Friday, May 28, 2004

Conversations with my father

A dear friend's dad passed away this past week. I e-mailed her as soon as I found out, and just got a reply from her today. The funeral is today. Her father has been ill for a long time, so it wasn't totally unexpected. He was a wonderful Christian man, and my friend told me that she'll have plenty of memories of great conversations with her dad to hold on to.

That made me think of my own father, who is terminally ill and has been for some time. The side effects of his illness make him confused, meaning it's difficult to carry on any meaningful dialogue with him.

So even now, I'm missing those conversations with my father. From the time I was a young girl, I can remember sitting around the table long after a meal was over, just talking. About anything--politics, doctrinal issues, music, family matters, you name it. Conversations with my dad were always spirited and stimulating.

As a teen, I often disagreed with my father, but he never belittled me or made me feel like I couldn't express my viewpoints respectfully. It's interesting how, down through the years, I've swung around to his way of thinking on so many things!

Since my folks have lived in the Austin area, every time I visited Texas, my dad and I would take long walks together. These were supposed to be fitness walks, as he and I both were always trying to lose some weight and become more fit. But even as they helped me physically, they turned into wonderful occasions for long conversations.

I can recall many times when he would want to go on a walk and I would try to beg out of it, especially when the Texas sun was blazing particularly hot. But I usually gave in and dragged out my walking shoes, because even in those days, I knew that time with my dad was precious and wouldn't last forever.

Now, I'm so glad I had all those conversations with my dad. I'll always treasure them.

Well, there's a spiritual application in here somewhere, isn't there? Even though I may lose my earthly father soon, I will always have my heavenly Father. And He wants me to talk to Him...and He wants to speak to me. Pretty amazing, huh?

Being an effective leader...

Kevin Young is a young man whose wisdom and insight often impress me.

In his blog the other day, he was talking about the qualities of effective leaders. For example, effective leaders, among other things:

". . . Are not focused on honors, titles, rank, or money. Leadership is responsibility.

. . . Do not look for carbon copies of themselves and are very appreciative of diversity. They try to instill an appreciation of diversity in others.

. . . Are not afraid of working with strong people. They seek out the very best people for every position and defer to the opinions of those who are more knowledgeable or experienced than themselves.

. . . Delegate many things and trust others to complete tasks, but they are also doers. They have a clear sense of what they need to do themselves and of what will make a difference in the organization."

I commented on Kevin's blog that it amazes me--given the fact that there are so many great resources on how to be an effective leader---that there are so many awful ones. I believe in many cases, it has a great deal to do with ego. Either the leader has a hugely inflated sense of his own importance, or he/she has low-self esteem that he/she seeks to build up by tearing others down.

How do such people attain positions of leadership? Grrrr...I don't know.


Thursday, May 27, 2004


"Sometimes I think the only disappointment in heaven will be people who can't find anything negative. They may frustrate themselves through all eternity."--John MacArthur on today's Grace to You program on Radio 91.

Yay, Fantasia!

I'll admit Jennifer Hudson was my early favorite on American Idol, up until she was (bewilderingly!) voted off. Then, I took up the Latoya banner. But I liked Fantasia all along, and I definitely think she deserved the win. The girl can sang...and she has a lot of fun doing it! It will be interesting to see if her career takes off.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Whatever happened to manners?

It seems that society today is so lacking in some basic, simple courtesy. "Good manners" is a phrase that sounds so quaint, it's practically gone the way of the family dinner table...which is where we used to learn our manners, back in the day.

"Keep your elbows off the table. Don't chew with your mouth open. Ask permission before you leave the table..." What??? That sounds so foreign in this day and age, when supper is often grabbed from a drive-through and family members have schedules so packed and harried, they barely have a moment to sit down together for any reason, much less to eat.

Well, good news. Good manners are still around, and they're just as important as ever...and a petite blonde lady named Julie Frantz has made it her mission to restore civility to our community. Through her organization, Everyday Etiquette, Julie spreads the message of courtesy and class...and she does it with such poise and charm.

Julie's a regular guest on 101QFL, and in fact I'll be interviewing her for this Sunday's Weekend Magazine show. She teaches classes in etiquette and personal charm, so if you're in this area and you or your children need some polish...Julie's the one to see.

One of the issues I'm sure I'll be asking Julie about it cell phone etiquette. One of my pet peeves is people yammering endlessly on the cell phone when they're supposed to be spending time with you. I can understand if you get a call and you need to answer it. Just don't spend the next 15 minutes chatting aimlessly with your caller, while your friend is sitting there yawning.

