December 24, 2007

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 10:01 pm

This post is a BizzyBlog Christmas Eve tradition.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
by Clement Clarke Moore

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar plums danced in their heads.
And Mama in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.

When out on the roof there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutter, and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
gave the lustre of midday to objects below,
when, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:

“Now Dasher! Now Dancer!
Now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid!
On, Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch!
To the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away!
Dash away all!”

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky
so up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
the prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head and was turning around,
down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes–how they twinkled! His dimples, how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
and the beard on his chin was as white as the snow.
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
and the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
that shook when he laughed, like a bowl full of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
and giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,

“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!”

Wesley Pruden’s Christmas Classic: The amazing grace on Christmas morn

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 4:01 pm

This post is a BizzyBlog Christmas Eve tradition.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!

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The malls and the Main Streets will soon fall silent. The ringing cash registers, the happy cries of children, the hearty greetings of a thousand fraudulent Santas will soon be ghostly echoes in shuttered shops and across silent streets.

But the Christ born in a manger 2,000 years ago yet lives. The story of Christmas continues to quicken the hearts of sinners and transform the lives of the wicked, and nothing illustrates the redeeming power of the authentic message of Christmas with greater clarity than the story of a wastrel English slaver named John Newton.

Newton was born 300 years ago into a seafaring family in England. His mother was a godly woman whose faith gave her life meaning, and he recalled as the sweetest remembrance of childhood the soft and tender voice of his mother at prayer. She died when John was 7.

His father soon married again, and John left school four years later to go to sea with him. He easily adopted the vulgar life of common seamen, though the memory of his mother’s faith remained. “I saw the necessity of religion as a means of escaping hell,” he would recall many years later, “but I loved sin.”

On shore leave, he was kidnaped by a press gang and taken aboard HMS Harwich. Life grew coarser. He ran away, was captured and taken back to the Harwich and put in chains, stripped before the mast, and flogged. “The Lord had by all appearances given me up to judicial hardness,” he recalled. “I was capable of anything. I had not the least fear of God, nor the least sensibility of conscience.”

The captain of the Harwich traded him to the skipper of a slaving ship, bound for West Africa to take aboard wretched cargo. “At this period of my life,” he later reflected, “I was big with mischief and, like one afflicted with a pestilence, was capable of spreading a taint wherever I went.” John’s new captain favored him, however, and invited him to his island plantation off the African coast, where he had taken as his wife a beautiful but cruel African princess. She grew jealous of John, and was pleased when it was time for them to sail. But John fell ill and was left in the care of the captain’s wife.

The ship was hardly over the horizon when she ordered him from her house and thrown into a pigsty. She gave him a board for a bed and a log for a pillow. He was left in delirium to die. Miraculously, he did not die. He was blinded, kept in chains in a cage like an animal, and fed swill from her table. Word spread through the district that a black woman was keeping a white slave, and many came to taunt him. They threw limes and stones at him, mocking his misery. He would have starved if other slaves, waiting for a ship to take them to the Americas, had not shared their meager scraps of food. Five years passed, and the captain returned. When John told him how he had been treated, he branded John a thief and a liar. When they sailed again, John was treated ever more harshly.

“The voyage quite broke my constitution,” he would recall, “and the effects would always remain with me as a needful memento of the service of wages and sin.”

Like Job, he became a magnet for adversity. He was shipwrecked in a storm, and despaired that God had mercy left for him after his life of hostile indifference to the Gospel. “During the time I was engaged in the slave trade, I never had the least scruple to its lawfulness.” Yet the wanton sinner, the arrogant blasphemer, the mocker of the faith of others, was finally driven to his knees: “My prayer was like the cry of ravens, which yet the Lord does not disdain to hear.”

Rescued, he made his way back to England, to reflect on the mercies God had shown him in his awful life. He fell under the influence of George Whitefield and John Wesley, and was wondrously born again into a new life in Jesus Christ. He spent the rest of his life preaching of God’s mercies.

Two days short of Christmas 1807, he died at the age of 82, and left a dazzling testimony to the amazing grace of the Christmas story. “I commit my soul to my gracious God and Savior, who mercifully spared and preserved me, when I was an apostate, a blasphemer and an infidel, and delivered me from that state on the coast of Africa into which my obstinate wickedness had plunged me.” Set to music, his testimony became the most beloved hymn of Christendom.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
that saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found
Was blind, but now I see.

Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
and grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,
the hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come.
‘Tis grace hat h brought me safe thus far
and grace will lead me home.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (122407)

Caucus Cooler’s revelations (with at least one supporting document; HT Mark at Weapons of Mass Discussion) about Mike Huckabee’s financial dealings are stunning, and represent a Ben & Jerry’s-sized scoop that should embarrass Old Media:

The Cooler has obtained documents that show Mike Huckabee received $378,000 in consulting fees during 2006, while he was still governor of Arkansas.

Most noteworthy, $35,000 came from Novo Nordisk, one of the world’s largest embryonic stem cell researchers. It seems that when money is at stake Huckabee may be able to look past his supposedly fervent opposition to this procedure.

He also received speaking fees and honoraria from churches while Governor.

Absent a refutation that doesn’t seem possible, the fees represent a blatant BizzyBlog Dealbreaker. This means that his issue positions don’t matter; he doesn’t deserve anyone’s vote.

And to think I was tempted to give the guy a pass over the “wedding” registries used to collect gifts from “friends” last year when his time as governor had ended. You see, Poor Huck and his wife Janet were moving into a 7,000-foot house, and had to furnish it “somehow.” Gag me.

Besides being part of the Dealbreaker, the Nordisk fees, given what the company does (“Our primary research activities on embryonic stem cells from mice were recently expanded to include cells of human origin.”), either make a mockery of Huck’s supposedly ardent prolife views, or show that he will take money from anyone with no questions asked. Sort of reminds you of another former Arkansas governor, doesn’t it?

I’m insulted that Huckabee — take your pick — thought he could get all of this past the nation indefinitely, or that we wouldn’t care if it became known.

Also, a memo to the folks at the Arkansas Democrat Gazette — aren’t you using any of the money from your $59.40 a year online subscriptions for, like, reporting?

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I have a feeling Congressman and House Minority Leader John Boehner is quite pleased to be named Grinch of the Year by Progress Ohio. That he is so despised indicates just how good his year was, and how Nancy Pelosi’s performance was, in “three words that best describe her, and I quote: ‘Stink. Stank. Stunk.’”

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Excuse the local detour, but two local sports stories (“Crable Out at Moeller” and “Moeller Hires New Football Coach“) have me bent. But they do involve someone football fans nationally might recall. That person would be Bob Crable, who played at Notre Dame, and then in the NFL for the New York Jets.

After a few years as an entrepreneur, Crable became the head football coach at Cincinnati Moeller High School, his alma mater, in 2001.

A year ago, I commented at this Chuckoblog post:

I simply don’t get the idea that a Bob Crable would be worrying even one bit about his job if he continues to have 6-7-8-9 win seasons, esp as he seems to be a good person who approaches the good-person level of (Gerry) Faust, who’s a living saint.

As far as I’m concerned, Crable can keep cranking out good seasons, and eventually he’ll get his state championship.

The Big Moe booster types who based on what you’ve written have Crable under some pressure ….. have a total lack of perspective that’s appalling and embarrassing.

Moeller was 7-4 this year, and made the state football playoffs. But the out-of-control booster types had him sacked anyway.

To make it worse, Moeller had no qualms about hiring a job-hopping coach who left his previous school in the lurch after one season, and who had, according to some accounts, told his team about his future plans with them after he had committed to the Moeller job.

I’m not a big Bible-verse guy, but this sad sequence of events made me wish that a lot of these people would remember this. Crable, to his credit, is, at least for now, staying at the school and teaching religion; so you know on which side of that verse he resides.

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Bill Kristol’s skewering of Time (HT Jules Crittenden) on its “Putin of the Year” selection and simultaneous tribute to General Petraeus’s success with the Surge is a must-read. Key grafs:

Our liberal elites are so invested in a narrative of defeat and disaster in Iraq that to acknowledge the prospect of victory would be too head-wrenching and heart-rending. It would mean giving credit to George W. Bush, for one. And it would mean acknowledging American success in a war Time, and the Democratic party, and the liberal elites, had proclaimed lost.

