This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Relationships and Results Both Matter: Book Review of Cloud's Boundaries for Leaders

 Relationships and Results Both Matter

People need to be valued, inspired, guided, and given freedom in order to do their best. Cloud talks about how the leader of a group develops a vision, takes full responsibility for fulfilling that vision, then helps and trusts his employees to fulfill that vision.

Cloud works with Boundaries, principles setting firm guidelines for what is and is not acceptable. His seven leadership boundaries are:

* Help people focus their attention on the things that matter most.

* Build the emotional climate that drives brain functioning.

* Facilitate connections that boost energy and momentum.

* Create organizational thought patterns that limit negativity and helplessness.

* Identify paths for people to take control of the activities that drive results.

* Create high-performance teams organized around the behaviors that drive results.

* Lead yourself in a manner that protects the vision.

Cloud's own vision in the book is encouraging performance and results that will make the leader's vision a reality, and build the employees in their feelings of competence and being *a team.* Obviously this is a win-win-win strategy.

The book is a bit dense explaining the neural reasons for why people do what they do, but helpful, and this lends credibility to why certain actions should be taken. Anecdotes break up the information to demonstrate, in a practical way, how to implement ideas.

Overall, a helpful read for any leader.

NOTE: I received this book from Harper Collins (Book Sneeze program) in exchange for my unbiased review. I was not required to give a positive review.

Monday, July 22, 2013

No-Churn Vanilla Ice Cream Recipe

I found this recipe randomly on yahoo (link HERE). Haven't tried it yet, but it looks great! (I left out the bourbon they called for, but if you want you can add 2 T). I also added a little salt because I've noticed when baking that salt brings out sweet flavors.

This recipe is for vanilla ice cream that you can make yourself without having one of those ice cream machines. Perfect for these hot days...


It'll take you just 10 minutes to prep this satisfying and delicious homemade vanilla ice cream. The best part? You don't need one of those silly ice cream machines! Now that's magic, if you ask us.

1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups cold heavy cream

 In a medium bowl, stir together condensed milk, vanilla, and salt, (and 2 T Bourbon, if desired). In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat cream on high until stiff peaks form, 3 minutes. With a rubber spatula, gently fold whipped cream into condensed milk mixture. Pour into a 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pan. Freeze until firm, 6 hours.

Cook's Note: Freeze, covered, up to 1 week.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Atheist Monument Erected in Florida

As a Christian and an American, I have no problems with this monument. I strongly believe in freedom of speech -- and just object when one view is "more equal" than others in the marketplace of ideas.

Christianity is not a threat. Christians strive to honor a God who sacrificed his own life for us human beings. Christians attempt to live peaceful lives and help those who are suffering. Christians believe there is a better place after death in which God is omnipresent. Those who don't want to be around God then don't have to be.

I came to my faith through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus (You can read about my thoughts as I searched HERE). I am not grabbing anyone by the throat to make them convert to Christianity -- as the quotation in Dale Carnegie's classic book goes: "A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still." At the same time, I would deeply love to politely discuss point of view differences, and perhaps plant seeds or change minds -- not because I want to be *right,* but because I deeply believe understanding who God is and learning to love him is why we were made and the only thing that gives peace.

So Dave Silverman and American Atheists, good for you with this monument. It displays some inspiring sentiments, if not always those I agree with. I'd love to listen to your thoughts, and maybe we could take some time to better understand each other. If nothing else, you might learn what Christians really are like rather than hold to inaccurate stereotypes. Maybe I'd learn more about atheism and why it draws you.

A news story about the monument HERE.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Last Words

Time can seem to move slowly, until you look back and are shocked at how much has passed by. The fact is, 70 years is about 25,567 days -- not an infinite number by any means. King David writes "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (Psalms 90:12, NIV). Good advice.

I was thinking about this brevity of time, and what people have said when they come to the end of this world. Following are some last words, in no particular chronology. Some are funny, some sad, some thoughtful.


I'll be in Hell before you start breakfast!
"Black Jack" Ketchum, notorious train robber

Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies.
Voltaire (attributed), when asked by a priest to renounce Satan

Voltaire died a terrible death. His nurse said: "For all the money in Europe I wouldn’t want to see another unbeliever die! All night long he cried for forgiveness."

Don't worry...it's not loaded...
Terry Kath, rock musician in the band Chicago Transit Authority as he put the gun he was cleaning to his head and pulled the trigger.

Is someone hurt?
Robert F. Kennedy

Die, my dear? Why, that's the last thing I'll do!
Groucho Marx

Go on, get out! Last words are for fools who haven't said enough!
Karl Marx

I have a terrific headache.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt

I have not told half of what I saw.
Marco Polo

Since the day of my birth, my death began its walk. It is walking towards me, without hurrying.
Jean Cocteau

Dammit... Don't you dare ask God to help me.
Joan Crawford

Lord help my poor soul.
Edgar Allan Poe

I don't have the passion anymore, and so remember, it's better to burn out than to fade away. Peace, Love, Empathy.
Kurt Cobain. Kurt Cobain (in his suicide note)

It's very beautiful over there.
Thomas Edison

Now why did I do that?
General William Erskine, after he jumped from a window in Lisbon, Portugal in 1813

Don't worry, relax!
Rajiv Gandhi, Indian Prime Minister, to his security staff minutes before being killed by a suicide bomber attack.

