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International Justice Mission

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

From Istanbul to the Sun

Driving around in the car last night with Lil'E, we were listening to "Istanbul, Not Constantinople" from They Might Be Giants. We were rockin' out, let me tell ya.

Here, though, is my favorite song from TMBG - "Why Does The Sun Shine? (The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas)". Okay, so I'm a nerd. A mighty big nerd. A giant nerd. And I don't have to be ashamed anymore!

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Monday, January 29, 2007

In case you were wondering: How to bathe a cat!

Here is a simple 13-step process for safely and effectively giving your cat a bath. Only 13 steps? That's pretty easy, right? It starts slow, but once past the opening credits it is a fast-paced how-to video.

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Comfy as a cat

Okay, I don't think you can get much more relaxed than this. This is Lil'E on mom and dad's bed last night.

Lil'E on the bed

But, so that you don't think that it's all cute and sweet, here's the fireball in Lil'E.
Lil'E the fireball

As a side-note, Mrs. Euphrony is feeling every bit of being 35-weeks pregnant right now. After sitting in church pews and stiff chairs all day Sunday, her back is killing her. Their is no such thing as a comfortable sleeping position. Heartburn is a constant, never-ending pain. And she says the baby feels like he's about to pop out all the time.

As a diversion, she has requested that I post some light-hearted material here to distract her. So I'm asking you to help out. If you have some good jokes you've been saving up, share them. Any anecdotes? Let's hear the amusing ones. Let's try to cheer up Mrs. E a little. I would appreciate it all.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Good music on my mind

Ever since I got downhere's Wide-Eyed and Mystified for Christmas, I haven't been able to stop listening to it. And that is a good thing. Here is "The More" from that album, which I actually got as a free download last fall. They list 2 Peter 1:5-8 as their scriptural inspiration for this song. Enjoy some good Canadian rock!

They will be here is Houston for a KSBJ Brown Bag concert (free mini-concert for those who don't know) in February. I might try to drag the family along, depending on how eagerly expected Baby Euphrony cooperates.

UPDATED: You can listen to the song from downhere that KSBJ has been playing - "Little is Much" (in Streaming Windows Media file, as KSBJ chose to offer it). This one features lead vocals from Jason Germain and, with "The More" gives you a more complete taste of downhere's sound.

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tough choice

If you thought were about to be killed, would you look straight ahead so you could see it coming or would you look away?
That is a tough question, but I think I found my answer for it this morning in a taxi cab on the way to the Tulsa airport. I really didn't want to know the answer to this question, but the cab driver is apparently a man who seeks to enlighten his customers through exploration of their inner psyche in times of great distress, which he kindly provides via his driving in heavy traffic on still-icy roads.

Thanks. No, really. I'm glad to be home.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Musical Free Association

Time for a psychology experiment. Free association, music style. I'll start with Musician #1 (singer, songwriter, group, whatever selected totally at random - don't ask how) and then I will list the first musician that comes to mind (Musician #2). Reply in a comment with your association to Musician #2, and the next associates to Musician #3. If you know why that particular musician came to mind, then share.

This is a chance to get you lurkers out of the woodwork and mingle with the regulars. Come on, people, I know more people glance at this rambling blog than pipes up. That means you, sister-in-law. And you, too, Cambridge, Minnesota - I see you pop in every couple of days. California, I'm waiting to hear from you. You can reply anonymously, if you feel the need, but at least give a name and/or a location. Here we go.

Musician #1: Susan Ashton

Hi, I'm Euphrony. I hail from Spring, Texas and:
Susan Ashton --> Garth Brooks

(Susan Ashton going on tour with Garth Brooks was, I believe, her first forayer out of contemporary Christian music and into more secular music; thus Ashton to Brooks. A close second association was the Ashton, Becker, Dente collaboration.)

Now it's your turn. GO!

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

Profile of a church

Got a story for ya. It's all true, so just ponder the truth for a moment.

Once upon a time, there was a man. He wasn't the best of men and, being a little greedy, he stole thousands of dollars worth of silver coins from his mom. Mom was understandably furious, but did not know who took her silver coins. She cursed the thief vehemently; so intense was her objurgation that the son began to fear the consequences and regret the taking of the silver. He returns it to his mother, confessing that he took it. Rather than anger with her son, the mother sees this change of heart as a sign that her son may, finally, be finding religion.

