Friday, 29 March 2013

Of Seven Blessings

Correlating Verses - About this time last year, I was assigned a fifteen-minute presentation for my college health class. Though a bit intimidated, I made my power-point and memorized my "stuff,"and on the day of, I stood up and had a truly exhilarating time talking about joint health (of all subjects) in a room full of teenagers. Reading  Hebrews 12 recently, I came upon favorite verses (12-13) which makes me think of the presentation every time I read it:
"Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed."
Why a blessing? Because we are weak at times, and it is only by God's grace our joints are lubricated and put back into place!

Finding - It's sad how closed-minded we can be at times.  (Maybe it's just me; how closed-minded I can be at times.)  Anyway, there are so many people we interact with everyday, and even though we can in no way be everything to all of them, we can still show Christ.  Yes, it does take effort, but remember, we're not doing this alone. I found friends in an unlikely place and was able to encourage them. Now those God given opportunities, that is what is called a blessing.

Yawning White - Is it just me? The snow seems to be yawning, saying "Yeah, yeah, I'm leaving soon, stop worrying, I'll be taking a long nap." Waking up to the snow melting off the roof was a blessing, because it means the white is tired, and God's Spring will burst forth from its dormant state.

Kindred Professors - They are the best.  It is a skill to stay a student while also developing a genuinely respectful friendship, but it is worth it, because they are people with their passions and lives as well.

Inspiration - A great blessing: Elements around us give us ideas, ideas which help us complete, or start projects, or even put an end to bad habits.  Perhaps its something for an art project or even something for design, but whatever it may be, inspiration for creativity is from our heavenly Father.

Surprises - Again, I must argue that giving is oft more exciting than getting, especially if it is a surprise for someone.  Recently it was someone who's been giving of their time to teach others, and a little expression of gratitude on our part is just enough.

Holy Week Services - Easter is near, and it is a pity I do not have a Spring break so I can spend even more time thinking about it. However, services during Holy Week are so wonderful, because they allow you to let your mind be saturated with the weight of Christ's love.  We think he was so wonderful, but we the deplorable, the aberrational, only know that because he first loved us.

Have a blessed Easter, everyone; He is Risen Indeed!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Under the Lion's Paw Analysis

Here's the reflective analysis that involved writing with an emotional draw. (But hah for Garland, he did not get me; I saw through it, and here you are.)

Evaluate the Menacing Before Rushing

            Lions are menacing, and it would be terrible indeed to be under one’s paw.  Oppression would turn to depression, and any ambitious hopes of life that had previously stirred would abruptly halt.  Desperation would also be prevalent in this scene, but from whose point?  We do not always perceive what we think we perceive, and whether others should sympathize with the lion or the one under the paw remains to be seen.  Can we always be sure as to who should be justified?  Hamlin Garland’s short story, “Under the Lion’s Paw” (written in 1889 and published in 1891), follows the plight of a young family through three years of exceedingly difficult toil. A short story portraying his skill pertaining to using emotion, Garland (1860-1940), who grew up in rural poverty and later moved to Boston to escape the deserted farm life, wrote powerful realism, which flows directly from his experiences (Baym 736).

              Opening with a man plowing on the “last day of autumn and the first day of winter,” readers are introduced to the feature family, the Haskins, who arrive at a door in Iowa, hoping for shelter for the night (Baym 737).  The Councils, a friendly, near elderly couple, accept the family with open arms, and help Haskins find farm work under a certain Mr. Jim Butler.  After working to improve the land for a seemingly endless three years, Haskins endeavors to discuss buying the farm. However, the betterment of his once property has not gone unnoticed by Butler, and he sets the value of the farm at a considerably higher price than before.  Haskins, angry because he feels cheated, threatens Butler, who “backs off in wild haste” (Baym 746).
               While reading Garland’s story, I smiled at his vivid descriptions of work.  Garland’s Realism is evident in that for something to be realistic, it should provoke thoughts and images of the essence that is being described.  When my family bought a farm, it was not as in such a state as Butler’s land, but we did have to improve it, and various parts from this story brought many instances of extensive projects to mind. Haskins not only worked fiendishly, but he “rose early and toiled without intermission till the darkness fell on the plain, then tumbled into bed, every bone and muscle aching with fatigue, to rise with the sun the next morning to the same round of the same ferocity of labor” (Baym 742).   I understand the cycle of rising early and working followed by fatigue and tumbling into bed.  Garland wrote realism depicting realistic images that provoke powerful pictures and irreversible memories.

