has done anything for
you in your life,
please share this message with someone else,
for prayer is one of the best gifts we can receive.
There is no cost but a lot of rewards;
so let's continue to pray for one another.

And I Hope You Dance

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Focus on the Beautiful, Not the Ugly

I'm happy it's a new week. Last week was rough. I had 2 migraines last week, plus I struggled with three of my other personal "demons": insomnia, anxiety and the blues. I think probably all 4 were brought on by a recent horrifying story which was reported in the local (and national) news. The details of the story are the stuff of nightmares so I will keep the synopsis brief: in a nutshell, a serial killer was living among us here in the Atlanta area. His latest (and last) victim was a young, lovely woman out for a hike with her Black Lab on New Years Day. She was kidnapped, held for 3 days, and then murdered.

I hate the fact that we live in a world where people like this killer exist.

I hate the fact that human evil seems to thrive, and that a wonderful young woman with so much potential is now gone.

I want to ask God WHY did he allow this to happen? WHERE was he when this was happening? HOW does he allow heinous things like this to happen to a person who was just starting to live her life?

But of course, this is part of life's mystery. I don't know the answers to these questions. No ones does. This is where faith must come in, and we must simply believe, without the benefit of understanding.
One day, everything will be made clear to us . I believe that, although at times it seems to fly in the face of logic.

The best analogy I heard on the topic of "Faith Despite (Seeming) Facts" was this:
Life is like a tapestry. The "side" of the tapestry that we humans get to see is the back side, with all the threads poking out, haywire and askew. It's ugly, haphazard, makes absolutely no sense and doesn't seem to follow any rhyme or reason. To look at the back side of a tapestry, you would think it's only garbage and certainly not a work of art. God, however, works from the front side. He is busy weaving a magnificent work of art that we are all a part of. Each one of us is a thread within his tapestry. One day, not in THIS world, but one day, we will get to see the side of the tapestry that God sees, and the amazing completed work that he has done, and it will be the most incredible, beautiful and complete masterpiece imaginable.

Until then, we have to simply trust and believe. And so, I cling to my faith. And I pray, and I hope, and I believe God, despite the evil that sometimes seems to thrive in our world. And I try to focus on what is pure, right and beautiful in the world.

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. - Phillippians 4:8, The Message

Thought of the Day

"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats
those who can do nothing for him."
-James D. Miles

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Failure Event

I want to remind you that failure is an event,
it is not a person.

Yesterday really did end last night.
Today is a brand new day.

That simply means that you can fail in an event,
but by no stretch of imagination
does that make you a failure as a person.

-Zig Ziglar

Friday, January 11, 2008


  • "I expect to pass through this life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again." - William Penn
  • "Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough." - Franklin D. Roosevelt
  • "A kind word can warm three Winter months." - Japanese Proverb
  • "That best portion of a good man's life are his little nameless, unremembered acts of kindness and of love." - Williams Wordsworth
  • "Kindness in women, not their beauteous looks, shall win my love." -William Shakespeare
  • "Constant kindness can accomplish much. As the sun makes ice melt, kindness causes misunderstanding, mistrust and hositility to evaporate." - Albert Schweitzer
  • "Wise sayings often fall on barren ground; but a kind word is never thrown away." - Sir Arthur Helps
  • "Kindness has converted more sinners than zeal, eloquence, or learning." - Frederick W. Faber
  • "One can pay back the loan of gold, but one lies forever in debt to those who are kind." - Marcus Aurelius
  • "What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other?" - George Eliot
  • "Kindness begets kindness." - Sophocles

Tuesday, January 8, 2008


I took this photo at Niagara Falls a few years ago.

I go back and look at it often to remind myself that no matter what is happening in our fallen, messed-up, irretrievably broken world, there is peace, serenity and beauty in our world as well.

"And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." -Phillipians 4:7

Monday, January 7, 2008

The Things We Take For Granted

Until recently, I saw Kim Jong Il as little more than the caricature from "Team America": a funny looking man with a goofy haircut and silly clothes. But then I saw Lisa Ling's report on National Geographic, where she went undercover inside North Korea, and it blew me away. We take so many liberties in our country for granted, especially our freedom to worship in any way we deem fit. I found the below article online, which entails the life which awaits Christians within North Korea. Sad and sobering indeed.

