Thursday, July 27, 2006

On vacation!

Blogging will be spotty for the next several days, as I am on vacation with family in the Great State of Texas! I may pop in occasionally, but if not, I'll be back on Wednesday, August 9th (Lord willing and if the creek don't rise, as they say.)

Vote for Cindy?

One more note...if you could take a moment and vote for me in the Blogs of Summer blog awards, I would be very grateful.

I'm nominated in Cluster #2 at Random Yak. The poll boxes are at the bottom of his sidebar. Thanks so much for your support!

UPDATE 8/4/06--Despite the searing heat here in central Texas, I'm having an amazing time. I flew to Austin last Tuesday, July 24th. My son and his wife, my mom, my sister and her family, and my brother's family (the one who is in Iraq) all live in this area. My husband and my two other kids drove down this past Monday, and my older sister arrived from Casper, Wyoming, on Tuesday.

Last night, several other family members arrived for the beginning of an official Garrett Family Reunion--the first ever. We're already having a blast!

I also want to thank everyone who voted for me in the Blogs of Summer Awards. I won in my category/cluster! I love it!

Monday, July 24, 2006

My evacuation from Lebanon

The current Lebanese evacuation brings back memories of June 1967

The ongoing evacuation of Americans out of Lebanon brings back a lot of memories for me, because in June 1967, it was happening to me.

I was 10 years old, and I remember it very well. My family had been in Lebanon for a little over two years, my parents being missionaries with the Baptist Bible Fellowship International missions board.

I have wonderful memories of my time in Lebanon. As children do, my younger sister and I adjusted quickly to life in a foreign country. (My older sister, a teen-ager, ended up returning to the United States early so she could finish high school in the States. At the time, it seemed like she had been gone forever, but in reality she left Lebanon less than a year before the rest of the family did.)

As I wrote in my bio, my time in Lebanon had far-reaching effects on my life. (I reminisce at more length in my bio.)

When we were evacuated out of Lebanon in June of 1967, I was in the closing days of fifth grade at American Community School in Beirut.

Leaving American Community School

My experience at ACS had been quite positive, but it had had some low spots. First of all, having spent the previous year and a half at a British school (Manor House School), I didn't know how to play American games like kickball and baseball. My attempts to do so were abysmal, and I got made fun of. (To this day, the thought of having to play a team sport of any kind makes me cringe, and I generally avoid it as much as possible.)

ACS was also my first introduction to the concept of the classroom bully. In this case, the bully was a girl. Her name was Lisa Harrison, and she was formidable. She pretty much ruled the schoolyard via threats and intimidation. She wasn't a big girl, but she had a flair for tyranny that belied her tender years.

I can vaguely remember her threatening to beat me up at some point, and I remember quaking in fear of her. I can also remember her picking on me for one thing and another--really stupid stuff which today I would just laugh at, but as a skinny little fifth-grader (yes, that was the last time in my life I was skinny), it was all pretty traumatic.

As I look back on it, she just may have been jealous of me. My teacher, Mr. Frank Ford, was wonderful, and I guess I was a kind of teacher's pet. It wasn't unusual for Mr. Ford to praise me in front of the entire class. I was the kind of student who tried very hard to please.

Despite the problems with P.E. and bullies, I still had wonderful experiences at ACS. I thoroughly enjoyed singing in the choir and participating in the Christmas Pageant. (No Winter Pageant or Winter Solstice Pageant for us! Christmas hadn't become a dirty word yet.)

One of my favorite childhood memories is when the choir got to sing on television at Christmas time. After the taping, I came home to a supper of chicken pot pie. I was filled with the joy and general good cheer of the Christmas season.

I can remember the first time I read something out loud in class, and being encouraged and praised for the feeling I put into the words. I'll never forget the passage:

Full fathom five thy father lies;
Of his bones are coral made;
Those are pearls that were his eyes;
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Into something rich and strange.
Sea-nymphs hourly ring his knell:
Hark! now I hear them, - Ding-dong, bell.

It was from Shakespeare's "The Tempest." For perhaps the first time, I experienced the unique pleasure of reading words aloud, of using my voice to interpret the written word. I realize that pleasure every day now as a radio announcer and voice-over artist.

And just before we were evacuated out, my class had been rehearsing for a play we going to perform for the school, in which I had a substantive role. It was a play about the Inca Indians and the Spanish conquistador, Francisco Pizzaro (why we were doing a play about that, I have no idea.) I loved it.

Of course, we never got to perform the play.

Saying goodbye

As hostilities heated up between the Arabs and the Israelis, things were changing. I can remember black-outs. I can remember the constant playing of martial anthems on loudspeakers. I can remember shopkeepers and business people who had previously been kind to us, suddenly becoming cold and aloof.

I can clearly remember my last day at ACS. Mr. Ford wasn't even trying to teach that day. One by one, parents arrived to claim their kids and prepare to leave the country. Obviously, this would be the last day of the fifth grade for all of us.

I remember my dad showing up at the door of my classroom, and being nervous and excited as I gathered my things and got out of my desk. What I wasn't expecting was my classmates gathering around me to say good-bye.

Most shocking of all? The "bully," Lisa Harrison, came up to me and hugged me with surprising emotion. Wow. Maybe she didn't really hate me after all.