As a sign that she has forgiven her son, that she is grateful to Jehovah for the return of the silver coins, and as a means of building her son's burgeoning faith, the woman dedicates all that was stolen to the Lord and entrusts her son with the use of the wealth in God's service. Her only explicit instructions is to begin by using twenty percent of the silver to be made into two statues - one sculpted and one cast - that will be placed in the new church. (After all, what is a church without ornamentation?) With the two statues in hand, the son established this new church, adding other figurines to fill out the building. To lead them, he selects one of the early congregants who seemed best suited as the priest of their new church - conveniently, this happened to be his son. So his son will look the part, the man also has made an extravagant priestly robe to be worn during times of worship.

However, after a time, a drifter wanders through town. He's looking for work, but doesn't really seem to care if he lands a job and settles down or just gets a hand out and moves along. Meeting the drifter, the first man soon recognizes that this man is a distant relative of a family of famous, eloquent, renowned preachers. Seeing a chance to add credibility to his new church, through association with this famous family of godly men, the first man offers the drifter the job of priest (sorry, son, but I found someone better). He offers the drifter a sizeable salary, with benefits package and a per diem.

All the pieces are in place, the first man thinks. I have the ornate church, the people are gathered to worship, and I have to lead and teach them one of a family blessed by God. Surely Jehovah will prosper me, now.
So, does any of this sound familiar to you? Maybe you've seen pieces of this here or there - a church founded by reformed crooks who still don't seem to get it, a focus more on the visual presentation that on the substance, a diversion of worship from the Spiritual to the physical (idolatry) , the honoring of credentials or heritage over God-given ability or calling. This one example seemed to fit it all so well; but where was this church? Houston? New York? London? Rome? Well, to find out you must read the comments, where the truth will be disclosed. And feel free to add your own comment on this true story and how it affects each of us.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Come again?

For lunch after church yesterday morning, the Euphrony family went to a hibachi grill to appease Mrs. E's craving for fried rice. For those of you not familiar with eating at hibachi grills, the tables all seat around eight people in a semi-circle around the grill where the chef cooks your food. This means that for a party of three (as is our family) you get to share the table with complete strangers. And some are stranger than others. Our table was shared by three old ladies on one side and, sitting by Lil'E, a late-teen/early twenties girl and and a middle-aged woman with her (never got clarified if they were mother/daughter or not).

Upon sitting down, I hear bits of their conversation . . . "and she doesn't like air-brushing . . . no, I mean make up . . . blah blah blah . . . ". And then they notice Lil'E and her Big Sister Dora doll she brought into the restaurant. The younger girl thinks Lil'E is adorable and starts talking to her, so of course Lil'E recruits her into playing dolls. She asks what the dolls name is and her older companion replies:

Older lady: "That's Dora! Don't you watch any cartoons anymore?"

Younger lady: "No, I don't. I never heard of Dora."

Older Lady: "Yeah, Dora is a good one. She helps kids learn Spanish. It's one of my cougar's favorites."

Me: (choking on fried rice, answering Mrs. E's query) "Yes, she did say 'cougar'."

Older lady: "Yes, I have a cougar, like the University of Houston mascot. He sits in his cage and watches cartoons a lot. Oh, I know he's a wild animal and that he's dangerous. But he's pretty good."
Like I said, some are stranger than others.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Star Trek Cribs

I'm a fan of Star Trek. I watch the reruns many nights on TV Land, and I've watched the Star Trek 2.0 on G4 before (what this is an ad for). I found this absolutely, gut-busting funny.

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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Wait God, you've got it backwards!

10"Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt." 11But Moses said to God, "Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt?" 12And He said, "Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain."
Exodus 3:10-12 (NASB)
What strikes me in reading this passage, which I know I've read at least a thousand times, is in God's response to Moses' complaint. Moses whines about his inadequacy to the task, trying to get out of this job Jehovah has set; God belays his complaint with a promise and a sign. His promise is that He will be with Moses, as his strength and support. The sign God gives is that Moses and all of Israel will worship Him on that mountain.

Uhm, God, I don't mean to be critical here but . . . uhm . . . well . . . that's kinda backwards. Isn't it? I mean, when You give a sign, especially when You call a person to a task, it is a sign for them to see to get them going. Right? Isaiah is transported to a scene of worship before Your throne, and you cleanse his lips with a coal. Gideon at least gets the wet and dry fleece. That's the way it works, God. You give a sign (not just something weak like Your voice coming from a burning bush) and I go. I see the strength of the Almighty and then I go doing something big and wonderful, like giving a few bucks to the local food shelter or sorting donations for the Salvation Army. You know, life-changing stuff. But, what, you expected Moses to go on just a promise? Next thing you know, you'll be expecting me to part the Red Sea on just a promise! What's up with that?

