Monday, December 28, 2009

ただいま!(tadaima = I'm home!)

Yesterday I became a full member of Sendai Minami Yoshinari Christ Church, a Lutheran Brethren Synod congregation about twenty minutes from my home. It took over twenty years for me to transfer my membership from my former church in Tokyo. What on earth took me so long? My sin. My pride. My shame. I did not want to give them up. Well, I was sorry about them, and I asked for God's forgiveness, but I still imagined that the triune me, myself, and I had to get my act together and convince, if not others, at least myself, that I was truly a real Christian.

Long story. I grew up in the Lutheran tradition, and it was nice. I believed that I needed a Savior, and I said I believed. But, so often my behavior didn't line up. I kept doing things for which afterward put me into despair. My life definitely didn't show any dramatic improvement. If anything, all I could see was someone who desired to do the right things, but never did. A complete moral failure.

In college, I remember asking a campus pastor, "Doesn't God want us to be good?"

"No, Becky, God doesn't want us to be good. He wants us to live with His Holy Spirit in us."

What kind of answer was that? I noted his comment in the margins of my Bible, and remained perplexed as to what he meant for the next 25 years. Maybe he meant that Jesus set us free, so we didn't have to worry about what we did or didn't do? Maybe not?

Another popular phrase, which I thought profound, was on a little desk placard someone gave me. Lord, thank you that there is nothing that together You and I can't do. Or something like that. I liked it because it made me feel like God and I were partners. He was there for me, and I could count on Him to always be there encouraging me as I went along the path of my choosing.

When I was 16 my Mom gave me a Bible for Christmas. I soon started marking it up, highlighting it, underlining and applying its principles to my life. Or maybe it was more like, I'd go looking for phrases that I could claim approved of the ways I thought things should be done. I went to that Bible often, always doing after-the-fact checks that the Bible really did line up with my concept of what God wanted for me.

The more I did that, the more I seemed to go further into despair. What on earth was wrong? I was in the Bible, but none of it seemed to "work" for me. Wasn't my life supposed to be an example to others? Wasn't my Christian life supposed to brings others to Christ? It certainly wasn't doing that! It wasn't even making my life all that satisfying to me! Maybe Christianity wasn't what it claimed to be? Especially since my parents divorced and the family I grew up in was crumbling, and my Japanese fiance's family seemed to have it all together, maybe I was too narrow-minded and arrogant thinking that Christianity was the only way.

So, I started, well not really allowing that all religions are equally valid, but at least not insisting that Christ was the only Way, Truth, and Life..... at least while we are alive on this earth. I didn't really get into other religions, though I did do yoga while pregnant. But I quit that as I started freaking out whenever the yoga instructor would talk in his hypnotic tone about how we were bowing down to Mother earth. I didn't like that.

Then I would meet with Christians who insisted I could not be a Christian because I was baptized when I was only a toddler, and I had to have a "born-again experience," a visible change from my sinful self to my new (sinless?) self. Since I could not point to such an experience, that was proof that I was a false Christian. That put me further into despair and made me mad as well. And, everyone "knows" that Christians are not supposed to get mad, so maybe they had a point there....

So, let's just put this on the shelf and cross the bridge when we get to it. Trouble is, you can't. I couldn't. Even though I had muddled God's Word, it was already there hidden in me. After years of going to church, a strong liturgical church at that, God's Word would come to me time and again. I could refuse to listen, but no matter how much I tried I couldn't keep from hearing it. And one day, it was as though I was put in a corner. Am I going to admit that Jesus is the Truth or is He just a liar?

I'm skipping all over the place here, but to make a long (mundane, too) story short, I got out my old copy of Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Two things from his book remain in my mind. One is that in Christianity, all hangs on the person Jesus, and who He is. There are three choices: He is a lunatic, a liar or LORD of Lords. The other thing Lewis said was that it does one no good to stand in the hallway wondering which door to step into. He was referring to all the Christian denominations; one has to be part of a public Christian community, you can't just sit in the hallway and say you are part of the body of Christ.

That's when I realized that I had things all backwards. Jesus called me to follow Him, not for me to lead the way and have Him run along after me. He said that He is the vine and I am a branch; whatever good work I may do is completely because of being connected to Him. Hardly an equal partnership!

It is not necessary that I prove that I am a Christian. That is not what I "have to" do. The only thing needed is for me to believe that Jesus is who He claimed to be, and that He has died in my place. And even believing is not my own accomplishment, that is a gift given me by the power of the Holy Spirit. And now I see what it means that God does not want us merely to be good for goodness's sake. He wants us to belong to Him, to come to Him in repentance, to receive the forgiveness that He offers and to rest in Him. Once that happens, the godly good will come. This is the peace, the eternal life, that we have in Christ. All praise and glory goes to God. It has taken a long time to transfer my church membership, but now that is done. Phew!

Friday, December 11, 2009

Do you believe in angels?

Every once in a while, the thought of angels comes to my mind. I don't really watch that many movies or television programs, so sometimes I read or hear something about angels that makes me think, "Huh? Where does that idea come from?"

For example, some people have the idea that when babies or children die, they enter heaven and become angels. A friend that used to live in my town, loved angel anything. I think she was the first New Ager I met, and in fact up to the time of meeting her, I had never even heard of New Age. I only remember being surprised that she was so enthralled with angels even though she was not a Christian. Earlier this year, I heard from another one of my friends that her young daughter says she has been hearing angels. So, I have been on the lookout for what it is the Bible tells us about angels. Dr. Ron Rhodes of Reasoning from the Scriptures, spoke about the angels on my favorite radio program!

I went to the On Demand section of Issues, Etc. to download a paper by Dr. Rhodes, "Close Encounters of the Celestial Kind: Evaluating Today's Angel Craze." I am a Lutheran, not a Calvinist, but I think the conclusion the writer gives is worth pasting here:

God's angels act to carry out only God's commands. There's not a single Bible verse that portrays an elect, holy angel of God acting independently from God. Psalm 103:20 makes explicit reference to God's angels "who do his bidding, who obey his word."

Because only God sends angels on our behalf, our focus of attention must ever be on the God who sends them. God's holy angels do not seek praise or worship for the things they do. In fact, they discourage it and point to God as the only one worthy of worship (Rev. 22:9). The apostle Paul flatly condemned the worship of angels in Colossians 2:18. God Himself explicitly commands that only He is to be worshiped (Exod. 20:5-6).

This leads us to the single most important point of this article. In the words of John Calvin, "As God does not make [the angels] ministers of his power and goodness to share his glory with them, so he does not promise us his help through their ministry in order that we should divide our trust between them and him." Indeed, Calvin says, the angels "do lead us away unless they lead us by the hand straight to him, that we may look upon him, call upon him, and proclaim him as our sole helper; unless we regard them as his hands that are moved to no work without his direction; unless they keep us in the one Mediator, Christ, that we may wholly depend upon him, lean upon him, be brought to him, and rest in him.