That was really one of the biggest surprises I had experienced in my short life--that a person wasn't necessarily exactly what I thought they were, or at least that there were facets or layers to a person that weren't immediately visible. It's a lesson I've often had occasion to remember.

Leaving Lebanon

I remember my dad stopping at the U-S embassy in Beirut and getting instructions on what to do. We were given a sticker of a U-S flag to put on the front door of our apartment, proclaiming something to the effect of "This is the home of a U-S citizen...if you mess with it, you'll have to answer to the U-S government" (obviously, that isn't the actual wording, but it was the sense I got from it.)

We had to pack our belongings in big barrels, which meant we had to leave a lot of stuff behind. I remember one of my main concerns was the huge quantity of stories I had written on tiny little notebooks in tiny handwriting. I never did recover those. I think it would be cool to see those childhood scribblings now.

Another concern was all the baby clothes we had to leave behind. My mom was nine months pregnant with my younger brother (another big cause for concern for my family--she could go into labor at any time, and here were were being evacuated out of a country.) A friend had given my mom the hand-me-down baby clothes and blankets, but they were in really good shape. My mom had laundered them and they were at the ready for my new baby sibling, and I used to go sniff them and touch them in anticipation. For some reason it really pained me to have to leave those baby clothes behind.

Finally, my parents had made all the preparations, and we went to the American University of Beirut campus to await our evacuation.

We learned that Americans would be put on planes and flown to various points in that part of the world. (Obviously, the Beirut airport was still functioning, unlike in this current crisis.) Some fellow missionary friends of ours were going to Athens; someone else was going to Cyprus. We found out we would be going to Ankara, Turkey.

Long story short...

We flew out of Lebanon that night, and never returned. My dad tried later, but it never panned out.

I've often wanted to go back. Lebanon was a beautiful country and it holds many pleasant memories for me. Politics aside, on a personal level it saddens me to see it being devastated once again. The time I spent there has influenced me and enriched me for a lifetime.

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Cindy's FYI--Monday, July 24, 2006

Note: "Cindy's FYI" is a new feature that I'm experimenting with. I'll try to consistently provide this small news report in the early morning...usually it will be followed by my regular blog post later. I'd love your feedback!--CSS

--A well-known scientist who says he's a Christian is arguing for theistic evolution. Francis Collins is the former director of the Human Genome Project and the author of the book, "The Language of God." He tells AP he's convinced that God used
evolution over (m) millions of years to create life.

--A board member of a Christian ministry called Hopegivers International was among those injured in the July 11th train bombings in Mumbai, India. Hopegivers' Michael Glenn reports: "One of our board members, P.C. Varghese, was on one of the trains and was seriously injured. In fact, he was the only one to survive the blast inside his car." Hopegivers' Mumbai outreach ministry targets the thousands of street children who live in or frequent the train stations along the tracks where the bombs went off.

--Among those evacuated from Lebanon were 19 "tired and relieved" Southern Baptist volunteers. Reportedly the volunteers had been helping with various Lebanese summer ministries. Read more in this Baptist Press report.

--The family of the latest American to win the Tour de France went to church Sunday rather than watch him cross the finish line. AP reports that Floyd Landis is a lapsed Mennonite. However, Paul and Arlene Landis are proud of their son. They welcomes visitors to a celebration at their Farmersville, Pennsylvania home, with a sign in their yard that said, "To God Be the Glory."

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Friday Stuff (Yeah, it's FRIDAY!)'s been kind of a tough week. I am SO ready for a weekend, and hopefully will be able to catch up on some much-needed rest.

I do have a shameless plea for help here. If you like my blog, would you go here and nominate me in the "Random Blogs that Don't Fit a Category" category? That would be SO awesome. I've never won a blog award, and I think it would be really cool. If you're a blogger, nominate yourself in a category's actually encouraged!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Friday Feast

Following is the Friday Feast. Feel free to answer these on your own blog or in my comments section!


Fill in the blanks: I __love it__________ when I _get to sleep in!!____________.

Name something you use to make your home smell good.--My favorite thing is Claire Burke Potpourri, original fragance...I LOVE that stuff! Other than that, I love candles. I like Yankee candles, but I find the Glade ones you buy at the grocery store are really good too...I especially like the "Lavender" and "Clean Linen" scents. In fall and winter, I switch to apple, cinnamon and cookie fragrances.


If you could receive a coupon in the mail for 50% off any product, what would you want it to be for?--Definitely hair products. I like the good stuff (Matrix, Paul Mitchell, Graham Webb, etc) and it's never cheap!

Main Course
Besides sleeping, what do you spend the majority of the hours of your typical day doing?--Working, cooking, reading, talking on the phone, spending time with my family.

What can you hear right now while answering these questions?--101QFL playing Ayiesha Woods' "Happy."

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Thirteen More Great Quotes

Here are are 13 quotes I gleaned from various sources on a variety of topics, ranging from getting through life's trials, to prayer, to atheism, and of course, what group of quotes wouldn't be complete witout hearing from Yogi Berra and Jack Handey? Enjoy.


