Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Carry on Carrie -- A Higher Crown's at Stake

Most people think Miss California lost the crown. I say she didn’t. Oh, she may have lost the Miss America crown. But, I believe a greater crown is waiting for her-—in Heaven.

Carrie Prejean, Miss California almost became Miss America but . . . she lost her crown because she expressed her honest opinion—one that most Californians agree with but which irked the judges.

Prejean lost her crown because, when Perez Hilton, a gay activist, asked her view on gay marriage, she told him. Only her opinion differed to his, which angered him. She was not unkind, nor offensive and certainly not condemning. She expressed what she believes, that marriage should be between a man and a woman. And she represented the voice of most Americans from her state she’s representing. For that, she lost her crown.

Carrie’s story stirs up troubling issues. Issues I’ve mentioned previously on this blog. America is losing her freedom. She’s losing her saltiness.

Carrie has repeatedly stated that she holds no personal vendetta against gays. She simply stated her own convictions based on her own gut—and her faith. But that was unacceptable. It led to spouts of verbal aggression rising from those who disagreed with Prejean-—mostly gays and liberals. What’s their beef? Why are they so driven, so bent on imposing their opinions on those of us who think differently than they do? What about freedom of speech-—the right to believe as you wish, and express it?

As a European now living in America for five years, I’ve seen the pattern of erosion. Little by little freedom is being chipped away, and fewer and fewer people are standing up to fight for it.

When my husband and I lived in France, we were “persecuted” for our beliefs. We were victims of some serious hate crimes. But we wouldn’t be bullied. We fought for religious freedom, and won the battle in several arenas. But that’s another story for another time. My point here though is simple: Let’s not kowtow to the agenda-driven bullies. Let’s fight for freedom. Consider the movie Braveheart. William Wallace lived fighting for freedom, and died shouting, "LIBERTY!” I believe we should be ready to do the same And the way America is headed, it just might come to that.

If you think I’m an alarmist, or if you’d like to know more about what’s happening in America and how our freedom is being taken from us, check out this website: loyaltoliberty.com. It might open your eyes.

Watch Carrie Prejean stand up for truth on TV in the trailer below.

Yes, Prejean lost her crown, but she honored her convictions. And it’s my guess a higher crown awaits her. May she maintain her status as a voice of truth, and never forget that it’s a small thing to lose a mere earthly crown to gain an eternal one

“Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev.2:10b).

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? . . .” (Mat.16:24-26).

Janey L. DeMeo
Copyright © April 2009

Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle – Britian’s Got Talent, Fairystory Come True.

I love the story of Susan Boyle-—so much so that I’ve almost memorized her interview on Britain’s Got Talent word for word, gesture for gesture. I’m hooked. And here’s why.

47-year-old Susan Boyle represents the most ordinary—-maybe even less than ordinary—-unhollywoodish, plain Jane you could ever meet (I know, she’s Susan, not Jane). She’s never been kissed, can’t find a job, apparently doesn’t care to cover her grey hairs or follow fashion, and certainly doesn’t believe in plucking her eyebrows. She is not comely on the outside and you’d certainly not expect her to have any talent. But talent she has. Real talent.

The look on the faces of the judges when Susan opened her mouth to sing was worth a million bucks (eh, pounds). Clearly they were taken off guard. Totally stunned. And no wonder. Susan’s voice and presentation were stunning. Her talent transcends words.

What I loved also about her song, other than her flawlessly pitched voice, were the words. She sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. The song ends with the line, “Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.” But Susan’s dream is anything but dead since her performance on the show. She is the center of the latest talent buzz. And I have a hunch we’ll be hearing a whole lot more about her, and from her.

See Susan Boyle’s stunning performance here.

Susan reminds me of Paul Potts, now a household name for classic opera lovers.
See his performance here.

What I love – what we all love – is that these “nobodies” are really somebodies. On the outside they look plain. On the inside, they hide an immense talent—and they are beautiful. Isn’t that the same with each of us? According to the Bible, everyone has at least one talent. And although we may not be given the chance Susan and Paul were given, and be able to exteriorize our talent in front of large crowds, God sees it and it is precious in His sight.

“But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

The important thing is to do the best we can with what we’ve got. “For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away” (Matthew 25:29). And if we do just that, leaning on Jesus all the way, our dreams will come true and unfold in ways we never even imagined possible.

“Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man
The things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Janey L. DeMeo M.A.
Copyright © April 2009

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Secret Holocaust Diaries

This year’s Easter celebration was a catharsis for many – a look back to why we can experience joy today in a world filled with so much pain. Our Lord is risen! And because He is, we have hope. May we never forget the price Jesus paid. And may we also never forget our History and gloss over events that reveal man’s darkest side. Here’s a book to help us:
The Secret Holocaust Diaries by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin. This book goes beyond simply reminding us of our tragic past. It offers unusual hope.


Nonna Bannister appeared to be a typical American housewife. She married Henry, the love of her life, in 1951 and together they raised three children in Memphis, Tennessee. But Nonna was far from average. For half a century, she kept her story secret while living a normal life. She locked all of her photos, documents, diaries, and dark memories from World War II in a trunk in her attic.

Tyndale House Publishers announces the publication of The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister written by Nonna Bannister with Denise George and Carolyn Tomlin (April 2009, Tyndale House), the haunting eyewitness account of Nonna Lisowskaja Bannister, a remarkable Russian girl who saw and survived unspeakable evils during World War II.

Questions & Answers

1. The Secret Holocaust Diaries is written by Nonna although she passed away in 2004. Did she write the book before she died?

Yes, she slipped up into the attic each night, translated her diaries (from several different languages), and recorded them in English onto yellow legal pads. Much later, after she told her husband, Henry, about her incredible past, she showed him the stacks of yellow legal pads on which she had translated her diaries and recorded her thoughts about her past, and he typed them up into a manuscript.

2. Many people assume most of the people killed by the Nazis were Jewish. Was Nonna’s family Jewish?

Although it is estimated that approximately 6 million Jews were killed by the Nazis, other nationalities experienced suffering and death, also. Nonna's family was Russian and owned seven grain mills and homes in southern Russia and the Ukraine. Her father, Yevgeny, and his family were from Warsaw, Poland, which included a large population of Jews. Due to border restrictions, Nonna never met her father's family. Yevgeny never told Nonna and her brother, Anatoly, if his family was Jewish. If the children didn't know, they could not let it slip. The admission of being Jewish could have meant deportation or certain death. There is speculation, but no one is certain.

3. Nonna saved many documents from her time at Nazi camps; what are these artifacts?

In a small ticking pillow she kept tied around her waist, she kept many one inch square photos of her family and friends in the Ukraine. She also kept her small childhood diary. On tiny slips of paper, she wrote her experiences (in diary form) and also kept these in the little pillow.
Later she kept all these in a small trunk, which she painted bright green.

4. Why did Nonna keep her devastating secret for so many years?

Nonna kept her secret past from her family/friends because she had, at last, found such happiness with her husband, Henry, and her three children. She didn't want to express her past pain--she didn’t want it to interrupt the family's happiness and cast a shadow of despair over them.

5. What can people of Christian faith or Jewish faith/descent take from The Secret Holocaust Diaries?

That grave injustice exists--Nonna learned that from the Red Army (who killed many of her family members) and Hitler's army (who also killed many of her family members and imprisoned her in a labor camp). But that God's love and forgiveness for those who hurt us are stronger than even Hitler's evil and injustice. Nonna came out of the whole experience with her heart still filled with love. She experienced none of the bitterness and hatred that some Jewish Holocaust survivors have held onto. She was able to marry, raise children, and bring them much joy and happiness through her own love and through introducing them to God's love.

6. Why did Nonna feel it was so important to share her story?

The Secret Holocaust Diaries: The Untold Story of Nonna Bannister
is a true story of a young Russian girl whose family was caught up in the Russian Revolution and in World War II. In spite of the injustice inflicted on her family and millions of others, it is a story of love and forgiveness. Nonna wanted others to know the horrors that occurred during the Hitler and Stalin era so that it might never happen again.
Nonna felt compelled to tell her story because she was an eyewitness to many dramatic events, and she was the only survivor of her entire family.

Late in life, Nonna unlocked her trunk filled with memories from World War II first for her husband, and now for the rest of the world. Nonna’s story is one of suffering, torture, and death—but also of incredible acts of kindness that show the ultimate triumph of faith and love over despair and evil. The Secret Holocaust Diaries is in part a tragedy, yet ultimately it’s an unforgettable true story about forgiveness, courage, and hope.

