Sunday, December 28, 2008

Doe The Next Thynge - Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King

A friend of mine shared this with me a couple weeks ago and it moved me so much that I thought I would share it with you:

"From an old English parsonage down by the sea
There came in the twilight a message to me;
It’s quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,
Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.
And on through the hours the quiet words ring
Like a low inspiration: “DOE THE NEXT THYNGE.”
Many a questioning, many a fear,
Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.
Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,
Time, opportunity, guidance, are given.
Fear not tomorrows, child of the King."
-Elizabeth Eliot

I'm not going to try to elaborate on that. I think the poetry says it all.

I wrote this one myself, a couple days later, trying to capture the power in the phrase, "Doe The Next Thynge" (it's best in Old English:) ).

But there is another thing too. There is "much expected of those to whom much is given," and there is the horrible thought that one day we might look back on our lives and say, "I wasted it." That scares me more than anything else and I wanted to express that in the poem.

Goethe says, "Nothing is worth more than this day" and although that may not be strictly true, I think there is a lot more in that line than we realize. After all, in my own life it will always be "now." It will never be "tomorrow" - that would be absurd. So ultimately, the way I live my life RIGHT NOW is the way I live my future...

THE WAITING

It’s the waiting that takes so long,
It’s the waiting that wastes your life.
And you don’t know till you’re old and bitter,
And look back on your life of lonely winters
And see your dreams in a million splinters
Buried beneath the snow.

It’s the waiting that takes so long,
It’s the waiting that wastes your life.
And you don’t know till you break the rhythm,
And death swings by and takes you with him
Then at last you’ll finally listen
But then it will be too late.

It’s the waiting that takes so long,
It’s the waiting that wastes your life.
And you don’t know till your heart’s been stripped
Of zeal for the for One who rescued it,
And you realize that somewhere along you slipped
And didn’t get up and deal with it
And you lost your life in an iron grip
And finally you say, “I wasted it.”
But you can’t have it back.

It’s the waiting that takes so long,
It’s the waiting that wastes your life.
Don’t wait until the glass is full,
Pour out what you have of love and skill,
If you don’t do it now, you never will.
This is your life, so LIVE!

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

So This Is Christmas

Some things I'm loving about this Christmas in Texas:

Our 9 foot tree- big, like everything else in Texas!


Christmas music on the radio - (one of the greatest thing about being back America!)

My Celine Dion Christmas CD:

(Especially the songs, "War Is Over," "God Bless Us Everyone", "O Come All Ye Faithful" and "O Holy Night" and...- well, all the other ones :) )

The Christmas Carol:

My favorite Christmas Movie

Our fireplace that actually works!

(Almost every one of the many houses I lived in overseas had a fireplace- that didn't work.)

The chocolate popcorn my aunt sent:


ENYA HAS A NEW ALBUM OUT!

(I don't actually have the album but I heard "Trains and Winter Rains" on the website and as soon as the CD hits the stores here - and my wallet recovers from Christmas - I will have it. )

Being able to play Christmas songs on the guitar at last! (Especially "O Come All Ye Faithful")

(Let me tell you: Christmas songs on the guitar is no joke. Every syllable is a different chord.)

We have goats this year! These are three of the one-month old kids. The music is from Loreena McKennit's "Good King Wenceslas" and I'm the one filming...
video

Just being here with my whole family, everyone safe and healthy...I hope you have a wonderful Christmas too - and God Bless Us Everyone!

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Sunday, November 23, 2008

The People With The Roses - Whom You Love

I thought this was a beautiful story. (It's originally an excerpt from the book "And The Angels Were Silent" by Max Lucado.)

"John Blanchard stood up from the bench, straightened his Army uniform, and studied the crowd of people making their way through Grand Central Station. He looked for the girl whose heart he knew, but whose face he didn't, the girl with the rose. His interest in her had begun thirteen months before in a Florida library. Taking a book off the shelf he found himself intrigued, not with the words of the book, but with the notes penciled in the margin. The soft handwriting reflected a thoughtful soul and insightful mind.

In the front of the book, he discovered the previous owner's name, Miss Hollis Maynell. With time and effort he located her address. She lived in New York City. He wrote her a letter introducing himself and inviting her to correspond. The next day he was shipped overseas for service in World War II.

During the next year and one-month the two grew to know each other through the mail. Each letter was a seed falling on a fertile heart. A Romance was budding. Blanchard requested a photograph, but she refused. She felt that if he really cared, it wouldn't matter what she looked like.

When the day finally came for him to return from Europe, they scheduled their first meeting - 7:00 PM at the Grand Central Station in New York. "You'll recognize me," she wrote, "by the red rose I'll be wearing on my lapel." So at 7:00 he was in the station looking for a girl whose heart he loved, but whose face he'd never seen.

I'll let Mr. Blanchard tell you what happened:

'A young woman was coming toward me, her figure long and slim. Her blonde hair lay back in curls from her delicate ears; her eyes were blue as flowers. Her lips and chin had a gentle firmness, and in her pale green suit she was like springtime come alive. I started toward her, entirely forgetting to notice that she was not wearing a rose.

As I moved, a small, provocative smile curved her lips. "Going my way, sailor?" she murmured. Almost uncontrollably I made one step closer to her, and then I saw Hollis Maynell. She was standing almost directly behind the girl.

A woman well past 40, she had graying hair tucked under a worn hat. She was more than plump, her thick-ankled feet thrust into low-heeled shoes. The girl in the green suit was walking quickly away. I felt as though I was split in two, so keen was my desire to follow her, and yet so deep was my longing for the woman whose spirit had truly companioned me and upheld my own. And there she stood. Her pale, plump face was gentle and sensible, her gray eyes had a warm and kindly twinkle. I did not hesitate. My fingers gripped the small worn blue leather copy of the book that was to identify me to her.

This would not be love, but it would be something precious, something perhaps even better than love, a friendship for which I had been and must ever be grateful.

I squared my shoulders and saluted and held out the book to the woman, even though while I spoke I felt choked by the bitterness of my disappointment. "I'm Lieutenant John Blanchard, and you must be Miss Maynell. I am so glad you could meet me; may I take you to dinner?"

The woman's face broadened into a tolerant smile. "I don't know what this is about, son," she answered, "but the young lady in the green suit who just went by, she begged me to wear this rose on my coat. And she said if you were to ask me out to dinner, I should go and tell you that she is waiting for you in the big restaurant across the street. She said it was some kind of test!" '

It's not difficult to understand and admire Miss Maynell's wisdom. The true nature of a heart is seen in its response to the unattractive."


Houssaye wrote:
"Tell me whom you love and I will tell you who you are."

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Big Problem With “The Essay On Man”: Misinterpretation

A couple of weeks ago I got so upset at Alexander Pope’s Essay On Man that we ended up having a big fight. I filled up the margins of the book with lines from Perelandra to console myself and really got a rant out. He didn’t get to respond to me – and so that made it easier :).