Another related problem is so-called "cell yell"...people in restaurants, stores, whatever, that feel like they have to shout their cell phone conversation so that the whole world is privy to all its details, whether intimate, obnoxious or simply boring.

Don't get me wrong...cell phones are great, and I wouldn't want to get rid of them. I'd just like to see some basic common courtesy regarding their use. You know...good manners.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Hey! It's a woman's perogative to change her mind...

...and I'm back to my original template.

I was struggling with the new one anyway, because when I would bring my blog up on a computer, my sidebar info wasn't parallel with my was waaaay down the page, and I couldn't figure out how to fix it. Apparently some people saw it just fine, but I didn't, and that bugged the heck out of me.

Then I get an e-mail from my cousin Judy today, saying that she really liked the original one better...brighter colors, bigger font, etc. So Judy, you were the deciding factor! Don't ever think your opinion doesn't count! :)

Yes indeed, it's Monday again...all day. And I hate to even bring this up...I know everyone has to be sick of hearing this, but...yep...I am in the middle of round THREE!!! of the sinus infection from h-e-double-hockey-sticks.

My aunt Sandra said it takes at least two rounds of antibiotics to get rid of one of these babies...and I'm about to launch on round 3. I have never seen the like for something to just make you stinking miserable and ill. The worst part is the congestion. The congestion means I can't breathe through my nose at night, which means I can't sleep, which is murder when I have to be up at 4 AM.

OK, I'll stop complaining before I lose my audience. :)

Speaking of hockey sticks...

I saw Miracle over the weekend, and enjoyed it very much. It's the story of the U-S men's hockey team that beat the Soviets in the 1980 Winter Olympics.

Kurt Russell was terrific as the coach, and it was just a really good, absorbing, entertaining, family-friendly film. If you rent the DVD, be sure and watch the special feature on the making of the movie. Amazing. The actors had to be really good hockey players as well as having some acting talent. And it's fascinating to watch how they choreographed the hockey scenes to make them exactly like the actual games.

Thursday, May 20, 2004

Rebecca St. James feels sad for Britney

With Britney Spears exhibiting more unsettled behaviour (along with more skin), Christian singer Rebecca St. James says she feels sad for Britney.

From a article: "The biggest thing I feel for Britney is I feel sad for her," she (Rebecca) told Reuters in an interview on Saturday.

"I also feel sad for the nine or 10-years-old watching her who see her dressing in a very promiscuous fashion, almost asking for people to treat her as a sex object. They are going to start dressing that way too."

Australian-born Rebecca fronts the True Love Waits organization in the U.S. which urges teenagers to avoid pre-marital sex.

How well-read are you?

As an avid reader all my life, I've considered myself pretty well-read...but maybe not as much as I thought, after checking out this list from I actually ran across on Scott McClare's blog.

The books that I have read are bold-faced. How do you fare?

