Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas to all who visit my blog...

I'll be taking a blogging break until Tuesday, January 2nd, Lord willing and if the creek don't rise. In the meantime, I invite you to check out my Top Posts of 2006, below.

I hope all of you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas. My prayer for you is that you will know the Christ of Christmas in a real and beautiful way!--Cindy

My Top Posts of 2006

It's hard to believe another year is almost at an end. For my final Thursday 13 of 2006 (I'll be on vacation next week), I thought I'd delve into the archives to find what I consider to be my best posts of 2006. Granted, it's very subjective! :)

In no particular order:

1 Conversations with My Father--I reminisce about the great time I used to have talking with my dad--and ponder on the privilege of conversing with my heavenly Father

2 Favorite TV Characters Day --I profile my faves, past and present

3 It's ten o'clock. Do you know what your children are blogging?--A plea for parents to get a clue

4 Why is ketchup so good???--A lighthearted paean to my favorite condiment

5 Happy 25th anniversary to me!--I look back on a quarter century of employment at the same radio station

6 In praise of the bedtime story--a fond look at a tradition I hope will never die

7 Whatever happened to really good movies?--Would it be so hard for Hollywood to clean up its act?

8 Flying isn't fun anymore--A bit of a rant on the state of air travel today

9 My evacuation from Lebanon --As Americans are evacuated from the wartorn country, I look back on my own sudden departure from Lebanon in 1967

10 The children of Iraq--I can't take credit for this one--my brother wrote this heartfelt post about Iraqi children

11 Katrina: one year later, a Mississippi church continues to rebuild--my interview with pastor Don Elbourne

12 My 9/11 tribute to Jean Hoadley Peterson--Taking part in the blogosphere's tribute to 9/11 victims was an unforgettable experience

13 Does "realistic fiction" mean wallowing in filth?--Another mini-rant

I invite you to check a few--or all!--of these posts out, when you have some free time. And I encourage you to highlight some of your own favorite posts in 2006. Let me know if you do so--and/or if your own Thursday Thirteen is up--in my comments section!

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, December 20, 2006

Has Rocky found the Lord?

I was amazed when I heard Sylvester Stallone was planning to resurrect the Rocky Balboa character for a sixth round. Now, more cause for amazement: number one, that critics are saying good things about the movie, and that Sylvester Stallone seems to be reaching out to Christians with this film.

What's your favorite Christmas TV special?

I'll admit, I can't pass up A Charlie Brown Christmas, and It's A Wonderful Life is on my list of top 5 movies of all time.

But if you want a big selection, check out 101 Classic Christmas videos that you can watch online.

If you need a good laugh...

...go here and superimpose a pic of your face on this elf. I did it; it looked hilarious, and I was a much better dancer than I'll ever be in real life!

Way-Back Wednesday

And here's what I was blogging about a week ago today--December 20, 2005:

Are there any Christmases past that stand out in your memory as especially wonderful, for whatever reason?

I have a few.

On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (I forget which!) of 1973, I was in my senior year of high school and my sister who lived in Utah at the time had just had a baby girl. My parents, my younger sister and younger brother and I were traveling up to Utah for Christmas, and we stopped for lunch at a ski resort in Monarch Pass, Colorado (pictured above.)

I will never forget the beauty of that Christmas lunch. We were seated near a fireplace, facing a window with a gorgeous view of people skiing down the slopes in the gently falling snow. Having lived most of my life in places where it didn't snow at Christmas, this was like walking into a live Christmas card. Beautiful! I was so filled with Christmas spirit, I was almost bursting.

One of the happiest Christmases I've spent in recent years was Christmas 2002. My oldest son was working in Ohio, and since he worked in a mall, he had Christmas Day off, but had to work both Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. We decided to take Christmas to him.

He lived in a little Victorian house in Cedarville, Ohio, where he had attended college at Cedarville University and where my second son was a student. All Jonathan's house-mates had gone home for Christmas, so we moved in. We stayed up for hours watching DVD's of Sports Night. I made Christmas goodies and we finished up our shopping at the mall where Jonathan worked.

On Christmas Day, I cooked a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and after dinner we drove around and looked at Christmas lights in the falling snow. It was wonderful...and it was the last Christmas we spent as just our immediate family, since Jonathan got married in January 2004.

Last Christmas, 2004, was also wonderful because I got to spend the holiday with my family in Texas. It was bittersweet because it was the first Christmas without my dad, who passed away in July 2004.

But it was also lovely, because I was surrounded by loved ones I normally don't get to be with at Christmas. One of the highlights was my mom taking all us "girls" to the see Ballet Austin and the Austin Symphony perform "The Nutcracker." That was truly a special occasion!

