Friday, February 27, 2015


Dear Blog, I have begun reading the Koran.  I have read it before.  But I don't want to write about it.  Not now.  The sorrows around the world are so deep, and there are so many things on my mind.

Here is a poem a friend of mine wrote.  Maybe it can lift us all up.


To live in the community
is a privilege we share,
to lean upon each other
and show that we care.

If you kindly lend an ear
when someone is troubled,
it's said that sorrow is halved
and real joy is doubled.

The hand that you helped
will touch back to you,
with blessings and thanks
for all that you do.

When we each give a little
from our bounteous treasure,
the one who received it
is blessed beyond measure.

When you give from your heart
to the one who's been gifted,
it's like rain on parched soil
and the burden is lifted.

We all need each other
so don't ever stop,
loving your neighbour
you're the cream of the crop.

When one of us suffers
we all tend to bleed,
hearts of compassion
strive to fill in the need.

And try though we may
we don't always know what to do,
though our efforts be feeble
this is our love gift to you.

So thank your dear friends
you have shared out of love,
for all these blessings freely given
are from our gracious Lord above.


I must add that M.P. is one of the most caring people you could ever meet and I am privileged to know her.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Saturday in Lent / Sexuality and Sharia

So many thoughts in our heads.

The Pope said:  for Lent, try to get rid of some "indifference".  Interesting phrase.  The Pope also worries about being killed.  He hopes it would not hurt too much, if it happened to him.

It sounds like he has thought about it.  

The paper is full of contradictory ideas.  The empowered feminists want to let women assert a strong sexuality, just like men.  Women should take back the word "slut" and make it positive.  Be a "good slut".  They find it backfires.  What a surprise.

Also, little children should be taught about being gay or lesbian or transgendered.  Most importantly they should learn about "consent."  

(Would you ever want to be a teacher again?)

A Christian school in England was shut down because children could not explain what lesbians do.

A Muslim woman wants to weir a veil while becoming a Canadian citizen.  It is her identity as Muslim, she insists.  She does not feel right if she does not wear it.  Sharia is all about not giving women rights.  We want to encourage this?  What about our right to see our fellow citizen's face?  Must we look at veils?  In any case, the newspaper says, it seems that is be important to distinguish between religious beliefs and simple habits.  Well, try and draw the line, here, with Islam.  The religion simply seems to be about keeping women down and covered, or enslaved.

ISIS wants to wreck mayhem in southern Europe and take Rome.  Islam has been there before.  It has been at the gates of Vienna.  But now adherents are our fellow citizens.  Some of them don't want us to see them.  Others want to chop our heads off.

This business with headcoverings is always a ploy.  If someone wants to show their piety with such measures, we can be sure that the devil is in it, Luther already told us that in regards to a variety of groups and their special garb.

Piety is not in the hat or veil.  Never.  Piety is a matter of the heart.

Oh, and in Saudi Arabia, the garb can only be black now.  No dark blue or browns allowed.  The police messed up the clothing stores.  These woman in the picture are not dressed properly.

Am I overcoming and indifference, Pope Francis?  

How does one speak to feminists and all these women insisting on choosing to  follow Sharia?

How do we speak to the children?

There should be freedom in clothing choices and fashions, though not all are tasteful or to be recommended.  Women should be basically decent and modest;  it is a good policy much of the time. 
But they also need to assert their human rights and equal value.  

"Honor Diaries" is on Netflix.  I have not seen it yet.  It seems intelligently made.  I will work on my care and love for women oppressed by Sharia law.-- You need not wear the veil.  It really is not part of your identity.  It is also not anything that matters in your relationship with God.  Not one bit. 

It only matters that our sins are forgiven, in Christ.  And our sins are much more serious than the wearing or not wearing of a certain item of clothing.

Let us search our hearts for love of God and neighbor.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

What is Lent

Ash Wednesday 2015 / "Breit aus die Fluegel beide"

Facebook is busy with posts about what fasting means.

As I am always on a diet, I don't really know what fasting is.  The Pope said to let it be a time for overcoming some indifference.  I like that.  Others, including St. Augustine point out that fasting without alms-giving is nothing much. On the other hand just the practice of this piety is to be a humbling prayerfully and spending time with God in repentance and preparation.