I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again. --William Penn

Through the leaves of every trial there are chinks of light to shine through. Thorns do not prick you unless you lean against them, and not one touches without His knowledge. The words that hurt you, the letter which gave you pain, the cruel wound of your dearest friend, shortness of money–are all known to Him, who sympathizes as none else can and watches to see, if, through all, you will dare to trust Him wholly.–Mrs. Charles Cowman, Streams in the Desert they make walls there?–Paris Hilton

Hardly any stance could be more completely beautiful, strong, or safe than that of putting your finger on a promise of God’s divine Word and then claiming it.–-F. B. Meyer

Our anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but only empties today of its strength.-- Charles H Spurgeon

Nobody goes there anymore. It's too crowded.--Yogi Berra

(Longie but a goodie:)
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being "in love" which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident. Your mother and I had it, we had roots that grew towards each other underground, and when all the pretty blossom had fallen from our branches we found that we were one tree and not two.-- from Captain Corelli's Mandolin

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.-–St. Augustine

You may never know that Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.--Corrie Ten Boom

A young man who wishes to remain a sound Atheist cannot be too careful of his reading.–C. S. Lewis

If there were no God, there would be no atheists. --G.K. Chesterton

Without God man has no reference point to define himself. 20th century philosophy manifests the chaos of man seeking to understand himself as a creature with dignity while having no reference point for that dignity. --R. C. Sproul

To me, boxing is like a ballet, except there is no music, no choreography, and the dancers hit each other–-Jack Handey


And now, Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop:

Did the ACLU object to this picture?

Listen here to find out:

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Cindy's FYI--Thursday, July 20, 2006

Note: "Cindy's FYI" is a new feature that I'm experimenting with. I'll try to consistently provide this small news report in the early morning...usually it will be followed by my regular blog post later. I'd love your feedback!--CSS

--"President Bush has once again proved himself to be a man of his word and a champion for the preborn," says Focus on the Family's Dr. James Dobson. Dobson is applauding the president's veto of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act. Not everyone is happy about the action, though. Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich issued a statement saying the President has "turned his back on countless Americans battling devastating diseases and crippling injuries, as well as the dedicated doctors and researchers who are working to find cures."

--Sales of the ESV (English Standard Version) of the Bible have quadrupled in two years. “My sense is that there is a rapidly growing desire for a ‘word-for-word’ Bible version like the ESV—one that retains the beauty and majesty of the Bible, that captures the depth of meaning in the original languages, and that is highly accessible for contemporary readers,” noted Dr. Lane T. Dennis, President of Crossway Bibles. A Crossway press release says, " First published in fall of 2001, the ESV Bible seeks to combine faithfulness to the original languages, beauty of expression, and depth of meaning, for this generation and for generations to come."

--AP reports that actor Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense) is hospitalized after a car crash this morning near Los Angeles. No word on his condition.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

So just HOW obsessive-compulsive are you?

I took the "Monk" quiz

OK, I'll admit to a few strange quirks...but don't we all suffer from at least a little obsessive-compulsiveness?

Well, my 101qfl co-host, Darren Marlar, has been telling me for some time that his favorite show is the USA Network's Monk. Apparently it's about a detective who has obsessive-compulsive disorder. Darren absolutely loves this show, but I must admit I've never seen it--although on the strength of his recommendation, I'm going to give it a watch as soon as possible.

When I found this Monk quiz on Dianne's blog, Unfinished Work, I had to share it with Darren. We ended up taking the quiz ourselves, on the air! I found out that I'm "a little Monkish," while Darren is "more Monkish than most."

So...any Monk fans out there? Or anyone willing to share their obsessive-compulsive quirks?

Books! I read books!

Just finished Rolling Thunder, by Mark Mynheir, and I really enjoyed it.

The subject matter is pretty intense: a Florida Department of Law Enforcement detective must find a boy who has disappeared from the Department of Family Services system, all the while battling personal demons that play havoc with his emotions and threaten his marriage. Heavy stuff--but Mynheir has managed to deliver a fast-paced, suspenseful tale that resonates with hope and forgiveness.

The book has the ring of authenticity, since Mynheir himself is a police officer who has been a U-S marine, a narcotics agent and a SWAT team member. Check out his website, Cop Writer.

This is Mynheir's first novel, and the first in a series called "Truth Chasers." I happen to have the second book, and plan to read it soon...but probably not before I sink my teeth into Angela Hunt's The Novelist and Uncharted, which just arrived in the mail for me. I'm a huge fan of Angela's, and any book written by her is an event for me. Expect to hear about these books in this blog!

Christian Carnival!

The Christian Carnival is up at the Evangelical Ecologist.

The carnival is a great way to showcase your best posts while hopefully attracting some new readers to your blog. It's easy to participate. Find out more here.

Cindy's FYI--Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Note: "Cindy's FYI" is a new feature that I'm experimenting with. I'll try to consistently provide this small news report in the early morning...usually it will be followed by my regular blog post later. I'd love your feedback!--CSS

--No "Ave Maria"? The Rutherford Institute is representing a former high school student in Everett, Washington, because her wind ensemble wasn't allowed to play an instrumental version of "Ave Maria" at the high school's graduation last month. School officials claimed the song was "too religious" even without lyrics. (Check out my interview with the Rutherford Institute's John Whitehead about political correctness run amok.)