LSD, 100 micrograms I.M.
Aldous Huxley
To his wife. She obliged and he was injected twice before his death.

Let me go to the Father's house.
Pope John Paul II

Jesus, I love you. Jesus, I love you.
Mother Teresa

Don't disturb my circles!

They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance.
General John Sedgwick, Union Commander in the U.S. Civil War, who was hit by sniper fire a few minutes after saying it

Crito, I owe a cock to Asclepius. Will you remember to pay the debt?

My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.
Oscar Wilde

There are no more other worlds to conquer!
Alexander the Great

So, now all is gone—Empire, Body and Soul!
Henry the Eighth

Let us pass over the river, and rest under the shade of the trees.
Stonewall Jackson

I don't know what I may seem to the world. But as to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore and diverting myself now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than the ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me.
Sir Isaac Newton

I have offended God and mankind because my work did not reach the quality it should have.
Leonardo Da Vinci

I desire to go to Hell and not to Heaven. In the former I shall enjoy the company of popes, kings and princes, while in the latter are only beggars, monks and apostles.
Niccolo Machiavelli

Why, yes! A bulletproof vest.
James Rodges, a murderer on being asked for a final request before a firing squad

On a wall in Austria a graffiti said,
"God is dead, --Nietzsche!"
Someone else wrote under it, "Nietzsche is dead! --God."

Go away...I'm all right.
H.G. Wells

I am about to, or I am going to, die; either expression is used.
Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian

I failed!
Jean Paul Sartre

O Allah! Pardon my sins. Yes, I come.
Mohammed the prophet

Now comes the mystery.
Henry Ward Beecher

What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the grass and loses itself in the sunset.
Crowfoot, American Blackfoot Indian Orator

I have taken care of everything in the course of my life, only not for death, and now I have to die completely unprepared.
Cesare Borgia

I am in flames!
David Hume

It is very beautiful over there.
Thomas Edison

I am still in the land of the dying; I shall be in the land of the living soon.
John Newton, author of the hymn "Amazing Grace"

Up until this time, I thought that there was no God neither Hell. Now I know and feel that there are both, and I am delivered to perdition by the righteous judgment of the Almighty.
Sir Thomas Scott

A Chinese Communist, who delivered many Christians to their execution, came to a pastor and said: "I’ve seen many of you die. The Christians die differently. What is their secret?"

Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!
Stephen, the first Christian martyr


In childhood's days our thoughts of Heaven
Are pearly gates and streets of gold,
And all so very far away;
A place whose portals may unfold
To us, some far-off distant day.

But in the gathering of the years,
When life is in the fading leaf,
With eyes perchance bedimmed by tears,
And hearts oft overwhelmed with grief,
We look beyond the pearly gate,
Beyond the clouds of grief's dark night,
And see a place where loved ones wait,
Where all is blessedness and light.

And over all we see the face
Of Him who'll bring us to our own
Not to a far-off distant place,
For Heaven is, after all, just Home!

--Sue H. McLane

Monday, June 10, 2013

Werewolf It's Not Complicated

This commercial always makes me laugh. I couldn't remember what it advertised, but love the little girl :-)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Karen Kenny Testifies before Congress on how IRS Targeted her Group

Karen Kenny gave a powerful testimony before Congress on Tuesday June 4 2013, not only explaining how her group was targeted, but also letting Congress know what this was really about:

This dialogue is about the jackboot of tyranny on the field of our founding documents. To whisper the letters I.R.S. strikes a shrill note on Main Street USA. But when this behemoth tramples upon America’s grassroots, few hear the snapping sounds.

Watch the video for an illuminating and articulate presentation.

 from http://therightscoop.com/this-is-about-the-jackboot-of-tyranny-karen-kennys-powerful-testimony-on-how-irs-targeted-her-group/

Friday, May 17, 2013

A Love Story

Some of these photographs have "Tim Dodd" stamped on the front. Tim Dodd is an Iowa photographer and childhood friend of Taylor Morris, 23 years old in May 2012 when a bomb blast in Afghanistan made Taylor a quadruple amputee. Taylor's girlfriend and later wife, Danielle Kelly, were together since high school.

There are no words conveying the depth of astounding loss for this young man. He is blessed to have found such an angel.

Tim Dodd gives a short interview HERE.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Book Review: Stephen Mansfield's KILLING JESUS

 Link to Amazon HERE.

Stephen Mansfield paints a historically accurate picture of Jesus' death in his novel, Killing Jesus. Brilliant narrative -- if you've never been able to make it through the Scriptures, you'll find this book helpful to understand what all the fuss is about with Jesus' death. This is not religious, but rather an evidence-based narrative portraying the gritty reality of an execution in first century Jerusalem under Roman rule. A helpful section in the back lists numerous extrabiblical sources and so forth showing the historical basis for Jesus being, not a myth, but a real person.

This is not your typical Scripture study. Highly recommended for adults (children might find parts of this book upsetting).

Thank you to Worthy Press for offering me this book in exchange for my unbiased review. I am delighted to give this work five stars.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Amazing Stories

It's easy to feel irrelevant in a busy world. As Christians we long to promote God's kingdom, but between diapers, or a long commute, or just getting through the work day, it's difficult to imagine what one can do.

Caroline Barnett's book is a reminder that even a single person can make a difference. Her book is filled with inspiring stories from hers and her husband's "Dream Center" in Los Angeles, a comprehensive outreach to the homeless and poor in LA and now in NYC as well, that emphasizes finding God's love and purpose along with food, shelter, and job training.

