Sunday, December 30, 2012

Fall Photos from Mississippi and Florida 2012

I haven't done a photo post in a while.  Here are photos I took while visiting family in Central Mississippi and Destin, Florida over Thanksgiving week.

Mississippi has the closest thing to a fall in the deep south.  Nothing as brilliant as the Northeast but pretty in its own way.

The following photos are from Fred Gannon State Park in Niceville, Florida

The following is from Destin, FL

  Military helocopter.  Destin is near Eglin AFB, the largest military instillation in the world.

The sun had set.  Can you see the egret?

Caught this rainbow crossing Pensacola Bay Bridge

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The Spirit of Giving: Ravi Zacharias and Samaritan's Purse

With all the family and activity this past couple of weeks I haven't been able to get to my blog.  Last night, Christmas evening, I read to my family all the Christmas books we traditionally read.  As usual I couldn't get through some of them without breaking down. The common theme in them is people suffering grief and loss but finding hope and joy through the birth of Christ.  I've already reviewed those books and if you'd like to read them, go here. For Christmas stories about the history and origins of some of the traditions go here.

What I would especially like to share are the charity organizations that I contribute to and hope you will be encouraged to contribute to them as well.

The one my son and I always donate to  is from Ravi Zacharias' ministry.  Mr. Zacharias was born and raised in India and became a Christian as an adult.  He is considered the greatest living Christian apologist, taking the mantle from C.S. Lewis.  He has a radio program called, "Let My People Think".  Here is a link to his broadcasts .  My favorites are his question and answer sessions with college students from Harvard, Oxford, and Georgia Tech as well as Cornell University.  Our favorite charity coming out of his ministry is called Wellspring International.  The specific one we contribute to is called the Scarlet Chord which helps deliver woman and children out of a life of prostitution.  Here is an excerpt from their website:

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

“We say that slavery has vanished from European civilization, but this is not true. Slavery still exists, but now it applies only to women and its name is prostitution.”
Victor Hugo

The Need

The city of Amsterdam became world famous for its legalized prostitution and red light district in the year 2000. Over 400 windows line the district streets, with a woman on display behind each one. It has been estimated that over 75% of the city’s 8,000-11,000 women in prostitution are from Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asia. Many are victims of trafficking; others were lured in at a young age by pimps, called loverboys, through an intentional scheme that moves them in to prostitution. Many remain out of fear for their own safety or that of loved ones, or victim of sizeable debts they must repay to a pimp. Those who want to leave struggle to find options that will enable them to escape safely and empower them to support themselves in an alternative line of work.

Here's the link if you'd like to donate.

The other Charity we donate to is Samaritan's Purse. They provide help and relief to just about every crisis out there globally, including the Hurricane Sandy. Here's an excerpt from their website:

Our emergency relief programs provide desperately needed assistance to victims of natural disaster, war, disease, and famine. As we offer food, water, and temporary shelter, we meet critical needs and give people a chance to rebuild their lives.

Our community development and vocational programs in impoverished villages and neighborhoods help people break the cycle of poverty and give them hope for a better tomorrow.We impact the lives of vulnerable children through educational, feeding, clothing, and shelter programs that let them know they are not forgotte

If you'd like to give to this worthy charity here is the link to their very long list of ministries that you can choose from.

Finally, I sponsor a child through Compassion  International.  For $35.00 a month you can sponsor a child in a third world country, providing them with necessary means for survival and schooling.  Little Madina and I write each other several times a year. There's a waiting list for children who need to be sponsored from all over the world.

Remember, all donations are tax deductible. May you all have a very Blessed Christmas and New Year!!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Beowolf translated by Seamus Heaney photos edited by John D. Niles

   For twelve years King Hrogarth and his Danish warriors have been terrorized by the monster Grendel who has invaded their hall and attacked and eaten many of the men.  A hero comes across the sea who kills the monster-and later the monster's mother.  His name is Beowolf and his epic saga has been read for the last thousand years in the original Old English as well as various translations. 

