RSSBack Issue: November, 2007
Posted November 29th, 2007 by Jen in giveaways, product review, the office
48 Comments »
To win, just leave a comment below, letting me know which item you’d like to win. You have until next Wednesday, December 5, at midnight, to post your comment. U.S. and Canada bloggers only, please. I’ll have a random drawing and announce the thirteen winners in next week’s Thursday Thirteen! I’m offering free shipping and delivery guaranteed before Christmas. Links back to TeamMASCOT and this Diary of 1 post would be appreciated.
1. Boston Red Sox Wall Clock
2. Detroit Red Wings 3×5 Flag
3. Detroit Lions Blanket: Woven Tapestry Throw
4. North Carolina Tarheels Stainless Steel License plate
5. New York Yankees 27×37 Vertical Hanging Flag
6. Chicago Cubs Glow Pen
7. Atlanta Hawks Pennant
8. Michigan State Lapel Pin
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. #8 Trash Can
10. Dallas Cowboys Stainless Steel Water Bottle
12. Oregon Ducks Chrome License Plate Frame
13. New Orleans Saints Auto Emblem
Thanks for visiting the Diary of 1 Holiday Giveaway of Sports Stuff! You can visit the Thursday Thirteen meme hub here.
Posted November 27th, 2007 by Jen in book reviews, china, persecuted church, religion
6 Comments »
The Heavenly Man: the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun
The story of Brother Yun is inspiring, painful, seemingly incredulous, and certainly in season. The Heavenly Man details the life and ministry of this Christian house church leader in his own words, also interwoven with accounts from his wife, Deling. A large portion of the book describes the countless ordeals of intense torture that would kill any man, but these reports are offset by Yun’s testimonies of miraculous healings, visions, dreams, and many other supernatural events. In fact, that is the theme of the book: with great persecution, the Church will see the miraculous hand of God and will grow.
Brother Yun, Liu Zhenying was his given name, was born in 1958 in Nanyang in the southern part of China’s Henan Province. He spent his childhood in a farming village of 600 people, in a little mud house with a straw roof. He worked the fields like most poor children, along with his four siblings, and received little schooling.
China became a communist nation in 1949 and thus Brother Yun was born into a spiritual and political climate that was void of all Christian fellowship and Bibles were nowhere to be seen. Mao Tsetung (Zedong) ushered in communism and death; his policies of the suppression of counter-revolutionaries centered on mass executions, and Mao himself claimed to have killed 700,000 during the early years of his founding of the People’s Republic of China. However, the U.S. State Department puts the number at several times that amount. Not only were Christian missionaries and their Chinese converts slaughtered, Mao targeted the leaders of the former government, former employees of Western companies, rural gentry, and anyone whose loyalty was suspect. His policies of forced collective ownership, including a ban on all private food production and a ban on private land ownership, led to what is thought to be the largest famine in history, resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese peasants between 1959 and 1962. Brother Yun reports that in his Henan Province 8 million people starved to death.
In 1974, Brother Yun was 16 years old. His entire family became Christians overnight when his father was healed of cancer. Yun’s mother, who had heard the gospel in the 1940s from a Western missionary, had become a Christian, but in the ensuing decades of Mao’s dictatorship, was spiritually starved. However, this one night when her husband lay dying, she heard a voice say, “Jesus loves you.” She immediately recognized the voice of God, and told her children that “Jesus is the only hope for Father.” They all prayed throughout the night, and by the next week their father was completely healed. Yun relates that this was such a powerful event in his family’s life that today, over 30 years after Jesus healed his father, all five of his children still follow God.
Yun’s mother couldn’t remember much of the Bible, but she told all she knew to her family. Yun began to long to read the words of God for himself, but this was during the Cultural Revolution when Bibles were scarce. People were allowed to read only Mao’s little Red Book, and if caught with a Bible, it would be burned and the owner would be publicly and severely beaten, along with his entire family.
A most curious series of events followed, as Brother Yun, a mere 16 years old, began to fast and pray for a Bible, such was his passion to read God’s word. He had a vision one night, in which two strangers gave him a bun of fresh bread, which they pulled from a red bag, and upon putting it in his mouth, it turned into a Bible.
His mother and father were afraid their son had gone mad, as Yun frantically searched the house for a Bible. But lo and behold, a knock came to the door, and the same two men from Yun’s vision were waiting there, and slipped through the door the same red bag, which contained a Bible. Yun later finds out that these two men were sent by an evangelist from a far off village, who had received a vision from the Lord instructing him to give his Bible, hidden underground for safekeeping, to a certain young man.