Her message is that you must look for any opportunities, no matter how small, and pursue them. Find your "trigger point," something that touches you so deeply that you feel you must step out to do something.

This book is inspiring. My only criticism is that similarly to her husband Matthew Barnett's book The Cause Within, I missed having practical teaching on the subject of "stepping out." No matter how fervent the prayers, God usually requires some planning for the person to take advantage of presented opportunities. Still, this book is inspiring as it describes an amazing ministry.

I am grateful to Tyndale House for providing this free review copy in exchange for my unbiased opinion. Thank you Tyndale for letting me read this.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Asparagus and Cancer

 I get some fun emails. This one I didn't research, but I might buy this -- histones, I know, are related with cell divisions. Eating asparagus won't hurt you, and might help, so I thought I'd pass this along...


My Mom had been taking the full-stalk canned style asparagus that she pureed and she took 4 tablespoons in the morning and 4 tablespoons later in the day. She did this for over a month. She is on chemo pills for Stage 3 lung cancer in the pleural area and her cancer cell count went from 386 down to 125 as of this past week. Her oncologist said she does not need to see him for 3 months.

Several years ago, I had a man seeking asparagus for a friend who had cancer. He gave me a photocopied copy of an article, entitled, Asparagus for cancer 'printed in Cancer News Journal, December 1979. I will share it here, just as it was shared with me: I am a biochemist, and have specialized in the relation of dietto health or over 50 years. Several years ago, I learned of the discovery of Richard R. Vensal, D.D.S. that asparagus might cure cancer. Since then, I have worked with him on his project. We have accumulated a number of favorable case histories. Here are a few examples:

Case No. 1, A man with an almost hopeless case of Hodgkin's disease (cancer of the lymph glands) who was completely incapacitated. Within 1 year of starting the asparagus therapy, his doctors were unable to detect any signs of cancer, and he was back on a schedule of strenuous exercise.

 Case No. 2, a successful businessman 68 years old who suffered from cancer of the bladder for 16 years. After years of medical treatments, including radiation without improvement, he went on asparagus. Within 3 months, examinations revealed that his bladder tumor had disappeared and that his kidneys were normal.

Case No. 3, a man who had lung cancer. On March 5th 1971, he was put on the operating table where they found lung cancer so widely spread that it was inoperable. The surgeon sewed him up and declared his case hopeless. On April 5th he heard about the Asparagus therapy and immediately started taking it By August, x-ray pictures revealed that all signs of the cancer had disappeared.. He is back at his regular business routine.

Case No. 4, a woman who was troubled for a number of years with skin cancer. She finally developed different skin cancers which were diagnosed by the acting specialist as advanced. Within 3 months after starting on asparagus, her skin specialist said that her skin looked fine and no more skin lesions. This woman reported that the asparagus therapy also cured her kidney disease, which started in 1949. She had over 10 operations for kidney stones, and was receiving government disability payments for an inoperable, terminal, kidney condition. She attributes the cure of this kidney trouble entirely to the asparagus.

I was not surprised at this result, as `The elements of materia medica', edited in1854 by a Professor at the University of Pennsylvania , stated that asparagus was used as a popular remedy for kidney stones.. He even referred to experiments, in 1739, on the power of asparagus in dissolving stones. Note the dates! We would have other case histories but the medical establishment has interfered with our obtaining some of the records. I am therefore appealing to readers to spread this good news and help us to gather a large number of case histories that will overwhelm the medical skeptics about this unbelievably simple and natural remedy.

For the treatment, asparagus should be cooked before using, and therefore canned asparagus is just as good as fresh. I have corresponded with the two leading canners of asparagus, Giant and Stokely, and I am satisfied that these brands contain no pesticides or preservatives. Place the cooked asparagus in a blender and liquefy to make a puree, and store in the refrigerator. Give the patient 4 full tablespoons twice daily, morning and evening. Patients usually show some improvement in 2-4 weeks. It can be diluted with water and used as a cold or hot drink. This suggested dosage is based on present experience, but certainly larger amounts can do no harm and may be needed in some cases. As a biochemist I am convinced of the old saying that `what cures can prevent.' Based on this theory, my wife and I have been using asparagus puree as a beverage with our meals. We take 2 tablespoons diluted in water to suit our taste with breakfast and with dinner. I take mine hot and my wife prefers hers cold. For years we have made it a practice to have blood surveys taken as part of our regular checkups. The last blood survey, taken by a medical doctor who specializes in the nutritional approach to health, showed substantial improvements in all categories over the last one, and we can attribute these improvements to nothing but the asparagus drink. As a biochemist, I have made an extensive study of all aspects of cancer, and all of the proposed cures. As a result, I am convinced that asparagus fits in better with the latest theories about cancer.

Asparagus contains a good supply of protein called histones, which are believed to be active in controlling cell growth.. For that reason, I believe asparagus can be said to contain a substance that I call cell growth normalizer. That accounts for its action on cancer and in acting as a general body tonic. In any event, regardless of theory, asparagus used as we suggest, is a harmless substance. The FDA cannot prevent you from using it and it may do you much good. It has been reported by the US National Cancer Institute, that asparagus is the highest tested food containing glutathione, which is considered one of the body's most potent anticarcinogens and antioxidants.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Low-Carb Tea Cookies

I'm not a low-carb Nazi, but like to avoid sugar and wheat-based products because I feel it's healthier. My carbs tend towards vegetables and oatmeal. It's easy for me to slip into bad habits though, so every now and then I go back to being stricter. Here's a great recipe I made up because I was longing for something cookie-like. These cookies are sweet but not too sweet, plain, that go well with tea.

