Wednesday, May 31, 2006

A Psalm in 1 Chronicles?

I just discovered that once you get through all the lists of names in 1 Chronicles, and make it to chapter 16, you come across a beautiful psalm. Here's a section of it. I was especially inspired by the part that says, "Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually!" This is good for me to hear because I'm usually too independent and preoccupied with myself. Sometimes I think the real reason I started this blog was so I could talk about myself whenever I wanted to! Anyway, this verse was a good reminder that I should seek the LORD's strength and his presence.

Oh give thanks to the LORD; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to him; sing praises to him; tell of all his wondrous works! Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Israel his servant, sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!

Sing to the LORD, all the earth! Tell of his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples! For great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and he is to be held in awe above all gods. For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens. Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and joy are in his place.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Two Posts in One Day to Make Up For Last Week

I got this survey from Lindsay’s blog, and they looked like fun questions…most of them anyway.

1. Name: Real name-Kate, common name-Katie
2. Height: 5’5”
3. Weight: WOW, THIS THING IS PERSONAL!! WHAT DOES IT THINK IT IS, AN INSURANCE APPLICATION??!!!! Oh ok, why not? 112 pounds
4. Hair color: Dark brown
5. Eye color: Dark brown
6. Shoe size: 7
7. Favorite dinner: Tex-Mex food
8. Favorite drink: Chai
9. Favorite soda: Sprite
10. Favorite candy: Swiss chocolate, but Almond Snickers are a close second
11. Favorite dessert: Ice cream
12. Favorite TV show: I don’t watch TV.
13. Favorite music: Celtic
14. Ever been on a date: Yes……once……and no, I’m not telling you who, what, when, where, why, or how. And no, I don’t know how I got to be twenty-four and have only been on one date. And no, it doesn’t bother me that much. Are those all your questions now? Ok, good. Moving on:
15. Ever been to Disney World: Yes, when I was quite young. About the only thing I remember is the “It’s a Small World” boat ride.
16. Ever ridden a rollercoaster: Yes, I went to Astro World, rode five roller coasters in a row, ate lunch, rode the giant swings, then threw up in a bush.
17. Favorite movies: The Lord of the Rings, Batman Begins, Pride and Prejudice (the NEW one), You Can’t Take it With You, The More the Merrier, The Sound of Music, Chronicles of Narnia
18. Favorite clothes: Long, flowing skirts and cargo pants—I dare you to figure that one out. I guess I can’t decide if I want to be a lady or a tomboy.
19. Favorite store: The internet….in fact, I’ve recently joined the ranks of those who have their credit card numbers memorized. (Please don't come find me and torture me until I tell you what it is...the credit limit isn't that high.)
20. Favorite clothing store: Chadwicks (great website)….although I enjoy shopping at thrift shops too. It’s like a treasure hunt—you have to dig through a ton of junk, but you may find a gem you spent almost nothing for. (oops, sentence ending with preposition)
21. Favorite restaurant: Sorry, I can’t pick.
22. Favorite vacation spot: The Rocky Mountains
23. Dream vacation spots: I’d love to take tour of Europe.
24. People that I talk to most: My family and my co-workers (this is a very lame question, I think)
25. Embarrassing moments: Please see #16. All other embarrassing moments are classified. In other words, I’m trying to forget them.
26. Worst baby photos: Crying in the bathtub.
27. Best photos: The good baby pictures. One of them is so good it’s enlarged, framed, and hanging on our living room wall!!! Please excuse the tooting of my own horn, but I’m not really responsible for the fact that I was adorable, happy, and photogenic when I was six months old, right?
28. If you could live anywhere, where would it be?: I could write several paragraphs here, but the short version is that I think it’s best to live wherever you can be close to the people you care about the most…as long as you have the means to visit the mountains once a year or so. :-)
29. I can't wait to: Finish answering all these hard questions.
30. Rare but true facts: In case you haven’t figured it out yet, my real name is Kate, I’ve only been on one date, I threw up in a bush at Astro World, and I have my credit card number memorized.

Whew!! I think I need a nap now.

Cordless Jump Rope (don't laugh-this is serious)

Just when you thought everything had been invented already....

Sunday, May 28, 2006

The Way Is Shut

If it's not one thing it's another. I went to folk dancing Friday night and found myself locked out! I was a little late, so there were lots of people inside already. I could hear the music, and there was no way they were going to hear me pounding on the door, since they were on the second floor. Imagine my feelings of despair and rejection. I heard the happy people dancing to joyous music and I longed to join them, but I found myself alone in a desolate street. Okay, not really, but hmmmmm, that might make a good first line for a novel.......

