Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Coming Economic Armageddon

Many people have written books about the economic crisis in America - quite a popular topic. Dr. David Jeremiah joins the crowd with The Coming Economic Armageddon.

The title alone makes this book stand out. But so do the contents. Jeremiah writes about our current economy from the perspective of Biblical prophecy. The result is a commentary of current events from a prophetic standpoint.

Jeremiah does not claim to have all the answers to questions about the end times. Nor does he call out any specific dates for future events. Instead, he examines cultural, financial and economic trends and how they fit with what the Bible tells us will happen in the End Times.

I found this book fascinating - and at times quite alarming. The thing I appreciate most about Jeremiah is that he's not an alarmist who leaves us hanging, feeling helpless in the face of the future. He boldly states his point of view, always reminding the reader (who he assumes is a believer in Jesus) of the hope found in Christ.

I particularly appreciated the final chapter, which includes practical application - in light of what we're seeing today, how we can move ahead instead of being stuck in hopelessness.

If you haven't read Dr. Jeremiah's What In the World is Going On?, you should read it first. That book gives a broader look at End Time prophecy and current world trends. Jeremiah refers to it several times in The Coming Economic Armageddon.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Praise of Created Things

I just finished putting dinner in the crock pot. It's not my children's favorite meal, but I like it because it feeds everyone, with leftovers for Daddy, without a need for a second meal for Isaac, my gluten-free guy.

While I was peeling, chopping and browning, I realized I don't hate making dinner like I did say, seven years ago. Part of it is having the right tools, part of it is growing into my role and responsibility of being wife and mother. And a large part of it is making a dinner menu each week so I'm not panicking at 3pm each day, wondering what I'm going to make. Plus, I love making dinner in the morning and not having to worry about it in the afternoon when the kids, and I, are cranky.

The meal I made today contains a lot of vegetables - pepper, onion, peas, potatoes, tomatoes. That got me thinking about gardens, the earth, the seasons. Which lead me to this poem we read in school at some point in the past few weeks.

Praise of Created Things
Saint Francis of Assisi

Be thou praised, my Lord, with all They creatures,
Above all, Brother Sun, who gives the day and lightens us therewith.
And he is beautiful and radiant with great splendor,
Of Thee, Most High, he bears similitude.

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of Sister Moon and the stars,
In the heaven hast Thou formed them,
Clear and precious and comely.

Be Thou praised, my Lord, of our Sister Mother Earth,
Which sustains and hath us in rule,
And produces divers fruits with colored flowers, and herbs.

Enjoy more poetry here for Poetry Wednesday.

And, in case you're wondering, I'm posting the recipe on my facebook page.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Illinois... Chicago... politics?

I need to admit a few things: I do not follow politics; I am not a lawyer; I do not live in Chicago.

However, I do live in the Chicago TV market, which means I get plenty of news about Chicago's politics. Mostly I ignore it. But I can't help commenting on the big news yesterday. The Illinois Court of Appeals removed Rahm Emmanuel's name from the ballot for Chicago mayor.

It surprised me to hear this, and I asked my husband what he thought. We discussed a simple reading of the law, the definition of residency, the fact that neither of us have studied the law. But we decided that really, Emmanuel was not a resident of Chicago the year before this election.

Then I pointed out that this is Illinois. And the election is taking place in Chicago. I admire those people who have fought, and continue to fight, against Emmanuel being on the ballot. But I think they're fighting a losing battle.

Our former senator is president. Former governors face trial or are in jail. Chicago mayors are routinely under federal investigation. There is not a lot to admire about Illinois politics.

Emmanuel is connected. Our courts (collectively, state & federal) tend to want to make law instead of read the law and rule. I think the Illinois Supreme Court will rule Emmanuel is technically allowed to run for mayor.

That's just my opinion, which doesn't count for much. The most amazing thing about this whole situation is I'm actually interested in hearing the Illinois Supreme Court ruling (assuming, of course, that they hear the case).

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Months

When I was young, the months seemed to drag... Winter lasted forever, school would never end, endless summer days at the beach.

Now, I feel like the days whip by so fast I almost feel whiplash.

I cannot believe how long ago some events happened. Didn't I just move back north a couple of years ago?

Nope - that was in 2004. It's now 2011. Yikes!

As much as I try to savor the moments, the days quickly fly away and I grow older. My children grow older.

I think the years go almost as quickly as this poem:

The Months
Christinia Rossetti

January cold and desolate;
February dripping wet;
March wind ranges;
April changes;
Birds sing in tune
to the flowers of May,
And sunny June
Brings longest day;
In scorched July
The storm-clouds fly,
August bears corn,
September fruit;
In rough October
Earth must disrobe her;
Stars fall and shoot
In keen November;
And night is long
And cold is strong
In bleak December.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Speak, O Lord

Quite frequently, I enjoy the privilege of helping lead the music in our church on Sunday mornings. I enjoy the opportunity to sing alto, blending with the worship leader and hearing the skill of the musicians backing us.

Many years ago, some of our Florida acquaintances complained about the '7-11' choruses we sang at church. They preferred the old hymns, with their meaty lyrics. I was puzzled by the '7-11' tag.

