Something to remember:

It should be noted that the only thing really prompting this tonight is watching an episode of DS9, and yet there are many reasons to consider both, not only under the current administration, but even more so under future ones.

The following two statements stand in opposition to each other, and yet are essential to remember. The first, known largely because of a Star Trek episode, is "Inter arma enim silent leges". It's actually a quote from Cicero from the Roman empire, who said "Enim silent leges inter arma"... the word order makes no difference in Latin; the declension of the nouns and conjugations of the verbs determine the meaning, not only of the words themselves, but of the sentence as a whole. The phrase means that the law is mute during 'the time" of arms. DS9 translated it as "In times of war, the law falls silent"; this is similar enough to the actual meaning that we can work from this translation.

The other statement, often attributed to Benjamin Franklin (who said some remarkably similar things, to be fair) but of uncertain origin, comes from the era of American Independence. It is "
Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." It. like the above, is often paraphrased and quoted differently, but again, with enough similarity to the original that it too, can be discussed comfortably.

It should be clear enough why the two are in such complete opposition, yet let me make absolutely clear that it is enumerated. The first, Roman quote, discusses the tendency of government to suspend legal behavior in order to accomplish the "greater" goal of winning a military conflict. Indeed, this was invoked in a Supreme Court decision made in 1866 following the American civil war, when they declared that the Bill of Rights were suspended in times of war, when the safety of the individual was supreme over all other laws. The second, attributed to Franklin, one of the fathers of our nation and indeed, author of the very Bill of Rights that the Supreme Court declared were suspended in time of war, discusses the balance between liberties and safety. It argues that the surrender of freedoms in an attempt to purchase safety is dangerous at best.

I ask you to think these things over. I ask you to be intentional in your political decisions. I know that it sounds as though I'm speaking out against the current administration, but I'm not. I'm speaking of all governments. Do you really want a government large enough to sell our liberties in the name of providing us safety that they can not actually guarantee? (You really think the government LET 9/11 happen, with full knowledge that thousands of innocents would die? Wow... let me read your conspiracy blog!) Do you really want a government large enough that they would ignore the laws put into place to limit it and protect it whenever it feels threatened? The constitution was created to limit the government and protect the people from tyranny... and yet, the very freedoms it guaranteed are now questioned and considered disposable. The right to bear arms was to arm the people against an abusive government; today we are required to register with the government the very firearms we would use to defend ourselves against it.

How big do you want your government?

full disclosure: I am a registered Republican, I agree whole heartedly with the decision to go into Iraq, I don't think we can pull out given the current situation, and while I know how to use a gun, I do not currently own any and couldn't hit the broad side of a barn from 2 feet away. None of those facts negate the discussion above.


Keeping Track of Heather

Thanks to the internet, our world that was once insurmountably large is now incredibly small. It's not that the planet went on a diet or something (what? Diet? That works?!), but rather that our social networks have grown larger. With the advent of global internet, telephones, cars, trains, airplanes, and other communication and transportation devices, we are no longer limited by how far our legs (or our beast of burden's legs) can carry us before we drop. I have dear friends all over the world and from all over the world.

The internet, particularly what media call "Web 2.0", allows us to share as much (or as little) of our lives as we desire, and often at little or no cost. I've signed up for lots of different websites and web-based services, and it's easy to lose track of them all. So, as much for my sake as yours, I've decided to link as many of them here as possible.

Snapfish (Mostly pictures others have shared with me)
Webshots, Webshots, Webshots (My most common "dumping" ground of pictures. Cruise pics here, etc. more than 3000 pictures across the three accounts, folks!)
Flickr (If this doesn't work, leave me a comment, please!)

LiveVideo (I usually TRACK Vids here, not upload them).
(My favorites, and vids I've uploaded).

Blogs & MicroBlogs (Twitter)

Social Networks

It's worth noting that 99 out of 100 times you find "hjourdenjackson" somewhere, that's likely me. "hjackson" is me, too, quite often, but not always. I'm on forums, in chats, in email... It's entirely possible to have an entire social life online, and I'm living proof of that. The above are just the most common places to find me.

