Happy Chinese New Year!

pig year
Today is officially the start of the Chinese New Year! It is the year of the Pig (or Boar), and based on the year I was born (1971), according to the Chinese zodiac, I am a Pig as well. My wife is a Rooster and my daughter is a Monkey, just in case you wanted to know. Speaking of my daughter, she is from China and so we try to keep up with some of the cultural traditions of China. I love the Chinese culture (actually all Asian culture). Asian food is my favorite ethnic food…whether it’s Chinese food (and I don’t mean the crappy Americanized Chinese food, but since I live in Seattle and the Chinese population is high, you can find some really excellent and authentic Chinese food here), or Thai (Pud Thai), or Vietnamese (Phó Noodle soup), or Korean (Kim Chee), or Indian (all of it!), or especially Japanese! (Sushi, Udon and Yakisoba rock!!) I like to eat with chopsticks often (I have quite a collection), even with non-Asian food. I drink 3-4 cups of Chinese Jasmine and Ginseng tea almost everyday. I love Kung Fu, even though I don’t know it or take it…I love it, and someday I will be a Kung Fu master (I have the long fu-manchu and the old school, Shaolin Monk’s ‘QUE’ on the back of my shaved head to prove it!!); I love Bruce Lee! Dragons are cool, regardless of their supposedly ‘evil’ nature… ; you get the idea! Anyways, Chinese culture is very artistic and creative and one of the most amazing things in the culture is the Chinese acrobats. If you have ever seen Cirque de Soliel, then you most likely have seen them in action. If you’ve never seen this kind of acrobat feats, you won’t believe some of the stuff these boys and girls do (usually they are pretty young). So in honor of Chinese New Year, I am providing a link to an amazing video of two acrobats at a Chinese New Year celebration! The video is a bit long (5:23), but it is well worth it! I hope you enjoy the video as you get a glimpse of the beauty of this ancient culture! Here is the link!new year celebrate

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Valentine’s Love!

valentine
I ‘m hoping that we all are celebrating today with someone you love! I also hope we all don’t get caught up in the commercialism so associated with this day. Just like Christmas, Easter and Thanksgiving, Valentine’s day has just become another day to sell cards, candy hearts and heart-shaped balloons! It’s one of those days that you feel an ‘obligation’ to get something for the one you love. There is a problem, though, with this ‘need’ for a special day to do something special for someone, or to show an act of love…especially for our spouses, whom we should be showing this kind of love to on a regular basis. How often we neglect to give this kind of love even to the ones closest to us (and I don’t mean getting ‘something’ for them…that’s just an
example…I mean showing love in all sorts of ways). If we struggle to love those that are that close to us, how much more difficult is it to love those that Jesus tells us to love: the poor, the oppressed, the blind, the
hungry, the prisoners, rejected and outcast, and even those who hate us and are our enemies. Love is so difficult, and this is our primary calling. In fact Jesus said this is the ONLY law we must live by (Matt 22:35-40), and in another verse, He says Love is the way to inherit eternal life ( Luke 10:25-28 ). Those are some hard words to hear, considering the fact that we fail to love so often. We get so caught up in our busyness and our stuff that love takes a back burner; in our families, in our communities, and in our world. This IS the most excellent way, as Paul puts it in his letter to the Corinthians. We must learn to love!
So I will tell you a quick story about the real St. Valentine. There are many stories about St. Valentine and who he was and what he did. There is one that says that Valentine was martyred for helping Christians escape harsh Roman prisons where they were beaten and tortured. While he was imprisoned, waiting to be executed, he meets and falls in love with the jailer’s beautiful daughter, who studies the Scripture and prays with Valentine in prison every day. Now, she had been blind since birth, but one day during their time of prayer, she was miraculously healed from her blindness. The night before he was to be beheaded, he sends a note of affection to her, asking her to always remain near to God and continually thankful for her healing miracle. The note is signed “From Your Valentine”…the very first ‘Valentine’ ever sent. Click HERE for more info on St. Valentine.
hearts

Ortha Nan Gaidheal (Carmina Gadelica)

carmina Gadelicavol2
The Carmina Gadelica is a collection of prayers, hymns, incantations, runes and other literary-folkloric poems and songs collected and translated by Alexander Carmichael in the gaelic-speaking regions of Scotland between 1855-1910. Here is one from that collection entitled ‘Rann Romh Urnuigh’ or “A Rune Before Prayer”. A rune, in this sense, basically means ‘to talk in secret or to whisper’, so this would be to prepare yourself before God, prior to lifting up prayers to Him.

Ta mi lubadh mo ghlun
An suil an Athar a chruthaich mi,
An suil an Mhic a cheannaich mi,
An suil an Spioraid a ghlanaich mi,
Le caird agus caoimh.
Tre t’Aon Unga fein a Dhe,
Tabhair duinn tachar ‘n ar teinn,
Gaol De,
Gradh De,
Gair De,
Gais De,
Gras De,
Sgath De,
Is toil De,
Dheanamh air talamh nan Tre,
Mar ta ainghlich is naoimhich
A toighe air neamh.
Gach duar agus soillse,
Gach la agus oidhche,
Gach uair ann an caoimhe,
Thoir duinn do ghne.

I am bending my knee
In the eye of the Father who created me,
In the eye of the Son who purchased me,
In the eye of the Spirit who cleansed me,
In friendship and affection.
Through Thine own Anointed One, O God,
Bestow upon us fullness in our need,
Love towards God,
The affection of God,
The smile of God,
The wisdom of God.
The grace of God,
The fear of God,
And the will of God
To do on the world of the Three,
As angels and saints
Do in heaven;
Each shade and light,
Each day and night,
Each time in kindness,
Give Thou us Thy Spirit.