Burton's Blog

Friday, February 15, 2008

New Students

Well, in the last week or two, I've gotten two new students. One in each district that I work in.
Both girls. One a Korean speaker, the other an Arabic speaker. One Asian, one African (Egyptian, actually).

Never a dull moment.

Latest Reading List

This is for Rabia--because she actually asks me what I'm reading. :-) It's also for those of you who were wondering if I'd ever update my blog. ;-)

Lisa's Current Reading List:

1. The Bible--I've been working my way through Psalms. Today I read Psalms 115-117. Also slowly working my way through 2 Corinthians in Bible study.

2. A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway--I'm currently two chapters from the end. One of my students is (supposed to be) reading this for his English class.

3. Hamlet by William Shakespeare. Yes, that Hamlet. Yes, one of my students (the senior in high school) is reading this for English. I was impressed during the class I observed; she read the part of Ophelia and seemed to be following the class discussion pretty well. Still--not easy, even if you're a native English speaker!!! Not to mention, I haven't read it since A.P. English in high school. I'm currently at the beginning of Act 4.

4. The Story of Christianity by Justo Gonzalez. This is my "fun" reading. It's a book on church history that is easy for a layman like me to read. I'm enjoying it. I'm currently reading about the Imperial Church (4th century AD or so). Mostly reading it on Sundays.

5. Still reading the two U.S. History textbooks. In the 5th grade one, I've finished Chapter 3 (on European exploration of the Americas). In the 11th grade one, I shall soon start Chapter 19, on the Kennedy and Johnson era (excluding Vietnam, which gets a chapter of its own).

Lisa's Future Reading List:

1. Maus by Art Spiegelman. This is a graphic novel about the Holocaust which portrays the Nazis as cats and their victims as mice. So I've been told by an English teacher. Apparently, it also won a Pulitzer Prize. This will be read by one of my students after he finishes a research paper for English class.

2. Dead Man Walking by Sister Helen Prejean. Same English teacher, different student. A new one.

3. Into the Wild by ????

4. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I should say, I'll be re-reading this. One of my favorite books ever. Also the only book so far other than Hamlet that I studied in high school. Apparently, they're not reading the same books these days. Okay, maybe Shakespeare. . .

5. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Okay, so I studied that one too. Only time I've ever read it. Don't remember much.

6. A Stranger in the Kingdom by ????

Sometimes it feels like I'm going through high school English all over again!!!

7. A Time to Die by Elizabeth Elliot. Hopefully, at some point I'll get to read this biography of Amy Carmichael. I've heard it's good.

Okay, gotta go read!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I do a lot of driving for my jobs. I think I've seen more of rural Vermont in the last month than I had ever before while living in Vermont. Well, except perhaps for the 2 years I lived in Vernon. Then I lived in rural Vermont, so I saw it a lot. ;-)

You might be wondering, "What does she do during those 12+ hours a week that she spends driving?" Here are a few of my favorite things:

1. Leaf peep. Don't worry--I have been watching the road more than the leaves, but this has been delightful this year. The leaves have been beautiful.

2. Watch out for deer and moose. So far, I've seen one deer and no moose (not that I'm complaining about that!).

3. Check out what other animals I can spy by the side of the road. I've noticed lots of cows and horses, some pigs, some sheep/goats, and I think an Alpaca or two.

4. Listen to sermon CDs/tapes. I've caught up on a few that I missed this summer. I just got an Alistair Begg series on evangelism from the church library. I'll start that tomorrow.

5. Listen to music. I do this a lot. I'll put the radio on "scan" until I find a song I like. Then I'll stop and enjoy. I'm particularly happy when I find good Christian music or 80's tunes (for the nostalgia value). If I'm in the mood, I sing along.

If that doesn't yield good music, I'll hit the CD button and listen to mine. This is currently the Beatles' One CD, so I'm enjoying all their #1 songs. Before that, it was a Rebecca St. James CD.

6. Listen to NPR. That way I catch up on the news, or interesting stories about other countries. Or sometimes an interview with a celebrity.

7. Pray. Yep, I do that a lot, too. I pray about work. I pray for people at church. I pray for church ministries. I pray for my family; I prayed for my sister in San Diego a lot last week because of the wildfires. (She's fine, by the way!)

8. Memorize Scripture. Usually I just work on one verse, sticking it to the steering wheel and meditating on it while I drive.

9. Drink caffeinated beverages and/or eat. 'Cause I need to stay awake and/or I'm hungry.

So there you have it. I'm toying with idea at some point of picking up books on tape. However, I generally enjoy reading books rather than listening to them. If I need something new to do, though, this is a possibility.

What I'm Reading

Well, since my life has gotten really busy (and a bit tiring, but in a good way), I realized that it's been over a month since my last post. So here I am again. :-)

There's quite a bit of reading involved in being an ESL teacher. Since I'm supporting students in their regular coursework, that often involves reading at least some of the things that they have to. So, here's an update on what I'm reading:

1. In the Bible--studying Job (on my own) and the life of Paul (for my church small group). The latter has lately taken me in quite a bit of Acts. Also memorizing Colossians 3. I'm up to verse 7 or 8.

2. I just finished The Giver by Lois Lowry. It was interesting. On tap next to be up-to-date with the 7th grade English class--Witness by Karen Hess.

3. United States History: Reconstruction to the Present (multiple authors, published by Pearson Education, 2008). High school U.S. History textbook. I'm working my way through the Roaring Twenties so that I can help my students get a sense of the important points (since this book is extremely difficult for them to read!).

4. Also recently read The Crucible by Arthur Miller for the first time. I need to compile some vocabulary for the students. For a high school English class. In the future, this class will also include works such as short stories of Poe, Huckleberry Finn, and The Great Gatsby.

5. Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist by John Piper. This one is for my spiritual edification; I read a chapter each Sunday. Today I read the one on prayer. I highly recommend it--or anything by Piper.

6. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I use the term "reading" very loosely. Technically, I'm re-reading this just for fun. However, in practice, I don't have a chance to read for fun very often, so it's going very slowly.

7. My student's 5th grade math and science textbooks (I don't have them with me at the moment, so I can't quote the titles).

8. Various ESL books, vocab books, etc. For lesson ideas and materials.

Whew! No wonder my fun reading is on the back burner so often!

Sunday, September 09, 2007

I'm back!

Well, because a few friends have kidded me about the fact that it's been months since I last blogged, here I am again. Fortunately, my leg is no longer broken, and my nasty sprained ankle (which caused the broken leg--yes, the sprain was that bad!) is healing nicely. I'm almost back to normal. :-)

So, as far as what's been happening, let me explain. No, there's too much. Let me sum up. (Sorry, couldn't resist a "Princess Bride" quote!):

1. After a month on crutches and a few more months of PT, I'm mostly better.

2. I started a part-time teaching position as a high school ESL teacher. It's going well so far.

3. I've been offered another part-time ESL teaching position, which I'm considering.

4. I visited my sister with my mom in Alaska. Very fun. I may post pictures later. Alaska is beautiful, in a rather more rugged and wild way than Vermont. It's also huge.

There, I blogged again and got you caught up. How are things with you? Do comment, please. That way I know that people actually read this, and I might be motivated to post more often. ;-)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

An Eventful Weekend

In addition to celebrating Easter last Sunday, I had a very eventful weekend. First, I had a very good Good Friday. I received my teaching license in the mail. So, it's official. I'm certified to teach ESL in schools. Yay! Praise the Lord!!!

On the other hand, my Easter was a mixed day. On the "good" side: singing in the choir during the first church service of the day, enjoying a wonderful Easter dinner in the company of friends from church, and being encouraged by the sermon. On the "bad" side: I fell down the stairs at church and broke my left leg! I've never had a broken bone before, so this whole thing is new to me. Fortunately, I broke my fibula, which is the smaller bone in my lower leg--the "non-weightbearing" bone. So, I guess I broke the better of the two bones there to break. Also, I was able to drive home, since my right leg is fine. Thankfully, the Lord has been providing for me through my church family--an ice pack, ace bandages, crutches, a shower seat, and even some food. Please pray for me, if you think of it--that I would bear up well under this relatively mild (but fairly major for me) trial. Also, do pray that my bone would heal quickly and smoothly.


Saturday, March 03, 2007


To be perfectly honest, I've not had the best week. It's not that anything terrible happened; instead, I've simply felt kind of down. Yesterday, I called a friend and asked her to pray for me. She graciously did so, right then and there. One of the things she prayed for was encouragement for me.

This morning I read some good, encouraging words in or based on Scripture. I'll quote them here. I hope that they encourage you, too. :-)

" 'I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.' Isaiah 48:10
Comfort thyself, tried believer, with this thought: God saith, 'I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.' Does not the word come like a soft shower, assuaging the fury of the flame? Yea, is it not an asbestos armour, against which the heat hath no power? Let affliction come--God has chosen me. Poverty, thou mayst stride in at my door, but God is in the house already, and He has chosen me. Sickness, thou mayst intrude, but I have a balsam ready--God has chosen me. Whatever befalls me in this vale of tears, I know that He has 'chosen' me. If, believer, thou requirest still greater comfort, remember that you have the Son of Man with you in the furnace. In that silent chamber of yours, there sitteth by your side One whom thou hast not seen, but whom thou lovest; and ofttimes when thou knowest it not, He makes all thy bed in thy affliction, and smooths thy pillow for thee. Thou art in poverty; but in that lonely house of thine the Lord of life and glory is a frequent visitor. He loves to come into these desolate places, that He may visit thee. Thy friend sticks closely to thee. Thou canst not see Him, but thou mayst feel the pressure of His hands. Dost thou not hear His voice? Even in the valley of the shadow of death He says, 'Fear not, I am with thee; be not dismayed, for I am thy God.' Remember that noble speech of Caesar: 'Fear not, thou carriest Caesar and all his fortune.' Fear not, Christian; Jesus is with thee. In all thy fiery trials, His presence is both thy comfort and safety. He will never leave one whom He has chosen for His own. 'Fear not, for I am with thee,' is His sure word of promise to His chosen ones in the 'furnace of affliction.' Wilt thou not, then, take fast hold of Christ, and say--
'Through flood and flames, if Jesus lead,
I'll follow where He goes.' "
(Charles Spurgeon, "Morning & Evening", morning entry for March 3)

"You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry" (Psalm 10:17)

"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song."
(Psalm 28:7)

The Sign of Jonah

Recently, I've re-read the book of Jonah. I've always liked it. It has a wonderful picture of the Lord's mercy toward sinners (both Jonah and the people of Nineveh). This time, I noticed something new.

Of course, I had been aware of the whole death and resurrection motif in Jonah, since he was swallowed by a big fish and stayed there for 3 days. Certainly, that's a great picture of Christ; Jesus referred to that himself in Matthew 12:40 ("For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.").

What I noticed this time through was another way in which Jonah points to Christ. In the first chapter of the book, Jonah runs away from the Lord by sailing to Tarshish. Therefore, the Lord sends a nasty storm; all the sailors are afraid they're going to die. Jonah admits to being the reason for the storm. They ask him what they should do to him to make the sea calm down. Then he says, "Pick me up and throw me into the sea, and it will become calm." (Jonah 1:12)

In other words, Jonah voluntarily sacrifices himself--he "dies"--to appease God's judgment/wrath and save others' lives.

Hmm. . . where have I heard that before? ;-)

It's a great encouragement to me that the Lord uses obviously sinful people like Jonah--and like me--to proclaim the good news to the world.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Sometime during the last few years, I have discovered that I enjoy a number of TV shows. In fact, lately I've found myself much more interested in them than most movies. I think there are several reasons for this. First, TV is much cheaper than movies (in the theater). I can either watch on DVD via Netflix or rewatch shows I own on DVD, or watch online, or watch at a friend/cable owner's place. :-) Second, TV shows are shorter than a typical movie. While I was taking graduate school classes and and student teaching, I could get stuff done, watch one episode of a show while eating a meal, and then get back to work. Finally, there's actually some interesting, well-acted, and sometimes fun stuff on TV nowadays.

So, what do I like to watch? I've noticed that shows I like have several things in common: good acting, an element of mystery, and complexity (in terms of plot and characters). A fun online quiz I once took put it this way: I'm a "Thrill Seeker" and like "smart, sophisticated dramas". That's true--though I nitpick less than some folks; it's entertainment, after all.

Having said that, here's a list of shows I've enjoyed lately and would recommend (some with a caveat/warning or two), in order of network:

1. "Alias" (was on ABC; available on DVD only, unless it's syndicated somewhere). I really enjoyed this show. I got into it a few years ago. Basically, it's a spy drama starring Jennifer Garner. In reality, it's a lot more. The show is a fun combination of family drama, action-adventure, and comedy; I found it funnier than most sit-coms I've seen recently. Quite frankly, the first two seasons are the best, but I enjoyed all of them. Few shows are as fun as this one.

2. "Lost" (ABC). I added this to my Netflix queue because it was co-created by J.J. Abrams, the same guy who created "Alias". It took me a little while to get into, 'cause of the rather intense disaster scenario and some fantasy elements in the pilot--but I found that I got really interested in the characters. I've enjoyed it ever since. It's a bit uneven--some episodes are definitely better than others, but the multiple mysteries are pretty darn fun to try and solve--and again, it has really good acting.

3. "Veronica Mars" (CW). The title character is currently a college freshman who solves mysteries. In high school (seasons 1 and 2), she helped her P.I. dad with his cases. Currently, I think she just solves issues that come up at college. What's great about the show is the dialogue. It's really witty. Plus, the father-daughter relationship between the main character and her dad is fabulous. Well acted show, too. It's filmed in San Diego, where my sister lives. That's kind of fun, because every now and then I go, "Hey, I've been there!" In one season 2 episode, I spotted the park where my sister got married.

4. "24" (Fox). I've seen the first two seasons via Netflix. I think season 3 is next in my queue. I have mixed feelings about this show. I enjoy the quality of the acting and have really enjoyed some of the plot twists. I can understand why people get addicted to and love it. On the downside, this show can get a bit too intense for me and has already had noticably cheesy elements/plot twists. I also think I've enjoyed it less after watching "Alias" because it's simply one genre; it's a long action movie. Still, sometimes the ride is fun. We'll see what I think of the beginning of season 3. . .

5. "Prison Break" (Fox). I watched the pilot on iTunes and was hooked. Season 1 is quite fun overall--shades of "The Shawshank Redemption", fun to see the main character's plan to break out of prison evolve, etc. There were some great, entertaining plot twists, and as an added bonus--a few really good-looking men. :-) I've enjoyed season 2 so far, too. More like "The Fugitive". Still with lots of interesting characters. And plot twists.

6. "Heroes" (NBC). What can I say? I've always enjoyed superheroes. I think it has to do with seeing "Superman" (the one with Christopher Reeves) when I was a small, impressionable child. In addition to that, it has Greg Grunberg in it--Agent Weiss from "Alias" and the pilot from "Lost". It's a cool show. My favorite characters are Hiro (plucky, funny, a bit geeky--he's the most fun character), Mr. Bennett (a.k.a.--Horn-Rimmed Glasses, Claire's dad; I said I like complex characters--he's wonderful shades of gray--is he good? Bad? Who knows? Love it!), and Peter (just 'cause he's really empathic--he just wants to help, and he'll risk his life to do it--awesome!).
My main criticism of the show is that occasionally it's a bit too gory. I'm not fond of gore, so it detracts from the show as far as I'm concerned. Otherwise, I thoroughly enjoy it.

7. "Battlestar Galactica" (SciFi). I never thought I would like a show on SciFi. My stepdad likes to watch that channel, and it often has really bad movies on it. Not cool. I'm also not a huge science fiction fan, mainly because too often it dips into horror. However, I love the original "Star Wars" trilogy and can sit through "Star Trek" stuff (though I'm definitely not a Trekkie), so I thought I'd download a free summary of the show from iTunes. (The summary was made after the mid-season cliffhanger for season 2.)

Here's what I've discovered: "Battlestar Galactica" really is the best show on television. Why do I say that? Several reasons:

A. Excellent acting. It stars two Oscar-nominated actors (Edward James Olmos--"Blade Runner", "Stand and Deliver" and Mary McDonnell-- (Stands-with-a-Fist in "Dances with Wolves") and has some wonderful acting by the rest of the cast. Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh) and Katee Sackhoff (Kara "Starbuck" Thrace) have especially stood out during season 3.

B. A compelling plot. The basics: The robotic Cylon race set off nuclear bombs on 12 planets and destroyed as many humans as they could. These Cylons were originally made by people and eventually "evolved" to appear human in every way possible. (As a result, pretty much anyone can be a Cylon--some without even knowing it. This was a major plot point in season 1, as one of the "humans" discovered she was in fact a Cylon.) The only humans alive are those who were on spaceships at the time, including those on an old warship that was going to be turned into a museum (Battlestar Galactica).
So, it becomes a chase and later a race to Earth between the Cylons and humans. Along the way. . .

C. It deals with big issues and questions. In other words, it's deeper than the average show. This is something I really love about it. In the 2 1/2 seasons it's been on the air, the show has dealt with: abortion, suicide bombings (and the ethics of them), relationships (father-son, co-workers, married couples, friends, etc.), occupation, insurgency, the treatment of prisoners of war, biological warfare, politics (an election was a key element of the Season 2 finale), and religion.

In fact, at its heart, the show asks these questions, "What does it mean to be human? Are we humans really worthy of survival, or do we deserve to die?"

Honestly, Ron Moore, one of the executive producers of the show, has one of the best concepts of sin that I've heard from someone who's not necessarily a Christian; during one of his podcasts, he came to the conclusion that any of us, in the right circumstances, is capable of becoming a person who believed in suicide bombing as a viable option. I was pretty amazed; it's true. We're sinners. There's no evil we're not capable of apart from the grace of God.

While the humans are polytheistic (and seem to worship Greek gods), the Cylons are monotheistic--kind of an amalgam of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Sometimes that bothers me a bit--but what I appreciate is that religion is central to the show. It's important. It's important to the characters, and a variety of religious views are portrayed. Some characters are atheists. Some are what we would think of as religious fanatics. Some--including several main characters--are simply people of faith. They are shown praying, reading scripture, and arguing for things based on the truth. How often do you see that on TV?

D. Fascinating characters. All of them are complex. Lots of shades of gray, usually (some are pretty much good/bad, but most are much more realistic than that). One of the most amazing things to me is that a character that I originally hated--Starbuck--has since become my favorite character. Sometimes I love her; sometimes I cheer her on; sometimes I just want to smack her. Sometimes I weep for her. Pretty amazing drama--and that's just one character!

E. Great, shocking plot twists and an element of mystery. This is just fun.

F. Eye candy. Lots of good-looking folks in this cast (and they can act, too!). For women, there's Jamie Bamber, Tahmoh Penikett, and Michael Trucco. For men, there's Katee Sackhoff, Grace Park, and Tricia Helfer. Then there's older characters--who look like real people. In fact, even the good-looking characters can look normal--they get dirty or injured, for instance.

G. On top of all that, it's got some humor (especially in the first two seasons). My favorite quote: "Okay, that's it! No more Mr. Nice Gaius!" (said by Gaius Baltar--dang, that's a good pun!)

H. Finally--cool special effects and space battles. The season 3 episode "Exodus, Part 2" is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Great effects, great acting, lots of action, powerful story.

And did I mention that the episode where many humans are rescued from a Cylon occupation/enslavement on a planet is called "Exodus"? *grin*

So what's the downside? Sex. For some, that's not a downside, but for me it is. There's too much of it, and it's often a bit more graphic than a typical network series ('cause SciFi is on cable). I'd appreciate it if they'd cut those scenes, or tone them down. There is also some violence, most of which is intense but not overly gory (so I can tolerate it pretty well). The show is also a bit dark--so if you want lighter fare--watch something else. It's definitely an adult show. There--that's my warning.