ETA: Nearly forgot one of my favorites. My poetry is regularly listed on the first page of results when you Google me by name. Whoo! (We think that the website where it's located actually winds up inflating the chances of being found...)


Twice-Baked Potatoes (16 April 2008)

OK, to be fair, I measured NOTHING in this "recipe", so I'm guessing at approximate measurements to replicate it.

Baked 3 HUGE russetts in-skin, in microwave (took 15.5 minutes before they were done, and in a few places, I think the last 30 seconds might have helped...)

Pan-fried 4 strips of turkey bacon and chopped into 1/4"ish square pieces (nothing fancy, just ran my knife through them in a rough chop.)

I halved the potatoes and scooped out the innards, saving skins as possible (If you manage to save all 6 halves, bravo! I only got two!) even though that meant they were not scraped of all the flesh.

Mixed with maybe 1/2?cup of milk (I know I started with about a 1/4 cup, but they needed more, so I tossed in another healthy splash), and about 2? ounces of sour cream in my stand mixer. Added bacon, a handful of shredded romano, 1/2? 1/3? cup shredded sharp cheddar (somewhere between a 1/6 & 1/8th of one of those 2 cup bags) and a tablespoon or two of "trail dust", a boutique spice I found in a flea-market type booth here in town (yes it was sealed!). Added a stick (yes, an entire stick!) of butter (1/4 pound) and about a tablespoon or so of kosher salt as I mixed.

Scooped the two skins full and overflowing (if you save all 6 skins, you may not be able to do quite "overflowing") and had about a quart of mashed potatoes left. Sprinkled about a hand full of sharp cheddar on top and poof... will bake them off in the oven in a few minutes.

It's worth noting: cheddar was 2%, milk was 2%, sour cream was "light", and the bacon was turkey bacon. This SOUNDS horribly decadent, but it's not as bad as it could have been. Also worth noting: The only thing I had to buy specifically for this was the potatoes. I had the seasoning, the bacon, etc. I used up the remains of one bag of cheese in it, and took the cheese to top it with from another opened bag (no, I don't know why I had two bags of the same sort of cheese open).

They say the best cooking is the kind you don't worry or fuss about measuring out, and just put together to your tastes. This was that sort of cooking. Shoot, that's MOST of my cooking. I might start with a recipe, but I rarely follow it exactly (except for baking, where chemistry means I fiddle with things less than other recipes).


Musical Musing: Nichole Nordeman, "Sunrise"

Sunrise, Nichole Nordeman

If I had the chance

To go back again

Take a different road,

bear a lighter load

Tell an easy story

I would walk away

With my yesterdays

And I would not trade

what is broken for beauty only

Every valley

Every bitter chill

Made me ready

to climb back up the hill

And find that…

You are sunrise

You are blue skies

How would I know the Morning

If I knew not midnight?

You’re my horizon

You’re the Light of a new dawn

So thank You, thank You

That after the long night,

You are sunrise

There’s a moment when

Faith caves in

There’s a time when

every soul is certain God is gone

But every shadow is evidence of sun

And every tomorrow holds out hope for us

For every one of us

You are sunrise

You are blue skies

How would I know the Morning

If I knew not midnight?

You’re my horizon

You’re the Light of a new dawn

So thank You, thank You

That after the long night,

You are sunrise

You alone will shine

You alone can resurrect this heart of mine

You are sunrise

You are blue skies

How would I know the Morning

If I knew not midnight?

You’re my horizon

You’re the Light of a new dawn

So thank You, thank You

That after the long night,

You are sunrise

You are sunrise

It’s been a while since I worked on this particular series, but listening to the music again and having a moment after changed doctor’s appoinments and lunches gave me a chance to be still and chew on the lyrics again.

Let me start by giving you some scriptural references that give us the biblical basis for Nichole’s assertions that God is sunrise. There’s a lot here, and I didn’t get them all, so feel free to do your own searches.

