Friday, December 21, 2007

To All My Friends, Democrats and Republicans, Greetings!

To All My Democratic Friends:

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee.

To All My Republican Friends:

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Thursday, December 20, 2007

Back Again!

Well...I'm back! It HAS been quite awhile, I admit, but it's the holiday season and no one is spending much time on the computer lately. I probably won't be posting again until after New Year's Day. I will be sleeping late that day because the day before we will be having our annual LORD OF THE RINGS marathon, watching the extended versions of all the movies. It should last about 12 hours. Can't wait : ) Currently, we are reading through the books again as a family. Am I happy? Need you ask? Happy Christmas everyone, and a Merry New Year!

Here are some photos we took last week while on a trip. This one is just a really nice shot of the sun behind the Mediterranean sea.

This one was taken on the plane. Those are genuine clouds - that's what I love about airplanes - watching the clouds so far below...

Here's another one taken on the plane, though the plane was a wee bit lopsided when it was taken. For some reason, it reminds me of C.S. Lewis' "Perelandra." I think that's sort of how I imagine the face of that planet to look.

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Saturday, December 1, 2007


Well, speaking of sonnets I wrote my first one yesterday:) I was just playing with the words but I decided that I liked it. It's for Una from Spenser's "Faerie Queene." If you've read the "Faerie Queene," you'll notice that it's supposed to have been written by the Redcrosse Knight. If you haven't read the "Faerie Queene," I do recommend it, but let me warn you that it's not the easiest reading...Did you know that it was considered archaic when it was published?

If anyone has any suggestions of things I should change in the poem, please tell me. I'd be happy to consider changing it.

Too long I labored, striving for your plight,
And little thought of you -- but of my name,
Then left my honor and my glory quite
Nor could I face myself for very shame.
I gave up everything that I'd possessed
(But had not known the worth of before then,)
And threw away, unknowing, my heart's quest,
And left myself for dead, the grave within.
Yet when I thought I'd nothing left in life,
And vowed to make a harsh and timely end,
You came and snatched away the cursed knife,
And rescued there the heart that I would rend.
So, in my darkest hour and deadliest place,
You turned my head towards the Amazing Grace.
-B.J.J aka StrongJoy

Note: I'm going on vacation tomorrow so I won't be posting for a couple weeks. Auf Wiedersehen....

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Voyage Of Life

When it comes to art, Thomas Cole's painting series, "The Voyage Of Life" has long been one of my favorites.

The first painting in the series is an illustration of infancy. If you blow up the picture, you can see the child in the bottom of the boat. There is a guardian angel standing in the boat with the child. This angel is present in each of the pictures in the series. The figurehead on the prow of the boat symbolizes time.

The second painting in the series is an illustration of youth. In this picture, you can see that the youth is still in the same boat, traveling down the same river, (The River Of Life) and that the same angel stands near him. However, in this picture, the guardian angel is farther off and the youth has turned his head in another direction. He is chasing his "Castle In The Air," the shimmering illusion seen in the skies.

The third painting in the series is an illustration of manhood. The man is passing through wild rapids here, symbolizing the difficulty of manhood. The guardian angel is still present, as you can see, but he\she is far away and only watching from the clouds. However, far up ahead, you can see the sea through the rocks.

The fourth and last painting in the series is an illustration of old age. I don't think it needs much explanation:)

There's a lot more symbolism in these paintings that I didn't cover so if you'd like to find out more about them, I'd suggest that you read up on them here. Also, the pictures aren't nearly so beautiful when they are small like this. They are so much lovelier when they are big. The real paintings cover an entire wall! I'd sure love to see them like that!

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Sonnet XXIX

I'm always a little suspicious of sonnets. They tend to follow a similar pattern of admiring nature and then mourning one's rejection by one's lady-love. Furthermore, the said lady-love was very often not someone the poet cared for in the least, though, of course, many earnest lovers must have written sonnets as well.

However, despite all of these stains upon the reputation of the sonnet, I do believe that Shakespeare has very nearly managed to redeem it with his many contributions to the world of sonnets. Here is one of my favorites:

“When in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur’d like him, like him with friends possess’d,
Desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least;
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply, I think on thee, -- and then my state,
Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth, sings hymns at heaven’s gate;
For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my place with kings.”
-William Shakespeare

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Reading The Meaning...

