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Ice Storm Week

When you’re a pioneer (or you don’t have power), you have time for two things: eating (and figuring out how to cook the food) and sleeping (and figuring out how to do it in various weather conditions).

You know an ice storm is bad when a man and his wife have to go stay with his ex-wife (true story — heard it on the radio).

Watch out for any snow-covered ditches that may be next to your driveway. Not that I would know from experience.

Carter and I were playing Memory one icy afternoon. We got excited when he matched a pair. I said, “You got it!” He said, “Praise the Lord!”

Even if your wife pokes fun at your camping gear (camp stove, headlamp, etc.), it comes in handy when the power goes out.

Watch out — your 4-year-old son might try to throw your 1-year-old son’s shoe in the fire and then pretend that he doesn’t know what you’re talking about. (Seriously — what made him do that? He just picked it up and launched it right past my head. He missed the fire. Otherwise, he would have been doing chores for years to pay for it. Of course, if we never get power back, he’ll have to do the chores just to survive.)

Surefire way not to get a good night of sleep: lie awake listening to the cracking, popping, shattering and falling of ice-covered tree limbs all around you, just waiting for the one that lands on your roof.

It pays to make friends with your neighbors down the road. They might just pull your van out of a ditch someday.

Hot water makes a whole lot of things better.

Generators are good. Unless you run them inside the house. Then, not so good.

Woodstoves are fun.

Camping out in your house is fun, too. For a day or so. Then it gets proportionately less fun as the temperature continues falling.

You have to get up pretty often in the night to keep your fire burning brightly.

Hot coals tend to pile up pretty quickly.

Don’t try to remove large quantities of them in a plastic bucket. Metal is better.

When the sun sparkles on millions of glimmering ice crystals coating everything in sight, it’s so beautiful it almost makes it all worth it. But not quite.

Having the right size firewood on hand is, to say the least, helpful.

Speaking of firewood, maybe one reason God let trees fall in your yard previously is so that you’ll have fuel to stay warm on the days when you have no power.

Radio is cool. Some radio personalities are also cool. Some are not.

Kids are adaptable.

And they’re well-insulated.

It’s good to have in-laws with power, no matter how far away they live. And it’s nice when said in-laws (Bob and Jean) have a guy in their church who works for the power company and is headed to your town to fix power lines.

If you’re going to not have power, it’s nice to at least have natural refrigeration. Of course, it’s not so nice if a dirty rotten scoundrel rummages through the cooler sitting outside your parents’ house and makes off with your grandmother’s Omaha steaks stored there.

That said, it’s encouraging to see how helpful most people are. And having family around is good too.

In the event of an ice storm, level driveways are better than sloping driveways. You know, if you want to leave your house.

It’s easy to resent people who aren’t as bad off as you.

It’s easy to forget people who are worse off than you.

It ain’t Mother Nature. It’s God.


The Best Job in the World

That could be you, guys. Here’s your chance to snag a prime job that starts this summer and is being billed as “The Best Job in the World.”

The position: Caretaker of the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef

The location: Hamilton Island, Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

The duration: July 1, 2009 – January 1, 2010

The salary: Approximately $100,000 U.S.

The duties: There’s so much to see and do, so you’ll have plenty to write about in your weekly blog. And with so much life above and below the water, you’re sure to capture some entertaining moments for your video diary and photo gallery. To keep you busy, Tourism Queensland will organise a schedule of travel and events on the Islands of the Great Barrier Reef. Your schedule could include sampling a new luxury spa treatment at qualia on Hamilton Island, trying out new snorkelling gear on Heron Island, or bushwalking on Hinchinbrook Island. (From the job description)

The accommodations: The Island Caretaker will live at Blue Pearl, a beautiful three-bedroom home on Hamilton Island featuring stunning views of the Whitsunday Islands, modern facilities and exquisite furnishings.

That’s about it. Oh, you might have to pick a leaf out of the pool, feed some of the 1,500 species of fish, or collect the mail through the aerial postal service.

This is a real opportunity, created by Tourism Queensland as a way to drum up publicity. And has it ever worked. As of a few days ago, the website (www.islandreefjob.com) had more than a million hits, with about 2,000 applications from all over the world. The application period opened January 9 and closes on February 22.