Actually, that is an exaggeration - I want to be fair to this great poet, who does, I think, have great talent and probably wrote the Essay on Man out of the best intentions. However, I do think it is important that we question the “greats,” – NOT because they are great but because they are human. The authors of the “classics” are often regarded as incredibly wise and thinking people but this is not always the case, and – as long as we do it humbly – I think it’s crucial that we remember to question them. They are not any less “human” than the rest of us and just as prone to mistakes. Although, of course, this isn’t to say that I don’t think we should admire authors for the wisdom that they display in their writings, I do believe that we shouldn’t idolize them or assume that they will always be right. That said, the lines that I particularly had troubles with were these:

“All Nature is but Art unknown to thee;
All chance direction, which thou canst not see;
All discord, harmony not understood;
All partial evil universal good;
And spite of Pride, in erring Reason’s spite
One truth is clear – whatever is, is right.”


Now, of course, one cannot take Pope seriously here. He surely cannot mean, “Whatever is, is right.” It would be unjust to accuse him of that kind of simple-mindedness – as though he didn’t know about evil = slavery, suicide, addictions, sadism, cruelty, prostitution, oppression, castes, murder, love-of-money, etc….. He knew. So what was he trying to say? This is where the heart of the problem lies, and in reading the poem, one might almost say that he actually believed it was all “destined” to be in order to fulfill a greater good.

Dorothy Sayers (in The Mind Of The Maker*see end note) says, “The fact, however, that ‘all activity is of God’ means that no creative Idea can be wholly destructive: some creation will be produced together with the destruction; and it is the work of the creative mind to see that the destruction is redeemed by it’s creative elements.” Perhaps this thought is what Pope was attempting to express up there, but I guess the root question, the part that Pope didn’t explain very well, is this, “Because the evil was turned to good, was it then, ‘prepared’ that way?” Here is what C.S. Lewis says about that, “Whatever you do, He will make good out of it. But not the good He had prepared for you if you had obeyed Him. That is lost forever. The first King and the first Mother of our world did the forbidden thing; and He brought good of it in the end. But what they did was not good; and what they lost we have not seen. And there were some to whom no good came nor ever will.”

So I guess the answer is no. It was “prepared” to be beautiful, if we had obeyed Him. There was supposed to be no brokenness. And there is. But he made good out of it, and good was “Redemption.” Obviously He knew that we were going to disobey and there was going to be a Fall. But He had something else for us, and, as Aslan says, “No one is ever told what would have happened.” Perhaps the best line I know of on this subject is from "The Last Samurai." Those of you who have seen this movie will remember the part where Captain Algren is talking with Katsumoto and attempting to persuade him not to give up and to keep fighting against the odds, even though it will almost certainly mean defeat. Katsumoto says to him, “Do you believe a man can change his destiny?” and Algren answers, “I believe a man does what he can until his destiny is revealed to him.”

Well, that’s all I have to say on this subject, although I suppose you can see that everything smart in my post was not my own idea but quoted from one of the “greats” :) Oh, and if you disagree, do offer me your alternate opinion – I realize that this is a hard subject and I am totally open to other ideas.

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

*By the way, this book is pretty tough for me and requires my full attention. It is also full of metaphorical language and I would suggest being really careful in quoting from it, as certain passages could easily be misunderstood without the full context. I hope I have quoted her fairly and clearly, without muddling her intended message.

Edit: When I titled the post "The Big Problem With 'The Essay On Man': Misinterpretation," I didn't nessecarily mean that Pope had misinterpreted anything. I just meant that I thought his work was easy to misinterpret.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Personhood Amendment

Kristi Burton pledged her life to fighting abortion at thirteen. At nineteen she began the pro-life organization Colorado For Equal Rights, designed for the purpose of getting an amendment passed in Colorado that would define a human as a person "from the moment of fertilization." Now, as a twenty-one year old law student, Kristi is going to get to see the amendment on the Colorado ballot this November.

Watch this awesome little video to find out about the Personhood Amendment.

This story thrills me because I am interested in law and politics myself and I strongly believe in activism and grassroots support. It's always inspiring to read about (especially young) people who do hard things on such a high and far-reaching level.

Election day is almost here! Please pass this around, let people know about it. PRAY about it. Our country will only move if the PEOPLE move it - and that means you and I!

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The First Movie

Check out the project I have been working on with Raora

With the participation of our younger brother and sister and some friends who came up for the weekend we've put out our first film production. Unfortunately the film quality is not very pristine, but our equipment is a little limited:) We're currently planning another video and working on picking up more people to cast - hey, if you want to star in your first movie, drop by and we'll cast you! :)

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Joys Of Goat-Ownership

Our farm has grown...quite significantly. To the original six cows (Which are, by the way, sticking around at last!) we have added three cats, twenty-three chickens, two dogs (the second one was dropped off at our house about three weeks ago and we have been unable to get rid of it.) and, the latest addition (as of five days ago) - sixteen goats.

A Few Of The Goats...

For the past several weeks, the goat-crazy members of our family (which would be myself and my Dad) have been doing a great amount of research and investigation on the subject of goats. We've received at least sixty e-mails on the topic and considered dozens of propositions. We've fenced in a pasture for them with electric fence (In my humble opinion, electric fence is THE solution to all fencing difficulties).

Unfortunately, the previous owners of our goats were either uninformed about caring for livestock or extremely negligent. As several of the animals were looking rather sickly, we had a big antibiotic and vaccination session. It lasted for about three hours on Saturday and was quite an experience. I was actually OK with it until around the tenth goat - she kicked me just a little too hard and flipped herself over before running off and jumping over the fence. We've also had to treat most of the herd for lice and some of them for foot rot - I must say that the veterinary work is my least favorite of the joys of goat-ownership...

Three of the goats in the herd belong to my sister and I - actually they were the three original goats. We bought them together as our first experimental investment. So far they haven't yielded us any profit - and we've spent a good deal of money on them :) - but it's been fun.

We do not have a herdsire yet. So far, the only buck in our entire herd is the little kid that my sister and I bought about two months ago. His previous owner had named him Earnhart Junior. (I had to innocently ask him who that was...) and tagged him J.R. Raora and I were not pleased with that name so his name is Jason aRgonaut. Unfortunately he is only about six months old and exceedingly spoiled. He'd follow us around like a dog if we let him.

Apart from the veterinary sessions, the process hasn't actually been that bad, but I am a little nervous about kidding season...

We are currently looking for another addition to the zoo...a donkey! Would you believe that one of the most popular guard animals for goats are donkeys?

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Day Without The Master

I just finished The Holy War a couple weeks ago. I didn't think it was Bunyan's best work. Some parts of it were allegorical to the point of being frustrating and it lacked authenticity at times but the story was thought-provoking nonetheless and it has some very good lines.

One thing I liked about the book was how well it dealt with the issue of playing with sin. In the story, when Emmanuel has the city of Mansoul under siege, the evil Giant Diabolus at first refuses to give up the city to Him. After a long period of parley, the Giant's emissary finally comes to Emmanuel with a new proposition.

