On the Road with Tin Tin ;-) i love this piece

On the Rough Roads of Planet Earth

Old notes taken mostly from my personal time with God. We're moving house again, so, I guess we're back to being, literally, pilgrims on the Rough Roads of Planet Earth. (Photo taken on a road to the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, North Auckland, NZ, Dec 2009.)

Monday, January 2, 2017

Happy New Year 2017!

Praise God for Christmas! It reminds us to face the New Year with Hope and Courage!
Isn’t it so apt that just one week before the new year we always have Christmas? Every end of the year we are faced with uncertainties for the future, and especially more so this year! But Christmas reminds us that the One who sits enthroned and rules above all rulers, kings and princes, is the One True Infallible Perfect Ruler. He never makes mistakes, He is in control of everything and He has your back - if you let Him! 

6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end....
Isaiah 9

Governments, kings, presidents and princes. They are all human and fallible, no matter how smart, strong, smooth, shrewd and savvy they may be. But praise God, we have received the One True Perfect Ruler who rules above all fallible governments, world organizations, institutions, leaders, strongmen and straw men alike. We received Him at the very first Christmas, and His name is Jesus!

Isaiah 33:22 For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us.

The year 2016 saw the passing away of entertainment icons Prince, David Bowie, George Michael, Carrie Fisher and her mother Debbie Reynolds. On the other hand, Kim Clement, a Christian prophetic minister, also died in the past year. Clement  is probably the most prominent minister to have uttered prophetic words concerning Donald Trump rising as a leader of the American nation.  Eventually, 2016 ended with the “upset” win by newcomer and philanthropist-businessman Donald Trump over expected winner ex-Senator and ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the American presidential elections. The Obama administration blamed the Russian nation for interfering in the said elections by hacking into Mrs. Clinton’s emails and leaking them, an absurd claim according to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meanwhile, Wikileaks’ Julian Assange  claims his organization only beamed the leaked emails to the world. Then,  just two days before Christmas, on the Sabbath before Hanukkah, the UN Security council passed a resolution for a "two-State solution based on the 1967 lines" concerning the Israeli-Palestine conflict. That implies the division of the city of Jerusalem between the two states of Israel and Palestine. It was carried through because President Obama did not veto it, contrary to what US presidents had done in the past, including himself in September 2015. President-elect Trump had been calling on President Obama to veto the resolution but the latter was defiant, with many citing the deteriorating relations between Bibi and Obama as the main reason for the latter’s actions. 
Now with 19 more days in office left in Obama’s 8th and last year in the White House, Trump’s and Israel’s supporters only wish they could hasten the presidential inauguration slated for Jan. 20, 2017. Trump had promised that America’s stance on Israel’s plight will be different when he takes over the top post.  Meanwhile,  they are also pondering what more parting moves Obama is going to pull off in these crucial final days before he ships out from the Oval Office.
With this backdrop for the year 2017 ahead, we do need assurances of hope and stability from God, and praise God indeed for Christmas, as we already had that certainty of hope and peace in Jesus Christ when we celebrated Christmas a week ago! He rules the world in truth and grace and that truth brings peace to our hearts, at Christmas and New Year, and beyond! Jesus Christ rules now and forever more!

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
John 1:17

18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may  know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,
19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe.  That power is like the working of his mighty strength,
20 which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms,
21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every title that can be given, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church,
23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in  every way.
Ephesians 1

"They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings - and with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers."
Revelation 17:14

Desserts at the New Year's Eve party I attended with my family. I made the naked choc cake garnished with fruits. Yup, I should try a new cake recipe for the year ahead, maybe lemon cake!

I am truly happy that Jesus is in my heart and I know He has my back, come what may! How about you? Have you received Jesus in your heart yet? Now, right now, is the best time to do it. Makes one ready for the year ahead like no other! Invite Jesus into your heart now! It's the only way to truly have a happy new year!!!

A Happy and Blessed New Year to one and all!

 1) Kim Clement. (2016, Nov 14). Untitled [Facebook Update]. Retrieved  Jan 1, 2017 from https://www.facebook.com/ProphetKimClement/?fref=ts
2) Jacobs, B. (2016, Dec 24). Julian Assange gives guarded praise of Trump and blasts Clinton in interview. [Web Log Post]. Retrieved Dec 30, 2016 from https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/24/julian-assange-donald-trump-hillary-clinton-interview
3) Snyder, M. (2016, Dec 26). Obama Betrays Israel At The United Nations - Is America's Reprieve Now Over? [Web Log Post]. Retrieved Dec 26, 2016 from http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=902#j0TslKExkwh4oQZL.99
4) Benjamin Netanyahu. (2016, Dec 28). President-elect Trump, thank you for your warm friendship and your clear-cut support for Israel! 🇮🇱🇺🇸[Facebook Update]. Retrieved Dec 28, 2016 from https://www.facebook.com/Netanyahu/photos/a.376960237075.156823.268108602075/10154241151347076/?type=1&theater
5) childrenlovetosing. (2013, Oct 20). Joy to the World with Lyrics Christmas Carol & Song Kids Love to Sing. [Video file]. Retrieved Jan 1, 2017 from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=30OaM6b48k8
All Scripture references are from the 1984 New International Version, unless otherwise specified.

This is a re-blog. If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2017, Jan 1). Happy New Year 2017! [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://purejoyland.com/2017/01/happy-new-year-2017/

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Lazy Esau

Appreciating a long-stemmed rose is just like reading the Bible. You would think the long, boring “introduction” of the Old Testament would amount to nothing but voile! Right at the end of the stem is the lovely, sweet-smelling flower - the New Testament! And that rose is fully alive. It continues to grow into full bloom as history fulfills all the prophesies from the stem, the Old Covenant, and the bloom, the New Covenant! So, take time to smell and appreciate the rose! It’s waxing fragrant right in front of you as you tackle your day!

There was a man who despised his birthright. His name was Esau. He sold his birthright to his brother Jacob for a lunch of bread and lentil stew. (Genesis 25:29-34) He sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son, for a single meal! (Hebrews 12:16)
“Afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind, though he sought the blessing with tears.” (Hebrews 12:17)
When we believe there is no God and claim to be atheists, we are just like Esau. We disown the God who made us and we toss aside our birthright. Besides, we do not only incur the wrath of a despised father but a despised Father God Himself! 
Let that sink in for a while. That is the true scenario, if indeed there is a Creator God who created you and is your Father. No, it's not Darth Vader telling Luke he is his father. This is the infinitely good GOD telling YOU HE is YOUR Father!

 God owns everything, He is also all-powerful, all-knowing, all-present. Who wouldn’t want to have a father like that? (And who are we to even turn away from Him??) 