To apply, submit a 60-second or less video explaining in an entertaining way why you’re the best candidate. They’ll create a 50-person shortlist, then narrow it down to 10, plus one wild card chosen by the world. After interviews and testing (on Hamilton Island!), the winner will be chosen and will begin on July 1.

Check out the website for more info, photos and videos. You can also watch other applicant videos. This is a real job. Seriously, go apply if you’re over 18 and don’t have anything else lined up for the second half of 2009. And if you manage to get the job, congrats and don’t forget to invite your (ahem) best friend along ….

A video showing how it all works:

You Can Interrogate Him Because It Makes You Feel Better

Haven’t watched the new episodes of 24 yet this season, but have them on tape. So don’t tell me what happens, but I ran across this today and thought it was pretty good. From Glenn Beck’s show today:

GLENN: Right. But it’s interesting also that Janeane Garofalo and Jon Voight are in the same series this year.

STU: Yeah.

GLENN: The right and the left actors. Okay. So she’s in that one scene, and I’m not going to give anything away but, you know — I’m not going to spoil the scene for you if you have it on TiVo. But there’s this one scene where (this) you know, character — I’m trying to be as vague as I can — this one character is with Janeane and they need to interrogate. It’s 24. You knew this was happening.

So they interrogate and the one character says, “I’ve got to get the answers.” And Janeane Garofalo says, “You can’t do that. This is America. That’s against the law.” And the other character says, “They’ll kill a bunch of people and we’ve got to do it! A lot of people will die and it will be a horrible situation!” Janeane Garofalo’s character says, “This is against everything we stand for! This is against code, this is against all regulations, this is against the law! I won’t have anything to do with it!”

And then the character turns with tears in their eyes, says, “This whole thing has been my fault. I’ve got to set this right. Please, I’ve got to get the answer. I’ve got to do this because it’s — I’ve got to set it right! Please, for me!” And the progressive says, “Okay, I’ll wait outside.”

It wasn’t because people are going to die. It wasn’t because this guy knows and we need to get it. It wasn’t, “We’ve got to protect our country.” She was convinced by, “Please? It will make me feel better.” You didn’t even have to say, “But okay, let me make the case. I don’t think the law applies here or here or here.” All you had to do was look at her with puppy dog eyes and say, “Please, it will make my booboo go away.”

STU: If that’s not every liberal policy.

GLENN: It is.

STU: Feel good emotional.

GLENN: It is. It’s wrong. If you want to do it for any other reasons. But if it will make us all feel good, well, then maybe we should.

The Reason for God


I got Tim Keller’s book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism for Christmas and began getting into today. Read the introduction, which was good, and thought about writing my thoughts down. Then I thought, hey, I should blog my way through the book. So, you’ll occasionally be subject to a summary of what I’ve read and my take on it. Be warned.

So, the introduction: Keller says that both religious skepticism and faith are on the rise in the world today and each feels threatened by the other. He says both sides should look at doubt in a radically new way — believers should acknowledge their doubts, work through them and be able to explain why they believe as strongly as they do. Skeptics need to admit that the very fact of their religious doubt implies faith in something else. A quote:

I urge skeptics to wrestle with the unexamined “blind faith” on which skepticism is based, and to see how hard it is to justify those beliefs to those who do not share them. I also urge believers to wrestle with their personal and cultural objections to the faith. At the end of each process, even if you remain the skeptic or believer you have been, you will hold your own position with both greater clarity and greater humility. Then there will be an understanding, sympathy, and respect for the other side that did not exist before.

As a pastor in New York City — the heart of skeptic country — Keller has seen not just traditional liberal doubters and conservative believers, but what he calls a new multiethnic orthodox Christianity that is much more concerned about social justice but also committed to upholding classical Christian morals.

The first half of the book reviews the seven biggest objections and doubts Keller has heard about Christianity over the years, and the second half examines the reasons underlying Christian belief. He wants to follow the model of how Jesus dealt with Thomas’ doubt — he challenged him not to give in to his doubt, but he also gave him more evidence to believe.

My take: Really looking forward to reading this and seeing how he deals with many of the objections to Christianity. Will be great fuel for future conversations.