These lines from Flannery O' Connor made me stop and think more deeply about how I read books...

"Some people have the notion that you read the story and then climb out of it into the meaning, but for the fiction writer himself the whole story is the meaning, because it is an experience, not an abstraction."
-Flannery O'Connor
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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Innocence Of Father Brown

I finished reading The Innocence of Father Brown by G.K. Chesterton recently and I liked it so much I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about it. I really think that Chesterton is a wonderful writer and he has a way of expressing ideas with startling clarity.

All of the stories in this book include elements of suspense and surprise that are so important in a great detective story. The plots are complex and well-organized. There is the joy of feeling smart when you finally do crack the code and solve the mystery. Even if it isn't until the end of the story, you still feel like a very accomplished detective. In fact, you feel like you solved the mystery yourself, much of the time.

I think that the greatest thing about the book is that it is both entertaining and thought-provoking. Chesterton has created an intriguing story but has also managed to weave much deeper ideas into the book. Through the conversation of Father Brown, the sweet little English priest, Chesterton manages to state many of his own beliefs. Yet, somehow, he says them in such a way that the reader does not feel at all as though he is "preaching to them." Indeed, how can they? For the author rarely states his own opinions with the omnipresent privilege he possesses, but prefers to let his star character influence the reader of each story. This is what I consider to be very good writing.

I cannot say that I agree with everything that Chesterton says - indeed, I differ with him on many points- but somehow, in this book, those differences don't really matter. Winston Churchill says of history, "Nevertheless, the broad story holds for it was founded on a true and dominating principle." I believe that the same is true of these stories. The truth behind the book is so powerful that it makes a fascinating read.

Here are some lines I particularly like:

"Reason and justice grip the remotest and the loneliest star. Look at those stars. Don't they look as if they were single diamonds and sapphires? Well, you can imagine any mad botany or geology you please. Think of forests of adamant with leaves of brilliants. Think the moon is a blue moon, a single elephantine sapphire. But don't fancy that all that frantic astronomy would make the smallest difference to the reason and justice of conduct. On plains of opal, under cliffs cut out of pearl, you would still find a noticeboard, 'Thou shalt not steal.' "

One of the most interesting stories in the book is The Eye Of Apollo. At the beginning of the story, Father Brown asks his friend Flambeau about the new "Religion Of Apollo."

"What on earth is that," asked Father Brown, and stood still."

"Oh, a new religion," said Flambeau, laughing: "one of those new religions that forgive your sins by saying you never had any....It claims, of course, that it can cure all physical diseases."

"Can it cure the one spiritual disease?" asked Father Brown, with a serious curiosity.

"And what is the one spiritual disease?" asked Flambeau, smiling.

"Oh, thinking one is quite well," said his friend.

I sincerely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys mysteries that are more than just mere mysteries.

Seize The Day!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Today's Words Of Wisdom

"Never work before breakfast.
If you have to work before breakfast, eat your breakfast first."
-Josh Billings

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Thursday, October 25, 2007

Are You Trusting God To Write Your Story?

I don't remember where I found this but I re-discovered it in my documents this week and I was moved again when I read it:

Are You Trusting God To Write Your Story?

"Do you trust Him with your dreams?

Do you trust Him with your friendships?

Do you trust Him with your work?

Do you trust Him with your finances?

Do you trust Him with your love story?

Do you trust Him with your future?

Do you trust Him in your fears?

Do you trust Him in your pain?

Do you trust Him in your circumstances?

Do you trust Him in EVERYTHING?

Do you trust Him enough to let Him keep on writing?"

Seize The Day!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Star Wars Ideology

My sister and I saw Star Wars for the first time this week. It was definitely an interesting story. Some of the scenes were incredibly well-filmed and the plot was complex and well-organized. The movie was very clean. I could stop here, call it a "good movie" and go on. But it seems to me that there is a lot more below the surface of this story than meets the eye.

I don't think that there is any such thing as an "innocent author." What I mean by this is that every author has his or her own opinions, biases, beliefs and worldview and that these will naturally come out in that author's writings. Is this bad? No! Of course not! But it is dangerous, especially when we don't read carefully. The same goes for movies. Perhaps we tend to say a movie is "OK" if it doesn't have any inappropriate graphical scenes or bad language. Do we sometimes forget that movies (and books) are usually written to communicate an idea (and even if they aren't written for that purpose they fulfill it anyway, albeit unintentionally). Ideas are dangerous, especially when we aren't paying attention to them, because it is then that they slip into our minds unnoticed and uncontested.