Then other people came, we threw a roll of tape at the window, someone eventually came down and let us in, and we all had a wonderful time. The end.

The Da Vinci Code

I went to see The Da Vinci Code this weekend. I know that some who read this may shocked, disturbed, or disappointed by my going. If you are, please comment; I'd like to hear your thoughts. I never read the book, so all my following comments are based solely on the movie.

Of all the stories I have read, listened to, or seen on screen, the one most similar to The Da Vinci Code is a movie that was released last year, National Treasure. Allow me to summarize the two movies.

National Treasure supposes an enormous treasure which was accumulated over centuries during ancient times. This treasure was passed from hand to hand and conqueror to conqueror until it disappeared from history. Rediscovered by knights of the Crusades, it was smuggled to various hiding places and eventually to the North American continent by the Knights Templar and their heirs, the Freemasons. The Freemasons of colonial America set up an elaborate trail of clues leading to the hiding place. Interpretation of the clues required a thorough knowledge of Masonic symbolism and American history.

The Da Vinci Code supposes a Christ who was married and left a child. His bloodline continued to the modern day, protected through the centuries by a secret league of devotees. This group included Leonardo da Vinci, who left clues to the "truth" in his artwork. The hero of the story follows a series of clues to find the location/identity of the biological heir.

Both movies have gun fights, car chases, and spooky underground passageways. Both protagonists are intelligent, middle-aged men who accurately interpret the puzzles with which they are faced. Both heros must struggle not only with a group of villains who want to reach the same goal they do but also with misunderstanding authorities and police.

Here's the similarity I want to especially notice: Both movies create or twist historical facts to fit their thesis. People who lack knowledge of history or are suspicious of historical records might actually believe that there might be an invisible map on the back of the Declaration of Independence, or a magnificent treasure buried below New York City. In the same way, people who have no knowledge of church history and no knowledge or belief in the Bible might be persuaded that Jesus was married or that the Council of Nicea invented the doctrine of Christ's deity. It is for this reason I think The Da Vinci Code is dangerous. Too many people do not have the ability to refute the falsehoods, so they pause and wonder if what is portrayed may be true. Ignorance may be bliss, but it is also vulnerability.

I believe that National Treasure is fairly harmless, at least in terms of its historical manipulation. The worst thing that will happen to you is you will be more ignorant and more confused than you were before. Promoting knowledge of history is a good idea, but it isn't the Christian's mission. Our mission is to spread the gospel, and The Da Vinci Code is not helping. The false gospel it promotes is completely anti-Christian.

In conclusion, no person whom God wishes to save will be persuaded in the end by any false gospel. False teachers have appeared since the time of Christ and will continue to appear in the future. Our job is not to keep false teaching from appearing in the first place, but to confront in a way that brings glory to God and to use it to strengthen our families and Christian brethren.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Fire on the Strings in Hindsight

I had a great time at the festival on Saturday. In the morning I watched the Texas state banjo and flatpicking guitar championships. Amazingly, a kid about fifteen years old beat Chris Hirsch for first place in the banjo contest. Mr. Hirsch, for those who don't know, is the local can-play-anything-on-the-banjo man. In the afternoon and evening we had performances by four local bands: The LoneStar Band, The Bluegrass Solution, Hickory Hill, and Classical Grass, and two national bands: Cadillac Sky and Blue Highway. Those two especially were impressive not only for their ability as musicians, but also for their coordination. Each band played like a single instrument. Wow.

I had a baby girl after me all evening. Her parents were sitting several rows behind me, and they let her wander pretty liberally. She inevitably came to me, hugging me, asking to be held, smiling, laughing, etc. This caused no end of amusement to the people surrounding me. I think their interest was generated largely by the fact that as an unaccompanied male in his early twenties, I could be expected to have less interest in babies than almost anyone else in the room. I actually did hold her, which was fun because I haven't held a baby in a long time.

I didn't get home until 1:00 Sunday morning. Someone at church commented that I looked a little tired. Imagine that.

Monday, May 22, 2006

The Right Tools

My father has always been a strong believer in the importance of having the right tools for the right job. I was reminded of this on Saturday, when I was taking apart the piano bench so my mother could re-cover it.

