Tuesday, August 31, 2004

The Emerging Church?

I've been hearing quite a bit about the "emerging church" lately, and it's been brought even more to my attention by reading the blogs of author Lisa Samson and her husband Will Samson. The Samsons just returned from Greenbelt, a Christian festival in England that bills itself as " an independent Christian charity working to express love, creativity and justice in the arts and contemporary culture in the light of the Christian gospel"...and at which, apparently, "the emerging church" was an underlying theme.

I did a little net research on the term, and found that there is a book titled The Emerging Church co-written by Dan Kimball, Rick Warren (of "Purpose-Driven" fame), and Brian D. McLaren.

This from the back cover of the book: "As we enter a new cultural era, what do worship services look like that are connecting with the hearts of emerging generations? How do preaching, leadership, evangelism, spiritual formation, and, most of all, how we even think of 'church' need to change?

"The Emerging Church goes beyond just theory and gets into very practical ways of assisting you in your local church circumstances. There is no one right way, no model for us all to emulate. But there is something better. Dan Kimball calls it 'Vintage Christianity': a refreshing return to an unapologetically sacred, raw, historical, and Jesus-focused missional ministry."

Well, I must say I like the sound of this "vintage Christianity." Coming as I do from a very traditional Baptist background, I'm probably resistant to a great deal of "change," and I take it change is what the emerging church movement is all about. What's the old joke: "How many Baptists does it take to change a light bulb?" Shocked reply: "What do you mean, CHANGE?!?!?"

I'm not for discarding methods that are tried and true--if it ain't broke, don't fix it. BUT...that said...I do think we as Christians need to be open to new methods and techniques to reach a lost and dying world, many of whose citizens are completely closed to our message.

I'll be reading more about the emerging church and evaluating what its proponents have to say. I'm definitely intrigued.

We have short memories and attention spans...

This from Culture Clips: "QUOTE: 'Immediate reaction to [Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ] seemed to be quite intense, but people's memories are short and are easily redirected in a media-saturated, fast-paced culture like ours. The typical adult had already watched another six movies at the time of the survey interview [about The Passion's impact], not including dozens of hours of television programs they had also watched. In an environment in which people spend more than 40 hours each week absorbing a range a messages from multiple media, it is rare that a single media experience will radically reorient someone's life. The greatest impact through media seems to come from a constant exposure to a consistent message that is well-presented and is personally meaningful or useful.' —Christian pollster George Barna, commenting on the results of a new survey that sought to measure the lasting impact of The Passion of the Christ. Just 10% of the 67 million adults who saw the movie (36 million born-again Christians and 31 million non-Christians) reported 'that they had changed some aspect of both their religious beliefs and practices in response to the movie' [Barna.org, 7/10/04 stats]"

Monday, August 30, 2004

Love Monday????

I have never read the book pictured above, but maybe I should! I admit it...Monday is without question my LEAST favorite day of the week.

Several years ago, I realized that I was spending a great deal of time and energy hating Monday...when in reality, it's a precious day that God has given me, and I should be finding a way to appreciate, enjoy, and live it to the fullest. So I came up with a plan to make Mondays special...to give them a reason that I could actually look forward to them, rather than dreading them.

Maybe I would treat myself to something I'd been wanting, like a manicure or a new hairstyle. Maybe I would ask a friend out or over to my house for lunch. Maybe I would plan a really delicious supper for my family with a new recipe. Whatever...just some reason to look forward to Monday!

I did start out my plan with good intentions, but like many plans, that one ended up falling by the wayside at some point.

Maybe I should start it again. Life is too precious to have one day of the week that you abhor. God gave me Monday...that should be enough reason to love it, right? (I'm preaching to myself here. :))

Here's one reason to like Monday...

Well, you know I can't resist a quiz. Live and direct from Monday Madness, here are my answers for today (feel free to join the fun!):

Name 3 of your favorite.......
1. Colors
Pink, sage green and cranberry

2. Pizza Toppings
green peppers, onions and mushrooms

3. Department Stores
Bergner's, JCPenneys and Kohl's (I'd say Dillard's and Foley's, but we don't have them here, bummer :()

4. Flavors of Candy
Flavors, or brands? I'd say anything marrying chocolate and peanut butter--including Reese's, Fast Break and Butterfinger

5. Scents of Candles
Mmmm....I love candles! For spring/summer I like the Glade ones like Angel Whispers, Butterfly Garden and Rainshower. For fall/winter, I like various brands of apple/cinnamon, pumpkin spice, and Bath and Body Works has the most amazing hazelnut candle that they sell only briefly.

6. Days of the Week
Wow, I blogged about hating Monday before I even read this question. I know that spiritually-speaking I should say Sunday, but Sunday is not really a day of rest for me. I do enjoy getting together and worshipping with fellow Christians and hearing God's Word expounded, honestly I do...but for sheerly shallow reasons, I would have to go with Thursday, Friday and Saturday. ESPECIALLY Friday.

7. Vegetables

Tomatoes (I actually crave tomatoes and tomato-based products!); potatoes, and cucumbers. But I really do love most vegetables.

