Archive for November 2017

Deck the Halls!   4 comments

Ah, Christmas! The Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve season is bright shiny lights, twinkling tinsel, parties and feasts and gift buying galore.

When our children were little we had Thanksgiving, followed by an anniversary, St. Lucia’s Day, two birthdays, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, and New Year’s Day. One year, I counted 27 different celebratory get-togethers that one or more of the family attended.

Nuts, right?

Image result for image of autumn inspired christmas decorationsSo  how did we de-lunacize our holiday experience?

November 13, 2017 – As the holidays begin rolling in, what do you do to prepare your house, yourself and your family for the hectic days ahead?

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Something had to give and it started giving that year.

I now buy Christmas gifts in September or even earlier. I avoid Black Friday altogether and, right there, take a lot of stress out of my life.

My favorite season is autumn, so I decorate my house for the season with autumnal colors – leaf swags, floral arrangements, a basket of fake gourds, the emergency lanterns that have a practical artistry. From Labor Day through Thanksgiving, our house is a veritable fall scene — and it will be again after New Years.

I make a huge meal for Thanksgiving and on the Friday, we swap out the autumn decorations for Christmas decor while eating leftovers. We put up and decorate the natural-look fake tree (don’t laugh, they don’t burn your house down so easily). We swap the swags, wreaths and floral arrangements and I pose my St. Nicholas figurine collection on the radiator shelf under the front window. A former supervisor used to give me one of these every Christmas and so I have a historical retrospective of St. Nicholas’ evolution from Turkish monk struggling through snows with a backpack to  a jolly Santa delivering a sleigh full of toys. We also put out a Nativity scene. Our 18-year-old son is going on 15 years of picking where the Wise Men start their journey (they weren’t at the stable there when Jesus was born). They’ll move closer as Christmas approaches and reach their final destination on Boxing Day (December 26 for Americans). We’ll take the decorations down New Years Day.

We really don’t do much with the outside of the house because Fairbanks has true winter and it’s usually been deep winter for a month by Thanksgiving. Before our crab apple tree got so large, Brad would throw a light-net over it, but about three years ago, the tree suddenly got too tall to do that without a huge ladder, so we agreed to stop. We’ve talked about doing a plywood cutout Nativity scene, but we haven’t planned it yet.

Saturday after Thanksgiving, I’ll pull everything out of the fridge so I can clean the thing top to bottom. Brad will scrub the counter and clean up the broiler pans and other serving items to be ready for Christmas. And, then … nowadays, we sort of relax.  We still have the anniversary and two birthdays but the kids do their own planning now and we don’t sweat it. Maybe we’ll go to a Christmas party or the local production of the Nutcracker. We might participate in our church’s pageant. They’re always looking for narrators and last year, I helped with writing the narrative.

My brother will probably come over for Christmas Eve. Our mother was born on Christmas Day, so we have traditionally celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve since as far back as I can remember. If he comes to our house, we’ll eat leftovers for Christmas Day. If we go to his house, I’ll make Christmas dinner. But, as with Thanksgiving, I don’t really sweat the meal. Turkeys are easy and I was raised in a restaurant. My parents taught me all sorts of cool tricks for making a big meal come out all at the same time without stressing myself out. Christmas Day is a time of relaxation and introspection for us … a spiritually focused day.

Mainly, how we prepare ourselves for the season is by reminding ourselves that we don’t have to get sucked into all the insanity of high expectations and frenetic activity. We concentrate on home and hearth and we have pared down activities to only those needed for the family or church.

 

Posted November 13, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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2 Corinthians Introduction   Leave a comment

I’m turning my attention to 2 Corinthians because the two letters really are joined at the hip in many ways. The apostle Paul wrote this letter. How do we know?

Image result for image of second corinthiansIn general, the external and internal evidence for Pauline authorship of 2 Corinthians are the same as for 1 Corinthians. There are three bits of evidence for this to consider.