Low-Carb Tea Cookies

1/2 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup sweetener*
1 egg, beaten
1 Tablespoon vanilla (vanilla makes everything better -- always use large quantities!)
1 tsp salt
1/3 cup protein powder
2 cups ground almonds/almond flour
nuts, if desired

* For the sweetener I used 1/2 cup xylitol and 1/4 cup Splenda. You can combine these, Stevia, or other sweeteners as you please -- whatever works for you :-)

Oven 350F. Mix butter, sweetener, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add salt, protein powder, and almond flour and blend until smooth. Mix in nuts if desired. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. Drop dough by small teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheets, and bake 8-10 minutes until golden.


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Monday, April 15, 2013

April 15th

April 15th seems like a jinxed day:

Abraham Lincoln died on this day in 1865 after being shot on Good Friday the night before by John Wilkes Booth. It was just 6 days after General Robert E. Lee had surrendered at Appomattox. One wonders how our country's reconciliation between North and South might have gone differently if Lincoln instead of Andrew Johnson had overseen Reconstruction: Johnson weakened the fragile union by encouraging Southern rebels, denying freed slaves any rights, and breaking rich men to redistribute wealth.

The Titanic sank early in the morning on this day in 1912 after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean while steaming from Southampton England to New York City. 1517 people were lost; the Titanic carried a lifeboat capacity of less than half of its total 2223 persons on board. Only 706 people, 31.8% of the total, survived. Titanic was the most modern and luxurious ship built at the time, and was thought to be unsinkable.

And of course, April 15th is tax day. OK, I won't go there.


No, I'm not superstitious, and I remain full of hope even on this dark day.

Speaking of taxes, though, I will say this. I deeply resent this new "class warfare" that has overtaken our country, where we hear that "The Rich" must pay their "fair share" of taxes to diminish the deficit. "The Rich" already pay an amazing proportion of taxes, while many who receive credits and so forth end up paying none or very little. "The Rich" are not evil. For the most part, they have worked hard from moderate means to get where they are. Their activity fuels the economic engine in this country, both by the companies they own that produce jobs, and the goods and services they purchase that produce jobs.

We are ALL Americans, are we not? Even the Rich? I am so grateful to be in this country, where I and my children can aspire to be in this heady class. I hope these opportunities continue.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Sad Obituary

Received in an email. According to the website Urban Legends Professor Olson didn't say this. Still, while the author is unknown I'm finding it provocative enough to post it today.

In 1787 Alexander Tyler, a Scottish history professor at the University of Edinburgh, had this to say about the fall of the Athenian Republic some 2,000 years prior: "A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship."

"The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependence;

From dependence back into bondage."

The Obituary follows:

Born 1776, Died 2012

Professor Joseph Olson of Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota, points out some interesting facts concerning  the last Presidential election:

Number of States won by: Obama: 19 Romney: 29

Square miles of land won by: Obama: 580,000 Romney: 2,427,000

Population of counties won by: Obama: 127 million Romney: 143 million

Murder rate per 100,000 residents in counties won by: Obama: 13.2 Romney: 2.1

Professor Olson adds: "In aggregate, the map of the territory Romney won was mostly the land owned by the taxpaying citizens of the country.

Obama territory mostly encompassed those citizens living in low income tenements and living off various forms of government welfare..."

Olson believes the United States is now somewhere between the"complacency and apathy" phase of Professor Tyler's definition of democracy, with some forty percent of the nation's population already having reached the "governmental dependency" phase.

If Congress grants amnesty and citizenship to twenty million criminal invaders called illegals - and they vote - then we can say goodbye to the USA in fewer than five years.

Monday, April 8, 2013

The Old Woman and Her Pig

This is one of my favorite stories now that I remember from childhood. Doesn't it seem like life is like this? You want to do a simple thing, but to do it you've got to first do this, to do that, to do this...

Anyway, here it is! Enjoy.



Once upon a time, an old woman was sweeping her little house, when, to her great joy, she found a silver sixpence.

"What," said she, "shall I do with this little sixpence? I think I will go to market and buy a pig." So the next day, she went to market, and bought a nice little white pig. She tied a string to one of the pig's legs, and began to drive him home.

On the way, the old woman and her pig came to a stile, and she said,

"Please, pig, get over the stile."

But the pig would not.

Just then a little dog came trotting up, and the old woman said to him,

"Dog, dog, bite pig ;
Pig won't get over the stile,
And I sha'n't get home to-night."

But the dog would not.

So the old woman held up her stick, and said,

"Stick, stick, beat dog;
Dog won't bite pig;
Pig won't get over the stile,
And I sha'n't get home to-night."

But the stick would not.

So the old woman gathered some bits of wood together to make a fire, and set them on fire, and then threw her stick into the fire, and said,

"Fire, fire, burn stick;
Stick won't beat dog;
Dog won't bite pig;
Pig won't get over the stile,
And I sha'n't get home to-night."

But the fire would not.

So the old woman fetched a pail of water that was standing near, and said,

"Water, water, quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat dog;
Dog won't bite pig;
Pig won't get over the stile,
And I sha'n't get home to-night."

But the water would not.

Then the old woman saw an ox coming; so she said,

"Ox, ox, drink water;
Water won't quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat dog;
Dog won't bite pig;
Pig won't go;
I see by the moonlight,
It's long past midnight;
Time pig and I were home an hour and
a half ago."

But the ox would not.

So the old woman turned round, and saw a butcher, and she said,

"Butcher, butcher, kill ox;
Ox won't drink water;
Water won't quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat dog;
Dog won't bite pig;
Pig won't go.
I see by the moonlight,
It's long past midnight;
Time pig and I were home an hour and
a half ago."

But the butcher would not.

So the old woman took a rope out of her pocket, and said,

"Rope, rope, hang butcher;
Butcher won't kill ox;
Ox won't drink water;
Water won't quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat dog;
Dog won't bite pig;
Pig won't go.
I see by the moonlight,
It's long past midnight ;
Time pig and I were home an hour and
a half ago."

But the rope would not.

Just then a large brown mouse ran across the meadow, and she said,

"Mouse, mouse, gnaw rope;
Rope won't hang butcher;
Butcher won't kill ox;
Ox won't drink water;
Water won't quench fire;
Fire won't burn stick;
Stick won't beat dog;
Dog won't bite pig;
Pig won't go.
I see by the moonlight,
It's long past midnight;
Time pig and I were home an hour and
a half ago."

"Yes," said the mouse, "I will if you will give me some cheese."

So the old woman put her hand in her pocket, and found a nice piece of cheese; and when the mouse had eaten it,

The mouse began to gnaw the rope,
The rope began to hang the butcher,
The butcher began to kill the ox,
The ox began to drink the water,
The water began to quench the fire,
The fire began to burn the stick,
The stick began to beat the dog,
The dog began to bite the pig,
And the pig began to go.

But what time the old woman and her pig got
home, you, nor I, nor nobody knows.

Monday, April 1, 2013

I Did It

This weekend, specifically Saturday March 30 2013, on Easter Vigil I joined the Roman Catholic Church.

This has been a long struggle. Growing up I was progressively a nominal Presbyterian (ie as a kid my mom brought me to services here), a skeptic (I never QUITE moved to the atheist camp, but was so for practical purposes), a Christian (after a year's worth of investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus), a Lutheran (more sacramental than Presbyterian, plus my husband was Lutheran), a Missouri Lutheran (stricter and more conservative than the ELCA), and finally, as of Saturday, a Roman Catholic.

The hardest switch for me was to move from skeptic to Christian, a wrestling match with God in which I was quite angry for a long time. However, moving from Protestant to Catholic has been almost as difficult. An observer would have seen nothing -- my going about my daily life -- but inside two sides violently fought. I'd grown up believing that Catholicism was one step from voodoo, idolatrous and with sketchy theology. Conversations with an old friend, plus the support of another long-time friend, snuck past my prejudices to examine what, exactly, the Catholic Church believes.

I found that the Catholic Church was established from the beginning of Christianity. While there have been many problems, and famously during the early 1500s when Luther rightfully protested the Church's avarice and thus catalyzed the Reformation, still the Catholics have carried through the store of Christian scholarship and the practice of the faith. The two pillars that built Protestantism -- Sola Fidei, Sola Scriptura -- are not secure, as I'd always believed.

Little by little the ground for my resistance wore away.

Sola Fidei -- even Protestants recognize that someone going for an altar call when he's twelve, followed by a lifetime of non-Christian emphasis, is probably not a true conversion. Even though the Holy Spirit does the work, man's spirit must cooperate in order for conversion. The fruits of someone's life indicate what sorts of beliefs the person holds. In 1999 a Joint Declaration of the Doctrine of Justification between Lutherans and Catholics agreed on the saving interaction of *faith* and *works*.

Sola Scriptura -- it came down finally, for me, to the issue of apostolic succession. As a scientist I learned to value the majority opinion over maverick interpretations. Yes, the maverick may be right -- look at Copernicus -- but in general, the group rules. Luther, for all his brilliance, almost singlehandedly decided what should and should not be included for worship. He wished to throw out books of the canon, and did throw out some of the sacramental understandings of Church worship. Within a generation at least four distinct understandings of Protestant Reformation schismed: Luther (Real Presence); Zwingli (not Real Presence); Calvin (predistination) and Knox; and Wesley who founded the Methodist Church. The English divide over Henry VIII's wives and the Anabaptists were also mixed in there. In present day there are over 10,000 Protestant denominations, each believing they are correct. So much for Sola Scriptura, since the interpretations of even basic doctrines (baptism, communion) are hopelessly noncompatible. I concluded there is a need for an authority to interpret our faith. I recognized that the Catholic Church was the only one that makes that claim.

Praying to Saints -- Although Protestants are not specifically taught this, the ones I know generally believe in an *impermeability* between heaven and earth: those in heaven cannot see what is going on on earth. In contrast, Catholics DO believe in *permeability* that saints see what we're doing on earth. We are surrounded by a cheering cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12). There is communion of saints: those in heaven with those on earth (Apostles' creed). Mary is a special case of a saint.