First, I used the cordless power drill to take out the eight screws holding the legs on. I love power tools, and this part was fast and painless.
I then encountered a bajillion staples holding the cover on. Isn't this what you use to take out staples?
Apparently not industrial staples blasted into particle board. It didn't work at all. Papa said maybe this type of staple remover would work better.
It definitely did, but it still wasn't really strong enough to pull the staples out all the way. That's where the screwdriver came in.
Unfortunately, the screwdriver wasn't wide enough to pull out more than one side of the staple. Plus, it was ratcheted and kept turning on me. So, Papa brought me a wider, non-ratched screwdriver.
Next, I needed pliers for pulling out the halfway-still-stuck staples all over the place from my previous attempts.
Then, he saw me putting the successfully-removed staples in a little pile on the floor, so he brought a nice yellow cup to put them in. Ours didn't have a smiley face, though.
The staples were finally all out, but then the foam was glued to the board and left behind all kinds of fuzz and lumps. I was picking it off with my fingers when Papa walked up with a fantasic putty knife.
That should be the end of the story, but this project also included the gouging of two of my right hand knuckles when my hand slipped and hit a row of partly-out staples. This required the use of two band-aids. But you don't need a picture of those, do you?

Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Few of My Favorites

Chronicle of Narnia book: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Lord of the Rings Song: May It Be
Hamburger Topping: tomatoes
Pizza: onions, green peppers, and black olives
Candy Bar: almond Snickers
Water brand: Deja Blue
Magazine: Mental Floss
Flower: pansy
Artist: Norman Rockwell
Subway sandwich: roast beef, chipotle southwest sauce, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, green peppers
Chinese food: fortune cookies
Car trip activity: sleeping

Friday, May 19, 2006

A One Man Strike

Yesterday, I was working for someone who is replacing his roof. Since the the demolition requires only one skill, that of not damaging yourself, the homeowner decided to hire someone off the street. Now, for the uninitiated, Houston has several areas where unemployed Latinos, mostly illegal, gather every morning in the hope that someone will give them work for the day. It's kind of an informal rent-an-immigrant program. Anyway, the homeowner hired a man around 11:30, having agreed to pay him eight dollars an hour, which is about as good a wage as any of those guys can get. Work progressed smoothly until 2:30, at which time our friend stood up, put down his tool, folded his arms, and announced that he was finished and wanted to go home. It was hot, he said. It was dangerous on the roof, he said. It was dirty, he said. Of course, he might be persuaded to stay if he was making ten dollars an hour, he suggested. I watched bemusedly as the homeowner begged and pleaded and eventually gave in. The poor man wasn't prepared for the ploys of an unscrupulous day laborer.

The Da Vinci Code Opens Today

This much anticipated and dreaded movie opens nationwide today, and it's been interesting to me to observe the different sorts of responses by Christians. Some say we should go see it as a way of creating an opportunity to share the truth about Jesus with those who are lost and confused. Others say something like, "boycott the heresy!!" I agree with an article I read yesterday that said buying a ticket to the movie is like casting a vote saying, "Yes, Hollywood, make more movies like this." On the other hand, it can still be an opportunity to share the truth, even if you haven't seen the movie. It comes back to the important balance we must acheive to be both innocent and relevant. That's the way to be most effective in our culture.

Please join me in praying that the movie will not cause a "reverse revival" as many fear, and that Christians will stand strong in the face of opposition.

Here's to unshakeable faith!


Thursday, May 18, 2006

Fire on the Strings

Saturday is going to find me at the Fire on the Strings festival. Going was a given as soon as I heard that Blue Highway was playing. So, if you want to hear some excellent picking, sweat all over your instrument in the Texas heat, and learn dobro from Rob Ickes, come on out.

For those of you who believe a blog should have pictures, I must admit that I have no camera. All my life I have been surrounded by family members with cameras, and I have never had to actually use one to get the pictures I want. Occasionally, I will post photos, but they will be either pirated or taken on a borrowed camera.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Never Stop on the Tracks

This is what happened to my boss's nephew's car when he did that. Thankfully, he was able to get out just before the collision, and escaped unhurt.

Monday, May 15, 2006

My Feet Are For Walking

I have recently developed a love for walking. I'm not sure if it's a phase, a new hobby, or if the ten-mile hike I went several weeks ago caused brain damage, but I keep finding myself thinking about whether a distance is too far to walk before I just automatically hop in my car. This has caused some sideways glances from my family. Case in point: I decided to walk to the movie theater on Saturday. My mother said, "You're going to be all sweaty! Don't sit close to anyone!" Seth said, "I don't think that's a good idea." Becca said, "You're going walking in flip-flops?" John said, "Do you want to take my knife?"