This young man was Brother Yun, and despite having only three years of education, began reading his Bible, one character at a time with a dictionary at his side. After reading through the whole Bible, Yun memorized entire chapters at a time. Within the first month, he memorized the Book of Matthew, and then on to the Book of Acts. During this time, Brother Yun received another visitation from the Lord. He felt a tap on his shoulder and heard a voice tell him “Yun, I am going to send you to the west and south to be my witness.”
Yun started preaching at age 16, and because no one had a Bible, his preaching consisted mostly of reciting the books of the Bible that he had memorized. People would stay up all night just to hear him speak, because they too longed to hear the Word of God. Within that first year of preaching in neighboring villages, Brother Yun led over 2,000 people to Jesus. Persecution was immediate. All of the new Christians in the first village where he spoke were arrested and beaten. Yun’s name was on the Public Security Bureau’s “Wanted” list because of his evangelizing.
Soon after, Yun was married to Deling, through the matchmaking of their mothers. She is a lovely Christian woman and shares parts of this amazing story as well. She recounts the story of her and Yun going to the marriage registry office to apply for their marriage license. After waiting a long time, Yun didn’t come out.
The pressure against Brother Yun and other Chinese Christian house church leaders mounted, and the torture and abuse at the hands of the Chinese police and other government officials is unspeakable. In his 23 years of ministering in China, Brother Yun and his family were continually on the run, he was imprisoned three different times for a total of seven years, and yet people came to Jesus by the thousands.
Woven throughout the most intense scenes of torture is always the strong presence of God. Yun shares many personal accounts of divine healings, people being delivered from demons, and other miracles. During his first imprisonment, Brother Yun survived a 74 day fast. His second time in prison, the PSB beat his legs so badly that he was crippled, yet he walked out the front doors of the prison and escaped. Yun describes that escape of May 5, 1997, walking past guards and through open gates:
After many trials and long periods of agonizing separation from his family, Brother Yun finally escaped China and now lives in Germany with his family. The last several chapters of The Heavenly Man are his reflections on the Western church as well as a description of his new focus on the Back to Jerusalem movement.
I understand why many people are deeply moved by this book. Reading about a man a world away who has to beg, pray, and fast for months just to get his hands on a Bible, while I have ten on my shelf, makes me a bit uncomfortable. Brother Yun has some sharp words for the Western church:
I’m trying to keep perspective here, because I realize that different nations have different battles and their own unique burdens, and it’s not always fair to make direct comparisons. However, Brother Yun’s experiences in China have much to teach us in the West.
Brother Yun’s incredible ordeals in China have led him to a deep desire for not only Chinese brothers and sisters to know Jesus, but all the world. In chapter 24 of The Heavenly Man, Yun describes the Silk Roads, key trading routes that first brought herbs, spices, treasures, new religions, and invading armies in and out of China. Some accounts say that Christianity first traveled down one of these roads from Jerusalem to China just decades after the resurrection of Jesus.
It is the goal of Brother Yun and the Back to Jerusalem movement for the gospel to travel full circle, out of China and back to Jerusalem. The nations along the Silk Roads are home to the three strongholds of Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism, with more than 90% of the people groups who haven’t heard the gospel living here. Yun describes meeting Simon Zhao in 1995 in Central China, a believer who spent 31 years in prison for his involvement in the first Back to Jerusalem movement in 1950:
Fascinating. The Heavenly Man, the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun is a powerful book that I recommend to all Christians wanting to challenge their Western faith and enlarge their Christian worldview.
This review is part of the Chrysalis November Christian Book Fair.
Posted November 20th, 2007 by Jen in family life, health/cooking/food, parenting
11 Comments »
“Mommy, can I help you?” is the phrase most often heard in my kitchen. Moms around the world know that a kid in the kitchen means the meal will take about three times the usual prep!
Well, at least that’s how it happens in my house with three and four year olds – and even the six and eight year olds.
It’s a great temptation to lock kids out of the kitchen, and there are pressing times when I have to say, “No, Mommy has to do this herself,” but I try to have a general rule that the children can always help. However, to maintain a level of sanity, I’ve come up with some tips and tricks which I’ll list below, for making the cooking time with kids an enjoyable and educational experience.