Achebe, Chinua-- Things Fall Apart
Agee, James-- A Death in the Family
Austin, Jane-- Pride and Prejudice
Baldwin, James-- Go Tell It on the Mountain
Beckett, Samuel-- Waiting for Godot
Bellow, Saul-- The Adventures of Augie March
Bronte, Charlotte-- Jane Eyre
Bronte, Emily-- Wuthering Heights
Camus, Albert-- The Stranger
Cather, Willa-- Death Comes for the Archbishop
Cervantes, Miguel de-- Don Quixote
Chaucer, Geoffrey The Canterbury Tales
Chekhov, Anton-- The Cherry Orchard
Chopin, Kate-- The Awakening
Conrad, Joseph-- Heart of Darkness
Cooper, James Fenimore-- The Last of the Mohicans
Crane, Stephen-- The Red Badge of Courage
Dante-- Inferno
Defoe, Daniel-- Robinson Crusoe
Dickens, Charles-- A Tale of Two Cities
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor-- Crime and Punishment
Douglass, Frederick-- Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass
Dreiser, Theodore-- An American Tragedy
Dumas, Alexandre-- The Three Musketeers
Eliot, George-- The Mill on the Floss
Ellison, Ralph-- Invisible Man
Emerson, Ralph Waldo-- Selected Essays
Faulkner, William-- As I Lay Dying
Faulkner, William-- The Sound and the Fury
Fielding, Henry-- Tom Jones
Fitzgerald, F. Scott-- The Great Gatsby
Flaubert, Gustave-- Madame Bovary
Ford, Ford Madox-- The Good Soldier
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von-- Faust
Golding, William-- Lord of the Flies
Hardy, Thomas-- Tess of the d'Urbervilles
Hawthorne, Nathaniel-- The Scarlet Letter
Heller, Joseph-- Catch 22
Hemingway, Ernest-- A Farewell to Arms
Homer-- The Iliad
Homer-- The Odyssey
Hugo, Victor-- The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Hurston, Zora Neale-- Their Eyes Were Watching God
Huxley, Aldous-- Brave New World
Ibsen, Henrik-- A Doll's House
James, Henry-- The Portrait of a Lady
James, Henry-- The Turn of the Screw
Joyce, James-- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Kafka, Franz-- The Metamorphosis
Kingston, Maxine-- Hong The Woman Warrior
Lee, Harper-- To Kill a Mockingbird
Lewis, Sinclair-- Babbitt
London, Jack-- The Call of the Wild
Mann, Thomas-- The Magic Mountain
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia-- One Hundred Years of Solitude
Melville, Herman-- Bartleby the Scrivener
Melville, Herman-- Moby Dick
Miller, Arthur-- The Crucible
Morrison, Toni-- Beloved
O'Connor, Flannery-- A Good Man is Hard to Find
O'Neill, Eugene-- Long Day's Journey into Night
Orwell, George-- Animal Farm
Pasternak, Boris-- Doctor Zhivago
Plath, Sylvia-- The Bell Jar
Poe, Edgar Allen-- Selected Tales
Proust, Marcel-- Swann's Way
Pynchon, Thomas-- The Crying of Lot 49
Remarque, Erich Maria-- All Quiet on the Western Front
Rostand, Edmond-- Cyrano de Bergerac
Roth, Henry-- Call It Sleep
Salinger, J.D.-- The Catcher in the Rye
Shakespeare, William-- Hamlet
Shakespeare, William-- Macbeth
Shakespeare, William-- A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William-- Romeo and Juliet
Shaw, George-- Bernard Pygmalion
Shelley, Mary-- Frankenstein
Silko, Leslie Marmon-- Ceremony
Solzhenitsyn, Alexander-- One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
Sophocles-- Antigone
Sophocles-- Oedipus Rex
Steinbeck, John-- The Grapes of Wrath
Stevenson, Robert Louis-- Treasure Island
Stowe, Harriet Beecher-- Uncle Tom's Cabin
Swift, Jonathan-- Gulliver's Travels
Thackeray, William-- Vanity Fair
Thoreau, Henry David-- Walden
Tolstoy, Leo-- War and Peace
Turgenev, Ivan-- Fathers and Sons
Twain, Mark-- The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Voltaire-- Candide
Vonnegut, Kurt Jr-- Slaughterhouse-Five
Walker, Alice-- The Color Purple
Warton, Edith-- The House of Mirth
Welty, Eudora-- Collected Stories
Whitman, Walt-- Leaves of Grass
Wilde, Oscar-- The Picture of Dorian Gray
Williams, Tennessee-- The Glass Menagerie
Woolf, Virginia-- To the Lighthouse
Wright, Richard --Native Son

Now, some of those I've read partially, like Edgar Allan Poe's "Selected Tales." And while I didn't read George Eliot's "Mill on the Floss," I did read her "Silas Marner"... a few other Charles Dickens books besides the one listed, like "Oliver Twist" and "Great Expectations," and a few other Jane Austen books as well, including "Emma" and "Sense and Sensibility."

As I commented on Scott's blog, many of those books were required reading for me in high school...others were read when I went on a big self-improvement kick as a teen-ager. Some of them I've always meant to read; some of them, I've seen the movie, and some of them I've quite frankly never heard of before seeing them on the list.

Still others, like "Jane Eyre," "Wuthering Heights" and "Pride and Prejudice," are among my favorite books of all time.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Friday! Yes!!!

I must admit that this week flew by, but once again I find myself ready for a major sleep-in. Of course, "sleeping in" for me means anything later than 4 AM. But I am sooo ready for it.

My heartfelt thanks to the ladies of First Baptist Church of Sycamore, where I spoke and sang at a ladies' banquet last night. They were incredibly kind to me, the food was delicious, and I had a wonderful time!

OK. Since there is apparently no longer a "Friday Five," I'm creating my own for today. Answer in my comments section, or in your own blog and let me know you're doing so, OK? :)

Five for Friday:

1) What's your favorite summer activity?--Spending time in water--preferably the pools of friends and relatives

2) What's your favorite thing to eat in the summer?--Grilled chicken or veggie-burgers...actually just about anything off the grill

3) What's your favorite thing to drink in the summer?--Iced tea and the occasional caramel frapp from Starbucks

4) What's your dream summer vacation destination?--Well, of course my dream trip is to the British Isles...but the heat of summer makes me dream of escaping to the Rockies, specifically the Western Colorado Rockies...but any beautiful mountains would do

5) Do you like Daylight Savings Time? Why or why not?--I love it! The extra hours of daylight perk me up and make me feel like I'm making the most of my summer.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The abuse at Abu Ghraib: a natural outgrowth of the MTV generation?