"But, sir, suppose that my Lord would resign the whole town to you, only with the proviso, that he sometime when he comes into this country, may, for old acquaintance' sake, be entertained as a wayfaring man, for two days, or ten days or a month or so. May not this small matter be granted?"

Then said Emmanuel, "No. He came as a wayfaring man to David, nor did he stay long with him, and yet it had like to have cost David his soul. I will not consent that he should have any harbour more there."

I wrote this after reading those lines...

A DAY WITHOUT THE MASTER
"May I come again to see you?
Not often and I won't stay long
It'll just be for a single day-
When you get up, I'll be gone.

May I slip in after midnight,
Just to see how well you fare?
I won't attempt to wake you,
I just want to know you're there.

I will keep this poor heart quiet -
You won't even know I've come
Until day on the horizon
Lights my footprints with the sun.

Footprints gentle and unnoticed,
Barely marking your clean snow.
Oh, the Master will not mind it
Why, He'll never even know!

You are always with the Master.
Do you think I do not see?
Surely you can take one day off?
Spare one day for me?

Get behind me, Satan,
For your words are poison rain,
And not even my poor, foolish heart
Will fall for you again

You took our joy and innocence,
You chained us up in Hell,
And as if that were not enough,
You want our hearts as well.

'But we are not your slaves
And will not be your slaves' we say
Our houses will not harbor you
Not even for a day'

For a single day you spent with David
And dug his feet a hole
And David, though his heart was pure
Had like to lose his soul

And if that boy after God's own heart
Could lose sight of the heart he was after
Than which of our trembling hearts can survive
A day without the Master?"
-B.J.J. aka StrongJoy

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Pain of Desire


"All men desire happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and to others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves." -Blaise
Pascal

I think this is profoundly beautiful and John Piper must have thought so too, because he wrote a book about it. The book is Desiring God and it is beautiful too.

Piper begins his book like this,
"You might turn the world on its head by changing one word in your creed. The old tradition says, 'The chief end of man is to glorify God AND enjoy Him forever.' 'And'? Like ham and eggs? Sometimes you glorify God and sometimes you enjoy Him, Sometimes He gets glory, sometimes you get joy? 'And is a very ambiguous word! Just how do these two things relate to each other? Evidently the old theologians didn't think they were talking about two things. They said 'chief end', not 'chief ends.' Glorifying God and enjoying Him were one end in their minds, not two. How can that be?...What does God say about the chief end of man? How does God teach us to give Him glory? Does He command us to enjoy Him? If so, does this quest for joy in God relate to everything else? Yes, everything! 'Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.' The overriding concern of this book is that in all of life God be glorified the way He Himself has appointed. To that end this book aims to persuade you that 'The chief end of man is to glorify God BY enjoying Him forever."

I think we all know about what I call "The awe and the joy." C.S. Lewis says, "There is a kind of happiness and wonder that makes you serious." We might call it "heartbreaking beauty" because it HURTS. Ultimately, we desire it above everything else.

Desire is that burning, throbbing thirst within us for the "perfect." Everything perfect HURTS. It just hurts. It's hard to explain it because it doesn't seem to make sense. Why should desirable things hurt? But this is an addictive pain, a bittersweet pain. It may hurt us, but we can't get enough of it. And I guess that's precisely why it does hurt. It hurts BECAUSE we can't get enough of it.

So, what's the answer to the problem? Why can't mankind satisfy DESIRE? John Piper says that we are looking for it in all the wrong places. We are looking for the perfect in an imperfect world. C.S. Lewis agrees. He says,

"What Satan put into the minds of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could 'be like gods'- could set up on their own as if they had created themselves - be their own masters - invent some sort of happiness for themselves, outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history - money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery - the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy...God cannot give us a happiness apart from Himself because it is not there. There is no such thing."


And so here we come to the crucial point. The only thing that can satisfy desire is GOD. "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." (-Psalm 37:4)

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sonnet II

Sonnets again. You know I've never been big on sonnets but writing them gives me a sense of achievement and I'm learning to value the rhyme scheme a little more. In fact, I actually enjoy the sound of it now. I guess most all tastes are acquired :) Some of you may remember my first sonnet, written way back when...well, I have another one. I like to think that this one is better than the first one, but you decide. I'm an amateur and so I like every poem I write better than the one before it. :)

This poem came into being through a number of experiences. It touches a little on the "free choice" issue, which has confused me a lot in the past. God has given us the freedom to choose. Why can't we choose whatever we want? If there is only one acceptable choice, why doesn't He just make us choose that? Reading Desiring God (awesome book!!) really helped me to make more sense of that subject. In the poem, I wanted to express the idea that giving up our rights (including the "authority to choose") is The Choice. Submission. And John Piper would say that in return for it, we get JOY!!! "Joy inexpressible and full of glory." Who would not sacrifice everything they have for Joy?

I must admit the thing that moved me to actually write this poem (instead of just sitting around and thinking about it) was one of the last scenes in "The Empire Strikes Back" - the scene where Luke, completely battered and conquered, throws himself over the tower rather than give in to Darth Vader. That was the only part of Star Wars that made me cry. It was too beautiful.

It's reminiscent of Matthew 10:39- "He who has found his life shall lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake shall find it." Almost suicide. Dying to live - and essentially, dying for JOY! That's what Jesus has been asking from us for roughly 2000 years. Anya posted about this not too long ago: "Giving what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose."

Another thing is that I wanted to express a little bit of anger towards The Enemy. You know, the way Luke says, "I'll never join you!" That is why the majority of the poem is addressed to The Enemy and only in the last two lines do I switch over to address God.

As always, I welcome suggestions and recommendations. All the poetry I post here is subject to ruthless editing :)




SONNET II
I know of all the things that I will lose
But I'll not serve you even for their sakes
For I have yet the power to refuse
Along with other things you cannot take.
I treasure them for they are worth the spheres
Worth more than galaxies that I could lose
But I hold still another treasure here
The crystalline authority to choose
The power to know the agony of the heights
To see the torture just as it will be
And throw my life, my treasure and my rights,
Like falling flowers into the ebbing sea.
I die, oh, God, unless I understand
My one choice is to reach out for Your hand.
- B.J.J. aka StrongJoy

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cowlessness

Yes, I'm still here and still alive. I do occasionally turn on the computer and check e-mails...and today I'm making a blog post! Woohoo! :) I do have a good reason for my long absence, though. It can be conveniently summed up in one word: cowlessness.

Cowlessness: The lack or absence of cows in the vicinity in question, and the severe mental distress following such occasions. *There is a higher known occurrence of this malady in rural areas, particularly where the fences are of a more ancient quality.
The story goes like this...a little over a week ago, we were the proud owners of three beautiful pairs of brand-new cows. They were the prettiest cows in the world, with special characteristics such as crooked horns, skittish behavior, healthy tendencies to run upon being slightly startled, etc.