I'm certain God has some guardian angel(s) around me. (Those incidents could be blog topics for another time!) Yes, I believe in angels, but my faith is in Christ.

* Forgive me for not including links to make it easier to find the article on your own. If you like, please use the Issues, Etc. widget to the left to search for the program. Or, if you are interested, let me know and I'll find the program for you.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Japanese DRAGnet: Undercover Cover Girl Cops

Here is the recent attempt at fighting crime in Japan.

Good luck running in high heels.

Nagoya policemen dress in drag to nab purse snatchers

An all-male police squad dressed as women has been deployed in Nagoya with the goal of catching attempted purse snatchers. The policemen, dressed in short skirts, stockings, high heels, wigs and carrying designer bags, have been walking the streets of Nagoya since last month in a bid to lure bag snatchers.

One 26-year-old officer said: “It’s cowardly to target women who are weak.” Another 25-year-old policeman admitted that he “panicked” when a male driver propositioned him from his car.

The unit consists of four male officers who are at least 160 cm tall. They all have a black belt in judo, karate or some other martial art. The squad works out of Naka police station which is in the center of Nagoya’s entertainment district.

A spokesman for the police said that the squad has so far failed to nab any would-be thieves.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My Thanksgiving 2009 in Japan

My college roommate wrote me today:

I don't think you celebrate thanksgiving in Japan. It is Thanksgiving here tomorrow. I am thankful that I met you in college. I remember when you would say it's almost Friday even if it was only Monday.

Me, too. I am very thankful that I met her way back then, too. Funny thing, I don't really remember saying "it's almost Friday." Sometimes I would like to go back, spend a day in my past and know what was said.

Maybe not.

But today it was nice. Very nice to hear from Karen, my college roommate in our sophomore year.

We were sophomores.

That says it right there!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Christmas Cards for Rifqa

There's a card you can download by clicking the title link above. I think I'll send my own.

Rifqa Bary
c/o Franklin County Child Services
855 W. Mound
Columbus, OH 43223

HT Pamela Geller

Friday, November 20, 2009

How to Use Styrofoam to Promote a Convenient Lie

Actually: How to Use Computer Graphics....
Silly me. It wasn't styrofoam afterall.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Crazy about Hazel Nuts!

Last night Nozomi brought home some bread. Talk about bread! This had bits of chocolate, whole chestnuts, and HAZEL NUTS! Every bite was glorious. Sorry, but I gobbled it all up before I even thought to take a photo to tempt you with. And, how good was it? At nearly $1.00 per slice it was a luxury. (Notice that we don't generally get bread here by the loaf!) But because she gets a 50% discount at her workplace, she spoiled me completely. What a lucky mom I am. God had a really good idea when He thought up those hazel nuts!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Rifqa is Being Sent Back to Ohio

Today brings some sad news. Rifqa Bary, the 17-year-old Christian girl who ran away from her Muslim family in Ohio, will be sent back to them. Pamela Geller has blogged extensively about the entire case. PLEASE read about it there. I will continue to keep Rifqa in my prayers. That is about all I can do.

Here is one of my favorite hymns. I couldn't find an audio version I liked. The organ pieces sounded too overpowering, and you could not discern the melody (unless you're already familar with the music). When I was Rifqa's age, we sang it at church.(I always thought I'd like it sung at my funeral. And today I am in a type of mourning for this young girl, my sister in Christ.) It's very simple, slow and somber, but with a quiet confidence. This is something hard to grasp: that in the midst of sorrow, Christ gives His people peace.

In Thee Is Gladness

1. In thee is gladness, amid all sadness,
Jesus, sunshine of my heart.
By thee are given the gifts of heaven,
thou the true Redeemer art.
Our souls thou makest, our bonds thou breakest;
who trusts thee surely hath built securely,
and stands forever. Alleluia!
Our hearts are pining to see thy shining;
dying or living, to thee are cleaving;
naught can us sever. Alleluia!

2. If God be ours, we fear no powers,
not of earth or sin or death.
God sees and blesses in worst distresses,
and can change them in a breath.
Wherefore the story tell of God's glory
with heart and voices; all heaven rejoices,
singing forever; Alleluia!
We shout for gladness, triumph o'er sadness,
loving and praising, voices still raising
glad hymns forever: Alleluia!

"Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful." John 14:27

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Are My Kids Eligible?

I often joke that in our family of 6 we have 5 Japanese and 5 Americans. Hmmm? It's this way. Dad and the four children are Japanese. Mom and the four children are American. At least, the children are able to hold dual citizenship in accordance with each country that issues their passports. So, that means they can continue being both US and Japanese citizens in America's view. And Japan states that they must chose one or the other at the age of 22. Figure that one out yourself, I guess.

Anyway, one of the topics we have pondered is: Wouldn't it be something if one of the children became the Prime Minister of Japan, and another the President of the United States, serving at the same time? Goofy talk around the dinner table really.

That is what initially led me to take an interest in Barack Obama's situation. A judge has set a tentative date, January 26, 2010, for his trial. Is he a citizen of the United States of America? What will transpire?


Saturday, October 10, 2009

An Unprecedented SurPRIZE!

I am now completely convinced that the Nobel Peace Prize is meaningless. Whoever thought that anyone would receive an award before achievement of any kind has been made?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Time to Sing & Dance

I have been spending the past few weeks catching up on projects around the house. Next week my classes begin, so who knows when I'll be able to pay close attention to proper housekeeping again! And this morning I went to get my annual check up and learned that I am now "pre-obese." So, it's time to move my body.

Once upon a time I liked dancing. I really don't like taking walks much, though. What do you think? I live in the middle of rice paddies. Maybe I should go ahead and re-enact some of these fun songs. (At least you'll be spared from hearing or seeing me as I embark my new routine!)

This is from the movie Nozomi brought home last week. It was a cute one.

And, what inspired me to start dancing in the street? At about one-and-a-half minutes into the song above, you'll see the same dancers that were in this one many years ago! Too bad I don't have my tap shoes anymore.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Rifqa's Next Hearing: Sept. 3, 2009

I made a brief mention in an earlier post of a Sri Lankan girl who ran away from her family in Ohio. She had to leave, because after her Muslim father learned of her conversion to Christianity he is bound by the precepts of Islam to kill her. Honorably.

Pam Geller, on her blog
Atlas Shrugs
writes, "Rifqa has been given a reprieve. SHE WILL NOT BE SENT TO OHIO! Praise G-d. She will not be sent back to her terrorized home in Ohio, at least not for now. Next hearing September 3rd at 2:30 p.m."

Rifqa, you remain in my prayers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

27th Wedding Anniversary*

My husband and I have been married 27 years! It's true. Americans tend to gush, "I love you," give hugs, and publicly compliment their spouse. My dear husband may not say it in words, but he does in his actions. Thank you, for all the sacrifices you make for me and our children. May I, too, be a wife who helps her husband in word and deed.