In George Lucas' World there is no God, but 'The Force" -an energy field created by all living things that surround us. It has a good side and an evil side. When someone dies, his spirit joins the force and becomes part of it. This is a Buddhist/New Age belief. By the way, have you noticed that the characters names all sound far-eastern (Obi Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn, Yoda)? While researching New Age beliefs, I was surprised to find that many New Agers believe crop circles to be created by aliens and welcome their coming to our earth. Star Wars holds a picture of a world where aliens and humans will one day live together. Each Jedi has a 'guide' who teaches him secret knowledge. Often these guides communicate as 'ghosts' after they have died. This is forbidden in the Holy Scriptures (Leviticus 19:31) and is also a common New Age belief.

When interested in the ideology behind an author's work, I think it's a good idea to research the beliefs of the author concerned. In this case, that would be George Lucas. Did you know that he wrote a book about his New Age beliefs and had it made into a comic books series? guessed it! The birth of Star Wars! It is clear that Star Wars is New Age propaganda. George Lucas doesn't deny this. I suppose an informed person can still enjoy the adventure in these movies, but I think they are really dangerous for the naive and especially young children and yet this is the audience the Star Wars creator has targeted.

If you're interested in Star Wars, I think it would be a good idea to learn a little bit more about the worldview of its author and the concepts portrayed in the movies. You might profit from it -- I did.

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Now You Have No Excuse Not To Read It...

For those of you who haven't read The Ballad Of The White Horse (and, by the way, if you haven't read it, you haven't lived!), it is now possible to read it online. This site has the entire poem typed up and you can even print it out if you want. I highly recommend that you do it immediately...

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Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Best Dialogue In Tolkien's Works (Well, I think so at least...)

The fact that I am a true and thorough Tolkien fan might not have been made clear yet by any of my previous posts...but it's time to confess...

I found a wonderful passage of his and I decided that it was too good not to share. This dialogue is only published in one of Tolkien's books -- Morgoth's Ring: The Later Silmarillion (Go here to read up on the history of Middle-Earth) and discusses Redemption. Tolkien has been criticized by some that his stories do not contain the redemption story. Read on...

‘Have ye then no hope?’ said Finrod.

‘What is hope?’ she said. ‘An expectation of good, which though uncertain has some foundation in what is known? Then we have none.’

‘That is one thing that Men call “hope”,’ said Finrod. ‘Amdir we call it, “looking up”. But there is another which is founded deeper. Estel we call it, that is “trust”. It is not defeated by the ways of the world, for it does not come from experience, but from our nature and first being. If we are indeed the Eruhin, the Children of the One, then He will not suffer Himself to be deprived of His own, not by any Enemy, not even by ourselves. This is the last foundation of Estel, which we keep even when we contemplate the End: of all His designs the issue must be for His Children’s joy. Amdir you have not, you say. Does no Estel at all abide?’

‘Maybe,’ she said . . . ‘It is believed that healing may yet be found, or that there is some way of escape. But is this indeed Estel? Is it not Amdir rather; but without reason: mere flight in a dream from what waking they know: that there is no escape from darkness and death?’

‘Mere flight in a dream you say,’ answered Finrod. ‘In dream many desires are revealed; and desire may be the last flicker of Estel. But you do not mean dream, Andreth. You confound dream and waking with hope and belief, to make the one more doubtful and the other more sure . . .

‘What then was this hope, if you know?’ Finrod asked.

‘They say,’ answered Andreth: ‘they say that the One will himself enter into Arda, and heal Men and all the Marring from the beginning to the end. . . . How could Eru enter into the thing that He has made, and than which He is beyond measure greater? Can the singer enter into his tale or the designer into his picture?’

‘He is already in it, as well as outside,’ said Finrod . . . ‘For, as it seems to me, even if He in Himself were to enter in, He must still remain also as He is: the Author without. And yet, Andreth, to speak with humility, I cannot conceive how else this healing could be achieved. Since Eru will surely not suffer Melkor to turn the world to his own will and to triumph in the end. Yet there is no power conceivable greater than Melkor save Eru only. Therefore Eru, if He will not relinquish his work to Melkor, who must else proceed to mastery, then Eru must come in to conquer him. More: even if Melkor (or the Morgoth that he has become) could in any way be thrown down or thrust from Arda, still his Shadow would remain, and the evil that he has wrote and sown as a seed would wax and multiply. And if any remedy for this is to be found, ere all is ended, any new light to oppose the shadow, or any medicine for the wounds: then it must, I deem, come from without.’
-John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, "Morgoth's Ring: The Later Silmarillion"


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Saturday, September 29, 2007

New Twist On An Old Proverb...

“Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away. Plus, you'll have their shoes.”
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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Courage Is...

"The Death Of Socrates" by Jacque Louis David
"Courage is almost a contradiction in terms.
It means a strong desire to live, taking the form of a readiness to die."
-Gilbert Keith Chesterton

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Monday, September 17, 2007

Courage Is...

"Napoleon" By Jacques Louis David

Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death.
-Harold Wilson

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Smoe Itnresetnig Inofmration

Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoetnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be at the rghit pclae. The rset can be a tatol mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe.

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Saturday, September 15, 2007

The King's Picture

I love this because it is a beautiful reminder of the fact that we are every one of us made in His image and, for that reason, if no other, we are all precious in His sight...

The king from the council chamber
Came weary and sore of heart;
He called to Cliff, the painter,
And spoke to him thus apart:
"I'm sickened of faces ignoble,
Hypocrites, cowards, and knaves;
I shall shrink to their shrunken measure,
Chief slave in a realm of slaves.
Paint me a true man's picture,
Gracious and wise and good,
Dowered with the strength of heroes
And the beauty of womanhood.
It shall hang in my inmost chamber,
That, thither when I retire,
It may fill my soul with its grandeur,
And warm it with sacred fires."
So the artist painted the picture,
And it hung in the palace hall;
Never a thing so lovely
Had garnished the stately wall.
The King, with head uncovered,
Gazed on it with rapt delight,
Till it suddenly wore strange meaning -
Baffled his questioning sight.
For the form was the supplest courtier's,
Perfect in every limb;
But the bearing was that of the henchman
Who filled the flagons for him;
The brow was a priest's who pondered
His parchment early and late;
The eye was the wandering minstrel's
Who sang at the palace gate.
The lips, half sad and half mirthful,
With a fitful trembling grace,
Were the very lips of a woman
He had kissed in the market place;
But the smiles which curves transfigured,
As a rose with its shimmer of dew,
Was the smile of the wife who loved him,
Queen Ethelyn, good and true.
"Then learn, O King," said the artist,
"this truth that the picture tells-
That in every form of the human
Some hint of the highest dwells;
That scanning each living temple
For the place that the veil is thin,
We may gather by beautiful glimpses
The form of the God within."
-Helen L.B. Bostwick
-Seize The Day!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Rules Of Economics

"You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot lift the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man's initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves."
-Abraham Lincoln

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Ceaseless Rosemary"

Emily Dickinson has a clever trick of writing absolute nonsense. (Perhaps this is part of the reason why her poetry expresses so much of the inexpressible.) She also breaks the rules of writing by inventing new phrases. These are usually phrases we have never heard before -- phrases that don't make sense. How then, is it that we know exactly what she means?

"Essential oils -- are wrung --
The Attar from the Rose
Be not expressed by Suns -- alone --
It is the gift of Screws.

The General Rose -- decay--
But this -- in Lady’s Drawer,
Makes Summer -- When the lady lies
In Ceaseless Rosemary."
-Emily Dickinson

In reading the poem above, I found something particularly intriguing about the beautiful phrase at the end of the poem: "Ceaseless Rosemary." It's certainly a new phrase- I mean, who ever heard of Eternity referred to as "Ceaseless Rosemary"? I decided to do some research on the topic and came up with interesting results: It turns out that the word "Rosemary" is actually commonly used in old literature to symbolize remembrance. Shakespeare says: “There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember;" "Ceaseless" is literally defined as "endless" or "constant." I guess that "Ceaseless Rosemary" not only sounds good , but it makes sense too!

If I researched every unusual phrase in Emily Dickinson's poetry, I'd probably end up with quite a tidy little collection of facts...

Seize The Day!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Problem With This Whole "Good Attitude Thing" Is That It Really Works...