  1. The external evidence is quite strong for 2 Corinthians, though not as strong as for 1 Corinthians. Scholars use quotations by the early Church Fathers as evidence that the book was of 1st century origins. 2 Corinthians is not quoted by Clement, but it is quoted by Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and Tertullian. Further, it is listed in Marcion’s Apostolicon and the Muratorian Canon.
  2. Internally, using 1 Corinthians as a benchmark of authenticity, this epistle easily passes the test. The literary style and form of argumentation are the same.
  3. There is another significant piece of internal evidence which, though present in traces in 1 Corinthians, is much stronger in 2 Corinthians. A pious imitator would be unlikely to portray Paul as an apostle in danger of losing his authority at Corinth or an apostle struggling to preserve the Corinthians from apostasy.”

It may be helpful here to rehearse the contacts and correspondence between Paul and the Corinthians.

  • Spring 50 AD, Paul arrived in Corinth and stayed there one and one-half years (Acts 18:11), in the home of Priscilla and Aquila.
  • Fall of 51 AD Paul sailed for Ephesus with Priscilla and Aquila. Priscilla and Aquila stayed in Ephesus while Paul returned to Antioch (Acts 18:18-22). While in Ephesus, Aquila and Priscilla met and trained Apollos, sending him back to Corinth to minister in Paul’s absence (Acts 18:24–19:1).
  • Summer/fall of 52 AD, Paul returned to Ephesus (after passing through the Phrygian-Galatian region) on his third missionary journey, and ministered there almost three years (Acts 20:31). Probably in the first year of his ministry in Ephesus, Paul wrote a letter to the Corinthians—a letter which is now lost (see 1 Corinthians 5:9).
  • Probably in the spring of 54 AD, Paul learned of other problems in Corinth from Chloe (1 Cor 1:11) and the delegation of Stephanas, Fortunatus and Achaicus (1 Cor 16:17). He then wrote the letter we call 1 Corinthians. He was in the second year of his ministry at Ephesus.
  • In the summer/fall of AD 54, he visited Corinth as he had indicated he would in 1 Corinthians 16:6, but he was not able to spend the winter with them. It’s possible Timothy had warned him the Corinthians hadn’t taken kindly to his rebukes in 1 Corinthians. What was originally planned as a positive time ended up being Paul’s “painful visit” (2 Cor 2:1) because of a particular man who was acting immorally (2:5-11; 7:12)—and was, indeed, creating doubts among the congregation about Paul’s apostolic authority. It was also painful because it was done in haste (he went directly to Corinth, bypassing Macedonia) and was much shorter than planned.
  • After the painful visit, Paul returned to Ephesus (Fall 54). Because of his humiliation at Corinth, Paul wrote a “severe letter” (2 Cor 2:3-4; 7:8), which was apparently carried by Titus (2 Cor 7:5-8). Scholars tentatively suggest a date of spring 55 for this severe letter
  • Paul left Ephesus in the spring of 55 AD for Macedonia, probably Philippi (Acts 20:1). On the way he stopped at Troas, intending to meet Titus there on his way back from Corinth. But he could not find Titus and sailed for Macedonia without him (2 Cor 2:12-13), hoping to meet him there.
  • Paul met Titus in Macedonia, learned from him that the Corinthians are getting straightened out (2 Cor 7:6-16), and while in Macedonia he wrote 2 Corinthians. Most likely, it was written in the fall of 55 AD.
  • Finally, in the winter of 55-56 AD Paul again visited the Corinthians (Acts 20:32 Cor 12:14).

If this reconstruction is correct, Paul visited Corinth three times and wrote four letters to the Corinthians, the second and fourth of which have been preserved.

There’s all kinds of different theories as to why the first and third letters no longer exist. There are some scholars who so fear that people will come to question the inspirational nature of scripture that they must twist themselves into pretzels to find some parts of these missing letters in either of the two existing letters. I’m more practical than that.  I think, and scholars at Dallas Theological Seminary appear to agree with me, that the harsher of the four letters weren’t circulated or copied and so, disappeared into the dustbin of history. Rebukes are painful and when a church has no intentions of adjusting to discipline, neglect of correspondence happens.

Nowhere in the Bible is there a claim that inspiration will protect a letter from loss. What we are promised is that what we have preserved now is God’s word. We know from the ending of John, that much more of Jesus’ words could have been recorded, but it would be too much and so, it wasn’t.

