Wednesday, February 28, 2007

When you need to talk to a human being

Have you ever been horribly frustrated while trying to navigate the voice prompt maze of a business, desperately wanting to speak to a human being instead of a soul-less, clueless recorded voice?

Ironically, I am that recorded voice on a few voice prompt systems, including that of my own employer. I wonder how many people I've inadvertently caused to cuss.

But seriously, there is a website that aims to help you reach a human. It's actually called (Hat tip to 101QFL morning show host, Darren Marlar.)

From the site: "The gethuman project is a consumer movement to improve the quality of phone support in the US. This free website is run by volunteers and is powered by over one million consumers who demand high quality phone support from the companies that they use."

Pretty good idea...and the list of companies on the site is pretty comprehensive.

(For a humorous take on voice prompt systems, read this James Lileks column.)

Video tombstones?

You knew it was bound to happen.

A Wausau, Wisconsin cemetery monument company is now the distributor of what they call a "serenity panel." A solar-powered video screen, mounted into an upright gravestone, plays a personalized video tribute or shows pictures of the deceased, set to music. The video screens are weather-resistant and tamper-proof.

At first glance, it seems like kind of a cool idea. But have you thought about how, if it becomes widespread, it will forever change cemeteries?

Cemeteries are sort of the last bastion of peace and silence. One goes to the cemetery to quietly honor the memory of your friends and loved ones and reflect on their lives and your memories. Key word: quietly. Can you imagine if several musical video tributes are playing at once?

I guess they could get around that by offering headphones.

If you're interested, you can go to the website of Vidstone, the company that developed the product.

Way-Back Wednesday

Haven't done this in a while, but a year ago in February, I blogged about why I am an Anglophile.

I won't take the space to copy it here, but do check it out if you get the time. And let me know what YOU were blogging about a year ago!

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Raiders of the wrong tomb

Another attempt to discredit the Biblical account lacks credibility

" is Scripture and not a trumped-up television documentary that is the final arbiter of truth for the believer, Mohler said. If Jesus had remained in the tomb, first-century opponents of Christianity would most certainly have found His body and put it on public display, Mohler said, adding that Christ's disciples would not have died for beliefs they knew to be false."--from this article

The picture you see here is of the entrance to a small, seemingly-insignifant cave-like place that many believe to be the site where Jesus' body was laid after his crucifixion, and where he was resurrected on the third day. It's called The Garden Tomb.

This week, "Titanic" director James Cameron and journalist Simcha Jacobovici unveiled their new documentary, "The Lost Tomb of Jesus," about first-century bone-boxes that purport to contain the bones of Jesus and his "family." Meaning, Mary Magdalene and a son named Judah.

This isn't the first time this matter has surfaced. The bones were actually first discovered in 1980, and according to AP's Religion Roundup: "In 1996, when the BBC aired a documentary on the same subject, the first archaeologist to examine the site said it was a weak claim but made for profitable television."

Several biblical scholars, archaeologists and anthropologists are already discrediting the claims in the documentary, which will air on the Discovery Channel in March.

Common names

Biblical anthropologist Joe Zias says if a family were wealthy enough to afford a tomb, it would be in their hometown (in this case Nazareth) and not in Jerusalem. (In the case of Jesus' burial, the tomb was donated by the wealthy Joseph of Arimathea.)

Zias and scholar Lawrence Schiffman also say the names on the ossuaries--Jesus, Mary and Judah--were extremely common in Bible days, so that doesn't mean anything. For that matter, one Biblical scholar is quoted as saying the markings on the boxes look more like random scratchings to him than names.

The fallacy of Jesus marrying

When will people stop trying to perpetuate the patently false notion that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were a romantic pair? Aside from the obvious blasphemy inherent in such an idea, people who honestly research the life of Mary Magdalene find it ludicrous.

Liz Curtis Higgs is the author of Unveiling Mary Magdalene (I blogged about it here.) In this 23 second clip, Higgs says the Bible is clear that Jesus and Mary did not have a romantic relationship:

The Garden Tomb

The bottom line, though, is that documentaries, books and movies (think "The Da Vinci Code") can't shake the faith of one who believes the Bible is the inerrant, inspired word of God, and therefore completely true.

Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president Albert Mohler appeared on Larry King Live last night to talk about the documentary. Earlier, he was quoted as saying Christianity "“has always understood the physical resurrection of Christ to be at the very center of the faith.”


As a missionary's kid in the late 60's, more than once I had the privilege of visiting the Garden Tomb. Even as a child, the import of standing in that very spot was not lost on me. I believe most visitors to the Garden Tomb will tell you that there is a sense of hushed reverence pervading the site.

Unlike any man-made religion, Christianity is based on an empty tomb--and I believe I've been there.

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In other words...

"If I'd abandon all that seeks to make my faith informed and chic, could You, would You, show Yourself to me?"
~ Nichole Nordeman~

Nichole Nordeman has a way with lyrics.

To people who say that all of today's Christian music lyrics are shallow, repetitive and superficial, I give you Nichole Nordeman. This lovely, intelligent singer-songwriter has a way of making you think.

In order to fully understand the context of this quote, I found the lyrics to the song from which the quote is taken, "Help Me Believe." In the song, Nichole is asking the Lord to take her back to the simple faith of her childhood, "...before rationale, analysis and systematic thinking/Robbed me of a sweet simplicity."

I often share Nichole's desire to strip away the man-made, man-promoted trappings of Christianity. Not only things that would make my faith "informed and chic," but things that would add to or complicate the straightforward simplicity of God's Word.

Don't get me wrong: doctrine and theology are essential, and I'm certainly not saying we shouldn't seek a deeper, clearer understanding of God. I just long to eliminate the man-made things that cloud the simplicity of His Word or unnecessarily burden living by His precepts.

Nichole's prayer, and mine? A return to simple, childlike faith.

Monday, February 26, 2007

I was a no-show for the Oscars

...but I'm glad Jennifer Hudson won

Nope, you wouldn't have found me sitting in front of the TV checking out the Oscars last night. I hadn't seen any of the movies nominated for best picture; I didn't feel like being a spectator to the fawning over Al Gore (whose An Inconvenient Truth documentary was, predictably, a winner); I wasn't up for the pious and self-satisfied concern about how "green" anyone or anything is; and I'm generally annoyed with Hollywood, because they tend to champion and adore things I pretty much deplore and abhor. (Wow, I didn't even intend for that to rhyme!)

That said, I was very happy to hear that Jennifer Hudson won Best Supporting Actress for her role in Dreamgirls. As I've blogged earlier, I rooted for her before she met her untimely demise as an American Idol contestant. I think she's an extremely talented vocalist. I haven't seen Dreamgirls, so I guess I'll have to judge for myself later as to whether she's also an extremely talented actress, as appears to be the general consensus.

It will be interesting to see what career path she now takes. It' s not uncommon for Oscar winners to see their careers go downhill from there, at least for a while--think Marisa Tomei and Mira Sorvino. Hope that doesn't happen to our JHud.

If you're interested, here's a Chicago Tribune article on Jennifer's amazing week.
I Feel So "Alive"!

See these bottles pictured here? This is one of my favorite new treats, Aquafina Alive.

According to a PepsiCo news release:

Aquafina Alive, made with a splash of fruit juice, is a good source of
Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12 and Niacin. Every eight-ounce serving has
only ten calories and provides 10% of the Daily Value of each of these important

"Consumers have told us that they're looking for simple things they can
do for their health," said Ahad Afridi, vice president, Aquafina. "Aquafina
Alive provides the benefits they seek. It tastes great, is enhanced with
vitamins, yet low in calories, making it an easy way for consumers to replenish,
hydrate and feel their best."

I love it because I'm trying to lose weight, and I really don't care much for diet drinks. Alive quenches my thirst, gives me a splash of flavor, and makes me feel as if I'm having something nutritious. And I didn't even get paid to say that. :)

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Friday, February 23, 2007

Amazing Grace: My Interview with Walden Media's Chip Flaherty

"...Wilberforce was one of the first people to not check his faith at the door, but say 'I'm gonna stay involved in the public discourse, in the marketplace of ideas, and I'm going to use this inspired faith which informs my life, to do something tackle an atrocity, to tackle an evil, and to change the world.' --Walden Media V.P. Francis "Chip" Flaherty

The movie Amazing Grace, based on the life of anti-slavery champion and devout Christian William Wilberforce, opens in theaters today. A few days ago, I was able to interview Francis "Chip" Flaherty, vice president of Walden Media. A division of Walden, Bristol Bay, is behind "Amazing Grace."

