Monday, October 31, 2005

My interview with Jason Janz of "Sharper Iron"

Late last week, Jason Janz, site publisher of, happened to be in my city. I took the opportunity to have him on my radio show and pick his brain about Christian blogging.

Jason is a graduate of Northland Baptist Bible College: he is married to Jennifer and they have three sons; Hudson, Champlin and Paton.

The following is excerpted from my radio interview with Jason.

CINDY: Jason, welcome to Weekend Rockford.

JASON: Cindy, thanks for having me on.

CINDY: I understand that you are on the pastoral staff of a church in Colorado, right?

JASON: Yes, Red Rocks Baptist Church. We're on the west side of Denver, right up against the foothills.

CINDY: Wow, I'm jealous of you for living in Colorado (laughs), I love Colorado.

I was born in the Midwest, but it is nice to live in the West.

CINDY: How did you personally get into this thing that we call blogging?

Well, I heard the word "blog" kicked around, and I've kind of always been an early adopter type personality, pioneer-type individual and entrepreneurial in spirit, and so I always want to kind of see what's out there.

I didn't know what blogging was, and I went around the Internet, and I really still couldn't get my hands around the idea. So then I bought Hugh Hewitt's book, Blog, Understanding the Information Reformation, so I took that book and I read it and then it clicked in my mind, the potential of blogging, and that kind of gave me the impetus to start it.

CINDY: From that, how did Sharperiron the website, which includes forums and a blog and all kinds of stuff, come about?

"A niche market"

JASON: They say if bloggers are going to be effective they're going to speak to a niche market, and be very effective at reaching that niche, but also able to speak to a wide range of issues.

My niche was Christian fundamentalism, where I wanted to specialize in that niche and really explore the issues that were of concern to them.

We speak to a number of issues...anybody can read my blog, but I'm really targeting that niche. I wanted to help those people; I wanted to have some conversations, and so that's why I began Sharper Iron.

CINDY: You attended the God Blog Conference a couple of weeks ago in California. What was the purpose of this conference?

JASON: I think it was just to gather Christian bloggers in one room and have some conversations about the potential of Christian blogging, the frustrations that there are with Christian blogging...A lot of people had a desire to try to harness the power of the Christian blogosphere to use it for good. But there were discussions on a number of levels. You know, there's the pro-life bloggers, then the political bloggers, and then there's the pastors who blog, so it was just kind of a wide smattering of journalists, lay people and pastors who are blogging and trying to use that for good.

CINDY: Can you just share some of the highlights of what you came away with from this conference?

"I'm not one who thinks blogging is going to change the world"

JASON: I came away with the fact that I was honestly kind of disappointed, in a way, that blogging, I think, is really overestimated. It's just another new technology, and a new medium to get voices out there. But I am not one who thinks blogging is going to change the world. Because to me, it's the new newspaper, and it's going to be how we communicate most effectively, and I think the advantage of live communication and live interaction is going to change communication. However, at the same rate that we're getting into the blogosphere as Christians, the Muslims are doing the same thing.

So, I don't expect worldwide revival; I don't have huge, high optimistic hopes. I derive encouragement..we sat around the table at lunch with many pastors who blog; I think that's where I got the most encouragement. I got more comfort from their stories of how difficult it is on their end, because we all face the same struggles and the same issues.

We all have spouses, and the "blogging widow" idea has been propagated, that we spend so much time on our blogs that our wives come knocking on the, blogging can be a harsh mistress.

CINDY: Well, you know how I look at it...I really appreciate blogs like Sharper Iron, like Hugh Hewitt and La Shawn Barber; blogs that, many of them, are really on the cutting edge of the news...some of them even report the news, and I appreciate that too. Because that has made the mainstream media realize, "Hey, we don't have a corner on disseminating the news anymore."

JASON: Yeah, people want a trusted voice. So like, Hugh Hewitt, when the presidential debates were going on...he had a couple of million people tuning into his live comments while the debate was going on, because they weren't trusting just everything that was coming across the airwaves. They wanted it interepreted for them. And I think in an information society that is just overloaded with information, people are going to start turning to trusted voices.

CINDY: I agree. But blogging doesn't have to be so--ambitious, perhaps. The way I look at my own blog, I just hope that it's a little grain of salt and a little ray of light in the blogosphere...I let it be about anything I want it to be, but it's always out there that I'm a Christian, and the stand that I take. And my blog is just a tiny little segment of the blogosphere, but that's my prayer for it, is that it will be a little bit of light, a little bit of salt out there, because there's so much ugly stuff on the Internet.