Then others warn:  don't make it about self-improvement.  Make sure it is about giving Jesus.

All of them good points.

There are all sorts of things one could let go of.  One other suggestion is to let go of false pride and ambition and to let "good enough be good enough" sometimes.  -- I don't really suffer much from perfectionism, so this one is more for my husband rather than myself.  So here I go repenting for others...  Not the idea.

I have decided, I will use the time to get my household more organized and get rid of superfluous items.  Maybe I can sell them and donate the money.   I have also decided that I can spend less time on Facebook and write someone a letter instead.

Also, I want to share this song, as I shared it with my husband last night.  My mother used to sing it for me and over me.  It made me cry to talk about it.  May the Lord gather in all his little chicks everywhere and guard them from the evil one.

Breit aus die Flügel beide 
o Jesu meine Freude
und nimm dein Kücklein ein
will Satan mich verschlingen
so laß die Englein singen
Dies Kind soll unverletzet sein.

In English translation:

Spread out both your wings
Oh, Jesus, my joy,
and take in your little chick.
If Satan desires to devour me,
so let the angels sing:
this child shall be unharmed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Islam and Women

It is not as if we are not all overwhelmed with the subject, but it bears being informed about.  While we all know that there are multitudes of honorable Muslim families who love each other dearly, we also know that there is much wrong in the teaching and the ideology.  The abuses need to be uncovered, acknowledged and remedied.  Of course, I would think that adherents should become followers of Jesus Christ, who loved and elevated women, teaching them with much grace, and restoring the most fallen with gentility.  But even without this, human decency teaches us differently from what is actually happening.

This show came across my stream today: a documentary movie called Honor Diaries is being highlighted.  We should all support it.

It looks like it is available on Netflix.  I will try and watch it with my husband.

Another piece that came across was this image summarizing some scriptures that perpetuate abuses:

Thirdly, Barbara Kay discussed the problem with the woman activist who demands to be sworn in as a new Canadian wearing a face veil.  She shows clearly how this demand is different from other accommodations, and the injustice involved with the face veil, as women in a various Islamic societies do not have the option of NOT wearing it.

I am really not much of a feminist, and I have not had reason to be.  The men in my family have all been wonderful, loving, married to one woman at a time, indulgent toward their daughters and granddaughters, encouraging education, etc.  I was able to study or work or stay home when I wanted.  I was able to marry the young man of my young first love.  I have really had to deal with any sort of coercion or denigration.  I think the most denigrating thing that happened to me was that my uncle would not take the girls out on his fishing boat.  Also, my grandmother said that girls do not whistle.  Come to think of it, I have been chastised several times, in my life, for whistling.

But, among all the oppression a woman can face, this abhorrence of her sexuality is the most demonic thing of all the possible oppression.  A woman wants to love and nurture.  A woman wants to marry a prince and be swept away.  A woman wants to give, give, give and receive.  A woman is romantic and wants to be united to a lover...  How can you cut our her clitoris, marry her to ancient men in her prepubesence, raper her, shut her in, allow the punishments allowed in the Koran and Hadith.  Has she no feelings?  Has she no value?  Is she not a human being?

Where are all the feminists?  Where are all the liberal theologians?  Where are all those seeking self-fulfillment?  Will you not stand up for those who are not even allowed to be a human woman, at the most basic level?

Monday, February 16, 2015

ISIS beheads 21 Christians from Egypt / Also in memory of Kenji Goto / Elderly woman scolds Islamist thugs.

Daily there has been cause for tears, with the murderous attacks and broadcasting of atrocities commited by ISIS.

Yesterday, 21 Christians from Egypt were brutally executed just for their belief.  They were young men trying to make a living in Libya.

The event reminds me of Kenji Goto, the Japanese journalist who was executed recently, one of the two Japanese.  He also was a confessing Christian.  This was not widely reported, but can be read here and there.

There is a Wikipedia entry which mentions it:

A tweet of his which has gone viral, is rarely set into context of his Christianity.  But it should be seen in light of his faith in Christ and his belonging to the family of faith.

