Going to the zoo, Part #2

Part #2 of going to the zoo...

All the kangaroos were flopped on the ground like this.

Going to the zoo, Part #1

Yesterday my family and I took a day off from everything to go to the zoo.  We had tons of fun!  I wanted to share some of the pictures we took, and, by way of explanation, the reason so many of them are of me and Rachel and there are so few pictures of actual animals is because we were kind of doing a practice run for senior pictures.  Since there were so many pictures, I decided to split this post into two parts.  Enjoy!

This really makes you want to look at the gorillas, doesn't it? 

You have to walk over this bridge to look at some of the monkeys.  I can't stand it.

Ellie told me to keep a straight face, which always make me smile. :)

The hippos were missing.


Depraved Indifference

I cannot catch "the sound of noise
   of rain" long before the rain falls,
and, going to some hilltop of the spirit,
   as near to my God as I can,
   have not faith to wait there with
      my face between my knees,
   though six times or sixty times I
      am told "there is nothing,"
         till at last "there arises a little
         cloud out of the sea,"
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

-- Amy Carmichael

Palm Sunday

I lift mine eyes, and see
Thee, tender Lord, in pain upon the tree,
Athirst for my sake and athirst for me.

"Yea, look upon Me there,
Compassed with thorns and bleeding everywhere,
For thy sake bearing all, and glad to bear."

I lift my heart to pray:
Thou Who didst love me all that darkened day,
Wilt Thou not love me to the end alway?

"Yea, thee My wandering sheep,
Yea, thee My scarlet sinner slow to weep,
Come to Me, I will love thee and will keep."

Yet am I racked with fear:
Behold the unending outer darkness dreare,
Behold the gulf unbridgeable and near!

"Nay, fix thy heart, thine eyes,
Thy hope upon My boundless sacrifice:
Will I lose lightly one so dear-bought prize?"

Ah, Lord; it is not Thou,
Thou that wilt fail; yet woe is me, for how
Shall I endure who half am failing now?

"Nay, weld thy resolute will
To Mine: glance not aside for good or ill:
I love thee; trust Me still and love me still."

Yet Thou Thyself hast said,
When Thou shalt sift the living from the dead
Some must depart shamed and uncomforted.

"Judge not before that day:
Trust Me with all thy heart, even tho' I slay:
Trust Me in love, trust on, love on, and pray."

-- Christina Rossetti


How deep is His love

These past weeks have been hard.  Ten days ago, there was the earthquake and subsequent tsunami in Japan.  Then there was the nuclear crisis there as well.  Along with all of this rocking the world, in some cases quite literally, things were going on in the personal lives of some of the people I know.  Last Tuesday night one of our church elders was taken to the hospital with stroke-like symptoms.  He couldn't speak properly, and over the course of a few days we found out that he was sick with herpesviral encephalitis.  It's a very serious disease, and we didn't know whether he would live or not.  Then, last Wednesday morning, we got another phone call and found out that one of our church father's had lost his father that morning.  His dad had very poor health, but they still weren't expecting his death quite so soon.

Yet even in the midst of all of this, there is hope.  In Japan, we know that God is taking care of those people just as He sees fit, even though we don't understand it.  This morning our church elder was released from the hospital, and is expected to make a full recovery.  And for the family who lost a father and a grandfather, there is the promise that they will see him again in Heaven.  Just a few years ago he came to Christ, and they are looking forward to not only seeing Jesus in His kingdom, but seeing this man too.

'For I know the plans that I have for you,' declares the LORD, 'plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.  You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.  I will be found by you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will restore your fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you,' declares the LORD, 'and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.'
Jeremiah 29:11-14

How great is His love!


A few book reviews

At the beginning of 2011 I said I wanted to start doing more book reviews.  What I meant were ones not actually connected to Book Sneeze, and after three months I'm finally getting around to it!  I've been able to get a lot of reading done so far this year, and wanted to share with you a few of my favorites, and my thoughts on each one.

The very first book I read this year was Hinds' Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.  Beth had recommended this to me a few months prior, and I ended up loving it!  It was written in a similar style to Pilgrim's Progress, but was a bit easier to get through than that other old book.  It starts out with Much-Afraid being a timid, quiet woman terrified of just about everything and certainly not up to journeying to the Celestial City in her own strength.  But then the Good Shepherd leads her to follow Him, and the rest of the story is based on her traveling with the two guides he gave to her, Sorrow and Suffering, up the high mountains to His heavenly kingdom.  The story of Much Afraid challenged me to keep fighting and pressing on towards Heaven, and encouraged me by reminding me of God's great love and protection for His children.  Hopefully I'll be able to read this again soon!