Due to unfortunate problems in "ancient quality" fencing, we now own three pairs of cows, with much the same priceless characteristics but in a much different location. To speak plainly, our precious animals have vanished. Following days of fatiguing search, that involved specifically hour-long treks through chigger-infested grass, entire afternoons spent hiding by the gate to wait for the truant cattle (obviously I brought a book), evenings spent sitting in the gully stalking a family of field mice (to make up for our inability to stalk the cows) and other such thrilling and intriguing experiences, we have at last located the missing beasts.

Taming them is a gradual process of course, involving lots of molasses feed in a conspicuous yellow bucket, but we're getting there, and hoping to see them on our side of the fence again tonight.

I will try to post something more substantial as soon as possible, but wanted to let you know that this is not a deserted blog!...

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Monday, May 26, 2008

It's Memorial Day - A Tribute To Our Veterans




"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself." -John Stuart Mill

I want to say "Thank you" to our troops. Regardless of what we think about politics or about this war, we appreciate you for doing what has to be done. You are heroes and we are blessed to have men who will defend our freedoms.

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Almost Perfect...But Not Quite

I think this is one of Shel Silverstein's best works...I love the irony in the poem and the way he was able to get such a great point across to us through this simple poetry.

ALMOST PERFECT BUT NOT QUITE
"Almost perfect… but not quite."
Those were the words of Mary Hume
At her seventh birthday party,
Looking ‘round the ribboned room."
This table cloth is pink not white—
Almost perfect… but not quite."

"Almost perfect… but not quite."
Those were the words of grown-up Mary
Talking about her handsome beau,
The one she wasn’t gonna marry.
"Squeezes me a bit too tight—
Almost perfect… but not quite."

"Almost perfect… but not quite."
Those were the words of ol’ Miss Hume
Teaching in the seventh grade,
Grading papers in the gloom
Late at night up in her room.
"They never cross their t’s just right—
Almost perfect… but not quite."

Ninety-eight the day she died
Complainin’ ‘bout the spotless floor.
People shook their heads and sighed,
"Guess that she’ll like heaven more.
"Up went her soul on feathered wings,
Out the door, up out of sight.
Another voice from heaven came—
"Almost perfect… but not quite."
-Shel Silverstein

And yes, I regret to announce that I will be traveling AGAIN for the next two weeks, so I may not get around to the computer too much for a little while....


Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Hab Keine Angst Vor Menschen

Then I said, "Alas, Lord God! Behold I do not know how to speak because I am a youth." But the Lord said to me, "Do not say, 'I am a youth,' because everywhere I send you, you shall go, and all that I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you." declares the Lord. -Jeremiah 1:6-8

One of the many repeated lines in the Bible, is "Do not be afraid," or "fear not." I didn't realize the significance of this until very recently. I guess that the reason I did finally start thinking about this was because I was reading the verse in German ("Hab keine Angst vor Menschen") and I loved the sound of it, even before I stopped to figure out exactly what it meant. The German version sounds so powerful and authoritative that it made me pause and think about the verse. In doing this, I noticed something about the line "Do not be afraid of them": it doesn't stop there. It goes on to say "for I am with you." And I realized that nearly every time in the Bible God says, "Do not be afraid," He concludes, "because I am with you."
Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Friday, April 25, 2008

We Love Our New House...

...which is one reason why I'm not posting much lately :)

We moved out here on Saturday and some very sweet people we know surprised us with a big reception at our door and a whole troop of helping hands to unload our truck. This was a wonderful blessing and we were able to get everything into the house in very good time.

On Saturday night we were down by our pond, (which is more like a very small lake, by the way), watching the fish jump and I was inspired to suggest that we go buy some fishing poles and try fishing in the morning. It took some work to convince the older members of the family that this was actually a good idea, but we did it, and we've caught about thirty perch, a catfish and a bass so far. For us, that was a phenomonal thing. I'd only caught three fish in my entire life, none big enough to keep, and my littlest brother and sister had never been fishing before. Where we lived in Turkey, there was never a place to fish and the water was pretty polluted. Our uncle gave us some fishing poles once, but we couldn't really use them because we had no place to go. It's hard to believe that we can fish on our own property now!

There's a lot of work to be done at this new place and our internet situation is still shaky, but I'll try to update before too long.

While you're waiting, here's a hilarious video I found a long time ago and have been meaning to share with you guys for quite awhile...



Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Cross And The Switchblade - A Call To Anguish

Not too long ago, I stayed over at a friend's house with my brother and sisters while our parents were out of town. I was sleeping with my little sister, who was asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow, so to speak, but I always have troubles getting to sleep in strange houses, so I went over to the bookshelf, looking for something to read. The book that caught my attention was The Cross And The Switchblade, because I had just heard my Mom talking about it that week, and I wanted to read it. So I did. I started on the very first page, and I said, "I am going to read this book if it takes me all night." (We teenagers don't have any problems with staying up all night - we're very flexible about bedtimes:) That was one decision I will never regret - one night that was not wasted... I laughed, I cried, and over and over I set the book down and prayed, because you cannot read that book without praying. I should warn you, The Cross And The Switchblade is a hard book, and you will probably break your heart over it, but I'm learning every day that it's OK to break my heart. And it's OK to keep breaking it, over and over again. That way I keep a vision of The Perfect. I don't get so used to how it is that I forget how it SHOULD be.

The Cross And The Switchblade is the incredible story of how one young man got a call to do a hard thing - and did it. But it's also the story of the New York City street gangs and the teenagers like Nicky Cruz who were so lost that Wilkerson thought no love could reach them. David Wilkerson was a young, married preacher in Pennsylvania and his call to go to NYC came through a murder-trial picture in a magazine. The murderers were kids, all under 18. And Something told Wilkerson to "go to NYC and help those boys." He didn't want to go. He didn't know anything about violent, teenage street-kids. He didn't WANT to know anything about them. But he knew he was supposed to go, so he did it. What happened afterwards is a story that actually defies reality, but don't get me wrong here - this is not a book about David Wilkerson changing NYC. In fact, much of this book is about moments of absolute miserable desperation, moments of shock and that sickening feeling that comes with the realization of a nasty truth. Much of this book is about defeat and anguish.

Wilkerson says that everything in his life that ever mattered to God was born in anguish. I can testify to that fact, for I have found it to be true in my own life. If I am not anguished over something, I will not do anything about it. The only times in my life where I have committed to set my alarm for five in the morning and get up to pray, were those times I have been anguished over something and could not live with the hurt of it any more. And, to be honest with you, it is only this year that these moments are beginning to come regularly and I am starting to realize what all of this anguish means and how it all works together for good. If you feel up to hearing something that will bring you to your knees, I'd recommend that you listen to A Call To Anguish.

I'd say it is really passages like this one, detailing Wilkerson's first meeting with Nicky Cruz, that show the reader of The Cross And The Switchblade the anguish that birthed everything Wilkerson did for the NYC gangs:

'Go to H---, Preacher,' he said. He had an odd, strangled way of speaking and he stuttered badly over some of his sounds.

'You don't think much of me, Nicky,' I said, 'but I feel different about you. I love you, Nicky.' I took a step towards him.

'You come near me, Preacher,' he said, in that tortured way, 'I'll kill you.'