My niece Katie, my daughter Elizabeth, my beautiful mom, me, and my daughter-in-law Daylyn at "The Nutcracker"

I'm planning another trip to Texas this holiday season, and I can't wait to see my loved ones there.

What about you? Any special Christmas memories? I'd love to hear them...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Listen to my interview with Evie Tornquist Karlsson

Evie with Rebecca St. James

...and to a very funny "12 Days of Christmas" bit

Still Ringing Those Bells, Revisited

I'm happy to let you know that you can now listen to my 12/8/06 interview with still-beloved singer Evie Tornquist Karlsson. Just go here and click on "EvieInterview" to hear it. (By the way, I accidentally uploaded the unedited version which includes some pre-chatter and a countdown. Sorry 'bout that.)

Please let me know if you were able to listen to the interview, and any feedback you might have. This is the first time I've uploaded an entire interview, so I'm interested in hearing if there were any problems accessing it, etc.

By the way, if you're looking for an accompaniment soundtrack for "Come On Ring Those Bells," try this link. It's not for the Evie version of the song, and I wasn't able to listen to the sample soundclip, but I assume it's the same song.

And here is a link where you can order a songbook containing the sheet music for "Come On Ring Those Bells," along with a long list of other Christmas songs.

And now for something completely different...

A couple of years ago, my 101QFL co-host Darren Marlar and I taped a skit that imagines what it would be like if someone actually received the 12 Days of Christmas gifts. I play "Agnes." Listen as Agnes goes from being totally thrilled about the gifts to...not so much:

12 Days of Christmas Skit

Can it really be a week?

Point of Grace

No "Thursday Thirteen" today, but I'm finally checking in after a week's absence from the blogosphere! I know, I know...I've just been bogged down with other stuff. Today's going to be rather stream-of-consciousness, but here goes...

~I know you're all dying to know what I've been up to during my unintentional blog-o-silence. Well, on Sunday I celebrated my birthday. It was (gulp) the Big Five-Oh, and that may be the last time you see me admit to that in public. For years I've freely given out my age, thinking, "Hey, why try to deny it?"

But now I'm seeing the wisdom in keeping quiet about it. I've reached the age where, when I say "I'm 50," people either respond with a genuine "You don't look it at all!" or with no such comment. I'm thinking admitting to my age might not be worth the occasional "You don't look it at all"s. You know what I mean?

Be that as it may, my birthday was actually one of the nicest ones ever. Family and friends (maybe feeling sorry for me?) conspired to make it really wonderful. It was a painless entry into my 50's. I told my husband my goal is to be the best, most attractive 50 I can be. We'll see how that goes.


Yep, this week I began a 16-week fitness program at a local spa/fitness facility. It's all part of an advertising campaign with the radio station. The upshot: Radio 91's Charmel Jacobs and I are committed to working out at least three times a week for the next 16 weeks.

As part of the deal, we get a weekly spa service--a manicure, a pedicure, a facial, whatever--a different one every week. (This week it was a full body massage. If you've never had one, to quote Ferris Bueller, if you have the means, I highly recommend it!)

As I see it, if I am going to a gym three times a week for sixteen weeks, some physical good is going to HAVE to come of it. Again, we'll see what happens.

~Yes, I did my interview with Evie, and she was a delight. I want to blog about it, but I'm waiting to find out how I can make the entire interview available for you to listen to. I still haven't done that, so hopefully I can tell you more in the next several days.

~I'm really enjoying Christmas music this season. Besides my usual favorites that I've blogged about in the past, I've been enjoying the second Point of Grace Christmas CD, the Bryan Duncan Christmas CD, and a Frank Sinatra one. I've also been listening to selections from Handel's Messiah. Brings back memories of going to see a performance of it last year, and which I also blogged about.

Till next time...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

13 memories from my childhood

It was a frigid morning here in Northern Illinois, and as I was imparting the chilly details to 101QFL listeners, I got a sudden flashback: myself, as a child, eating oatmeal, Malt-o-Meal or Cream of Wheat prepared by my mom before braving the long, cold walk to school.

That prompted a discussion about hot cereal, with listeners calling in to reminisce about their own childhood fondness--or lack thereof--for the likes of Malt-o-Meal.