And you're right, we tend to look at our own little corners...I remember I heard someone talking about the Internet as being like a huge city, with streets and byways, big places and little places, but then there's those ugly parts of the city, the seamy side, the "yeeuch" parts of the city. And that's true of the Internet.

And one thing that does excite me about Christian blogging is that they are getting out that salt and light through the things that they're saying on their blogs. Sharper Iron, I think, is a great segment of that, one of the things that is showing salt and light.

"Fundamentalists will do battle royal for the truth"

You talked about how you wanted it to be a voice for Christian fundamentalism. Sometimes that word "fundamentalism" is considered--I don't know, a stumblingblock, sometimes, when people hear it, they're like, "Eeew...I don't want to be involved in anything crazy like that." How would you reply to that?

JASON: Sharper Iron is a closed community, meaning that only those who subscribe to our beliefs are allowed to comment. Anybody can read. We have 11-hundred members, but this month we'll welcome 12-thousand different visitors with a different URL coming into our site. So anybody can read us, but only those that are members of the closed community can post.

Fundamentalism is very simply the belief that all the Bible is important, all the truth is important, and that we believe in the fundamental truths of Christianity. But we're also maybe different from a lot of evangelicals in that we will do battle royal for the truth. We're not the Rodney King evangelicals--we know why everybody can't get along; it's about the truth, and the truth does divide.

What are your aspirations or your hopes for Sharper Iron?

"Blogging is a means to an end"

JASON: I really just want to publish views and ideas from a Christian fundamental Biblical worldview. Blogging to me is a means to an end, it's not an end. My heartbeat is really to help pastors and church leaders; to me they're the true heroes of this culture and the world, because they are doing...I don't think politics can do anything to save the individual. The way to save America is to save Americans.

I remember talking with Cal Thomas, the most nationally syndicated columnist in the world, and he said to me,"I've never convinced anybody to my conservate position based on the logic of my arguments. But many people have changed to conservative views because Jesus Christ has saved their soul and regenerated them...that's the business I want to be in."

And Cal Thomas even has a ministry to people that are in the communications industry, to lead them to the Lord, and he's done that on many fronts.

I would ascribe to that, that I want to help pastors and church leaders be more effective. They're a discouraged's hard in a wicked culture to keep a voice that is Biblical. I just read the stat yesterday that one in eight pastors commit adultery while they're in the ministry. And they're just assaulted on every side, and I just want to help pick them up.

CINDY: Well, it sounds like you have a very balanced view of blogging. But you did happen to mention the quote "blogging widow" (laughs) it possible for Christians to become a little too focused on things like blogging, and the Internet, and that sort of thing?

JASON: Absolutely. Satan can use anything to get a Christian out of balance. I believe that we need to keep Christ's commands forefront in our minds, that our job on this earth is to make disciples. And so I tell people, "Get off my blog...and get out there and do the work on the ministry." While some of them, I think, need to have discussions, I think there is a time to just put the keyboard away.

And if blogging causes you to neglect your responsibilities as a father, as a spouse and as a pastor, then it is wrong for you to continue to put time into it.

CINDY: Yeah, it's a case of something that's really a good thing becoming a bad thing when you give it oo much focus and too much emphasis.

Going back a little bit to the God Blog Conference...I had read that they're talking about maybe having one the next time in a more centralized location, maybe in the Midwest. Will you go again? Is it important enough that you think you would go to it?

JASON: I don't know if I could answer that question right now. It all kind of depends on my schedule, my life. Blogging, to tell you the truth, I could take it or leave it tomorrow, because it's not the ultimate end for me. SharperIron, I've enjoyed it, it's really sharpened me as an individual. But I don't know if I could answer that question; it all depends on the nature of the discussion is gonna be and what the purpose is.

"Iron sharpens iron"

CINDY: Speaking of the name "Sharper Iron," some people may not be familiar with the Biblical reference on that; tell us what that means.

JASON: Yeah, Proverbs says that "Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." And the idea is there, if you think of a forge where a blacksmith is working, that he takes iron and smacks it down on iron, and and when that conflict happens, and sparks fly, there's a good result. And so our job as believers is to exhort one another to love and to good works. And I think that's the iron sharpening iron process. And a lot of times that happens in the realm of ideas.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Giving the Sox their due

...but not all Cubs fans are biSOXuals!