Martyrdom awaits North Koreans on Christmas
'Nowhere in the world is such a high price paid for being a Christian'
Posted: December 19, 20071:00 a.m. Eastern
In a nation where being a Christian can bring the death penalty for the "offender" and his entire family, where tens of thousands of Christians are held in terminal prison camps, and the populace is taught to revere its dictator as a god, there will be martyrdom for Christians on Christmas Day, according to an international ministry.
"Just like on other days of the year, at Christmas time there will be Christians who perish in the death camps of North Korea, ranked No. 1 on the Open Doors World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the greatest persecution," said a spokesman for the group.
Reports of the execution of Christians in North Korea circulate routinely, sometimes for an offense no worse than having a Bible.
"The state is working hard to wipe out Christianity," said
Open Doors USA spokesman Jerry Dykstra.
"Nowhere in the world is such a high price paid as in this country with its tyrannical regime," he said.
Dykstra released a statement on the "celebration" in North Korea of Christmas, as an observance of the birth of Christ one of Christianity's most significant dates.
"No bright lights, no Christmas dinner and not even a Christmas Eve service for the followers of Jesus Christ," will be on tap for the holiday.
"This Christmas – just like any other day in the year – there are no festive lights in the streets of Pyongyang. The city is largely shrouded in darkness. North Korea is the only country in the world where the Cold War is not yet over, and one of the few countries in which it is not permitted to celebrate Christmas at all," he said.
But even under such repression, "Christians find ways to celebrate Christmas," he said.
Confirmation comes from "Brother Simon," who coordinates the work of Open Doors from a secret location.
"But, of course, Christians do reflect on the birth of Jesus Christ," he said. "Only they can't just go along to church to sing or listen to a
sermon. They can't even visit one another to read the Bible together. Being a Christian in North Korea is very lonely."
He said most often Christians gather in groups of only two, trying to keep underneath the social radar that alerts authorities to groups that meet. Only sporadically, and in secret locations, do numbers higher than that assemble.
"For example (on an ordinary Sunday), a Christian goes and sits on a bench in the park. Another Christian comes and sits next to him. Sometimes it is dangerous even to speak to one another, but they know they are both Christians, and at such a time, this is enough. If there is no one around, they may be able to share a Bible verse which they have learned by heart and briefly say something about it. They also share prayer topics with each other. Then they leave one another and go and look for Christians in some other part of their town. This continues throughout Sunday. A cell group usually consists of fewer than 20 Christians who encourage and strengthen one another in this way. Besides this, there are one-to-one meetings in people's homes," Simon said.
It's similar with Christmas.
"Christmas is mainly celebrated in the heart of the Christian," said Simon. "Only if the whole family has turned to Christ is it possible to have something like a real gathering. For fear of retribution it is necessary to keep your faith hidden from the neighbors. It is sometimes possible to hold a meeting in remote areas with a group of 10 to 20 people. Very occasionally, it is possible for Christians to go unobtrusively into the mountains and to hold a 'service' at a secret location. Then there might be as many as 60 or 70 North Koreans gathered together."
But he noted that like any other day of the year, there will be those martyred for their faith on Christmas Day.
This repression, however, is proving unsuccessful at halting the church's growth, he confirmed. "The church is growing," he said, based on information from his networks of sources, and largely is due to refugees who have fled North Korea, but come to Christ in the relatively free society of China, and return to their homeland as missionaries.
WND previously reported on the escape of a North Korean man from the bondage of that nation's dictatorship, who reported many North Koreans believe dictator Kim Jong-il actually is a god.
The Christian, now living in South Korea, was identified only as Mr. Kim. He told
Voice of the Martyrs that Kim Jong-il, and his late father Kim Il Sung, both are portrayed as gods.
"All North Koreans really believe that Kim Il Sung is a god. He [hid] the bad things he had done, to preserve his godlike status to the people. I think 70 to 80 percent of what is said about Kim Il Sung is similar to the Bible," he told the ministry, for which he also recorded himself singing .
Mr. Kim sings "Brightly beams, Our Father's mercy."
While comprehensive information about Kim Jong-il's present rule in North Korea is hard to obtain because of the absolute dictatorship that exists, anecdotal evidence abounds about his cruelty and excesses.
For example, Camp 22, the nation's largest concentration camp can hold up to 50,000 men, women and children accused of political "crimes," while reports of atrocities such as the rampant murder of babies born to inmates are supported by witnesses.
Meanwhile, his expensive tastes have become known internationally. Reuters reported, "No one enjoys luxury goods more than paramount leader Kim Jong-il, who boasts the country's finest wine cellar with space for 10,000 bottles. … His annual purchases of Hennessy cognac reportedly total to $700,000, while the average North Korean earns the rough estimate equivalent of $900 per year."
Mr. Kim said while growing up he had no real knowledge of religion, and had not even heard about Christianity. He had seen filmed representations of Christmas parties but had no idea they were related to
"We were taught that religion is the opium of the people, and that pastors were spies of South Korea, trying to bring imperialism to North Korea. I was taught that religion was bad and school text books reinforced this idea, explaining that people from other countries built the hospitals, schools and did all kinds of good deeds for North Korea in order to spy," he said.
Then, like others, he went to visit relatives in China as a college student during 1998, and was shocked.
"The conditions overall were better in China, but one thing I really noticed was that people were energetic and had dreams. In North Korea, even college students were depressed and under a lot of pressure. When I returned to North Korea, I couldn't forget the faces of those in China," he said.
He went back to China, "escaped" is how he described it, just a few months later.
"I had heard if you go to churches the members would help. That's why I went to a church," he said. There he first got financial and other help. "I also went to a church in Shanghai, where I met a man who was president of a company who offered me a job… I found out later that this man was also an elder in a church," he said.
At that company, he was exposed to worship services morning and night.
"I spent one and a half years studying the Bible, underlining passages and taking notes," he said. "I really focused on studying the Bible, and this was the time that I became a Christian."
As WND has reported, not all Christians are so fortunate.
Son Jong Hoon and his brother, Son Jong Nam, who has been condemned to execution in North Korea for being a Christian (Voice of the Martyrs photo)
An international campaign was launched by
the Voice of the Martyrs to generate worldwide pressure on North Korean officials who have ordered a man executed for being a Christian.
Son Jong Hoon told a news conference in Washington, D.C., that his life's goal now is to save his brother, Son Jong Nam, a former North Korean
Army officer turned underground evangelist.
"I pray to God for my brother's safety," he said, describing the horrors of the basement jail cell where Son Jong Nam has been held, beaten and tortured since his most recent arrest.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Sorting Through The Rocks