'You could do that,' I agreed. 'You could cut me in a thousand pieces and lay them out in the street and every piece would love you.' But as I said it, I was thinking: and it wouldn't do a bit of good - not with you, Nicky - there's no love on earth that could reach you."


That is tragedy. There's only one word for that last line: tragedy. It's surely a good thing it wasn't true. The Cross And The Switchblade testifies relentlessly to the Power of Prayer. It cries over and over again, "never, Never, NEVER underestimate the Power of Prayer." If you've read it, you probably know what I mean.

My favorite line from that book is Nicky Cruz' first prayer: "Dear God, I'm the dirtiest sinner in New York. I don't think You want me. If You do want me, You can have me. As bad as I was before - I want to be that good for Jesus." Anybody can say, "I am the dirtiest sinner" but in Nicky's situation, it was probably true. I think it would be hard to imagine a sinner worse than Nicky Cruz...and yet he fell to his knees in tears at the altar and gave it all up to Jesus. How can anbody refuse to believe in miracles?!

I recommend this book to everyone who isn't afraid to cry for the utterly lost kids in our country and to pray for them, not just today or this week or this year, but as long as we live. And I recommend this book to every teenager because we need to know these things.

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Awe And The Joy

Well folks, I've never linked you to another post by someone else and sent you on to read that, but I feel this one is worth your time. Anya has hit the nail on the head and I couldn't have done it any better than she did, even if I did trust myself to try explaining such an indescribable thing. Please stop by and read her beautiful post about the awe and the joy.

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Can a Woman Forget Her Baby? - The "When All Else" Mentality

Yes. A woman can forget her baby. In fact, hundreds of them do it every day. Over and over and over again. This is a horrendous thing and I don't think about when I don't have to.

While I'm on this topic, here is a verse I adore...(I actually adore a great deal of Isaiah and I have it neatly marked up.) My bookmark is always in Isaiah and I always open my Bible to this:

"Can a woman forget her nursing child
and have no compassion on the son of her womb?
Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.
See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands."
-Isaiah 49:16

I originally read this verse in Turkish on a wristband belonging to a little boy at a hotel, so I think of the Turkish before the English and I have it written in Turkish in my locket.

There are a lot of things I love about this verse, and one of them is the Certainty...I WILL NOT FORGET YOU. He doesn't say, "I'll try not to forget you," or "I'll do my best to remember you." He says, "I WILL NOT FORGET YOU." He takes one of the strongest loves, the love of a mother for her baby, and says it is nothing compared to His love for us. I think that is wonderful.

And here is something else I love: "I have engraved you..." In Turkish it says, "I have cut your name into my hands." Instead of saying He has written our names on his hands, He says He has cut them into His hands. Don't you think this is beautiful?

It's something I started thinking about for the first time last week - "When All Else." "When All Else" is the center of so many favorite verses. "When all else fails..." It seems as though that thought is a primary center of what moves us. I guess that I love it because it is my security. It moves me to act, because it takes away my fears of what will happen when I do. When I am not worried about ANYTHING is when I do my best for Him. But I do worry. All the time. What will happen if...? And I don't always hear Him say, "I will still love You, I will still be with You." I've realized that having a centerpiece in my life is key to everything. And "when all else" is a good centerpiece, because it brings me to the question, "What really matters? What's the One Thing?" and I can say "Dear God, it's You."

Seize The Day
-StrongJoy

Friday, March 21, 2008

Kidnapped! - An Unexpected Hero...

I've been wanting to post this review since I saw the movie in December, but one thing after another got in the way and I never did it. Before I talk about the movie, I want to be sure that we're all clear about which movie I'm referring to, because there have been so many movies of Kidnapped! made. The only version I've seen is the 2005 TV series.

I certainly think it deserves an A-rating. The movie was well-done, despite the fact that it was a TV serial. It wasn't totally true to the book, but the main story-line was the same. The Scottish kid who played Davy Balfour was a wonderful actor with a delicious accent and Alan Breck was also very skillfully and impressively protrayed. I think this may be one of the few "movie-better-than-the-book" situations. In a previous post, I talked about how Stevenson seems to have a shortage of heroes in his books. This is one reason why I like this movie better than the book - heroism in the movie was much better defined. Of course, this is my personal opinion and you might disagree. It has been quite awhile since I read Kidnapped! all the way through.

A prominent theme in the movie is innocence. From the beginning, Davy Balfour is shown to be a guileless (and sometimes foolish) farm boy. He knows nothing about cruelty, oppression, dishonesty, or hatred. (Don't you just love characters like that?:) When his father dies, though, he is left to face the world alone (A famous theme in a lots of good books) and heads for his uncle Ebeneezer's estate in another part of the country. His uncle, as you've probably already guessed, is a deceitful miser. To keep Davy from coming into his inheritance, he sells him as a slave to a captain headed for The New World. Of course, Davy isn't expecting anything like this. He doesn't even know that such acts are possible. When he wakes up in the bottom of the ship, and learns that he is a slave, the look of utter shock on his face is absolutely priceless. If it doesn't make you feel like crying, I'll be surprised. However, what makes this such a moving scene is not nessecarily Davy's misfortune, but the very fact that he is so shocked by his uncle's betrayal of him. Davy has a clean conscience and a perfect moral compass. This sense of right and wrong is a part of who he is and it automatically tells him that the very IDEA that his own uncle could sell him into slavery is utterly WRONG. When I realized this, I started to think about how treachery of this sort is horribly normal in the world.

Throughout the rest of the movie, this thought kept coming to me and I began to realize that Davy Balfour never accepts wrong because "that's the way it is." It shocks him every time. He cries over killing a man in his first battle, and, at the end of the movie, rescues his uncle from suicide. Even though acts of cruelty hurt and shock him, he never holds grudges. Throughout the movie, he experiences countless cruelties and injustices, including the brutality of life at sea and the tyranny of the English rulers over the Scottish. He meets people, even friends, who betray him, and he learns that the world is generously populated with cutthroats. However, even though he becomes a wiser and more discreet young man, Davy never loses his sense of right and wrong, and he never loses his innocence.

Another of the main characters in the movie is Alan Breck. Alan is an accomplished warrior who has been killing English predators for years. He thinks he's pretty hot stuff but he has a lot of character problems. He doesn't value life and he is very proud. Instead of bravery, Alan displays bravado. He has done great things for Scotland and truly desires to free his country, but he has lost his sense of right and wrong. This is carefully showcased in the movie and when I watched it I felt a sort of quiet dislike towards Mr. Breck. Even though he is the "macho man," I didn't think of him as a hero. I thought of Davy as being the only hero in the story. When Alan and Davy were are their lowest point, Alan had nothing, but Davy had a compass.

We live in a world where "innocence" is valued mostly in poetry, children's books, idealistic paintings, and a few old songs. In the real world, it is often mocked. I think that we (the human race as a majority) have come to expect wrong. We have seen so much of it that it doesn't surprise us anymore. Innocence is incovenient. It gets in the way, it makes us look simple and foolish. Worst of all, we don't even know what it is until we lose some of it. It seems like a tiring sort of worldview altogether. But Romans 16:19 says "Be excellent at what is good and innocent of evil."