I am deeply saddened, more so than ever before, by the news that's coming out of Iraq these days. I'm having trouble even mentally processing the reports of abuse at the Abu Ghraib prison. How to make sense of this?

One troubling aspect is that the apparent abominable behavior of some American troops should cast a dark shadow on all of them...young men and women who need our prayers and support probably more than ever.

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council has issued a statement on the prisoner abuse controversy. Says Perkins: "The latest fallout from the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by members of the U.S. military is not political but rather further acts of terror against innocent Americans." Perkins cites the public execution of 26-year-old Nick Berg as an example.

He goes on to say: "The liberal media continues to seize upon the abuse of Iraqi prisoners and this latest act of terror in an effort to damage the Bush administration. But, it is ridiculous to suggest that the Bush administration or military boot camps are responsible for teaching our young soldiers this behavior.

"As Chuck Colson pointed out at FRC's inaugural Pastors' Briefing yesterday, when you mix young people who grew up on a steady diet of MTV and pornography with a prison environment, you get the abuse at Abu Ghraib.

"America is in a perilous situation. In the eyes of the Muslims we are the enemy because we are Christian, but in many areas of our culture, our conduct as a nation is anything but Christian."

As for me, I will continue to pray for the troops, and for our president. I believe they need it more than ever.


On a lighter note...


25-year-old Latoya London was easily, in my opinion, the most gifted vocalist on American Idol, with the most potential for stardom. I simply cannot believe that she got voted off.

A lion's share of the blame has to go to the sharp-tongued, bordering-on-sadistic Simon Cowell. Cowell really overdid it with the nasty-spirited criticism of Jasmine Trias on Tuesday night...saying that Hawaiians would need five telephones in each household to keep Hawaain-native Trias in the competition. Jasmine dissolved into tears, and I'm sure that was all the rallying cry her native state, and a lot of other people, needed to give her their vote.

But the truth is, as sweet as Jasmine appears to be, she is simply not the vocalist that Latoya, Fantasia (or Jennifer Hudson, for that matter) are.

Honestly, I doubt if I'll watch the show for the rest of the season now. Fantasia's good, but I don't enjoy the sound of her voice as I did Latoya's and Jennifer's. Diana DeGarmo just yells a lot. And Jasmine has been almost painful to listen to lately. If either she or Diana wins, I think it will seriously damage the credibility of the whole competition.

Of course, Latoya probably has a nice recording contract in the offing even as we speak, and justifiably so...which is probably why she could still smile during last night's travesty.

Does any of this matter in the grand scheme of life? Of course not. But without the fluff of life, we would be hard pressed to deal with the sad, the shocking and the burdensome aspects of life. So, viva la fluff.

Mmmm...speaking of the simple pleasures of life. My first cup of coffee of the day, generously laced with Coffee Mate's Cinnamon Vanilla Creme creamer. Ahhh.....:)

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

A lovely evening

Just had to share a pic from my Elizabeth's junior-senior banquet last week. Yep, I was there because Doug is the junior class sponsor, but I really did give Liz her space for most of the night! :) The goodlooking young man is Drew.

I think my daughter is absolutely beautiful!

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Devoured two books over the Mother's Day weekend...

One of the perks of my radio job is getting free books...but often, a publisher will send me a book that's midstream in a series. For example, on Friday, Bethany House publishers sent me Book 3 in a series by Beverly Lewis called "Abram's Daughters."

I wasn't deterred by the fact that I had missed out on the first two books...I hopped in midstream and had no difficulty catching up on the story so far. As always with Beverly Lewis books, I was immediately captivated. Lewis' tales of Amish life are immensely readable and engrossing.

It was only while reading one of her earlier series that I learned that the Amish do not believe in salvation by grace through faith, and that individual study of the Bible is discouraged. The "Ordnung"...the oppressive list of rules and regulations by which the Amish are bound...reminds me all too much of the yoke of legalism that some Christians still wish to enforce today.

"The Sacrifice" reminded me of what a good author Beverly Lewis is, and I now look forward to the fourth book in this series.

I also finished the Davis Bunn book, "The Elixir." Terrific book. All while enjoying a wonderful Mother's Day weekend!