--Focus on the Family Action Senior Analyst for Bioethics Carrie Gordon Earll is condemning the U-S Senate vote yeterday to rescind the Bush administration's policy on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research. Says Earll, "President Bush has shown uncommon character and courage in his defense of the preborn in the debate over embyronic stem cell research. His expeced action to veto tihs bill will hopefully prevent the needless destruction of untold frozen embryos." Earll says senators like Bill Frist, Trent Lott and Mark Pryor should "know better" and calls their votes "beyond cowardice."

--Ads on your barf bags?--Yep, U. S. Airways has decided to start putting advertising on it airsickness bags. Airline spokesman Phil Gee tells AP the company is looking for new ways to counter rising jet fuel and labor costs.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy Birthday, John Glenn!

...and, I test my nerdiness factor

Today is the 85th birthday of American astronaut and politician John Glenn. Go here to read about the debt I owe John Glenn.

A couple of very cool blogging ladies are also celebrating birthdays today. Stop by Gayla's and Carol's and wish them happy birthday!

I am not a nerd...

...and this proves it:

I am nerdier than 4% of all people. Are you nerdier? Click here to find out!

According to the quiz results: "What does this mean? Your nerdiness is:

Definitely not nerdy, you are probably cool."

Actually, after taking the quiz, it seems more like I'm definitely not smart.

Hat tip for that one, by the way, goes to Good Brownie.

And by the way, I DON'T despise nerds.

Blogs of Summer

Another blog award competition, this one "all in good fun," according to host Bloggin' Outloud.

It's The Blogs of Summer, and nominations begin this Thursday, July 20th, and end Sunday, July 23rd.

Nominations will be taken in the following categories:

The Best of the . . .
1) Chick & Mommy Blogs
2) Humor & Satire Blogs
3) Milblogs and Military Support Blogs
4) Random Blogs That Don't Fit a Category
5) Kitty Kat Blogs (And Other Assorted Pets)

So, get over there and nominate! :)

By the way..don't forget to check out my new feature, Cindy's FYI. I plan to post some pertinent and/or interesting news tidbits as part of my early-morning news prep. Scroll down to see today's entry.

And please...COMMENT. I thrive on comments!

Cindy's FYI--Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Note: "Cindy's FYI" is a new feature that I'm experimenting with. I'll try to consistently provide this small news report in the early morning...usually it will be followed by my regular blog post later. I'd love your feedback!--CSS

--Girl Fight?--According to Plugged In Online's Culture Clips, the internet is a factor in disputes among young girls these days. "Dr. Cheryl Dellasega, who founded an after-school program called Club and Camp Ophelia that specifically targets the problem of violence between girls. 'Girls can be meaner online than they would [be] in person. And when they see each other at school the next day, an explosion can occur.' With the advent of picture phones, inexpensive digital cameras and easy-to-use video sharing Web sites, the Internet can also display this hostility to the world."

--The former president of World Vision has passed away at the age of 90. Ted Engstrom was also a past president of Youth for Christ and a close friend of Billy Graham. World Vision U-S president Richard Stearns: "The evangelical community has lost one of its most influential
leaders of the past 50 years."

--M. Night Shyamalan tells AP his new movie, Lady in the Water, is the reverse of Rosemary's Baby. Instead of evil, he says his plot involves people getting together to do good. Lady in the Water is about an apartment complex manager played by Paul Giamatti who tries to help a mysterious water nymph.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

The children of Iraq

Photo of an Iraqi boy taken by my brother

As I've mentioned here previously, my brother is in Iraq supporting and training Iraqi police officers, and working closely with our military as an independent government contractor. He wrote this is an e-mail:

"I did a joint patrol with an Iraqi Emergency Response Police unit the other day. Our patrol dipped into a neighborhood full of children. I had spent the day watching for roadside bombs, car bombs, or small arms fire.

"Suddenly I became distracted by the beauty of the children of Iraq. They waved as we passed. Some of them ran down the street behind us waving and jumping in the air. I saw a father walking carrying his little girl in his arms. Children playing around their parents in roadside shops.

"I have been blown up by IEDs and carbombs, had hundreds of bullets pouring over my head. Seen my friends covered in blood and dead. There is a lot of ugliness in this country. There is a lot of beauty in this country and it can be seen in the faces of the children, and of the brave Iraqi police officers as they risk their lives to try to build a better Iraq.

"A beautiful peaceful and democratic Iraq is not going to come about any faster than our American democracy. We ourselves experienced civil war, domestic terrorism, and institutionalized discrimination on our path. I may very well die here but if I do I can only hope that I in some small part have given these beautiful children a chance at some of the opportunities we take for granted back home. God bless our country and God bless these children."


Cindy's FYI --Monday 7/17/06

A quick look at some things that are going on...

--A planning meeting for Pastor Rick Warren's preaching trip to North Korea has been delayed. Originally scheduled for today, the meeting has been postponed, perhaps to be re-scheduled later this week. However,the invitation still stands for Dr. Warren to speak at the first outdoor Christian event since 1945 to be held in a 15-thousand seat auditorium in conjunction with the 100th anniversary celebration of the Pyongyang Revival in March 2007.

When asked about the current standoff over recent missile firings by North Korea, Dr. Warren replied, "I am not a politician, I am a pastor. But I do know that in any conflict--whether in a marriage, in business or between nations--as long as the parties keep talking, there is hope. My plea to everyone involved in this diplomatic process, is to please, keep talking.