Innocence is a high road. It's one of those roads that are easy to fall off of and so hard to follow. But secretly, I think most of us want to be there, and would give uncounted treasures to find ourselves back on that road again.

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Tears Of The Saints


And another delightful thing about the U.S: American Radio! It was so weird for me to turn on the radio here, a week after our arrival, and hear a song in my native language that I had heard about but never actually HEARD. Among many beautiful songs that have moved me very deeply since I got here, this is one of my favorites. Leeland is a relatively new (and young:)band but I've been very impressed and highly recommend them, for what I have heard of their music.

As with all songs, reading the lyrics isn't enough. The song doesn't come to life until you hear it recorded and Leeland's voice is one of the most grabbing aspects about the song. You can go here to hear it if you haven't already.

One reason why I like the song so much is because of the note of determination in it. The lyricist and the singer were able to capture both the pain and suffering of the broken world and an inspiring desire to "lead them Home." I guess this is also, perhaps, a vision of what the world could look like "if His people called by His name humbled themselves and prayed...."


TEARS OF THE SAINTS by Leeland

VERSE 1
"There are many prodigal sons
On our city streets they run
Searching for shelter
There are homes broken down
People's hopes have fallen to the ground
From failures.
This is an emergency!

CHORUS:
There are tears from the saints
For the lost and unsaved
We're crying for them come back home
We're crying for them come back home
And all Your children stretch out their hands
And pick up the crippled men
Father, we will lead them home
Father, we will lead them home.

VERSE 2
There are schools full of hatred
Even churches have forsaken
Love and mercy!
May we see this generation
In its state of desperation
For Your glory.
This is an emergency!

BRIDGE:
Sinner, reach out your hands
Children, in Christ you stand
And sinner, reach out your hands!
And children, in Christ you stand!"

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

OK, So I Don't Know English?!!

Today, while calmly puzzling over an algebra problem, (in case you're interested, the problem was 9x2-49y2 , and, in case you furthermore care to know the answer, it is (3x+7y) (3x-7y)) I was interuppted by my sister, who was doing math in the other room. The conversation proceeded something like this:

Her: "Hey can you go to dictionary.com and look something up for me?"

Me: "Sure...what is it?"

Her: "Sphygmomanometer."

Me: "WHAT???????"

Her: "Sphygmomanometer!"

Later, after she has spelled it out twice to me and we have been enlightened as to what the thing is, (by the way, in case you care to know, "a sphygmomanometer is a device used to measure blood pressure, comprising an inflatable cuff to restrict blood flow, and a mercury or mechanical manometer to measure the pressure." That's Wikipedia.) she calls out another word for me to research.

Her: "Can you look up 'tacometer'?

Me: "Taco-WHAT? What in the world is a tacometer for? To measure how hot your salsa is?!!"

(By the way, dear readers, the correct spelling for this queer instrument is "Tachometer.") Yes, the world of language is a big place and even the native speakers can't learn everything there is to know about their own language.

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Color Red

THE COLOR RED
"Here on the Planet of Passion,
Red is the Ruler Supreme.
We are crushing a world that is crashing
And burning to be redeemed.

Our sun sets in flames before twilight
Igniting the ocean of calm,
And it rises in blood in the morning
With a clash and a flash and the Dawn.

Slaves in the sensuous circle
Of vibrant and beckoning lips.
Wine and red jewels, but no ring
To slide over the fingertips.

Everyone worships a beauty
And who will not die for a kiss?
But the kiss, once it's over, is empty,
And it leaves behind raw, bleeding flesh.

Lost in the Tangle of Tears-
Rose petals on regal red velvet,
Falling from pain, through the years,
To pain on the cardinal carpet.

Scarlet our sorrows and joys,
Scarlet our sacrifice,
Scarlet the bane of our world,
And scarlet the Fountain of Life.

Our sorrows are battles and bleeding,
And brokenness after a kiss.
Our joys are the victories fleeting
And the fluttering heart with a wish.

Our sacrifice is the blood-gift,
Draining the body of life,
And knowing that Love will require
Giving your skin to the knife.

Our bane and our end is the blood-lust,
And the wild desire to grieve,
And the trap of pursuing a happiness,
Apart from a reason to live.

The Fountain of Life is the blood-price =
A drop for each drop we have spilled,
And the Ultimate Hero has paid it
And the lake has been finally filled."
-B.J.J. aka StrongJoy


I wrote this a few days ago and thought I would share it. As always, I welcome your suggestions. I know that I have already used David's "Napoleon" as an illustration to a previous post, but I couldn't find anything that captured my ideas for this poem better than that lovely painting. The artist has managed to capture such a look in Napoleon's face...I don't know how he did it.
Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

America

Hello Everyone,
Thank you all for the sweet messages and comments you've sent us since we landed in the U.S. Some things have been difficult or us, but we've had a lot of support and encouragement from many people and that has really helped. Thanks, you guys! I know for myself that I've pretty nearly got over the culture shock by now. There are still lots of weird things about America that I haven't quite got adjusted to yet, but lots of the differences in this country are positive. Did you know that America has some of the cheapest gas in the WORLD? We pay about seven or eight dollars a gallon over in Turkey. And it's not just gas that's cheap over here - practically everything is cheaper! And, of course, Americans have also been blessed with the best standard of living in the world. Yesterday I was thinking about this and realized that most Americans don't even realize how much they have and how little so many other people in so many other countries have. We take so much for granted, guys! In these first weeks of being here, I have decided one thing for certain - Americans have absolutely nothing material to complain about.

Yes, there are horrible things going on in our country - just a ten-minute conversation with a highschooler attending a public highschool reminded me of that- but, at the same time, right now in the U.S, if you make the right desicions, and work hard, you CAN succeed. If you are willing to study, you CAN go to college. If you are willing to work, you CAN get a job. If you are willing to save, you CAN buy a home. This doesn't apply in many parts of the world. Let's not forget how blessed we are!

That said, I must admit that I still miss Turkey and, given the chance, I'd jump on a plane and fly right back:)

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

There Is No Try. Just Do The Next Right Thing.

Just some things I've been thinking about this week...

The famous Phillippians 4:13 states, "I can do all things, through Him who strengthens me." Is this exaggerated? Is it just a figure of speech? I can't pretend to know, but it surely doesn't seem that way to me.

In "The Empire Strikes Back," Yoda tells Luke Skywalker to do something and Luke answers saying doubtfully, "I'll try." Mercilessly, Yoda responds with, "Either do or do not. There is no try."

I thought that was quite an interesting remark. Aren't there a lot of things that we don't attempt, simply because we don't think we can do them? Perhaps we want to break an addiction, or fight some kind of temptation. We don't think we can do it, so we rationalize our premeditated failure, saying, "I'll try." Isn't this attitude directly contradictory with the 4:13 verse?

I think C.S. Lewis puts it very well (again), "When a thing is to be attempted, one must never think about possibilty or impossibility."