 If I’m a son or daughter of His I inherit everything He has and eventually, some of those omni powers, too! Besides, God has a Kingdom, the Kingdom of Light, and His Enemy owns the Kingdom of Darkness. And alas, what sucker fate, when I disown God and my birthright, I am also automatically thrown out of God’s Kingdom and will end up in the Kingdom of Darkness outside - that of His Enemy, the King of the Kingdom of Darkness! (Colossians 1:13; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 2:2,3; John 12:31; 1 Peter 2:9, Matthew 8:12; Luke 13:28)
Yaiks, can’t afford to be an apathetic Esau!
“...the Kingdom of the Heavens is taken by violence, and shares in the heavenly kingdom are sought for with the most ardent zeal and the most intense exertion and violent men are seizing it, each one claiming eagerly for himself.” (Matthew 11:12, The One New Man Bible, emphases mine)
Adam was a son of God. (Luke 3:38) But one disregard for one simple rule took his firstborn birthright away, as well as his standing as a son. Alas, we all are sons and daughters of Adam. And by default we all came into the world in that fallen standing with God our Father. That's pretty much the reason why we have this disowning, abandoned and orphaned spirit that makes us deny there is a God and He is our Father. The spirit of rejection in us keeps reiterating the narrative in our head: "You reject me? I reject YOU!" We can say it was the "separation anxiety" with compounded and multiplied effects handed down to us through our generations, stemming from the banishment of Adam and Eve from Eden!

 But hey, God is infinitely able and resourceful. He emptied Heaven by sending His own Heir, His own Son Jesus Christ, to restore us to our sonship with the Father, through the Blood, the Blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God! God was deeply offended by Adam's (and Esau's) mindless disregard for his birthright but His love and wisdom are infinitely able to fix that up. Although it comes at an infinitely heavy price, too - the life of His one and only begotten Son. For Adam’s sloppy mistake, Esau’s wicked contempt and our apathy or ignorance of God and His instructions, God has one answer. He brings us back to sonship through the Blood -  the Blood of the Perfect Lamb! 

Now this is mind-boggling and deserves our utmost attention. Beyond Jesus, there is no other way back. It's our last and only chance. Disregarding Jesus and His life message incurs the final wrath of God for which there is no Plan B. (Acts 4:12, 1 Timothy  2:5) We must avail of the covering and saving power of the Blood of Jesus by getting to Know Jesus Himself! Now! Asking a friend who believes and reading the Gospels are great ways to start!
Don’t miss out! Look up! Go for it. “Afterward” could be too late.

“The Kingdom of the Heavens is taken by violence...” (Matthew 11:12)
All Scripture references are from the 1984 New International Version, unless otherwise specified.
If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2016, Oct 23). Lazy Esau [Blog Post]. Retrieved from  http://purejoyland.com/2016/10/lazy-esau 

Happy Resurrection Sunday 2016!

Yup, I was away for some time. I only had funny clips added to the “Lighten Up” section of this site in the past month or so. Truth is, I hurt my right hand and it was in a cast for five weeks and now I’m on my 12-week physical therapy phase. I couldn’t use my right hand much, including typing on a keyboard, thus, I took a break from blogging for a while. I can type now but my hand gets tired really fast. Hence, will keep this short, and sweet. :-)
My purse was snatched on the first week of last month (February). I drove to the ATM one dark cold night, the day before the snow was forecast to fall. I was the perfect crime victim - I parked on the side of the road because I thought, “Wow, so few people out on a cold night in a usually bustling corner! Might as well make use of the parking space - it’s all mine tonight!” I was also in a hurry leaving the house and mistakenly grabbed my daughter’s beanie which had a bright pink pom-pom at the top. Looking back now, if I had parked at my usual pharmacy parking the carpark cameras may have scared the thugs away. If I was wearing my usual black non-descript headgear they probably would have had more trouble singling me out and following me from the ATM to the drugstore and to my car. But then, you see, I was being the perfect crime victim that night. On my way back home, at a traffic light, I thought there seemed to be a car which was much in a hurry behind me. But then again I didn’t give much thought to it. Must just be some young people out late at night, I thought. When I got home I took my usual sweet time to park and straighten my car. Our house has no fence and our front light wasn’t on, as usual. If ever I sensed an “impatient” driver behind me at a corner on the way home, that car seemed to have gone further on after I turned at our corner. When I got out of my car I saw a teenage-looking guy about to pass in front of our house and he was wearing only a thin hoodie. I thought, "That's was pretty under-dressed for an unusually cold night like this." He looked like he was one of our neighbors living just down the road from us. I thought, "Oh well, young people. They would rather be cold but look nice." Was I wrong! Before I reached the steps of our front door he came up to me and yes, that was when the snatching happened. When he finally wrenched the bag off me I fell backwards on the pavement and I saw a car rev up to go, right at the corner, when the robber ran towards it together with my bag.

Well, what did I learn from that incident? So many things, of course. First, forget about using ATMs. Now I understand why people use “cash back” at the drugstore. After I was made to view at least 1000 faces of suspects I also realized you really can’t judge a book by its cover. Some of them looked so innocent, just like any guy sitting next to you on the bus.

Was I mad? Well, at first I thought, next time I should be carrying a satchel that would teach a snatcher a lesson; very much like this one:

Or better still, lug a nightmare knapsack like this one:

What d'ya think? Tsk, tsk. Nah, instead, I decided not to carry any pouch at all, at least for a while, until the trauma dies down. :-)

And then again, it's Resurrection Sunday. What better time to forgive and move on! At the cross, despite His suffering and sorrow, Jesus prayed to His Father for His crucifiers. He said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they’re doing.” If only we fully understand the repercussions of every mindless did we do or worthless thought we entertain, I guess we would think a million times before we do them. If Adam had known all of mankind, from his generation down through the ages, would suffer the disastrous consequences of him and Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden, he probably would never have given a second thought to the serpent's suggestion. Or, would King David have bothered to take a second glance at bathing Bathsheba if he had known it would result in the decline of his kingdom and ruin of his children? When people try to make light of divorce and remarriage they always cite David’s sin of adultery as if saying it’s acceptable because even a great king like David did it and he was still what God considered “a man after God’s own heart” ! They always forget that that adultery he did weakened the foundation of his dynasty and posterity. It brought catastrophic events into his very own household, resulting in the rape and murder committed by his children against one another, his son raping his own wives in public humiliation on the roof of his palace, and he himself and his personal guards running away for fear of his life from his own son! Nathan the prophet declared to him: "This is what the LORD says: 'Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity upon you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will lie with your wives in broad daylight. You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel." (2 Samuel 12:11,12) If David had known all those events would follow, he wouldn’t have dared take another glance at his neighbor’s wife, would he? How about Moses? If he had known that giving in to his anger by striking the rock instead of talking to it, would result in his being barred from the Promised Land, would he have struck the rock still? I doubt it. If barren Sarah had known her act of impatience - giving her Egyptian servant Hagar as wife to her husband Abraham to fulfill God’s promise for an heir - would result in the cataclysmic chasm between the descendants of Hagar’s son Ishmael and the descendants of her son, the promised heir Isaac, for all time (thank God, not really, but until "Shiloh comes"), would she have been more patient? And would Abraham have persuaded her to wait if he had known what they were doing? Adam, David, Moses, Sarah, Abraham (and many others) - all pillars of the Bible story. Yet, they did not know what they were doing! How much more us? Do we know what we are doing? Have we learned from the mistakes of these heroic personalities yet? So yes, most likely, we all have done wrong and we knew it not. We all have sinned and did not know what we were doing. So, no, I actually did not feel resentful towards the robbers. In fact, I prayed they read the books I had in my bag - a New Testament and a Christian biography - besides spending the cash and throwing away my cards, my low-tech cellphone and other personal effects! I felt more like how-silly-of-me-to-have-played-the-dumb-sitting- duck-that-night. But then again, I did not know what I was doing. So, yeah, I had to forgive myself, too. And yes, I was able to turn aside to gaze on the Burning Bush. When we fall sick or get into some accident or mishap I believe it is God calling us to pull aside, take stock and reflect. What an opportune time - the true essence of the Lenten Season! And praise God, we have Resurrection Sunday at the end of it - the Resurrection of Jesus Christ which gives us hope for a new life and new beginning! It's the apt time to reflect, forgive, repent and live again. Happy New Beginnings! So there, "Happy Resurrection Sunday!"