Friday, May 07, 2004

Happy Mother's Day

I wrote this tribute to my mother last year:

The time: the early 60's. The place: Hobbs, New Mexico. The young woman is getting out the car, all dressed up to play the piano for a wedding, or a funeral, or some such occasion. I can still see her in my memory: radiantly lovely, wearing a hat and red lipstick.

She is my mother, and although she has always been there in my memory, this is the first clear memory I have of actually looking at her and realizing: This is my mother, and she is beautiful.

Words usually come easily for me...they tumble out of my mind, onto my keyboard with fairly effortless alacrity. But now, as I try to frame the words to paint a portrait of all my mother is to me, I find myself strangely tongue-tied. What words are there to describe someone who is so incredibly necessary to my life? Someone who has embodied love, support and nurturing since before I was born, and for all these forty-plus years since?

I'll try to describe her. Nearing seventy years old, she's still beautiful. She has sparkling green eyes; a lovely full,expressive mouth...a dazzling smile. The years have been kind to her, and she is a prime example of how decades of righteous living can influence a woman's face...years free of alcohol ,cigarettes and immoral living. Years dedicated to God's service and unselfish love for her husband and children. She has the sort of radiant, luminous, from-the-inside beauty that defies age.

My mother was not born into the best of situations. Although her parents loved her in their way, she wasn't raised in a Christian home, and she saw and experienced some of the uglier aspects of human nature while still very young.

From these circumstances, while still a young teenager, she became a wife, and a mother to my older sister. It was as if she was born to that role. Even her mother-in-law marveled at how this teen-aged girl immediately became a great mom.

My mother has always liked hot baths...really, really hot baths. There's a story behind that, too. Mother says that when she was a little girl, she realized that she was probably going to hell when she died. No one had told her how she could avoid hell, so she decided she would try to prepare herself for it. She got used to taking baths as hot as she could possibly stand them.

Fortunately, my mother did find out how she could look forward to a home in heaven. As a young mom, she and her mother were invited to a revival meeting at the independent Baptist church in their small west Texas town. Both of them ended up accepting Christ as their Saviour at that meeting, and life would never be the same for either of them.

Somewhere during the same period of time, my father also became a Christian, and as a very young married couple my parents began serving the Lord. The journey eventually took them to Bible college in Missouri, pastorates in four states, and even twice to the mission field.

My mother has so many character traits I admire and wish to emulate, usually with less success than I would like.

She is an unselfish person, with a real servant's heart. She is never happier than when doing things to make the people she loves happy. The words "nurturing" and "giving" characterize the unstinting love she freely gives to her family.

She is a disciplined and industrious person; she eats healthily and in moderation, retaining a girlish figure that would put women half her age to shame, and as my father has often pointed out with a certain pride, she never goes to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.

I've often thought this disciplined side of my mom comes from her Greek heritage. Her father was full-blooded Greek, and his family originated in Sparta, the part of Greece known for people with a history of military toughness, endurance and self-denial. (I sometimes think that gene totally escaped me.) :)

But this is only one side of my mother. She is really fun to be around. She has a quirky sense of humor, a ready laugh and a gorgeous smile. One of my cherished images of my mom is of her singing as she flits around the house, doing chores (I told you she is industrious and always busy).

One of the first words that comes to mind when I think of my mother is ladylike.She is, in some ways, like a Southern belle...decorous and discreet. But if so, she is also like the title of that popular movie of several years back, a "steel magnolia." There is backbone to this Texas belle ,and woe be to the person who wrongs her children! I have never known anyone like my mother to be able to tell a person off--in the most ladylike and genteel way--but leaving no doubt that you have been told off. She is notto be messed with, when it comes to those she loves.

The closest I've ever seen to this is the Dixie Carter character on "Designing Women." I've often chuckled while watching Julia Sugarbaker give someone a dressing-down on that show...I can't help but think of my normally soft-spoken mom. But mind you, she would only do this to someone who truly deserved it.

My mother's walk with the Lord is also something I want to emulate. She is a real prayer warrior. I have so many memories of hearing her pray, and there have been times I have literally seemed to feel her prayers for me when I've been in dangerous or difficult situations. Call me mystical, but there is just something about a mother's prayers!

My mother has endured many trials in her life, and sometimes, I admit, I've questioned why this wonderful woman should be inflicted with so many circumstances that to me seem unfair and unjustified. But these trials have not broken her. Instead, she seems to grow stronger and more lovely with time.

Now, she's going through one of the saddest trials, as my father faces terminal illness. My heart goes out to her, and I feel helpless as I want to be the kind of comfort and support she has always been for me.