The movie has already garnered some excellent reviews, although a sparse few have accused director Michael Apted of hagiography (merriam-webster: idealizing or idolizing biography), and some evangelicals wish the "Christ" part of Wilberforce's faith was emphasized a bit more.

However, not having seen the movie myself, I've been very impressed by the trailers and by the reviews of people whose opinions I tend to trust. And I have to say I'm very glad that such a movie has been made--a movie that is uplifting and faith-affirming. Chip Flaherty told me that Walden Media has tried to light a candle in the movie industry, instead of cursing the darkness. In this, I wish them well.

Here is an excerpt of my interview with Chip Flaherty.

Bringing Beloved Books to Life

CINDY: I'm very excited to have as my guest the vice president of Walden Media, Chip Flaherty.

CHIP: Cindy, thanks for having me on, I really appreciate it.

Chip Flaherty (right) with his brother Michael Flaherty,(left) the president of Walden Media

CINDY: Well, it's great to have you on to talk about this movie, because I've heard some really wonderful things about it. Now, before we get into it, I do want to touch a little bit on the company of which you're the vice president, and that's Walden Media. You were telling me earlier that there are other divisions of the company, but what exactly is Walden Media?

CHIP: Walden Media is a company that was started about six years ago, with an eye toward, rather than cursing the darkness of the movies that were coming out of the industry, but to light a candle, if you will, and to give the audience another type of movie to go see, and more choices for families.

Walden Media, toward that end, looked at books that kids were reading and wanted to make faithful adaptations of those books into film. And we did it with "Holes," "Because of Winn Dixie," and most recently, "The Chronicles of Narnia," and "Bridge to Terabithia," and "Charlotte's Web" as well.

So we look at books that have been beloved by kids, in some cases for a number of generations, and say, "Let's give them a film, so they can see it as well." Not because it's better than the book...and we always drive kids back into the books, back into libraries, we have huge book give-aways, we talk about libraries and things like that. Because we talk about the power of story, and that kids really have to tackle the fundamentals of reading and writing if they ever want to accomplish anything in life. So that's really been WaldenMedia's raison d'etre, if you will, and what we have attempted to do.

Chip talks about bringing Narnia to life on screen

We have another company, a sister-company if you will, called Bristol Bay. They did the movie "Ray" based on the life of Ray Charles, and they're doing this movie, "Amazing Grace" which is about the life of William Wilberforce. Same company, same folks working on it, just a different division because the film product is a little different simply because it's not based on a book-to-film-type adaptation.

The compelling character of William Wilberforce

CINDY: I've heard of William Wilberforce for many years; I know there are colleges named after him, and he's always been very revered person. But how did the idea come about to actually make a movie about the importance that he represented in the anti-slavery movement?

CHIP: The owner of our company had been a real Wilberforce fan his entire life, and just thought it would be very fitting to bring the story of Wilberforce to the screen, if we were able to do it well. And thankfully, we have been able to do it well. We had a great director, Michael Apted, who directed "Coal Miner's Daughter." So you're exactly right; the film, in and of itself, even before you get into the stirring content and the stories that it tells, the film itself is beautifully shot.

Abraham Lincoln once said that the name William Wilberforce should be in the minds and on the lips of very school child in America, and as we began to undertake this film, I mean obviously, that's not the case. So one of the main things we wanted to do was to bring him back to the forefront. Not only him as a historical figure, but really, what his life stands for. And that's what I think we're most proud of, with the movie. I mean, Wilberforce and John Newton, who wrote the song "Amazing Grace," and plays a huge role in Wilberforce's life...just two incredible characters. I mean, you couldn't make this stuff up as compelling if you sat down with a pad of paper and a pen for decades.

A conversion experience

William Wilberforce, when he was 21, was a wealthy young man, he was elected to Parliament. He was a handsome man, I mean, all of the secular attributes that society puts up on a pedestal, he had. And after a few years he began to really feel empty, and he said, "What good is all this power and this wealth unless something noble, something great is done with it?" And he had a conversion experience, and he turned himself over to God, and he said, "I want to do something great with my life."