The editors couldn’t acknowledge their mugging by reality. That’s fine. Nonetheless, reality exists. And the reality is that in Iraq, after mistakes and failures, thanks to the leadership of Bush, Petraeus, and General Ray Odierno–the day-to-day commander whose contributions shouldn’t be overlooked–we are winning.

The reality is also this: The counterinsurgency campaign that Petraeus and Odierno conceived and executed in 2007 was as comprehensive a counterinsurgency strategy as has ever been executed.

Time has selected some real clunkers in the past 20 years, but overlooking Petraeus may prove to be the most embarrassing oversight of them all.

Positivity: 5 years after near-fatal fall, he can celebrate

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:56 am

From Algonquin, Illinois:

Published: 12/11/2007 12:18 AM
Jack Pulaski wasn’t supposed to survive an 18-foot fall from a ladder while hanging Christmas lights outside his Algonquin home five years ago.

He wasn’t supposed to recover from brain injuries so severe doctors questioned whether he would ever function above the most basic levels.

He wasn’t supposed to go back to work and become a productive member of his community.

Pulaski wasn’t supposed to do a lot of the things he is doing today, and because of that, he and his family have reason to celebrate today’s five-year anniversary of his near-deadly fall, not mourn it.

For his family and rescuers, Pulaski is a true Christmas miracle, a man who suffered such devastating brain injuries during the holiday season of 2002 that he was given a small chance for survival and an even smaller chance for a normal life.

“Doctors gave him only a 20 percent chance to live and said even if he did he would be a vegetable for the rest of his life,” said Pulaski’s daughter, Kari Pulaski. “To see him where he is today, it’s a miracle. There’s no other way to explain it.”

But it is a miracle that did not come easy, or without a lot of help.

Jack’s wife of 33 years, Yvonne, says her husband’s recovery may be the result of a higher power, but one that used a lot of good tools down on Earth to make it happen.

Those tools included rescue workers who rushed Pulaski to medical treatment when there seemed to be little hope, doctors who worked feverishly to save him even if his chances appeared slim, rehabilitation specialists who helped him find himself again, and most importantly, a family that dropped everything to be at his side.

“We gave a small chance for survival to the patient’s family, but the recovery is all theirs,” said Tammy Chatman of Flight For Life-Northern Illinois, which played a key role in getting Pulaski fast medical attention. “We have patients who don’t have that support system around them and they don’t make that kind of recovery.”

Pulaski suffered his injuries Dec. 11, 2002, while hanging Christmas lights above his garage door. The fall broke nearly every bone in his face, caused severe brain damage and left him bleeding profusely. Despite those injuries, he managed to crawl from his driveway into a first-floor bathroom, where his then 19-year-old son, Brian, found him as much as three hours later.

Huntley EMTs and Flight For Life rushed him to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, where he would spend the next eight weeks — 3½ of them in an induced coma. Family members never left his side.

“The first weeks were very scary,” Yvonne Pulaski said. “The doctors couldn’t tell me what was going to happen. It was all iffy.”

Pulaski made it out of the hospital in early February 2003, but still faced a rough road. He needed almost constant care from his family and, because of the serious injury to the right frontal lobe of his brain, was subject to personality changes, mood swings and short-term memory loss.

“Things you wouldn’t normally say, that your brain would filter out, they come out,” Yvonne Pulaski said. “It’s raw emotion with no filter.”

“There were days where I felt I couldn’t do it anymore,” added Kari Pulaski, who took time off from work to care for her father. “But people said, ‘Keep hanging on and it will pass.’ ”

In many ways those difficult times have passed now, five years later. Though he still suffers from the effects of his injury, Pulaski has recovered much of his independence and has now even taken a job as a part-time bus aide for Huntley Community Unit School District 158, helping young special-needs children with their daily rides to and from school.

His experiences with brain injury and its effects, he said, give him extra insight into what those children are experiencing.

“There’s a closer connection,” he said.

And Pulaski’s work with young children in need is a source of pride for those who saved his life. They will gather with him and his family tonight in Huntley to mark the anniversary of his fall and his miraculous survival. …..

Go here for the rest of the story.