Tevye and Golda's song is not quite ours, but it comes to my mind from time to time. (Maybe it was this way for my parent-in-law. I don't know.)

Marriage is work. The following episode of Issues, Etc. is about vocation - any vocation - and how God is at work through people to serve their neighbors. New concept: my husband is my neighbor.

* Actually the 19th was our civil ceremony. In Japan, you must marry at the designated city office where you live. First we had to go to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo. Then we had to go the Japanese city hall. Two days later on the 21st was the day our family and friends came to witness our pledge to each other in the presence of God.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Save your Unsolicited White House Emails

So the idea was to help the White House keep track of anyone that wasn't in agreement with Barack Obama's "healthcare" plan, be it in an email, or a website or blog, or even casual conversation! Isn't that like ---- uh, tattling? When I first saw that report, I sarcastically thought, hey, I'll just send the White House their own link. I didn't, though. I wasn't willing to have them collect my data (not that they probably don't have it anyway).

But then I learned that there were a lot of people who actually did that. There were even some who tattled on themselves. Cunning, huh? Americans with spunk!

After that there was the question that Major Garrett asked Robert Gibbs: Why are people who have never signed up to receive emails from the White House receiving emails from the White House? Look at Garrett's face? I'm suspicious, too. And Gibbs? Pathetically patronizing a legitimate question.

You would think that these "lawmakers" would know that "there is a right way to collect peoples emails and a wrong way to do it. Collecting solicited emails – good. Collecting unsolicited emails – bad." Read Obama’s Legal Troubles Starting To Grow. Citizen Spy Program – Public Relations Nightmare? And How The Heck Did I Get I Get An Email From David Axelrod? It'sabout the backlash of the White House's fishy directives here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

On Good Faith and Intellectual Honesty

Today I learned:

Who M. Cherif Bassiouni is:
(from wikipedia)
M. Cherif Bassiouni is a United Nations war crimes expert. He is a Distinguished Research Professor of Law at DePaul University College of Law in Chicago (since 1964) and President of the university's International Human Rights Law Institute (1990-2006; 2007-09).[1] He is also President of the Istituto Superiore Internazionale di Scienze Criminali (International Institute of Higher Studies in Criminal Sciences) (ISISC) in Siracusa, Italy (since 1988), he was also Dean of ISISC (1976-1988). He was the Secretary General of the International Association of Penal Law (Internationale Association De Droit Penal) (IADP) from 1974-1989, he was the President of the IADP from 1989-2004, and is currently the Honorary President of IADP. He has been a non-resident Professor of Criminal Law at the University of Cairo since 1996, and was a Guest Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. in 1972. He was also a Visiting Professor of Law at New York University Law School in 1971, and was a Fulbright-Hays Professor of International Criminal Law at the University of Freiburg, Germany in 1970. In addition, he is a frequent lecturer at universities in the U.S. and abroad. He is also admitted to the practice of law in Illinois, Washington, D.C., the United States Supreme Court, and the Second, Fifth, Seventh, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits and the United States Court of Military Appeals. He is also admitted to practice before the Egyptian Supreme Court. He has handled many international cases on extradition and international cooperation in criminal matters, and coordinated major litigation involving multiple parties, including states, on matters involving international law. In 2007, he was awarded the Hague Prize for International Law for his "distinguished contribution in the field of international law". The winner of the Hague Prize is given the honour of selecting the fundamental principal of law on which the Hague Colloquium will be organized.

The qualifications of practicing law in New York, according to a comment on the
best thread I read today:
Whenever I see a post or story regarding an attorney of the Muslim faith, I am reminded of a paradoxical story concerning constitutional law and the qualifications to practice law here in New York (all other states have similiar rules). The background: a number of organizations and individuals representing a "class" of law students and law graduates challenged the constitutionality of New York's system for screening applicants for admission to the New York Bar. Note that this was the late 1960's and the big concern at the time was Communism, but it is still relevant today. Most noticeable was their issue with two questions the applicant was given on the questionnaire:

"26. (a) Have you ever organized or helped to organize or become a member of any organization or group of persons which, during the period of your membership or association, you knew was advocating or teaching that the government of the United States or any state or any political subdivision thereof should be overthrown or overturned by force, violence or any unlawful means? _____ If your answer is in the affirmative, state the facts below. [401 U.S. 154, 165]

"(b) If your answer to (a) is in the affirmative, did you, during the period of such membership or association, have the specific intent to further the aims of such organization or group of persons to overthrow or overturn the government of the United States or any state or any political subdivision thereof by force, violence or any unlawful means?

"27. (a) Is there any reason why you cannot take and subscribe to an oath or affirmation that you will support the constitutions of the United States and of the State of New York? If there is, please explain.

"(b) Can you conscientiously, and do you, affirm that you are, without any mental reservation, loyal to and ready to support the Constitution of the United States?" _______.

The Supreme Court ruled in LAW STUDENTS RESEARCH COUNCIL v. WADMOND, 401 U.S. 154 (1971), that New York's Rule that an applicant furnish proof that he "believes in the form of government of the United States and is loyal to such government," is not constitutionally invalid in light of appellees' construction that the Rule places no burden of proof on the applicant, that the "form of government" and the "government" refer solely to the Constitution, and that "belief" and "loyalty" mean no more than willingness to take the constitutional oath and ability to do so in good faith. Pp. 161-164. They also found that the challenged items on the modified questionnaire are not constitutionally invalid, as one is precisely tailored to conform to this Court's decisions on organizational membership and association, and the other is merely supportive of appellees' task of ascertaining the applicant's good faith in taking the constitutional oath. Pp. 164-166.

To quickly summarize the Supreme Courts ruling and New York's requirements to practice law:
1. You must believe in and be loyal to the form of government of the United State;
2. That form of government refers to the Constitution;
3. You must take an oath to that effect;
4. That oath must be made in good faith;
5. Your good faith may be determined by your organizational membership and associations.

In light of the SCOTUS [Supreme Court of the United States] ruling, one can legitimately ask the question: how is it possible for any Muslim to practice law in the United States? Has any attempt been made to disbar attorneys (especially CAIR's) who have shown a preference for sharia or have associated with or supported any number of Islamic organizations devoted to the destruction of the US and the Constitution?

How to do good to someone who opposes you. Luke 6:35.

Go and read for yourself about
An Exchange with an Islamic Scholar. Robert Spencer is good at what he does.

Honor killinghas come to America. Rifqa, you are in my prayers.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Obama's "Health Care" - One of the Things that Bothers Me

It doesn't seem to be much about health. And the care doesn't sound very impressive, either. (.....thinking of my mom and her cancer.....)

'Death Panels' in Oregon?
Ethel C. Fenig

Perhaps former Governor Sarah Palin (R-Alaska) was referring to the tragic predicament of Barbara Wagner of Oregon when she wrote how she feared for the fate of her Down Syndrome son under "Obama's 'Death Panels.' "

Susan Donaldson James of ABC News reports on the letter Ms. Wagner received from the Oregon Health Plan in response to a $4000 a month drug her doctor prescribed after her lung cancer, long in remission, returned..

the insurance company refused to pay.