--Focus on the Family Chairman Dr. James Dobson is applauding an appeals court affirmation of marriage. After the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a lower-court decision and reinstated Nebraska's state marriage-protection amendment, Dr. Dobson said: "Today's decision is one of many that have come in recent days affirming traditional marriage and the rights of the people and their elected officials to define what it should mean."

--You didn't imagine the religious imagery in "Superman Returns." AP tells us that screenwriters Dan Harris and Michael Dougherty acknowledge that the new film has elements of Jewish, Christian and Greek mythology. They say the original creators of Superman were Jewish writers Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, who used elements of the biblical story of Moses.

--Yahoo is launching a new finance feature today. Reportedly it will include more interactive stock charts and other such features.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

It's FRIDAY!!! Woo-hoo!!!!

Why the picture of Gerard Butler? Do I need a reason?

Just a few parting thoughts as we head into the weekend:

--Today is Divine Vinyl day over at Purgatorio. These old album covers never fail to crack me up!

--It's going to get HOT this weekend in the good old Forest City. If it's hot where you are, remember to:

1) Dress for the heat. Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing.
2) Drink water. Carry water or juice with you and drink continuously even if you don't feel thirsty. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which dehydrate the body.
3) Eat small meals and more often.
4) Avoid strenuos activity. (Amen!)
5) Stay indoors when possible.
6) Be a good neighbor. Check on elderly friends and relatives, especially if they don't have central air.

--The unrest in Lebanon concerns me, as I have many pleasant memories of the few years I spent there in my childhood. I still occasionally see Edgar Feghaly, a dear friend from our Lebanese days who still does mission work in the middle East, including Iraq. He is going to keynote our church's missions conference in November, and I so look forward to seeing him again.

--Why no picture of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' baby Suri yet? It's getting kind of weird.

--Mr. T wore bling before we knew it was bling. But as he gets ready for his advice show, I Pity the Fool, he's shedding the gold.

--I'm looking forward to SLEEPING IN tomorrow. What are you looking forward to this weekend? Let me know in my comments section!

And have a blessed weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Thirteen random (but interesting!) things...

1) My "Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop" radio feature was about this picture today. Check it out (it's only a minute-and-a-half long):

2) James Taylor a wuss? I beg to differ! The "sensistive folk-rocker," who happens to be one of my favorite singers, topped Blender Magazine's list of the 25 biggest wusses ever. I totally disagree. Next on the list are Dan Fogelberg, Boyz II Men, Peter Cetera, Kenny G, Rascal Flatts, Babyface and Chris Martin of Coldplay.

3) I tend to like M. Night Shyamalan movies...although I never can remember how to spell the man's name...and I'm intrigued by The Lady in the Water.

4) Did you read about that AP/Ipsos poll about lying? Wow, some mixed signals there! So it's never OK to lie...except when it's OK to lie? Hmmm.

5) The recent terrorist bombings in Mumbai, India, concerned me because I do some voice-over work for a company headquartered there. Fortunately, my colleagues are fine.

6) I'm currently reading Randy Alcorn's Dominion. The book is several years old, but it was apparently sent to me because Alcorn is soon to release a new fiction book called Deception (the first in the series was Deadline, which I really liked.) Dominion is great fiction, but I must confess it's been rather intense for me. It deals heavily and extensively with the subjects of racism, gangs, drugs, and spiritual warfare. Definitely not escapist fiction.

7) Vote for some of your favorite female bloggers at the Blogs of Beauty Awards. Voting continues through July 17th. Some terrific blogs there!

8) I rarely get to actually listen to the terrific programs on Radio 91, but I really enjoy when I get to hear snippets of the late Adrian Rogers' Love Worth Finding, Focus on the Family, and John MacArthur's Grace to You.

9) Whenever I get a chance to listen to Kathy and Judy on WGN, I almost always find it highly entertaining.

10) Also on WGN, news director Wes Bleed hired me here at 101QFL 25 years ago. (I was a mere child. :))

11) Sometimes I will just put on George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue, for the sheer joy of listening to it.

12) Have you been following Katy Raymond's blog, fallible? Katy and her husband Doug are on an intense campaign to tighten their belts, both financially and dietarily. The results have me both fascinated and envious--am I capable of doing that???

13) And last...but definitely not least...I am going to be a grandma!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

My blogging advice

for what it's worth...

La Shawn Barber
happens to be one of my blogging heroes, so when La Shawn speaks, I listen. La Shawn is now dispensing some blogging advice, along with the wonderful Sister Toldjah (is that one of the greatest names for a blog, or what?)

La Shawn has also asked fellow bloggers to share their advice to newbies. So here goes:

I entered the blogosphere on October 10, 2003--about a month before La Shawn did--and her rise has been meteoric, while mine has been less so. I seem to waver between Marauding Marsupial and Large Mammal status in the TTLB ecosystem these days, and I can't seem to put my finger on what causes the wavering. (My radio co-host, Darren Marlar, says I'm the only woman he knows who actually WANTS to be called a Large Mammal.)

However, I'm happy for the readership I do have, and I'm constantly trying to build that readership. Here are my tips, some of which you may have heard before, but they bear repeating:

1) Make your blog interesting, both in appearance and content.--Good writers are a dime a dozen in the blogosphere. You have to stand out in some way. Many of us have the same Blogger templates--if that's true in your case, jazz it up with personal photos and colorful graphics, judiciously used (not too "busy," please.) I actually would like to look into a more attractive template for this blog, and hope to do so sometime in the future.