Well, the Chicago White Sox were able to do what the Cubs haven't been able to a World Series after decades upon decades of NOT doing so. I love Chicago, and thanks to my husband and sons, I root for Chicago sports teams, so I have to give the Sox the glory due them now.

But not every Illinoisan feels that way.

My husband, a lifelong Cubs fan, has been quite gracious toward the Sox, although I'm sure it must've stuck in his gullet to root for them. What was he going to do, pull for the Astro's? Uh, not happening. My hubby's view: hey, it's a Chicago team, and their win is going to be good for Chicago sports all round.

However, my son Jonathan says he refuses to be a "biSOXual"--a Cubs fan rooting for the Sox. He tells why here.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

My Top 25 Books of All Time

"...the list reeked of a literary snobbishness that glories in things that truly don't matter to the enlightened believer. Certainly not all of them would meet that classification, but over-all, the list is a veritable roll-call of the hoity-toity secularists who wouldn't know good literature if it bit them on the....nose."-Dan Burrell, on Time Magazine's Top 100 Books list

I love Dan's characterization of the Time Magazine List of Top 100 Books from 1923 until the present, and it makes me feel a bit better about the fact that I've only read eight of the books of the list.

Dan suggested that I come up with my OWN top 25 list, and after careful thought and reflection, I have come up with one. Understand, I'm probably leaving some out that just slipped my mind. But these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

My criteria, I will admit, is mainly that I loved these books for one reason or another. In most cases, there was just something about them that reached out and grabbed me and wouldn't let me go.

In several cases, they were life changing in some respect. A few of them are obscure; at least a couple of them are British books from my childhood as a missionary, and you've no doubt never heard of them. But this is MY list, so I reserve the right to put them there.

Now, I would love to see your list. Please take a little time to come up with your own list and either blog it or post it here in my comments section. I'd also love to know if any of my favorites are on your list.

You may notice that the majority of my favorites are fiction, but don't limit your list to fiction. I just happen to enjoy fiction most.

Oh...and the Bible is not on the list, because I believe it goes without saying, the Bible is the number one book of all time. But it's too big to even go on such a list, because it's not just a book. It's a living thing. It's the very Word of God.

One other explanation: in a few cases, I count a series of books as one book, simply because I can't divide them up--they stand so strongly as a series.

So anyway, here's my list (with occasional comment):


(in no particular order)

1. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott--really kicked off my lifelong love of reading
2. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
3. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
4. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
5. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
6. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
7. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
8. Red Knights from Hy Brasil, by Christine Savery (read here about how I re-discovered this childhood favorite)
9. Auntie Robbo, by Anne Scott Moncrieff (read here about how I re-discovered this book)
10. The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis
11. Villette, by Charlotte Bronte
12. Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot
13. Shadow of the Almighty, by Elisabeth Elliot
14. The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
15. The Persecutor, by Sergei Kourdakov
16. New Moon Rising, by Eugenia Price
17. This Present Darkness, by Frank Perretti
18. My Life Without God, by William Murray
19. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher
20. The Emerald Ballad Series, by B. J. Hoff--reinforced my love of all things Irish, and showed me just how good Christian fiction can be
21. The Mark of the Lion Series, by Francine Rivers--introduced me to a remarkable writer, and reinforced to me just how good Christian fiction can be
22. Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan
23. Streams in the Desert, edited by L. B. Cowman
24. Not My Will, by Francena H. Arnold
25. Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery

I may comment more on some of my choices during the coming days, and I'm sure I'll think of others that SHOULD have been on my list.

Meantime, check out this set of lists of best Christian books. Some of these should definitely be on my "to-read" list, but I do have a question about one of the seven Celtic monk books? Oooh-kay...

Monday, October 24, 2005

And I thought I was fairly well-read!

I strike out big-time in Time Magazine's list of best books from 1923 till now

I am a reader. I have always been a reader, and you will rarely catch me without at least one book in progress. Granted, much of what I read today isn't particularly literary, although I believe it is usually beneficial, uplifting in some way, and falls into my Philippians 4:8 guideline for what I choose to put into my mind.

However, when it comes to Time Magazine's list of 100 best English-language books from 1923 to the present, I fail miserably. Folks, I've read EIGHT of them. Eight out of 100. And at least three of those were because they were required reading in my high school English classes.

(For example, I hated, really hated The Grapes of Wrath. Granted, I was only 17 when I read it--maybe I would look on it differently now in my late 40's--but at the time I thought it was depressing and even ugly.)

