Friday, February 25, 2011

Half-Hearted Prayer

Yesterday my prayer felt like a vapor. In reality, I didn't even think anyone was listening. In a blank and bland voice, my prayer felt tired and forced. I prayed for hope and things, and petitioned knowing it was all in vain. "Is He even up there?" I thought. I had no feeling, no desire, and I frankly didn't care if He heard because deep down inside, I new He wasn't even listening. I felt so numb and wasted. I just felt cheated somehow. I didn't even finish what I was praying about. I sighed not knowing what to do next. I looked up at the ceiling and wondered if He even cared about me. If He even truly loved me. I thought of Jesus and the cross and questioned if He wasn't just like so many others that had the same execution. I felt ashamed thinking that. I felt worse that I did before I had started to pray, but the prayer slowly faded away into the air. The prayer was filtered, sifted and finally pulverized. It had no substance or expectation. It had no potential or feeling. It felt like cold ash, useless and exhumed from the fire that used to be there. I felt like a stranger talking to a stranger. Praying to someone I didn't know and someone who didn't know me. Does He even want to know me?

The next day my prayer was answered. He had heard my prayer, He had heard my miserable petition. My prayer didn't need to feel powerful, because the power doesn't come from me, but from His Spirit. My prayer didn't need substance and feeling, because He is God no matter how I feel. He is all powerful no matter how weak I am. He has all potential even when I don't. He continues to care even when I don't care about Him or even myself.  Even when I doubt Him, He doesn't doubt me. He believes in me, even when I don't believe in myself. The fact that I may doubt His existence doesn't change the fact that He does exist.

How feeble I am! I question the Creator of the Universe and He decides not to strike me down. I would have given up on me a long time ago, but He never will give up on me.  His desire is to continue to work in me until I am a better person (Phil. 1:6). Which won't happen any time soon. Praise God, I still need Him.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Starved - Short Story

Day 1 - My master has locked me up again. It is dark where I am. He has stripped me from all my clothes and leaves me with nothing to cover my shame. I do not know how long I will be here. I have become an inconvenience to him. I get in the way of things he wants to get done. I am so alone.

Day 3 - I can hear his voice and I want to tell him I am hungry, but I keep silent. He has forgotten about me. Why can't he remember me. There were days when I brought him happiness, even joy. Why can't he remember those days?

Day 8 - I feel I am dying. I only get fed scraps that he throws at me just to shut me up. I scream and cry for him to feed me, to let me go. I find I am getting used to the darkness now but the cold still bites at me. I can't stop crying. I am so hungry and the loneliness overwhelms me.

Day 9 - He brought a small blanket today, maybe he will remember me soon.

Day 13 - I heard his voice again and screamed for food. For him to feed me! He beat me and took away my blanket. I should have stayed silent, but I am so hungry.

Day 20- I want to die, but I do not have anything to kill myself with. The pests don't even bother me anymore. I just let them climb on me. I can hear the noises they make. I can feel their small feet scratch at my skin. My master has forgotten me.

Day 21 - I get a visitor and I plead with him to feed me. He says he is only there to comfort me. He heard my tears, He gives me a blanket and some clean water. I drink shamelessly. He watches me for a while and it sounds like he has started to cry. Do something! Talk to my master! He says he will.

Day 22 - The visitor says that my master won't listen to him. He tells me that my master doesn't want me anymore and is waiting for me to die. The visitor leaves.

Day 26 - I know I am dying. Soon I will die. I don't even feel the hunger anymore. He doesn't even give me water anymore. I wait for death.

Day 27 - I stop breathing. He forgot me.

Question: Have you forgotten to feed your spirit. Every day our spirits die of malnutrition and neglect. There is a pandemic of spiritual anorexia and abuse. What kind of master are you?

Directions: Feed your spirit with God's Word. If it is a baby spirit start with comforting verses and verses of promise and warmth. Then once your spirit has matured begin feeding more solids i.e. verses that challenge you to do things for others. Then go to complete solids i.e. verses that move you to give food to others and that help other masters to feed their own spirits. Don't forget to laugh, to sing and to pray. All these things provide comfort for you spirit.

For further directions please call: 1-800-JESUS. He gave you your spirit and can tell you more about it.

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Action Bible - Book Review

 I saw this Bible at Wal-mart while I was grocery shopping. It is called The Action Bible - God's Redemtive Story. I was immediately attracted to the comic like scenes on the cover. The Bible was actually wrapped so I wasn't able to see the inside, but I am so happy that I bought it. It is priced at $24.99 but I bought it for $19.99. When I bought it I figured my son, Rami would like to read it and the drawings are phenomenal. Well he did! He immediately turned to the Samson story and read the whole part!