I have done such an inadequate job of painting this picture of my mother. I want to convey the beauty, the kindness, the strength, the warmth of this remarkable lady, and I can't seem to find the right words to really do it.

I guess for me, it all comes down to one thing: thanking God for this wonderful mother. My heart really does burst with gratitude. To have a person that you know will always love you, no matter what...that's worth more than my pathetic words could ever express.

My mother's name is Cynthia, and I am honored and privileged to have been given her name. I doubt if I will ever be able to live up to it, but I will never stop trying.

Lots of years have passed since my childish eyes watched that beautiful young woman get out of the car. But those years have only increased her beauty, as well as my love and appreciation for all she means to me.

I love you, Mother! Thank you for everything!

Ready for the weekend...

Wow...I am sorely in need of a morning just to sleep in. Last night was a particularly late night, thanks to the Berean Christian School Junior-Senior Banquet. Since Doug is the junior class sponsor, we attended the event. (This was a major event in Elizabeth's life, and she looked absolutely beautiful!)

This morning when my radio alarm went off, it was raining, thundering and lightning, and every fiber of my being wanted to roll over and go back to sleep. Hopefully I can get caught up on my Z's later on!

Thursday, May 06, 2004

National Day of Prayer

Prayer is not conquering God's reluctance, but taking hold of God's willingness.--Phillips Brooks

As people gather across the nation to observe this National Day of Prayer, I am convicted as I once again realize how lax I am in availing myself of this vital link to God.

I listened to part of a radio broadcast yesterday in which Becky Tirabassi related how many years ago, she determined to spend an hour a day in prayer. She simply makes a daily appointment with God, and keeps it. Tirabassi is the author of "Wild Things Happen When I Pray" and "Let Prayer Change Your Life."

This website has some great quotes on prayer. Here are just a few:

John Bunyan - "In prayer, it is better to have heart without words, than words without heart. Prayer will make a man cease from sin, or sin entice a man to cease from prayer. The spirit of prayer is more precious than treasures of gold and silver. Pray often, for prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan."

Jim Cymbala - "The devil is not terribly frightened of our human efforts and credentials. But he knows his kingdom will be damaged when we begin to lift up our hearts to God."

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones - "There are ideas in our hearts, there are wishes, there are aspirations, there are groanings, there are sighings that the world knows nothing about; but God knows them. So words are not always necessary. When we cannot express our feelings except in wordless groanings, God knows exactly what is happening."

F.B. Meyer
- "Fall on your knees and grow there. There is no burden of the spirit but is lighter by kneeling under it. Prayer means not always talking to Him, but waiting before Him till the dust settles and the stream runs clear."

"The greatest tragedy of life is not unanswered prayer, but unoffered prayer."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004

How have I not read anything by Davis Bunn before?

Right now I'm in the middle of "Elixir," by Davis Bunn. (I believe he was formally known as "T. Davis Bunn," but he apparently dropped the "T" somewhere along the way.) And I'm asking myself, how have I missed out on reading anything by this terrific author? Not only is the suspenseful story carrying me along and keeping the pages turning; I'm really liking the main character, a guy named Taylor Knox, and I'm truly impressed by Bunn's powers of description and turn of phrase, which at times are nothing short of beautiful. He also has a way of permeating a story with spiritual meaning without hitting one over the head with it.

I love discovering authors that are new to me. I also love learning about things I had never even heard about. Much of this book takes place in St. Augustine, Florida, and Taylor Knox is of Minorcan descent. I had never heard or read about Minorcans, but apparently much of St. Augustine was settled by these Spaniards who originally were indentured slaves to the wealthier Spaniards that settled Florida. Interesting!

Listening now to....

...a lovely song by Andrew Peterson, "Holy is the Lord":

Wake up little Isaac
And rub your tired eyes
Go and kiss your mama
We’ll be gone a little while
Come and walk beside me
Come and hold your papa’s hand
I go to make an altar
And to offer up my lamb

I waited on the Lord
And in a waking dream He came
Riding on a wind across the sand
He spoke my name
“Here I am”, I whispered
And I waited in the dark
The answer was a sword
That came down hard upon my heart

Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
And the Lord I will obey
Lord, help me I don’t know the way

So take me to the mountain
I will follow where You lead
There I’ll lay the body
Of the boy You gave to me
And even though You take him
Still I ever will obey
But Maker of this mountain, please
Make another way

Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
And the Lord I will obey
Holy is the Lord
Holy is the Lord
And the Lord I will obey
Lord, help me I don’t know the way

Wow...great to know the Lord "made another way," huh?

Cindy and Smitty?

