Thursday, January 29, 2004

Goodbye to an "offensive" comic strip?

It was inevitable...a lot of people are letting the Rockford Register Star know that they're not happy with the newspaper dropping Johnny Hart's "B.C." comic strip.

On January 19, the paper announced it would be dropping the strip because it is "offensive, silly and senseless." The paper cited controversial strips that they viewed as anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim, and said they were tired of fielding complaints about the strip.

I am not a big comic reader, but I had often been amazed at Johnny Hart's boldness in witnessing through his comic strip. I figured it would only be a matter of time before it prompted an uproar.

Today's Register Star has several letters to the editor, most of them protesting the demise of the strip and pointing out the hypocrisy of continuing to allow comic strips like "Doonesbury" and others that have blatant anti-Christian themes.

If you want to know more about Johnny Hart, check out this article at

What did music sound like in Jesus' day?

Well, in all probability it sounded nothing like music you'll hear in church this Sunday...whether your church favors old hymns, contemporary or Southern gospel.

Now, a Texas-based musical group called SAVAE--San Antonio Vocal Arts Ensemble--has recorded an album of music they say is authentically like what was sung in Jesus' time.

The group's artistic director, Christopher Moroney, told AP's Religion Roundup that ancient Hebrew manuscripts of the Bible contain musical notations that can now be read. The group sings and chants ancient hymns and Scriptures in the original language, using the kinds of instruments that were available thousands of years ago.

Listening to some samples of this music, I was taken back to my childhood when my parents were missionaries in Beirut, Lebanon. It sounds very much like a mixture of music that is still popular in the Mideast today, and the eerie sounds of a Muslim call to prayer from a minaret.

I wouldn't be at all surprised if SAVAE's rendering of ancient music is pretty authentic. At any rate, it shows me that God's stamp of approval probably isn't on any one particular style of music...and it's pretty presumptuous of us to think we know just exactly what music is pleasing to Him.

I read "The Screwtape Letters" yesterday...

and was once again struck by the wit and wisdom of C. S. Lewis.

Yes, I read the entire's actually a pretty slim volume...and no, I had never read it before. I was home sick from work, fighting this bronchial/sinus/icky thing that has been making me feel rotten for the past few days. And there was nothing to read. So I breached the haven of my daughter's bedroom and found the book, which had been one of her Christmas presents. (She had read a library copy before and loved it.)

In case you're unfamiliar with it, the book is in the form of letters from a mentor demon (Screwtape) to a less experienced one (Wormwood.) Screwtape gives Wormwood advice on how to handle his "patient," the human to whom he has been assigned. His advice on methods to use to keep this man away from "the Enemy"...which is how he refers to not only entertaining in a macabre sort of way, but convicting, as we see how often we as Christians cooperate with the real enemy's agenda.

A couple of things really stood out for me. One is how frustrated and bewildered the demons are by God's love for humans. "He actually likes the little vermin," Screwtape writes disgustedly at one point. That sentiment was repeated often.

Screwtape also talks about the fact that God wants to people the universe with little replicas of Himself...yet in making them more like Him, he also gives them back their own distinctness, making them more themselves than they ever were. "We want cattle who can finally become food," says the demon, "He wants servants who can finally become sons."

Another was (and this is a spoiler if you haven't read it) Screwtape's reaction to the patient's death. While furious that Wormwood has allowed a soul to slip through his clutches, he resignedly describes what the human must have been experiencing when his soul left his body. Screwtape is appalled that this "creature of slime" is now able to stand up and converse with spirit beings whose light the demons are unable to bear.

He also observes that, when meeting these spirit beings, the human instantly feels recognition...not asking "Who are you?" but saying, "So it was you..."

Wonderful book, with a lot of food for thought. Some people criticize Lewis' theology, but when I read one of his books, I'm usually inspired anew by the wonder of being a child of God...and that moves me to love Him more. And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2004


From Plugged In's Culture Clips:

“I’m going to try to keep them locked up and off the Internet, off cell phones and out of cars as long as I can.” —Everybody Loves Raymond’s Patricia Heaton, on the steps she’s taking to raise her four sons as “chivalrous gentlemen” [USA Weekend, 1/9-11/04]

Monday, January 26, 2004

What? Monday again already???? (scroll down for the "Monday Madness" quiz)

Week-ends really do fly by on wings of mercury!

It was a pretty good one in the Swanson household, except for the cold temperatures outdoors. Friday night I went to a high school basketball game with my husband, my daughter, and Ray. My musing after watching a high school dance team there: do today's dads really NOT have a problem with their daughters bumping-and-grinding in revealing clothes for everyone to whoop and whistle at? My dad wouldn't have let me out the door, much less on the gym floor. Oh well, I guess this is a different era.

Saturday night, it was dinner at Chili's, where I got my regular fix of chips and salsa. I could just about drink that salsa.

Church on Sunday, and I made beef stew. It necessitated getting up even earlier that usual in the morning to chop veggies, brown stew meat and throw everything in the crockpot, plus make a pan of cornbread. But it was sure worth it when we came home to the fragrant aroma and didn't have to wait for lunch. Get the bowls out, warm the cornbread up in the microwave, put ice in the glasses, and lunch is ON.

Here's how I make my beef stew, if you're interested (it's definitely not rocket science!) :)


1 package of stew meat pieces
Seven or eight potatoes, peeled and cut up in chunky pieces
1 package baby carrots (cut each carrot in half if you wish)
1 can mixed vegetables
1 can green beans
1 large can tomato sauce
1 and a half packets beef stew mix

Brown the stew meat in a little oil. (My mom advocates dipping the pieces in salt-n-peppered flour first, but I don't always take the time to do that.) While browning, chop up veggies and put them in the crock pot. Add tomato sauce (you can add a can of diced tomatoes if you like--my family just doesn't like to SEE tomato pieces in anything. Weird, I know.) Add canned veggies, INCLUDING the juice. (This might also be a good time to get rid of left-over veggies that may be in the fridge and are still good.) Pepper the meat and add some seasoned salt if you like, then dump in the crockpot with everything else. Add beef stew mix ( I find using half of a second envelope intensifies the flavor a bit, but that's optional.)

When making this in the crock-pot, you probably won't need to add extra liquid...but if you're making it in a big pot, you'll probably need to add at least a cup of water, maybe more. Play it by ear.

If using a crock-pot, cook on HIGH for four or five hours.

Yum. There is some left over, and you can bet that's what I'll be having for lunch today!

Another review of "The Passion of the Christ"

Kevin Young reviews The Passion of the Christ in his blog today. Like every review from a believer I've read or heard, it's overwhelmingly positive...but he does caution that "graphic" is an understatement:

"There were times when the violence was so intense that I had to turn my head away... There were times when the sounds of His beatings were so realistic that I wished I were brave enough to cover my ears...

"Mostly though, the pain from my own guilt and shame pierced deeper than any brutal image the movie offered."

Obviously, this is not the kind of movie that one "enjoys." Rather, from all accounts I've heard so far, it is one to experience and ponder. Many use the word "life-changing."

OK, I admit it...

I'm a sucker for these blog quizzes! I've jumped on board with the Friday Five and even the Tuesday, on Beverly's blog (which I really enjoy, by the way!) I find Monday Madness, which I hereby reply to:

1. The one kitchen appliance I just could not live without is: it would be my dishwasher if I had one, BUT I DON'T!!!!! :( So I will have to say, my microwave. I do use it constantly.

2. My desk always looks like: a federal disaster area. Except when I get an industrious/guilty streak and put it in perfect order...and it lasts a couple of weeks before slowly deteriorating again.

3. The clocks in my house are: some are right on time; one is about five minutes fast, and my radio alarm clock is fifteen minutes fast. Don't ask.

4. The one television program I just can't stand is: Bev said "Fear Factor," and I AGREE!!!! If I had HBO, I'm sure there would be other replies. But I see no redeeming value in people eating the live insects or animal's rectums. Eeewww.

5. The one television program I try to never miss is: Actually, there is not one that I try never to miss, although I like several.

6. When it comes to housework, I really hate: Bev said "cleaning the oven," and I'd have to agree. Cleaning out the refrigerator, especially when I've allowed left-overs to turn into mould-producing experiments, would be a close second.

7. If I could re-design my living room, the first thing I would do: Re-design? I'd have a fireplace. If I were re-modeling, the first thing I would do would be to get new carpet.

8. I wish I had a bigger_______ in my house: The size of everything is OK...I wish I had a dining room and another upstairs bathroom.

9. When someone points a camera at me and says 'Smile!' I usually: Obey, but inwardly grimace, wondering how it's going to turn out, and do I have any lip gloss on?

10. I expect I'll have my income tax done by: My husband will have it done. By midnight on April 15th. :)

Friday, January 23, 2004

My interview with Christian author Nancy Moser

Once again, I've had the pleasure of interviewing one of my favorite authors, Nancy Moser. Nancy is the author of such books as "The Invitation" and "The Temptation," as well as "Time Lottery" and "The Seat Beside Me."

In this interview, Nancy focuses on some of her more recent books, including "The Sister Circle" and "'Round the Corner," which she co-authored with Vonette Bright; and "A Steadfast Surrender" and "The Ultimatum."

Nancy is a charming woman with a great personality and an infectious laugh. Hope you enjoy this transcript.

CINDY: Anyone who listens to this show or knows me at all knows that I love fiction. It's a passion of mine...especially Christian fiction. And I'm so pleased to be able to tell people that Christian fiction is better than ever. Not only is it good quality and great stories and just page-turning things, but it's also something that can help you learn something about your faith and maybe walk a little closer to the Lord, or maybe point out or illuminate a spiritual truth that can be helpful in your walk with the Lord.

All of those things perfectly sum up Nancy Moser, and the books that she writes. In fact, one of the things I love about Nancy's books is that she uses scripture freely in her books, and in most of her books in the back you can find even
a list of the scriptures that she used. All that, and yet still just great stories that keep you turning the pages, and
all of that goes to make Nancy officially one of my favorite authors. All that to say that I'm so pleased and delighted to have Nancy as my guest today. Nancy, thank you so much for joining me.

Nancy: Thanks, Cindy.

CINDY: Nancy, tell us a little about yourself and how you got into this business of writing fiction.

NANCY: I shouldn't be writing fiction (laughs) because I've never taken an English course or a composition course of any kind. My degree is in architecture, so this doesn't make any sense, but God has a sense of humor, or
can use us in spite of our degrees, how's that?

I started writing fiction before I was a Christian. And so I wrote five novels for the secular market, hoping to become famous with them--rich and famous would have been good--and then in 1995 I really had a revelation. A rejection from an agent in New York for one of these five secular novels really hit me hard, and led me to a Chrisitan bookstore where I virtually discovered that there was such a thing as Christian fiction. And this corresponded directly with my own spiritual searching and so, my testimony with my own faith is intertwined with writing my first Christian novel, "The Invitation." And so,I eventually set aside all the secular novels that I had written, and deemed them practice, and
dedicated all my writing to God, and that's where I've been ever since.

CINDY: I think probably the first book of yours that I read was "The Invitation" and it just grabbed me completely, just immediately, and I've been a big fan of yours ever since. But let's talk about "The Sister Circle". I just finished reading "Round the Corner," and I don't know how I missed the first book, which was "Sister Circle," and even though they can stand alone, they're kind of in a bit of a series, aren't they, Nancy?