Ezra 9:8 Psalm 18:28 Psalm 118:27 Isaiah 60:19 1 Corinthians 4:5

2 Corinthians 4:6 1 Peter 2:9 1 John 1:5 Revelation 21:23 Revelation 22:5

John 8:12 John 12:35 John 12:36 1 John 1:7

I find myself really identifying with these lyrics. I’ve said one version or another of them at different times in my life, even written poetry with these ideas swirling at the foundation. This idea of what we would do differently if we could go back and do it over again often forgets the essential nature of an experiential life; we learn by doing. We gain strength by surviving. We grow through adversity. The abuse I grew up with, the physical beatings, the verbal lashings, the rape and seduction of my innocence, the emotional uncertainties… every bit of it, it was horrible, and no, I wouldn’t wish my past on anyone. I wouldn’t recommend my upbringing to anyone, and I would (and do) report any adult I saw repeating on a child the things that were done to me. Every time, I would stand up and fight for the defense of the child. Please don’t think for a moment that I would ever advocate that child abuse is necessary or acceptable. It is a repellent stain on humanity.

That said, if I had a chance to go back in time and magically prevent what had happened to me, to undo the abuse before it happened, I wouldn’t. I am the woman I am today because I survived that. My faith blossomed in ways I can’t imagine it would have without the struggles I faced.

I’m not saying that the only way to have a deep faith in God is to have a traumatic upbringing or horrifying event in your life. As my sweet mother would say, I don’t have to become an alcoholic to be as aware of my need for grace and reliance on God as the alcoholic walking the path to recovery. God is mighty and wonderful and beyond our imagining; His grace is as individual to each of us as we are to Him.

What I do mean to say is that faith is tested and proven in the fires of trial and adversity. When it seems there is no reason to hope, no joy to cling to, no future to long for, no external reason to have faith that there is more than the darkness that surrounds us, life is bleak and frightening. But when you are able to see just the faintest glimmer of the coming dawn, when you can reason with yourself that now is not forever, and better will come in time, when you can cling to faith when there’s no obvious reason to do so, then the faith that emerges will be stronger for the trials. In a very real way, our faith is like gold, which must be melted and destroyed in fire in order to remove the impurities and be shaped into its final form. It is like steel, which must be tempered with heat to strengthen it, make it harder and less brittle. It is like clay which must be molded and shaped in the hands of a master craftsman to be useful.

Let’s say for a moment that you’ve lead a privileged life. You never wanted for anything, you never knew what it was to go without. There was never any doubt that you were dearly loved. Life was a cakewalk. You enjoy sunrise, but you never doubted it would come. You have the sort of precious faith that was poured into you by your family and loved ones, that is as much a part of who you are as your own name, your very being. Now try to imagine what it is like for someone who didn’t have that remarkable privilege. Think of a child from a third world country, for whom peanut butter is a luxury rarely afforded. You get tired of the everydayness of peanut butter and jelly sandwich; imagine the poor child, half naked, and delighting in the first peanut butter and jelly sandwich he’s ever had. Give him a burger and fries and look at how stunned he is at the meat… and how ordinary it is to you. Imagine, beloved, that your faith in God is like the food we eat. Sometimes, it’s so easy that it’s easy to take for granted. But when each meal is remarkable, how sweet it tastes, how satisfying it can be! Now go back to our person who has had enough all his days. Suddenly, life changes, and he finds himself hungry, cold, lost and alone. What a shock! What in life has ever prepared him for less than enough? Maybe his family told him what to expect, maybe they raised him with respect for the frailty of life. But the other child, the one who’s known nothing but want all his life? When everything is yanked from him, he’s grown accustomed to the possibility. He’s stronger, harder, not because his lifestyle is good or ideal, but because the only choice he’s ever had was cling to uncertain hope and survive, or give up in despair and succumb to the overwhelming loss and death.