Many have read the excellent "Big Rock/Life Analogy", but it definitely bears repeating, especially at the beginning of a new year:

One day, a teacher was speaking to a group of students and said, “Time for a quiz.” He pulled out a large wide-mouthed jar and set it on the table in front of him, and then produced several large rocks and carefully placed them, one by one, into the jar. When the jar was packed to the top, he asked, “Is this jar full?”

Everyone in the group said, “Yes.” Then he said, “Really?” He reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of pebbles. He then dumped the pebbles in and gently shook the jar, causing the pebbles to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he asked the group once more, “Is this jar full?”

By this time, the group was skeptical. “Probably not,” one of them answered. “Good!” he replied. He reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in the jar and it went into all the spaces left between the rocks and the pebbles. Once more, he asked the question. “Is this jar full?”

“No!” everyone shouted. Once again, he said, “Good!” Then he took out a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim.

Finally the teacher looked at the group and asked, “What do you think my point of this illustration is?” One eager beaver raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really hard you can always fit some more things in.”
“No,” the teacher replied, “that’s not my point. The point is: If you don’t put the big rocks in first, you will never get them in at all.”

The challenge for me, personally, is not letting the "tyranny of the urgent" sidetrack me from focusing on my Big Rocks: my husband, my kids, daily quiet time with my Maker, and my health. I give lip service to all of these things as being priorities in my life, but sometimes I feel they get squeezed out by other, less important, things.

The pebbles are, of course, the necessary "stuff" of life: work, paying bills, doing laundry, grocery shopping, cooking dinner, driving the kids to their activities, etc., etc.

I've decided to focus, every day, on making time for each of my Big Rocks. No more excuses..... no more "I'll get to that tomorrow".

It's time to make it happen.
What are your Big Rocks?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

A Brand New Year

Below are my New Years resolutions for 2008. Yes, these are a joke. (I'm all FOR personal change, but I think the habit of making Grand Pronouncements on January 1st is a wee bit silly.)

  • Gain weight. At least 30 pounds.
  • Stop exercising. Complete waste of time.
  • Read less. Why bother thinking?
  • Watch more TV. Think of all the good stuff I might have been missing!
  • Procrastinate more. Starting tomorrow.
  • Take a vacation to someplace important.... like to see the world's largest ball of twine.
  • Start being superstitious, and begin using the "evil eye" to ward off enemies.
  • Personal goal: bring back disco. Dress like an extra from “Flashdance”.
  • Buy an '83 low-rider Eldorado and get a really loud stereo system; the kind that makes the windows vibrate. Tint the windows purple and buy some pink fur for the dash.
  • Wear hip hugger jeans that are 2 sizes too small. Accent this with a midriff baring top. Don't forget the navel ring to complete the look.

As always, Dave Barry's "Year in Review" is hilarious and worth reading. Below is a link to his 2007 Year In Review column from the Miami Herald: