red delicious apples are the worst

I don't know who named red delicious apples, but they are a liar. Those are the worst apples I can think of. How did red delicious become the iconic apple? Need a picture of an apple? Here's a red delicious. We had plenty to take pictures of because no one wants to eat any of them. Even among the red apples, red delicious is the worst one. They're soft and pulpy and their flavor is just plain and boring.

We should start a coalition to abolish the production and sale of red delicious apples. I dream of a future where we'll just eat galas, or fujis, or pink ladies when we want red apples. I dream of a world where red delicious is no longer in lists of the 15, or 10, or (gasp) 3 most common or popular apples. What in the world? Stop it, they're no good! Together we can make the world a better place. No more red delicious!

not even once


but even if not

"If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and He will deliver us from Your Majesty's hand. But even if He does not..."

I have always liked the story of the three fellows and the fiery furnace. Perhaps it is because of watching VeggieTales' Rack, Shack, and Benny oh so many times [the Bunny Song is powerfully catchy, you know]. Or maybe it is the natural appeal of Men Thrown in Fire and Survive Without a Single Burn [you just cannot top that epic-ness (though I suppose "Eaten and Subsequently Spit Up by Huge Fish" or "Spend a Night in Lion's Den with Undomesticated Feline" or "Dead for Three Days and Live Again" are pretty ridiculous feats as well)].

But I think what makes Daniel 3 really stick with me is the response given to the king when he gives them the ultimatum of bowing down to him or being thrown to a fiery death. They confidently acknowledge the power and unquestionable ability of the God they serve to deliver them from their current situation [despite the king's insistence otherwise]. They seem to have not a doubt in their minds that their God can deliver them. And that in itself is a good reminder to take away from this story. No matter the circumstances or overwhelming odds or seemingly inevitable bad ending, God is able to deliver us from it. Period. To believe otherwise is to completely disregard a huge part of His character, a huge part of who He is in our lives. He is our Deliverer [read a few psalms if you want a refresher].

But even that aside, what sticks out to me personally is what they continue on to say. "But even if He does not..." But even if He does not. Even if He does not keep the bad from happening, prevent the sickness from killing, deliver me from my enemies... Even if He does not, it doesn't make Him any less God. It doesn't make Him any less good. It doesn't make Him any less present. Those men, no doubt, were hoping God would deliver them from being thrown into the fire. They knew He was able to do so. But at the same time, they knew it did not really matter. If He did not deliver them, they were not going to change their beliefs or actions. Their trust and faith would not be shaken. Even if God did not deliver them, they knew He would still be with them. Even to death.

I like this. It's a good reminder. Even if the bad happens, even if pain comes, even if death is imminent, my God is the all-powerful Deliverer. He is able to deliver me no matter how gloomy the outlook. But even if He does not... I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that He will stand with me through it all. And really, that's all I really need.

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?”
They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.”
“Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”

On an entirely different note, last night was the first night in well over a week that I was able to sleep through the night. Not once did I wake up. I didn't have to miserably sit in the dark trying to stop coughing long enough to fall back asleep. No feelings of someone punching me in the stomach every time I coughed. It was lovely. 

I don't think I've been this sick in a long, long time. I really can't even remember the last time I felt so awful. The days of fever and aches were absolutely miserable. I have never had aches so bad that it actually hurt to have someone touch me. It was so weird. Generally, my coughing phase is always the worst and longest part of my being sick. I think it's always been that way. But this time, I actually coughed so hard and so often that my sternum actually felt bruised and was super painful every time I coughed. Unpleasant. 

Ah, health. Thank you, God. Taking a breath never felt so good.

Slightly related note:  I must cut my hair. It is entirely too long and annoyed me to pieces while I was sick. I think another self-hacking is in order. Oh the excitement! Snip snip snippety snip! Now where can one find a whetstone...

This is what I feel like.


The Far Oasis

Sharayah and I have both been sick for several days - me since last Monday, and Sharayah since Friday or Saturday. Pretty miserable sometimes, but we're toughing it out together. Today Sharayah asked me to tell her a story to help her feel better. She asked for a story about a camel and a porcupine who become friends. Well. This was the best I could do. It's obviously just silliness, but it was well received. When I was done, we drew pictures to illustrate the story, so I've included those here.

Warning: if you are not a 5-year-old little girl, or in the state of one, this story may not be for you.

Now, on to the story.

The Far Oasis.

Once upon a time, Camel was going on one of his long walks in the big desert.
Camel loved going on these long walks, but there was a great peril to the desert. You see, Camel never paid attention to where he was walking and, as you know, deserts are full of cacti. Camel was always getting cactus pricklies stuck in his legs where he would bump into them. Camels are not very good with opposable digits, so Camel usually left the spikes where they were.
This day would be different.