The tweet gone viral is from Sept. 7, 2010: “Closing my eyes and holding still. It’s the end if I get mad or scream. It’s close to a prayer. Hate is not for humans. Judgment lies with God. That’s what I learned from my Arabic brothers and sisters.”

I also want to remember this courageous elderly woman at haranguing ISIS militants with verses from the Koran.  Unfortunately, the Koran also has verses to embolden the criminals.  Nevertheless, she is to be admired.  She is courage defined.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Maui 6 / Plants

Bamboo forest in the Beyond (after Hana)--an amazing hike.

Orchids in the Walmart Gardening Center.

You cannot imagine the shock of coming back to Alberta, in February, after this.

In Vancouver they wore boots.  In Edmonton the full gear was needed:  boots, hats, scarfs, coats.  It seemed like we had been on an intergalactic flight and ended up on a different planet, as everything was covered in deep snow...

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Maui 5 / Sunrise

The sun rises over the Haleakala volcano at 7:00 AM.  On the way to snorkeling.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Maui 4 / Sunsets / Yoga

One thing to do, while in Hawaii, is to watch the sunsets.  Honolulu faces west.  Kihei and Lahaina face west, so this is the natural habit for every evening.  I, too, thought it would be fun to capture myself some sunsets, as they are provided free of charge and some of the most spectacular events for us to enjoy innocently and gratefully. 

The first night we were there, we hurried down to the beach, just after 6:00 PM.  We arrived barely in time.  One moment the sun hung above the water like in the first picture below, and in the next second it had set completely.  We don't have such rapid sunsets up north.  I suggested that the reason must be that the earth is thicker in the middle and flatter on the top.  A greater part of the circumference has to be covered in the same amount of time;  hence, the sunset seems hurried.  Makes sense to me, but shocking at the moment of observation.  

From then on, we gave ourselves a little more time, so we could see the sun, when it was still a few degrees above the horizon.  

It is quite interesting to view the people congregating on the beach for this daily ritual. There is the picture snapping, the last few dips in the water, the sticking your toes in, the hand-holding, the yoga poses.  Yes, there was one lady who sat in poses and then did a sun salutation.  I watched her.  Interesting.

My drop-in class yoga teacher in my home town wears a big cross.  I said to my daughter that I will wear a cross, too, just so people don't think I am a devotee.  

My floor exercises have done me much good.  I have learned to really enjoy my exercise and perform it anywhere and in a confined space.  I need my I-pad, my Bluetooth headset, and my mat.  And I am ready to go. I fuse all the different things I know how to do, and make sure I do at least 30 push-ups, and a minute of plank, etc.  I can mix and match things up, as I feel like it.  I can get through the hours and hours of music I have put on my I-pad.  It works.

If  I wanted to do a sun salutation at sunset (I have not yet wanted to do that), I think I would hesitate, as I don't salute the sun, actually.  I don't know what the Yogi thinks about at sun salutation.  I don't expect he or she thinks about too much, as they are not supposed to think, really, during practice.  

I don't know.  I'll let that one be. As the Bible tells us, the universe pours forth speech in which God is glorified.  God is glorified in the beauty of the sunset.  Something opens up our souls and makes us breathe deeply.  Something makes us love and rejoice.  It is not the sun per se.  It is the maker of the sunset.--Praise God from whom all blessings flow.  Praise Him all creatures here below.  Praise Him above, ye heavenly hosts, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Maui 3 / Haleakala / Volcanoes / God and gods

The first major excursion was to the top of the great volcano Haleakala that forms the south east portion of the island.  Our grown children were with us, and you can see them here hiking ahead of us on the sliding sands trail-- It was not my first volcano.  When we were young, Martin and I had a trip up the active mount Etna on Sicily.  The other year, we reached to near the top of several volcanoes on the west coast of the United States, Mount Ranier, Mount St. Helens, Mount Adams.  It was a stunning trip that our relations in Vancouver, surprisingly had never taken, though they lived so near.

A volcano is terribly impressive.  On the way up, in the car, I thought about how tall 10,000 feet are when rising right from sea level.  The Greeks have a Mount Olympus, which is about the same height, on which they thought the gods lived.  The Japanese have Mount Fuji, which I have seen from the Shinkansen.  The Japanese still worship at outdoor shrines.