The next book I wanted to write about was Let Me Be a Woman by Elisabeth Elliot.  For years I had heard about this book, heard it praised time and time again, and I finally got it at the end of January.  I know I've said this before, but Elisabeth Elliot is definitely one of my favorite authors, if not my absolute favorite.  She's just so straightforward and blunt, and her clear-cut view of just about everything is something I really enjoy.  Let Me Be a Woman is written to Elliot's daughter, who was about to get married.  So there's not really a lot directed to single women, but there is a lot about submission.  At the time I was preparing for my first Twelve Extraordinary Women Bible study that I'm leading, and the topic for that month was Eve.  In Twelve Extraordinary Women one of the focuses of Eve was on submission, and Let Me Be a Woman really helped me understand that more and, hopefully, present and explain the topic of submission more clearly to my Bible study girls.  The book also helped me understand more about who I am in Christ, and how I can live as He has called me to by making me who I am.  I would definitely recommend it to any woman!

The next book is A Tale of Two Sons by John MacArthur, which I finished about a week ago.  This was also a book I had heard about a lot in the past, and when I finally got around to reading it I was not disappointed.  The book I basically an in-depth study of Luke 15:11-32--the story of the prodigal son.  John MacArthur did a great job of bringing to light the feelings, personalities, and basic lives of the prodigal son, the merciful father, and the elder brother.  I was challenged to forgive others, to thank God for His tender mercies, and to see myself as the wretched sinner I really am, among other things.  Something else I liked about this book was that, while it was theologically deep, it was so clearly explained and well-written that I never felt like I was just muddling through trying to understand what on earth the man was talking about.  An all-around good book.

The final book I wanted to review is No Graven Image by Elisabeth Elliot.  This is the only novel written by Elliot, and as such I was eager to have it for my own and read it.  I received it about a week ago, and finished it this afternoon.  No Graven Image is the fictional story of Margaret Sparhawk, a twenty-five-year-old missionary to the Quichua Indians of Ecuador.  She arrives in Ecuador with high hopes of translating the Bible into Quichuan, starting a school, perhaps building a hospital, and ultimately winning multitudes to Christ.  But she soon realizes that this work will be much harder than she had anticipated.  Every step is a baby step, and she struggles with finding just how to begin her work and how to reach the people.  I enjoyed the unhurried pace of the story, but most especially the in-depth look into the life of a missionary.  Elliot was a missionary herself, so she knows exactly what she's talking about.  As I am hoping to go to India as soon as possible after I graduate college, I've been looking for a book that can begin to prepare me for the challenges I will face.  I thought this book was very good in doing that, and will definitely be reading it again.

And that's it!  I hope these reviews were enjoyable and that you'll go find these books and read them!

Another thing I wanted to share was that today I was able to pray with a young girl at Bible club, and she accepted Jesus as her Savior.  I'm thrilled!  As it's my last year working at the Bible club, this moment was especially poignant, and will definitely be something I treasure in my heart.  Please pray for this little girl and ask that God would continue to grow her in her faith and make her more like Him.


A conglomeration of things...

First off I wanted to share a song I wrote yesterday and already recorded!  Such quickness on my part is probably a once-in-a-lifetime event, but it's really nice to have it already recorded and out of the way.  It turned out pretty well, and is one of my favorites that I've written, so I wanted to share it!

I also wanted to share a song by Jeremy Camp that I've been listening to a lot over these past couple of days, so I'll be posting the video below, and after that is a poem that I read about a week ago that I wanted to share.  And I think that's it!  Enjoy!

Ash Wednesday

My God, my God, have mercy on my sin,
For it is great; and if I should begin
To tell it all, the day would be too small
           To tell it in.

My God, Thou wilt have mercy on my sin
For Thy Love's sake: yea, if I should begin
To tell This all, the day would be too small
           To tell it in.

Good Lord, today
I scarce find breath to say:
   Scourge, but receive me.
For stripes are hard to bear, but worse
Thy intolerable curse;
   So do not leave me.