I'm not sure what my failure to read these books says about me. Am I woefully un-well-read? Is Time Magazine full of baloney? Are those books really all the best, or are there glaring omissions (remember, this is just from 1923 on?)

Do I even WANT to read these books? Should I? Would reading any of them enhance my life, benefit me in any way, fall into the Philippians 4:8 guideline?

Take a look at the list. If you like, copy-n-paste them onto your blog, bolding the ones you've read, as I did.

And please! If there are books on this list that you've read, and that you highly recommend, please let me know! My library card is up-to-date and ready to go.

(P.S. I did a little better with this list.)

The List

The Adventures of Augie March--Saul Bellow
All the King's Men--Robert Penn Warren
American Pastoral--Philip Roth
An American Tragedy--Theodore Dreiser
Animal Farm--George Orwell
Appointment in Samarra--John O'Hara
Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret--Judy Blume
The Assistant--Bernard Malamud
At Swim-Two-Birds--Flann O'Brien
Atonement--Ian McEwan
Beloved--Toni Morrison
The Berlin Stories--Christopher Isherwood
The Big Sleep--Raymond Chandler
The Blind Assassin--Margaret Atwood
Blood Meridian--Cormac McCarthy
Brideshead Revisited--Evelyn Waugh
The Bridge of San Luis Rey--Thornton Wilder

C - D
Call It Sleep--Henry Roth
Catch-22--Joseph Heller
The Catcher in the Rye--J.D. Salinger
A Clockwork Orange--Anthony Burgess
The Confessions of Nat Turner--William Styron
The Corrections--Jonathan Franzen
The Crying of Lot 49--Thomas Pynchon
A Dance to the Music of Time--Anthony Powell
The Day of the Locust--Nathanael West
Death Comes for the Archbishop==Willa Cather
A Death in the Family--James Agee
The Death of the Heart--Elizabeth Bowen
Deliverance--James Dickey
Dog Soldiers--Robert Stone

F - G
Falconer--John Cheever
The French Lieutenant's Woman--John Fowles
The Golden Notebook--Doris Lessing
Go Tell it on the Mountain--James Baldwin
Gone With the Wind--Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath--John Steinbeck (only because required reading in high school)
Gravity's Rainbow--Thomas Pynchon
The Great Gatsby--F. Scott Fitzgerald

H - I
A Handful of Dust--Evelyn Waugh
The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter--Carson McCullers(again, required high school reading)
The Heart of the Matter--Graham Greene
Herzog--Saul Bellow
Housekeeping--Marilynne Robinson
A House for Mr. Biswas--V.S. Naipaul
I, Claudius--Robert Graves
Infinite Jest--David Foster Wallace
Invisible Man--Ralph Ellison

- N
Light in August--William Faulkner
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe--C.S. Lewis (Yes, one of my favorite books of all time)
Lolita--Vladimir Nabokov
Lord of the Flies--William Golding
The Lord of the Rings--J.R.R. Tolkien
Loving--Henry Green
Lucky Jim--Kingsley Amis
The Man Who Loved Children--Christina Stead
Midnight's Children--Salman Rushdie
Money--Martin Amis
The Moviegoer--Walker Percy
Mrs. Dalloway--Virginia Woolf
Naked Lunch--William Burroughs
Native Son--Richard Wright
Neuromancer--William Gibson
Never Let Me Go--Kazuo Ishiguro
1984--George Orwell

O - R
On the Road--Jack Kerouac
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest--Ken Kesey
The Painted Bird--Jerzy Kosinski
Pale Fire--Vladimir Nabokov
A Passage to India--E.M. Forster
Play It As It Lays--Joan Didion
Portnoy's Complaint--Philip Roth
Possession--A.S. Byatt
The Power and the Glory--Graham Greene
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie--Muriel Spark
Rabbit, Run--John Updike
Ragtime--E.L. Doctorow
The Recognitions--William Gaddis
Red Harvest--Dashiell Hammett
Revolutionary Road--Richard Yates

S - T
The Sheltering Sky--Paul Bowles
Slaughterhouse-Five--Kurt Vonnegut
Snow Crash--Neal Stephenson
The Sot-Weed Factor--John Barth
The Sound and the Fury--William Faulkner
The Sportswriter--Richard Ford
The Spy Who Came in From the Cold--John le Carre
The Sun Also Rises--Ernest Hemingway
Their Eyes Were Watching God--Zora Neale Hurston
Things Fall Apart--Chinua Achebe
To Kill a Mockingbird--Harper Lee
To the Lighthouse--Virginia Woolf
Tropic of Cancer--Henry Miller

U - W
Ubik--Philip K. Dick
Under the Net--Iris Murdoch
Under the Volcano--Malcolm Lowry
Watchmen--Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
White Noise--Don DeLillo
White Teeth--Zadie Smith
Wide Sargasso Sea--Jean Rhys

Got some time on your hands?