Then today, I went to Hobby Lobby at lunch and decided to walk since it's such a beautiful day. Note to self: always wear sensible shoes to work in case you get the urge to go walking.

Since I enjoy quotes about as much as I enjoy walking, here are some fitting ones:

If you are seeking creative ideas, go out walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk. ~Raymond Inmon

A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine and psychology in the world. ~Paul Dudley White

Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow. ~Henry David Thoreau

Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time. ~Steven Wright

I have two doctors, my left leg and my right. ~G.M. Trevelyan

I dream of hiking into my old age. ~Marlyn Doan

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. ~John Muir

Thoughts come clearly while one walks. ~Thomas MannWalks.

The body advances, while the mind flutters around it like a bird. ~Jules Renard

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see. ~John Burroughs

How can you explain that you need to know that the trees are still there, and the hills and the sky? Anyone knows they are. How can you say it is time your pulse responded to another rhythm, the rhythm of the day and the season instead of the hour and the minute? No, you cannot explain. So you walk. ~Author unknown, from New York Times editorial, "The Walk," 25 October 1967

He who limps is still walking. ~Stanislaw J. Lec

Walking isn't a lost art - one must, by some means, get to the garage. ~Evan Esar

Your body is built for walking. ~Gary Yanker

The best remedy for a short temper is a long walk. ~Jacqueline Schiff

We live in a fast-paced society. Walking slows us down. ~Robert Sweetgall

If you pick 'em up, O Lord, I'll put 'em down. ~Author Unknown, "Prayer of the Tired Walker"

There is nothing like walking to get the feel of a country. A fine landscape is like a piece of music; it must be taken at the right tempo. Even a bicycle goes too fast. ~Paul Scott Mowrer, The House of Europe

After dinner sit awhile, after supper walk a mile. ~English Proverb

If I could not walk far and fast, I think I should just explode and perish. ~Charles Dickens

As a nation we are dedicated to keeping physically fit - and parking as close to the stadium as possible. ~Bill Vaughan

Saturday, May 13, 2006

United 93

I saw United 93 this afternoon. For those who may not know, it details the story of the hijacked plane that went down in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001. I appreciated the way in which the story was told, in that the focus was on the human tragedy and the acts of personal heroism that were displayed that day. It is the story of everyday people going about their everyday lives but being thrust into extraordinary circumstances. The portrayal is of real confusion, real fear, and real courage. This, to me, was very inspiring, even with the tragic ending.

I'm glad the movie is being shown, because it is a great reminder to Americans to not take their next hour for granted.

Warning: For those who are especially sensitive, the movie does contain some violence and language.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

What Is Your Mother Worth?

There was a study done recently that tried to put a monetary value on everything a mother does. They determined that if you hired someone to do all the child care, cooking, cleaning, laundry, chauffeuring, counseling….that it would cost almost $135,000 per year. That’s not a bad salary, but is that really what a mother is worth? How do you put a value on things like a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, wise advice, and a love so strong she’d lay down her life for you? What about all the backrubs, kisses, and hugs? And you could never hire someone to adequately teach you either to be a woman or to love a woman, could you? Would a maid-housekeeper-cook teach you about God, pray for you every day, and sacrifice her own happiness for yours? I don’t think so. So what’s a mother worth, anyway? I’d say: Priceless.

Dancing

Check out Katie's blog for a picture of the two of us dancing. The photo was taken at a Mediterranean festival at which we performed last Saturday.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Peer Pressure vs. Isolationism

I have noticed that people who spend most of their time in isolation tend to come up with more eccentric ideas than those who are constantly in the company of their peers. Contrary to what one may expect, being with other people tends to make us want to be like them, rather than develop our own individuality. Too often, children and adults alike are pressured into doing things they know are not best or are even wrong. These people place too much importance on the opinions of others.

On the other hand, people who live in an ideological bubble, who keep themselves removed from the world, will sometimes become imbalanced in their thinking. They may take unsupportable positions on issues, or they may focus on one area of their life or ministry at the expense of others. These people place too much importance on their own opinions.

How do we find a proper balance? We have to constantly be analyzing the ideas, opinions, theories, and behaviors to which we are exposed; we need to limit the amount of floor time we allow falsehood. Just as a plant can't grow in a dark room, a truth-starved soul will wither. It is also important to share our own ideas with other people so that when we are wrong they can tell us. Ultimately, all our thoughts must be tried against the Bible. Let us approach it with a mind free of worldly presuppositions, the fear of man, and the pride of the flesh.