NANCY: Yes, they are. It starts with "Sister Circle," and then "Round the Corner" is the second one, and then there are two more.

CINDY: These books are being billed as being as being co-authored with Vonette Bright, who is of course of wife of Bill Bright. I was curious, in seeing her name there... how do you co-author a book with somebody, is that hard? and how did it come about that Vonette became involved?

Nancy: Well, they contacted me a few years ago because Dr. Bright had starting writing co-authored books with Ted Decker. And Dr. Bright really realized the power of Christian fiction, like you were talking about earlier, how you can reach a non-believer by giving them a novel and saying, "Here, read this great book" and get the same message, where if you give them a book that says "How to Know God" they may never read it. And so, he realized this, and he was doing this with Ted, and he wanted Vonette to do that. And so, they called me and asked if I'd be interested, and it was interesting because I really had never thought of such a thing. And they wanted me to come down and meet her, and talk and see if we hit it off, and I asked, "Do you want me to bring a resume?" And they go, "Oh no, you don't understand, we've been praying about this. You're it......all you have to do is say yes." And so that was the first time I'd ever had the experience of people praying about me, for me, when I didn't know it
or had not asked for their prayers.
And we really hit it off...she's a lovely, wonderful, gracious lady...and so we brainstormed these ideas. The way we do it, we brainstorm these ideas, and then I start the writing. She's written nonfiction, but writing fiction's totally different.
And so I write the novel, and during the process I will contact her and get her opinion about things. She of course has way more worldly experience than I do, with Campus Crusade and all. And so she's a great help in that.
And then she edits the whole thing, and we go back and forth.
but basically,in the meat of it is mine, and I run with our ideas.

CINDY: That was obvious to me in reading the book. It was totally your style, and so anybody that's a big Nancy Moser fan, you don't have to feel like there's going to be changes in style there. Before we talk a little bit about the whole premise of a "Sister Circle," tell me about what this story is about.

NANCY: OK...Evelyn Peerbaugh is a newly widowed 53 year old woman. And her husband left her no life insurance
and so she's having to figure out how to deal with life and financially, besides being in mourning and such. And so she opens up her Victorian home to boarders as a way to earn money. And so these women come in, all very diverse women, and they bond, and they form this sister circle. Which, you know, women really have a capacity to bond that men don't understand and that men don't want to do (laughs) ...we can bond with the lady in front of us in Wal-Mart while we're waiting to check out. And so, it's about this wonderful bonding that we are capable of doing. And then the second book is just different boarders coming in, a lot of the same ladies are still around, but all four books are just a continuation of this boarding house and the women who come and go.

CINDY: Nancy, I think one of the sad things about our modern age is that we as women don't bond as we should, and we tend to go our own separate ways...there's no longer a sewing circle, or a quilting bee, we don't help each other can, that sort of thing. Do you agree, and do you feel that women really can, if they make an effort to, just reach out and help each other through life?

NANCY: Well, they can, and that's our greatest hope for these books, and our kind of ulterior motive is to
get women to form "sister circles." Maybe they get together, just neighborhood people or people from church--
there's a lot of women from churches that are using these books as a discussion group, or a book club to begin with. There's questions in the back, and on the website, extensive discussion questions. And they go over the life issues, of perfectionism or courage or forgiveness and all those things that the fictional characters deal with. And we're hoping that maybe the books start them out meeting, and maybe they will form a lifelong friendship will take them through all different areas of their life and different stages of their life. And so this truly is our hope, and this is happening right now across the country.

CINDY: I think that's a great idea, and I'm glad it's catching on. Now, I will be honest with you. When I first saw the book I thought, "Hmm...this doesn't look like what I'm used to seeing from Nancy." Because, you know, a lot of your books have had the element of spiritual warfare, or maybe a touch of sci-fi, as in "Time Lottery," which I found fascinating. And I was thinking, "Oh, is this just going to be one of those kind of little cutesy-pie kind of things?" Well, I started reading it, and I was just immediately engrossed in it. I love books in which you like the people so much that you're sorry when the book is over, and you wanted to keep hanging around with them for a while. And that's exactly what you've come up with in The Sister Circle Books; I think it's awesome.

NANCY: Well, thank you, and it's hard for me to let them go too (laughing), and in fact some of the ladies...some of the characters (laughing)--look, I called them ladies---some of the characters I didn't plan to have in the second book or the third book, but they won't go away, and so they just keep putting themselves back into my brain...(laughs) they're very pushy. And so I understand what you're saying from writer's point of view too.

CINDY: I saw that on your website, and I think you even talk about it in the back of your book, like "What do you mean,
don't writers know exactly what's gonna go on in every second of the book?" And obviously, sometimes the book just kind of sweeps the writer along.

NANCY: Well, it depends on what kind of writer you are. Some writers are very outline-oriented writers. Oh! not me. I have just the basic premise, and I just cast it like I'm casting a movie,and then just let the characters take over. And
I'm always surprised.

CINDY: Well, I enjoy it because I think that element of energy just really comes through in your books. Now, these books,the Sister Circle books, are from Tyndale House. You also have some titles in Multnomah Books that are out right now. What's going on with some of the other titles that you have?

NANCY: Well, "A Steadfast Surrender" came out last June, and the sequel to that, "The Ultimatum," comes out March 1st. Those books are about a small town of Steadfast, Kansas. "The Ultimatum" is probably more what you're used to with my writing, the good-versus-evil. It's about a believing wife dealing with a non-believing husband, and of course
the tension that goes on in that kind of situation, and plus more tension, but I'm not going to go into that (laughing) because that would give it away. And I'm also writing the sequel to "Time Lottery."