All Scripture references are from the 1984 New International Version, unless otherwise specified.

This is a re-blog, a really late post originally posted on March 27, 2016.

If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2016, Mar 27). Happy Resurrection Sunday 2016! [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://purejoyland.com/2016/03/resurrection-sunday-2016

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Boxing Day

Phew! Feeling relieved having survived all that shopping, cooking, sending off presents, partying and eating days of left-overs of rich food? Well, take a deep breath, honey, you will start the cycle all over again tomorrow!

How did you spend your Boxing Day? If you’re in  England, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, you were probably busy at the shops picking up the best deals of the year! I remember when we were in New Zealand, Boxing Day made me feel like I shouldn’t be doing any shopping all year except for that day! That’s THE Day when best deals are truly best! It’s probably the equivalent to Black Friday shopping here in America, but minus the stampede and the overnight queues.

Well, as for me, I went to the post office first thing, after all I did my basic chores for that day. With the Christmas rush over you would think the streets would be quieter and the mall parking less stressful but no, there were still many people. Well, probably buying post-Christmas item sales for next year’s trimmings, gift wraps, cards, Santa hats and suits? Or returning purchases or presents with receipts for the right color, size, style, model, edition, etc, or refund? Boxing Day or Returns Day?

I had bought a reference book but realized I bought the wrong edition year I wanted for that book just hours after I placed the order on Amazon. So, I went online again to cancel it. They didn’t reply although the status didn’t show anything like it was already being prepared for shipping. I sent 4 emails in total, still no reply. There is no number to contact, by the way. (Later, my credit card company gave me a number to contact Amazon but it turned out to be a fax number.) When the status started showing that it was already being prepared for shipping I emailed for the 5th time and only then did they reply saying it cannot be cancelled anymore and that I can always return it but they won’t refund me for the shipping charges I would incur. So I disputed the transaction saying I had cancelled it early enough but they insisted on shipping it. I thought even if I would incur some money for shipping back I don’t care, I really don’t want that book. They probably are hoping I would get discouraged by losing money on the return shipping and I would just keep the unwanted merchandise. But our house is already bursting at the seams with old books I don’t even want anymore. The USPS (US post office) has this “flat rate” boxes that are relatively reasonably-priced. Anything that fits in those boxes, no matter the weight, would ship at that flat rate. So, I thought I will try just see how much it costs to send back the item as it is first and then compare its price if re-packed and sent in a flat-rate box. So, that’s what I did. And voile! The post office clerk said since I didn’t open the item she can treat it as “refused” and she can send it back as it is, WITHOUT any fee on my part! Hurray! I’m glad I was so mad about the way they treated my cancellation that I was actually mulling sending it back as it is, even if the price of shipping would cost me a bit more than sending it back on a flat-rate box. (The book is big and heavy.) I’m glad I decided not to even touch the thing!! So, she gave me a tracking number and I called my credit card company again to continue with my dispute. Yesss, that should be the end of it! I was blessed by God through that clerk on Boxing Day, and for all time for that info on “refused” deliveries!
Took photos of the "refused" merchandise to make sure I have a record that I sent it back unopened and in excellent condition.

Meanwhile, I just read this feature article by Alex Shephard saying that Amazon business did so well this past year and his conclusion is that, “Amazon’s influence on the American economy is greater than ever been before, and it will almost certainly be even greater next year. There are some reasons to feel good about this—no company is more committed to making it easier for consumers to buy things—and a lot of reasons to be troubled.” I can’t agree more on that. They make shopping so easy but "returning" wrongly-bought items seemingly difficult; well, in fact, it actually is not only difficult but impossible. (Read the Epilogue all the way below.)

Actually, this was the second time this happened to me - buying the “wrong” thing. Last time I also bought a reference book from Amazon and I got two confirmation emails from them for that transaction. I thought it was just a duplicate email. Horrors! It was actually two distinct purchases for the same item. They said their system got two purchase orders from me and it looks like I clicked on the “buy” button twice!? Their solution? “Just return the merchandise but we can’t pay for the shipping charge you incur.” Of course that deterred me at once as the book was heavy and that time I did not even know about flat-rate boxes in the USPS (not sure even if they already had that option then). So, I kept the merchandise and decided to give it as a present to a friend instead. But now that I discovered about this “refused” option at the USPS, phew!  that’s a relief! Online shopping may not actually be suicide, just close.

On the other hand, I just found this thread online on how to refuse a delivery and it looks like if it is delivered by a private courier, like UPS,  returning goods is not that straight-forward. Apparently, with private couriers, they have their own “culture.” (Well, just as my son had said, I could have known about this earlier if I just Googled it. *emoticon*)
So, there, this has put my guards up on online shopping, at least for now! Meanwhile, I’m cleaning up my house for the year-end “Spring cleaning,” at least before the New Year frenzy starts all over again, and will be boxing away clutter and happily throwing away a lot more! Hopefully, my house will get a clean, streamlined look again,... till new clutter sets in, again. Hmmm, sounds like the humdrum of life, year-in, year-out. Still,