8. Fruits
Bananas (I have one almost every day), watermelon, and grapes.

9. Meals to cook
My sister Beverly's lasagna (recipe to follow!)--it's fairly easy to put together, and incredibly delicious; pot roast (what could be easier? You just stick in a pan or crockpot, cover with potatoes, carrots and a packet of dry onion soup, and in no time your house smells divine); boneless, skinless chicken breasts cooked in the crock pot, either with barbecue sauce or a combination of canned soups.) The latter two because they take minimum effort and get maximum flavor and compliment results.

10. Kitchen Gadgets
The microwave, and two things I don't have right now, but wish I did: a mini food-processor and an electric can opener.

11. Olympic Sports
I was so busy for the past couple of weeks, I really didn't get into the Olympics as much as I have in past years. But I've always enjoyed track and field, gymnastics and diving.

OK, here's Beverly's Lasagna...a proven crowd-pleaser!

Ever since my sister Beverly gave me this recipe, I never make any other lasagna recipe. This one is so amazing, and you DON'T have to pre-cook the lasagna noodles...since you're using a LARGE can of tomato juice, the noodles cook in the juice, and they get permeated with flavor. Wow, this is making me hungry! Here you go:

1 lb. ground beef (you can add about a half-pound sausage if you like,too)
lasagna noodles,uncooked
2 packets spaghetti sauce mix
1 small can tomato paste
1 LARGE can tomato juice (I think it's 32 oz, it's the big can)
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
2 eggs
1 small carton cottage cheese

Brown the meat; drain. Add spaghetti sauce mix,tomato paste and tomato juice; heat through. In a bowl, stir together the cottage cheese, 2 beaten eggs and 1 cup of the mozzarella.

Line a 9 by 13 pan with a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles. Add a layer of the meat sauce; top with dollops of the cheese mixture. Repeat layering ( a couple of times, I think...I'm doing this off the top of my head) and add the rest of the mozzarella on top of the final top layer of meat sauce. (Use more cheese if you like.)

Cook in a 350 oven for about an hour. For the first 30 or 40 minutes, I cover with foil to keep it from getting too dry...toward the end I take the foil off so the cheese can brown nicely.

As I said, the tomato juice cooks the noodles, and the flavor seeps right through it. My family loves this. It's great with a tossed green salad and some Italian bread. :) And if possible, it's even better as left-overs! This is a crowd pleaser if you're having company over,too.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Happy Friday!

Time once again to answer the Friday Feast questions:

What is a word that your family uses that would not be considered common?--"Shickenjansky!" It's a very mild oath my husband coined. Actually, we haven't said it in a while, but it's the only thing that comes to mind.

What theme of calendar do you have on your wall this year?--Ireland. It's a beautiful calendar given to me by my friend Teri, who knows that my lifelong dream is to go to IRELAND! Each month features a different county in Ireland...I think this month it's Waterford.

Name 3 people you speak with on a daily basis.--God, my husband and my daughter.

Main Course
If you could put a new tattoo on someone you know - who would it be, what would the tattoo be of, and where would you put it on them?--Well...I would honestly not put a tattoo on anyone, for any reason, so I guess this question is kinda N/A for me.

What is the last beverage you drank out of a glass bottle?--Probably some kind of juice (Ocean Spray CranGrape is my fave) or some flavored iced tea.

And now...just because it's been a while:

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

This is laughoutloud funny and unputdownable!

Scott McClare blogs today about a witty and "ouch"-inducing (how's that for an original term?) article by Tom Payne about the cliches often used by book reviewers.

Although my status is admittedly amateur, I love to review books on the reading page of my website, and I think I may be guilty of a few of those cliches--including describing a heroine as "feisty," maybe calling a writer's style "inimitable" and even using the phrase: "...but these are minor quibbles." Whew---I'll know to avoid these now!

I actually like one of the phrases Payne cites--when a publisher told him a certain book was a "lie-in-the-bath-with-a-glass-of-wine" kind of book. While I would be sipping juice or soda instead, I've certainly done my share of reading in the tub. Well, what else can you do when a book is "unputdownable"???

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

So you want to be a writer?

I've wanted to write since I was a little girl...and I have written. Page after page of stories (many unfinished), essays, articles, interviews, reviews...even, in my youth, a few stabs at (probably very bad) poetry. Even this blog is a venue in which I'm free to do one of the things I love most to do: transfer my thoughts, feelings and observations into written form.

Still, I long to see my writing validated by being published. Why? One of my favorite authors, B. J. Hoff, helped me examine my motives in her Grace Notes blog today.

B. J. urges aspiring Christian writers to preface any plunge into writing-for-publication with a season of prayer. Her post today vividly illustrates that writing isn't about glamor or riches, or even a convenient way for a stay-at-home mom to make some extra bucks. It requires real commitment and backbone, among other things, and most of all, the help of the Lord.

Good words, B. J.

An evening with Tim Lee

Doug and I had the pleasure last night of singing at my brother-in-law Kelvin's church, Berean Baptist of Beloit, WI, at special meetings featuring evangelist Tim Lee.

I've known Tim for quite some time, but he has become really special to me in the past couple of years as he's been incredibly kind to my family in Texas. It all started when Tim came to speak at my dad's church in Round Rock in March of 2002. Tim and my parents hit it off right away. My dad's illness was just starting to get really bad, and since then, Tim has checked up on my parents regularly and been wonderfully supportive of them.

Tim has a special aspect of his ministry in which he conducts meetings at small churches, asking for basically nothing monetarily in return. He simply wants to be a blessing to these little churches, and he definitely is. Earlier this year, he spoke in meetings at my dad's church, and the ripple effect of decisions made in those meetings is still being felt.

Tim's kindness to my family has endeared him to me greatly. It is an un-showy, behind-the-scenes compassion and support that is totally devoid of seeking glory or kudos. He is saddened about my dad's passing, but told me last night that he was so glad he was able to spend time with him in the last couple of years of his life.

Tim is a former Marine whose lost his legs in a land mine explosion in VietNam, and he has a stirring message of patriotism. He is able to connect with service people in a wonderful way. Currently, Tim's ministry is involved in what's called Operation Semper Fi, which is aimed at placing the gospel in the hands of 180-thousand Marines.

I was truly blessed last night as I heard Tim preach on being a spirit-filled Christian. His message is as uncompromisingly strong on Biblical truth as it is heavily seasoned with grace.

I consider Tim Lee an American hero, and I'm honored to count him as a personal friend.

Click here to read Tim's testimony.

(By the way, if you are in the Beloit, Wisconsin area, Tim will be speaking at Berean Baptist of Beloit tonight and Wednesday night as well. Services begin at 7 PM. For directions, call the church at 608-365-5878.)

Monday, August 23, 2004

The best movie lines of all time?

The movie The Princess Bride has enchanted me since the time my sister Lisa urged me to watch it back in the 80's. As far as I'm concerned, when it comes to sheer entertainment value, this is pretty much the perfect movie. It has just about everything...a great story, fantasy, adventure, intrigue, a handsome hero and a beautiful heroine, humor (in spades), and of course...TRUE LOVE. (And I don't mean "to blave," either--and you'll only get what I mean if you've seen the movie.:))

Netscape.net today featured Entertainment Weekly's list (from a poll of their readers) of the top 12 movie lines of all time, and I wasn't surprised to see how many of them are from "The Princess Bride."

Here are just the top six:

1. "Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die."
--Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) in "The Princess Bride"
2. "Inconceivable!" "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means."
--Inigo Montoya (Mandy Patinkin) in "The Princess Bride"
3. "Have fun storming the castle."
--Miracle Max (Billy Crystal) in "The Princess Bride"
4. "As you wish."
--Westley (Cary Elwes) in "The Princess Bride"
5. "I'll have what she's having."
--Female diner (Estelle Reiner) in "When Harry Met Sally"
6. "You had me at hello."
--Dorothy Boyd (ReneƩ Zellweger) in "Jerry Maguire"

Actually, there are a lot more lines from "The Princess Bride" that could have made the list. Like, "Never trust a Sicilian when death is on the line..." and one of my personal favorites when I'm incredibly busy: "I've got my country's five hundredth anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped."

My daughter loves the scene where Westley wakes up in a dungeon and wonders where he is. Humperdinck's henchman says in a raspy, menacing voice, "The Pit of Despair." Then he clears his throat extensively and repeats in a completely normal, casual voice: "The pit of despair. Don't even think about trying to escape..."

And how many times when my kids were growing up, and I would issue an ultimatum ending with "I mean it!" did I get the obligatory: "Does anybody want a peanut?"

Honestly, I keep waiting for a movie to come along that charms me like "The Princess Bride," and nothing has ever quite done it since. To borrow a line from another movie..."it had me at hello."

*Sigh*...it's Monday...

...and time to answer the Monday Madness

1. Which is more fun, kid's toys or grown-up kid's toys? (ie. Lego's vs. power tools)--Probably kid's toys, because life is so much simpler when you're a kid.

2. What's your favorite food and why? Which food is your number one weakness?--Well, y'know, those are actually two different questions. To number one...I've tried to pin down my favorite food, and it's impossible...like asking someone what their favorite song is. There are too many variables, and just too much delicious food. A really good steak, turkey n' dressing, roast beef, an excellent pizza, topnotch Mexican food...see what I mean?

However, to question number 2...the answer is easy. Chocolate. Nuff said.

3. How many blogs/journals/diaries would you say you read?--Unfortunately, I don't make it to all of them every day...but I'd say at least ten regularly, and another ten or more semi-regularly.

4. Do you feel you have an obligation to spread your religious belief system to others, or do you think religion is a private matter that everyone needs to decide for themselves?--As a Christian, I believe the Bible teaches that it is at least my obligation to tell others about my faith. I can't force my Christianity on anyone...it's God's job to persuade them to make the ultimate decision. But yes, I am supposed to share my faith with others.

5. Did you keep a paper journal before blogging?--Not for years. I was a fanatic diarist when I was growing up, and kept copious journals almost all through college. Reading those diaries now is hilarious, by the way. The things I thought were so catastrophic and traumatic! I was such a drama queen.