Blog about what interests you, and it will probably interest other people as well. If your unique personality comes through, so much the better! I know some people like the pundit-type blogs that just spit out facts and links, but I'm much more drawn to blogs with personality. Take La Shawn, for instance. She's right on top of the news, but her unique persona is all over her blog.

2) Blog consistently.--It's OK to take the occasional break, but try to post SOMETHING on a regular basis. If people keep stopping by and there's nothing new, or if their blogfeeds don't show you as having posted recently, they could give up on you.

3) Link to other blogs, mention other blogs, comment on other blogs, trackback to other blogs.--The more you talk about other blogs, the more attention you'll get. I know some bloggers look down on "memes" and participation in things like the Thursday Thirteen, but the truth is, I've gotten a lot of new readers from participating in those things. And I think they're fun!

4) Participate in showcases like the Christian Carnival.--Such "carnivals" showcase your best work, and attract new readers to your blog as well. I've slacked off in carnival participation, but this reminds me to get back into it. Here's more info on the Christian Carnival.

5) Join blogrolls with people of common interests and beliefs.--I'm part of The Church Directory, Christian Women Online and Family Friendly blogs, to name a few...see my sidebar for links.

Most of all, BE YOURSELF and stay true to what you want your blog to be about. I determined from the beginning that my blog would primarily focus on faith, family, fiction and entertainment. That's a wide field, and I reserve the right to blog about anything I want--politics, current events, moral issues, whatever.

However, no matter what I'm blogging about, I want it to be filtered through my faith and my Christian world view.

As I told Jason Janz of SharperIron when I interviewed him, "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."

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Goodbye, June Allyson

October 7, 1917--July 8, 2006

Gather 'round, children, and you shall hear of a day when there was no cable television, no TiVo, no Netflix, not even a Blockbuster. There was only the Movie of the Week, the Late Show, and maybe the Late, Late Show.

We're talking about my childhood, and many's the time my sisters and I would sit up late on a Friday night, or every night during the summer, to watch the old movies from the 1930's, '40's and '50's. We loved the old black-and-white movies with their old-fashioned values and morals combined with the elegance and glamor of Hollywood's golden years.

June Allyson was a featured player in those years. When I found out this morning that she had passed away at the age of 88, I felt a quick pang of sadness. It's funny, though--I couldn't remember one specific movie in which June Allyson starred. She was just this presence in the the movies of my memory--a raspy-voiced, all-American girl-next-door perky, sparkly-eyed, smiling presence.

Looking now at Wikipedia, I see there are some specific movies I remember--"Little Women," "Till the Clouds Roll By," "The Glenn Miller Story," "My Man Godfrey," to name a few.

She died over the weekend at her home south of Santa Barbara, her husband at her side. And with her goes another little piece of my childhood. Goodbye, June Allyson.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

OK, so whatever happened to Chris Christian?

and I answer today's Monday Madness...

My post about Andrae Crouch apparently stirred up a lot of early-CCM memories for some of you. And my mention that when I saw Andrae in concert in Springfield, Missouri in the late 70's, Chris Christian opened for him, got me whatever happened to Chris Christian?

Well, I know what he's been up to in fairly recent years, thanks to Wikipedia. According to their article: "In 1992 Christian acquired The Studios at Las Colinas in Irving, Texas. The Studios have been used by film makers to make such films as JFK, RoboCop, Leap of Faith.... Christian also started the LCS Music Group, Inc., which is now the holding company for music companies such as Bug and Bear Music and Home Sweet Home Records. Home Sweet Home is now based in Dallas, Texas."

[Retrieved from ""]

So...intrepid and curious reporter that I am...I decided to try and call Christian at The Studios at Las Colinas. However, a perky Texas-accented female voice informed me that Christian is no longer with The Studios. She kindly gave me a number where she thought he could be reached, and no one answered that number. I left a message, and may try again later.

Apparently, Chris is involved now with Dallas-based CCEntertainment, which judging from their website, seems to be doing quite well. There are even some pics of Christian that indicate he's still a very nice-looking man. In this pic, Chris is steppin' in some pretty high cotton.

Monday Madness!!!

Here we go...

1. What is your favorite framed object in your house?--Not counting pictures of my beautiful children? That would be the picture that I blogged about recently that hangs over my fireplace.

2. If you had a choice of being a carnivore or a herbivore, which one would you be, and why?--Please don't make me choose! I love a good steak, but equally love the salad that goes with it. :)

3. Who do you think should have won the FIFA World Cup? Or, don't you care?--I didn't care...I'm really not into soccer. But I will say that USA Today has the cutest picture today of the Italian team right after their victory. I couldn't find it online, but check it out if you can.

4. What's your feelings on stormy weather?--I love it IF I feel assured that it's not going to do any serious damage. As long as the fireworks are confined to the skies, I love a good whopping bout of thunder and lightning.

5. Do you believe in "time out" chairs?
--I never used them when my children were small...they hadn't really come into vogue yet. If they work, though, why not?