I’ve read several stories of great chefs who always point back to their childhood cooking with their mothers or grandmothers as a meaningful element in their later careers. I’ve also read accounts of women who know little about cooking because their mothers didn’t allow them in the kitchen.
There is a wonderful book called The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber that convinced me I needed to make a significant place in my time with the kids for food – from the picking out of the ingredients at the market, to the preparation of the meal, to the enjoyment of the taste. Abu-Jaber “comes from cooking,” and notes that how you cook and eat, and how you feed your neighbors defines who you are.
I’ve been remiss in keeping to that commitment, but especially as the holidays are welcomed, I want to renew that vision. Here’s my list to keep me on track with cooking with kids:
Happy cooking with kids, and enjoy the upcoming holiday feasts!
Posted November 17th, 2007 by Jen in politics/world news
4 Comments »
Yesterday I wanted to write about “This Day in History.” I didn’t have time…do you ever have a great idea for a blog post, do a bit of research, then, poof, your time is gone and there are real-life obligations to tend to? So, just to give you my Reader’s Digest condensed version of yesterday’s This Day in History, here it is.
November 16 – On this day in 1988, Benazir Bhutto was elected as the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the first woman, and at age 35 the youngest person in modern times, to be head of the government of a Muslim-majority state.
I find her story fascinating and intriguing. And she’s baaack. She’s so beautiful and well-spoken, and I so want to believe her when she says she’s returning to bring democracy to Pakistan. But I can’t get past her sordid history of massive corruption charges and ties to the very terrorists she denounces.
Benazir Bhutto has attended Radcliffe, Harvard, and Oxford. Her father was a former Prime Minister who was executed for conspiracy to murder the father of a dissident politician. Two of her brothers were murdered. She has been under house arrest, lived in exile, and survived an assassination attempt. How can you not be curious about this enigmatic woman?
Since November 3, 2007, there has been a “State of Emergency” in Pakistan, as Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution and imposed martial law, citing dangers of religious extremism, terrorism, and an interfering judiciary. Bhutto immediately interrupted a visit to family in Dubai (Grace, have you seen her around? :-) ) and returned to Pakistan.
Initial talks of power-sharing between Bhutto and Musharraf have broken down. Yesterday, Benazir Bhutto said she would not talk to Pervez Musharraf on any issue, but will continue her struggle against dictatorship in Pakistan and seek to restore democracy. Bhutto’s recent comments:
I hope you’re able to follow a bit of the news coming out of Pakistan. I think the Pakistani situation has great bearing on the future of Middle East stability and the war on terror, which ultimately has a direct and terrifying bearing on the the United States. Bhutto now presents herself as the opposition leader, with probable elections in January. Hmmm, read this before you decide what you think.
Posted November 14th, 2007 by Jen in carnivals, the ranch
15 Comments »
About the photo: This is the original homestead from our property – and yes, it’s still standing, won’t you come in for a cup of burnt coffee boiled in a pan over the cookstove? The land has since been divided, and the 20 acres we own isn’t graced by this dwelling. Our neighbor who does own the property this sits upon has plans to reinforce the structure and keep it up as an historic landmark – she just needs to keep her cows from knocking the place over. You wouldn’t believe how many tourists and locals alike pull over to take pictures of this old homestead!
More Blog Carnivals:
Enjoy a wonderful Wednesday! I guess this post really wasn’t “wordless.”
Posted November 12th, 2007 by Jen in family life, parenting
6 Comments »
As the saying goes, out of the mouths of babes…here’s some bits of conversation heard around here today.
JJ: No, Blabber Mouth!
Little L: Look, Mommy, a pirate ship!
Little L: Jo, I was jus’ pertendin’.
You need to know that even though “Pookie Bear” sounds like a term of endearment, Little L gets in trouble for these words. See, it’s the worst name he can come up with when he’s angry. We figured this out recently upon hearing the outburst “I hate you, Pookie Bear!” when he was most angry with his brother or sisters. Not sure where his three year old brain came up with Pookie Bear, but, when I give it the equivalent of the worst name I could think of, you can see that he deserves punishment!
Reminds me of a story my mother-in-law told me about my husband. When he was a little guy, he got in a heap of trouble for calling her a “Pinecone Head!” Yes, that’s the worst he could come up with!
Little L: I love you Mommy. You my best friend.
Aww, I love waking up to that. This makes up for all his tough talk.