               As a reader on the outside looking in to the characters and their lives, I failed to notice one detail, but I read to the end and was quite upset at Butler for not being rational. I perceived that Haskins, who toiled fiendishly, should be rewarded with a reasonable consequence, that is, a fair price for the land he worked for.  The story ends with Butler announcing the price to be three times what he had originally stated, which made me slightly upset, and I thought him a scheming nemesis of healthy labor until I noticed Garland’s subtle message.  In that particular age, writers portrayed farmers as a lower class, which involves provoking emotional sympathy for the situation of the lower-class farmer, Haskins (Smith 248).  However, as I thought about Haskins and Butler while driving home one day, Garland was suddenly the sneaky one. He had used writing techniques of familiarity, sympathy, and relation in order to place my favor upon Haskins, when in actuality, Butler is justified in his actions.  Though Haskins had toiled three years, Butler reserved the right to place any price on his land, regardless of whether or not he was “wearin' out his pants on some salt barrel somewears” (Baym 741).

                I read the piece, enjoyed the piece, and will probably recall the piece when doing some sort of work that falls under the category of toil. Garland's descriptions were exceedingly colorful, and the pictures he presented were expressly clear that I could not help wonder if something was hidden under each piece of clarity.  However, I do not think this piece will rest in a forgetful area of my mind, most certainly because it possesses realism of genuine origins.

                A story that captivates because of its mark of struggle, “Under the Lion's Paw” is a tale of one striving to rise above.  Oftentimes, readers cheer for the so-called little man, and Garland took advantage of this in that he wrote clearly and realistically, but he also allowed readers to take an armed stance with one character (Haskins) while not advancing the case of the other. Historical contexts are important, and Garland realized that, in writing realism, it was easier to capture a person's emotions rather than his or her sense of perception.  The lion may seem menacing, but we must be willing to evaluate before we rush to the side of the one under his paw.

Baym, Nina. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. C. New York: Norton, 1998. Print.
Smith, Henry Nash. Virgin Land; the American West as Symbol and Myth. Cambridge: Harvard UP,     1950. Print.

Thanks for reading!

Monday, 25 March 2013

My Brother Made Pancakes

And then we ate them.
Talk about brotherly love.

"Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor."
Romans 12:10

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Under the Lion's Paw: Link

 An American short story by Hamlin Garland. I wrote a reflective analysis on it, but before I post it I hope you'll take the time to peruse.  Everything makes more sense when there is an explanation  Otherwise, you might not understand my rants.  He was a good writer, but I will let you discover that for yourself.  If you can figure out his literary strategies he used, you should feel very smart.

You can read the piece here: Under the Lion's Paw

Friday, 22 March 2013

Of Seven Blessings

A Surprise - You know when it's your birthday, but you don't want anyone to know because you hate it when they sing? Or maybe it's because you just don't want others to know. Anyway, while presenting Luke 24 in a Nursing Home recently, we found it was one of the residents' birthday, and consequently, we did end up singing to Madge. But just think: How may birthdays are hum-drum? I was so glad we could make her day even a little bit better by recognizing her birthday and giving her even more reason to celebrate.

Working - I love hard work. There is nothing in this world like working your heart out and then collapsing knowing a job is well done. Not that I always collapse, mind you... However, various events need people behind the scenes, people who work, and this person (...i.e. me) loves to be behind the scenes working. It is hard, but it's a blessing because it not only teaches endurance and teamwork, but steadfast, persevering joy.

Flowers - It is not Spring yet, but a bit ago, I was given flowers.  Flowers are exquisite, and it is wonderful to have some life in the Winter, as they are little pieces of Spring. Out of place as they may be, the created entities bring joy always.