And he tackled two great objectives with his life. One was to abolish the slave trade, where he said, you know, "Men belong to God, they don't belong to other men, and we have to stop this atrocity."

The second was just the reformation of society at large. He saw that England was on the wrong course, it had become a very coarse society, not looking out for the most vulnerable members of its society, and toward that end he established a number of different groups and societies in his lifetime to help address that, and kind of give a moral compass back to his country.

So, in terms of that, I think Wilberforce is so compelling because, back in the day, when you had a conversion experience, you would become a member of the clergy. Which is a great vocation, obviously, but Wilberforce was one of the first people to not check his faith at the door, but say "I'm gonna stay involved in the public discourse, in the marketplace of ideas, and I'm going to use this inspired faith which informs my life, to do something tackle an atrocity, to tackle an evil, and to change the world."

Flaherty talks about Wilberforce's association with "Amazing Grace" author John Newton

CINDY: Well, Chip, I hope that Walden Media and your divisions continue to come out with quality entertainment, because we desperately need it.

CHIP: I hope so too, and I realize how precious people's time is, but if they have the chance to see this film, I think it will inspire them in their life, to see it. It's also a film, I think, that a lot of people in the industry will look at to see if there really is an audience for a film like this. So I think if people can find the time and see this movie, it would be a great thing. And I think it would really be one of those things that they could talk about long thereafter to really inform some of the challenges they face in their lives.

Read Solo Feminity's review of "Amazing Grace" here.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

13 bits of "Lost" trivia ...a farewell to Thursday Thirteen

The powers that be at Thursday Thirteen have announced that this will be the final edition of TT. Well, it was a fun run. I saw TT as a way to introduce my blog to a wider audience and to discover other blogs as well. I'm sorry to see it go!

So, here we go...TT, the Final Edition.

My apologies if you're not a fan of "Lost" (I happen to be!) Trivia courtesy of,,

1. Jorge Garcia (Hurley) was the first person cast for the series.

2. In the original description for Kate (Evangeline Lilly), she was a slightly older woman separated from her husband, who went to the bathroom in the tail-section of the plane. However, that idea ended up being used for the character Rose.

3. Josh Holloway was trying to cover up his Southern accent while he was shooting several of his first scenes in the first season. It wasn't until director J.J. Abrams told him that the reason they cast him was BECAUSE of his accent that Holloway changed it. There are still some scenes left in the pilot where Holloway doesn't use his Southern accent.

4. Jorge Garcia, Matthew Fox, and Dominic Monaghan all auditioned originally for the part of Sawyer as the other characters had not been developed at the time.

5. Michael Keaton was considered for the part of Jack, but turned it down. Had he accepted, he would have been killed off in the pilot episode.

6. Charlie was in a band called Drive Shaft. Their only hit was called "You All Everybody". That song can be heard in the background of an episode of Alias, another show created by JJ Abrams.

7. During Charlie's heroin scenes, Dominic Monaghan is actually snorting brown sugar.

8. According to several Official Lost websites, the plane crashed on September 22, 2004. The journey was supposed to be 13 hours and 52 minutes long, leaving Sydney at 08:04 and arriving at LAX at 18:16.

9. There is a common misconception that since Claire (Emilie de Ravin) is eight months pregnant and in her third trimester, the airlines wouldn't have allowed her to fly. While airlines may not necessarily recommend flying when eight months pregnant, they cannot and will not prohibit a pregnant woman from taking a flight if she really wants or needs to.

10. Evangeline Lilly (who plays Kate) and Dominic Monaghan (who plays Charlie) are engaged to be married to each other in real life.

11. Naveen Andrews' character, Sayid, is Iraqi; but in real life Andrews is of British and Indian origin.

12. A goof in last week's Desmond-centric episode: When Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick)passes an army careers office he stops to look at a poster for 'The Royal Scots' which has some inaccuracies proving it is not a poster that would be found in Britain. Firstly the word 'honor' is spelt 'honour' in Britain. Secondly the small print refers to 'boot camp', which is not a phrase used in the British military.