Maybe we should stop procrastinating and get up and do the next right thing, because we know we can.

And of course, we don't want to forget the second part of the verse: "...through HIM who strengthens me."

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

"Westward Ho!" and the Futility Of Revenge

I finished reading Charles Kingsley's Westward Ho! yesterday and gave it an A- rating. I didn't enjoy Kingsley's other books very much (Water Babies, Madam How And Lady Why) but perhaps it was only because I was a little too young for them when I read them. (Kingsley has a habit of writing children's books for adults:) However, this is definitely my favorite of his works. In Westward Ho, Kingsley brings the Elizabethan era to life through his hero, Amyas Leigh. One good thing about the book is that Kingsley is able to form Amyas' complicated character, while writing about history at the same time. However, though the history in the book is vivid and detailed, the truth Kingsley works hardest to express is the futility of revenge.

Revenge. The book is seething with it. It is in the 1570s and war with Spain is becoming increasingly bitter. The Catholics and Protestants have been struggling for years. Both sides are fighting venomously and both have tasted enough of cruelty to be harsh.

It is into such an atmosphere that Amyas Leigh is born in Bideford, Devon. He spends his childhood dreaming of becoming a sailor and fighting the "Spanish idolaters" in the Indies. As a very young man he falls in love with Rose Salterne. Unfortunately, Amyas is not the only one in love with Rose Salterne. Rose happens to be the town belle and Amyas has not a few rivals to vie with. One of the said rivals turns out to be his older brother, Frank. Unknown to Amyas, Frank has been in love with Rose for even longer than his brother. When Amyas tells his brother of his passion for Rose, Frank resolves to let his brother have her. Amyas accidentally overhears Frank telling his mother of this resolution and is so horrified that he also resolves to give up his sweetheart.

After this event, Amyas sails to Ireland and fights the Jesuits and Irish Catholics there. On this expedition, he captures a haughty Spanish lord, Don Guzman Maria Magdalena Sotomayor de Soto. While the Don is waiting to be ransomed, he goes to Bideford and falls in love with poor Rose Salterne. Rose runs away to the Indies with the Don and, when Amyas returns home, he vows to seek her. His brother, who is generally so gentle and quiet, elects to go with him, and a great many of Rose Salterne's old admirers are also eager to join this expedition.

In the Indies, Amyas and his brother sneak up to the Don's palace one night. There they hear Rose speaking to an spy who is attempting to convert her to Catholicism and threatening her with the Inquisition. Listening to the conversation, Amyas and Frank are able to discover that she is actually married to the Don and this is a relief to both of them. However, they are almost immediately discovered and the island awakes in a flurry to attack the English spies. Amyas and Frank try to run to their ship but Frank is shot and captured.

When Amyas learns that his brother and Rose Salterne were tortured and burned in Spain, a fire of hate is kindled in his heart, and he vows eternal war with the Spaniards to avenge his brother. Throughout the rest of the book, this hatred can be seen to increase constantly and to turn the innocent, gallant, Amyas into a bitter, vengeful, tormented young man.

Towards the end of the book, Amyas is given a chance to chase Don Guzman and get his ultimate revenge. While crew is going after the Spanish galleon, the following scene takes place aboard his ship (named...guess...Vengeance).

"That one fixed thought of selfish vengeance has possessed his whole mind; he forgets England's present need, her past triumph, his own safety, everything but his brother's blood. And yet this is the day for which he has been longing ever since he brought home that magic horn as a fifteen years boy; the day when he should find himself face to face with an invader, and that invader Antichrist himself. He believed for years with Drake, Hawkins, Grenvile and Raleigh, that he was called and sent into the world only to fight the Spaniard: and he is fighting him now, in such a cause, for such a stake, within such battle-lists as he will never see again: and yet he is not content; and while throughout that gallant fleet, whole crews are receiving the Communion side by side, and rising with cheerful faces to shake hands and rejoice that they are sharers in Britain's Salamis, Amyas turns away from the holy elements.

'I cannot communicate, Sir John. Charity with all men? I hate, if ever man hated on earth.'

'You hate the Lord's foes only, Captain Leigh.'

'No, Jack, I hate my own as well.'

'But no one in the fleet, sir?'

'...No, Jack, I hate one of whom you know; and somehow that hatred of him keeps me from loving any human being. I am in love and charity with no man, Sir John Brimblecombe -- not even with you!'"


Amyas gets so eaten up by this "one great revenge that blackened all his soul" that when his enemy's ship sinks, instead of rejoicing in triumph, "'Shame!' cried Amyas, hurling his sword far into the sea, 'to lose my right! when it was in my very grasp! Unmerciful!'" It is the "unmerciful!" in this outburst that caught my attention, and that is because it is so ironic.

I am not going to finish the story and tell you what happens, (No, Amyas doesn't turn into Darth Vader) so if you're still interested you'll have to read it for yourselves.

This is a grotesquely simple summary of a complicated story, filled with numerous plots and ideas, so don't be discouraged by it. I am only trying to track the "Revenge" thread in the book.
The concept of revenge seems to be following me around a lot lately. It is, of course, the main theme in Hamlet, the Shakespeare play I'm reading this month, and then last night we finally got to watch episodes IV, V and VI of Star Wars, another story that deals with hate and revenge at least, very well. It is truly amazing (and horrifying) to look at all of the examples in literature and history where a hero is corrupted by the burning desire for REVENGE.

This quote, perhaps, summarizes these ideas very well: "A true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him but because he loves what is behind him." -Anonymous

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Yes, I'm Still Here

Sorry it's been so long, folks! After we landed in the US and got over jetlag, we still didn't have an internet connection, so we haven't been able to keep up with anything over the web. It's been awfully hectic around here lately. In fact, when I sat down to work on my blog, I heard Enya and was refreshed. I haven't heard Enya in two weeks and, since I was introduced to her, that's the longest I've ever lived without her:) Anyway, I am back now, and trying to catch up on everything. To all of you who have sent me comments or e-mails this week, thanks for being so patient.

One of the best things I have done since I got to the US was to go to a bookstore, where I found a book of the complete works of Emily Dickinson. I was amazed to find how much poetry she actually wrote! There are 1782 poems in this book! I also learned that in my old Emily Dickinson book, her original punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and even some rhyme, had been changed, as was once an accepted way to publish Emily Dickinson poetry. Although the original poems are a little more confusing sometimes, I much prefer them to the "doctored" poetry. How audacious of them to CHANGE her poems!

Here's one of my favorites from the new book, with the original spelling, puctuation and capitalization:

"To fight aloud is very brave,
But gallanter, I know
Who charge within the bosom
The Calvary of Wo -

Who win, and nations to do not see -
Who fall, and none observe -
Whose dying eyes, no Country
Regards with patriot love -

We trust, in plumed procession
For such, the Angels go -
Rank after Rank, with even feet -
And Uniforms of snow."
-Emily Dickinson

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

"Doing One's Duty"

This great passage really caught me by surprise when I first read it. I thought it was well worth the time it takes to understand it thoroughly.