There are scenes in this Bible that I had forgotten about. Like the scene when Elijah out runs Ahab's horse in I Kings. And the pictures are full of emotion and detail. So far, every thing has been accurate and none of the females are over sexualized as some comic books like to do.

I also like that on the back of the book it is listed as Juvenile - Non-Fiction. These are the true comic super heroes that are not  a figment of someone's imagination, but were true living human beings that we can all learn from.

I recommend this Bible to any parent with a young son. Boys being more visual, can really learn from this Bible and actually be more interested in the wars, fight and love scenes, physical and emotional torture, and sheer drama of the Bible.

This is the scene when Esau realizes that Jacob tricked their father and he lost his blessing. There are actually tears of anger coming down his face.

 This is obviously the scene of the last supper. I like that they are all sitting down close to the floor as was custom during Jesus' times. Again, the artist is wonderful at depicting the faces of the Apostles and of Jesus. He didn't spare any detail in the surroundings or in the people themselves.
This is the crucifixion. Again it is not overly gory but you know that there is pain. Rami just loves reading the "bubbles" of what people are saying. Jesus also isn't depicted as some pale wimp either. He is a strong and rough man. He is the true Superman!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Irish Soda Bread - Recipe

I know that love is in the air with Valentine's Day just around the corner, but here is a recipe that I found for St. Patty's Day. It's called Irish Soda Bread and it is super easy to make. I made it this morning and had it with some butter and coffee. It is a very rustic looking bread and would be wonderful with thick stews, hearty soups or juicy meat dishes. It is perfect for sopping yummy juices left over from meats or gravies. Obviously, if you want to go Irish, this Irish soda bread would go wonderfully with a corned beef.

Here is the recipe:
1 1/3 Cups of whole milk
1/3    Cup of apple-cider vinegar
3       Cups of all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
2 1/2  teaspoons coarse salt. (If you are using Kosher salt, use only 2 tsps.
1        teaspoon of baking powder
1        teaspoon of baking soda
4        Tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1        Cup of Quaker oats or bran
1        Cup of raisins
          Butter for serving

1. Preaheat oven to 350. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix milk and vinegar in a small bowl, and let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes.
2. Mix flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in butter with knives or pastry cutter. Until mixture resemble very coarse meal. Try not to use your hands. Add in the oats and raisins, stir to distribute.
3. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture. Stir dough together. The dough will be very sticky Do not over stir. Turn dough unto floured surface. Pat and press dough into a round dome-shaped loaf.
4. Light dust top of loaf with flour. With a knife cut an X into the top. Make sure it is about 1 inch deep. My X didn't show on my bread because I didn't make the cut deep enough.
5. Bake for about 1 hour and 10 minutes or until golden brown. Rotate halfway through. Check your bread in about an hour. The bread is ready when you can insert a fork and it comes out clean. My bread was ready in about an hour.

I am going to use this bread as a bread bowl and put some kind of potato chowder or brocolli and cheese soup. I will post pictures when I do it!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory - Book Review

I just finished reading The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory. This book is so much better than the first book in the series, The White Queen.

The book is about the life of Margaret Beaufort before her son becomes king of England. Margaret is portrayed wonderfully as this over zealous religious fanatic. Again the author is tediously in sync with having the correct dates of everything surrounding Margaret's life. So even though this book is a novel, the history surrounding it is impeccable.

A little on Margaret. She was the mother of Henry VII and the grandmother of the notorious Henry VIII. She was married 4 times. Her first marriage was before the age of twelve and some say that that marriage doesn't really count. She herself, consideres herself to have been married only 3 times. Either way her 2nd marriage was to Edmund Tudor. She was 12 years old. Her husband died when she was 7 months pregnant. Obviously she had an extremely difficult birth being so young and so small. She had no other children. She was known to be deeply pious and a fervent Catholic (the only "Christian" religion at the time). She was a very proactice conspirator of the War of the Roses. She relunctantly had her son marry Elizabeth of York and was known as the mother-in-law from hell. She often signed her name Margaret R. The "R" standing for either regina (latin for queen) or Richmond (which was her estate's name). Most historians believe it meant regina. She officially wasn't a queen though. Her daughter-in-law was. She died two months after her son.

If any of this very short introduction interests you, reading this book will spike that interest even more.