13. Go here for some fun "Lost" quizzes.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I interview Darlene Schacht of Christian Women Online

I recently had the privilege of interviewing Darlene Schacht, founder and editor of Christian Women Online. I'm happy to report that you can now listen to the interview:

My interview with Darlene Schacht

I've recently become more involved with Christian Women Online, and I'm so impressed with Darlene, her passion, talent, vision, and considerable charm! I hope you'll have a chance to check out this interview.

(Please let me know if you have any problems accessing the interview.)

Speaking of interviews...

Today I interviewed Chip Flaherty, vice president of Walden Media, the company behind the movie "Amazing Grace." I'll be sharing more of that in the coming days!

And now, may I exercise my bragging rights as a new grandma, and leave you with one of the most recent pics of my adorable granson, Payton, born January 31st? I'm going to see him in March...can't wait!!!

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Sound clips from my interview with Liz Curtis Higgs

...and, you could win a trip to Scotland!

As I blogged about yesterday, I had the joy of interviewing Liz Curtis Higgs about her new armchair travel book, My Heart's in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland. (Read my review here.)

As promised, here are some soundclips from our interview. Simply click twice to listen. (And don't miss listening to Liz talk--it's as enjoyable in its way as reading what she writes!)

Why the Lowlands?

Liz explains why she focused there instead of the oftentimes more celebrated Highlands. (w min. 9 sec.)

You travel with Liz

Liz explains why she wrote the book as if the reader is her traveling companion. (1 min. 51 sec.)

A "God thing"

Liz recounts a time in Scotland when God was truly looking out for her (1 min. 33 sec.)

Win a trip to Scotland!

Now, this is the stuff of my dreams.

Liz's publisher, Waterbrook Press, is having a contest to win a nine-day trip for two to Scotland! Go here for details. Entries must be postmarked by April 30th, 2007.

Read my reviews of Liz's wonderful fiction books:

Thorn in My Heart
Whence Came a Prince

...and read my interview with Liz about Fair is the Rose

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In other words...

"Those who read fast reap no more advantage than a bee would by only skimming over the surface of the flower, instead of waiting to penetrate into it, and extract its sweets."
~ Madame Jeanne Guyon ~

I'm a voracious reader. And I'm a very fast reader.

Especially if I'm captivated by a story, I can finish a book in a very short period of time--and without the feeling that I've skimmed anything or sped through it. Perhaps from a lifetime of reading, I'm simply able to read, absorb, and fully comprehend what I'm reading, very quickly.

Not so when it comes to the Bible.

There is something about God's Word that doesn't invite speed-reading. Or even the very fast reading that is my norm when reading fiction.

God's Word, I believe, wasn't meant to be skimmed lightly, or to be sped through so that you can complete some sort of quantity-based Bible-reading goal you've set for yourself.

Oh, don't get me wrong--I'm all for Bible-reading goals! In fact, I never read through the Bible until my parents gave me a One Year Bible for Christmas one year. Divided up into 365 readings, including a portion of the Old Testament, a portion of the New Testament, a portion of Psalms and a Proverb, it made finishing the entire Bible do-able. In previous years, I would start off with great intentions, but tended to get bogged down in geneologies and Levitical rules.

That being said, God's Word needs to sink in to be fully appreciated, and you can't do that by reading it fast. While I will continue to cruise through my favorite fiction at Autobahn speed, I can't do that with the Bible.

I will pledge, as Madame Guyon says, to always penetrate the flower, and extract its sweets.

"...the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.
"More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb." Psalm 19: 9b,10

Monday, February 19, 2007

My visit to Scotland with Liz Curtis Higgs

OK, I really didn't go...but I felt like I did!

I just interviewed Liz Curtis Higgs about her wonderful armchair travel book, My Heart's in the Lowlands: Ten Days in Bonny Scotland.

After finishing the book, the images and impressions remain, hovering over me like a gentle Scottish mist. One of the dreams of my life is to see Scotland in person, but surely this book is the next best thing.

One of the things I love about Liz's fiction books is her beautifully evocative descriptive ability, and she puts that gift to good use as our tour guide through the Scottish lowlands. Not only in her lyrical descriptions of gorgeous landscapes and scenery, or ancient abbies and castles--but we can practically taste the food, as in this instruction on how to eat a scone:

"First, a thin coat of butter. Next comes that little pot of raspberry jam. Do be generous with your spoon. Now for the clotted cream, light as any whipped cream yet with a different consistency and a far superior flavor. Spoon it on top, hiding all that lovely jam, so each bite is a surprise.

"Do keep your napkin handy, because if you've done this right, you'll soon be wearing a spot of cream on the end of your nose."

Liz writes this book as if you, the reader, were accompanying her on the journey, and it's a device that worked for me. Indeed, when I interviewed Liz, I kept saying, "You told me earlier..." when in fact, she hadn't told me personally, I was just so into my role as her traveling companion that I apparently felt as if passages in the book really were directed right at me!

Such is the magic of this book.

She takes us to historic castles and churches, charming bed-and-breakfasts, inns where Robert Burns ate (and drank) and slept, the stomping grounds of Robert the Bruce, wonderfully informative museums and cozy bookstores. A seasoned traveler who loves Scotland passionately and knows it intimately, she makes us feel we're right by her side.

If you've always longed to visit Scotland, or even if you're just an avid Higgs reader like me, you'll love this book.

TOMORROW: Some sound clips from my interview with Liz Curtis Higgs.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!

I can't believe my daughter Elizabeth is 20 years old today! She is one of the chief joys of my life. Elizabeth is not only beautiful, she is sweet, funny, bright and talented--she plays the guitar and the piano and sings beautifully. She also writes poetry and has even written songs. She has a real heart for God and compassion for others. Elizabeth, I love you!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

"Lost" ruminations...

...and a Bible quiz for you

OK, Lost is blowing me away. Last night's episode was amazing, and I like Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) more than ever. Yeah, I'm confused about a lot of things (that's par for the course with Lost), but for fascinating, compelling viewing, you can't beat it.

Henry Ian Cusick's Scottish accent is nothing less than ear candy for me. He could read the phone book for all I care. Listen to him below:

Want to read some interesting and/or crazy theories about "Lost"? Every week, Whitney Matheson opens up her USA Today Pop Candy blog for comments about the current episode. Here's this week's.


American Idol is also heating up. Several of my favorites made it to the final 24, and it looks like overall, there's some real talent there. So far, I haven't picked one particular favorite. Have you? Let me know in my comments section.

Tyler Perry of the new film "Daddy's Little Girls" is giving God the glory for his success as a filmmaker. Perry tells AP that although his characters aren't perfect, they're real--and he says his audiences appreciate the respectful way he depicts people's faith.


How well do you know the Bible?

You know the Bible 100%!

Wow! You are awesome! You are a true Biblical scholar, not just a hearer but a personal reader! The books, the characters, the events, the verses - you know it all! You are fantastic!

Ultimate Bible Quiz
Create MySpace Quizzes

(I would hope so. I was raised in a pastor's home and I graduated from Bible college, so I'd feel pretty awful if I did badly on this quiz!)


Earlier this week, I had the delight of interviewing Darlene Schacht, founder and editor of Christian Women Online . I'm going to try to make the interview available to listen to online. I'll let you know as soon as I do. I really enjoyed interviewing this bright, charming woman.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Make your own candy heart

Go here to make your own.

Happy Valentine's Day

Doug and me on our 25th anniversary, August 2003

...We've watched the seasons come and go
We'll see them come and go again
But in winter's chill, or summer's breeze
One thing will not be changin'

We will dance
When the sun is shining
In the pouring rain
We'll spin and we'll sway
And we will dance
When the gentle breeze
Becomes a hurricane
The music will play
And I'll take your hand
And hold you close to me
And we will dance

Sometimes it's hard to hold you tight
Sometimes we feel so far apart
Sometimes we dance as one
And feel the beating of each other's hearts

Some days the dance is slow and sweet
Some days we're bouncing off the walls
No matter how this world may turn
Our love will keep us from fallin'

The music will play
And I'll hold you close
And I won't let you go
Even when our steps
Grow weak and slow
Still I'll take your hand
And hold you close to me
And we, will dance--Steven Curtis Chapman

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

In other words...

"We are urgent about the body; He is about the soul. We call for present comforts; He considers our everlasting rest. And therefore when He sends not the very things we ask, He hears us by sending greater than we can ask or think."~ Richard Cecil ~

When I read this quote, I immediately thought of a small book written by Charles E. Hummel quite some time ago: The Tyranny of the Urgent.