It being Thursday Thirteen day, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and look at 13 memories from my childhood. Not saying all of these are "favorite" memories...but memories nonetheless...from someone whose childhood spanned the late 50's to the early 70s:

1) Having hot cereal for breakfast before braving the aforesaid chilly walk to school while we were living in Springfield, Missouri

2) Playing outside! We actually did that for hours at a time in those days

3) Eating chicken pot pie--the first bite burned the tongue, but the rest...mmmmm

4) Enjoying flannelgraph lessons in Sunday School

5) Watching re-runs of "The Three Stooges"

6) Watching corny, innocent shows like "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres"

7) Wishing I had special powers like Jeannie and Samantha, so I could clean my room up or do the dishes with a crinkle of the nose

8) Laying on the floor and listening, enraptured, to my parents' albums of "Swan Lake" and "Rhapsody in Blue"

9) Playing "Kay and Donna" with my sister Lisa. We would pretend to be these teen-aged girls named Kay and Donna, and had made up elaborate backstories to go with it

10) My dad ad libbing funny songs with our names in them

11) Being proud of my dad when he would sing a solo in church

12) My mom--just always being there and being wonderful

13) Spending 2 and a half years in Beirut, Lebanon. As I've said before, it shaped my life in far-reaching ways

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!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I talk with Angela Hunt about "The Nativity Story"

The Nativity Story hasn't had a particularly blessed advent into the holiday movie scene, but there are apparently some very positive things to say about this retelling of the Biblical account of Jesus' birth.

Critics haven't been universally kind to the movie, although the main criticism I seem to hear is that it's "dull"--and that, of course, is all in the eye of the beholder. I would imagine non-Christian movie critics are approaching the movie with a bias to begin with anyway, simply because it is a movie about Jesus. I can't imagine them wildly applauding it.

Disappointing response

Reportedly, the movie's creators are very disappointed in the response of Christian moviegoers to the film. This article by Dan Wooding quotes the movie's producer, Marty Bowen: "I thought it was incredibly disheartening for a variety of different reasons, not the least of which is you hear this common lament from moviegoers that America feels like Hollywood has lost touch with what they want to see. People feel like there is too much violence in movies and too much disrespect towards the family.

“Now finally a Hollywood studio has stepped up and put their money where their mouth is and has committed to making and releasing a movie, not on a couple of screens but rather on a very big very large fashion – more than three-thousand screens around the country -- and giving the audience what they say they want and yet that sense of urgency in that audience isn’t there to go and see it."

Angela Hunt talks about the movie

Be that as it may, I was delighted today to interview one of my favorite authors, Angela Hunt, who wrote the novelization based on the movie's screenplay. In this 1 min. 12 sec. soundclip from our interview, Angela talks about her reactions to seeing the film.

Meantime, Plugged-In Online has good things to say about the film, concluding: "Christmastime moviegoers will undoubtedly leave the theater more filled with the true Christmas spirit than when they arrived. Even better, as screenwriter Mike Rich told Plugged In Online, ['If we can get viewers to go beyond Matthew's and Luke's early chapters, and maybe even get to the Gospel of John, then this movie will have served its purpose.'"

Read more about Angela Hunt's development of "The Nativity Story" novel at her blog.
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Monday, December 04, 2006

Update: the baby is back in the manger

I posted this yesterday as an example of political correctness run amok:

"ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (AP) - Christ is missing from Christmas
in St. Albans, West Virginia.
The town's holiday display has a manger with shepherds, a
guiding star, camels and a palm tree, but no baby Jesus, Mary or
Mayor Dick Callaway said it was done for purely technical
reasons. He explains, 'It's not easy to put a light-up
representation of a baby in a small manger scene.'
But Parks Superintendent David Cunningham said Jesus was
left out because of concerns about separation of church and

UPDATE: The baby is back in the manger.

St. Albans mayor Dick Callaway tells AP that after getting inundated with protests--from as far away as South Korea!--the baby Jesus is now part of the St. Albans nativity scene. Callaway, who is a Baptist deacon, says it was never his idea to exclude the Christ Child.

For more on the grinchiness of people who want to delete Christ from Christmas, read my December 2004 interview with John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute.

It's on! I'll be talking with Evie Tornquist-Karlsson

For all you Evie fans out there--and you are legion!--I'll be interviewing Evie this coming Friday, and of course I'll blog about it.

I get a lot of e-mails asking me where I can find Evie music, etc. Unfortunately, I am not the fount of Evie info. But if there's anything you'd like me to ask her (within reason, of course!:)), let me know in my comments section.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Quote o' the Day from my brilliant nephew

"MTV's 'reality' show known as 'The Real World' is off and running again. I guess MTV doesn't think its audience is sick of seeing drunk people kiss. I know I am. I made the mistake of watching five minutes of the first episode, and let me tell you, it was the worst five minutes in television history. After it was over I felt like I had to take a shower. The lack of morality was astounding. I think it's funny that MTV is trying desprately to help find a cure for aids,while two complete strangers are having unprotected sex on their tv show......hmmmm......I smell irony..... maybe MTV should stop trying to save the world, and realize it's helping destroy it."--my brilliant nephew, "The Swedish Panther"
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