Sweet Sound

Show and Tell

by baldilocks

From Mark Deutchle at American Thinker:

You might be surprised at what you can see and hear while ringing the Christmas Bell for the Salvation Army.  These last two weeks, I saw hundreds of people going in and out of our local Walmart, all coming within just a few feet of my Salvation Army Bell and Red Kettle.  Soon after I started ringing the bell, a few people stopped to chat, and it was then that I realized that I had a great opportunity to learn some new things.  I found that I was in the presence of authentic people living life, who were wanting and striving toward the best life they could create for themselves and their loved ones. (…)

I noticed that most people going in and out of Walmart were really not paying attention to me and my ringing bell.  However, if I took the lead by greeting them with a robust “Merry Christmas!,” many would smile and return the greeting.  Over and over again, I watched as some would mentally stop in their tracks, turning from their inward focus so they could place a donation in the Kettle.

It became obvious to me that the Salvation Army has earned for itself a tremendous reputation in America.  One can only wonder how many millions of lives the organization may have touched.  My brief time ringing the bell was encouraging, as I witnessed all kinds of people taking a few moments to donate to the Kettle: whites, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, vets, young and old.  All were acting on an impulse to improve the lives of others at their own expense.

At the end of Psalm 91, God says that, if we trust Him and are not afraid of all the stuff that life throws at us, He will show us His Salvation. It occurs to me that this means that He will show us Jesus the Christ and He will show us what Salvation looks like in action — what it looks like when it is on the march – like an army.

Mr. Deutschle got it from two perspectives: he saw it and was a part of it.

And it’s my opinion that each one of us can see it — if we are looking for it.

Merry Christmas.

By the way, I promised an update to this post. That will happen this Saturday.

Juliette Akinyi Ochieng has been blogging since 2003 as baldilocks. Her older blog is here.  She published her first novel, Tale of the Tigers: Love is Not a Game in 2012.

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Egypt Today

By Christopher Harper

Ahmed, a middle-aged tour guide, didn’t work for almost six years as Egypt’s economy fell into a downward spiral as a result of government instability, terrorism, and crime.

His health suffered, leading to two heart operations. His children’s plans to attend college had to be put on hold until recently.

Today, however, he’s optimistic about the future because the government of strongman Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has brought stability to the largest country in the Arab world.

I first visited Egypt more than 40 years ago, and it’s been eight years since I last traveled there—a time of great hope after the 2011 revolution.

That hope became despair in only a few months after the Muslim Brotherhood took control of the government for two years until the military seized power in 2013.

My wife and I just started a two-week stay that will allow us to travel throughout Egypt.

The people I’ve spoken with share Ahmed’s optimism. For example, Mina, who is Coptic Christian, said the greater attention to terrorism and street crime has made Egypt far better than under the Muslim Brotherhood. Although the hope of the Arab revolution of 2001 failed to be achieved, Mina is content that times are better than in recent years.

The Coptic Christians, who make up about 20 percent of Egypt’s population of 100 million, came under intense harassment at the hands of Muslim extremists for several years. Copts were killed because of their religion. Their churches were burned. Most lived in fear of what would happen next.

Although security remains relatively tight around Coptic churches, my wife and I visited the center of the Christian population. The streets bustled with local residents and tourists, with little concern about possible attacks during the Christmas holidays.

After a visit to a Coptic monastery in the western desert, however, military police accompanied our tour bus until we made it to more populated areas.

Tourism seems to have picked up after the problems of the past decade, although my wife and I didn’t see too many Americans. Many of our friends thought we were crazy to make such a trip, so Egypt will have to convince people from the United States to return there.

El-Sisi and his team have rolled out a variety of economic programs, including a major building project at the Suez Canal to increase traffic. Also, the government has devalued the currency, making foreign investment far more appealing.

But Egyptian skeptics remain. One of my friends whom I visited during the 2011 uprising left the country for Central America. When I asked him if any of my acquaintances remained in Egypt, he responded, “They’re dead, in prison, or they left the country.”

El-Sisi and his supporters still have to convince some of their fellow countrymen that the economic and political situation will get even better.

One final note: A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all of you from Egypt!

Ungodly Tom Brady New England Patriots AFC East Title Thoughts Under the Fedora

On Saturday the NE Patriots beat a Buffalo team that despite almost being shut down in the 1st quarter held a lead going into the 4th to clinch their 11th straight AFC East title.

When you’ve got a a guy who has won 6 superbowls a division title might not seem to mean much so to give you some perspective consider the following

The last time the Patriots did not win their division George W Bush was president and Tom Brady was injured and out for the year.

Not counting Tom Brady there are four Patriots with 10 years experience who have played their entire careers in Foxborough Devan McCordy (10 years) , Matthew Slater (12 years), Julian Edlman (11 years) and kicker Stephen Gostkowski (14 years) of those only Gostkowski and Slater have played on a Patriots team that has not won the AFC East and that was the year Tom Brady was injured in game one and out for the season.

Not counting Tom Brady Ben Watson is the player on the Patriots with the most NFL experience playing in his 16th NFL season. He started with the Pats from 2004-2009 and then going to the Browns, Saints, Ravens and Saints again before returning to the Patriots this year. Other than the year that Brady was hurt in game one he has never played in an NFL season that the New England Patriots have not won the AFC East.

Question: What to Josh McCown (QB Eagles) , Drew Brees (QB Saints) , Matt Bryant (K Falcons) and Adam Vinatari (K-Colts) have in common with Tom Brady?

Answer: They are the only active players in the NFL to play during a season where Tom Brady as the Patriots starter did NOT win the AFC East (2002).

The last time Tom Brady failed to win an AFC East title for the Patriots Spiderman staring Tobey Maguire was the #1 movie in the country, the 1st Harry Potter movie was released, the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was not yet complete How you Remind me was the #1 song of the year and Michael Jordan was still playing in the NBA.

Tom Brady has won more division titles as a player than the following franchises have won in their history.

  • Buffalo Bills
  • New York Jets
  • Miami Dolphins
  • Baltimore Ravens
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Houston Texans
  • Tennessee Titans\
  • Indianapolis Colts
  • Jacksonville Jaguars
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Oakland Raiders
  • Denver Broncos
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Philadelphia Eagles
  • Washington Redskins
  • Detroit Lions
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Tampa Bay Buccaneers
  • Atlanta Falcons
  • Carolina Panthers
  • Seattle Sea-hawks
  • Arizona Cardinals

There is likely no current college football player who has a living memory of an uninjured Tom Brady failing to win an AFC East Title

Tom Brady has won more division titles than the University of Alabama since division titles were introduced in 1992.

In this year’s postseason people are thinking that Lamar Jackson is the man to beat in the East with Patrick Mahomes and Deshawn Watson behind him. All three have beaten Tom Brady’s Patriots this season.

But if when the dust settles in the AFC, if Russell Wilson, Jimmy G. Drew Brees or Aaron Rogers or whoever comes out of the west finds that their path to Superbowl Glory runs through Tom Brady, while there will be a lot of people upset and disappointed, not a single one will be surprised.