Friday, January 29, 2010

Book Review: Tea With Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies' Table

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

When I first began reading Tea With Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies' Table by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis, my decision was to enter the reading with an open heart and mind. And really, I was interested in seeing how the book's echoing question -- "Is it really possible to love one's enemies?" -- might be answered.

Tea With Hezbollah is written mostly from a first-person viewpoint, that person being Ted Dekker (later on the chapters alternate between Dekker's accounts and a seven-part story about a young woman named Nicole). What I liked was the way the author showed his vulnerabilities. Here he was, a well-traveled author, visiting some of the most dangerous wartime territories one might imagine -- all to speak with leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas, with sheiks, even with Osama bin Laden's own brothers concerning Jesus' command to love our enemies. But instead of simply giving an account of the interviews and conversations, Dekker allows the reader to see that, yes, he is frightened. He is afraid he might die at any moment, and imagines movie-like scenes happening before meeting with some of these men.

For those like myself, there are an ample number of history lessons on the Middle East. In the back of the book there is a detailed glossary with terms such as 'Hezbollah' (and yes, I had to look it up as I was basically clueless), and there is also a timeline of the Israeli-Palestinian issue. At times I did get a bit lost in the history and wanted more of what Dekker and Medearis were experiencing, but I can see that it's all essential to the story.

As a Christian, I have to say I was surprised -- pleasantly at times -- to read answers to the interview questions. They were simple questions about basic humanity ("What makes you laugh? What makes you cry?") and the teachings of Jesus. I would say that anyone in America who thinks they might know something about Hezbollah and others in the Middle East might find themselves surprised as well. One of my favorite answers to "What makes you cry?" was given by Sheik Nabil Qaouk, the 'number-two man in Hezbollah.' He answered, "Every time I pray to God I cry."

To learn more about or to purchase this book, click here.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Can We Help?

One week ago today, a series of earthquakes hit Haiti and has done damage that I can only imagine. Even with all the pictures I've seen, I know the devastation is incomprehensible. This weekend at Gulfcoast Getaway 2010, a collection was taken up to help the people of Haiti. I just wanted to put a note on here about helping, in small ways at least, by donating to the Red Cross.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Waiting For the Other Shoe to Drop

It seems I used to have an endless number of stories to share here, and then they all fizzled out. Either that, or my memory became very short after Miles was born. I'll go with the second one for now. Yesterday, though, something happened and I knew instantly when it did that yes...I would be sharing this on the blog.

Miles is very fond of our good friend Eric. This is mostly because 'Papa' Eric lets Miles play the games on his iPhone whenever we see him. I'm sure Miles will grow up to appreciate Eric for other things besides the electronic gadgets he has on hand, but Eric doesn't seem to mind. He's nice that way.

After Bible class yesterday morning, Miles had somehow found Eric and finagled the iPhone from him. By the time I got settled into the pew and worship was starting, I looked at Miles and realized he still had the phone! I told him he needed to give it back to Eric, and I pointed to the back where Eric was standing and talking with some people. Miles didn't want to go alone, so I grabbed his hand and led him back there.

Now, Miles always does fine when he has to give something back, even the precious iPhone. We walked over to Eric and Miles held up the phone and gave it back just like always. But as we started making our way back, Miles was having some kind of fit, and I had to assume he was upset about giving the phone away. I wasn't about to stop in the middle of the aisle in front of everyone -- and while Casey was up at the front making the announcements -- to discipline my child. We got back to the pew, and I gave Miles a warning: Stop throwing your fit or I will take you out and give you a smack.

Most of the time this works, but not this time. It got worse. And it wasn't that he was making a lot of noise (although it was headed that way), there was just a lot of whining and faces and moving the body around like it's made of rags...that's the best way I can think to describe it. And since I try to be consistent and carry through on what I say, I grabbed Miles up in my arms and headed through the door.

I usually take him to this one particular bathroom when I have to give him a lecture or a smack -- or both. He was still very upset, but was now concerned about my ultimatum. "You going to smack me?" he asked in a small voice. I didn't answer, just walked in the door, turned on the light and put him down. I decided I'd find out what was going on, to make sure it was the phone he was upset about.

"Miles, what is wrong?" I asked, hoping he would actually have a good answer. He did.

"I want my shoe!" he wailed.

At that I looked down and saw that one foot was shoeless, with just the blue and gray sock covering it. And now, it all made sense. Miles had obviously left his shoe at the back of the building when we returned Eric's phone. That's why he had complained the entire way up the aisle to the pew. Of course I had to laugh -- that, and feel relieved that I'd taken the time to find out what was wrong before punishing my child for losing his shoe.

I carried Miles back out to the pew, told him to stay there, then walked to the back where John, a fellow parent, was holding the shoe in his hand and smiling. I filled him in on what had happened and we had a good laugh. I was pretty embarrassed, but the whole thing was too funny for me to feel too insecure about it. I mean, I'm sharing it with the entire internet, right?

Although I don't think you'd be hearing this if I'd smacked Miles before checking his feet first.

Monday, January 04, 2010

My F-F-F-Freezing Four-Mile Walk

Happy New Year! We're nearing the teens of the 21st century, how bizarre is that? I hope they don't talk back and stomp to their rooms and slam the door. The 90's never treated us that way!

So began my third week of training for the half-marathon in March. It's been going pretty well, with one or two workouts missed due to holiday travel. Last Friday, Casey, Miles and I traveled in our van for 12 hours from my folks' house to our house. My plan, though I wasn't excited about it, was to attempt my four-mile walk the next day. If the van travel wasn't tiring enough, my cedar pollen allergies had been on the attack for more than a week, to the point that my eyes were pouring water and my nose wouldn't stop running when I woke up on Saturday morning. I took a daytime allergy medicine but it made me a little woozy. At three o'clock I said, "Case, I just don't think I can do it!" Oh yeah, did I mention it was cold? And that I hate the cold?

Casey proceeded to look up the weather forecast and let me know that, even though Saturday's temperature was in the upper 20's with the wind chill, Sunday would be cloudy and a little colder. Not good. I decided to rest for 20 minutes (I totally passed out) and at 3:20 p.m., Casey woke me up so I could get started. It took all my willpower and determination to get up and get moving.

I drove to the nearby (awesome) walk park with the mindset that I would do as much as I could. Like...maybe two miles. Then I thought, 'But I walked three miles a week ago!' The problem was it was so cold! But with my walking playlist chock full of motivating tunes, I set off and tried to ignore my frozen nose. After the first mile I thought that maybe I would make it to two miles and go home. But I hated thinking that I wouldn't do it all. So I kept on trucking...By the time I got to three miles, I knew I was going to finish no matter what. I continued to ignore my cold nose and ears and sore legs. As I neared four miles, the last song was about to come on. I needed something good. Then I heard's 'It's a New Day' start up and I was able to pick up the pace to finish strong.

I did my walk in just under an hour. The sun had started going down by the end, and even though I'd walked enough to warm up, the cold had seeped into my every pore. I was so glad to be done. At the same time though, I felt so good and renewed and refreshed. It's still hard for me to imagine walking that half-marathon in March, but at least I'm on my way.

I checked my status with my Nike + iPod kit, and I've covered more than 17 miles in just over two weeks, and that doesn't even count my cross-training workout days. I had a kind of letdown workout today, falling short of the required time. I plan on making it up though. Ruth (who has been leading the charge on this training) has been a great motivation, even all the way from West Texas!
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