School - I a trying to fool myself right now. As one who takes a placebo for her headache so am I at this moment, so go back to telling myself that I am blessed.  I have been going through long tedious marathons of study, but I do not have to pay for it.  It is a gift no matter how hard; it is still a gift.

Memory - What would we be without our memories? Every time April nears, I remember re-roofing our house when I was in Swan Lake.  Memories are webbed, fluid and either solidified and vivid or short and fleeting, reminding me yet again that what I put into my memory, or the "tablet of my heart" is so very important. I'll write about that too.

Competition - I used to abhor, despise, loathe (whatever you will) it. But it is a good element in healthy doses, as it pushes me to do better for my Creator.

The Last Day - Dad is home on the weekend; how is that not a blessing? I had a get-together for a class, but since it was not required, I decisively skipped out to spend time with my family.  Some of my chums asked why I was skipping, and I explained.  Imagine my joy when they all lauded me for my "legit reason."  Being together is so important, and unfortunately, sometimes people just do not realize it. I do have to step back and skip, but missing out on those things is far better than missing out on time spent with family.

Have a wonderful rest of the weekend!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

A Minnesotan's Chorus

A Minnesotan's Chorus

Spring, where are you?
Last year, I think it was,
You came around before
St. Patrick's, now you're overdue.

Oh, dear Spring, where are you?
I love the cold, but it's not Spring,
The snow is great, but getting old,
Soon new buds will just turn blue.

I say, Spring, where have you got to?
I have no doubt you'll be here soon,
In all your God-created glory,
But must we, do we, have to woo?

Old chap, one full of youthful vigor,
I see just where you are;
You're right around the corner,
And from us not so far.

A little poem I wrote for the first day of Spring in this state of Minnesota. Happy Spring, readers! If you collect Maple Syrup, do so with joy; If you're waiting for the crocus, it will come soon.  
I can't change my template until the weather turns...

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A Ballad

Since it was advertised, here 'tis! Please be not dismayed at the disturbing subject...I pray the scansion does not leave you dizzy. To say the least, enjoy.

  Evisceration for Provision

He walked his unsuspecting gait, 
Bobbing like a pier. 
Head erect, in a prideful state, 
His eyes both bright and clear, 
           Without a single fear.

The air, sliced with such precision, 
Retreated to the pride.
Soon, his white body was rising,
Then held in arms flanking each side;
Nothing at all to fear.

He fluffed his feathers and then found 
Pulse throbbing, by arms he was bound,
Unaware of anthrophobia.
        But he does not fear.

Suddenly he was upside down;
He did not know why
His birdish self was above ground
Or why he felt pressure apply.
    He thought not of fear.

Then air, sliced with new precision; 
Bowed to the lancet,
Which sliced and removed his vision.
dulce et decorum non est,
           But now he is a provision.

Thanks for reading!  The "dulce et decorum non est" line is a play on words from the title of a jingoistic war poem Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen.  It's an amazing poem - worth the read.

Friday, 15 March 2013

Of Seven Blessings

It's always busy around here, and anticipating Spring makes everything even more busy.  I can't wait for the flowers.

Grapefruit - It's exquisite. Is it not wonderful how creative God was, even with fruit? I am taking a study break currently to write this, and cannot wait to finish the tropical tastiness.  Alright, I understand if some cannot stand this fruit, but it is citrus. And guess what. Citrus is good in the season of anticipating for Spring.

1 Peter 3 - Over the past week I had to examine arguments for empirical evidence for the existence of God. It was long. So I read 1 Peter 3 afterwards, because for some reason, all the letters of Paul are more than endearing.  I love how when we read the letters, we see new meanings and applications that mean so much more each time they are read.  I'll have to post about it in completion so it is understood why 1 Peter made it to my blessings list.

Gray Days - Some say these days make them feel sluggish and depressed, but I like the gloom.  This morning was quite weird. Quite. Rain rained and suddenly turned to snow, which promptly became rain again once the temperature rose to thirty-three degrees. Exactly.  How particular when it seemed it could not make its mind up in the first place...