Blessings to You All and All the Best for your New Year Celebrations!
This is a re-blog.
If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2015, Dec 29). Boxing Day [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://purejoyland.com/2015/12/boxing-day/ ‎
Thanks for dropping by! See you in my other site for more blogs: www.purejoyland.com
Epilogue of this Incident:
I got a refund of 75% of the book price from this transaction although I returned the item well within the return window of 90 days given by the third party vendor BooKnack. See here for Amazon's Partial Refunds & Restocking Fees. I ordered it on Dec 20 and they received it back in original condition on Dec 29.Well, I'm sure BooKnack have their own returns policy to justify the lesser amount they are refunding me, and it's toolate for me to know what their policy is.  The wrong purchase on my part cost me a total of $13.42, the vendor citing "restocking fee and the return shipping costs that the USPS charged" them. That means the post office clerk telling me that return shipping costs me "nothing" is as good as a lie. I looked at the USPS website online to send them an email to inquire how they can make such an empty claim when the vendor can actually charge me their "free" service but there is no option available in their menus to make that kind of inquiry. I guess I can go back personally to the post office and tell the clerk to stop spreading "misleading info" (euphemism for "lies") to naive customers like me when it comes to Amazon merchandise but that is the best this case can go. No, there is no free lunch on Amazon, honey. You clicked the wrong button, you pay for that and walk, drive, park and line up as well. Let's just say, set aside a pleasant morning for that. The trite thing is, I cancelled this order 6 hours after I realized I placed the wrong order and emailed them four times (they give you no phone number on their site to contact them for cancellations, returns, etc.) and they did not reply. In one of the emails I offered them to please just cancel the order, just charge me 25% of the book price plus the Amazon shipping fee of $3.99, because I did not want to go through the hassle of receiving the item and going to the post office to return it. I even argued that we would be doing the environment a favor if they agreed with my proposal. No reply. Until then Amazon had not posted any status on my order so I knew the book was still with them, the order unprocessed and could have easily been cancelled. When Amazon already posted the status on their site that the item is being "prepared for shipping" I emailed the third-party vendor   BooKnack for the 5th time confirming that I really did not want that order and I still wanted it cancelled. Only then did they reply and all they said was that the order was already processed too far down the line to be cancelled. I have never cancelled an order before on Amazon or anywhere, so, the 25% amount off the item price plus the shipping fee charge I had proposed was just a wild guess on my part. Well, true enough, those are the amounts they lopped off the money I had paid them for this order. So there. Hard lesson learned. Don't be so click-happy with your cursor when ordering online. Just a finger-press on your part and you have to pay 25% of the item cost, plus the shipping fee, plus incur a trip to the post office. The main hard lesson learned for me: Online shopping is not there for the convenience of the customer but rather for the vendor/s and the credit card companies.
Did the credit card company help me by withholding payment just because I argued I made the cancellation request just hours after I made the wrong order? No. They said once you give the vendor authorization over your credit card number they have no authority to stop payment.
Was Amazon able to help me cancel the order? No. The best they can do is give me the $13.42 I lost in the form of a coupon which I can use on my next purchase with them. (Will I still shop with them?)
Did the USPS promise of "free shipping" for "refused" delivery carry through? No. USPS is over-ruled by the vendor's "return policy," of which I usually don't even bother to know before I place any order. Yup, that's head-in-the-sand me.
Did the third-party vendor reply to any of my requests for cancellation just hours after I placed the order? No.
Did the third-party vendor have a phone number on their website that I could easily contact for customer support when I wanted to cancel the order? No. Their system only allowed me to email them.
Does the Amazon website have a number I could easily contact for customer support when I wanted to cancel the order? No. I called my credit card company to stop / hold payment but instead they gave me an Amazon phone number to contact but it turned out to be  a fax phone number. That was before the transaction had "posted" on my online credit stream, which, being "unposted" yet, could not be "disputed" at that point. When it had finally "posted" already and I called them to dispute the transaction as they had promised, then my credit card company gave me another Amazon phone number instead which I could finally contact. By then Amazon could not do anything much to help because the product had already gone through the whole cycle of being delivered and returned to the vendor. The transaction was over and they had all the right to refund me just any percentage-amount they arbitrarily decided to do so. I was at everyone's total mercy. All that by just one wrong flick of my finger.
Well yeah, here's naive me, thinking online shopping was so convenient! Well, not anymore! If I was just shopping at a brick-and-mortar shop, say Macy's or Barnes and Noble, and changed my mind about a purchase, I could come back hours or even a day or so later, return the product with the receipt and they would credit back the full amount to my credit card or membership card. Online shopping does not allow that to happen.
Alex Shephard quoted in his article which I cited above that, "Amazon resists narratives because Amazon has only one narrative: complete commercial domination." That actually sounds just as it does: alarming. The last Barnes and Noble in Queens, NY will close this new year and now, having had this experience with Amazon (and BooKnack) makes me even more sad about B and N closing down. Will I keep my account with Amazon? Maybe I will, but just for the purpose of snooping around. Or I lose a grip on what the real world is like. But hey, "happiness!" This mis-purchase just opened my mind to yet another window of what our real world is like - the reality of the increasing predominance of e-commerce and its powerful sinister curb on our shopping liberties.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Happiness

Christmas! So much happiness and cheer comes with the season of trees, Santa Claus, stockings, sleigh bells, reindeers, carols, parties, presents and church plays! Well, at least for many people. If you are in Southeast Asia and you’re not Christian you most probably are not celebrating Christmas and it probably doesn’t mean much to you, except for the Christmas songs you hear in the malls and the radio, or tv. If you’re in Northeast Asia you may not be a believer of Jesus and His birth but you are most likely having a Christmas party at work or with your friends at the bar. You will have a Christmas tree at home and some trimmings and may even eat a Christmas cake at your Christmas party where you exchange gifts. If you’re in Europe you would have Christmas trees at your mall or town center and trimmings and lights on the roads, even the houses. It would be the same in many other countries where England, Spain and France have ruled once before. As for the rest of the world where Islam, Hinduism, Taoism, Buddhism and other religions are followed, as well as those where communism is the ideology (Russia, North Korea, Myanmar, etc.) there probably would be no vestiges of Christmas in the commercial places at all, probably only in some homes, and in secret. But for us here in America and in the part of  Asia where I come from, Christmas, just like Thanksgiving, is always associated with family reunions, get-togethers, parties, church-going, exchanging gifts, etc. It’s the time of year when people would pay a premium just to purchase a ticket to be home. In the olden times it’s that time of year when we hear from family and friends though we hardly hear from them at any other time of the year. We would send Christmas cards, letters, photographs, even presents, to one another. Nowadays, because of technology and social media we just send our greetings through the airwaves. We get to save many trees and the environmentalists rejoice!

Christmas in our neighborhood.

Sounds really awesome and great but it could be terribly awful and lonely for those who do not have family, or friends, real friends who care. I am thinking about the  homeless, or the elderly parent whose  children are all abroad and can’t come home for the Christmas dinner. Or the single senior parent in a hospice and his / her family are scattered all over the place and they all are too far to come and see him / her. Or the grieving one whose spouse or child had just passed away this year, or had an accident and is in coma, or is terminally ill and in hospital. Or the one who just had a divorce, or had a bitter quarrel with a child and are not in speaking terms with him / her.  I guess Christmas would be more like misery than happy?

If we have friends and loved ones, neighbors, who may be in these situations, this is the best time to reach out to them, as Christmas becomes depressing rather than cheerful for them. It is a reality that holidays are the worst times of the year for them. Let’s remember to pay them a visit or call, send a card, flowers, bring a dish or something. 