6. Have you ever bought or sold anything on Ebay?
--Not yet. I keep saying I want to sell my collection of Coca-Cola stuff, but I don't have a digital camera and I understand pics are necessary. My sons have sold stuff, I believe.

I leave you with this clip of Weird Al Yankovic singing "eBay" to the tune of the Backstreet Boys' "That Way."

Friday, July 07, 2006

An honor for Andrae Crouch

You know how David Cassidy once said that the Beatles wrote the soundtrack to his youth? Well, sometimes I feel that Andrae Crouch wrote the soundtrack to my college years.

I can vividly recall my sister Lisa and I tooling around Springfield, Missouri in our little red Monza Town Coupe with "The Best of Andrae" 8-track (yes, 8-track--I'm old), blasting away (she with her Dorothy Hamill haircut, me with my Farrah 'do, in all our glory.)

Working in Christian radio in Springfield, I even wangled free tickets to Andrae's concert at the John Q. Hammons Center, circa 1977 or '78. (The opening act of the concert was Chris Christian. Now, there's a "whatever happened to....?")

Tonight in Grapevine, Texas, Andrae Crouch is being honored with International Worship Institute's Cherub Award. Past winners include prolific Christian songwriters Bill and Gloria Gaither.

So many great songs. "It Won't Be Long," "Bless His Holy Name," "Soon and Very Soon," "I Don't Know Why Jesus Loved Me," "(I'm Gonna) Keep on Singing"...the list goes on and on.

Our family sang together as we traveled around raising support when my dad was a missionary. My dad was a lover of music, and although he didn't have a lot of use for much contemporary Christian music, he fully appreciated--and so we sang--songs like "My Tribute (To God Be the Glory," "Through it All," and "The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power." So those songs, especially "Through it All," will forever make me think of my dad.

The Andrae music I had as a youngster was all on vinyl records or 8-tracks, so as the years passed, I lost track of those wonderful songs. At one point, though, my sister Lisa gave me a cassette tape of "The Best of Andrae"...and my kids were introduced to his music. Recently, Justin obtained a CD of Crouch songs, and we're falling in love with them all over again.

Andrae Crouch is now 64 years old and pastors the California church founded by his parents. This Sunday, he will sing a medley of his songs at the Franklin Graham crusade in Baltimore.

And Andrae is recording again! After an eight-year absence, he's out with Mighty Wind. USA Today gave it 3 and a half stars out of four.

I'm delighted that Andrae's getting some well-deserved recognition for his enormous contribution to Christian music. Songs like "Through It All" and others have found their way into hymnbooks, and will stand the test of time, continuing to stir Christians to praise for years to come.

Go here to listen to soundclips of music from "The Best of Andrae."

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Thursday, July 06, 2006

More great quotes!

The quotes were such a hit last week, I thought I'd do it again. Thirteen more terrific quotes ( by the way, a few of these are from my own cache of "Quotes o' The Day" written by fellow bloggers!)

"We have become so engrossed in the work of the Lord that we have forgotten the Lord of the work. "-- A.W. Tozer

"We are drifting toward a religion which consciously or unconsciously has its eye on humanity rather than on deity."--Alistair Begg

"I really wouldn't want to be a dumb bimbo. (I'd love to be a hot genius, though.)"--Julie Anne Fidler

"While the Supreme Court debates whether or not to allow the Ten Commandments and other religious displays on public property, let us not forget our freedom to display them on private property, discuss them over coffee, and proclaim them from our pulpits."--Don Elbourne

"The church is the only outfit I know that shoots its wounded."-- Chuck Swindoll

"In Montana, a policeman will pull you over because he’s lonely."-- Rich Hall

"In Hollywood a marriage is a success if it outlasts milk."-- Rita Rudner

"There aren't very many 'Oprah picks' that I have liked. Although every one of them I've read have been beautifully written by writers of superb talent, they have also been stories that left me depressed when I finished them. I am a pragmatic person whose life has been touched by trials and tragedy. I don't need anyone to point out to me that life can be hard and unfair. But I am also a Christian who knows that God is just and righteous, and I have a Father who has given me many promises. My worldview is infused with hope because I stand on the Rock. That worldview infuses my books as well."-- Robin Lee Hatcher

"True worship comes from people who are deeply emotional and who love deep and sound doctrine. Strong affections for God rooted in truth are the bone and marrow of biblical worship." -- John Piper

"You once admired my courage to speak boldly for conservative values. The same courage allows me to speak boldly for the biblical view of the Gospel. If I’ve lost favor with you, so be it. But the courage is still the same, and it will cease for no man."--La Shawn Barber

"I love to go to Washington, if only to be nearer my money."--Bob Hope

"Baseball is ninety percent mental. The other half is physical."--Yogi Berra

"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason."--Jack Handey

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

I interviewed author Melanie Wells

and looking back on a Fabulous Fourth

I recently blogged about reading--with avid fascination--When the Day of Evil Comes and Soul Hunter, Christian suspense/spiritual warfare novels by Melanie Wells.Well, I had the pleasure of interviewing Melanie last week, and you can listen to this approximately 2 and a half minute excerpt from our interview. In it, Melanie and I talk about her very likable protagonist, Dylan Foster:

The 4th was amazing!!

What an enjoyable Independence Day!