6. Describe your life in 3 words.--Right now? Busy...emotional...basically good. (OK, I know that's four.)

7. What was the last thing you were wrong about?--Oh, wow. Good one. It happens on such a regular basis...Well, on a mundane scale, I really thought it would rain yesterday, and it didn't. On a larger scale...a person I thought was a jerk turned out to be not a jerk at all.

8. What one thing would you do to help the world be a better place for all?--Introduce them to Christ. When a person accepts Christ, it can be so huge and life-changing that it can send a positive ripple effect throughout that person's sphere of existence. When they accept Christ and begin to rely on God in faith-- incredible, wonderful things can happen in every area of their life.

9. Are you a dog person or a cat person?--I prefer dogs to cats, and I love Stormy, our German Shepherd. But the truth is, I probably wouldn't have a pet if it wasn't for my family. I know, I'm a horrible person!!!

10. If you could start your own meme (And you can!), what kind of questions would you ask?--Questions just like these...questions that make people stop and think, that help us celebrate the happiness in little things, and that bind people together with common likes and dislikes.

Which reminds me...

I heard a song by Bob Bennett on Radio 91 on the way to work this morning, called "Small Graces." I rarely hear this song, but I've always liked the almost bluegrass-feel of it, and the sentiment it conveys:

"These are the small graces,
The little moments when the miracles come.
These are the small graces,
Small graces leading me to the larger one.

Small graces surely have a meaning
Beyond their merely passing by
They are a reminder to the heart
That there's more to life than meets the eye."


Friday, August 20, 2004

This is SO Friday....

...and time to answer the Friday Feast questions! Fun!

What does the color pink make you think of?--Pretty things...femininity...baby girls...flowers...springtime...

Name something you have lost but later found.--Oh, wow. This just happened to me recently...not once, but TWICE in the past couple of months.

First of all, shortly after we visited Texas at Easter, I realized that one of my favorite earrings was missing. The pair were given to me by a dear friend for Christmas last year, and they were the only earrings I have that actually contain real diamonds. Tiny, delicate, lovely earrings. AND ONE WAS MISSING. It made me sick. I never told my friend, hoping it would turn up somewhere.

When I was in Texas recently, I mentioned to my mom, just on the off-chance, "You didn't happen to find a little ear-ring, did you...?" "YES!" Sure enough, it was my missing earring. What a happy feeling!

Not too long ago, I lost a birthstone ring my husband had given me on our anniversary several years ago. I loved that little ring, but I had apparently taken it off before a bath and forgotten that I put it somewhere for safekeeping and promptly forgot about it. Again, the delight when I happened upon it.

Getting the idea that giving me jewelry is NOT a good idea? Well, normally I'm really good about keeping track of things I love. I've just been unusually distracted and scatterbrained lately. Friends who have had parents who were very ill and/or passed away, tell me they went through the same thing. So I'm hoping this brain freeze is just temporary.

In 3 words, describe this past week.--Insanely stress-inducing BUSY!

Main Course
What are you obsessed with?--I don't really think I'm obsessed with anything. But if I had to give an answer, I would probably have to say (and I'm not proud of this):--affirmation. Maybe it's not an obsession, but it's a very strong need.


What kind of perfume or cologne do you like to wear?--I have two main favorites. Although other fragrances float in and out of my life--for instance, I'm really liking the smell of Carolina Herrera right now, and when I'm broke and fragrance-less I just buy Jovan White Musk at Wal-Mart, and usually get compliments on it--I traditionally go with Estee Lauder's Pleasures for spring and summer, and Clinique's Aromatics Elixir for fall and winter. In fact, Doug just bought me Aromatics Elixir for our 26th wedding anniversary. A little goes a long way, and it takes a while to settle in, but I absolutely LOVE it.

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

This is Bad Poetry Day

Who knows who decrees these quirky "holidays," but my co-host on 101QFL, Darren Marlar, tells me that today is "Bad Poetry Day."

Which touched off a discussion between the two of us about what constitutes bad poetry. Neither of us qualify as ardent fans of poetry. (Most people know that when it comes to reading, my drug of choice is fiction.)

I do love many poems, though. One of my personal favorites is Reluctance by Robert Frost, and I really like some of his other poems. I love W.B. Yeats' way with words, even when it's a little obscure. Some of Shakespeare's sonnets, some Annie Johnson Flint (as I blogged about a few days ago), even some Keats and Byron and Browning would make it on my list of favorite poems.

But... I maintain a lot of what people who think they are poets write, is really quite awful...or mediocre at best. Filled with trite cliches, corny sentiments, and forced rhymes. Usually though, everyone "oohs" and "aahs" because this person has managed to put together some words that make sense and rhyme at the same time.

I found this on a webpage
that is actually devoted to the subject of bad poetry: "There is a huge amount of bad poetry in the world. Although new bad poems are being written by the hundreds every day (many of them in university creative writing classes), most bad poetry is simply weak and ineffectual and lacking in interest and (fortunately) is soon forgotten.

"To achieve memorable badness is not so easy. It has to be done innocently, by a poet unaware of his or her defects. The right combination of lofty ambition, humorless self-confidence, and crass incompetence is rare and precious."

