Monday, August 17, 2009

I just finished re-reading The Hiding Place

An autobiography by Corrie ten Boom. She tells of her family's struggles during Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, and her and her sister's imprisonment for hiding Jews. She tells of their faith and hope that never left them, even in impossible, inhumane circumstances. A very inspiring book, I wish everyone could read it! (I ordered my copy from Amazon. It arrived quickly and in perfect condition. No, I do not own or work for Amazon.)

Bookcrossing journal entry

This is the little clock I bought; it is on my living room mantle.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A horse story (an inspirational email from my cousin)

Down the road

There is a field with two horses in it.


From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse.
But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will
notice something quite amazing. Looking into the eyes
of one horse will disclose that he is blind. His owner
has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a
good home for him.

This alone is amazing.

If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the
sound of a bell. Looking around for the source of
the sound, you will see that it comes from the
smaller horse in the field.

Attached to the horse's halter is a small bell.
It lets the blind friend know where the other
horse is, so he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two horses, you'll see
that the horse with the bell is always checking on the
blind horse, and that the blind horse will listen for
the bell and then slowly walk to where the other
horse is, trusting that he will not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter
of the barn each evening, it stops occasionally and
looks back, making sure that the blind friend isn't
too far behind to hear the bell.

Horses behind fence

Like the owners of these two horses, God does not
throw us away just because we are not perfect or
because we have problems or challenges.

He watches over us and even brings others into our
lives to help us when we are in need.

Sometimes we are the blind horse being guided by
the little ringing bell of those who God places in
our lives.

Other times we are the guide horse, helping others
to find their way....

Good friends are like that... you may not always
see them, but you know they are always there.

Please listen for my bell and I'll listen for yours.

And kinder than necessary - everyone
you meet is fighting some kind of battle.

Live simply,
Love generously,
Care deeply,
Speak kindly.....
Leave the rest to God...

Monday, August 10, 2009

Poetry Corner

Reading chair

Quote from The Death of the Hired Man by Robert Frost

'Warren,' she said, 'he has come home to die:
You needn't be afraid he'll leave you this time.'

'Home,' he mocked gently

'Yes, what else but home?

It all depends on what you mean by home.
Of course he's nothing to us, any more
Than was the hound that came a stranger to us
Out of the woods, worn out upon the trail.'

'Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.'

'I should have called it
Something you somehow haven't to deserve.'

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Margaret's getting married again!

(The above picture was on my cell phone when I bought it.)

Margaret is a lovely lady in our church, and in my Sunday School class. She is tall and elegant, with silver-white hair, always perfectly arranged. She is a friend to everyone, and always has a good word, a kind smile, and a hug. Her husband died almost a year ago, from complications following e coli after an unfortunate church dinner where about 50 people became ill. Mr. M. had other health problems, too, and gradually deterioted for several months.

I had recently been hearing rumors that Margaret had a gentleman friend, and that he had visited our church with her, but I didn't see him. She has had a special glow about her the last few weeks ~ a sparkle!

Today before class started, she stood up and told about her wedding plans! They will have a small, family wedding in the town where he lives (about 75 miles from here, I think), and a large reception to which everyone will be invited. They plan to live here after the wedding, and we were all so glad she won't be leaving us!

He was her high school sweetheart! His wife passed away about a month before her husband died. He called her last fall; they had several conversations. He invited her out to dinner, and things just went on from there!

Margaret is on the right. This picture was taken three years ago at a Hawaiaan luau party at church.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cyber attacks!

(This is a cartoon I copied from an email several years ago. I think (hope) it is in the public domain.)

I haven't been online much today - errands this morning, and company this afternoon. This evening, I learned that Twitter, Facebook, and LiveJournal were all hit by something called Denial of Service attacks. I've read about it, but I don't understand what I read.

I copied this from an article in The Guardian, a British newspaper site:
A concerted attempt to crash a string of major websites appears to be underway, with malicious online attacks affecting services including Facebook, Twitter and Google.

The source of the strikes is not yet known, but they have already affected hundreds of millions of web users around the world.

Initial reports earlier today confirmed that Twitter had been affected by a denial of service attack, where vast numbers of computers are simultaneously pointed at a victim's website in order to overwhelm its servers.