Wrapping up the chocolate bundt cake I gave to my friend for a Christmas present.

For those of us who have broken relationships, we can take this time to take a deep breath, re-think once, twice, one more time... Voile! it is the best time to make amends! Send a gift, card or something to indicate that you want to forget whatever bitterness had transpired between you and your loved one, you want to start afresh and of course, that is not so easy to do unless we have had a true renaissance in our hearts. Well, Jesus came at the first Christmas to bring love, hope and forgiveness to all of us. Maybe we can take a moment to reflect on that?

Does it really matter that we are able to attend parties? That we wear the most eye-catching clothes and brightest smiles to see friends and family? Does it really matter that we have a dining table loaded with goodies on Christmas Day and Christmas Eve? Does it really matter if we don’t have a tree, or lights or trimmings on our windows? When we are not in good terms with people we love isn’t it that the only thing that matters would be to be reconciled with them and have peace in our hearts?

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 But if you do not forgive men their sins your Father will not forgive your sins.
Matthew 6

That is the reason why we do not have peace when we have discord with other people, especially our very own family. When there is a  broken relationship and unforgiveness it creates a barrier in our relationship with God. That barrier is the main cause of the unrest in our hearts. We might try to ignore it, sometimes for years, on and on, but it is one of the things that cause illness in our bodies. It is also known as sin. This is one of the most basic concepts on living and it’s found in the Bible, the word of God.

Adam and Eve, the first humans, committed the first sin of mankind which broke man’s relationship with God. In fact, they fell out of the grace of God - they were driven from God’s presence and His heavenly place of dwelling for them - the Garden of Eden.

Romans 3:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Adam and Eve were created in the image of God. As such, they were meant to be eternal just like Him. But because of sin they became mortal. Our being mortal is another result of that original sin they committed - eating the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil of which they were forbidden to eat.

Being put away from God’s presence and his heavenly habitation created both an estrangement and a breach between God and man. That condemnation has brought shame, guilt, low self-esteem, self-pity, despair, loneliness and rejection in the heart of man. As such, man became predisposed to broken relationships. Relating with his spouse, children, friends and family became a struggle rather than a natural thing. All these bring unrest in the heart of man. The only solution to that restlessness is the peace of God, being reconciled with God and restored to that place of fellowship and intimate relationship with God. Alas, how do we ever get back to that place of fellowship and trust with God again? Can we ever get Eden back? (Yes, even global warming and all the environmental problems we’re having are results of our sin and sinful nature inherited from Adam and Eve!)

Well, God, the only true wise God, came up with the solution. He sent somebody to pay for our sins so our mortality can be reversed and we can be restored to the original state of Adam and Eve before the Fall. That somebody has to be human so he can take the place of humans (he cannot be an angel or an animal like a goat, sheep, cow, etc.). Also, he has to be sinless. He has to be totally pure or he cannot be a fitting sacrifice. If he has sin, even just a single one, when he offers his life in the place of mankind he would be dying only for his own sin, not for anyone else’s. Thus, he has to be totally sinless, perfect beyond reproach. So, Jesus volunteered to do the job. As well, he is the only one who qualifies to be the legitimate sacrifice. Any human being wouldn’t have qualified because all humans have inherited the effects of the sin / iniquity and resulting sinful nature of Adam and Eve after they committed the first sin. When Jesus became human he had to be born of a woman but He was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit, hence, the virgin birth. Jesus was 100% human but also 100% Divine. It doesn’t make sense? Well, if we can understand everything about God we would be the same level as Him. But as it is, we are not, thus, God remains incomprehensible, at least in areas that He hasn’t chosen to reveal to us. So yes, Jesus was truly human yet truly divine - one who was truly obedient to His Father, the God of the Universe, the One True God. The obedience of One Man paid the price of punishment for the rebellion of the whole human race. (Take note: only humans! Angels, demons nor “aliens” cannot be redeemed through Jesus’ sacrifice.)

5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am - it is written about me in the scroll - I have come to do your will, O God.’ “
Hebrews 10

So, there, God became flesh for us on the first Christmas! And such great joy and peace He brought unto men for doing that! If His peace and joy are not real to you, I know what that means. I was once like that, too. Neither did I understand the love of God, especially His love for me (and you) expressed through His only son Jesus. I can tell my story in another blog, maybe next time, or this blog will grow too long. I still remember how it felt like celebrating Christmas the first time after I came to know Jesus as my Lord and Savior. So much joy, peace, happiness and meaning came into my life! It was my first time to spend Christmas and New Year away from my family but it was the most meaningful, joyful and peaceful for me. It was like not knowing what you’re searching for yet knowing that you need to search for it and when you find it, you know it answers all the questions you’ll ever have in life! It’s coming to know and have what you have been missing all the while.I felt like I found the meaning of my life and existence.  Looking back, I actually found Life itself! It’s just how wonderful God truly is!

I just recently watched this vid post on youtube and I think this song and singer (Phil Driscoll) say it very well.  When this song was famous my friends and I used to make fun of this song, saying “pitiful” instead of “beautiful.” For really, nobody deserves that kind of cheesy adoration! It’s plain silly! But now that this singer explains that this song was originally composed ( by Billy Preston) with God in mind (not a human love interest), the song suddenly makes sense to me. Well, yes, He is truly BEAUTIFUL!!!

It starts at 2:00 onwards. And yes, Jesus brings so much joy and happiness into our lives! (If you let Him.) Go ahead and watch it!

Well, back to our topic today -  “Christmas Happiness.”

1 John 4:19  says, “We love because He first loved us.”

Until we realize how much God loves us we won’t be able to receive that love into our hearts, and we won’t be able to give away something we don’t have in the first place.

We can’t forgive and be reconciled with the people who irk us if we have not received the forgiveness of God, yet.

Unless we realize how much sin we have committed and how much we have broken God’s heart, we won’t realize we need to know the holiness of God.

Unless we know the holiness of God, we will never know how far we fall short below His standard and we can never realize how truly “ugly” we are, and how badly we need His beauty imparted upon us.

Unless we look at ourselves in a mirror and see ourselves as we are, we will never know how wretched, poor, blind and naked we are, and how badly we need God.

The Bible, the word of God, says:

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
Hebrews 4:12

17 You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.  18 I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire,  so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.
Revelation 3

Could this be true about ourselves? Could the word of God be actually a mirror that reflects our true state in God’s eyes?

If it is not true, then Jesus left His glory and majesty as King in Heaven and became a humble human being born in a lowly manger in a home fit only for animals - a stable - for nothing. For Jesus came to lift us up from our dark and sorry plight to a glorious one - full of abundance, favor, light, freedom, comfort, joy, gladness and beauty.