CINDY: Oh, Time Lottery was an excellent book! I'm fascinated with books about time travel. And I think it's interesting, too, that you originally wrote it before you began writing Christian fiction.

NANCY: It was one of those secular novels that just would not go away over the years. And I changed the whole motivation--obviously, it went through extensive re-writes to become a Christian novel--but it's about a lottery where you don't win money, you win a chance to go back into your own life and change something. This second book will come out in November, and it's just three more winners and their stories of going back into their lives.

CINDY: Well Nancy, I was pleased to notice that you now have your own website up, and it's a great website...tell people about that.

NANCY: Well, you want to go to It will list all of my books and give you excerpts from my books. And then, I'm also an inspirational speaker. I like to do women's retreats...overnight women's retreats...I've done them in Maine, and Canada and Ohio... If you need a speaker, please go to my website. I'd love to come and speak to you, because I really enjoy those retreats.

I answer the "Friday Five"

I don't know who originated the "Friday Five" ( I first discovered it on Rick's blog), but it's a fun tradition on my favorite day of the week. Here we go:

At this moment, what is your favorite...

1."Word of God Speak," by MercyMe

2.'s chips and salsa (I literally crave their salsa!)

3. show?--"Trading Spaces"

4. ...scent?--Clinique's Aromatics Elixir

5. ...quote?--"The darkness of God's providence is starlit with divine intents"--read in Streams in the Desert

Hey...if you're reading this, why not leave your answers in my comments section? C'mon, it'll be fun! :)

Thursday, January 22, 2004

January 22nd...a day to mourn

When I was a junior in high school, I was delighted to hear that my older sister was pregnant with her third child. I adored my nieces, Shelly and Stephanie, and was looking forward to another little niece or nephew.

My sister gave birth that January to a beautiful little baby girl, and named her Deborah Leigh. But as perfect as Deborah looked, it quickly became obvious that something was wrong. Deborah's little heart was incomplete, and she died within a week of her birth.

I will never forget the car trip from East Texas to West Texas for the funeral of a baby girl. I will never forget seeing that beautiful little girl in the dainty little dress her father had bought for her to wear home from the hospital. I will never forget hearing my brother-in-law cry in the middle of the night for a daughter that would never grow up, or hearing my sister sob for her baby.

Time does heal, and less than a year after Deborah's death, my sister was blessed with another little girl. My niece Cynthia Anne is grown up now, married and has her own babies.

But every year around this time, my sister experiences a season of sadness as she mourns the baby that never grew up.

We were talking about it just the other day. "It's hard to believe it's been 31 years now," Beverly said softly. "She died on January 22nd, 1973."

"January 22, 1973? Beverly...that's the day the Supreme Court Roe versus Wade decision legalized abortion!"

My sister had never connected the two events. We were both struck with the irony. She still grieves the death of a baby on that day...the day that paved the way for millions of mothers to end the lives of their babies voluntarily.

Ironic, indeed.

Abortion stops a beating heart.


Enough about "metrosexuals"?

Could there be a backlash brewing against the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" trend?

USA Today
has an article on the front page of its Life section today, titled "Regular guys cast a jaded eye at 'metrosexual' trend."

Apparently, marketers have been trying to cash in on the "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" mentality, "looking to convince men that they needed to cram their cabinets with as many expensive balms, masks and scrubs as women stockpile."

The story suggests that "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" has lost its novelty, and that the "demise of contrived dandy-ism" is imminent. Comedy Central is even planning a parody titled "Straight Plan for the Gay Man."

Fine with me. Call me old-fashioned, but I like the line between the sexes to be clearly delineated. I'm all for sensitive men who aren't ashamed to cry and take showers...but I'm glad to say that although my husband does both (and even takes more time getting ready than I do, sometimes!) he is 100 per cent HETEROsexual.

Viva la difference.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Why do I have a picture of Russell Crowe here?

Well, because it's my blog, and I felt like it. :)

Spoonerisms never fail to crack me up

This from an article at about the Reverend William Archibald Spooner:

" The good Anglican priest and Oxford University scholar, who was known for being genial, kindly, and hospitable, had quite the reputation for saying almost the right thing, but not quite. He once said to a stranger seated in the wrong place: 'I believe you're occupewing my pie. May I sew you to another sheet?'"

Other mis-speaks by Reverend Spooner that tickle my funny bone:

"The Lord is a shoving leopard."

Raising a toast to Her Royal Highness Queen Victoria: "Three cheers for our queer old dean!"

Exhibiting his patriotism during World War One: "When the boys come back from France, we'll have the hags flung out."

Then there's my own husband, who often used to accidentally say "Pana and Dolly" when referring to our friends, Dana and Polly. :)

I should talk about the President's State of the Union speech...

I should, but it's early in the morning and the speech has already been reacted to, hashed over and dissected to death by a plethora of pols, pundits and opposing candidates.

Besides, I didn't even see/hear the speech last night. I went to a basketball game instead.

If you didn't catch the speech and would like to read it for yourself, click here.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

I'm immersed in another great book...

Yep, and I can't wait till I can delve back into "'Round The Corner" by Nancy Moser and Vonnette Bright.

One of the great joys of my job is that I frequently get free books in the mail. (I know--YAY!!!) When I got Francine Rivers' "And the Shofar Blew" from Tyndale House, the package included two other books. One of them was "'Round The Corner."

Quite honestly, I didn't think I'd like it, and I have no idea why, because I'm a huge fan of Nancy Moser. Nothing against Vonnette Bright, but maybe I was thinking a book Nancy co-authored with someone else couldn't be as good.