"You know," they said. "The song has seven words we sing eleven times. Look for them. They're everywhere."

After that conversation, I started to notice them. I enjoyed the choruses, but I too started to long for some variety. I wanted songs that made me think.

Since then, many artists have updated the hymns, simplifying the chord progression for guitar players, speeding them up a little, updating the lyrics a bit (do you know what "Here I lift mine Ebenezer" means?), adding drums and bass lines.

I've welcomed my old friends, dressed up for the modern day worship team. And I welcome, too, a husband-wife team of musicians, Keith & Kristyn Getty, to whom some refer as 'modern hymn writers.'

I can't say I know all their songs, but I have noticed that of my most favoritest (forgive my grammar) songs to sing on Sunday, they've written several of them.

The tunes are catchy, easy to harmonize, and the words - like sitting down to a banquet. You want to savor these songs.

This past Sunday, we sang one their songs. I think this is my favorite of theirs - at least this week.

Speak, O Lord
Keith Getty, Stuart Townend

Speak, O Lord, as we come to you,
To receive the food of your Holy Word;
Take your truth, plant it deep in us,
Shape and fashion us, in your likeness;
That the light of Christ might be seen today,
In our acts of love and our deeds of faith;
Speak, O Lord, and fulfill in us,
All your purposes, for your glory.

Teach us Lord, full obedience,
Holy reverence, true humility;
Test our thoughts, and our attitudes,
In the radiance of your purity;
Cause our faith to rise, cause our eyes to see,
Your majestic love and authority;
Words of power that can never fail,
Let their truth prevail over unbelief.

Speak, O Lord, and renew our minds,
Help us grasp the heights of your plans for us;
Truths unchanged from the dawn of time,
That will echo down through eternity;
And by grace we'll stand, on your promises,
And by faith we'll walk, as you walk with us;
Speak, O Lord, till your church is built,
And the earth is filled with your glory.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Exiles in Eden

If this book weren't due at the library, I'd dig through my pictures to find one of our first little house in St. Cloud, Florida.

We, by the grace of God, built the house - which sits on a retention pond (but because it indirectly feeds into Lake Toho at some point, is deeded a lake) on Pine Chase Circle. We moved in February of 1998, just a few months before our oldest was born.

It was a small house, but we have so many happy memories there. We brought all our four children home from the hospital to that house, we entertained family, we got to know our neighbors, we took walks to see the Christmas lights after dinner. I didn't realize until I moved away how much I loved that little house.

Which is why I picked up this book from my local library here in Illinois - Exiles in Eden: Life Among the Ruins of Florida's Great Recession by Paul Reyes.

I had heard rumblings of the horrors of the Florida housing market from my friends who still live in St. Cloud. Exiles from Eden brought it even closer home.

Reyes spent several months helping his father clean out foreclosed homes in the Tampa Bay area. He sifted through personal things - pictures, letters, and other personal items abandoned along with the houses. He also followed up with former owners, asking them for their stories, their hopes, where they will go from here.

Reyes engagingly keeps the reader's attention not only with his personal stories, but also the stories of people who have lost their homes, the stories of his father's crew, with some Florida history thrown in for good measure.

I found the story of Lehigh Acres fascinating. It's all the more intriguing because of Reyes' parents' personal connection to the community.

Our family moved from St. Cloud in 2004, right when the housing market was starting to really take off. I remember our Realtor telling us that this was a crazy bubble, the banks were making crazy loans and everything was going to burst in about three to five years.

She was right on the money. What she didn't know - and we didn't either - was that the family who bought our house would be a causality too. There was a divorce, then the air conditioning broke, and with no money to fix it, the mother and her children abandoned the house, first stripping it bare.

My former neighbor told me that. I've not heard if it's still sitting empty and forlorn on that block, or if someone bought it for a song from the bank and fixed it up. I have a feeling it's the former.

It makes me want to run down to St. Cloud and rescue my little house so full of memories.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Incredible Headache

I have to admit what my closest friends know:

I thrive on routine.

Not only that, but being out of my routine seriously messes me up.

So you can imagine how hard it is for me to recover from ten days of birthday/holiday/family parties - as fun and enjoyable as they were.

Yesterday morning I woke up with a horrible headache, and ended up spending most of the day in bed. I felt better enough to make dinner last night. I felt well enough to plow through a school day with my kids today.

I even remembered that today is Poetry Wednesday, and sat down with Jack Prelutsky's The New Kid on the Block to find a poem while I iced my neck in my continuing attempt to get rid of my headache. This one made me laugh.

I've Got an Incredible Headache
I've got an incredible headache,
my temples are throbbing with pain,
it feels like a freight train with two locomotives
is chugging about in my brain.
I'm sure I can't stand it much longer,
my skull's being squeezed in a vise,
as regiments march to the blaring of trumpets,
and thousands of tap-dancing mice.

My head's filled with horrible noises,
there's a man mashing melons inside,
someone keeps drumming on bongos and plumbing,
as porpoises thrash in the tide.
An elephant herd is stampeding,
a volcano is blowing its top,
and if I keep hitting my head with this hammer,
I doubt that my headache will stop.

(by the way, no hammer was harmed in the creation of my headache.)