But after reports that Facebook was suffering from unexpected problems, it has emerged that several major companies were also victims of a simultaneous attack, including some Google sites and the blogging service LiveJournal.

A Google spokesman said that the company's systems helped protect it from damage, and that neither nor Gmail suffered any impact: "We are in contact with some affected companies to help investigate this attack."

A spokeswoman for Facebook confirmed that a denial of service incident had taken place, adding that no permanent damage had occurred: "Earlier this morning, Facebook encountered network issues related to an apparent distributed denial of service attack, that resulted in degraded service for some users. No user data was at risk and we have restored full access to the site for most users."

The full extent of the attacks is still unclear, but Twitter's website was unavailable for at least two hours earlier today and still appears to be suffering from problems. With few definite details on the precise nature of the strikes or their source, executives from the companies affected are believed to be sharing information in order to try and pinpoint their attacker.

At the moment it is not even certain that the attacks have come from the same source, although experts suggest that the fact that so many events occurred so closely together would probably rule out chance.

"This seems like far too much to be a coincidence," said Graham Cluley, a senior consultant at IT security firm Sophos. "The fact that the attacks have hit Facebook and LiveJournal as well as Twitter means that hundreds of millions more people could have been impacted by the website outages."

In the past, professional criminals have used denial of service attacks to attack rival businesses or blackmail organisations in the virtual equivalent of protection rackets. It is not unknown for companies to pay ransoms in such situations.

However, one computer security expert said that even an attack of this size did not necessarily have to be the work of a large or powerful group.

"Generally with any denial of service attack, we see them come from a botnet comprised of tens, hundreds, thousands or even a hundred thousand computers," said John Harrison of Symantec, one of the world's leading computer security companies. "However, the value of the computers on the botnet can depend on where they are - inside a large enterprise or university, with a big pipeline, they can send a lot of traffic with just one computer."

Without knowing who is behind the activity, Harrison said that the targets – large, popular services rather than high-value ones - were not typical for a blackmailer.

"We're very surprised to see these types of attacks coming. Usually the people behind it want to use it for financial gain, not simply to take services away."

He suggested that the motivation behind the strikes could be as basic as revenge.

"It can be as simple as retribution against other hackers," he said. "It seems trivial and backwards, but it could be something as simple as that."

I have accounts on Facebook and LiveJournal, and they both seem to be working now. Were any of you affected?

I've heard that many people who are opposed to the government in Iran are using Twitter to organize protests. I wonder if the Iranian government is somehow involved in this?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

An interesting blog site for booklovers!

Forgotten Bookmarks

There are pictures and descriptions of the things people leave in books - postcards, photos, memos, love letters (!), etc. The one of a photo left in a book called "Photo Craft: Over 70 imaginative ways to use all those photographs you've taken and don't know what to do with" is one I found very ironic! One not-so-imaginative use for a photograph!

Another bookshelf

What are some of the things you use as bookmarks? Only rarely do I use a real bookmark, usually I stick whatever scrap of paper I can fine. Post-it notes and paperclips are handy; they won't fall out, but are not good if it is a very nice book. Paperclips may dent the pages, and post-it notes leave a residue. I usually just read paperbacks that aren't meant to last forever, though, so that doesn't matter to me. If I'm reading a book with a very involved plot and lots of characters, I'll use a piece of notepaper for taking notes.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The beginning of my spiritual journey - my testimony

Baptized thrice; confirmed twice - finally it took!

I accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, asking Him to come into my heart and forgive me of my sins, in June 1971. Before that, I had been on a spiritual journey, beginning before I was born. My birthmother and my birth aunt prayed for me before my birth. They prayed that I would be adopted by a good family who would teach me to love God, and that I would become a Christian.

My adoptive family was Presbyterian. They took me to Sunday School, and I was baptized at the age of eight months. I attended Sunday School and church, and learned my catechism. I became a member at the age of 12. During the course of these years, I was taught to love God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and to obey His commandments, and to do unto others as I would have them do unto me. I had some questions, and some misunderstandings along the way. When I was very little, I thought the Garden of Eden was a flowerbed in front of God’s house. I wondered exactly who, or what was the Holy Ghost we sang about in the hymns. I wondered what the first chapter of John had to do with the story of the birth of Christ.