I’m married to a man who is the first, who had a stable, loving home with stable, loving parents. He didn’t have everything he wanted all the time, but his parents made sure he always had what he needed. His faith is no weaker than mine, no less valid than mine. I’m not saying that at all. The trials he faced built him in ways I can’t understand. But in many ways, I’m the second (though I’ve never gone hungry). There were literally days I didn’t know if I’d wake up in the morning, days when I wasn’t sure not waking up would be such a bad thing. But being carried by my faith in Christ meant that when the rug was pulled from beneath my feet (when my father, the one person I thought really “got” me, died when I was 16), I already had in place the faith I needed to carry me through the darkness of grief to the dawn of my life after his death. Because of the way I suffered as a child, I had hope to cling to that, this, too, was survivable. Oh, beloved, there were dark days, darker nights, suicide attempts and heartbreak before and after I lost my Dad, but every night has been faithfully followed with sunlight and hope. Every time I’ve lost all hope, the sun rose in the morning and renewed me.

I guess what I’m trying to say is simply this: When all seems hopeless, in the darkness so bleak you can’t see tomorrow… you’re not alone, you’ve never been alone. I was there before you, and there are times I stumble back into the disheartening darkness. But there is hope, there is a reason to continue. After we’ve been tested and tried, beloved, we stand taller in the coming dawn in the love of Christ who died and was resurrected to bring us to Him. I’ve been where you are, and I stand in the light of a new day, proof that there is a tomorrow. There is worth in our sufferings because we are stronger for them.

Thank You, God, for the long dark night of the soul that showed me how desperately I needed you just to survive. Thank You for the adversity that tested me, tried me, and gave me the strength to survive and testify to Your provision on the other side. Thank You, God, for being my hope when I had none other. Thank You, God. You truly are sunrise.


I struggle to sleep, and while ambien and CPAP have helped me sleep (I'm more likely to stay asleep long enough to rest thanks to the combination), I'm not always able to fall asleep easily or stay asleep peacefully. After a nightmare, I'm more likely to be restless for the rest of the night, unable to distinguish dream from reality without forcing myself awake, a cycle that repeats itself over and over and over until I finally give up and drag myself through my day, half afraid to go to sleep lest it start over again.

A few years ago, I stumbled across a secret that I forget entirely too often, but as I sit up tonight trying to become tired enough to sleep solidly until I get up almost 2 hours earlier than normal for an appointment, I am reminded again of something I used just last night to find better rest.

I meditate. I don't sit cross-legged and chant the seed sounds of the universe, no, nor do I go to my quiet place or empty of my mind. All of those trails lead to an active mind and restlessness for me; they always have. No, my meditation is singing praise songs in my head, soundlessly worshiping the God who gives me each breath until sleep takes over.

I can't count the number of times I've lain in bed, weeping myself to sleep with some sorrow or grief, either from a broken relationship or from one who's death leaves me lonely without them. How do you quiet a heart so broken that it must weep or destroy itself? How do you calm the mind racing over all the things you could have said, didn't say, need to say? How do you find the rest necessary to actually rest and be renewed and restored? It's something I've struggled with for so long, so consistently, that I had to find something or go mad.

I'm sitting here listening to Christian music, Natalie Grant, Nichole Nordeman, Third Day and others, letting the praise they sing to God wash over and through me. It forces me to stop focusing on myself, on my problems, on all the ways I couldawouldashouldaoughta been different. It pulls my attention to my Creator, my Redeemer, the Savior who is so eagerly waiting to carry me and all my burdens. As I lay my concerns and the weights that hold me back in life aside long enough to search my mind for songs of praise, I find peace, I find stillness, I find the ability to relax and let go... and then I sleep.

I wish I remembered more often to do what my Maker asks, and seek Him first. He did promise that He would meet my needs and give me the desires of my heart if I made HIM the desire of my heart.

I pray that this never becomes a rote ritual for me, something I do to sleep without any of the consideration of the words that play through my mind. My meditation isn't a magical chant to get me solid sleep. It needs to always remain a way of taking my selfish focus and handing it to God, a path to rest in Him and faith in Him.

And now, unto Him who is able to keep that which we give Him against the day of His coming, be all praise, all glory, all He's asked for, all He deserves and more. And if He gives me a peaceful restful night, well... that's icing on this cake.

Try it yourself sometime. Take the last thoughts you think before slumber and focus them on our mighty God, and see if He doesn't do something mighty and wonderful for you... like a peaceful night's sleep. Me? I'm going to listen to "River God" one more time and go crash.