In a day when life is filled with fluff and lies, I recommend this book to help us remember the truth and what really counts.

Janey L. DeMeo M.A.
Copyright © April 13, 200

Monday, April 06, 2009

On the hills of l'Aquila, Italy, stands an old rugged cross

“On a hill far away, lies an old, rugged cross . . . ”

Italians panic after a 6.3 earthquake strikes the area of L’Aquila in central Italy.

Just days before Easter, amidst debris and disaster, a crucifix hangs like a misplaced Christmas ornament from a piece of wreckage caused by today’s earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy. Perhaps the only recognizable object in a pile of rubble in the village of Onna, the crucifix cannot be ignored. It seems as if it was strategically placed for the world to see.

A sign maybe? Coincidence? Perhaps a simple reminder of the Easter message-—hope for the wrecked, ruined and despaired. Salvation.

Elsewhere in L’Aquila, another cross hangs boldly on a lingering section of collapsed wall-—a wall that symbolizes a place of healing and wellness—that of St. Salvatore hospital. Beneath it patients sit stunned, ironically gathered together by tragic coincidence at the one place where true healing takes place—the foot of the cross.

In the village of Castelnuovo, yet another cross is seen-—this one on the cracked wall of a ruined house. Under the decorative cross lies a picture of Jesus carrying His cross with Mary beside Him. Outside in the rubble riddled streets of Castelnuovo, nothing looks normal or recognizable except one thing—-a tall pillar with a cross on the top.

In the village of St. Elia, a statue stands defiantly amidst the wreckages of a church. On a wall hangs a huge portrait of late Pope John Paul 11. Symbols of hope? Idols? Not for us to judge . . . Personally, I see them as visuals of individual hearts that might be seeking-—and maybe have not heard the full story of where their hope lies.

In the village of Paganica another damaged church-—with its cross held high.

An earthquake, debris and crosses holding their own amidst chaos.

The earthquake should have come as no surprise. Giocchino Guiliani, a seismologist, predicted it a month ago. He even went as far as to publicly broadcast his doomsday prediction via loudspeakers in the region where the earthquake took place. But no one listened. Now doesn’t that remind us of the parable of the great banquet where the people refused to heed the call to come to the banquet before it was to late (Luke 14:15-23)?

I know Italy. I lived just hours from the Italian/French border for two decades. I have sipped many a cappuccino with those beloved, warm-hearted Italians. I know them well. They like crosses. They even like Jesus, although few know Him personally. Their belief system is steeped in superstition and dead religion. Their Jesus still hangs on a crucifix. Few have grasped the impact of the resurrected Christ. At least, not yet. But in spite of religious symbolism, the Italian heart is open to the Gospel.

Now, wouldn’t it be just like God-—the Majestic King of Redemption and immeasurable mercy, the Lord of compassion and grace, He who turn pain into divine purpose—-to consider the Italian temperament and use the tragedy of an earthquake to point them to Him? Wouldn’t it be like God to leave the cross standing in tact for a people who might find something deeper in the symbolism?

That is my hope and my prayer for the Italian people in the wake of mourning. May God heal their broken hearts, bind their wounds, rebuild their lives, redeem their sorrow—-and turn their faces to see an empty cross—-and the Savior who hung on it for their redemption.

In central Italy, amidst chaos and rubble,
Like an out-of-place ornament
Hangs a crucifix,
In Aquila, on a broken hospital wall,
Where broken people await their healing,
Hangs a cross,
In village streets strewn with debris,
Nothing can be recognized—-except
An upheld cross.

Oh Italy, your mountains are in ruins,
Your people cry for loss of hope,
But the cross cries out,
It beckons you to see,
The truth of Easter:

“There is a green hill far away,
Without a city wall,
Where our dear Lord was crucified,
He died to save us all.”

Poem by Janey DeMeo (copyright © April 2009)–except last stanza which is borrowed from the famous hymn by Cecil Alexander.

Janey L. DeMeo
Copyright © April 2009

Note—the photographed pictures referred to in this article were from the Associate Press and seen today on AOL news.