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

Spinning

This crazy, blurry, spinning action shot gives a pretty good idea of how I usually feel at dance performances! The one last Saturday went quite well (quite well is not very well; I'm satisfied), and was a lot of fun.

A Commercial

In case you didn't notice the addition to my links list, there's a fantastic new blog with the intriguing name of "Puddleglum's Wigwam." Be sure to check it out.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

Grape Leaves and Eggplant

Katie and I danced with our folk dance group at a local Mediterranean Festival yesterday. In return, we were given a free dinner. Now historically, I have had a reasonably adventurous palate, but this plate pushed the limits of my experience. We had ground lamb mixed with rice, dipped in vinegar and lemon juice, and wrapped with grape leaves into an egg-roll-sized bundle. Next to this was a salad composed entirely of chopped herbs, such as parsley, cilantro, celery leaves, and onions. Such things have their place as accents or seasonings, but they are strong when eaten by the mouthful. On the side was a bowl of something which looked like hummus, but rather than being made from chickpeas, it was made from eggplant, and spiced in such a way so as to insure than no one but a Turk or a Tunisian could eat it with enjoyment.

All these and other similarly exotic dishes were consumed in the midst of a scholarly discourse from one of our fellow folk dancers. As he described the foods we were eating, he rattled off names which I cannot pronounce, much less hope to spell.

After it all, our family motto (one of them) still stands:

Never turn down free food.

Friday, May 5, 2006

From my Inbox

What happens when a fly falls into a cup of coffee ?
  1. Englishman: Throws his cup away and walks away.
  2. Frenchman: Takes the insect out and drinks the coffee.
  3. Chinese: Eats the insect and throws the coffee away.
  4. Japanese: Drinks the coffee with the insect, since it is a free bonus.
  5. American Leftist Professor: Deconstructs the narrative of the fly while protesting against its victimhood at the hands of the American Empire.
  6. Israeli: Sells the coffee to the Frenchman and the insect to the Chinese, and gets himself a new cup of coffee.
  7. Palestinian: Accuses the Israeli of throwing the insect into his coffee. Gets the UN and the EU to condemn the Jews for the situation. Takes a loan from EC to buy another cup of coffee and uses the rest of the proceeds to finance suicide bombings.
  8. Canadian Liberal: Races for the American border to escape the new Conservative Administration in Canada and there buys a latte while defending the animal rights of all insects.

I hope the fact that I found this funny doesn't mean I'm a bigoted stereotyper. (Is that a word?)

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Patriotism??

I saw a ribbon magnet on a car this morning that said, "God Bless New Orleans." My first thought was that it was rather pathetic. Why should we be asking God to bless that ruined place, especially when it was such a Sodom-and-Gomorrah type of city? But then I thought to myself, "Is it really that much different from the God Bless the USA magnet I have on my car?" I guess it's really not, because both are expressions of concern and goodwill for the chunk of the planet that you consider your home.

I think patriotism definitely has its place, and the values our country was founded upon are worth fighting for. On the other hand though, we shouldn't take it too far and start thinking that God owes America special favors or something. After all, this world is not our home.

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

"What do they teach them in these schools?"

I was listening to a local talk radio show this morning, and I heard about a study that CNN did recently in which they found a remarkable lack of geographical knowledge among college students. Of a study group of 500 Americans between the ages of 18 and 24, sixty-six percent could not point to Iraq when shown a world map. Having been homeschooled all my life, I realize I am not well acquainted with what goes on in a typical high school classroom, but I fail to comprehend how one could take even a general overview of recent U.S. and world history and not know where Iraq is. As if this failure of our schools was not disconcerting enough, here's the more important issue: These people are members of the voting public, yet they do not care enough about their country to locate the nation where thousands of our troops are fighting and dying.

For those of you who do care about where our country has been, where it is, and where it is going, remember this: A light shines brightest when it is surrounded by darkness.

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

A Day Without an Immigrant

The day has come and gone, and I am hoping that no one's opinions were influenced by the ploy. The message sent was purely emotional, not logical or economic. No reasonable person could say that there would be no effect on the economy and our lives in general if five percent of the workforce got up and moved to Mexico one day, so we haven't learned anything new about the importance of the migrant. Further, a thinking person will see that those who are taking low-wage jobs are also putting less back into the economy, even while they receive benefits such as welfare and health care. Even if we had to pay more to get our fruit picked and our houses built, our society would be paying less in the long run. Am I wrong?