Camel was walking through the desert as we mentioned before. He already had 2 spikes in one leg and 3 spikes in another because the clouds were very pretty today and he kept looking up. It was while he was looking up when he suddenly stumbled upon a strange little creature. It was like a cactus because it was covered in spikes, but it wasn't green and it had feet and eyes. Well, it had a whole face. If this strange creature hadn't seen Camel coming, he might have been kersplatted, and Camel would have had a very sore foot. As it happened, Steve the Porcupine saw that big foot coming and let out a yelp.
When camel looked down and saw the strange creature, he said, "Oh hello there, little brown cactus. Sorry I almost stepped on you." Steve said, "I'm not a cactus. I'm a porcupine."

Camel and Steve talked for a while and found out that unlike most porcupines, but much like our friend Camel, Steve liked to go for walks in the desert. However, he couldn't go far because he wasn't  good at finding water and he was scared he would get lost. However, he was good at getting spikes out of camels, which he did while they chatted.
He was so good at it that Camel barely noticed. It didn't hurt a bit. Camel told Steve that he could come along on his walk and he would be sure they would find plenty of water and not get lost.

Thus began the greatest companionship between camel and porcupine that ever would be.

Steve began to join Camel on his daily walks. They both had plenty of water and no one had spikes stuck in them for very long, unless you count the spikes that were a part of Steve. On one of these walks, they decided to go all the way to the Far Oasis. This was a very long journey, and even Camel had never gone so far, though he had heard it was a wonderful oasis. Camel assured Steve that all would be well because he knew of a good route that should have enough stops for water. They set off immediately.

When they were about half way, they encountered a strange thing. A big lone bird was circling in the sky. He swooped lower and lower as they walked. As they approached their third pit stop of the day, the bird landed on a small tree by the water.
The bird's name was Phil, and he was a vulture. We can't say why, but he didn't want them to get all across the desert. He wanted them to get stuck in the middle. Phil pretended to be polite. "Hello there, old chaps. You wouldn't be headed toward the Far Oasis, would you? I was just there this morning. They have bad weather. You don't want to go there. Plus, there was a giant cactus patch halfway in the way. You'll get covered in spikes. You should head down to the Dark Valley. From what I hear, there's a big family reunion of camels and porcupines in the Dark Valley, and it starts tonight."

Well, when Phil first began his speech. Steve and Camel were skeptical. To start with, Camel was usually good at sensing weather and, furthermore, there wasn't a cloud in the sky. However, Camel and Steve had often longed to find a herd of camels and porcupine to call their own. "Say, Camel," said Steve, "maybe this strange bird is right. Let's go to the Dark Valley instead."

They set off at once. At first, everything seemed fine. The farther they got from their original path, the more they were unsure. Camel couldn't find an oasis where he thought one should be. The clouds started showing up and looming over them. Sometimes they thought they spotted that old vulture circling above. What finally tipped the scales was when they found the cactus pit. Far and wide, cacti as far as the eye could see.
They were sure this wasn't right. Camel did not want to go through such a big cactus pit, even with Steve there to help remove the spikes. Regretfully, they had to turn back. They were very sad they would not find that herd of camels and porcupines, but by now they were not sure it ever existed.

Slowly and wearily, they made their way back to the oasis where they had first met Phil. It was a long walk and they were very thirsty. Camel was doing pretty good, but little Steve couldn't store nearly as much as water and he was beat. They walked and walked, the hot sun beating down, and just when Steve thought he couldn't go anymore, Camel found the oasis. After they refreshed themselves, they had a hard decision. Should they go on to the Far Oasis or should they head back home? They decided to press on to the Far Oasis. It turned out it was smooth sailing. The weather was crisp and cool, and there was an extra oasis along the way. There were barely any cacti, and Steve only had to remove 2 spikes from Camel the rest of the trip. Finally, they reached the Far Oasis.
They could not believe their eyes. Not only was there a great oasis with sparkling streams of water and tall, cool trees, there was a strange herd on the other side. They could swear they saw some camels. Not only that, they were quite sure there were porcupines.
Why had that grumpy old Phil sent them the wrong way? They just couldn't figure it out, but they decided it didn't matter. They ran as fast as they could to join their new friends. Of course, Steve and Camel were always the best of friends, but they enjoyed having a whole new group to be a part of.

Sometimes on a very clear day, they thought they might see old Phil circling in the distance. No one knew for sure why he had been so mean. Maybe he was just lonely and jealous. Sometimes Camel and Steve went for walks in the desert, but Phil never talked to them again. They always enjoyed their walks together, but instead of going home alone, they came each day to Far Oasis to join their very own herd. They lived happily ever after.