Posted November 11th, 2007 by Jen in education, history, holidays
3 Comments »
My family is participating in the Veterans History Project as part of a homeschool history project. We will be interviewing a family friend who is a Vietnam veteran. You don’t have to submit the oral history you collect to the Project, but it’s really simple and would benefit us all if you’d be willing to contribute and help preserve these stories as part of America’s folklife.
The Veterans History Project is primarily focused on first-hand accounts of U.S. veterans from the following wars:
The Project also invites U.S. civilians to share their stories of their active support of the war efforts, such as war industry workers, USO workers, flight instructors, and medical volunteers.
The participation guidelines are straightforward, and includes a Veteran’s Release Form, which is included in the Project Kit. Only one interview, between 25-90 minutes long, is allowed per veteran or civilian interviewee.
Sample interview questions for veterans are available at the Project website, and are an invaluable resource! The questions are divided into segments, making it easy to conduct interviews in sessions if required: Jogging Memory, Experiences, Life, After Service, and Later Years and Closing. “Do you recall the day your service ended?” is a question I’m sure all veterans will have no trouble recollecting.
This weekend my children were in two different Veterans Day parades. My son, who is a Cub Scout, marched with his troop in the neighboring town on Saturday, and my daughter, who is a Brownie (Girl Scout), marched with her troop on Sunday in our town. I took several photos of veterans who lined the streets with the other parade watchers, and I so wish I could have sat down with them all right there and heard their stories! Here are some of my favorite shots:
A World War II veteran:
Two Vietnam veterans:
Navy Lieutenant Commander, veteran of WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War:
Since I walked the parade route, I only had time to stop and ask permission to take a photo, and thank these men for their service to our country. From this last fellow, though, I had the privilege of hearing a snippet about his thirty year military career.
No matter where your politics lie in regard to war, please be pro-veteran. Someone handed my husband a card which said Pro-Troop. War-Neutral. That’s a nice non-partisan way to honor our military men and women.
Please let me know if you participate in the Veterans History Project!
Posted November 10th, 2007 by Jen in family life, holidays, poetry
9 Comments »
November 11, 2007.
Thank you, all veterans of all times.
I remembered an old poem my mom wrote, and rummaged around this morning and thankfully found it. Her father was a WWI veteran. He spent the last decade of his life confined to a wheelchair, the result of mustard gas from the war. My grandpa died before I had the chance to meet him. But, thanks, Grandpa.
ODE TO VETERANS
Have you survived the overflowing banks
Then I salute you, veteran of earth’s day.
Posted November 7th, 2007 by Jen in carnivals, family life
8 Comments »
About the photo: Do you remember the feeling, as a child, of being on top of the world? Just eight feet up on the monkey bars can make you a king.
Blog carnivals to visit:
Posted November 6th, 2007 by Jen in family life, religion
7 Comments »
I may not have been doing any of those particular things lately, but certainly in some ways I have not honored God in all things. In Daniel 5:23, Daniel says to Belshazzar: “But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.”
While I don’t advocate Christians beating themselves up over their shortcomings, I do strongly believe in taking inventory of your life. As Socrates said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” We don’t need to look for handwriting on the wall because we have the Holy Spirit residing within us to convict us of sin. So ask. Where have I been weighed and found wanting? I’ve been examining, and I’ve given myself a report card in some “subjects” that I’ve deemed critical to my family life and my walk with God. I don’t mind sharing how I scored:
I’m used to being a straight A student, so this doesn’t look pretty to me! I won’t go into all the details of why I graded myself with those particular letters, but overall, my deficiencies have to do with being undisciplined, unorganized, quick to anger, and just messy. But folks! Unless we really take the time to sift through all the areas of our lives, and be willing to be honest, and be willing to make changes, we will never grow.
I have stepped on the scale, have not measured up to God’s standards, and unless I do something about it (which Belshazzar did not), I’m in trouble. This doesn’t have to be an exercise in just wallowing in the muck. I see this as a very positive operation – the point is to set some new goals, and through prayer, discipline, and the empowering work of the Holy Spirit, advance.
The next time I I step on the scale, I hope to find a more favorable balance. :-)
Posted November 5th, 2007 by Jen in education, family life
8 Comments »
It’s always a little nerve-wracking to post a schedule, proclaim a goal, or shout out to all of blog-land what you intend to do. Because then you have invited accountability of sorts. What if someone asks me about what I said I was going to do? And what if I didn’t do it? Then do I look like a loser or a liar?