*Prayers* to saints are made in the sense of the Old-English definition: a request. "I pray thee listen" asks the person to listen, but is not a summons to a deity. Just as someone may ask a friend to pray for them, Catholics *pray* to saints as a request for them to pray for the person and pass this request onto God. Mary is not a goddess or co-deity, but rather the Queen Mother in heaven who also petitions God with requests she passes on from persons on Earth. Protestants, not believing saints can see us, have trouble with this concept.

Many wish to say that Jesus was a good man with profound teachings etc. etc. but nothing more. I respect this view but would like to add that if you are here, dig deeper into the life of Christ and the understandings of the Christians. You may be surprised. These studies changed my own life.

The Easter Vigil itself was long and beautiful. I was fortunate to be surrounded by those I love: my husband, our two children, and my parents. My sister in law and her husband who both converted last year were also there; my sister in law was one of my sponsors. Christa, a scholar who works for the archdiocese, was my other sponsor. She kindly agreed to work with me since I enjoy theological scrapping. Joining the Church that night there were twenty of us. Half were baptised, and then we all came forward to be confirmed in the Church. Finally, the Eucharist, the Real Presence. Lutherans believe in Consubstantiation in which God is present in the host, but Catholics believe that the host is transubstantiated. After studying John 6 I understand and agree with this interpretation, so could accept it with a clear conscience. It was an awesome thought.

I still smell the Chrism with which I was anointed. This is exciting.

Thank you for celebrating with me as I embark on a new phase.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What Losing 180 Pounds Really Does to Your Body — & Your Mind by Jen Larsen

Folks, I found this a fascinating article. Hope you enjoy it.

posted here: http://shine.yahoo.com/healthy-living/losing-180-pounds-really-does-body-8212-160-163900419.html


Jen Larsen is a fiercely real, funny, and honest writer. In her new book, Stranger Here: How Weight-Loss Surgery Transformed My Body and Messed with My Head, she explains how losing 180 pounds and getting skinny wasn't all she thought it would be. Here, in an essay for R29, she explains what it's like to live through surgery - with unexpected results.

The doctor said, "It'll be nice to be able to walk down the aisle of an airplane, right? To fit down the aisle, and to not see that look of horror when someone sees you coming."

He said that because I weighed 300 pounds. He said that because he thought that all I wanted in life was to not be that creeping horror, shuffling sideways to the back of the plane, trying not to make eye contact with anyone because I didn't want to see their relief when I passed by. Trying not to make eye contact with the person in my row because I didn't want to see horror, and I really didn't want to see pity, and I really didn't want someone to lean over and explain to me that I was fat and that there are things I could do about it. Like water and jogging, or carrots and the Thighmaster.

He said that like it was a fact about all fat people. All fat people hate themselves. All fat people know that what's good in life is really only accessible to thin people. Thin is the most important variable in of life's equations. Thin equals happy, thin equals beautiful, thin equals a life worth living.

The most embarrassing fact of my life - and oh, how many embarrassing facts there are in my life - is that it was true. I was angry at him for saying it, for buying into the cliché of the fat person. For assuming that my life would transform immediately. Because he was saying all the things I had secretly thought. He was reinforcing all the secret fantasies I had about the way everything about me would be more amenable and lovable and acceptable to the whole rest of the world. To everyone on airplanes and everyone in my life. To myself. When I lost all the weight. When I got weight loss surgery.

He was my psychological consultant, the doctor who was tasked with clearing me for surgery. He signed off my mental and emotional fitness to get a surgery that I genuinely believed was going to save my life. Not just physically - though I was actually healthy - but emotionally.

And, three months later I got weight loss surgery. Seven months later I had lost over a hundred pounds; a year and a half from my surgery date, I had lost about 180 pounds. I lost a lot of things along with the weight. I lost my sense of self. My sense of proportion. My sense of dignity, of maturity, of control. I was skinny, but my life wasn't suddenly and magically perfect-and that completely astonished me. It sounds ridiculous, having really fallen for the fairy tale of weight loss. But I had fallen for it completely, and then was blinded by the egregious lack of a happily ever after.

The nature of the weight loss surgery I got is that you can completely ignore the things the doctors tell you to do. They say, exercise, don't drink, don't smoke, eat well. And you don't bother to do any of that, but still lose weight. You still lose every pound you want to lose, and then some.

The problem was that I lost all those pounds, but I didn't have to change a thing about my self. I didn't have to address any of the emotional or psychological issues. I didn't have to figure out why I had been depressed - why I was still so, so depressed, despite the fact that the one thing I thought had been ruining my life was suddenly gone.

I was skinny, finally, and I was fascinated by the physicality of it. It was like my skeleton had floated up to the surface from the bottom of a murky pond. I had muscles and tendons and bones and in the shower I'd soap the ridges of my ribs, the knobs of my hipbones, and be amazed to make their acquaintance. It wasn't pretty-I lost so much weight that I didn't look like myself, and then I lost past that, to the point where I looked like a sick stranger. Briefly, I was a size two. Sometimes I was disappointed that I couldn't be a size zero.

It doesn't go away, you see. I thought that my body was wrong when I was obese; I thought my body was wrong when I was thin past the point of health. I thought there was something wrong with my body whatever I looked like, because there's always just one more thing to fix before I look perfect, feel good in bed with hands on my body, feel sexy in a dress or a bathing suit, feel comfortable in my skin.

I felt helpless before. I tried to dodge out of the feeling by getting weight loss surgery, and now I'm angry. That I wasn't fixed, yes. But also that so many people deal with this, this exact and pervasive struggle at whatever size they are, whatever shape, whatever they do. That we're not good enough, with the implication that the best we have to offer to the world is an appropriately sized pair of jeans.