However, it's definitely one of the most thought-provoking and interesting shows I've ever seen. "Exodus, Part 2" just might be my favorite episode of anything ever. Now that I've talked way too much about TV, it's time to end this blog and go to bed.

What do you like to watch?

Reading List, Part 2

So, now that I've finished my portfolio for my teaching license, I have actually had time to do a few things--spend time with friends, start putting addresses in my new address book (a Christmas gift from my cousin--I did A-E today and discovered that I know a lot of people whose last names end in "B"), catch up on sleep, and blog. :-)

While I was talking to a friend today, she asked me what I have been reading lately. Not much, sadly. I have found myself with a strong urge to just veg by watching a DVD. I suppose that's because it takes less thought than reading, and my brain is rather tired because of all the teaching and writing and general thinking I've done recently. :-)

However, tonight I think I'll actually read before bed instead of veg (maybe I am getting caught up on sleep!). Here's what I'm reading currently, and the next thing I plan on reading:

1. The Bible (yes, that's a given for anyone who knows me!)
*Genesis (studying this with folks from church--we're about to start chapter 37; just finished a study of chapters 1-11 on my own)
*Various verses/books, using a study called "Cultivating Contentment"
*Next up in the book I primarily use for my quiet times, a two-week tour of Romans. I'm looking forward to reading and pondering it again.

2. Aesop's Fables--just for fun

I bought a used copy of "The Iliad" a while ago. I'm planning to start that after Aesop; I guess I'm on a classics kick.

Not too long ago I borrowed a Terry Pratchett novel called "Interesting Times" from friends. I highly recommend it; it's hilarious.

What are you reading? Do you have any recommendations for me?

Thursday, December 21, 2006

One Greater Than Solomon

This morning I read about the queen of Sheba's visit to King Solomon in 1 Kings 10. In the past, I've often been struck by the astounding descriptions of Solomon's wealth. I mean, the guy used eating utensils made of gold and sat on an ivory and gold throne. Wow! I can't even imagine that kind of wealth. The Lord certainly kept His promise to give Solomon riches (1 Kings 3).

However, that's not what struck me today. What struck me was the queen of Sheba's reaction to all this and to Solomon's ability to answer all her difficult questions. Check out what she says:

"How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and and hear your wisdom! Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord's eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness."
(1 Kings 10:8-9)

Many centuries later, Jesus referred to this incident after the Pharisees and teachers of the law asked him for a miraculous sign (as if he hadn't already been giving them many of those!). After telling them about the "sign of Jonah", Jesus said, "'The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon's wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.'" (Matthew 12:42)

Who was this one "greater than Solomon"? Jesus himself. How was he greater than this wealthy and wise king, who provoked such an awed response from the queen of Sheba?

Solomon sat on the throne of Israel, one nation among many on earth. Jesus sits on the throne of heaven, ruler over the true Israel, both Jews and Gentiles--and ruler of everyone and everything else.

In spite of all his wisdom, Solomon sinned; the very next chapter of 1 Kings tells of how Solomon married foreign women, a direct violation of God's Law, and was led astray by them so that he started to worship their gods rather than being wholeheartedly devoted to the Lord. Jesus, in spite of great temptation, never sinned.

Solomon's reign lasted 40 years, and then he died (1 Kings 11:42-43). Jesus also died, but he rose again three days later (the "sign of Jonah" he referred to in Matthew 12). Now Jesus lives and reigns forever.

Jesus is the one whom the Lord referred to as "my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17) He is the true Son of David and King; Solomon was just a type.

Lord Jesus--praise be to the Lord God the Father, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of heaven. Because of the Lord eternal love for his people, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.

"Joy to the world! The Lord is come; let earth receive her King. . . He rules the world with truth and grace and makes the nations prove the glories of His righteousness and wonders of His love."

"How lovely is your dwelling place, O Lord Almighty. . . Blessed are those who dwell in your house; they are ever praising you. . . Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere." (Psalm 86:1, 4, 10)

"Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." (Psalm 73:25-26)