Yep, that quote pretty much nails it.

That site maintains that one of the worst poets of all time was one William McGonagall. Here's a brief sample of one of his poems:

"Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

'Twas about seven o'clock at night,
And the wind it blew with all its might,
And the rain came pouring down,
And the dark clouds seemed to frown,
And the Demon of the air seem'd to say --
'I'll blow down the Bridge of Tay.'"

OK...you get the idea.

But, how do you spot bad poetry? What is the criteria? Well, my internet search actually turned up a poem that explains how to spot bad poetry. This from someone posting as "Enforced Bliss" on a website for writers:

"How To Spot Bad Poetry

A page despoiled with thee’s and thines
To hide the vacuum of the lines
Cryptic phrase and twisted verse
Trite filagree agrandized dearth

Derivative style and poorly thought
Hackneyed image baneful wrought
Playing obvious slave to insipid rhyme
Like I did in these last four lines

Word stumbles on top of word
Myriad follow the pointless first
Saying nothing new in no new way
Bowed below unearn’ed bay."

Wow, that sums it up pretty well.


Michael Gallaugher (talking about the Bay Area in California, but it could really be about Anywhere, USA): "...one half of the strip mall stores are devoted to making your body fatter by eating, or beautiful by cosmetics or exercise."

Ain't it the truth?

And, Rick defines courage in his blog today: "There are two components that I find missing from the cultural definition of COURAGE today: Fear and Faith. Without Fear, courage is arrogance & cockiness. And without Faith, Courage wastes away to cowardice & indecision. There needs to be real Fear and real Faith, mixed in proportion, for Courage to be courageous."

My wedding anniversary is tomorrow...

Doug and I are both insanely busy right now, so I kind of doubt if we will be able to do any significant celebrating until perhaps the weekend. But I was surprised and pleased to get an e-mail from the Baptist Board informing me of a thread there wishing me a happy anniversary. I don't post there all that often, so it was nice to be remembered.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I remember college food...

Apparently not all college cafeteria food is abysmal anymore. AP reports today that in a new survey by the Princeton Review, Wheaton College--a Christian college, at that!--is number one in the nation when it comes to campus food.

The story quotes Wheaton business manager Steve Mead as saying that food is an important part of any residential campus. He says good food can keep students
from being discouraged.

Hmm...I'm going back in my mind to my caf food experiences at Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri. Oh, it's all different now, of course...but back in the day (mid to late 70's), I don't think anyone was really worrying about whether the food situation was going to discourage us.

Some of the weekday meals were downright strange. There was the obligatory "mystery meat" that no one could ever really figure out, and the meals weighed down with "starches" (that's what we used to call carbs back then), that were guaranteed to pack on the proverbial freshman 15.

No fancy salad bars, pasta islands or soft-serve ice cream machines for us. No sir, we stood in line the traditional way and took what they gave us.

It wasn't all bad. On certain Fridays and Sundays, we actually got steak...and it was actually decent. The fried chicken dinners were pretty good, too. And although I rarely got up in time to taste for myself, I'm told the biscuits-n-gravy breakfasts were really delicious.

Anyway, most of us did head over to the caf when we were hungry, no matter what was on the menu. We weren't allowed to store food in our dorm rooms, and few of us could afford to eat out very often.

When I send my son Justin off to Cedarville University in a few days, I won't have to worry about him starving. I've eaten at the Cedarville cafteria many times, and the food is plentiful, diverse, and quite good.

Still, despite the salad bars and dessert stations and grill-your-own sandwich stops, Justin tells me he still misses my home cooking when he's away. Apparently, despite all the advances in college food services, nothing rivals Mom's own recipes, served up with love.

Awww.... :)

Monday, August 16, 2004

Best Monday Morning grin...

--Catching up on my reading on Scott McClare's blog, I found this.

Ya gotta grin. :)

Where/when would you live?

Michael Gallaugher asks this question on his blog: "If you could pick where and when you could live your life...from Adam and Eve to today, where and when would you enjoy living life?"--Good question. Well, without a doubt, it would be in the United States of America. I totally enjoy the modern conveniences and technological advances we have in this age, but I yearn for a day when America was sweeter, more innocent and more Godfearing. So I guess I wish there was a way to combine the great things about the present, with the kinder and gentler spirit of, say, the turn of the 20th century.

I normally answer the Monday Madness questions on Monay, but found that I was too tired to come up with good answers today! Is that pathetic, or what?!?

Friday, August 13, 2004

Time to answer today's edition of Friday Feasts!

Who is your favorite news anchor/reporter? Why?--Wow...you'd think, news junkie that I am, that I would be able to come up with an answer, just like that. But truthfully, I've never really thought about it till now. I admire Diane Sawyer and Paula Zahn, more for the way they come across than anything else. I like Shepherd Smith on FoxNews. I admire Christiane Amanpour because she can stand virtually in the middle of gunfire and bomb blasts, and still come off as serenely unflappable. I think the woman has guts. (I just realized at this moment that I actually prefer female anchors to male ones. Not surprising, I guess!)