What the Oregon Health Plan did agree to cover, however, were drugs for a physician-assisted death. Those drugs would cost about $50.

Hmmmm, let's do the math. Yep, a one time prescription of $50 sure is cheaper than $4000 a month for who knows how many months to keep a 64 year old woman alive. So the Oregon "Death Panel" graciously offered suicide pills. Or doctor assisted murder.

But Ms. Wagner had an understandably different reaction.

"It was horrible," Wagner told "I got a letter in the mail that basically said if you want to take the pills, we will help you get that from the doctor and we will stand there and watch you die. But we won't give you the medication to live."

Ah, but Ms. Wagner wanted to live. And she didn't care what the Oregon "Death Panel" - uhm, Oregon Health Plan decided. And her situation is not unique.

But a 1998 study from Georgetown University's Center for Clinical Bioethics found a strong link between cost-cutting pressures on physicians and their willingness to prescribe lethal drugs to patients -- were it legal to do so.

The study warns that there must be "a sobering degree of caution in legalizing [assisted death] in a medical care environment that is characterized by increasing pressure on physicians to control the cost of care."

Cancer drugs can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $6,000 a month. The cost of lethal medication, on the other hand, is about $35 to $50.

So Sarah Palin's "death panels" aren't as quite off the mark as those afflicted by Palin Derangement Syndrome and mocking her seem to think. Apparently they're called Centers for Bioethics and people are sincerely grappling with these issues. The issues are deep, the problems are complex. And alas there are no easy answers. But let's keep the Barbara Wagners in mind. For one day, a loved one may be in the same predicament. Or you.

American Thinker

Monday, August 10, 2009

Jesus Chuckled?

The book has been on my Books-I-Should-Read-Someday list. Below are a few excerpts that popped out at me, and made me think that maybe I never will get around to reading this book afterall.

Chuckling in the Shack

Andrew Walker, who has lectured on the theology of The Shack at King’s College, London, writes here about his personal view of the book.

I've tried very hard to like The Shack, especially having read some of the nonsense that its traducers have written about it. The claims by some evangelicals, for example, that the book is riddled with heresies are simply wrong. William Young, the author, may be unorthodox, but he is not on the whole heterodox. In my view, the book is more personal catharsis and therapy than Christian doctrine, despite Young's claim that he wrote it as a testament of his religious beliefs for his children and grandchildren.

It must seem churlish of me to criticise a book which hundreds if not thousands of people claim has changed their lives. At the very least, you'd think I could have the decency to acknowledge that The Shack has brought Christian ideas out of the ghetto and into the heart of the secular marketplace. And yet, despite these caveats, I cannot quite shake off my irritation with the book. I'll begin with a small issue that has snowballed in my mind to become a river I cannot cross. The word "cross" brings me to Jesus, and after a snippet of theology and a snatch of scripture, I'll show why I had trouble at The Shack.

We learn about God's love for the world and are able to love him in return by grasping the fact that the incarnation of His Son had serious consequences for Jesus as well as for us. He assumed our flesh so we could be restored to our own good selves, but in taking into his divine person our human nature and sharing it with his own, he became a "man of sorrows and acquainted with grief". For us, restoration entailed reconciliation with God; but for Jesus it entailed death on a Roman gibbet.

This Son of God become Son of Man is at his most poignant and vulnerable in the Garden of Gethsemane when, afraid of dying and in great distress, he calls on his heavenly Father to rescue him from his anticipated torture. His prayer is in a language that touches our hearts; he addresses his Father as "Abba", an Aramaic term of intimacy close to the English word "daddy", but closer still to the French tu. But we also have a foretaste of the vulnerable and frail humanity of Jesus from the shortest verse in the Bible, "Jesus wept". While a holy God demands our obedience and earns our respect, a weeping Jesus commands our love and wins our loyalty.

By contrast, in The Shack, Jesus seems to be done with weeping. We learn in the shortest trope of the novel that "Jesus chuckled". This chuckling Jesus chortles and giggles his way through the book, but it is hard to believe that like the first disciples we would give up our lives and follow him, let alone love him.


The trouble for me with the tittering Trinity is best demonstrated by the Jesus character in The Shack. He does not resonate with the Jesus who wept in the Gospel. With St Thomas, I am prepared to call Jesus "Lord and God", but the Jesus of The Shack is another matter. When he is out fishing with Mack, he rebuts his suggestion that he could use his power to catch fish with a surprising reply. "'What would be the fun in that then, eh?' He looked up and grinned." At this point, I am compelled irreverently to call Young's Jesus a "chucklehead" – not a divine title, admittedly, not even a surrogate for a "holy fool", but according to most dictionaries, "a stupid person or a dolt".

Read the whole articlehere.

HT: 92nd & State

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Summer Delight! - Yaki Nasu (Japanese Deep Fried Eggplant)

Yeah! It's finally really SUMMER TIME for me! So along with summer, comes time to spend cooking s-l-o-w food. Thanks go to Nozomi for taking the photos.

Step 1

Wash the eggplant and cut according to the size you like. These eggplants were a bit smaller than the usual Japanese variety. I cut them in half and then made three slice marks in the skin side. Not sure that it matters much, but it may help lessen the cooking time. It does add a bit of a decoration, though, to have the cuttings.

Step 2

Fry in your tempura vat until they look just right.

Let them drain and cool off for a bit.

Step 3
Dip in soy sauce with grated ginger or garlic. Sooooo good.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Swine Flu Again - It's Kind of Like Recycling

No, the vaccine itself is not what's recycled. It's the whole rigmarole. In the late 1970s it was pretty much limited to America; thirty years later it extends to the entire globe! Of course, we should be following healthy hygiene - washing hands after using the toilet and before eating, to name the most obvious. But am I the only one that thinks with every change of the season, some new "fatal disease" will put an end to a large number of the world population is going a bit extreme?

The following clips are from a U.S. television program called, Sixty Minutes on the swine flu vaccine debacle in the late 1970s.

HT Dr. Mercola

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Grandma's Cancer - July Update

Was it back in February I first posted that my mom has cancer? The doctors told her it was stage four lung cancer, that she'd undergo radiation and chemotherapy to help her deal with pain and in perhaps 6-12 months call in hospice.

I have four younger sisters, so to keep track of who's who, I'll use the nicknames my late father used for us when we were growing up. #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5. Original, huh? (I'm #1 for those who don't already know that.)

Back to the update. As soon as #2 and #5 learned of Grandma's condition, they put their heads together to be sure that alternating weeks each of them would be able to take care of Grandma. Every Wednesday she would go for treatment, and then return to either #2's home/family for a week or her own home with #5 keeping daily watch on her reactions to the treatments. #4, along with two of her own four children and the girlfriend of one of those children, drove from one end of the state to the other to spend a week at #5's and spend time with Grandma.