  I won’t go into the entire story but it is one that shows the reader a culture of heroism, early medieval life and the transition from pagan beliefs to Christianity in Scandinavia.  What’s especially interesting is that Beowolf was written in England at a time when that country was still recovering from the scourge of Viking invasions that had started a couple hundred years previously.  One wonders why someone from England would want to write a heroic saga about Scandinavians.  If you know the answer to that, please tell me in the comments box.

   The purpose of this review is to comment on the recent edition that has come out with Seamus Heaney’s translation.

   I had read the translation of Beowolf by J.R.R. Tolkien many years ago but frankly had a hard time understanding it.  I attribute that more to my youth than Tolkien’s translation.       Nevertheless, when I saw Heaney’s translation in the book store, I couldn’t resist buying a copy for myself.  It’s a beautiful book. 

     There are actually two editions.  One has the original old English on one page with Heaney’s translation on the other.  I can’t read old English so I didn’t need that version, although I’m sure it would be a great resource for English Literature students.

     The edition I bought has the poem on one page and a photo of Viking artifacts and Scandanavian scenery on the adjoining page.  The translation is beautifully rendered and easy to understand.  I read through the epic poem in a short amount of time.  What makes this book worth buying, however, is the photos. 

     This edition is a photo illustrated version of the saga.  Each photo depicts some part of the poem.  If the poem on the adjoining page is about the bogs of Norway, the accompanying photo is of a bog.  If the poem is talking about the boat, clothes, weapons or housing the Vikings used, the photo will illustrate that.  The pictures provided a wonderful visual companion to the poetry.

    Bottom line:  I found the poetry beautiful, the story as interesting as ever and the photos a great enhancement.  I would recommend this edition to anyone interested in this famous epic poem.

I bought this book.

Bilingual Edition:

Kindle Edition for $8.52:

Illustrated Edition:

For further links on Beowolf:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dating and the Single Parent by Ron L. Deal

  Dating and the Single Parent by Ron L. Deal is an important book and one that should belong in the library of every divorced person who has considered remarrying or at least reentering into the wonderful world of dating.

    Bottom line:  if you are divorced with kids still at home you’re better off not dating or remarrying.  You should devote your time to raising your children.  The odds of remarrying at this time and not becoming a twice-divorced statistic are not in your favor.

    However, they are not insurmountable, and, as Mr. Deal realistically observes, many single parents do not want to wait-especially if they believe they have met someone they want to spend the rest of their life with.

 Therefore, the rest of the book is devoted to detailing what steps a single parent needs to take to not only prepare themselves but their children for what is at stake and what they have in store for themselves. 

The first section of the book includes chapters that help the single parent decide if they are ready to date. 

Mr. Deal accurately describes divorce in the same terms as experiencing a death.  The recovery of both can take years.  You may think you want someone in your life.  You may believe that you are in a healthy frame of mind to accept that person into your life.  But are you?

Deal provides a lot of real case scenarios as well as a checklist to help the single parent evaluate just how ready they are to add another person to their family equation.

Then there’s the children.  You may feel ready, but are they?  Deal poignantly and deftly points out that if your children are not emotionally ready to handle a new “parent” the chances of marital success are slim. 

After evaluating yourself and your children, Mr. Deal gives invaluable strategies to help prepare yourself and your children for the dating arena.  One chapter delineates the fears that children (young and adult) have when their parent starts to date.  Again, ignoring these very real challenges are huge strikes against a lasting relationship or marriage with a second spouse.

Section two gives helpful advice on the RIGHT places to find love.  He has a great chapter called, “Yellow Light, Red Light, Green Light.”  He gives a checklist for each.  What signs does this potential partner give that is a warning you should take seriously?  What are deal breakers?  When is it clear that you can go ahead?

His final section has useful advice on marriage commitment and step-family preparation.  His most profound point, in my opinion,  is that step-families should not be thought of as “blended” as though you could throw two different groups of people in a figurative blender and they’ll quickly mix.  It’s better to think of the process as a crock pot, where people “simmer” together, taking years to get used to one another. 

 If you’re thinking of remarrying, this would be a good book to read before embarking on that adventure.

I received this book free from the publisher.

or buy it Kindle on $8.79