I truly hope Ms. Gregory writes another book to tell us more on the lives of this woman after the crowning of her son.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Freedom as a Slave - 30

I am lost in the midst of your peace
I am lost in your basking glory
All my troubles have ceased
There's a new chapter in my story.
One of deliverance,
One of unchained flight.
One of a reverance
That in it, I will delight.
Freedom in You I have found
I am a slave, eternally bound
To You and to no one else
I take my cross and deny myself.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Rite: Making of the Modern Exorcist - Book Review

       I am reading a book called The Rite by Matt Baglio. It's a book that basically compiles what the Catholic exorcists go through. It goes through their training, the rituals, the prayers and some of their experiences.It is also a story about the priest Gary Thomas and how he became a priest and how he learned to be an exorcists.  I am about half way done with the book and so far there really isn't much that is very appealing. Yes there are several times throughout the book where it can get a little scary, but the book seems to be lacking substance. There is just no room for the Holy Spirit and everything is too legalistic. "Possession" seems to be packed into a set of rules. Some of the stories seem too forced also. There is a story in the book that talks about a woman vomiting 8 rusty nails and that 7 of those nails melted and one of those nails the exorcist kept as some type of token. There just seems to be too much unnecessary drama. There is also another story where a nun has been going to the local exorcist for nine years battling with the same demon. If there is ultimate power in Jesus' blood, why can't the exorcist get rid of the unclean spirit? I just think that 9 years with the same demon makes Jesus' power seem weak. There is an instance in the Bible where the apostles were confused because the couldn't remove a demon from a person. Jesus then states that that particular demon can only be cast out through prayer. 
    Obviously, since the book is written by a Catholic, there is a lot of focus on holy objects. There are several stories describe the importance of having Holy water and a crucifix. There is a particular prayer also that must be used. Several times using the name of Pope John Paul II helps with exorcism. I don't remember Jesus ever asking Moses or Elijah for help whenever he commanded an unclean spirit to leave. It just seems too phony for me that Mother Teresa and a pope can come over in spirit form and help the demon-possessed person be liberated. And that using the name of a martyr is just as strong as using the name of Jesus.
    Another problem with the book that I found offensive is that it states that no one should perform an exorcism, except for trained priests. The book does state that in the early church any Christian could cast out demons, but mentions that those were different times and that anyone else trying to cast out demons is in almost mortal danger. As a Christian we all have authority over unclean spirits and the power of Jesus' name can vanquish any evil. Granted, a Christian should always be spiritually prepared to confront anything evil.
    I really was hoping on learning something from this book that would help me in my spiritual walk, but I didn't. I did learn about Catholic doctrine, but again the book seemed like it was meant for a child to read.
    I am in the middle of the book and still have another 150 pages or so to finish. I really don't think I will finish the book because I don't think it will offer any more insight than it already has.
    I did hear that there is a movie that is out already that was inspired by this book. From the looks of the previews, its super scary!!
    I know that unclean spirits exists and that they subtlely cause us spiritual and physical pain. I am just happy that I can do something about it and don't have to wait for someone else to help me out.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The art of Embroidery

I am having so much fun embroidering! I just love it! It does require a tremendous amount of patience, but the results are so rewarding. I started with a rather ambitious project and I believe that was why it took me so long to finish it. I started off by drawing a hummingbird and two hibiscus flowers. I saw this picture in a card and I thought it would look beautiful on a tote bag. So the tote bag is finished now, but the back of it is a mess. I think I might have to attach some kind of cloth in the back. I also would like to add my name to the other side of the bag.

This is the latest project I finished. I embroidered it
on a handerkerchief. It is an "L" with a flower and some sort of berries around it. The "L" was textured by interweaving the thread. This took about 4 days to do. Unfortunately I ran out of the greyish green color for the "L" and had to improvise. The flower petal are a satin stitch and the so are the leaves. The vine is an attempted stem stich. Again the back of the embroidery looks just awful. I am going to try and make it cleaner next time around. Although the back of the handkerchief looks way better than the back of my tote bag!

This is a detail of what the "L" and flowers look like.
For my next project I am going to draw some vines and flowers on the edge of some white pillow cases I bought. I was thinking about drawing a peacock with a long tail coming down, but I am going to try to take this one step at a time and do something simpler.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Little ones - 28

I can hear them breathing
So steadily
I know they're off dreaming
So readily

Thank you Lord for my little ones
I am blessed beyond measure
Keep them safe when the time comes
For they are my precious treasure

Watch them when I cannot
And keep them safe for me
Lead them astray I shall not
As I teach them eagerly

Help me lead them closer to You
And help me be a good mother
Show me exactly what to do
Because without you ther is no other