Checking out the 101qfl website...which is partially back up, after months of being MIA...I came across this pic of myself with Michael W. Smith, which I have literally never laid eyes on before:

I think it was taken when Smitty was in our booth during GMA week back in 2002. Hmmm.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

Such devoted sisters...

Both my sisters have been on my mind a lot lately...what with getting to spend time with Lisa last week in Nashville, and praying a lot for Beverly who recently underwent knee replacement surgery. I adore my sisters, and can't imagine life without them.

It's hard to believe the picture above was taken two years ago. That's Lisa on the left, Beverly in the middle and me on the right. (BTW, I'm back to my natural dark hair color after a several-month experiment with highlights.)

I remember the night we got that picture made.

Beverly and I had timed our spring visit to Texas to happen at the same time, and we were having a wonderful time together. My dad was in the early stages of his illness, and not doing terrible. Evangelist Tim Lee had spoken at my dad's church during that week, and established himself as a very dear friend of our family. (By the way, you will not find a kinder or more compassionate man than Tim Lee, and I deeply value his kindness to my parents in particular. It has meant the world to them.) Lisa and I had seized the opportunity to sing together the night he spoke; it's something we love to do whenever we get the opportunity. Lisa is my favorite female vocalist of all time!

Anyway, Lisa's daughter Katie had gotten her picture made at this place in the mall. It was just one of those inexpensive one-hour studios; I forget the name. The three of us had long wanted to get our picture taken professionally, but we didn't want to spend an arm and a leg. We did our own make-up, and there was no airbrushing or re-touching, so we were really pleased with the results. I liked the picture so much that I cropped it and used my image as the picture of me on my website.

Usually, I hate the way I look in pictures. I can look really just horrible. Since then, I've discovered a local photographer named Kevin Harvey, who takes all the publicity shots for Radio 91 and 101QFL; he took the picture of me that you see at the top of my blog; that picture was taken about eight months ago. I don't know if it's his lighting, his expertise or whatever, but I think Kevin does a great job.

Anyway...I love that picture of my sisters and me, because it always brings back memories of a great time together. I love my sisters!

Odds and ends...

Looks like Scottish-born Cleveland pastor Alistair Begg has a side job.

This from a Chicago Sun Times review:

"There wasn't enough golf in the film 'Bobby Jones: Stroke of Genius' that opens Friday to suit me, but the cast is excellent, the settings authentic and, allowing for the inevitable fictionalized bits -- Walter Hagen did not play in the 1930 British Open, the third leg of Jones' Grand Slam -- it is fairly accurate.
Particularly fine are Brett Rice as Jones' father and Alistair Begg, a minister from Cleveland who somehow ended up playing Jones' boyhood teacher, Stewart Maiden, in his first movie role. James Caviezel plays Jones, and he must have been happy the film ignores Jones' last 20 agonizing years. All Caviezel, who was last seen hanging from a cross, suffers in this one are varicose veins and a stomachache. ..."

Unfortunately, no local Christian radio stations carry Begg's show, Truth for Life. Doug and I got to hear him at the Rekindling the Romance seminar last fall, and we were very impressed. Also, he is a fairly regular speaker at Cedarville University, where my son Justin attends and from which my son Jonathan graduated. He's very popular among the college kids.

I could listen to the man talk all day. The Scottish accent is delightful.

Speaking of Justin...

He's home! Yay! Doug went and picked him up from Cedarville over the weekend. Hard to believe his semester is already over and he's home for the summer. Having him around brings me joy. :)

Monday, May 03, 2004

Back from Music City USA!

Well, I'm back from my first experience as a tour hostess, and what an amazing trip! Here's a little recap of my journey:

TUESDAY: I was at the Rockford Coach Lines headquarters by 6:30 (we were to leave at 7 AM), and already a couple of tour members were waiting. By 7 AM, we were on the bus and ready to go! Our bus driver, Jeff, is a young man who happens to be an avid 101QFL fan and had requested to be our driver. We started out with a prayer for traveling mercies, and were on our way!

It didn't take long to find out that the 23 people on the trip were fun, enjoyable and likable people. I couldn't have asked for a nicer group to accompany me on my first experience as a tour guide.

We arrived in at the Nashville Hilton Suites at around 6 PM. I settled into my lovely suite and watched TV, waiting for my sister Lisa to arrive. She was flying into the Nashville airport and would take a shuttle to the hotel. When I got her call that she had arrived at the hotel, I headed out to meet her at the elevator. We practically screamed, we were so excited to see each other and enjoy this experience together!