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"The Road Not Taken"

This poem has long been one of my favorites...
"Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And, sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having, perhaps, the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though, as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
-Robert Frost
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Friday, August 17, 2007

A Few Announcements

I've been working very hard on my Quotations Collection and Poetry Collection during these past few days (you can find them on my sidebar) I'm extremely proud of myself for coming up with the idea so bear with me if I boast a little. I'm working to expand these collections this week and I plan to continue adding to them. That will mean hours of typing up my commonplace book and I'll have to start getting up early before anyone else has the computer but, oh well - I like getting up early.

Anyway, instead of posting my second post about Heroes today, I am slacking off on the job and giving you a tag. This is no ordinary tag, my friends. This is a tag that actually caught my interest. It was given to me by TobyBo. Here's the rules:

1. You have to post these rules before you give the facts.

2. Players, you must list one fact that is somehow relevant to your life for each letter of their middle name. If you don’t have a middle name, use the middle name you would have liked to have had.

3. When you are tagged you need to write your own blog-post containing your own middle name game facts.

4. At the end of your blog-post, you need to choose one person for each letter of your middle name to tag.

5. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

And here is my contribution to the fun. My middle name is JOY (very short) so this should be easy.

"Joy of the Lord is my Strength" (my username is thus explained)
"One Pure And Holy Passion" is the song in my head this week- You MUST listen to it.
"Your eyes will see only what your mind is prepared to comprehend." (That IS a great quotation and what else am I supposed to do with the letter "Y"?)

And now, for my last announcement: I would like to encourage all of you to look into the Better Blogging Movement and congratulate Eyebright on this new campaign.

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Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Heroes" = Doing "Great Things"

Robert Louis Stevenson is a brilliant author, let there be no doubt about that. Books like Treasure Island and Kidnapped could not have been written by anyone other than a brilliant writer. Nonetheless, while reading “The Black Arrow” yesterday, one of his books that is not so well-known, I noticed something lacking in the story. After reflecting on this for some time, I turned back to his other works and began perusing them. The fact stands – his books are timeless and brilliant BUT they have one serious deficiency – there are no heroes! Stevenson never really creates a single heroic character. Those of us who have read some of the old classics are used to books where at least one admirable character is present to steal the show and win our hearts. Stevenson invents a host of characters but I find great difficulty in reconciling myself with any of them. It was only long after I finished “Kidnapped” for instance, that I was able to forgive Alan for his cowardice and even David Balfour struck me as being extremely self-centered, as did Jim Hawkins. Stevenson’s characters are disappointing. They are constantly doing the very thing you hope they will not do and though, they never really do anything absolutely base, they never do anything really heroic either.

And yet, maybe Robert Louis Stevenson knew mankind better than the authors of books with “perfect heroes.” Maybe he knew that people who haven’t learned to make the right choices every day won’t be able to make the right choice when something drastic happens. Maybe he knew something about human nature…Maybe he knew the simple truth that man is weak…and it is true, we ARE weak.

Here's another idea: maybe he DIDN’T know that we don’t have be weak forever...that there is One who strengthens us to do great things…if we KNOW Him.

I plan to expand on this thought so stay tuned...

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Sunday, August 12, 2007

"After The Battle" -

I wrote a lot of poetry when I was a kid but I've lost most of it and none of it was much good anyway. (If I want a good laugh, all I have to do is take out my first poetry notebook and read through some of the things I proudly scribbled down when I was eight.) There is, however, one of these early poems that I don't laugh over quite so much. When I was little, I wrote a lot of things that I didn't even understand. This is one of them. Now it makes sense to me. Now I realize what it means.

"The face is lifeless,
The eyes but stare
No heartbeat stirs the breast
No wind can blow the hair.

Here is the reason for it:
This arrow ended his time-
It's shaft looks so familiar
I wonder if it was mine."
-B.J.J. aka StrongJoy

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Friday, August 10, 2007

Some Memories Stay With You Forever...

I heard this song when I was only a little child and I have never forgotten it. I've used to dream about it and the thought of it brought to my mind a picture of a dark wood. I saw myself walking through it with one Light ahead of me to follow and footsteps on the path before me. I had only to walk in those footsteps and keep my eye on the Light and I would get safely through that fearful wood and see the glorious Light at the other end of forest. Recently I found the song on some old tape stacked away and I couldn't help but cry when I heard it again- it was just so beautiful!