Paul began his second (canonical) letter to the Corinthians with a customary greeting (1:1-2), followed by a customary thanksgiving (1:3-11). But the thanksgiving this time is not for the church’s progress in the faith (as is usual in Paul’s salutations), but for God’s comfort of him in the midst of great hardships (1:3-11).

This note on God’s comfort in affliction is a natural bridge to the body of the epistle, for 2 Corinthians is focused on God’s glory in the midst of suffering. There are three main sections to this epistle:

  • defense of Paul’s apostleship in the light of his critics’ charges (1:12–7:16)
  • exhortation of the Corinthians to give to the collection for the poor believers in Jerusalem (8:1–9:15)
  • final affirmation of Paul’s apostolic authority (10:1–13:10).

Posted November 12, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Christianity

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Regulatory Reducing Diet   Leave a comment

The last Western Union telegram was sent 11 years ago. Why? Because technology outstripped its usefulness a long time ago. But the FCC recently decided to end burdensome regulations that stifled telegraph technology. As Reuters reported:

 

AT&T Inc, originally known as the American Telephone and Telegraph Company, in 2013 lamented the FCC’s failure to formally stop enforcing some telegraph rules.

‘Regulations have a tendency to persist long after they outlived any usefulness and it takes real focus and effort to ultimately remove them from the books even when everyone agrees that it is the common sense thing to do,’ the company said.”

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Regulations are far easier to create than they are to dismantle, yet there has been an undeniable trend of repealing these types of regulations lately. We haven’t seen anything like it since the Reagan administration. Who is responsible for this housecleaning? None other than President Donald Trump.

 

Ronald Reagan left many legacies during his duration in the White House. I could grumble out his contribution to the War on Drugs, but I’m going to focus on his deregulatory accomplishments.  During the Reagan administration, both the Federal Register and federal regulations decreased by more than one-third. That’s a pretty impressive record, considering most presidents increase regulation, but Donald Trump has already shattered that record.

Yes, he’s been in office less than a year and has already accomplished more on this front than Reagan did in eight years. Upon taking office, Donald Trump signed an executive order telling federal agencies that they must cut two existing regulations for each new regulation proposed. Contained within this executive order was the demand that each federal agency create a task force with the explicit purpose of finding regulations worth slashing. This act was intended to help the newly sworn-in president reach his promise of cutting 70% of all federal regulations.

Regulatory cuts are typical GOP rhetoric, but the left immediately set about to fight this executive order. A coalition of left-leaning organizations even joined together in February to sue Trump on the grounds that his executive order would potentially “block or force the repeal of regulations needed to protect health, safety, and the environment, across a broad range of topics – from automobile safety, to occupational health, to air pollution, to endangered species.”

Trump doesn’t scare easily. He’s an old hand at lawsuits. He’s continued forward with his objective.

The score speaks for itself. During the same point of time of their respective presidencies, Obama’s regulatory tally was at 1,737 while Trump’s is 1,241. And while Reagan’s own regulatory cuts were admirable, they still don’t compare with Trump’s if you judge them by the same time frame.

Earlier this October, Trump announced his plans to further cut taxes along with red tape that negatively impacts both businesses and consumers. According to CEI, the current level of federal regulatory burdens have amounted to nearly $2 trillion. Business owners pay the initial costs, but regulatory burden inevitably trickles down to the consumer. When overhead costs are raised on entrepreneurs, the cost must be made up somewhere. These hidden costs account for about $15,000 per household in any given year.

As the 2017 fiscal year came to a close this month, the White House also released its initiative to cut more red tape to jump start the economy. Obviously, the “do nothing” method is a far cry from Obama’s overbearing regulatory intervention. This is pleasing Trump supporters, the business sector and economics geeks like me who are fed up with a decade of economic stagnation, but recognize that Congress has yet to act on any substantial reform in either the House or the Senate. This is all being done by executive order. Regulations, by the way, are the one area where Presidents may act without the advise and consent of Congress. Regulations are an Executive Branch function.

