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

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!

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...."


"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!

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.

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!

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!

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 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!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

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!