Volunteers are still needed in Mississippi

Maybe they've moved off the headlines, but the troubles haven't disappeared for Katrina victims in Mississippi.

My friend Don Elbourne, whose Lakeshore Baptist Church facility was destroyed in the hurricane, is sending out a plea for volunteers.

Don says a team from New Jersey has been wonderful, but they have to go home. The New Jersey team, specifically Donna-Jean of Liberty and Lily, learned of Don's plight through my blog, so I'm thrilled to have been somehow instrumental in helping.

Ann reports on her experiences helping Lakeshore here (she has some great pics, too.)

In my own town of Rockford, volunteers from Morningstar Baptist Church and Heartland Community Church have been doing their part as well. God bless all of those who are putting action to compassion.

Friday, October 21, 2005

So what's your favorite cereal?

Raisin Bran is the top breakfast cereal of choice for American adults, followed closely by Cheerios. At least, according to new data released by Zogby International.

Fifteen per cent of adults in the nationwide survey said Raisin Bran was their favorite, followed by Cheerios with 13 per cent. Then there was:

Frosted Mini Wheats--8%
Special K and Honey Bunches of Oats--7%
Honey Nut Cheerios--6%
Frosted Flakes--5%

Age was a significant factor in cereal preference, however. Among respondents under the age of 30, Cinnamon Toast Crunch outperformed every other cereal.

When my kids were growing up, I had to walk a fine line when it came to cereal purchases. If I got something really good--like the aforementioned Cinnamon Toast Crunch, or Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, or even Lucky Charms--well, I would be lucky to see those boxes of cereal survive until breakfast the next morning.

On the other hand, if I got something that was really good for them, like Cheerios or Raisin Bran,--or really cheap, like Corn Flakes--the boxes would go untouched for weeks.

So I had to get something that was good for them and tasted OK, but not so delicious that they felt that had to raid the box during distinctly NON-breakfast times of day.
Better to get something like Life or even Honey-Nut Cheerios. Something that tasted good, but not so good that it wouldn't stay around a while.

And OK, I admit it. I've been known to reach for a cereal box when it isn't breakfast time. And when you've eaten all the cereal in your bowl, and there's still a sizable amount of milk left, of COURSE you have to put more cereal in the bowl, right?

As for my favorite cereals, I think I'd have to say Grape-Nuts Flakes and Grape Nuts are at the top of the list, followed closely by various Chex cereals.

So, what's YOUR favorite cereal? I'd love to know.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

What Cindy needs

OK, since I'm still suffering from a severe head cold and not up to thinking too much, I thought I'd share this funny meme, courtesy of Kristen at Walking Circumspectly. Here's how it's done:

"Here's the drill: You google '[your name] needs', except of course that you replace [your name] with, well, your name. Then you look at the search results, and you laugh. (You might want to turn on the 'Family filter' or whatever it is that Google calls that. Because there are apparently some people out there who think you need stuff that, uh, you don't need. Or at least, you probably don't want to read about needing it on the Internet.)"

Not surprisingly, it seems most of the "Cindy needs" on Google's list actually pertain to peace activist Cindy Sheehan. But here goes, anyhoo:

1. Cindy needs a camper van to use at Camp Casey.--Oooh-kay.

2. Cindy needs your help.--Yes, I probably could use your help for something. But this is another appeal for Cindy Sheehan, this time at

3. Cindy needs to rub some good lotion...OK, this one scares me a little bit, but it could be harmless. I do love lotion, and in the fall and winter months, I really can't live without it. My favorite right now? Healing Garden Lavender Therapy.

4. Cindy needs photo support.--Again referring to the ubiquitous Sheehan. But I do need support whenever I get my picture taken...especially when I hate the way I look in them!

5. Cindy needs some good ol' Texas hospitality such as some poison oak... Oops, apparently some people don't like Cindy Sheehan. The Texas hospitality I've always received has been nothing but the nicest!

6. Cindy needs to look at possible Kevlar mesh/cloth for chimney sulfide collection as well as animal collection...Finally, something NOT about Cindy Sheehan...but I haven't the foggiest idea what it IS about.