The White House has continued its efforts to encourage regulatory relief by pushing for three specific reform efforts, listed by CEI’s Clyde Wayne Crews as follows:

  1. Trump’s January executive order requiring agencies to eliminate at least two rules for every new regulation adopted, and that they ensure net new regulatory costs of zero;
  2. A sweeping  Reorganization Executive Order that requires the Office of Management and Budget to submit a plan aimed at streamlining and reducing the size of the administrative state generally. This plan will set the tone for Trump’s budget proposal next year.
  3. memorandum from the new Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) administrator Neomi Rao directing agencies, for the first time as far as I can tell, to propose an overall incremental regulatory cost allowance for the agency in the new edition of their “Unified Agenda” on regulations. This report will appear in the fall. Prior editions, since the 1980s, would label rules as “economically significant,” but never has there been such a “regulatory budget.” Rao says, “OMB expects that each agency will propose a net reduction in total incremental regulatory costs for FY 2018.”

So, let me guess – you haven’t heard about this, right? That’s because the media have largely ignored it. Yeah, they never miss an opportunity to criticize President Trump, but somehow this massive rollback of regulation has escaped their notice.

 

Without economic liberty there can be no general freedom, which is why a decrease in the regulatory state is so important. There are many areas where I deeply disagree with President Trump, but increasing economic freedom is no small feat and it deserves a standing ovation. 

#Free #Apocalyptic #Book   Leave a comment

A Threatening Fragility Front CoverIn honor of its launch, A Threatening Fragility (Book 3 of the Transformation Project), is #free this week, while the rest of my catalog is #99cents #sale. so you can pick up the entire #series and my other books for less than A Threatening Fragility will cost next week.

Posted November 9, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in book promotion, Uncategorized

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#Free #Apocalyptic #Book   1 comment

A Threatening Fragility Front CoverIn honor of its launch, A Threatening Fragility (Book 3 of the Transformation Project), is #free this week, while the rest of my catalog is #99cents #sale. so you can pick up the entire #series and my other books for less than A Threatening Fragility will cost next week.

Posted November 9, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in book promotion, Uncategorized

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#Free This Week   Leave a comment

A Threatening Fragility Front CoverIn honor of its launch, A Threatening Fragility (Book 3 of the Transformation Project), is #free this week, while the rest of my catalog is #99cents #sale. so you can pick up the entire #series and my other books for less than A Threatening Fragility will cost next week.

99-Cent #Sale This Week   2 comments

In celebration of the #launch of A Threatening Fragility, my entire catalog is on #sale this week only.

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#Free This Week   3 comments

November 7-12

A Threatening Fragility Front CoverBook 3 of Transformation Project, A Threatening Fragility, is #free this week for its launch and the rest of my catalog is on 99-cent sale.

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I also have paperbacks for all my books. Available through Amazon or Createspace.

Welcome to Launch Day   Leave a comment

A Threatening Fragility Front CoverA Threatening Fragility goes live today. All my books will be on 99-cent sale this week and A Threatening Fragility will be FREE for four days.

Cai Delaney Speaks   Leave a comment

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November 6, 2017 Open Book Blog Hop

Pick a character from one of your books and interview him or her.

Rules:
1. Link your blog to this hop.
2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
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Welcome to the blog. My guest character today is Malacai Delaney from Transformation Project. Thank you for stepping out of the pages of my books and into our world for a brief moment. Tell us something about yourself.

Life As We Knew It (Transformation Project Book 1) by [Markham, Lela]Hi, Most people call me Cai. I don’t know that I’m all that interesting, but I’m willing to talk to you because you are my creator and I’m curious.

I wrote your character to be an intensely spiritual person who is curious about God. As authors are, more or less, the gods of their fictional universes, it makes sense that you would be curious about me. But this interview is about you. Where are you from?

Emmaus, Kansas, which is a community of about 5,000 people in northwest Kansas, just off I70. You know, mainstream, middle America. The most exciting thing we usually have is driving to the State Fair in Hutchinson and maybe drinking a beer in a corn field, round a bonfire after the harvest.

Life as We Knew It available on Amazon

How long have you lived there?

Pretty much my entire life. My father was born and raised there. The family goes back more than 100 years and lived at the old townsite of Jericho Springs before it was relocated to Emmaus for the railroad. Dad was in the military, so I was born in Seattle where my mom is from, but he retired when I was two and went to work for my grandfather at his feed store. I lived in Lawrence for several years through college and grad school.