Name 3 foods that are currently in your freezer.--Hmm...Budget Gourmet meals; boneless skinless chicken breats; Fudgsicles.

If you were to have the opportunity to name a new town or city, what would you call it?--Reagan.

Main Course
What will most likely be the next book you read?--Most likely "Jubilee," by B.J. Hoff. Also, I haven't read the latest in the Kinsey Millhone series by Sue Grafton. I really want to read that.

What's the first thing you notice about the opposite gender?--People always ask stuff like this, and it's never just one thing. You don't really notice the particulars until you're talking one-on-one with a person. Then, I think eyes and smile are the biggies.

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend, everyone!

A walk down Memory Lane...

In the wake of my father's passing, I've been going through old pictures. Thought I'd share a few with you.

This is the earliest picture I have of me with my Dad. It was taken in the fall of 1957, when I was going on one year old, at Doling Park in Springfield, Missouri. My mom says she doesn't know if I was in a grouchy mood, or just teething, but obviously I'm not happy about something. :) My dad would have been about 25 years old here. He looks a lot like my son Jonathan.


I figure I'm two or three years old in this one...already the curly hair that has plagued me throughout my life is prominent. I'm not facing the camera because as a little child, I hated looking into the sun. There are a lot of pictures of me as a small child with my head down like that. I'm not sure where this was taken.


My wedding day, August 19, 1978, at Baptist Temple in Springfield, Missouri. Yup...Doug and I both look a LOT younger. That's because we were mere children. :)
My dad and Doug's dad shared duties in the ceremony. Dad would have been 46 here. Wow...younger than I am now!

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Grace Notes...a terrific blog by a terrific writer

One of my very favorite writers is B.J. Hoff . She represents two of my passions: Christian fiction, and Ireland! Here's what I wrote about B.J. on the reading page of my website:

"Given my fascination for all things Irish, it's no wonder I fell in love with B.J. Hoff's 'Emerald Ballad' series. The series follows a family from famine-stricken Ireland to their immigration to the United States. I've also read part of B.J.'s 'Song of Erin' series, and some of her stand-alone novels. A terrific writer who spins very entertaining tales."

Actually, I need to update that paragraph, because soon I hope to read the third in B. J.'s American Anthem series.

Asked why she often writes about Irish immigrants, B. J. replies: "Well, who’s more interesting than the Irish, after all? There’s no danger of ever running out of stories about them!...Seriously, I love writing about the people who built our nation—our ancestors—and there’s really no way to do that without writing about immigrants. And since the Irish immigrants played such a hugely important role in settling America—and since my own family tree is exceedingly 'green—' I chose years ago to focus on Irish characters. However, in Prelude, the first book of my American Anthem series, you’ll meet not only Irish immigrants, but Italian and Scottish as well."

I'm so looking forward to reading "Jubilee." However, I'm happy to announce to those of you who love fiction and perhaps aspire to write it, as I do, that B. J. now has a blog in addition to her excellent website. Grace Notes is described as "BJ Hoff's Meeting Place for Writers and Readers of Christian Fiction."

B.J. has a lot of practical experience and accrued wisdom in the field of Christian fiction writing, and she shares these resources freely in her blog. She tells me she would also like to see it become a place for interaction, so feel free to post comments and questions in her comments section. I know I will be a regular visitor there!

If you haven't had a chance to read the first two in the American Anthem series, click the pictures below to read my reviews.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Aging gracefully?

From USA Today: "This obsession with plastic surgery is an epidemic. It's lunacy! These women have had their faces rebuilt and they look terrible. It's going to backfire at some point; sadly, somebody famous and young is going to have to die on the table." --plastic surgery veteran Jamie Lee Curtis, 45, to More Magazine.

Well, guess what, Jamie? Even that won't stop the lunacy. In a society where what you look like on the outside is of paramount importance, people--especially women--will continue to pursue that image of perfection, whether it be through plastic surgery or extreme diets.

Don't get me wrong; I believe in looking one's best. As an old preacher once said about women wearing make-up: "Even an old barn looks better with some paint." (OK, that's a groaner.) I don't even have a problem with people correcting something that really, truly needs fixing.

But I do believe the plastic surgery craze is getting out of control. It started in Hollywood and it's spreading across the nation, aided and abetted by the plethora of cosmetic surgery reality TV shows. One of the most disturbing trends is young girls hopping on the plastic surgery bandwagon; teen-agers getting breast implants, etc. My daughter picked up a copy of Teen Vogue recently, and it included an article on this disturbing phenomenon.

It might be a good idea to do a follow-up on some of these people and see if altering their appearances was the ultimate antidote they thought it was going to be. Hmm, makes me think of a thought from the Bible: "Charm is deceitful and beauty is passing, but a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised."

Do Bonnie and Charley sound scary enough?

My 101QFL co-host, Darren Marlar, doesn't think "Bonnie" and "Charley" are scary enough names for the hurricanes headed toward Florida. He opened the phone lines this morning for callers to give us their suggestions for more macho or downright frightening hurricane names.