At school, public school, in the 1950s, we were allowed to have prayers, and to hear the Bible read. I had some Christian teachers who did this. My first grade teacher read to us from Psalms, especially the 100th and the 23rd. She gave me a New Testament when I finished first grade, which I still have. My fourth grade teacher had us recite the Lord’s Prayer, and on Mondays, had us stand up if we had gone to church the previous day.

When I was in high school, my best friend was Episcopalian. The youth group at the Presbyterian church had dwindled down to a very few, and it wasn’t as much “fun” as it had been before the older kids finished high school. I started going to church with my friend, first at night, then in the mornings, too. (There were some cute boys there!) Mother told me I had to decide to be an active member wherever I went, whether to return to the Presbyterian Church, or to join the Episcopal Church. I decided to join the Episcopal Church. I learned another catechism, and was confirmed at the age of 16. In this catechism, I learned that the first duty of man is to glorify God. I didn’t understand this principle; I thought that we should want to glorify God, not that it should be a “duty.” My prayers at this time were selfish prayers, mostly for God to bless what I wanted, and to stay out of trouble with my mother. I didn’t feel like my prayers reached higher than the ceiling. I did not feel close to God; I didn’t “love” Him, but if asked, I would have said I did.

I attended a Southern Baptist college. I attended the Episcopal Church in the town, and in the spring of my freshman year I met a student at the military institute, who was Baptist. We fell in love and decided to marry when we both had graduated. Also, during my freshman year, I began to seek answers to spiritual questions, namely why my prayers seemed to go no higher than the ceiling. I noticed that some of my classmates became extremely upset with our religion professor who taught that the Old Testament stories, particularly creation, were founded on myths and stories told by shepherds around their campfires. At that time, I didn’t understand why it was such a big deal.

When my husband and I married, I joined the Baptist church and was baptized, as it was very important to both of us that we join and attend church together. I continued in my spiritual state of half-hearted seeking for three years, until I found myself in a Sunday School class of women who genuinely cared about the Word of God and the Gospel, and the necessity to be born again, to be saved. Being a church member, even a regular attendee of church and Sunday School was not enough. I wondered about this class; had I fallen in with a bunch of fanatics? Would they start pestering me, and asking uncomfortable questions? However, I remained, and continued going. Soon, the teacher announced that she would begin a Bible study class in her home on the book of Revelation. Having never studied that book, and finding it incomprehensible, I decided to go to these meetings, too.

It was in this study of Revelation, in 1971, that the Word of God began to be opened to me, and I began to understand the spiritual truths to be found, and began to apply it to my heart. I became convicted of my need for the Savior, of my need to confess my sins and turn to Him for forgiveness. Until that time, I had thought of myself as “good.” I knew I was not perfect, but I needed to know that Christ died for all of my sins, that there was nothing I could do to save myself. Christ did it all; all I can do is trust Him. This was a very hard step for me, and I struggled with it for several days. Then, one day while I was driving, on the car radio I heard a beautiful version of Amazing Grace sung by Judy Collins, and I gave my heart to Him that day on the highway! Such peace and joy came over me that day that it was indescribable!
You can hear it here:
Amazing Grace, sung by Judy Collins

I didn’t tell many people at that time – just my husband and my parents. A few months later our church was having a revival. I sat in the pew before services began, praying that many would come to know Christ. God spoke to me then, not audibly, but in my heart, and told me that I needed to respond to the invitation! I was scared – what would people think? I had been a member of this church for a few years now, and volunteered in the preschool department. Would the parents think that I was not fit to keep their children? What would the pastor think? He had baptized me just a few years ago. The Lord told me not to worry about other people; He was the One I had to obey. So, I went forward, weeping. The pastor was surprised, but accepting. The next week I was baptized again, for the third and last time, and the first time as a believer.

This was only the beginning of my journey. The Lord has guided and directed me throughout my life, and He still does. Just the other day, He convicted me of a long-ago sin from my childhood. I confessed it, and restored a friendship. I feel His presence when I worship Him, and when I am in trouble or difficulty. He is the Lord of my life, and my Savior!

I certainly do not intend to imply that the Presbyterian or the Episcopal churches are or were lacking in any way. The teachings were there - that Jesus Christ died for our sins - but it was me that was lacking in understanding. I just did not grasp the truth of the gospel, and did not apply it to myself until after I had been a member of a Baptist church for about three years.