Good Lord, lean down
In pity, tho' Thou frown;
   Smite, but retrieve me:
For so Thou hold me up to stand
And kiss Thy smiting hand,
   It less will grieve me.

-- Christina Rossetti


Japan tsunami

I want to ask you all to join me this morning in lifting up the people of Japan after this terrible earthquake and tsunami this morning.  With Hawaii and California scheduled to be hit later on today, please also pray for the people there, especially in Hawaii as it's around 3 AM there and it's a race to wake people up and warn them to get to high ground before the tsunami hits.  You can go here to learn more.


Avoiding no longer

At the beginning of every year, I love to make resolutions.  I used to make unrealistic ones, such as "This year I will learn to speak Spanish and Italian fluently," even when all I can say on January 1st is "Hola," and "Ciao."  These past few years I've started making more realistic resolutions.  One of mine for this year was to memorize at least four Psalms.  I started off with Psalm 27, then 16, and now I'm working on Psalm 139.

In the past I've always kind of avoided Psalm 139.  The 13th and 14th verses have been so overused as encouragement for those who are insecure and need to "feel better about themselves."  Don't get me wrong; I think it's great to remember that we are created in God's image and that He treasures us, but if that's all we see in Psalm 139, then we are missing the big picture.

We miss the point when we focus on ourselves and don't see that this Psalm is all about God's glory and power.  Take some time out of your day right now and read over this beautiful composition of praise to our great God.

O LORD, You have searched me and
   known me.
You know when I sit down and
   when I rise up;
You understand my thought from
You scrutinize my path and my
   lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with
   all my ways.
Even before there is a word on my
Behold, O LORD, You know it all.
You have enclosed me behind and
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful
   for me;
It is too high, I cannot attain to it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit?
Or where can I flee from Your
If I ascend to heaven, You are there;
If I make my bed in Sheol, behold,
   You are there.
If I take the wings of the dawn,
If I dwell in the remotest part of the
Even there Your hand will lead me,
And Your right hand will lay hold of
If I say, "Surely the darkness will
   overwhelm me,
And the light around me will be
Even the darkness is not dark to
And the night is as bright as the day.
Darkness and light are alike to You.
For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother's
I will give thanks to You, for I am
   fearfully and wonderfully made;
Wonderful are Your works,
And my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the depths
   of the earth;
Your eyes have seen my unformed
And in Your book were all written
The days that were ordained for me,
When as yet there was not one of
How precious also are Your thoughts
   to me, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would
   outnumber the sand.
When I awake, I am still with You.
O that You would slay the wicked,
   O God;
Depart from me, therefore, men of
For they speak against You
And Your enemies take Your name in
Do I not hate those who hate You,
   O LORD?
And do I not loathe those who rise
   up against You?
I hate them with the utmost hatred;
They have become my enemies.
Search me, O God, and know my
Try me and know my anxious
And see if there be any hurtful way
   in me,
And lead me in the everlasting way.


Curiosities of the Civil War

I was first drawn to Curiosities of the Civil War: Strange Stories, Infamous Characters, and Bizarre Events because the cover design was interesting, and I’ve been wanting to learn more about the history of our great nation lately. Unfortunately, I forgot to check how long the book was before I requested it from Book Sneeze. The length was one of the things I didn’t like about the book. Five hundred and twenty-eight pages would be alright for a regular history book, but with the entire volume being made up of little snippets of facts, I really felt by the end that the entire book could have been cut down to half its size, if not smaller. I did find a few interesting things in Curiosities of the Civil War, but on the whole I just got bogged down with how much there was and how much of the book I had left to read. It’s a good book to skim over once, but I won’t be reading it again.

Ready to die

Pakistan has announced three days of national mourning after a Christian government minister who decried Islamic blasphemy laws was gunned down.

Police investigators say they are on the trail of the suspected extremists who killed minority affairs minister Shahbaz Bhatti outside his mother's house in Islamabad, in a brazen attack that has drawn international outrage.

Mr Bhatti, who left a chilling video prophecy of his assassination, had vowed to fight to the death in defence of Pakistan's persecuted minorities.

One police official said on condition of anonymity that investigators are looking into the security team assigned to Mr Bhatti, who became the second high-profile victim among opponents of the blasphemy law.