It started out with our radio station's Patriotic Prayer Breakfast yesterday morning, held at the lovely Sinnissippi Music Shell. There was plenty of great patriotic music and the weather was perfect...but the absolute highlight of the event was the keynote speaker, Cheryl McGuinness.

Cheryl McGuinness
Christina N. Elbers Photo for Rockford Register Star

Cheryl is the widow of Tom McGuinness, the pilot who was forced to fly into the north tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11.

Her message was moving, passionate and inspiring. Her ministry is called Beauty Beyond the Ashes, because Cheryl feels God has brought beauty out of the ashes of her personal 9/11 tragedy. Cheryl was without a doubt one of the best speakers we've ever had for a Patriotic Prayer Breakfast.

After a delicious cook-out with family and friends, I headed to downtown Rockford to ride in the parade with 101QFL and Radio 91 staff members. Then I met up with my family and friends at our favorite fireworks-watching location. The fireworks were absolutely stupendous. Rockford has the best fireworks show in Illinois, and my friend Teri, who has lived in Dallas, California and Tennessee, says they were the best she has ever seen in her life.

Of course, all the festivities made for a late night, so I'm paying for it by being zonked out today. But you know what? It was worth it! I hope all of you had a terrific Independence Day.

The Rockford Register Star's article about the Patriotic Prayer Breakfast

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Monday, July 03, 2006

Monday, Monday...

and I do the "Monday Madness" meme...

1. Have you ever traveled outside of your own country?--Yes. When I was a little girl, my parents were missionaries to Beirut, Lebanon. During our 2 and a half years in Lebanon, I also visited Jordan, Syria, and (very briefly) Turkey...and there was an airport layover in Rome, if you can count that! Later, while I was in college, my parents were missionaries to Mexico, so I was there pretty often. And I've made the obligatory crossing into Canada...even saw Niagara Falls from the Canadian side.

2. If you could be any animal, which animal would you be, and why?--Oh, wow. I SO would not want to be an animal. But if I had to, I think I would be either the very pampered puppy of a rich and famous celebrity, or a bird--so I could fly, of course.

3. Do you read manga?--No, and dummy me didn't even know what it was until I saw this question and followed the link. I thought it might be an Italian cooking magazine with the "i" missing. :)

4. Are you doing anything special to celebrate Independence Day? (For those of you who don't live in the U.S., did you do anything special this past weekend?)--Well, my plans right now are to go to the Patriotic Prayer Breakfast tomorrow morning; to cook out with friends and family; to ride in the 4th of July parade along with other Radio 91 and 101QFL staffers, and then to watch the fabulous, unbeatable, magnificent Rockford fireworks!

5. How many memes do you participate in regularly?--I will fairly regularly do Monday Madness, the Thursday Thirteen and occasionally the Friday Feast. Last week, for the first time, I participated in Works for Me Wendesday. Hey, when creativity is sluggish, memes sometimes act as a sparkplug!

6. How much is a gallon of gasoline where you live? Have you cut down on your driving since the prices have gone up?--Gasoline is around 2.97 to 2.99 a gallon, pretty much. Occasionally you can find it in the 2.80's. (Isn't it pathetic that THAT is something to get excited about?)

Unfortunately, we've cut down on driving only minimally. Not enough to balance out the huge leap in gas prices.

Answer the Monday Madness either here in my comments section, or on your own blog! come on, it's fun!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

I have a website

a little-known fact?

My description of myself on the banner of this blog includes the words "aspiring writer." I guess I should have said, "aspiring published writer," because the truth is, I am a writer.

I even get paid for writing. It's a big part of my radio station job. So, I haven't written the great American novel yet...or any novel, for that matter. I'm constantly writing, and I've always wanted a platform for it.

I guess that's why, when my very web- and cyber-savvy friend Don Elbourne suggested I have a website, several years ago, and offered to help me, I jumped at the chance.

There were a couple of problems, though. 1) I didn't know anything about putting together a website, and 2) I didn't have any extra money.

So Don found a free hosting site, kindly put together a lovely template for me, and graciously gave me some basic HTML lessons (via e-mail. Don lives in New Orleans; I live in Illinois.)

I was hugely excited about having my own website, although everything I added to the site was done laboriously because I had to manually change everything I wrote to HTML.

This was 2002, and the concept of blogging hadn't really entered my consciousness. I remember Don actually suggested it. "You know, there are these things called weblogs--blogs. You can just type in your entries, as easy as posting on an internet forum."

But a blog seemed somehow less official. And why would I want an online "diary"? I wanted a REAL website.

Well, the website is still there, and will probably remain there as long as allows it to be there. I still occasionally add a book review to the reading section there, and there's a lengthy bio, and a couple of stabs I've made at short-story writing, and a few other things.
I would love for you to check it out; it gets very few visitors now, because I now concentrate on my blog.

You see, once I discovered blogging, I took to it like a duck to water. I found it could be much more than a diary or a journal of the mundane things that happen in my life (although there's certainly plenty of that in my blog as well.)

But the thing I really love about my blog is that it's my own little platform, easily updated and managed, from which I can give my opinions on things, let people know about wonderful books, add another dimension to the things I talk about on the radio, and just give vent to my creative side. I really, really enjoy it.

However, I do have a website. If you have a moment, I'd love for you to visit it.

Do you have a website, separate from your blog? What purpose does it serve for you? Please leave a comment.
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