Well, I could go on, but obviously the Cindy of the moment on the Internet right now is still Cindy Sheehan. But just to let you know there are OTHER Cindys out there:

Cindy Crawford

Cindy Margolis

Cindy Williams

and last, but not least...

Cindy Brady

I've been sick... all started with a scratchy throat on Monday morning, and by Tuesday morning it was a full-blown head cold, complete with stuffy nose, headache, scratchy voice (not good for talking on the air) and misery.

I'm feeling a tad better now, but I'm definitely far from 100 per cent. Yecchh.

Monday, October 17, 2005

What do you do with Halloween?

If you're a Christian, how do you handle Halloween? Sharper Iron sent a call out for articles on that subject, I responded, and they used my article.

As I see it, there are different ways of dealing with what has become second only to Christmas as the favorite family holiday. Some Christians think it's perfectly harmless, and joyfully enter into the fun...others decry the dark pagan roots of the holiday. Some provide alternatives like Harvest or Hallelujah parties. How do you feel?

Chessboxing...the thinking man's sport?

Yes, there is such a thing. The strange hybrid sport even has its own website.

I first heard of it today from my co-host on 101QFL, Darren Marlar.

According to this site, "The basic idea in chessboxing is to combine the no.1 thinking sport and the no.1 fighting sport into a hybrid that demands the most of its competitors – both mentally and physically.

"In a chessboxing fight two opponents play alternating rounds of chess and boxing. The contest starts with a round of chess, followed by a boxing round, followed by another round of chess and so on."

All of which led Darren to speculate on what's next in the world of hybrid sports. Candy-Land Jiu Jitsu? Chutes 'n Ladders Kickboxing? The possibilities are endless...

Thursday, October 13, 2005

My latest news from Baghdad

I've often blogged about my brother David, a Gulf War Marine veteran and Texas cop who is currently training Iraqi cops in Baghdad.

Needless to say, David's stint in Iraq has kept his sisters and mom on good praying ground. I would be lying if I said I didn't often feel great anxiety about his situation.

Yesterday, he sent out a bulk e-mail saying that he and four other people would be traveling on what he called the most dangerous stretch of highway in Iraq. "Almost everyone except fully supported military convoys are holed up for the voting process," he wrote. "On the other hand this is the last day we have to do some essential business, that has to be taken care of there...All I ask is that you say a serious prayer for us, before you go to sleep."

One of the first things I did this morning was fire off an e-mail to David, asking him to check in and let us know he was OK and how the trip went. Thankfully, I got this reply:

"Dear Cindy.

Thank you for your prayers. Although I have been on that route many times before, there were warnings not to travel due to the upcoming vote on the constitution. The trip was safe and uneventful, other than the fact that the entire route was covered by more U.S. tanks and Bradley armored convoys than I had ever seen on that stretch of road. Today route Irish as it is called was one of the most protected routes in Iraq. Thanks again for your prayers. I believe prayers change things.

Love David."

Shortly afterwards, after e-mailing him that I was so glad he was safe, I got this reply:

"I have never seen such a stong military presence on that stretch of highway, a snake couldnt have moved. I believe in the power of prayer, and I have come to trust my instincts on when to request more prayer coverage. The powerful awesome presence of our U.S. military, with helicopters, tanks, and Bradley fighting vehicles, is like a visible Army of angels. And around them and us is an invisible Army that I am sure is a larger more impressive and powerful host.
Love you. David"

Although David is understandably private about the specifics of his work in Iraq, he knows that I've shared his situation and requested prayer for him on 101QFL. So today, I mentioned his e-mail on the air.

Not long afterward, a listener called up to thank me for updating David's situation. She said that she and a few other ladies get together every Monday night to pray for people whose names are written on craft sticks, and David's prayer stick just happened to come up Monday night!

I'm blown away that people who don't know David in the least--they don't even know his last name--are praying for him on a regular basis. I'm humbled and grateful, and they'll never know how much it means to me.

If you'd like to read other posts about David, here are a couple:

What I have in common with Cindy Sheehan


My news from Baghdad
Quote o' the Day

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Nomar to the rescue!

Nomar Garciaparra

Chicago Cub (formerly of the Boston Red Sox) Nomar Garciaparra and his uncle rescued two women who fell into Boston Harbor late last week. Here is the Boston Herald's report on the story.

I think the cutest part of the story is when one of the women revived : "She looked up, saw her rescuers, and the first words out of her mouth were: ``Are you Nomar?'"