I did post a schedule for our homeschool, and I know that doesn’t make me answerable to you, gentle reader, but I will follow up. There’s a certain amount of accountability I need to function well, to stay disciplined, to maintain the course. Like I said in that post, I was feeling overwhelmed with inability and disorganization, and writing out our homeschool schedule – and posting it – was just the framework I needed to lock down on myself.
Now I get to tell you that writing out a rigid schedule doesn’t mean you have to be chained to it. Let it act as a mere suggestion on the days you don’t need it because all is well; let it serve as the guiding principle when your objectives have become dim; or demand that it be the strictest procedure when reigning chaos requires order.
I have the first few months of school behind me, and I can say that our schedule has been somewhere between a strict procedure and a guiding principle. I’d like to tell about what we really did mostly for those who are freaked out about their ability to homeschool. A comment I hear fairly often from non-homeschoolers is this: I could never do it because… I’m just not organized enough, I don’t have enough patience, I’m not smart enough…and so on. You’ll see following that there is, and arguably should be, a lot of room for flexibility.
Here’s what was in the planner, with what we really did on one particular day below each subject entry:
9:00 Math: Ray’s New Arithmetics
The little ones (3 and 4 years old) sat with Grandma during math. Mulit-age teaching is possible and a beautiful thing, even if hectic at times. Grandmas sure come in handy right about now! In this photo, Grandma was telling little L. that he was building the arched entry way into Pine Grove Park, and creating little floats for the parade. Grandma was in a distant time some 60 or 70 years ago, and recalled with great detail the beautiful parade floats from her hometown of Port Huron, Michigan.
“Mama, look at my pretty float on the St. Clair River,” says little L., pridefully pointing a chubby finger at his stack of Cuisenaire rods.
9:30 Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
10:00 Language Arts: First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind, by Jessie Wise.
10:30 History: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child, by Susan Wise Bauer.
Formal schooling for the day is done. Next, we ate lunch and had a clean up time. Now the three year old needs his nap, and the rest of the children have a quiet time for 1 1/2 hours. I’m busy on the computer, catching up with the business, maybe a little blogging.
Once afternoon naps and/or quiet time is complete, we head over to the office for about an hour. I pack up orders for the day while the kids play with projects they’ve brought with them. Today it’s gluing beans onto cardstock, making interesting designs.
Back home, it’s time for dinner, clean up, storytime, and bed. There you have it, a day in the life of a homeschool family. Of course, no two days are ever the same, but you get the flavor.
Speaking of flavor, my six year old just brought me a cup of something that she made. “Here Mom, it’s a banana shake I made for you! It has cinnamon, milk, yogurt, mashed up bananas, and that’s it – it’s a simple recipe!”
Posted November 2nd, 2007 by Jen in family life, health/cooking/food, parenting
14 Comments »
She takes the dirty clothes you’ve just loaded into the washing machine, and left momentarily, but long enough for her to come along, and transfers them to the dryer, never minding that they are bone dry and thus could not have been run through the wash cycle.
And before you can catch her, because you are busy with other work and four little children, she proceeds to then remove these same dirty clothes from the dryer, fold them, and put them away, never minding that they have bits of food stuck to them and the crusty socks still have retained their owner’s shape.
This calamity causes the daughter whose nearly 80 year old mother lives with her to race from drawer to drawer, feeling for clothes that are still warm and smelling for nasty socks, to pull out and begin the proper wash process once again. The chaos caused by all this commotion causes the elderly mother to break down in tears and retreat to her room.
Repeat above scenario with the dishwasher, and I believe your mother has Alzheimer’s.
You can find me over here getting help.
Posted by Jen in book reviews, carnivals
7 Comments »
My husband just finished reading The Heavenly Man, the remarkable true story of Chinese Christian Brother Yun. I’ll be starting it next, because I need to have conversations with him; this book has changed him. Marital communication tip: if your spouse ever says a particular book or movie was very impacting, do yourself a favor and read it or watch it.
I’ll be reviewing The Heavenly Man right here when I’m finished, so be on the lookout. This is for the November Christian Book Fair hosted by Chrysalis, and you can click here if you’d like to submit your own Christian book review.
Several blog carnivals to visit if you have time this weekend:
I just might get away all by myself this weekend to catch up with old friends, including my dear friend K. who just had a baby! As long as there’s no snow on the mountain I would have to drive over. I don’t drive by myself in the dark or in the rain or in the snow. Kind of limiting, isn’t it? I just have terrible night vision, and especially with moisture in the air – the glare just freaks me out.