Well, I couldn't have been more wrong. Apparently, "'Round The Corner" is the second in the Sister Circle series. (That may have been another reason I subconsciously panned it--maybe I thought a book about a "sister circle" would be boring or trite.)

Turns out, this is the kind of book in which you immediately start liking the characters and wanting to spend time with them. You're interested in what happens to them, and you're sorry when the book is over, because you don't want to stop hanging out with them.

My liking for Nancy Moser shows me that I'm attracted to much more than one style of writing. Nancy's can be described as crisp and clean. She moves the story forward in a no-nonsense manner, free of frills and frou-frou. I love her writing, while still loving writers characterized by more poetry and descriptiveness, like Jane Kirkpatrick, B. J. Hoff, or for that matter, the Gothic melodrama of Charlotte Bronte and Emily Bronte.

I don't know what part Vonnette Bright played in the writing of the book, but the style is vintage Moser.

Look for a review of "'Round The Corner" in the reading page of my website in the not-too-distant future. In fact, if you're a bookworm like me and love fiction, you may want to head over to that page now and read some of the reviews I've posted there. Quite frankly, I only post reviews of books I really like. I figure it's my website, so that's my perogative! :)


This from PluggedIn's "Culture Clips":

QUOTE: "No longer is the male universe divided between homosexuals and heterosexuals. Now we have metrosexuals. These are straight men who act like they are gay. Metrosexuals obsess over their appearance. They preen in front of mirrors. They love to shop. They try to emulate the look of the pretty boys in GQ and the Abercrombie & Fitch catalogs—buff bodies and effeminate faces, photographs modeled after gay erotica—all, ironically, to attract girls." —Gene Edward Veith, World Magazine's cultural editor, further refining a term coined by journalist Mark Simpson back in 1994 [World on the Web, 9/20/03]

The Tuesday Three...

Thanks to Rick's blog, I answer the burning questions of the day:

1) what is one WORD you think could be dropped from our vocabulary?--The "F" word. It viscerally assaults my senses whenever I hear it, in real life or on a movie. There are other ways to emphasize your point without being a potty-mouth!

2) what is one COMMERCIAL you never want to see again on television?--OK, maybe I'm a prude, but do we need those Victoria's Secret commercials? They're practically soft-core porn.

3) what is one SONG you wish would vanish from all music collections, never to be played again?--"Imagine," by John Lennon. I think that's an AWFUL song. I wouldn't want to live in the world he describes--a world without religion, without posessions, et cetera--because far from being some sort of Utopia, it would actually be a bleak and dismal Godless wasteland. And I can't help but think that even John Lennon enjoyed the money and possessions he earned...why did he want us to imagine not having any???

Monday, January 19, 2004

Have you ever just...walked out?

I walked out of a nail salon on Saturday...and I don't regret it.

OK, it all started in Boise, when I got my nails done for the wedding. You've got to understand, my fingernails are an ongoing issue with me. For years, I bit them. Just bit them right down to the quick. Then I decided to grow them out for my wedding (yes, 25 years ago), and from there on out, I've had a love-hate relationship with them.

Once I decide to grow them out, I'm fine. If they wander anywhere near my mouth, I make a conscious decision to keep them AWAY, and before you know it, they're growing. I immediately start pampering them. Nightly cuticle-pushing-back while in the tub. Frequent shapings with an emery board, even when there's just a sliver of white to shape. Then the polishings, with things like Sally Hansen's Hard as Nails. Soon I have a lovely set of fingernails.

That's when everything starts to fall apart.

I'll be out somewhere without an emery board in sight, and I'll break a nail. I'm left with all these ragged edges, which I try (futilely, of course) to repair with my teeth. It's all downhill from there, and more often than not, I decide to just bite them all off and start over from (no pun intended) scratch.

When the wedding rolled around, my nails were in a confused state of some long, some short. I longed for graceful and elegant nails, so I did something I've only done once before in my fake nails.

I simply walked into a nail salon in Boise. The salon was clean, shiny,and bright. The Asian girl who did my nails was perky, friendly, professional and confident. I walked out with gorgeous nails! I felt marvelous.

Well, the girl had told me that I needed to get a "fill" in about two weeks. I made an appointment at a nail salon not too far from where I live, sight unseen, but the price was right.

My first misgiving was that the place just didn't seem as clean and shiny as the other one. The carpet was dirty, the towels draped on the pedicure chairs had spots on was just an overall feeling of slight dinginess.

Then, although my appointment was at 3 o'clock, I was still waiting at 3:23. What was this, a doctor's office?

Have you ever been somewhere...a restaurant, a meeting, a professional appointment, whatever....where you just can't imagine staying? where you just get the strong sense that you don't want to be here, and you're going to leave? Well, I was definitely getting that message.

The deciding factor was when I looked up at a sign that said "No checks--cash only." Good excuse...I didn't have cash.

I made my apologies and walked out.

So what about my nails? Well, they're starting to do that weird thing where the nail is growing out and looking a little clunky. I guess I'll just keep them until they start to break off, leaving my own weak and fragile little nails exposed.

Then, of course, I'll start all over again.

Lyric o' The Day

From MercyMe:

Word of God Speak

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice

[Repeat Chorus Twice]

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay

Friday, January 16, 2004

Whatcha gonna name the baby? Aidan, Jaden or Caden?

No, don't get one in my family is having a baby (that I know of!), and my days of doing that are certainly long gone. But I've always, ever since I can remember, been fascinated with names--their meanings, their origins, just the way they sound.

So I was interested in article on about baby naming trends. According to the article: "For the first time in more than a decade, the year's most popular baby name for boys is not Biblical. Move over Michael and Matthew and make room for Aidan, Jaden, and Caden--the top three boys' names for 2003."