"Sometimes the night was beautiful,
Something the sky was so far away
Sometimes it seemed to be so close,
You could touch it but your heart would break.
Sometimes the morning came too soon
Sometimes the day could be so hot-
There was so much work left to do
But so much you'd already done.

Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God,You are my God,
And I will ever praise You
I will seek you in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You lead me
And I will follow You all of my days
And step by step You lead me
And I will follow You all of my days.
And I will follow You all of my days
And I will follow You all of my days
And step by step You lead me
And I will follow You all of my days.

Sometimes I think of Abraham-
How one star he saw was lit for me.
He was a stranger in the land
And I am that no less than he.
And on this road to holiness,
Sometimes the climb can be so steep
I may falter in my step
But I'm never beyond Your reach.
Oh God, You are my God
And I will ever praise You
Oh God,You are my God,
And I will ever praise You
I will seek you in the morning
And I will learn to walk in Your ways
And step by step You lead me
And I will follow You all of my days
And step by step You lead me
And I will follow You all of my days.
And I will follow You all of my days
And I will follow You all of my days
And step by step You lead me
And I will follow You all of my days...."
-Rich Mullins

Seize The Joy!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

High-And-Mighty Authors Have Us Fooled With Their Eloquence...

"Scintillate scintillate, globule vivific,
Fain would I fathom thy nature specific.
Loftily placed in the ether capacious,
Strongly resembling a gem carbonaceous."
-A.P. Gipps

What?! You don't know what that means? What's the matter with you?! Haven't you ever heard the song? - "Twinkle, twinkle, little star"?...

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Wednesday, August 1, 2007

"Loved Once"

I read this last night and it reminded me of my previous post. As Anya said, in her response to that post, "God commands us to love... that command wouldn't even make sense if love was simply an emotion. Sometimes it is good to put concious effort into loving people who are hard to love." Very good point, Anya.
"I classed, appraising once,
Earth's lamentable sounds, - the welladay,
The jarring yea and nay,
The fall of kisses on unanswering clay,
The sobbed farewell, the welcome mournfuller,-
But all did leaven the air
With a less bitter leaven of sure despair
Than these words- "I loved ONCE."
And who saith "I loved ONCE"?
Not angels- whose clear eyes, love, love forsee,
Love, through eternity,
And by To Love do apprehend To Be.
Not God, called LOVE, His noble crown-name, casting
A light too broad for blasting!
The great God changing not from everlasting,
Saith never, "I loved ONCE."

Oh never is "Loved Once" Thy word,
Thou Victim-Christ, misprized friend!
Thy cross and curse may rend,
But having loved Thou lovest to the end.
This is man's saying - man's. Too weak to move
One sphered star above,
Man desecrates the eternal God-word Love
By his No More, and Once.

How say ye "We loved once,"
Blasphemers? Is your earth not cold enow,
Mourners, without that snow?
Ah, friends! and would ye wrong each other so?
And could ye say of some whose love is known,
Whose prayers have met your own,
Whose tears have fallen for you, whose smiles have shone
So long, - "We loved them ONCE"?

Could ye "We loved her once"
Say calm of me, sweet friends, when out of sight?
When hearts of better right
Stand in between me and your happy light?
Or when, as flowers kept too long in the shade,
Ye find my colours fade,
And all that is not love in me, decayed?
Such words- Ye loved me ONCE!

Could ye "We loved her once"
Say cold of me when further put away
In earth's sepulchral clay, -
When mute the lips which deprecate to-day?
Not so! not then -least then.
When life is shriven,
Of those who sit and love you up in Heaven,
Say not, "We loved them once."

Say never, ye loved ONCE.
God is too near above, the grave, beneath,
And all our moments breathe
Too quick in mysteries of life and death,
For such a word. The eternities avenge
Affections of light range.
There comes no change to justify that change,
Whatever comes - Loved ONCE.

And yet that same word ONCE
Is humanly acceptive. Kings have said,
Shaking a discrowned head,
"We ruled once," - dotards, "We taught once and led."
Cripples once danced i' the vines- and bards approved
Were once by scornings moved:
But love strikes one hour - LOVE! those never loved
Who dream that they loved ONCE."
-Elizabeth Barret Browning

Seize The Day!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The Evolution Of Love

I found this the other day and I thought it was very well-put:

"In an age where so much of life is based on feelings, it seems that we've begun to lose the true essence of what love means. Once love meant a decision; when you loved someone you loved them forever. Today however, the overwhelming feelings of emotion dictate our decision to "love". But, on the other hand, if the fascinating affection we once felt begins to die we determine that we no longer "love" that person, and then. most sadly, we often give up and walk away. Love has evolved."
-Joel Smallbone
Seize The Day!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

"Seize The Day"- The Song That Inspires Me EVERY Time...