The only thing #1 has been able to do is call weekly and have fun heart-to-heart chats with Grandma. I had been hoping to go in August and spend the month with Grandma (and my daughter Megumi, too, of course!), but unfortunately I will not be able to go afterall.

Sorry, back to the update! When all of this began, in fact, the only reason Grandma learned of the cancer at all, she felt a terrble pain in her left foot. Apparently, the cancer had spread throughout her body and the bones in her foot simply crumbled. They gave her a "boot," and she was able to keep mobile. She was also told that she would have to gain weight before beginning treatments. She tried to, but I'm not certain that she gained much. Anyway, treatments began.

While she lost all of her hair, she never suffered any nausea or pain at all! The chemo did tire her, but usually a day of rest was all she needed to feel like she could get up and do things she normally did. During the past month of phone calls, she kept telling me that her doctor said that the cancer was GONE! At least the cancer that had spread throughout her body. The growth in her lung, which is where they suppose the cancer originated, was half the size it initially was in February. She was given hope that she wouldn't have to return to the doctor for three whole months! False hope, that is.

At this point, she is stopping the radiation and the chemotherapy and is beginning a new treatment. #2 gave me the details (which I still might not be giving you correctly here*): Every three weeks Grandma will go in to receive a B 12 shot in her left arm (question for Grandma/doctor - why left? maybe because the cancer is in the left lung?), a bag of a new drug (question for Grandma/doctor - name of medicine?), and everyday she has to take one dose of folic acid (at the exact same time every day! Don't forget and don't take two!) This will continue for three months. Then the doctors will do more tests to see what's what.

So that's the way things are at the moment. One of the things Grandma said, "The bad thing about getting better is people don't come around and ask you how you're doing so much anymore." I had to laugh, but it added a poignancy to my own inability to get over the ocean to spend the summer with her. I was going to help her and #3 sort through her photos.

But it'll be okay. At least thus far our prayers that she not have to endure the pain have been answered. Thank you, Lord, for that.

*corrections from #2-5 are more than welcome!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Grace and Peace

Today's writing in the Treasury of Daily Prayer:

Grace and peace – these two words embrace the whole of Christianity. Grace forgives sin, and peace stills the conscience. The two devils who plague us are sin and conscience, the power of the Law the sting of sin
(1 Cor. 15:56)
. But Christ has conquered these two monsters and trodden them underfoot, both in this age and in the age to come. The world does not know this, therefore it cannot teach anything sure about how to overcome sin, conscience, and death. Only Christians have this kind of teaching and are equipped and armed with it, so that they can overcome sin, despair, and eternal death. It is a teaching that is given only by God; it does not proceed from free will, nor was it invented by human reason or wisdom.

These two words, “grace” and “peace,” contain a summary of all of Christianity. Grace contains the forgiveness of sins, a joyful peace, and a quiet conscience. But peace is impossible unless sin has first been forgiven, for the Law accuses and terrifies the conscience on account of sin. And the sin that the conscience feels cannot be removed by pilgrimages, vigils, labors, efforts, vows, or any other works; in fact, sin is increased by works. The more we work and sweat to extricate ourselves from sin, the worse off we are. For there is no way to remove sin except by grace… Because the world does not understand this doctrine, it neither can nor will tolerate it. It brags about free will, about our powers, about our works – all these as means by which to earn and attain grace and peace, that is, the forgiveness of sins and a joyful conscience. But the conscience cannot be quiet and joyful unless it has peace though the grace, that is, through the forgiveness of sins promised in Christ…. Therefore your bones and mine will know no rest until we hear the Word of grace and cling to it firmly and faithfully.

~Martin Luther, Luther’s Works, Vol. 26

Friday, July 10, 2009

A Mother's Sacrifice

All mothers make sacrfices of one kind or another. When I saw this one at Robert Spencer's site, I could not believe it. What an entirely different way of thinking. I am speechless. I shouldn't be, though, so I'll post it here.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Does Giving your Heart to Jesus Save You?

Devotional writing for June 22nd in the Treasury of Daily Prayer.

"I just want you to know from the beginning, sir, that I am a believer, " [the young Pastor Fridfeldt] said [to the older pastor]....
"So you are a believer, I'm glad to hear that. What do you believe in?"
Fridfeldt stared dumbfounded at his superior....
"But, sir, I am simply saying that I am a believer."
"Yes, I hear that, my boy. But what is it that you believe in?"
Fridfeldt was almost speechless.
"But don't you know, sir, what it means to be a believer?"
"That is a word which can stand for things that differ greatly, my boy. I ask only what it is that you believe in."
"In Jesus, of course," answered Fridfeldt, raising his voice. "I mean - I mean that I have given him my heart."
"Do you consider that something to give him?"
By this time, Fridfeldt was almost in tears.
"But sir, if you do not give your heart to Jesus, you cannot be saved."
"You are right, my boy. And it is just as true that, if you think you are saved because you give Jesus your heart, you will not be saved. You see, my boy," he continued reassuringly, as he continued to look at the young pastor's face, in which uncertainty and resentment were shown in a struggle for the upper hand, "it is one thing to choose Jesus as one's Lord and Savior, to give him one's heart and commit oneself to him, and that he now accepts one into his little flock; it is a very different thing to believe on him as a Redeemer of sinners, of whom one is chief. One does not choose a Redeemer for oneself, you understand, nor give one's heart to him. The heart is a rusty old can on a junk heap. A fine birthday gift, indeed! But a wonderful Lord passes by, and has mercy on the wretched tin can, sticks his walking cane through it, and rescues it from the junk pile and takes it home with him. That is how it is."
~Bo Giertz, The Hammer of God

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Grief Struck

This story is a sad one. While I don't agree with the concept of paying tribute to this bereaved couple, I am overwhelmed by the grief and despair that must have experienced. Mingled with the sorrow of the circumstances of their son's disability and the sacrifices the parents made to care for him, is that they didn't know or didn't believe that there was One to Whom they could lean on. Whenever I hear of these kinds of stories, where people no longer have hope to live, these first part of Isaiah 53 runs through my head: Surely He has borne our griefs.

May the Lord have mercy on all who no longer have hope to carry on in this world.

Tributes pour in for Japanese mother who leapt to death with husband, dead sonFriday 05th June,


The Putticks committed suicide together on Sunday evening by leaping off a 160-meter-high cliff face on Britain’s south coast. They were carrying a rucksack which contained the body of their son, who died from meningitis on Friday.

Kazumi, 44, and Neil, 34, decided to end their lives at Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, which is a notorious suicide spot. What makes this case highly unusual is that it involved a family.

Some have speculated that it has echoes of “shinju,” the Japanese tradition of group suicide in which those bound together by love choose to remain together in death.

Friends and family are said to be shocked at the news. Some believe the couple were so devastated at the death of the son, whom they doted upon and supported continuously, that they decided life was no longer worth living.