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion -
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,’the oil of gladness instead of mourning,’ and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.
Isaiah 61

Are you intrigued about Jesus yet? His birthday is celebrated by so many! His birth re-set the calendar of human activity, from “BC” to “AD.” “BC”  means “before Christ” and “AD” means “Anno Domini,” Latin for “in the year of our Lord,” referring to the Lord Jesus. Every year after the birth of Jesus is known as “the year of our Lord,” meaning, “after we already have the Lord who came as our Messiah - Savior, Messenger, Prophet.” His birth was so significant that the timeline of the history of human civilization is pegged at His birth, albeit the scholars who did it made a wrong calculation of Jesus’ actual year of birth. You can read more about that here

Well, “Christmas Happiness?” I say you can find it in Jesus. But don’t take my word for it, check it out yourself!

       Merry Christmas and Peace to all!
All Scripture references are from the 1984 New International Version, unless otherwise specified. Emphases in bold letters are mine.
If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2015, Dec 24). Christmas Happiness [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://purejoyland.com/2015/12/christmas-happiness/
This is a re-blog. If you wish to read more of my blogs please log on to www.purejoyland.com.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thankful at Thanksgiving

It is hard to celebrate Thanksgiving without giving some thought, in fact, deep thought, to what actually happened around that “mythical picture" of the “first” Thanksgiving.
I had been homeschooling my special needs child for the past two years and whenever Thanksgiving comes around I would borrow books from the library for us to learn what this special holiday of Thanksgiving is all about. At first we just learned about the Pilgrims or the Pilgrim Fathers and their historic crossing of the Atlantic Ocean from England on the iconic “Mayflower” ship - a group of about  a hundred colonists including 35 Puritan Separatists seeking religious freedom in the New World. It is said that two friendly English-speaking Native Americans, Samoset and Squanto, especially the latter, helped them to cope with the harsh winter and the New England way of life, teaching them how to plant corn using fish as fertilizer, where to find herring, eels, lobsters and clams, how to hunt for beavers and how to plant the Three Sisters - pumpkin, corn and beans, even mediating a treaty between them and the Wampanoag natives and advising them which tribes are more friendly and which ones are war-like. Also, it was said that when the  Wampanoag Grand Sachem, Massasoit fell ill a few years later, it was the Pilgrims who nursed him back to health. (1)
However, some people are saying that there were no friendly relations at all between the Wampanoag or other Native American peoples and the Plymouth settlers from Europe. The history textbooks are vague about Samoset’s and Squanto’s motivations in helping the colonists. However, one point of view we just read says Squanto was captured as a slave and purposely taught English to  serve as the colonists'  interpreter and guide into the New England wilderness. An alternate reading on this supposedly history of Thanksgiving can be found here
For many Americans, Thanksgiving is associated with football, overeating, family gatherings and bountiful celebrations. However, for many Native Americans, it is a time of mourning as they remember "the genocide of millions of their people,  the theft of their lands, and the relentless assault on their culture.” (3) Traditionally, it is associated to the Pilgrims or the Pilgrim Fathers who docked in New Plymouth, Massachussetts just days before the Christmas of 1620. For many, the “picture” of the First Thanksgiving dinner was that of a feast held by these Plymouth settlers in the Autumn of 1621 after they had a plentiful harvest after the long period of want, hardship, death and despair which they endured from the time they left their safe haven  of Leiden, Holland until their circumstances turned around that Fall 1621. 90 Native Americans were said to have joined the 50 or so settlers in that First Thanksgiving meal. In fact, this is probably the most famous picture of that momentous event:
A post going around on Facebook uses this picture with a caption that says, "The irony of refusing aid and assistance to refugees / migrants while preparing to celebrate a holiday about receiving aid and assistance as refugees / migrants." [Above image taken from (5).]

However, apparently, that feast or food sharing between the locals and the new settlers was more like a giant picnic party in the tradition of the English Harvest Home. (5) It is an English tradition practiced by the pre-industrial English in their villages. It was typically hosted by the lord of the manor – the local landowner – a celebration of feasting and gaiety, attended by everyone in the farming community – from the lowest farm hands and simplest folks to the noblest gentry. Singing, dancing and playing games were part of the celebrations which was supposed to mark the end of the harvest season and usually celebrated when all the crops have just been gathered in. This reminds me of the closing scenes in the tv movie “Emma” by the British Broadcasting Co., starring Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong, based on the novel by Jane Austen.

That picture sounds more plausible to me. As Ozborne mentioned in his account, this is most likely what happened:

As they Pilgrims were shooting their guns in the air – likely with a mixture of the hefty amounts of alcohol they consumed – they were met by ninety or more Wampanoags. As the story goes, they invited the Indians to join them. However, it is more likely that the Indians rushed over to see what all the gunfire was about and then were asked to join. They had a three-day feast, in which the Indians provided the majority of the food.  (3)

Personally, I do think that Squanto did have a good relationship with the Pilgrims. A narrative I found online by Chuck Larsen gives a pretty vivid picture of what could have happened. I am actually fascinated as to why Squanto took it upon himself to help the Pilgrims of Plymouth:

Squanto was originally from the village of Patuxet (Pa TUK et) and a member of the Pokanokit Wampanoag nation. Patuxet once stood on the exact site where the Pilgrims built Plymouth. In 1605, fifteen years before the Pilgrims came, Squanto went to England with a friendly English explorer named John Weymouth. He had many adventures and learned to speak English. Squanto came back to New England with Captain Weymouth. Later Squanto was captured by a British slaver who raided the village and sold Squanto to the Spanish in the Caribbean Islands. A Spanish Franciscan priest befriended Squanto and helped him to get to Spain and later on a ship to England. Squanto then found Captain Weymouth, who paid his way back to his homeland. In England Squanto met Samoset of the Wabanake (Wab NAH key) Tribe, who had also left his native home with an English explorer. They both returned together to Patuxet in 1620. When they arrived, the village was deserted and there were skeletons everywhere. Everyone in the village had died from an illness the English slavers had left behind. Squanto and Samoset went to stay with a neighboring village of Wampanoags.
One year later, in the spring, Squanto and Samoset were hunting along the beach near Patuxet. They were startled to see people from England in their deserted village. For several days, they stayed nearby observing the newcomers. Finally they decided to approach them. Samoset walked into the village and said "welcome," Squanto soon joined him. The Pilgrims were very surprised to meet two Indians who spoke English.
The Pilgrims were not in good condition. They were living in dirt-covered shelters, there was a shortage of food, and nearly half of them had died during the winter. They obviously needed help and the two men were a welcome sight. Squanto, who probably knew more English than any other Indian in North America at that time, decided to stay with the Pilgrims for the next few months and teach them how to survive in this new place. He brought them deer meat and beaver skins. He taught them how to cultivate corn and other new vegetables and how to build Indian-style houses. He pointed out poisonous plants and showed how other plants could be used as medicine. He explained how to dig and cook clams, how to get sap from the maple trees, use fish for fertilizer, and dozens of other skills needed for their survival.
By the time fall arrived things were going much better for the Pilgrims, thanks to the help they had received. The corn they planted had grown well. There was enough food to last the winter. They were living comfortably in their Indian-style wigwams and had also managed to build one European-style building out of squared logs. This was their church. They were now in better health, and they knew more about surviving in this new land. The Pilgrims decided to have a thanksgiving feast to celebrate their good fortune. They had observed thanksgiving feasts in November as religious obligations in England for many years before coming to the New World.
The Algonkian tribes held six thanksgiving festivals during the year. The beginning of the Algonkian year was marked by the Maple Dance which gave thanks to the Creator for the maple tree and its syrup. This ceremony occurred when the weather was warm enough for the sap to run in the maple trees, sometimes as early as February. Second was the planting feast, where the seeds were blessed. The strawberry festival was next, celebrating the first fruits of the season. Summer brought the green corn festival to give thanks for the ripening corn. In late fall, the harvest festival gave thanks for the food they had grown. Mid-winter was the last ceremony of the old year. When the Indians sat down to the "first Thanksgiving" with the Pilgrims, it was really the fifth thanksgiving of the year for them!
Captain Miles Standish, the leader of the Pilgrims, invited Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit (the leader of the Wampanoags), and their immediate families to join them for a celebration, but they had no idea how big Indian families could be. As the Thanksgiving feast began, the Pilgrims were overwhelmed at the large turnout of ninety relatives that Squanto and Samoset brought with them. The Pilgrims were not prepared to feed a gathering of people that large for three days. Seeing this, Massasoit gave orders to his men within the first hour of his arrival to go home and get more food. Thus it happened that the Indians supplied the majority of the food: Five deer, many wild turkeys, fish, beans, squash, corn soup, corn bread, and berries. Captain Standish sat at one end of a long table and the Clan Chief Massasoit sat at the other end. For the first time the Wampanoag people were sitting at a table to eat instead of on mats or furs spread on the ground. The Indian women sat together with the Indian men to eat. The Pilgrim women, however, stood quietly behind the table and waited until after their men had eaten, since that was their custom.
For three days the Wampanoags feasted with the Pilgrims. It was a special time of friendship between two very different groups of people. A peace and friendship agreement was made between Massasoit and Miles Standish giving the Pilgrims the clearing in the forest where the old Patuxet village once stood to build their new town of Plymouth.
It would be very good to say that this friendship lasted a long time; but, unfortunately, that was not to be. More English people came to America, and they were not in need of help from the Indians as were the original Pilgrims. Many of the newcomers forgot the help the Indians had given them. Mistrust started to grow and the friendship weakened. The Pilgrims started telling their Indian neighbors that their Indian religion and Indian customs were wrong. The Pilgrims displayed an intolerance toward the Indian religion similar to the intolerance displayed toward the less popular religions in Europe. The relationship deteriorated and within a few years the children of the people who ate together at the first Thanksgiving were killing one another in what came to be called King Phillip's War.
It is sad to think that this happened, but it is important to understand all of the story and not just the happy part. Today the town of Plymouth Rock has a Thanksgiving ceremony each year in remembrance of the first Thanksgiving. There are still Wampanoag people living in Massachusetts. In 1970, they asked one of them to speak at the ceremony to mark the 350th anniversary of the Pilgrim's arrival. Here is part of what was said:
"Today is a time of celebrating for you -- a time of looking back to the first days of white people in America. But it is not a time of celebrating for me. It is with a heavy heart that I look back upon what happened to my People. When the Pilgrims arrived, we, the Wampanoags, welcomed them with open arms, little knowing that it was the beginning of the end. That before 50 years were to pass, the Wampanoag would no longer be a tribe. That we and other Indians living near the settlers would be killed by their guns or dead from diseases that we caught from them. Let us always remember, the Indian is and was just as human as the white people.

Although our way of life is almost gone, we, the Wampanoags, still walk the lands of Massachusetts. What has happened cannot be changed. But today we work toward a better America, a more Indian America where people and nature once again are important." (6)
Even William Bradford, one of the leaders of the Pilgrims, mentioned Squanto in his memoirs. Thus, I am inclined to believe that Squanto, Samoset, and of course, Massasoit, were real (not fabricated, as some people say) and that their kindness and friendliness to the Plymouth settlers of 1621 were crucial in the survival and success of that group, who were soon followed by other boat-loads of Puritans from England, said to be escaping the worsening persecution by the British monarchy. Squanto must have been an adventurous and smart guy to have befriended and travelled with the English explorer John Weymouth. That he learned English, was captured as a slave but escaped and was helped by a Spanish friar and he was able to get to England from Spain and find Weymouth there - these are all feats not commonly seen among most people. He must have been devastated to have found all his own people gone, the Patuxet, because of an epidemic that swept his village. Now that village he grew up in is gone and in its place were these helpless English people with whom he can easily relate with and whom he probably saw as "family" because of his close friendship with John Weymouth and also the kindness he received from the Catholic Spanish priests. I wouldn't be surprised if that affinity with the Europeans was the only motivation he had in helping them settle down in his "village." However, it is really sad that things deteriorated soon after that because more colonists came from England, people who did not know about Squanto, Samoset, Massasoit and their gentleness and kindness to the Pilgrims who blazed the trail for them.
I found an article in Wikipedia that says Squanto died of Indian Fever in November 1622, just one year after he befriended the Pilgrims. (7) So, it looks like this talented, friendly and adventurous young man was hand-picked by God to learn the English language, travel to Europe, come back to discover he lost "everything and everyone" of his, mourn for his totally obliterated family and community, accept the misfortune of his enormous loss caused by the coming of the "white men" (who brought the illness that wiped out his whole village) and  choose to show hospitality and kindness to the Europeans who took over the habitation of his village and take them as his own people, close to a replacement of his own totally-gone people. And when he had successfully helped this fledgling bunch of settlers to make good in the land, God takes him away, as if his mission in life was done! Whoa, wasn't that an incredible working of the hand of God?
Eventually, things would turn ugly. They all must have had a foreboding it eventually will. As more colonists came, they needed more land to settle in and the Native Americans were soon pushed out of their own lands, brutally or otherwise. It sounds like an all-too-familiar story. The Maoris of New Zealand and the aborigines of Australia would have a similar story to tell as England was expanding its territories throughout the world at about that same time. I wonder how many Samosets, Squantos and Massasoits and their peoples must have suffered atrocities in return for their kindness and hospitality. But at this time of American Thanksgiving, I do remember the Native American peoples and appreciate them for all they are worth. If not for Samoset, Squanto and Massasoit and their gentle peoples, this American nation would not have taken root and flourished here on American soil. In turn, my family and I wouldn't have been able to come here and share God's blessings for this fair land, blessings of relative peace, safety, community, provision, opportunity and hope for our children.
It is indeed with much thought that this year I celebrate Thanksgiving with family and loved ones. My family and I are new here in America and we thank God that we have come to a country that are welcoming to immigrants. We also thank God that we can still celebrate Thanksgiving peacefully, albeit the worldwide travel alert for Americans issued by Pres. Obama just days prior.
Recently, in the light of the Paris bombings, people are torn between welcoming Syrian refugees into their countries, or not. Some people cite the picture of Thanksgiving above, using guilt to pressure people to be once again welcoming to migrants, just as the Native Americans had been welcoming to the English Puritan settlers.
This is the main reason why I once again surveyed the history books and this time, I also looked at the differing opinions on these historical accounts on Samoset, Squanto, Massasoit and the Pilgrims. I then realized it is naive for anyone to make such a comparison, or even use the above image for emotional blackmail. In fact, we probably should use this picture as a warning to ourselves that history may repeat itself. The Puritans were said to be escaping from persecution in England by the then King James I, and subsequent sovereigns, who didn’t take kindly to the “extreme” Christian practice of the Puritans. Some even called them dissenters. In a similar way, we now have Syrian refugees who are escaping the atrocities of war and “religious persecution” in their native home country. Some of you may think it is atrocious of me to make this suggestion. I am a Christian and a follower of Christ and the word of God, the Bible. It is true that Christianity teaches charity and mercy towards people in need, especially those whose lives are in danger. However, the Bible also teaches that Christians should see to the needs of their own brethren, their own people, first, even as they help others. I do think that it is with much wisdom and discernment that we should approach this delicate matter.
Some Scripture that come to mind that may shed light on this issue are the following:
1 Timothy 5:8
If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Galatians 6:10
Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.
Furthermore, the Golden Rule simply put says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 19:19; Luke 10:27; Romans 13:9; Galatians 5:14, etc.)
That statement actually implies that we love ourselves first before we are able to love our neighbor. Even in instances of emergency or crisis, a person has to take care of himself first before he can take care of another. For instance, whenever you travel on the plane, one of the pre-take-off instructions is for you to learn how to put on the oxygen mask at any time a sudden drop in cabin pressure occurs. The instruction explicitly says that if you are a parent, you need to put on your own mask first before you help your child to put on his/her mask. It is the same with running a nation. First, you put the safety measures in place for your citizens before you think of helping those who are refugees, visitors, aliens or noncitizens. In a crisis, if helping the non-citizens would jeopardize the safety of your citizens, it only makes sense that you act to safeguard your citizens first. It is sad when we are forced to make tough choices like that but sometimes circumstances warrant us to make them. Such is the job of our public servants. Thus, I do not blame those US state governors who opt to keep their constituents’ safety top priority, over and above the needs of the refugees in crisis. On the other hand, I also thank God and pray for countries, like Germany for instance, who have taken the bold decision of receiving as many refugees as they can, in the hopes that they do not encounter security problems in the future, stemming from such a bold move. I would say, they are the ones taking the "extra mile" for their neighbor in need. They are practicing one of the "hard teachings" of Christ.