Hummel writes: "...we find ourselves working more and enjoying it less.We live in a constant tension between the urgent and the important. The problem is that the important task rarely must be done today, or even this week...A man's home is no longer his castle; it is no longer a place away from urgent tasks because the telephone breaches the walls with imperious demands. The momentary appeal of these tasks seems irrestible and important, and they devour our energy. But in light of time's perspective their deceptive prominence fades; with a sense of loss we recall the important tasks pushed aside. We realize we've become slaves to the tyranny of the urgent."

We live in a fast-paced, fast-food, 10-second soundbite, MTV generation. Even in prayer, we want answers, and we want them NOW!

I believe (and I'm preaching to myself now!) we have to make a conscious decision to slow the pace--to reclaim quietness and calm, to restore peace and tranquillity into our lives as much as possible.

When bringing our prayer requests to God, we need to remember what it means to "Wait on the Lord" (Psalm 27:14). Actually, I gave that reference of Psalm 27:14, but there are many passages in the Bible that admonish us to wait on the Lord, to rest patiently in Him. He must have realized we were going to need that admonition.

That's so hard to do, isn't it?

Lord, help me to remember, as Richard Cecil wrote, that when You send not the very things we ask, You hear us by sending greater than we can ask or think. What an awesome thought:

NOTE: When I read the quote by Richard Cecil, I didn't recognize the name, so thought I would do some online research. According to Wikipedia, Cecil was "a leading Evangelical Anglican clergyman of the 18th and 19th centuries."

Interestingly, Cecil was an associate of William Wilberforce, who is the subject of the new movie, Amazing Grace. Quoting from Wikipedia: "He was associated with the Clapham Sect whose best known member was William Wilberforce, and was a founding member and leader of the Eclectic Society, an evangelical Anglican society which was started along with John Newton and Henry Foster..."

Many thanks to Loni at Joy in the Morning for featuring a quote from this very interesting gentleman, and prompting me to learn something in the process.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Monday Melange

Melange: a mixture often of incongruous elements

My new grandson--my very first grandchild--Payton, is going on two weeks old now. This is one of my most recent photos of him. Isn't he just the most adorable baby in the world? :)

Speaking of pictures...I finally updated the one of myself on my sidebar. The previous picture was four years old. I figured it was about time.

Also speaking of's one taken several weeks ago of me and my daughter Elizabeth. It's hard to believe she will be 20 years old this week, and my son Justin will be 24! Where did the time go?

My heart's in the Lowlands...

Any Liz Curtis Higgs book in an Event, so I was delighted to receive a copy of Liz's "armchair travel" book about Scotland, My Heart's in the Lowlands.

Not only do I love Liz and her writing, I love Scotland--or at least (never having been there) I'm powerfully drawn to that country, and have longed to visit it for years. Maybe this book will be the next best thing?

Hopefully I'll be interviewing the wonderful Liz in the near future, and of course, I'll blog about it. Did you doubt it?

Don't forget we're streaming live...

You can listen to the radio stations I work for, 101QFL and Radio 91, any time, any where, as long as you have a computer and access to the internet. Just go to the station's website and click on "Listen Live."

My morning show co-host, Darren Marlar, got this e-mail today from a listener in Indonesia:

"It’s been awhile.. at a whim I thought that maybe you were streaming again. And you are! It’s great to hear you in Bandung, Indonesia where my wife and 3 teenage children live and work. We are teachers at BAIS. We moved here in 2003 from Janesville, WI and miss good Christian radio. It feels good to hear 'hometown' radio. Thanks for being on again! We don’t miss the snow and cold though. I listened three hours of your show tonight while I tried to get caught up on grades for my students. Thanks for helping me out."

Is that cool, or what? If you do end up listening to our live stream, do drop us an e-mail and let us know, and where you're listening from.

Pyromaniacs is back!

This blog, like its founder Phil Johnson, never minces words and is sometimes controversial. But even if you don't agree with it, it will definitely make you think, and will often teach you something.

By the way, Phil is the curator of all things Charles Haddon Spurgeon at The Spurgeon Archive.
Pyromaniacs is back after a short hiatus. Welcome!

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Friday, February 09, 2007

Open Mic Friday!

Your chance to link!