Two months ago, Punjab province governor Salman Taseer was shot dead by one of his own police bodyguards, who cited the politician's opposition to the draconian statute as justification for killing the "apostate".

Despite official condemnation of the January killing, Mr Taseer's killer continues to be feted a hero by Islamist hardliners and the government says it has no plans to revise the law.

However, prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani issued tough words as he ordered flags to be flown at half-mast and says security will be stepped up after Mr Bhatti's slaying.

"Anti-state elements are making their last-ditch efforts by targeting important personalities in the country in order to fulfill their evil designs," he told his interior minister, Rehman Malik, according to a statement.

The extremist threat was underlined on Thursday when a car suicide bombing and an ambush by militants targeting police in north-western Pakistan killed 15 people including nine policemen.

But Mr Gilani says the "government through fool-proof arrangements would safeguard the lives and properties of all citizens of the country, particularly to make sure they could play their role in the development of the country".

The prime minister's comments came as a video - said to have been recorded in December - spread online in which Mr Bhatti said he was being hunted by the Taliban or Al Qaeda.

Extremists wanted to kill him because of his opposition to the blasphemy law and to Sharia legislation, and because of his work for "the oppressed and marginalised", the Catholic politician said sombrely into the camera.

In the video, posted online by the European group First Step Forum, which promotes interfaith dialogue, Mr Bhatti said: "I want to share that I believe in Jesus Christ who has given his own life for us".

"I'm ready to die for a cause. I'm living for my community and suffering people, and I will die to defend their rights," he said.

Mr Bhatti's assassination rekindled international fears about extremist violence in Pakistan, a nuclear-armed nation that is a crucial if fractious ally in the US-led war in Afghanistan.

US president Barack Obama said he was saddened by the "horrific" assassination.

"Those who committed this crime should be brought to justice, and those who share Mr Bhatti's vision of tolerance and religious freedom must be able to live free from fear," he said.

Up to four assailants sprayed a hail of bullets at Mr Bhatti's car in broad daylight on Wednesday. Police said a letter was found at the scene, purportedly from supporters of Al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban, claiming responsibility.

"Bhatti, a Christian, was in charge of a committee set up to amend the law against blasphemy," police quoted the letter as saying.

"This is his fate. We will not spare anybody involved in acts of blasphemy."

Senior police official Muhammad Ishaq Warraich cautioned on Thursday that the letter might "be an attempt to divert our investigations".

His colleague Bani Amin says police are confident of a breakthrough.

"The investigators were busy all night. We hope to solve this case soon," Mr Amin said.

One line of inquiry appeared to be Mr Bhatti's security detail, which was not with the minister at the time of the morning attack.

Mr Malik said it had been Mr Bhatti's decision to visit his mother without guards so as to keep the location secret. But the interior minister called the decision "wrong".

Uproar over the blasphemy law, which carries the death penalty, flared both in Pakistan and abroad after a Christian mother of five was sentenced to hang last year for making derogatory remarks about the Prophet Mohammed.

Critics say the law is often used to settle personal or business scores.

* taken from ABC News; read it again here


Beloved of that Great Being

They say there is a young lady in New Haven who is beloved of that Great Being, who made and rules the world, and that there are certain seasons in which this Great Being, in some way or other invisible, comes to her and fills her mind with exceeding sweet delight; and that she hardly cares for any thing, except to meditate on Him--that she expects after a while to be received up where He is, to be raised up out of the world and caught up into heaven; being assured that He loves her too well to let her remain at a distance from Him always.  There she is to dwell with Him, and to be ravished with His love and delight for ever.  Therefore, if you present all the world before her, with the richest of its treasures, she disregards it and cares not for it, and is unmindful of any pain or affliction.  She has a strange sweetness in her mind, and singular purity in her affections; is most just and conscientious in all her conduct; and you could not persuade her to do anything wrong or sinful, if you would give her all the world, lest she should offend this Great Being.  She is of a wonderful sweetness, calmness, and universal benevolence of mind; especially after this Great God has manifested Himself to her mind.  She will sometimes go about from place to place, singing sweetly; and seems to be always full of joy and pleasure; and no knows for what.  She loves to be alone, walking in the fields and groves, and seems to have some one invisible always conversing with her.

-- said of Sarah Edwards, by Jonathan Edwards, her future husband
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