Oil Pastels - I just rediscovered them two weeks ago, and it is shocking how enjoyable they are. I mean, one's hand does become tired after all that blending...but hey, what's not to lose? It's a blessing because God is always showing me the little things that are special.  I'll have to write about that too!

Siblings - Over the past two years, they've been incredible and wonderfully encouraging. Yes, they tease, but I do too. God "sets the lonely in families." I could say I am never lonely, but we all know that is never true.  My siblings are amazing, and since I have them, I need to tell them and make sure they know that. (Psalm 68:6)

Tea - Apologies if it has been featured previously. However, I became deplorably ill over midterms, about the worst time to get sick (well, next to finals, that is), and the graciousness of those around me, along with tea, got me through. Deplorable illness happens rarely, but when it occurs, it holds on like a rat terrier to a rat (shame for me likening myself unto a rat... ce la vie). Anywho. Tea is good for the sick, not V-8 juice.

Worship - Growing up, I've been ever, always, forever exposed to music. A bit ago I was so joyful. (Not to say that I am not now, either.)  And do you know why? Because I was able to just stand in God's presence and sing.  That is not just a little blessing; it's magnanimous, and that is why we worship. (And for the curious, the sheet music is for Come Thou Fount.)

Hopefully I'll post some more literary stuffs soon.  Have a beautiful weekend, and endure the snow! 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Be Literate: Liszt

Franz Liszt: He's the reason we aren't supposed to use our music at recitals. It is to him we dedicate appreciation to memorizing page upon page upon page of notes that fly around.

On another note, Liszt never ceases to amaze me, and I have grown quite fond of him.  He is simply amazing. Discover him for yourself.

God gives such good gifts, doesn't he? And even if we can't play like Gould or Liszt, or compose like Liszt, Beethoven, or Bach, we can still listen.

Here's Gould, the Bach player, playing Listz's Piano Transcription of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony.

Maybe I'll make more posts for you to be literate in the future. For now, enjoy the music, and listen with all you've got.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

My Sardonic Disgust

Alright, I am not that temperamental, but honestly?

Nothing against certain artists, but the message  of the advertisement remains the same: Do it because someone else did!  Must we all jump on the bandwagon?

I resist; I shall not be a lemming.

Chew on that.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Of Seven Blessings

Plays - Mahalia. Words are not enough:  A dear friend of our wrote a musical (yes, we have friends in high places), and gave us a cassette tape recording when we were all very young.  Being the gospel lovers we are, we not only listened to the tape, but we grew up with it, quoting it like most children do Pixar movies.  Imagine our surprise and delight when we were given complimentary tickets to a fabulous performance this past weekend!  It is such a blessing, and seeing Mahalia live for the first time ever was exceedingly exciting.

Dumps - just when Minnesotans think we're in the last stretch /again/, we get another cold snap or dump of snow, reminding us of the unpredictability of the beautiful place God's given us to call home.

Air - (On the other hand, after the dumps...) The snow was melting yesterday, and even though the sinus prevents the senses a bit, it is getting warm, and the snow won't be able to be oppressive much longer.

Notes - I got mail, and it's oh-so-nice to get it.  People don't realize how good it is to give and get hand-writ notes.  It's friendly, that's all. I wrote my masterpiece on that, and someday I might just have to showcase it here. >>Hint hint: You all could make someone's day by writing a note; just do it!

Standing Up - Standing up for people (ahem, my friends).  Sometimes, perhaps because I don't care what others think about me, I can say things without people gawking.  The other day someone made some uncouth remark about a friend of mine, and I just told them to stop.  It's so dumb to shovel dirt on others, and I don't approve.  So watch out. If I am around when you say something uncouth, I won't sit silently. And If I say something wrong, don't let yourself sit silently either. We are not here to be silent.