Can you imagine almost drowning and regaining consciousness, only for your first sight to be the face of a major league baseball star hovering over you? That's a story that woman will be able to tell her grandkids!

...and, I'm not the only one celebrating my 2nd blog(g)iversary!

Joe of the Evangelical Outpost is also marking the second anniverary of his entry in the blogging world, and boy, has he made a lot more progress than I! He's also spelling it "blogiversary," (I put in a second "g,") and I honestly don't know which is the correct spelling. Does anyone? Because, is it a real word anyway???

Anyway, in honor of his blog(g)iversary, Joe is repeating some of his favorite posts, and this one is an absolute MUST-READ.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

I've been tagged!

As a bloggiversary present, Tina tagged me with this intriguing meme:

1. Search your blog archive.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Find the fifth sentence (this is meant to say something about you).
4. Post that sentence in your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five people to do the same.


My 23rd post was an interview I did with author Jeri Massi. The fifth sentence is Jeri talking: "JERI: I think the most important thing that any of us can know is the grace of God." Amen, Jeri! By the way, that does say something about me, because I couldn't live without God's amazing, ineffable grace in my life.

OK, now here I go a-tagging:






A very neat comment from Donna-Jean...

Wishing me "Happy Bloggiversary" yesterday, Donna-Jean commented: "Happy Bloggiversary!
Here's a 'blog gift' for you.
As a result of reading on your blog about Lakeshore Baptist Church in Mississippi and your friend, Pastor Don Elbourne, there will be a team of men from our church here in NJ (led by my husband) who will be going down to help as a work crew there. They will leave Thursday, October 20th. It's all because of your blog that I went to - that's how God led us. Thank you. Know your blog has that kind of impact!"

That is AWESOME! By the way, here's more on the Mississippi trip on the blog of Donna-Jean's church.

Pastor Don Elbourne among the wreckage of the church facility

Monday, October 10, 2005

Happy Bloggiversary to Me!

I almost missed the fact that today is the second anniversary of the beginning of this blog!

On Friday, October 10th, 2003, I kicked it off with this little entry: "Well...hello.

"I guess this is my introduction to the world of blogging....a modern technological wonder that appears to be tailor-made for people like me, who can't seem to stop putting their thoughts on paper (or cyber-paper, as the case may be!)

I think this is going to be fun!"

Later that day I came back with a lengthier post filled with personal happenings.

A year later, I celebrated my first "bloggiversary": "As I look back on the year that has passed, I'm struck with an unexpected but obvious benefit of keeping an online diary. I now have a written record of the past year of my life. I blogged about most of it, good and bad.

"From the Cubs barely missing the World Series, to my son's wedding, to my father's worsening illness and death, with a ton of discoveries of new book and music delights, annoyances and opinions thrown in for good measure, it's all there.

"Yep, I enjoy blogging. So I guess I'll stick around a while."

My blog has evolved somewhat since I first started it. Early on, I discovered I could add pictures, and I still think that's one of the things that grabs people. I want the look of the blog to be bright and appealing.

I still blog about personal events and activities, but I would say the focus is more on the culture from a Christian perspective, with a strong emphasis on Christian fiction.

In the beginning, I don't think I was writing so much for an really was just my "random thoughts." Now, I take into consideration the fact that some people really ARE reading most of the time I try to make it worth your while.
I'm more conscious of the "salt and light" aspect of having a blog that people actually take time to read.

Yeah, as I said last year...I guess I'll stick around a while.

Reliving a happy summer day

Autumn has truly arrived in Northern Illinois. Saturday was a picture-perfect fall day; I put pumpkins on my porch and sipped mulled apple cider. It was a nice weekend.

However, I'm experiencing a bout of homesickness, so thought I'd post a happy picture from a happy summer day.

That's (from left to right) my son Jonathan, acting crazy; my nephew Nathan; my niece Katie, and my daughter Elizabeth.

Liz and I had just arrived at the airport in San Antonio. My relatives live in the Austin area, but I had gotten great tickets to SA, so they came and picked me up. We went straight to the River Walk and had lunch at Tony Roma's. After lunch, I snapped some pics. The first day of a vacation with loved ones--is there anything happier?

Friday, October 07, 2005

It's Friday...hallelujah!!!

Well, 101QFL just wrapped up our annual three-day fundraiser, Sharathon. And I'm all Sharathon-ed out! I was on the air more during this Sharathon than I've ever been, in all my years of working here. I'm exhausted and feeling sick at my stomach, so a restful weekend will be much appreciated! (By the way, my heartfelt thanks to everyone who gave, volunteered, prayed, or an any way helped with Sharathon.)