Madison has hung on as the number one name for baby girls. (I actually have an adorable little niece named Madison Marie.) Apparently, it was first used as a girl's name in the 1984 movie "Splash," in which Daryl Hannah played a mermaid. Remember, when she gets her legs and goes walking in Manhattan, she looks up to a Madison Avenue street sign and decides that will be her name?

Being a Celtic-phile...a lover of all things Irish, Scottish, etc...I must say I like the trend toward Celtic names. I just like the way they sound. I'm not sure if the shift away from Biblical names signifies anything...probably, if we wait long enough, the pendulum will swing back.

As far as the naming of my own children goes...well, I've known since I was a little girl that I wanted a "Jonathan" and an "Elizabeth." I always liked the name "Justin" as well. And when I was first expecting Justin, I was visiting my parents in Austin, and frequently saw a "Justin" street. I thought the name looked and sounded cool.

I do like the fact that my kids' names aren't really trendy. I think they'll stand the test of time. "Elizabeth" will sound just as good when my daughter is an old lady as it does now, at 16.

Although, I wish she would use her real name more and shorten it to "Liz" a little less. :)

By the way, if you want to do a little more baby name research, you may want to visit And if you have good reason to do so, well, congratulations! :)


Just got an e-mail from Tina, who lives in Central New York. She tells me that the wind chill there this morning is 101 degrees below zero! That is just CRAZY cold. You'd think that just walking outdoors there would turn you into a block of ice. Stay warm, Tina!

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Give me my burger WITH the bun, please...

Wow, the Atkins craze is really making inroads into the fast food industry! AP reports today that Burger King is rolling out its breadless Whoppers this week. It's seen as a nod to the low-carb craze that's sweeping the nation.

Apparently, Hardee's and Carl's Junior have already debuted burgers wrapped in lettuce instead of bread, and TGI Friday's has a bunless cheeseburger. No word yet from McDonald's or Wendy's.

This is going to be great for people who are on the Atkins or similar low-carb diets. Personally, I've tried that type of dieting, and it just doesn't work for me. I rebel against a diet that totally forbids any one kind of food. I have better luck with a Weight Watchers approach to eating...more of a moderation-in-ALL-things idea.

I guess I would rather have my Whopper (or Whopper Junior) with bread at lunchtime, even if it means I have to sacrifice for the rest of the day. Let me enjoy it to the fullest!

That said...I have no problem with "baked" chips, and I would definitely try the low-carb chips that snack giant Frito-Lay is planning to introduce in May. The new Tostitos Edge and Doritos Edge chips are made with soy proteins and have more fiber than the usual variety.

I do know people who have had fantastic results on Atkins-type plans, and I'm truly happy for them. Whatever works for you.

Anyway, I think we all know that the old "eat less, exercise more" adage is the only tried and true method of weight loss. And it requires sacrifice and discipline.

Now if I could only get serious about exercising!

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

The more I listen to Steven Curtis Chapman's "All About Love"...

...the more I like it.

The CD is associated with a pleasant memory for me, anyway. Last fall, Doug and I invited our friends, Ray and Teri, to accompany us to Family Life's "Rekindling the Romance" event at the Allstate Arena near Chicago. The seminar itself was wonderful, with speakers like Alistair Begg and Joe Stowell, and it culminated in a renewal of marriage vows that was deeply emotional and powerful for my husband and me.

But one of the highlights was the music of Steven Curtis Chapman. After having met and interviewed Steven on three separate occasions, I'm convinced he is the real deal--a man who is sold out to God and using his talents to worship Him and further His kingdom. You couldn't meet a nicer, more down-to-earth, genuine Christian man.

I vividly remember Steven taking the stage at "Rekindling the Romance" with nothing but an acoustic guitar and singing to a hushed audience of married couples about his prayer to the Lord to help him truly love his wife, Mary Beth:

"Out of all the gifts you've given
Besides the very gift of life
There is none as precious to me
As the treasure of my wife
And still all the love in my heart
Is like a raindrop to the sea
When compared to your love for her
And that's why I'm asking please
Will you teach me what she needs
I'm an earnest man when it comes
To learning how to love this woman

How do I love her
How do I let her know she means more than anything to me
How do I love her

Well I know it's gonna take a lifetime
To answer this prayer I pray
But that okay
'Cause I've given you and her my lifetime anyway"

Ray left his seat during an intermission, and returned to hand us a copy of the CD. I've been enjoying it regularly ever since.

"All About Love" is Steven's tribute to marital love, something which is sorely needed in this day and age. He perfectly captures the mixture of wonder, romance, frustration, down times, and joy that are all a part of a committed union.

Chapman tells "There are a ton of songs about falling in love and about break-ups, but in my opinion, there aren't enough songs that dive deep into what happens in relationships on a day-to-day basis. That's something that I really felt I wanted to explore with this project."

Looking back, I remember sharing with Steven in Nashville a couple of years ago, how his song "God is God" had ministered to me and encouraged me while dealing with my father's terminal illness. I was amazed and touched to see tears glistening in his eyes as he listened to me.

While I don't give a blanket endorsement to the music of any singer, I have been impressed with the depth and "scriptural-ness" of Steven's lyrics. The songs of his that have blessed and enriched me are many, including "God is God" (click here to read the lyrics).

(Below, a pic of Steven and me in the 101QFL booth at the Gospel Music Association Convention in Nashville, Tennessee, in April 2003.)

Monday, January 12, 2004

Just finished Francine Rivers' "And The Shofar Blew"....

After finally obtaining a copy of this book, I dived into it and came up for air only when necessary. Francine Rivers is one of my very favorite authors, and she's done it again...spun a highly absorbing tale that packs a powerful spiritual punch as well.