Joy in Giving - I have a friend I've known for quite a while, and their 18th birthday was this past week, so I made a pretty card. In my excitement I completely forgot to take a picture, but it was a dark silver and mahogany crepe/tissue paper flower complete with pestles and stamens. It was attached to the card on the petal of a flat music sheet flower that opened up into a card, but the best part is seeing the joy in a person's face when I give them something. This was priceless, and I know it blessed them, but it also blessed me to know it was enjoyed thoroughly.

Switchfoot - Awesome; period the end.  Whenever I get under, I listen to them.  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil.  The Word is ever there, but Switchfoot is a little helpmate.  I don't care if it's "bang bang" music for a sick person.

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Musing about Socrates: The Trial

It has been a while, and I think Jack Palance has haunted the blog long enough...I wrote this bit a while ago when thinking about Socrates. Not profound, but interesting; written just for fun.

          Socrates, a man versed and devoted to Philosophy, studied moral science by openly discussing and searching for the truth in concepts with his friends. In one of the Socratic dialogues (The Apology), he was accused by a young man, Meletus, for not believing and following the Greek gods and therefore corrupting the youth of Athens. When brought to trial, he told them he was not defending himself, but rather the people, so they would not miss his blessing, knowledge.  He cared for the peoples’ souls, spoke the truth, and even repeatedly apologized to the jury, telling them that if he did pervert any of the youth, it was strictly unintentional, and though he was sentenced to death, he kept to his convictions. Do you have a clear claim here yet, or is that coming later?

          After Socrates gave his defense, the jury gave their verdict. Agreeing that he was guilty, Meletus, the prosecutor, asked for the penalty of death. Socrates then told Meletus, the jury, and others standing by that if they were thinking about setting him free on condition of not practicing philosophy, he would say no because he would be disobeying the “will of the god” who sent him to Athens for the good of the people. The jury voted again and sentenced Socrates to death.

          These votes were unjust, as Socrates was searching for the truth. The jury sentenced a man to death simply because he was inquiring, discussing, and speaking to others with the purpose of finding truth. Socrates spoke the truth to the jury when on trial, telling them he was “… the same man in private as in public life.” They probably were annoyed with him (which he states as a possibility of the people accusing him), but is that a just reason to punish, or even put a man to death? He was searching for truth by analyzing concepts critically, and when has examining concepts ever been considered as annoying?  His whole case should have been examined more thoroughly, but because the people were lazy, they did not wish to take his case into greater consideration.  His point was to encourage others to examine elements critically, and because they missed that point, Socrates was sentenced to death because of a lazy jury.

         Socrates cared for the people, and more importantly,their souls. He told the people to care for, nourish and sustain them. In his search for the best state of the soul, Socrates arrived at a conclusion that there was one, and only one ultimate deity, whom he claimed to have sent him to Athens for the benefit and blessing of the people. Instead of just being concerned with his trial and wanting to defend himself, Socrates passionately expressed his concern for the people, stating his want for their souls to be cared for.

         In order to soothe any harsh expressions that had happened during the trial, Socrates apologized to the court, jury, and bystanders. He wanted them to deeply understand that he never would corrupt the youth. Even if he had, he told the people that it would have been unintentional. He would never have purposely perverted the morals of any one.  The fact that Socrates did not believe in the gods made him susceptible to the criticism of the tight cultural rules, and thus suspected of teaching contrary to what the majority believed, therefore “debasing” the minds of the youth.

          Despite his efforts in the search for truth, Socrates was sentenced to death by poison.  Concerning the youth, however, why would he corrupt the same people that he wanted the best for? Were they not already corrupt from sin? And how can truth corrupt youth? Socrates was concerned about them, but they were lazy and annoyed. He hurt their pride but also convicted them with the same conviction he had; that he was sent there, to bless them.  Though sentenced to death, Socrates never strayed from his convictions.  He was on a mission to enlighten others, others who were growing up to be lazy politicians and leaders interested in pleasure.  He never corrupted the youth; if he did, it was unintentional.  The jury thought Socrates a lonely, annoying man wasting and passing time by talking, which the jury thought was deserved death when all he aimed for was the exposition of truth.

Thanks for reading!