Oh, wait. I think I get it. This is one of those faith things, right? You're doing it that way to show us that You, God, are faithful. You tell us something, and we can trust it, right? Our faith is built on Jehovah's faithfulness. Is that it? You don't push us forward, goading us with signs and wonders; You pull us along, leading the way like a shepherd. You don't demand our worship, demand our obedience; but You do expect it because You have always and will always uphold Your promise. We see Your sign because the Red Sea does part, that inconvenient mountain moves; that impossible dream is a reality because Jehovah reached out and said "I will be with you" and actually was with us.

Sorry, God. My bad; Your good. You are divine, I am de branch. I won't ever question You again. I promise. Well . . . almost never again. Not again today. Okay, I promise to at least listen to Your side of the story before I open my big mouth. That's the best I can do.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

Music Deals

I love a good music bargain. I also love to share, so here are a few I have found recently.

  • Free CCM from INO Records:
    INO Records has offered songs from 20 artists (including MercyMe, Sara Groves, Todd Agnew, Chris Rice, Decyfer Down, Jonah33, Derek Webb, Skillet, and more) for free download. All you need provide is your e-mail. That seemed a fair trade off to me, and the music is good.
    Go check it out! (HT:MusicMan)

  • Downhere: Wide-Eyed and Simplified:
    Some people like it mixed and doctored, while some people like it simple and straight. So, Downhere has recently sat down in a studio and recorded acoustic versions of the songs from their album Wide-Eyed and Mystified. No mixing or dubbing of parts, it's basically a live studio album. In addition to the songs from Wide-Eyed and Mystified, you get an intro where the guys describe the history of each song. But wait, there's more! You also get three songs from previous albums, "What It's Like", "Great Are You" and "Protest To Praise". It's not free, but for $8.99 you get to get a full album for cheaper than you could download it from iTunes, plus commentary from the artists, plus three bonus songs. Sounds like a good deal to me, so
    check it out.
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

No. 1, With a Bullet

It's been two weeks since I last posted, and there has been good reason. Or, I should say, reasons. This Christmas just hit #1 on the charts, with a bullet.

Which chart, you may ask. Best Christmas ever? Worst Christmas ever?

I will answer, without equivocation. But I will not answer with just one word - I'm much to verbose for that.

It all started way back on December 18th. Those of you keeping track know that this is the day I left for my little jaunt in Norway. From December 18-22, I spent 30 hours in transit (sleeping none of that time) and returned home on Friday afternoon. To a house with a sick pre-schooler. Seeing as how I had not slept in the previous 24 hours, and had eaten mostly airplane food, I (and Mrs. Euphrony) had reasonable confidence that I would catch this stomach bug. And, on Christmas Eve morning, I awoke with a start - straight to the bathroom. After a luxurious day spent doing you-know-what, I awoke Christmas morning ~8 pounds lighter than when I got home. Yeah.

Lil'E was all better, jumping all over and excited about everything that I had no energy to play with. Our plans (ha ha) had been to go to my parents on Christmas Eve and spend a few days there, leave Lil'E with the grandparents and come home to do some painting to get ready for the new baby. Didn't happen that way, did it? The new, improved plan was to drop Lil'E with the grandparents the day after Christmas, then do the painting and spend the New Year's weekend all together. Ha again! We're packed, getting in the car, when my parents call and say they're sick. No free time, no painting, no getting ready for the baby, no way, no how. And the best irony of all was that I had recently downloaded a free offering from iTunes: Sufjan Stevens' "That Was the Worst Christmas Ever!". Triple ha!

But in this unplanned free time, we found a few things to do. Driving down to Galveston for a day trip, we went to Moody Gardens. It was very nice, all decked out in lights for Christmas, and we caught an IMAX movie: The Polar Express in IMAX 3-D. The best thing was seeing Lil'E standing up in her seat, reaching out trying to catch the 3-D snow falling and the look of wonder on her face. Kinda cool.

We ended up having three full, non-sick days at home as a family before finally heading up to my parents (a seven-hour drive) for the New Year's weekend. No rain up there, so no fireworks. We had a little date-time; always nice. I got to go get my new iPod (Kat, hope your's arrives soon) and started loading the ten new CD's I got for Christmas (I highly recommend Shaun Grove's White Flag, Jars of Clay's Good Monster, and Downhere's Wide-Eyed and Mystified) along with my full collection of CDs. We had some nice time with my parents, and a lot of good, fun play.

So, No. 1 Christmas, with a bullet. On both lists. Worst Christmas. Best Christmas. All in one year. Whew, I'm exhausted.

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