Click here to read my review of And the Shofar Blew. Great book!

Speaking of favorite authors...

Recently I was also spellbound by Jeri Massi's "Valkyries" books, and you can hear my radio interview with Jeri by clicking on the link in the sidebar here. If you haven't read "Valkyries," I highly recommend them.

I was pleased to see that Jeri has now linked this site on her blog...and the icon she found to represent me is the cute little bookworm above! I love it! :)

Says Jeri: "As Cindy is quite the read-a-holic but has a lot of energy and charm, I wanted a bookworm with personality." Thanks, Jeri!

I don't know about the energy and charm, but "read-a-holic" is 100 per cent accurate!

Friday, January 09, 2004

That pic of my family needs to be updated...

The family portrait you see in the sidebar was actually taken at Thanksgiving 2002, before Daylyn became a part of our family circle. Unfortunately, I can't update the pic just yet, or add pics from the wedding, because I don't have a digital camera and have to scan pics for my site...and the only scanner I have access to is on the fritz right now. Hopefully, soon. In the meantime, here's a fairly recent pic of Daylyn and Jonathan...

I've been reflecting, gratefully, on the fact that Doug and I are so pleased with Jon's choice. Daylyn loves the Lord; she is sweet, talented, and has a certain calmness and serenity about her that I just really admire (maybe because I am NOT usually calm and serene? :))

For the first time, when we were in Boise for the wedding, we were able to hear Daylyn play the harp. Wow. She is incredibly talented. Her sister Danielle then played the violin while Daylyn accompanied her on the harp, and it was achingly beautiful.

Daylyn's pastor, Arnold Rubey, who officiated at the ceremony, wryly told Jonathan: "You realize that by taking these vows, you are pledging to transport Daylyn's harp for the rest of your life together." That produced some chuckles. :)

I'm a little overwhelmed by my role as a mother-in-law. How do you hit on just the right combination of kindly concern, and minding your own business? It will be an interesting challenge...

Speaking of Daylyn's pastor...

Arnold Rubey, the pastor of Lake Hazel Bible Church in Boise, gave us a copy of his book Fallen Brother in Blue: The Tragic Death of Police Officer Mark Stall. It's a story that hits especially close to home for Rubey, because Boise police officer Mark Stall was his son-in-law. It hits close to home for me in a less forceful but still poignant way, because my younger brother David is a police officer and SWAT team leader.

I read the book aloud to Doug on the car trip home, and had to stop several times as I became too emotional to speak. Besides the fact that Mark Stall was born the same year as my brother, and was in the same high-risk occupation, there is the fact that my son's 23-year-old niece, Jennifer, was killed in a car crash in our family is acquainted with the shock of the sudden death of a loved one in the prime of life.

Rubey's book addresses some important issues regarding the public's attitude toward police officers. Yes, there are unfortunately dirty cops and brutal cops...but I believe the vast majority are solid citizens not unlike Stall and my brother, who choose this dangerous profession because they genuinely want to serve and protect their fellow citizens.

I personally give police officers high respect and deep appreciation. They put themselves on the front line of harm's way when they go to work, risking death even when making a routine traffic stop. You see, it was during a routine traffic stop that two brothers emerged from their vehicle to fire semi-automatic weapons at the police officers present, and one of those bullets killed Mark Stall.

"Fallen Brother in Blue" is an absorbing, moving and well-written read, and if you can follow the link above to find a copy online, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

My interview with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Church


I had the privilege to interview Dr. Erwin Lutzer for my weekly radio interview show. Following is an excerpt from that interview.

CINDY: I'm truly honored to have as my guest today a man who is extremely respected in the Christian community. Dr. Erwin Lutzer is a pastor, an author and a radio speaker, who has since 1980 been the senior pastor of the Moody Church in downtown Chicago. Dr. Lutzer is going to be the speaker at the January Life Breakfast, which is coming up January 16th at Cliffbreakers...this is a major prolife event in Northern Illinois.
First of all, Dr. Lutzer, welcome to Weekend Magazine.

DR. LUTZER: Well, I'm so glad to be with you today.

CINDY: Well, I'm delighted to meet you over the phone, because I have admired you for quite some time. Living fairly near Chicago, my husband and my family and I are trying to take more advantage of the fact that we live close to one of the greatest cities in the world. A couple of years ago we were able to attend a Sunday evening service at Moody Church and, it wasn't held in the big sanctuary, but we were able to tour the sanctuary, and it's a wonderful place. I was so, just, overwhelmed by the Moody Church. What is it like to be involved in ministry in that great church, with so much history?

DR. LUTZER: Well, it is a tremendous honor of course, and I've been the pastor since 1980, which means 24 years... and when I became pastor I certainly did not expect to be around that long, because the challenges were quite formidable, but God has been very good to us. It's a great honor, when you think in terms of our past...some people would remember a pastor by the name of Harry Ironside, who was there for nearly 18 years, and Warren Weirsbe and Dr. Sweeting and so forth...and I'm certainly unworthy of it. But after being there 24 years, I would have to say that there's no place in the world really where I would rather preach. I've preached in many different places. but there's something very unique, something special about Moody Church. Its history...founded in 1864 by Dwight L. Moody., the famous evangelist, under whose ministry tens of thousands of people were converted, and I think I'm the 17th pastor. And so, it's been a privilege to be there that long. And what we've tried to do, Cindy, is to reach out and to create bridges to the neighborhood. We don't want to just be known as this big brick church on LaSalle street,. but what we want to do is to be touching lives, and throughout the years I think we've been able to do such things.