Neil and Kazumi first met at university in Britain and married 12 years ago. They started their married life in a picturesque Wiltshire village, about 150 kilometers west of London.

Neighbors have described them as happily married and doting parents to Samuel who was born five years ago.

Then, in 2005, their idyllic life came to an end when Kazumi and Samuel were involved in a car accident which was not their fault. Kazumi broke her legs in the accident but her son, then 18 months old, suffered serious spinal injuries during the crash.

Using compensation money, the family moved into a bigger home nearby which was kitted out with equipment to make it easier for Samuel to live.

Both Neil and Kazumi gave up their jobs to look after Samuel, as well as receiving daily visits from nurses. Huddy recalls that the couple effectively ‘‘retreated’’ in order to focus everything on their son and providing him with round-the-clock care.

Samuel was unable to breathe unaided and had to be fed with oxygen. Samuel, whose mental capacity was not affected by the accident, got about in a wheelchair which he directed by blowing through an air tube. The injury was so rare that there had been no documented case of it in children.

In 2006, Neil wrote on a website, which was raising money for Samuel, ‘‘He was a normal, healthy active boy before, but because of someone’s careless driving, he is now as he is.’’

‘‘We are so very proud of how he has survived, who he now is and how he continues to smile and be so damn strong in spite of everything. He is simply amazing.’’

In January, he wrote, ‘‘As a family we live life now, but I wait for the day that Sam does not have to go through the medical procedures he has to go through every day to keep him alive.’’

‘‘I wait for the day that I hear that there has been a breakthrough.’’

But the family’s world was to come shattering around them on May 26 when Samuel was taken ill with meningitis. They had only recently returned from a two-week trip to Japan to see Kazumi’s parents.

The illness took hold very quickly and on Friday doctors at the local hospital said that there was nothing that they could any more to help Samuel.

Kazumi and Neil were allowed to take their son home to die and he passed away that evening.

It was then on the Sunday that the couple decided to drive to Beachy Head, along with Samuel’s body, and take their own lives.

They left their estate car and, carrying a rucksack with their dead son inside, threw themselves off the cliff face. It is thought they died instantly.

You can click the blog title for the complete story and readers' comments.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Cold is Better

My sisters and I used to watch the Smothers Brothers way back when. Had to test myself today to see if laughing would be a problem. Laughter is a funny thing. It's good and necessary at times. I like to laugh. But laughing often gets me into coughing fits that are hard to get out of. I laughed without coughing, so I should be okay back at work tomorrow. That's a relief!

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Blogging at the End of the List

Keeping a diary was never my forte, and blogging is about the same. With April, comes the new school year here in Japan. Nozomi and Makoto are pretty well settled into their new routines. Long days for high schoolers, which also lengthens the day for the parents who have to shuttle them to and from school (because it's more economical than public transportation). Just when I thought I was getting into the rhythm, I started a sore throat.

Thanks to another timely blog on the miracle cure,

I gave it a try. Only got worse! The past two nights I spent most of the time coughing, had a few breathing fits, and this morning my husband took me to the hospital.

Being the weekend, the staff was not the same as on weekdays. I've been seeing a doctor for suspected asthma for about four years now, I think. That's the hospital I went to today. I was given an IV, which was supposed to stop my coughing. It didn't. The doctor then suggested that I be admitted. For two weeks. For observation. Wow! That's a long time to be observed.

I came home with 3 days of medication, and I'll go back again on Tuesday. I don't know why, but it seems like I get something like this that poops me out when it's time to be productive and on the go! Instead, I get put in the back seat -- literally, and my family has to cover for me. Well, that's the good part, but it's going to make their days a bit tougher in the next few weeks.

Thanks for the yummy supper tonight, girls! And for doing the laundry, son. And the dishes, Dad.

PS. I forgot to add thanks to Nozomi for doing a lot of the taxi service for her little brother! Tonight she gave us her milage update. Last week whe had been getting about 16 kilometers per liter of gas. This week a little over 18 km per lr, because she turned off her engine at all stop lights. Toot, toot!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Finally - A Debate

Like Al Gore, I am not a scientist, so the best I can do is read what I can about the global warming (or not) claims. I don't understand why he refuses to debate, though. (My snarky side says it's because he knows he's just pulling our legs and he can't debate because he'll lose.)

Well, I don't have time right now to watch this one (I've spent more than enough time going through my google reader until I got to this item!), but I'll post it here to view when I have more time.

(I'm probably the only blogger that puts things on her blog as a "To Do List." But then, if I didn't, I'd lose it. I know.)

Friday, April 17, 2009

My March Bunch!

Here is the bunch that made March 2009 one we'll always remember!

(From the top = Megumi's boyfriend, Megumi, Makoto, Nozomi, Ai)

Sunday, April 5, 2009

I'm Not Amish Afterall

It took a while, but the quilt for my mom got finished. If I remember correctly, I began this about 5 years ago. It was going to be at least 3 times bigger than it came out in the end. But at least it's a good-sized lap quilt. And it's DONE! Megumi took it back to the states for me to give to my mom ASAP. It was a lot of fun playing with the patterns, and I learned a lot about quilting that I didn't know before. (I should mention that I'm not exactly a beginner, but I'm still a real novice.) First, it really would be easier to put the whole thing together if all the blocks where the same size. Second, don't ever start using your main fabric for other smaller projects when you're not absolutely sure you have enough for the project you intended to use it for.

I've heard that the Amish always put an intentional mistake in their quilts. Well, I'm not Amish. None of my mistakes were intentional. Two places puckered badly, but I just had to keep forging ahead so that the quilt would get delivered. There are also two other flubs. I only saw one at first, and it gave me the idea to joke that I must be Amish and that mistake was not really a mistake at all but my design. But then, as I was preparing this blog, I found the second one. So, I guess I cannot fool anybody, huh?

Let me know if you can find the two mistakes. (But, please be kind if you find more.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

"Mom, I passed."

Examination Hell is now behind us! A very nervous Makoto went with his dad yesterday to look at the board outside of the high school he was hoping to enter. His number was there.

I was on the other side of town, waiting in the parking lot of the supermarket I frequent for his call. What a happy call it was. And after he told me, I knew just what to get for supper! Last night we got to celebrate his good news.

We also got to congratulate Nozomi for bringing home her driver's license yesterday. She passed, too.

Three down, one to go. Next year Ai will be taking her high school entrance exams. Until then.... we can go back to "normal."

Monday, March 2, 2009

A BIG This-and-That Week at Our House

Ai came home from school feverish last week Thursday. Friday the doctor confirmed that she has influenza, and she is quite tired of be sick and tired by now.

Today Nozomi graduated from high school. Anata and I went to the ceremony and the reception in the gym afterwards. After that we went home and nodded off for a while.

Tomorrow Megumi and her boyfriend will arrive in Japan and take the shinkansen up to stay with us for 4 weeks! The siblings are excited. It's nearly 3 years since they've seen their big sister.