"However strange it may well seem, to do one's duty will make anyone conceited who only does it sometimes. Those who do it always would as soon think of being conceited of eating their dinner as of doing their duty. What honest boy would pride himself on not picking pockets? A thief would who was trying to reform would. To be conceited of doing one's duty is a sign of how little one does it, and how little one sees what a contemtible thing it is not to do it. Could any but a low creature be conceited of not being contemptible? Until our duty becomes to us as common as breathing, we are all poor creatures."
-George McDonald

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Note: I've updated my Quotations and Poetry Collections and (hopefully) will continue to add new poetry and quotes whenever I get the chance...

Friday, January 11, 2008

On "Laughing At Ourselves" - The Wisdom of the Ages

As some of you already know, our family will be moving back to America in less than two weeks and so I'm not going to be able to keep up a steady stream of posts during the next month. However, I'll try to post something every now and then and maybe even answer some comments, whenever I can.

In the meanwhile, here are three of my favorite quotes, quite amusing and...painfully true, especially that last one...

"If you can't laugh at yourself,you may be missing the joke of the century."

"Blessed are those who can laugh at themselves for they shall never cease to be amused."

"Those who can't laugh at themselves leave the job to others."

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Tolkien's Best Poem?

W.H. Auden, a contemporary poet of Tolkien's time, said that this was Tolkien's best poem. It is true that it is beautiful but I wasn't able to make a whole lot of sense out of it. I was wondering if any of you smart readers could give me some enlightening comments.

Wikipedia says, "It is a piece of great metrical and rhythmical complexity that recounts a journey to a strange land beyond the sea. Drawing on medieval 'dream vision' poetry and Irish 'imram' poems the piece is markedly melancholic and the final note is one of alienation and disillusion." I'm not sure that's a very good synopsis...


"The Sea Bell"or "Frodo's Dreme"

I walked by the sea, and there came to me,
as a star-beam on the wet sand,
a white shell like a sea-bell;
trembling it lay in my wet hand.

In my fingers shaken I heard waken
a ding within, by a harbour bar
a buoy swinging, a call ringing
over endless seas, faint now and far.

Then I saw a boat silently float
on the night-tide, empty and grey.
'It is later than late! Why do we wait?'
I leapt in and cried: 'Bear me away!'

It bore me away, wetted with spray,
wrapped in a mist, wound in a sleep,
to a forgotten strand in a strange land.
In the twilight beyond the deep

I heard a sea-bell swing in the swell,
dinging, dinging, and the breakers roar
on the hidden teeth of a perilous reef;
and at last I came to a long shore.

White it glimmered, and the sea simmered
with star-mirrors in a silver net;
cliffs of stone pale as ruel-bone
in the moon-foam were gleaming wet.

Glittering sand slid through my hand,
dust of pearl and jewel-grist,
trumpets of opal, roses of coral,
flutes of green and amethyst.

But under cliff-eaves there were glooming caves,
weed-curtained, dark and grey;
a cold air stirred in my hair,
and the light waned, as I hurried away.

Down from a hill ran a green rill;
its water I drank to my heart's ease.
Up its fountain-stair to a country fair
of ever-eve I came, far from the seas,

climbing into meadows of fluttering shadows:
flowers lay there like fallen stars,
and on a blue pool, glassy and cool,
like floating moons the nenuphars.

Alders were sleeping, and willows weeping
by a slow river of rippling weeds;
gladdon-swords guarded the fords,
and green spears, and arrow-reeds.

There was echo of song all the evening long
down in the valley; many a thing
running to and fro: hares white as snow,
voles out of holes; moths on the wing

with lantern-eyes; in quiet surprise
brocks were staring out of dark doors.
I heard dancing there, music in the air,
feet going quick on the green floors.

But whenever I came it was ever the same:
the feet fled, and all was still;
never a greeting, only the fleeting pipes,
voices, horns on the hill.

Of river-leaves and the rush-sheaves
I made me a mantle of jewel-green,
a tall wand to hold, and a flag of gold;
my eyes shone like the star-sheen.

With flowers crowned I stood on a mound,
and shrill as a call at cock-crow
proudly I cried: 'Why do you hide?
Why do none speak, wherever I go?

Here now I stand, king of this land,
with gladdon-sword and reed-mace.
Answer my call! Come forth all!
Speak to me words! Show me a face!'

Black came a cloud as a night-shroud.
Like a dark mole groping I went,
to the ground falling, on my hands crawling
with eyes blind and my back bent.

I crept to a wood: silent it stood
in its dead leaves, bare were its boughs.
There must I sit, wandering in wit,
while owls snored in their hollow house.

For a year and a day there must I stay:
beetles were tapping in the rotten trees,
spiders were weaving, in the mould heaving
puffballs loomed about my knees.

At last there came light in my long night,
and I saw my hair hanging grey.
'Bent though I be, I must find the sea!
I have lost myself, and I know not the way,
but let me be gone!' Then I stumbled on;
like a hunting bat shadow was over me;
in my ears dinned a withering wind,
and with ragged briars I tried to cover me.
My hands were torn and my knees worn,
and years were heavy upon my back,
when the rain in my face took a salt taste,
and I smelled the smell of sea-wrack.

Birds came sailing, mewing, wailing;
I heard voices in cold caves,
seals barking, and rocks snarling,
and in spout-holes the gulping of waves.
Winter came fast; into a mist I passed,
to land's end my years I bore;
snow was in the air, ice in my hair,
darkness was lying on the last shore.

There still afloat waited the boat,
in the tide lifting, its prow tossing.
Weary I lay, as it bore me away,
the waves climbing, the seas crossing,
passing old hulls clustered with gulls
and great ships laden with light,
coming to haven, dark as a raven,
silent as snow, deep in the night.

Houses were shuttered, wind round them muttered,
roads were empty. I sat by a door,
and where drizzling rain poured down a drain
I cast away all that I bore:
in my clutching hand some grains of sand,
and a sea-shell silent and dead.
Never will my ear that bell hear,
never my feet that shore tread.
Never again, as in sad lane,
in blind alley and in long street
ragged I walk. To myself I talk;
for still they speak not, men that I meet.
-J.R.R. Tolkien

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy

Personality Test

I thought this little quiz pretty accurately described my personality. I can be bossy but I don't think any of my friends would say I am loud. What's yours?



You Are An ENFJ




The Giver

You strive to maintain harmony in relationships, and usually succeed.
Articulate and enthusiastic, you are good at making personal connections.

Sometimes you idealize relationships too much - and end up being let down.
You find the most energy and comfort in social situations ... where you shine.

In love, you are very protective and supporting. However, you do need to "feel special" - and it's quite easy for you to get jealous.

At work, you are a natural leader. You can help people discover their greatest potential. You would make a good writer, human resources director, or psychologist.

How you see yourself: Trusting, idealistic, and expressive.
When other people don't get you, they see you as: Bossy, inappropriate, and loud


What's Your Personality Type?

Seize The Day!
-StrongJoy