Magazine articles about body image talk about loving yourself despite your flaws. Sometimes they get really radical and they talk about loving yourself because of your flaws, and that is supposed to be empowering. And it makes me mad, because we're talking about flaws here. A body that doesn't look like the body of a Victoria's Secret model is a flawed factory reject. My thighs aren't the thighs of a figure skater, so they're not good enough, but I should love the flubby little things anyway because I am so incredibly self-compassionate.

I want this: I want to say, don't love yourself even though you're not perfect - love yourself because you have a body and it's worth loving and it is perfect. Be healthy, which is perfect at whatever size healthy is and at whatever size happy is. And of course that's totally easy and I have just caused a revolution in body image. Let's all go home now.

Right. So, I don't know what the answer is, and I don't know how to make it happen, and I don't know what to do except keep yelling about it, wherever I can. Saying there's no magic number, and there's no perfect size - and of course you know that, but we have to keep telling each other because it's hard to remember sometimes. We have to keep saying it. We have to figure out how to believe it.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Mom's Stories Told in Six Words

In the 1920s Ernest Hemmingway was offered a bet. Write a full story in just six words. He won the bet with: “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

A few years back, inspired by this story, Smith, an online magazine, challenged its readers to submit their life story in just six words.

Reader submissions poured in and before long, a collection of six-word memoirs was published. “Not Quite What I Was Planning” was full of poignant, funny, sad, and moving short – very short pieces. Smith published several more versions, which included the work of well known authors, artists, musicians, as well as unknown people. Some favorites: “MISSING: One backbone. Reward if found.” “Internal compass spinning, mid-life crash imminent.” “Love my cake. Eat it too.”

A new phenomenon was born. Soon everyone was trying to sum up their lives in just six words.

Can we be honest? The mother of the six-word memoir is, in fact, mothers. We have been speaking in six-word phrases since long before Ernest Hemmingway or Smith magazine. Somehow we missed our opportunity for a book deal.

Take for example, the time honored, “Don’t make me stop this car.” Or “Were you born in a barn?” Six words each.

It’s time we take the credit we’re due. Here’s a list of some of the six-word memoirs coined by moms. Each one stands alone as its own story. And together they are a collective story that mothers everywhere share:

Where did you last see it?

Put that down. Wash your hands.

Does anyone know how to flush?

Am I talking to a wall?

Did anyone feed the dog today?

I don’t care who started it.

No means no. Don’t ask again.

Who left the milk carton out?

Not until your laundry’s put away.

Let your brother play with you.

Santa won’t come until you’re asleep.

Clean up this mess. Right now!

Find a different place to sit.

(from an email sent to me by Claire).

Monday, March 18, 2013

Book Review: The Full Armor of God by Larry Richards

Spiritual Warfare: Practical Help Without the Drama

Spiritual Warfare is one of those topics that may seem *far out* to the materialist, and not correct to those who believe in white magic. However, Christianity describes an unseen battleground between angels and fallen angels whose fallout splashes onto us, the humans. While we can't see this spiritual warfare, we are a target for attack.

Richards' book, The Full Armor of God, is a practical guide to combating spiritual warfare. He describes how, in the first century, Ephesus was a central city for spiritual warfare because of its famed temple to Diana (Artemis) and consequent Diana-related commerce. Paul wrote to the Ephesians and in 6:11-17 describes *the full armor of God* using the metaphor of a Roman soldier to describe how we humans may defend against spiritual attacks.

Richards articulately goes through the metaphor of each piece of armor (helmet of salvation, shield of faith, sandals of peace, breastplate of righteousness, belt of truth, sword of the Spirit) to explain how each of these metaphors can be a spiritual defense from spiritual attack. Spiritual attack may not look like what we think, either: it is often simply discouragement or disinterest to the things of God, rather than an out-and-out obvious event. We are vulnerable to *demonization* (harassment by demons) by believing lies: we are worthless, we are guilty, and these lies are more easy to believe in company with anger, bitterness, or unforgiveness. Richards' book addresses how to combat these negative thought patterns to be able to receive the *true* values of God. Exercises at the end of each chapter practically focus the reader to address these issues.

This book also contains two appendices: Christian Counseling and Evil; and "Live Free" Support Group Lesson Plans. The lesson plans are helpful for small group study.

Overall, I found this a practical book, happily without *way out there* theology that often may accompany treatises on the unseen. It is written in an approachable yet intelligent style, and I imagine might give real help for discouraged or angry Christians.

I received a free copy of this book from Chosen Books in return for posting a review. These opinions are my own. I was not required to post a positive review.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Is There Life After Work? by Erin Callan

Is There Life After Work?
Published: March 9, 2013
AT an office party in 2005, one of my colleagues asked my then husband what I did on weekends. She knew me as someone with great intensity and energy. “Does she kayak, go rock climbing and then run a half marathon?” she joked. No, he answered simply, “she sleeps.” And that was true. When I wasn’t catching up on work, I spent my weekends recharging my batteries for the coming week. Work always came first, before my family, friends and marriage — which ended just a few years later.