Some of them were pretty clever, and frightening indeed:

~Hurricane Mother-in-Law
~Hurricane Principal's Office
~Hurricane Stinky Feet
~Hurricane Alien
~Hurricane Ditka ("da Hurricane"? That one was one of my faves because my own hubby called it in
~Hurricane Hannibal (as in "Lecter")
~Hurricane Charlie Manson
~Hurricane Hitler
~Hurricane Attila (as in "the Hun")
...and one of the scariest of all...HURRICANE IRS!!!

Feel free to add your suggestions in my comments section.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Monday Madness

Here are my answers to today's Monday Madness

1. What's "it" all about, anyway?--Wow...I was just asking Alfie that the other day:

"What's it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What's it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give
or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
then I guess it's wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
what will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there's a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there's something much more,
something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you've missed you're nothing, Alfie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
and you'll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie."

2. What radical political ideas do you have, if any?--Well, it depends on who you talk to. I suppose my positions against abortion and gay marriage would be considered "radical" by many.

3. Do you believe that you 'fit' the profile of your astrological star sign?--I have never felt like I was really much like the standard description of a Sagittarian. I'll admit, my August 8th-born sister is a textbook Leo, and my December 30th husband fits Capricorn profiles to a tee. But as a Christian, I honestly don't take much notice of astrology.

4. Will blogging survive 2005 or is it a fad?--Oh, definitely, blogging will survive. I could be wrong, but I don't honestly think it will go away. For everyone who gets burnt out and drops their blog, others will pop up to replace them.

5. Do you Ebay? If so, what and how often? Is it a full-time job, part-time hobby, or just to clear the junk from your house?--I've never done the Ebay thing, although both my sons have. My older son bought his first computer on Ebay. Maybe I should give it a try.

6. True or False: When I vote, I am all for one party.--Nope. Although I would consider myself a conservative Republican, I vote for the best person for the job. Particularly in local and state races, I pay little heed to the person's party affiliation. What does it really matter if my sheriff is a Republican or a Democrat? Is he going to be a terrific sheriff? That's what I want to know.

7. Meat or veggie sauce on your spaghetti?--Depends on my mood...but I really love marinara sauce, meat or no. When it comes to Italian food, it's all about the sauce.

8. Would you ever be on a TV Reality Show?--Well...it depends. Probably not. Most of them are silly, degrading and/or vulgar.

9. What is one thing (or place) that you would like to do (or see) that you have not yet done (or seen?)--I want to go to Ireland. I WANT TO GO TO IRELAND!!!

10. Do you answer memes honestly?--Just did a quick check of my answers. Yes, they're all honest. If a run across a meme that contains a question that I don't want to or can't answer honestly, I usually just don't participate in the meme. Just don't do it at all.

The poetry of Annie Johnson Flint

It's amazing how the writings of a woman who was born in 1866 could have such meaning and relevance in 2004. I first became aware of the poetry of Annie Johnson Flint when reading the wonderful devotional book, Streams in the Desert. I soon found out that Annie wrote the lyrics to the lovely old hymn, "He Giveth More Grace."

Annie knew something about pain and suffering, as she spent much of her life crippled by arthritis. This from "Annie's Own Story" by Rowland V. Bingham: "Although crippled, she did not consider herself helpless and that she could do nothing but bemoan her lot. She believed that God had laid her aside for a purpose, even though that purpose was obscure to her at times, but she also believed that He had work for her to do and she put her very best into the writing of her poems, rendering this ministry unto Him. The result has been that her verses have an unusually deep appeal to human hearts. The simple reason is that she felt what she wrote, and out of the crucible of suffering she was able to administer that comfort to others wherewith she herself had been comforted of God."

In the aftermath of my dad's death, I've been receiving comfort from songs and poems. Here is one that Annie wrote that rings clear and true:

The Blessings that Remain

There are Loved Ones who are missing
From the fireside and feast;
There are faces that have vanished,
There are voices that have ceased;
But we know they passed forever
From our mortal grief and pain,
And we thank Thee, Oh our Father,
For the blessings that remain.

Thanksgiving, oh, thanksgiving,
That their love once blessed us here,
That so long they walked beside us,
Sharing every smile and tear;
For the joy the past has brought us,
But can never take away,
For the sweet and gracious memories
Growing dearer every day,
For the faith that keeps us patient
Looking at the things unseen,
Knowing Spring shall follow Winter
And the earth again be green,
For the hope of that glad meeting
Far from mortal grief and pain -
We thank Thee, Oh our Father,
For the blessings that remain.

by Annie Johnson Flint

Click here for more of the poetry of Annie Johnson Flint.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

In loving memory...

My father, Thomas V. "Pepper" Garrett, went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, July 28th, 2004.

Many of you know that my dad has been dying of cirrhosis of the liver/liver cancer for the past few years. In fact, not too long ago I blogged about my memories of wonderful times spent conversing with my dad.

He was a Baptist pastor and missionary whose entire live was dedicated to ministry. He was a wonderful man--wise, funny, kind, generous, musically talented. He adored his family and was happiest when we were all gathered around him.