So, in the absence of anything substantial to blog about, I give you the Friday Feast. Feel free to answer it in my comments section or on your own blog!

Name 3 qualities that are important to you in friendship.--Loyalty, a sense of humor and flexibility.


If you could dream about anything tonight, what would the subject matter be?--Doesn't really matter, as long as it's not disturbing.

Do you usually make an effort to personally thank people who do favors for you?--Absolutely. I usually take the time to write a thank-you note as well.

Main Course
If you had to go out of town for an extended period of time, who would you trust to take care of your home and belongings?--Any of my husband's relatives here in town.

How do you react to practical jokes when they're played on you?--Actually, not very well. I'm not a great sport about it. I don't like to be the recipient of a practical joke, but honestly, I don't like to play practical jokes either. I don't know why...I've always been that way!

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Quote o' The Day

"If 40's the new 30, and 30's the new 20, then am I 11???"--my colleague Rick Hall, 21

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

What book of the Bible are you?

You are Psalms
You are Psalms.

Which book of the Bible are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Fitting, because Psalms is my favorite book of the Bible. And to me, this is one of the places where the King James Version at its most beautiful and powerful. Reading the Psalms in a modern version would be a little like reading Shakespeare in ebonics, in my opinion. Another example: Isaiah. The poetry, the power...stunning!

I'm in the middle of Sharathon here at 101QFL, so time is at a premium. Just a few random notes to share with you today:

---My review of Dear Enemy by Jack Cavanaugh is up at Infuze Magazine. I think you have to go through a short signing-up process to subscribe to this online magazine, but there's some good stuff there. This is my third review for Infuze. I found out about it through the wonderful Julie Ann Fidler.

---Am I looking a little green? OK, I'm struggling with envy! Joy of Karagraphy just returned from Wheaton's 50th Annual Writing and Literature Conference, Faith and Fiction: C.S. Lewis and his Chronicles of Narnia.

Says Joy: "Unbeknownst to ignorant me, Wheaton has become the stateside mecca of all things Lewis. Their Wade Center collection includes about 2300 volumes from CSL's personal library, not to mention (oh, but I will
anyway) his teapot, his pipe, and the inspirational Wardrobe from his childhood home, Little Lea. Within feet of one another stand Lewis' and Tolkien's writing desks. Touching CSL's desk for me was what it would be like for a violinist to pick a string of Paganini's violin, or for an artist to hold Monet's paintbrush."

I would've felt the same way. I have loved the Chronicles of Narnia since I was a little girl, have re-read them many times and introduced them to each of my children. I'm looking forward to hearing more about this conference from Joy.

---So I didn't blog about Harriet Miers...many other bloggers have done so quite ably. LaShawn Barber did a tour of the blogosphere to glean info and reaction from trusted sources, and even the comments to her post are enlightening. Avail yourself of it if you don't quite know what to think about Miers.

Monday, October 03, 2005

While everyone else is blogging about Harriet Miers...

I thought I'd introduce you to a few bloggers I've recently discovered.

And I shall yet praise Him

And I shall yet praise Him is the blog of Carol Feistel, who along with her husband Malcom is a missionary to Taiwan. I actually worked at a Christian radio station with Malcom many years ago. The Feistels are currently back in the States, where Malcom is being treated for colon cancer.

This blog is so beautifully and scripturally written, it could be a devotional. Carol is transparent in her struggles, but transcendant in her faith. She is an inspiration.

She Lives

The picture of Carol (a different Carol from the above-mentioned) among the bluebonnets grabbed me immediately; I'm a sucker for just about anything Texan! But Carol continues to draw me in with her lovely writing and spirit. Lately, she's been reporting on how her New Orleans family members have been weathering the aftermath of Katrina.

Mei Flower

I'm not even sure how I found this young woman's blog--oh yeah, I just remembered--she made some comments about Jessica Simpson's "Boots" video that I totally agreed with. Now, I visit frequently, thank's to "Mei's" quirky sense of humor and appealingly laid-back style.

I Drank What?

This is one of the most entertaining blogs I've ever encountered. You can tell just by reading it that Pecadillo is funny and fun to be around. Plus, he's a Cubs fan...and having two young twenty-something sons who have great senses of humor and are Cubs fans, I guess I have a soft spot for those types.

There are so many terrific blogs out there; there's no way you could read even a fraction of them every day. But some of them just stand out, for whatever reason, and these are a few that do.
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