 A volcano seems a living thing:  it could break out again, it may have active side vents, it may  have a little steady lava flow here and there.  On its slopes are often verdant forests or fields for grazing, or dazzling glaciers.  It is a monstrously impressive beast.  Definitely very huge for one thing.

On the south east side of Haleakala lies Hana.  We took the famous road to Hana, with its 52 one-lane bridges and breath-taking sights of ocean, waterfalls, forests and cars coming around the bend, all in turn or at the same time.  We loved Hana.  We enjoyed hiking to the waterfall.  We enjoyed the Piilani.  You can see it below.  A great garden was arranged around the ruins with plaques explaining about various plants and crops. My husband found it all very instructive.  I thought it stunningly beautiful.

While on the Hana side of the mountain, I thought about a simile, how God could be like a volcano.  We live and breathe on it, plant our food on it, are nurtured and elevated by it, while mostly unaware of its power.  It could break out.  Or it could peacefully supply us with all necessities and lovely vistas. It is entirely beyond our control.  We can't placate it.  We can't bribe it.  It could throw us into the ocean with barely any notice.  But presently, we snooze on it, enjoying its breath-taking life.

In the Bible we don't have much about volcanoes, as there are none in the region of Israel.  We have Mount Sinai and we have Mount Zion, which represent Law and Gospel, respectively. Truly, it is a more advanced way to contemplate mountains, than to think that the gods sits on them or that the mountain itself should be worshiped.  Still the volcano can serve as a kind of symbol, I thought that day.

I said to my son-in-law that I would bet there was human sacrifice on top of those steps.  I am guessing.  It would not be surprising.  The Bible, too, would have done away with that.  God always provided a substitute, as apparently, sacrifice has to be.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Maui 2 / Hibiscus pictures

Ok, ok, here are the hibiscus pictures.  The purple-ish one is the most unusual one to me.

Winter holiday / Maui 1 / diet and excercise

Forgive me, and don't be jealous, please, while winter raged, here, I have been on my second holiday to warmer climes, this season. -- We are not going to be snowbirds, but we may indulge, in our old age, God willing and as long as we are able, in the odd winter holiday; especially since my husband does hard work in the hospital all summer, when everyone else goes away...

So, we went to Maui for the first time, ever.  It was so very lovely.  The property we stayed on boasted a garden with all colors and types of  hibiscus, oleander and bougainvillea.  There were innumerable other kinds of blooming bushes and trees.

For the first time ever, I began doing my stretches, yoga and push-ups out of doors, on the trusty mat which I had brought along.  I noted a spot where I observed other people do that sort of thing, coming and going in the morning for their various sessions.  When I laid on my back, I could look up into a tree canopy.  What a discovery, after looking at ceilings and always being cooped up!  It seems a rather crazy thing to do even.

Since you have seen many pictures of flowers in your lifetimes, I will share with you the tree canopy pictures, for today.  Sometimes, my husband came along to guard me, while reading his book.  He should have exercised, too, but what can you do...  (His BMI is better than mine, so who am I to talk.)

I shall add, and brag, that I lost two pounds while on holiday and even while eating out, a lot.  I stuck closely to Costco cabbage salad, sardines, low-carb protein bar.  We had high-fibre bread in the morning.  When out, I ate a lot of fish and shrimp. My favorite place was the Cheeseburger Restaurant in Lahaina, which is right on the ocean, on the main street.  In fact, it is a famous main street:  a sign was on the road saying it had been declared a notable street in the US.   I had the raw tuna.  Martin had a BLT burger.  There must have been ten slices of bacon on it.

My sister phoned me today.  She plans to loose 12 kilos by the end of June.  She wanted me to set a goal.  I set a number that is 17 pounds lighter than today.  This would mean I should loose one pound per week until then.  It could be a realistic goal.

Also, see my favorite spot in Lahaina.  At the Cheeseburger, I had fish. The server was fun and efficient and from Montreal, Canada.  80% of the people on Maui seemed to be from Canada.  Next door was a beautiful Gelato shop with the deck overhanging the beach and ocean.  I was sorely tempted on the Gelato side of things, but the deck was full, and what is Gelato without hanging over the ocean?  Na.  It's cold, but all sugar.  Not good.