In recent weeks I have been following with interest the escalating debate about work-life balance and the varying positions of Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Marissa Mayer of Yahoo and the academic Anne-Marie Slaughter, among others. Since I resigned my position as chief financial officer of Lehman Brothers in 2008, amid mounting chaos and a cloud of public humiliation only months before the company went bankrupt, I have had ample time to reflect on the decisions I made in balancing (or failing to balance) my job with the rest of my life. The fact that I call it “the rest of my life” gives you an indication where work stood in the pecking order.

I don’t have children, so it might seem that my story lacks relevance to the work-life balance debate. Like everyone, though, I did have relationships — a spouse, friends and family — and none of them got the best version of me. They got what was left over.

I didn’t start out with the goal of devoting all of myself to my job. It crept in over time. Each year that went by, slight modifications became the new normal. First I spent a half-hour on Sunday organizing my e-mail, to-do list and calendar to make Monday morning easier. Then I was working a few hours on Sunday, then all day. My boundaries slipped away until work was all that was left.

Inevitably, when I left my job, it devastated me. I couldn’t just rally and move on. I did not know how to value who I was versus what I did. What I did was who I was.

I have spent several years now living a different version of my life, where I try to apply my energy to my new husband, Anthony, and the people whom I love and care about. But I can’t make up for lost time. Most important, although I now have stepchildren, I missed having a child of my own. I am 47 years old, and Anthony and I have been trying in vitro fertilization for several years. We are still hoping.

Sometimes young women tell me they admire what I’ve done. As they see it, I worked hard for 20 years and can now spend the next 20 focused on other things. But that is not balance. I do not wish that for anyone. Even at the best times in my career, I was never deluded into thinking I had achieved any sort of rational allocation between my life at work and my life outside.

I have often wondered whether I would have been asked to be C.F.O. if I had not worked the way that I did. Until recently, I thought my singular focus on my career was the most powerful ingredient in my success. But I am beginning to realize that I sold myself short. I was talented, intelligent and energetic. It didn’t have to be so extreme. Besides, there were diminishing returns to that kind of labor.

I didn’t have to be on my BlackBerry from my first moment in the morning to my last moment at night. I didn’t have to eat the majority of my meals at my desk. I didn’t have to fly overnight to a meeting in Europe on my birthday. I now believe that I could have made it to a similar place with at least some better version of a personal life. Not without sacrifice — I don’t think I could have “had it all” — but with somewhat more harmony.

I have also wondered where I would be today if Lehman Brothers hadn’t collapsed. In 2007, I did start to have my doubts about the way I was living my life. Or not really living it. But I felt locked in to my career. I had just been asked to be C.F.O. I had a responsibility. Without the crisis, I may never have been strong enough to step away. Perhaps I needed what felt at the time like some of the worst experiences in my life to come to a place where I could be grateful for the life I had. I had to learn to begin to appreciate what was left.

At the end of the day, that is the best guidance I can give. Whatever valuable advice I have about managing a career, I am only now learning how to manage a life.

Erin Callan is the former chief financial officer of Lehman Brothers.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

INCIDENT by Countee Cullen

Countee Cullen (1903-1946) was an African-American poet of the Harlem Renaissance period. His works are thoughtful and sad and beautiful.
Here's one poem that I find wrenching:
Once riding in old Baltimore,
Heart-filled, head-filled with glee,
I saw a Baltimorean
Keep looking straight at me.
Now I was eight and very small,
And he was no whit bigger,
And so I smiled, but he poked out
His tongue, and called me, "Nigger."
I saw the whole of Baltimore
from May until December;
Of all the things that happened there
That's all that I remember.

Monday, March 4, 2013

History Channel Screens *The Bible*

The first episode covers Adam & Eve, and Noah. Schedule on THE HISTORY CHANNEL:

March 04, 2013 - 12:01-02:01AM
March 06, 2013 - 09:00-11:02PM
March 07, 2013 - 01:01-03:03AM
March 10, 2013 - 06:00-08:00PM

“The Bible” is an epic five-week, 10-hour television mini-series premiering
March 3, 2013 on the History Channel from Emmy-Award winning husband and wife
team, Mark Burnett and Roma Downey. For two hours each Sunday night, millions of
viewers will see the Bible come to life in a way never before seen. The final
episode of the series will air on Easter Sunday [March 31] and will feature the
death and resurrection of Jesus. To help ensure the accuracy of the miniseries,
many Christian scholars served as advisors and hundreds of Christian leaders
have given their endorsement.

"In terms of importance, nothing we've ever done, not Touched By An Angel, not
Survivor, not The Voice, not The Apprentice, none of this could possibly compare
to “The Bible”," Burnett says. "This is not a TV show to us.
Its images, sound and sacred text that people will still watch, way after our
grandchildren are old people."

Famed television producer Mark Burnett tackles his projects with passion, but
The Bible is a special labor of love.

The 10-hour, five-part docudrama will span the Bible from Genesis to
Revelation, presenting some of its best-known stories, including Noah's Ark, the
Exodus, Daniel in the lions' den and the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.

Former Touched By An Angel star Roma Downey, Burnett's wife and fellow
executive producer, heads a large international cast in the role of Mother Mary.
Keith David, an Emmy winner for voice-over performances, will narrate with a
musical score by Oscar-and-Grammy-winning composer Hans Zimmer.
Since the entire Bible can't be covered in 10 hours, the miniseries, which was
filmed in Morocco, focuses on a select group of stories and features such
compelling figures as Abraham, Moses and David. Some stories had to be
compressed for artistic purposes.

Here is a 4 minute trailer for the mini-series