I know a girl who was schooled in Manhattan,
She reads dusty books and learns phrases in Latin.
She is as author or maybe a poet-
A genius, it's just that this world doesn't know it!
She works on a novel most every day-
If you laugh she will say...

Seize the day!
Seize whatever you can,
For life slips away
Just like hourglass sand
Seize the day,
For Grace from God's hand,
And nothing will stand in your way-
Seize the day!

One thing I've noticed wherever I wander:
Everyone's got a dream he can follow or squander.
You can do what you will with the days you are given-
I'm trying to spend mine on the business of living!
So I'm singing my songs off of any old stage,
You can laugh if you want- I'll still say...

Seize the day!
Seize whatever you can,
For life slips away
Just like hourglass sand
Seize the day,
For Grace from God's hand,
And nothing will stand in your way-
Seize the day!
-Carolyn Arends (From "Seize The Day")

Seize The Day!


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

What We See...

"To hear an oriole sing
May be a common thing,
Or only a divine.

It is not of the bird,
Who sings the same, unheard,
As unto crowd.

The fashion of the ear
Attireth that it hear
In dun or fair.

So whether it be rune,
Or whether it be none,
Is of within.

The “tune is in the tree”
The skeptic showeth thee
'No sir! In thee!'"
-Emily Dickinson

To make a comment on that lovely observation written by one of my favorite poets, I can only say that "What we see, depends mainly on what we are looking for." -Sir John Lubbock
Seize The Day!

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Question Of Value

People through the ages have struggled over the answer to the question, "How do you measure the worth of a man?" I've always believed that the answer to that question had something to do with Love but I wasn't sure how to explain that. I wrote this poem two months ago in frustration over my inability to express how I felt about this subject. When I had finished it, I realized that I had answered my own question: Yes, I believe that the Question of Value IS answered by Love but not by human Love. (See "Idols" - One Of The Best Poems Written In The English Language for a description of human Love.) I believe that the Love of our Creator is what gives us our value. If we are loved by the only One who matters, isn't that enough to give us all the value we could ever care to have?

How do you measure value?
What do you measure it by?
Is value measured by who we are-
We, the Hurt Ones, crushed and scarred,
Far from the light- so far, so far,
All of us reaching for the stars,
Under an empty sky?

How do you measure value?
What do you measure it by?
Is value measured by what we possess-
Years of struggle against weakness,
Groping for diamonds in cold darkness,
To find that somehow we still have less
And somehow we can’t even cry.

Last night as I prayed for the answer
And chased away Hope I had banned,
Someone spoke to me in the night,
A Voice whispered “Can’t you find My Light?
Well, I’ll always love you so it’s alright.”
Look! - Starlight in my hand!
-B.J.J. aka StrongJoy
Seize The Day!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"Idols" - One Of The Best Poems Written In The English Language

How weak the gods of this world are-
And weaker their worship made me!
For I have been an idolater of three-
And three times they betrayed me.

Mine oldest worshipping was given
To natural Beauty, ay, residing
In bowery earth and starry heaven,
In ebbing sea and river gliding.

But natural Beauty shuts her bosom
To what the natural feelings tell!
Albeit I sighed, the trees would blossom-
Albeit I smiled the blossoms fell.

Then left I earthly sights to wander
Amid a grove of name divine,
Where bay-reflecting streams meander
And Moloch Fame hath reared a shrine.

Not green but black is that reflection;
On rocky beds those waters lie;
That grove hath chillness and dejection-
How could I sing? I had to sigh.

Last, human Love, thy Lares greeting,
To rest and warmth I vowed my years
To rest? How wild my pulse is beating!
To warmth? Ah, me! My burning tears!

Aye, they may burn-though thou be frozen
By death and changes wintering on
Fame!- Beauty!- idols madly chosen-
Were yet of gold; but thou art STONE!

Crumble like stone! My voice no longer
Shall wail their names who silent be:
There is a voice that soundeth stronger-
“My daughter, give thine heart to Me.