Matthew 5
38 "You shave heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.'
39 But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.
40 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.'
41 If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.
42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.
I also pray that the war in Syria will be over soon and that there will be true peace in the Middle East. Wherever we are, we all know, there is always no place like home, if home had not become a treacherous place.

I also take this time to reflect and pray for the healing of the Native Americans who are still hurting; not only for them but for the colored population here in America, in general. Something has to be done, I believe, by the government, or at least, a collective group of people from the general public, to recognize these crimes of the past so healing can begin somewhere. If such is not made possible in our generation, at least we can pray that there will be more consciousness and sensitivity by our generation, in recognizing these issues and problems stemming from mistakes made by our forebears / elders. In fact, it could be that faced with the same difficult circumstances, we too may not do any better than they did. Who knows? As for now, with God, nothing is impossible. I believe healing begins with consciousness, desiring for change, reaching out, and it all starts in prayer. Mountains don't move until there is a move of the Spirit of God, so, everything has to start in our hearts and in our prayer closets.
Clockwise from left: Some Thanksgiving fare - Banana cake muffins, apple pie, cornmeal and cranberry loaf, sweet potato casserole with pecan and cornflakes topping, roasted turkey.
Now, my family and I have eaten our turkey, had our jovial gatherings, had our rich desserts, had our mashed potatoes and casseroles. We are not rich,  nor are we poor. We are content and happy. We thank God for His goodness in all things, for His abundant provision always, for the relative peace we are enjoying, for our good health that comes from Above, for friends and for family. We remember those who may not have some of these things, especially those who have been driven from their homes in war-torn places. I believe God is more than able to provide, to make way, to make changes, to bring comfort, cheer and hope to everyone in need. The world is far from perfect, in fact, there has been more suffering these recent days, but we have the God of Hope and the God of Love, Joy and Peace to whom we can call on for help. He is always near and His love never fails. I am thankful for God and His infinitely good heart. It’s been a thoughtful Thanksgiving for me and my family. I would say we have been blessed in a profound way. Hence, I would like to wish a happy and thankful Thanksgiving weekend to all who celebrate, and a restful and happy weekend to all!
Reference cited:
(1) Santella, Andrew. The Plymouth Colony. Minneapolis: Compass Point Books, 2001.
(2) History.com Staff. (2009). The Pilgrims [Article]. Retrieved from http://www.history.com/topics/pilgrims Access Date Nov 28, 2015.
(3) Ozborne, Irwin. (2015, Nov 26). Celebrating Genocide - The Real Story of Thanksgiving [Article]. Retrieved from http://www.wakingtimes.com/2015/11/26/celebrating-genocide-the-real-story-of-thanksgiving/ Access date Nov 28, 2015
(4) Schiffman, Richard. (2011, Nov 21). The Truth About Thanksgiving: What They Never Taught You in School [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-schiffman/the-thanksgiving-truth_b_1105181.html Access Date Nov 28, 2015.
(5) Tracy, Kathleen. Plymouth Colony: The Pilgrims Settle in New England. Hockessin, DE: Mitchell Lane Publishers, 2007.
 (6) Larsen, Chuck. The Plymouth Thanksgiving Story [Article]. Retrieved from http://www.manataka.org/page269.html Access Date Nov 28, 2015.
(7) Wikipedia.  (2015, Nov 19). Patuxet Tribe [Article]. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patuxet_tribe Access Date Nov 27, 2015.
If you wish to cite this blog, citation is as follows: PureJoyLand. (2015, Nov 28).  [Blog Post]. Retrieved from http://purejoyland.com/2015/11/thankful-at-thanksgiving/
This is a re-blog. If you wish to read more of my blogs please log on to www.purejoyland.com


Smile! God loves you and me. ^____^

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The Many Versions of Love Stories 1. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. They live happily ever after. 2. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. The marriage sours, they part, and live happily ever after. 3. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, kiss and marry. Then boy finds out it's more fun to be girl... or girl finds out it's more fun to be boy, they part, change sexes and live happily ever after. 4.Finally, boy or girl meets God. It's love at first sight... The roads went rough, the tides rose high, the strong winds blew and the quake shook the ground... but they truly live happily ever after, forever and ever. 5. Try God's love... it's always happy forever after, and the story never ends. :-D