I had planned for quite some time to visit my folks July 26th through August 4th. I knew my dad's condition and quality of life had deteriorated greatly, and although I didn't really expect him to die that soon, I wanted to spend some time with them, particularly to give my mom moral support and help in any way I could.

As it happened, the Thurday before the Monday I was to fly to Texas, my parents moved into the Christopher House, a hospice in Austin. An appalling feature of my dad's disease was that he suffered from nocturnal agitation. Although he was extremely weak, he could not stop walking around the house at night, to the point where his feet actually swelled. Besides depriving him of sleep, it did the same thing to my mom, who was his major caregiver.

My dad's hospice nurse had suggested taking him to the Christopher House for a few days so stronger medication could be administered that would give him and my mom some rest.

As it happened, my dad went to sleep on Thursday night and woke up only once--briefly on Friday night--until the following Wednesday.

Beverly, Dad and me July 2003

After ascertaining that my dad would probably be dying at the Christopher House, I was extremely concerned about whether I would be able to see my dad alive one more time. The airline tickets for my daughter and me had been purchased on Hotwire, and couldn't be changed.

Fortunately, I had said everything I wanted to say to my dad in previous visits. I had no regrets on that point. I just wanted to see him alive one more time.

As soon as Elizabeth and I arrived in Austin, my sister took us directly to the Christopher House. My dad was in a deep sleep, but when I told him I was there, he physically responded and even tried to open his eyes.

The next many hours in the Christopher House were extraordinary. My sisters, my mom and I kept watch over my dad, frequently joined by other loved ones. The nurses and doctors had told us that my dad could hear us, so they encouraged us to talk to him and sing to him. Although we often broke down in tears, there were also times of laughter and reminiscing.

When we sang to him, it was amazing to see him respond even while asleep. He would move his mouth and raise his eyebrows as if trying to join in with us. My dad could never hear anyone singing without wanting to join in! He was a beautiful singer and musician, and loved singing for the Lord more than anything.

My dad, mom and sisters before my dad's illness

On Monday night, my mom and my siblings all spent the night in the small room at the Christopher House. My mom and Beverly slept on a small couch that folded out into a small bed. I slept on a recliner. Lisa slept on a mat on the floor; David slept on the bare floor. We had grieved and said what we thought would be our final good-byes to our dad, but he didn't pass away that night. The vigil continued on Tuesday. It was extremely difficult to see my father's labored and ragged breathing, and it continued to worsen.

At 12:30 AM Wednesday morning, Lisa and her husband David and I decided to go to her house and try to get some sleep. My dad's heartbeat was still relatively strong, and it didn't appear he would die in the next several hours. We knew the next day would probably be a rough one, and decided it would be better to face it after having had some rest.

However, shortly before 7 AM on Wednesday morning, my mom called to tell us my dad only had a few minutes. Shortly afterwards she called to tell us that he had indeed passed away, at 7:05 AM.

You often hear stories about Christians seeing a glimpse of heaven as they died. D. L. Moody reportedly said: "Is this dying? Why this is bliss...There is no valley....I have been within the gates...Earth is receding; Heaven is opening; God is calling; I must go. "

My dad never spoke, but my sister and my mom tell me he woke with a start; his eyes came open, clear, bright and aware, and he looked up with an expression of incredible awe and joy on his face. As they talked to him, telling him they loved him, he continued to look upward with that rapturous expression before taking two peaceful breaths (his earlier breathing had been labored and difficult), then he went home to glory.

I wish I had been there. But just hearing my mom and sister describing it...my mom called it a "beautiful" death...renews my faith. Heaven is not just a lovely myth; it is REAL. And I believe my dad caught a glimpse of it before his soul actually departed his body.

The funeral, on Saturday, was more a celebration than anything else. There were tears, but there was laughter as well. There was joy! Beverly, Lisa and I had pre-recorded "Home Where I Belong" and Lisa had pre-recorded "Beulah Land," (we would never have been able to make it through the songs live) and a tape of the song "At The Crossing" was played.

The way the service ended was extremely fitting. My dad loved nothing more than when his close and extended family members would gather around the piano and sing. With my cousin Elaine playing the piano, several of my cousins sang "I'll Fly Away." It was wonderful! My dad would have loved it.

How do people who don't know the Lord make it through the deaths of their loved ones? I'm so glad we don't "sorrow as those who have no hope." We'll miss our dad terribly, but we'll see him again. And he is happier and better off now than he ever was in these "Shadowlands."

I'll close with the poem my mom chose to put in the programme of my father's funeral:

"SERVANT of God! well done,
Rest from thy loved employ;
The battle is fought, the vict'ry won,
Enter thy Master's joy.

The voice at midnight came
He started up to hear
A mortal arrow pierced his frame,
He fell--but felt no fear.

The pains of death are past,
Labor and sorrow cease;
And life's long warfare closed at last,
His soul is found in peace.

Soldier of Christ, well done!-
Begin thy new employ;
And while eternal ages run,
Rest in they Savior's joy."--James Montgomery

P.S.--My heartfelt thanks to the many people--many of whom had never even met my dad--who prayed for him and my mom during the course of his illness. You know who you are. You'll never know how much it means to me and my family.--Cindy

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