Love the way he uses Christ’s dealing with Thomas. He was compassionate, yet firm, understanding but challenging. Exactly the way we need to be in today’s culture. We need to be more loving, more concerned about the poor, more willing to engage in dialogue.

I think we do have to be careful that we don’t just hear a skeptic’s position and end up respecting their beliefs so much that we agree it’s okay for them to doubt their way right into hell. But that’s usually not our problem — we tend to bring the hammer down right away.

Next installment will focus on Chapter 1 — There Can’t Be Just One True Religion.

The Year That Was

For one last look back at the news of 2008, check out The Big Picture’s three-part series, with 120 large format news photos from around the world spread over three entries: Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

If you glance through them, you’ll be struck by a couple of things. One is the sheer variety of people, places and events on this planet. Millions of people we’ve never met or given thought to are engaged in activities we’ve never contemplated — the Argungu fishing festival in Nigeria, for example, or dozens of Maasai warriors doing battle with bows and arrows. No photos from Kentucky, but many are from the U.S.

The second dominant feeling is sadness at the violence and tragedy in the world. Hundreds of people are fighting (against other men, against the elements, against themselves) and dying in every corner of the earth. The consequences of our actions — of our sin — are inescapable. And yet, there is hope in Christ.

Three photos, one from each section (click on each photo for a larger version, which you really need to do because the format is cutting them off):

2008 News Flood Buildings and debris are seen floating in the Cedar River against a railroad bridge Saturday, June 14, 2008, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Days after it rose out of its banks on its way to record flooding in Cedar Rapids, the Cedar River has forced at least 24,000 people from their homes, emergency officials said. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)


2008 News Drummers Drummers perform during the Opening Ceremony for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics at the National Stadium on August 8, 2008 in Beijing. (Adam Pretty/Getty Images)


2008 News Obama Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama waves to the crowd at a rally in the rain at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Va. Saturday, Sept. 27, 2008. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Plus a few other cool ones for good measure:

2008 News Eiger Time exposure of the Swiss mountain resort of Grindelwald next to the north face of the Eiger mountain, seen on January 10, 2008. (REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth)


2008 News Ice Fishing
People drop lines in holes on a frozen river at an event to fish trout in Hwacheon, South Korea, about 20 km (12 miles) south of the demilitarised zone separating two Koreas, northeast of Seoul January 13, 2008. More than 1,000,000 people attend at the annual ice festival which lasts for three weeks in January. (REUTERS/Lee Jae-Won)


2008 News Marine A U.S. Marine, from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, has a close call after Taliban fighters opened fire near Garmser in Helmand Province of Afghanistan May 18, 2008. The Marine was not injured. (REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic)

Peace Like a River

If you enjoy reading at all, you need to read this book:


It’s the story of a remarkable family — the Lands — who set out across Minnesota and North Dakota in 1962 in search of a teenage son, Davy, who has killed two intruders in their home, gone to jail and then broken out. The family includes the dad, Jeremiah, a son, Reuben (the narrator), and a daughter, Swede.

Jeremiah occasionally performs a miracle that Reuben witnesses and tries to make sense of. Might sound odd, but it works. Enger is a descriptive writer, captivating you from the first pages, pulling you along with allusions to westerns and classic adventures tales and the Bible. His voice is engaging and you’ll care about what happens to characters you come to know.

Faith is infused throughout the story, but as John Piper says in his recommendation of the book, “There’s faith in it, but not like your usual faith. More strange, like the Bible.”

One excerpt:

Real miracles bother people, like strange sudden pains unknown in medical literature. It’s true: They rebut every rule all we good citizens take comfort in. Lazarus obeying orders and climbing up out of the grave — now there’s a miracle, and you can bet it upset a lot of folks who were standing around at the time. When a person dies, the earth is generally unwilling to cough him back up. A miracle contradicts the will of earth.

My sister, Swede, who often sees to the nub, offered this: People fear miracles beacuse they fear being changed — though ignoring them will change you also. Swede said another thing too, and it rang in me like a bell: No miracle happens without a witness. Someone to declare, Here’s what I saw. Here’s how it went. Make of it what you will.

Read it, read it, read it. Good stuff. It’ll stick with you longer than the latest Grisham book (yes, I read those too).

You can buy it here or read parts of it here. Enjoy.