Lord! Take mine heart! O first and fairest
Whom all creation’s ends shall hear;
Who deathless love in death declarest!
Non else is beauteous-famous-dear!
-Elizabeth Barret Browning

Seize The Day!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

"Transients In Arcadia" (About Ordinary People)

I’ve had a respect for O. Henry ever since I read “The Ransom Of Red Chief” which has got to be the absolute funniest story of all time. When I read “The Last Leaf,” I decided that I had found an author worth checking into. (By the way, those of you who have not read “The Last Leaf” are missing out on one of the most gripping, skillfully written short stories written in the English language.) I bought a little book of his short stories about two years ago read it from cover to cover. Then I put it back on my shelf. Yesterday, for no reason at all, I took it down again and opened it up right to “Transients In Arcadia,” one story I didn’t remember very well. I didn’t plan on reading it but somehow I couldn’t tear myself away from that story. It was quite a simple little tale – there was no complex plot and not much action, to be sure, but somehow I found myself very wrapped up in it.

O. Henry begins the story by describing the dream hotel Lotus in a very idyllic way (with just a very little measure of sarcasm). He then goes on to praise a mysterious “Madame Beaumont,” the Lotus’ most illustrious guest.

“Now, isn’t that a wonderful beginning?”
“Yeah, it’s really great.” -The Princess Bride

This description continues for quite some time – long enough to give the reader a sort of respect for the afore-mentioned Madame Beaumont. Then, this magnificent “perfect woman” meets Mr. Harold Farrington, a seemingly respectable gentleman, and the two form a cordial relationship. Everything seems perfectly settled at this point and most readers would suppose that they were reading a “happily-ever-after” romance. However, the day before Madame Beaumont leaves the hotel, she tells Mr. Farrington a secret that changes the course of the story. I can’t tell you what the secret is because then you might not read the story for yourself, but I can assure you that O. Henry always lives up to his name, “The Master Of Surprise.”

I like this story because it reminds me of the real meaning of the phrase “ordinary people” but furthermore, because it reminds me that there are no ordinary people…and we all have hopes and dreams and ambitions - hurts and sorrows and tragedies.

Seize The Day!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

"It's The Thing You Leave Undone..."

"You smile upon your friend to-day,
To-day his ills are over;
You hearken to the lover's say,
And happy is the lover.

'Tis late to hearken, late to smile,
But better late than never;
I shall have lived a little while
Before I die for ever."
-A.E. Housman

(Alfred Edward Housman is hardly my favorite poet - he is a little too sarcastic and pessimistic for me - but I do enjoy some of his works and this is one of them.)

Often I don't notice until too late that someone has been wanting something from me - just a smile sometimes, I suppose. I always wish that I could have the moment back in order to give them what they were hoping for but when it's gone, it's gone. The only thing I can do then is to determine that I WON'T miss the next moment. That isn't good enough to make up for lost time, of course, but "better late than never" for there is certainly no sense in losing more time when I can seize the rest of the day!
Seize The Day!

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Let Us Not Forget...

Painting: "Gather The Rosebuds While Ye May" By William Waterhouse

"GATHER ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a-flying :
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying..."
-By Robert Herrick

Friday, June 1, 2007

Ronald Reagan Quotes

"Here's my strategy on the Cold War: We win, they lose."
- Ronald Reagan

"The most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."
- Ronald Reagan

"The trouble with our liberal friends is not that they're ignorant: It's just that they know so much that isn't so."
- Ronald Reagan

"Of the four wars in my lifetime none came about because the U. S. was too strong."
- Ronald Reagan

"I have wondered at times about what the Ten Commandment's would have looked like if Moses had run them through the U. S. Congress."
- Ronald Reagan

"The taxpayer: That's someone who works for the federal government but doesn't have to take the civil service examination."
- Ronald Reagan

"If we ever forget that we're one nation under God, then we will be one nation gone under."
- Ronald Reagan

"The nearest thing to eternal life we will ever see on this earth is a government program."
- Ronald Reagan

"I've laid down the law, though, to everyone from now on about anything that happens: no matter what time it is, wake me, even if it's in the middle of a Cabinet meeting."
- Ronald Reagan

"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first."
- Ronald Reagan

"Government's view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases: If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it."
- Ronald Reagan

"Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed there are many rewards, if you disgrace yourself you can always write a book."
- Ronald Reagan

"No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women."
- Ronald Reagan