CINDY: I recently read an article in a Cedarville alumnae magazine by a girl who is a Cedarville grad, and she and her husband go to the Moody Church. and they help out in the Awana program that reaches out to the Cabrini Green I was vividly able to see how Moody Church is a living, breathing church that's fulfilling the Great Commission, not just sitting around being a beautiful landmark. Dr Lutzer, how does the life and legacy of D.L. Moody actually impact you in real life? Are you cognizant, are you mindful of that in your ministry?

DR. LUTZER: Well yes, you know, I try to be. I've read a couple of biographies of D. L. Moody, and you know, one of the things about him is he may have had ADD,you know, attention deficit disorder, because he was very flighty, found it very difficult to concentrate on one thing. And I've mentioned that to people that struggle with those kinds of issues, just to show you how mightily God is able to use people despite their struggles. I mean, Moody was great for beginning ministries and then putting others in charge and then running off and doing something else...but in this way, he raised up a lot of laymen. He believed that it was not his responsiblity to lead things, it was the responsibility of others to do it, but he got the work going. And, he was such a fireball of energy , from early morning till late at night, witnessing, preaching...he must have been quite a challenge to be married to...(his wife, Emma)...but, the point is that you see a man who had flaws, he wasn't perfect, but he loved God with a passion, and that passion just spilled over, and just think of the ripples. You have the Moody Bible Institute, and you have Moody Church that he founded, and like a pebble being thrown into the middle of a lake, the ripples have gone all the way to the shore.

CINDY: You're going to be speaking on the prolife issue at the January Life Breakfast. Is this subject near and dear to your heart?

DR. LUTZER: It really is, because you know, the whole prolife issue is part of a larger issue in our culture. It's part of a larger issue regarding belief in God, belief in the Scriptures, and of course as you know we're on a moral and spiritual freefall, and for me to be able to speak at this breakfast is a great honor, to try to help Christians to realize that we have a battle ahead of us, but it is a winnable battle. Whether it's the battle for the life for the lives of preborn infants and other life issues, the simple fact is that we have a responsibility to preach the gospel and to be salt and light in our culture, and that's what we're going to be talking about.I think that my sermon going to be "Where do we go from here?" What do we do in light of what's happening in America? What are those great truths that are going to set us on our way, so to speak, as we think about our responsiblity in today's culture.

CINDY: It's interesting, as you make those of the questions that I put down that I wanted to ask you, because you are a venerated man of God and have been in a position to observe Christianity for the past many years..what concerns you about the state of Christianity today, and then, hand in hand with that, because I don't want to leave it on a negative note perhaps...what encourages you about it?

DR. LUTZER: Those are two very good questions. First of all, what concerns me is that we have to see that our battle in America is primarily a theological one. You know, we can talk about prolife versus other options, but the smple fact is it comes down to theology. Do we believe in God,? Do we believe in God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we believe in creation, because if we're the product of evolution, then I suppose we can kill preborn infants, in fact we can even kill deformed infants after they are born,like some people suggest, if all that we are are animals on this continuum.
If, however, we are created in the image of God, that's what really makes human life sacred. So many of these issues are theological issues, andwe live in a time of theological ignorance, most assuredly, and theological diversity, where everybody's making up their own view of God, their own view of theology based on their own hunches, their own desires and their own whims. And so, as a church, we have a huge responsiblity ahead of us to educate our culture and to make sure that we are preaching the gospel. So, what concerns me is our freefall--our moral freefall, yes, but also our theological and doctrinal freefall, because the doctrines that people believe are really just a reflection of the life that they want to live, where that's where we're headed.
What encourages me is that there are many movements in America that do give us hope. There's certainly the prolife movement, but also you have various orgnizations....Promise Keepers, for example, comes to mind...the evangelical church movement...oftentimes the largest churches are those that preach the gospel...You have the gospel preached on radio...sometimes also on television, mixed with a great deal of other kinds of things--TV preachers, there's a lot of heresy out there...but nonetheless, you do have these various movements. You do have a president in the United States who is willing to sign a ban on partial birth abortion...and you do have the possibility, perhaps in our court system, of reversing and bringing some kind of balance to the kind of liberalism that we've seen in the last few years, so there are reasons to hope.


Back from the Wild, Wild West!

Yep, I'm back!

Long story short, the wedding was wonderful, beautiful, emotional, amazing! I am now a MOTHER-IN-LAW. Weird, huh? I will say that I couldn't have chosen a more precious and lovely daughter-in-law if it had been up to me!

I will be posting more about the L-O-N-G trip, the beautiful scenery we saw, the wedding, and hopefully some pics. Just wanted to check in.

More later!

YAY! A couple of my favorite blogs are back...

Kevin Young's blog is one of the most thoughtful and insightful ones I've encountered. Kevin is a young man who is a graduate of Cedarville University, of which my son Jonathan is an '02 graduate and where my son Justin is a junior. Kevin is now on staff at Prestonwood Baptist Church in the Dallas area.

Kevin subtitles his blog, "Searching for myself and my God in a world that loves neither." After taking a lengthy break from blogging, he's back with a new focus. He'll include few personal details, choosing to concentrate on his spiritual journey. Says Kevin, "The direction of this site has changed... yet the heartbeat remains the same. It is now solely a reflection of my personal journey with Christ and his church."

He says the Internet is the "final frontier" for ministry, affording us the opportunity to touch lives we never would have been able to before...and he wants every word to count. Cool.

Then there's Secret Radio, a blog that tells a story. I've really become caught up in that ongoing story set in a not-so-fictional Christian college in the 80's. Grace (the blogger) imbues her narrative with dignity, pathos and...well...grace. :)

Grace took a hiatus of several weeks from blogging, but with the start of the new year, she's back on track.
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