Thursday Makoto will be taking his last high school entrance exam. Saturday will be his junior high school graduation ceremony.

And finally on Sunday we will have a BIG celebration with sekihan (azuki bean rice), o-sashimi, and beer as long as no one else gets influenza!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Lent & Giving Up

Joel 2:12-19 ESV

Return to the LORD
12 "Yet even now," declares the LORD,
"return to me with all your heart,
with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning;
13 and rend your hearts and not your garments."
Return to the LORD your God,
for he is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love;
and he relents over disaster.
14 Who knows whether he will not turn and relent,
and leave a blessing behind him,
a grain offering and a drink offering
for the LORD your God?
15 Blow the trumpet in Zion;
consecrate a fast;
call a solemn assembly;
16 gather the people.
Consecrate the congregation;
assemble the elders;
gather the children,
even nursing infants.
Let the bridegroom leave his room,
and the bride her chamber.
17 Between the vestibule and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep
and say, "Spare your people, O LORD,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
a byword among the nations.
Why should they say among the peoples,
'Where is their God?'"

The LORD Had Pity
18 Then the LORD became jealous for his land
and had pity on his people.
19 The LORD answered and said to his people,"Behold,I am sending to you
grain, wine, and oil,
and you will be satisfied;
and I will no more make you
a reproach among the nations.

Lent began today. Lent is the time of 40 days before Easter. Akin to Jesus' forty days in the desert in (Matthew 4), before He began His public ministry. Another parallel is the forty years the Israelites spent in the wilderness in (Numbers 14).A time for Christians to ponder our mortality and our need for a savior.

Many people "give up" something for Lent as a way to remind themselves of what sufferings Christ endured for us.

I think I gave up something only once in my life. When I was in 7th grade, I decided I was going to show Jesus how much I loved Him by giving up donuts. All I can remember now is that at the end of the service the very first Sunday after Ash Wednesday, I was beside myself with grief. I had already broken my promise! After church my mom and Mrs. W. did their best to console me. But, I could not/would not be forgiven. I was so sure that I would never be "good enough" for Jesus. Little did I understand that I did not have to give up something to prove my love.

Giving up ought to be a means of learning to discipline ourselves. An example might be to give up a meal, once a day or once a week, so that we have time to devote to prayers or the study of God's Word. Or so that the money we save from eating less may be given to the poor and needy.

Although I understand Lent a tad better than I did when I was in junior high school, I still lack the discipline to give up something. This year, however, my mother has cancer. The doctors have given her X amount of time to live. Thus, I yearn to see my mother spend her final days on Earth with as little pain and strife as possible. Knowing that she is a baptized and believing child of God, I do not fear the death that is sure to come sooner than I expected it might, though I definitely will mourn. However, for her sake, I will "give up" time each day to pray that she will know that her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will pour His grace and mercy on her "for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love."

This Lent it looks like God will be preparing me (and all of my family) to give up our mother and grandmother. Soon she will return to the Lord her God.

(This is going to be hard.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Blogging Madness

I don't know what I'm doing! Last night I added some music. As you can see part of the display gets lost on the right side of the page, so you can't turn the volume down.

At the bottom of the page I added a little free MP3 gadget. Trying to listen to that one is impossible because my other music is blasting away at the same time!

Yet again another example of how I go about doing something before I really know what I'm doing. Good grief!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Doing Things the Wrong Way: Part 1

It dawned on me the other day how many times I've totally screwed things up because I went ahead and did it just so it got done. I mean, it doesn't really matter if it's done properly, right? Much more important is that it gets done at all! Here are examples of things I have flubbed at and will never do again.

A Few Stories of My Early Years of Cooking for My Husband

Curry Rice:
Anata: This curry has no flavor.
Raggedy: Yeah, should I add more curry powder?
A: I think it needs more salt.
R: Okay. (Adds a teaspoon of salt to the pot.)
A: I think it needs more.
R: More? Okay. (Adds a tablespoon.)
A: This still tastes bland.
R: You want more? (In a huffy tone.) [Thinking to self: I'll give you more!] (Adds half a cup to the pot.) How's this?!?!
A: What are you trying to feed me? The ocean!

Fileting a Fish:
R: This recipe says I have to sanmaioroshi the fish before I fry it. What does sanmaioroshi mean?
A: Cut it in three parts.
R: ? (Does the operation, but thinks it's not quite the way it's supposed to be.) I don't think this is right. I've never seen anything like this served in any restaurants.
A: Why did you cut it that way? I said cut it in three parts!
R: It's in three parts. The head, the middle and the tail.
A: It's supposed to be the left side, the right side and the bones!
R: Oh. Why didn't you say so?
A: I did!

A: This is a great fire! And we've got sausage and cheese to go with the bread!
R: (Slices the sausage and put the slices on the wire rack to cook over the little campfire.) ? Hmmm, oh well.
A: (Puts the first slice in mouth and grimaces. Then tongues starts working to untangle the morsel in mouth.) What on earth is this?
R: Ew. I don't know. It looks like plastic.
A: Hey! It's the sausage casing! Why didn't you take it off before you cooked it?
R: I took off the packaging, of course, but I didn't even know there was another film of plastic around it. I'm sorry. [Thinks to self: Will I never learn?]

Some things get learned the hard way. I think you'll agree that it's better to know the way something should be done before doing it than vice versa!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

You Give Back the Trademark That We Didn't Want Anymore Anyway and Don't Say Anything Negative About Us or We'll Have to Sue You

Just when I was thinking I should blog about a radio program that I canNOT live without (I probably can, but hope not to), and I was going to share how good the host and producer are at their work, and I was thinking of how devastated I was in March 2008 (that's 11 months ago) when the show suddenly disappeared, and I wanted to let my friends and family in on what has happened since then - a new fiasco has developed!

To make a long story short, Issues, Etc. is a Christian program that strives to "equip the saints of all believers" and deals with current issues "for the thinking Christian." It used to be part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod's radio station. For some reason it was suddenly yanked off the air last year on Holy Tuesday. (March 18, 2008, the Tuesday before Easter) Many listeners sought for answers, contacting the radio station and LCMS Synod headquarters in St. Louis, Missouri, only to be told that the show was taken off the air for programmatic reasons. Along with the rude dismissal of Pastor Todd Wilken (host) and Jeff Schwarz (producer), all of their archived materials were removed from the KFUO radio's website. It was as if they (LCMS, Inc.) didn't want to have any record that such a program ever even existed.

In June, the program was resurrected, and is now broadcasting on its own. However, Pastor Wilken and Jeff Schwarz are being threatened with a lawsuit. For a more comprehensive understanding of the happenings, you can go to Brothers of John the Steadfast or read "An Open Letter to the LCMS Board of Directors" and "Kieschnick's Contradictory Statements" at Extreme Theology

A good condensed explanation at Stand Firm along with a request to sign a petition for any legal actions to be dropped.

