Thursday, June 05, 2008

Napoleon's Pyramids

You know you're having a bad day (and feeling sorry for yourself) when the Alvin & the Chipmunks version of "Bad Day" brings tears to your eyes. Last night I didn't sleep well, because Mia and I both have miserable colds and spent the night tossing and turning in two-part coughing harmony. I woke up to a sore throat and red eyes. But today is one of the luncheons that I put on at work quarterly. I organize and run them, so it's vital that I'm there. After spending a great deal of time fruitlessly searching for my favorite skirt, I ended up wearing capris and some supercute new shoes. I was cranky with anticipation of the day and ended up fighting with Jesse before he left for work.

I was only at work for about an hour before I had to put a band-aid on the back of my heel from the cute new shoes. Then my body started to ache. Yesterday I fell on the front porch while taking Charlie outside. I don't know if he tripped me, or if I tripped over my own big feet, but I went down hard on both knees. My right knee looks like someone glued a tomato to it. I also caught myself with both hands, and my right elbow (I have no idea how). The cumulative result is that I feel like I've been in a car accident. Two hours later at work, I ended up applying every single band-aid (6) in my purse to my poor battered, blistered feet from the no longer so cute new shoes.

I was miserable, both physically and mentally and couldn't wait to get home and rest. One of the things I put together for the luncheon is a devotional, and today's was about salt. Thanks to the Harris brothers (Alex and Brett), I found new meaning in the verse Matthew 5:13 You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. I've always thought of salt as just for flavor, so I assumed that Jesus wanted us to add His flavor to the world. But the Harris brothers point out in their book Do Hard Things that salt was used in biblical times for healing and preservation as well. I did some research online and found that salt was rubbed on newborn babies to encourage good health. A grain of salt was placed on a sore tooth to bring comfort. Salt was necessary to preserve meat and fish before refrigeration. Salt is also mentioned in Leviticus as to be added to many sacrifices to God. That's because salt symbolized permanence and loyalty.

So Jesus wasn't saying for us to flavor the world, but to heal it, preserve it, and be loyal to Him. I read over my notes for the devotional a few times getting prepared, and then it hit me: He was asking us to take care of others. And I realized that I spend far too much of my time expecting other people to take care of me, especially Jesse. I felt awful for the morning's argument, and for the way I take him for granted. I am not being very salty for Jesus right now, and that's something I definitely need to work on. I love this quote from J.H. Jowett: God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters. It's amazing how I can write a devotional to encourage others and instead end up finding the message in it for myself.

Napoleon's Pyramids by William Dietrich is the first book in the Ethan Gage series. Ethan is a gambler by nature, a scientist by profession, and a protege of Benjamin Franklin's by reputation. Gage has been living in post-Revolution France making his way on that reputation when he joins a card game and ends up winning a medallion that several people are willing to kill for. He is quickly on the run for his life when given the opportunity to travel with Napoleon's troops to Egypt to investigate the pyramids. Gage leaps at the opportunity to join the battalion of savants and finds himself in a war zone as Napoleon attacks first Alexandria and then Cairo. Gage is a remarkably likeable narrator considering his disregard for honest living. He has an eye for the ladies and a talent for escaping from death's jaws again and again. The book is like a summer blockbuster with rip-roaring adventure, romance, explosions, and exotic locales. Gage reminds me a bit of Indiana Jones with his devil-may-care attitude and way with the ladies. Along with a terrific adventure novel, Dietrich also gives the reader an interesting view of Egypt before European occupation with Mamelukes and a rare view of the pyramids.

Remember to send me an email at before midnght tonight if you want to win a copy of Gayle Roper's Fatal Deduction. Good luck!