Was it your intention to live in Emmaus after you got your law degree?

No. Actually, I sort of wanted to move to Kansas City, Wichita, Denver, but my wife – my girlfriend at the time — was offered a job at Emmaus Clinic, working with her mentor Dr. Vashon, so I changed my plans. It’s worked out. The City attorney of Emmaus retired and the City Council accepted my application. I’ve picked up some extra work with Mara Wells — a nearby town that is important to the Transformation Project — and Beulah County. Plus we’re living with my parents, who have a huge house, and that’s allowing us to pay down our student loans.

Do you wonder what happens to your debts in the current situation?

I think I still owe them. I spent the money, after all. Working three jobs — four with Marnie’s job — and living at my parents’ house makes more sense to me than my brother’s way of dealing with student debt. I still don’t know how I feel about what Shane’s been doing the last few years.

Conflicted?

Definitely. My feelings about Shane would be conflicted anyway, I guess, but … I just can’t imagine him as a mercenary, even though I’ve seen him in action.

I tried to interview him, but he’s pretty taciturn.

He’s always been a private person. These days, he’s very closed-up. Something’s going on behind that facade, but he isn’t letting any of us in.

So why’d you go to Wichita and leave him as your dad’s only deputy? Sounds like a cooler head might be needed.

Image result for image of objects in view markhamHe’s not the only deputy. Dad’s got Grandpa Jacob and Joe Kelly really ought to be in charge. He was a deputy before. He’s got training and a more even personality than Shane. But, fact was, I thought I’d be more use going with Ren Sullivan to advocate for the town. I’m a lawyer, not a cop. I didn’t expect things to slide sideways on me.

Do you kind of wish that Shane had come with you now?

That feeling comes and goes. I’m a 30-year-old man. I’ve spent more than half a decade living as an adult in Lawrence. I shouldn’t need Shane or anyone else to hold my hand, but his skills would be nice right about now.

Objects in View available on Amazon

What’s going on right about now?

That’s a long story. The night of the bombs, I’d just left Denver and I got stuck in a traffic jam near Kanorado. Shane knew the military was planning to kill all the people in the containment zone because of the radiation risk, so he came to get me. That was … wow! For as much as we fought when we were kids and even as adults … that he would do what he did to save me … I really need to rethink our relationship. (shrugs and sighs).

I guess the military was still looking for us. When I was in Wichita, the military tried to detain me, but I ran. I dove into a river to get away from the drones and soldiers chasing me. I climbed into a culvert and now I’m waiting to see what happens. So far, no humans have followed up searching for me. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow when the third book in the series comes out whether I’m still alive. Since you started Objects in View by killing over a hundred Emmaus residents, some of them named characters, I’m not real hopeful.

You’re talking to me so as not to piss off the person with control over your fate?

(Laughs nervously) Something like that.

I only kill characters if they stop talking to me, so that’s a good strategy. So, you think maybe someone with Shane’s skills could rescue you?

The guy I met at the Kanorado line sure could, yes.

Are you scared of what happens if they find you?

Image result for image of a threatening fragility markhamVery much so. Shane shot two National Guardsmen. He deliberately shot their body armor, but that’s still attempted murder and this is the military — so I think it’s probably treason. But they had summarily decided my fate without a trial, so I’m … there’s that word again – conflicted. I’m not sure what the charge is if you’re the one who was being rescued.

You’re a lawyer and you don’t know?

Not my field of expertise. Of course, neither is municipal law and I’ve been teaching myself that for the last year.

A Threatening Fragility available on Amazon

Do you have any hope?

Of course, I do. My faith gives me hope in all things. I just don’t know where rescue is coming from. I’m cold, damp, dirty and scared and I want to go home to my wife, take a shower and sleep for a week. (Pauses) Now that look on your face is making me nervous. You don’t have home and showers planned for my future, do you?

It makes a much better story if you have adventures. A Threatening Fragility comes out tomorrow and readers can find out what I’ve got planned. I’ll let you go, Cai. I hope you can get some sleep in this culvert. We’ll see you in the morning … if you survive.

LOOK FOR “A THREATENING FRAGILITY” ON AMAZON AND CREATESPACE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 7, 2017

LELA MARKHAM

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