I don't normally get political or sign petitions, but in this case President Gerald Kieschnick and the Board of Directors have made it pretty clear that they would like to silence these two men. All I can think to ask is the Lutheran question, "What does this mean?"

And if you have never heard one of their programs yet, here's a sample.
Vocation: God's Will for Your Life
Guest: Dr. Steven Hein of the Concordia Institute for Christian Studies

Please add your name to the End the Issues,, Etc. Trademark Dispute Petition! And become an On Demand Listener, too. They love their On Demand listeners!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Humans Have Weather Rights!?

Something tells me that the States have an inclination to come to the rescue?

UN Report: Extreme Weather Violates Human Rights
by UN Watch- at February 12, 2009 in High Commissioner of Human Rights and Human Rights Council.
A/HRC/10/61, 15 January 2009

Report of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between climate change and human rights: the right to self-determination.

40. Sea level rise and extreme weather events related to climate change are threatening the habitability and, in the longer term, the territorial existence of a number of low-lying island States. Equally, changes in the climate threaten to deprive indigenous peoples of their traditional territories and sources of livelihood. Either of these impacts would have implications for the right to self-determination.

41. The inundation and disappearance of small island States would have implications for the right to self-determination, as well as for the full range of human rights for which individuals depend on the State for their protection. The disappearance of a State for climate change-related reasons would give rise to a range of legal questions, including concerning the status of people inhabiting such disappearing territories and the protection afforded to them under international law (discussed further below). While there is no clear precedence to follow, it is clear that insofar as climate change poses a threat to the right of peoples to self-determination, States have a duty to take positive action, individually and jointly, to address and avert this threat. Equally, States have an obligation to take action to avert climate change impacts which threaten the cultural and social identity of indigenous peoples.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

More than Enough!

In my Treasury of Daily Prayer, the New Testament reading for yesterday was about Jesus and the Woman of Samaria at the well. He told her, "The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (John 4: 15) Below is the writing along with it with parts in bold that impressed me with how generous our Lord and Savior is.

But if we do want to boast, then let us boast that we receive from the fullness of Christ, that we are enlightened by Him, attain forgiveness of sin, and become children of God through Him. For this is the sum and substance of it all: Whoever wishes to be safe guarded from the devil's might and to escape sin and death must draw from this well, Christ; from Him flows all salvation and eternal bliss. This fountain is inexhaustible; it is full of grace and truth before God; it never fails no matter how much we draw from it. Even if we all dip from it without stopping, it cannot be emptied, but it remains a perennnial fount of all frace and trugh, and unfathomable well, an eternal fountain. The more we draw from it, the more it gives. Such water, as St. John remarks later, wells up to eternal life. (John 4:1-4).

The sun is not dimmed and darkened by shining on so many people or by providing the entire wold with its light and bright splendor. It retains its light intact. It loses nothing; it is immeasurable, perhaps able to illumine ten more worlds. I suppose that a hundred thousand candles can be ignited from one light, and still this light will not lose any of its brilliance. Likewise, a learned man can educate a thousand scholars without forfeiting any of his own learning. The more he shares with others, the more he has himself. Thus Christ, our Lord, to whom we must flee and of whom we must ask all, is an interminable well, the chief course of all grace, truth, righteousness, wisdom, and life, without limit, measure, or end. Even if the whole world were to draw from this fountain enough grace and truth to transform all people into angels, still it would not lose as much as a drop. This fountain constantly overflows with sheer grace. Whoever wishes to enjoy Christ's grace -and no one is excluded- let him come and receive it from Him. You will never drain this fountain of living water, it will never run dry. You will all draw from it much more than enough, and yet it will remain a perennial well.

~from Martin Luther's sermons on the Gospel of St. John, p. 134 in vol. 22 of Luther's Works, American Edition

Friday, February 6, 2009

Entrance Exams are Two-Thirds Over

Makoto's results came today. One acceptance. Good work, Son! Only one more month and one more test to go now.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's Test Time Already?

Next week Makoto will be taking the entrance exams of two private high schools. He's been studying hard for the past few months. It's been incredible to witness, actually. He generally gets up at 5:00 a.m. and puts in 2 hours before breakfast. After school he's back in his study area for 2 hours before supper and 4 or 5 after. One week from today, he'll know his results of these two exams. Even if he's accepted at one or both, he'll still be studying for the public high school exam one month later. Regardless of the results, I am impressed and proud of his determination to discpline himself without grumbling. I hate to admit that I didn't think he would be this hardworking.

Moral learned: Mom is the one that has some growing up to do!

I really hated "Examination Hell" three years ago when his sister Nozomi did it for the first time. (The eldest sister, Megumi, didn't go through it because she was planning on going to the U.S. for her higher educaiton and went a completely different path.) This year has not been at all as stressful as it was then. Still, next week will be a climatic one.

This weekend I have to make sure he eats well and sleeps well! And we have to keep little sister Ai away as she's had a fever and a sore throat the past few days.

Go, Makoto!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Anniversary Flowers

I know it's not done according to the "rules" of Ikebana. It looks all right to me. It's to welcome Anata home because today is special. On January 15th twenty-eight years ago, we had our first date. Did I really say 28? I am amazed.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Belated New Year's Resolution

Sacred Meditations by Johann Gerhardt

I stumbled up this a few months ago, and I couldn't locate it again. Today, as soon as I found it, I had to find a way to keep it right in-my-face accessible. My blog is a good spot.... as soon as I can master how to put it somewhere on the right side of the page, I'll move it there. Until then, I will read one entry a day.

It is so nice to be able to read again, not that I really ever quit reading. It's just that I would never ever find a treasure of this sort in my local bookstore.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Who Stole the Dried Persimmon from the Persimmon Cage?

Anata made this great structure where we hang peeled persimmons out to dry. This morning he went out to check on them, and some clever critter(s) got into it and took HALF of our treats! What a BUMMER! I'm guessing it was a monkey (or 2 or 3!), and they sure are lucky. We need to think again for next year.

Friday, January 9, 2009

First Toothache Ever!

Today I went to the dentist, and discovered I had a pretty big cavity. I knew I was experiencing pain, but I wasn't expecting to have such decay that needed to be removed. It's bearable, but it's there - the pain, I mean. Next week I go back to remove my temporary filling. If there's no continuing pain, I won't need a root canal. Oh, my!

Suddenly I want to say thank you to my parents for always taking me to the dentist before I even knew any pain. Note to self: Call the dentist as soon as you notice even minor pain when you chew. Do not tell yourself it's not that bad!

Monday, January 5, 2009

How I Kept Busy as 2009 Began

This Christmas-New Year "vacation" was quite nice. We stayed home and ate. Not a lot, but everything we ate was good. Well, almost everything. I won't go into the buckwheat noodles that were not cooked before filling everyone's soup bowls! Oh, that was pretty horrid. But, at least we had some dried noodles at hand and could make do well enough.

Here is some of the osechi, New Year's foods, I made.