We strolled around downtown Nashville a bit, and I showed her the Renaissance Hotel where our 101QFL booth is located during GMA week and where I've broadcast from in the past. (This year, thanks to my tour guide duties, I was not a part of the broacast.) Then we had a late dinner at Eddie George's Grill in the hotel, and went back to our suite for a great time of conversation, laughter and general catching up before drifting off to sleep.

WEDNESDAY: This would be the busiest day of the trip. After the free breakfast buffet at the hotel, our group headed over to the Renaissance Hotel to visit the live 101QFL broadcast. Afterwards, we were able to mill around the hotel lobby and check out other live radio broadcasts as well as do some CCM stargazing. Lisa and I got our picture taken with Mercy Me and Jeremy Camp, which was a big thrill for Lisa. By the way, Mercy Me lead singer Bart Millard has really changed his look! Bart traded in his bald pate for hair and a goatee, and got rid of his glasses. He looks really handsome. And Jeremy Camp is very handsome as well.

From the Renaissance lobby, we headed across the street to the Ryman Auditorium for an escorted tour. The Ryman began as a church, pastored by famed Southern preacher Sam Jones; in later years it became the Grand Ole Opry. We got to tour the backstage, hear fascinating stories about the Ryman's past, and get our picture taken onstage holding guitars! The Ryman is a lovely facility, and I've been privileged to attend several concerts there in past years at GMA.

Lisa and I had lunch at the Big River Cafe before heading over to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Wow, what a wealth of audio/visual and actual exhibits chronicling the history of country music! One of the most interesting things I saw was Elvis Presley's actual "Solid Gold Cadillac." This was a self-guided tour, so some of us (including Lisa and I) opted to leave early and head back to the hotel to get ready for the Dove Awards.

At a quarter to five, our group boarded our bus once again, this time to travel several blocks across the downtown area to the Nashville Municipal Auditorium for the 35th Annual Dove Awards. Joining us was our friend Bruce, who lives in Nashville and works in the music publishing division of Lifeway Christian Resources and who we attended college with a looong time ago. (Bruce and Lisa traveled together one summer in the late 70's as part of a college group called "Living Water," so they had a great time reminiscing and catching up.)

The Dove Show was a blast! Lisa was particularly thrilled that the two artists she had met and had her picture taken with--MercyMe and Jeremy Camp--were big winners of the evening, with Mercy Me taking Group of the Year and Artist of the Year, and their song, "Word of God Speak," taking Song of the Year...and Jeremy Camp winning New Artist of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year. She was also jazzed that Deion Sanders was one of the hosts of the show, because she's been a Dallas Cowboy fan since she was a little girl.

The evening ended on a worshipful note as the audience joined the Newsboys in singing "He Reigns." As the audience continued singing the chorus, the band members left the stage. It effectively took the focus off "entertainment" and shifted it to worship instead.

I will admit there are elements of the Dove Awards that bother me, but I was encouraged that the emphasis seemed to be more strongly on the Lord (as well it should be) more than ever since I've been attending the event. (This was my fifth time.)

THURSDAY: After a leisurely breakfast at the hotel buffet, we ventured out into gorgeous weather (which we had been blessed with every day, by the way) to board the bus and head for the Opryland Hotel. The place is incredible! This from the hotel's website:

"Under majestic, climate-controlled glass atriums, you'll be surrounded by nine acres of lush indoor gardens, winding rivers and pathways, and sparkling waterfalls where you can unwind, explore, shop, dine, and be entertained to your heart's content. Highlights include a 44-foot waterfall, laser-light and fountain shows, and tours aboard our Delta Flatboats - right inside the hotel."

From there it was over to Opry Mills Mall for lunch at Chili's Too and a full afternoon of shopping till we dropped! Afterwards, Lisa and I were more than ready to head back to the hotel for a couple of hours of chill time before going out to dinner with Bruce at Houston's.

Lisa and I talked far into the night, laughing and re-hashing all the wonderful moments we had shared during the past few days.

FRIDAY: It was hard to believe when Friday dawned and we realized that this much-anticipated trip was really drawing to a close. It was sad saying goodbye to Lisa (she would be flying out later that afternoon), but we promised to see each other again as soon as possible. After the hotel breakfast, our group boarded our bus again and said goodbye to Nashville. It had been one of the most enjoyable times ever.

The people on the trip, as well as our adorable driver Jeff, had helped make it an incredible experience for me.

Every day had been beautiful, but on this last day of the trip the weather turned rainy and chilly, and that was our welcome back to Rockford. But it was wonderful seeing Doug and Elizabeth again. Homecomings are sweet! :)

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