Once again, here's your opportunity to leave a link to anything you'd like to leave a link to! Simply leave it in my comments section. If you're introducing your blog, tell us a little about it and about yourself.

My one rule: Please make sure anything you link to is clean and family-friendly.

OK, well...there's juggling, and then there's juggling, and then there's juggling...

Yesterday I posted the video of juggler Chris Bliss. I thought it was pretty amazing. But in this video, Jason Garfield is doing everything Bliss did and more...but using five balls instead of three!

Everyone go out and have a blessed weekend!

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

13 Things to Let You Know About

1) I've already told you about "The Last Sin Eater." Here's another faith-based film you might want to check into: Amazing Grace, about anti-slavery pioneer William Wilberforce. The trailer is stunning, and I really like what I've seen of Welsh actor Ioan Gruffudd. The story is interwoven with the the story of John Newton and the timeless hymn he wrote.

2) Did you know that February 18th is "Amazing Grace Sunday"? Churches around the world are being urged to lift their voices to sing the hymn. (My church does it quite often anyway.)

3)WOW! There's juggling, and then there's juggling. This guy is amazing. (Hat/tip to Lisa Samson.)

4) Lost is back!--and in fine form. Take this quiz to find out which "Lost" character you are. I'm Sun.(hat tip to

5) Lisa Samson's new book, Quaker Summer, is out. I've read the first several chapters and can tell you, it's vintage Samson. Great stuff...I can't wait to read the whole book!

6) American Idol will soon start getting really interesting again. Come on, Hollywood! Let the real competition begin.

7) The Illinois Tourism Bureau wants you to vote on the Seven Wonders of Illinois. Some possibilities: the Superman statute in Metropolis, the giant catsup bottle in Collinsville, and Jane, the dinosaur fossil at Rockford's Burpee Museum of Natural History.

8) A sad note: three missionaries have been killed in an accident in Honduras.

9) Yes, I was pulling for the Bears, but I'm still really impressed by the faith and spirit of Colts' coach Tony Dungy. Here's another good article about him. An excerpt: "Notice he spoke of God. When he does, no one rolls their eyes. Because it is Tony Dungy. Because there is nothing but sincerity there and you know he will not talk of religion and several hours later go chase a few skirts as many people in his profession tend to do."

10) From the sublime to the ridiculous: As this Bears fan learned, be careful what you bet on. He will now be known as Peyton Manning.

11) Rebecca Writes is encouraging people to blog about children's poetry this month. (Scroll down to see where I did just that). Post about children's poetry, report back to Rebecca, and she'll link you.

12) Have you tried Hershey's 100 Calorie Chocolate Bars yet? I've found the dark chocolate bars and the chocolate wafers to be delicious, and just the right touch if you crave something sweet and chocolatey. Of course, you have to discipline yourself to eat just one serving...there's that. But, YUM.

13) My new grandson, Payton, was a week old yesterday! From what we hear, he is doing well (he lives in Texas and we live in Illinois. :( ) We're begging his parents for more pictures. He is a DOLL!!!

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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Remembering the poetry of childhood

The book pictured here was one of the favorite volumes of my childhood. I believe The Golden Treasury of Poetry , edited by poet and anthologist Louis Untermeyer, had actually been a Christmas gift from my parents to my sister Lisa. But I remember spending hours poring over it; reading and re-reading my favorite poems.

I even enjoyed and appreciated Untermeyer's notes accompanying many of the poems, and I loved the illustrations by the wonderful Joan Walsh Anglund. (If you're not familiar with Anglund's work, do check it out. The children in her illustrations are so winsomely charming and appealing.)

Why am I reminiscing about the poetry of my childhood? Because Rebecca of Rebecca Writes has declared February to be Children's Poetry Month. She's urging people to blog their favorite children's poems and report back to her.

Granted, the Golden Treasury didn't consist only of poems specifically for children. Not by a long shot (although it was, of course, child-appropriate and family-friendly.) It was a child's introduction to great poetry, and there's a difference.

So, what were my favorite poems? It's hard to choose just one. I loved the whimsical humor of Ogden Nash. I loved limericks and seasonal poems. I loved the ballads--my already romantic mind thrilled to Alfred Noyes' The Highwayman:

"The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,
The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas,
The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor,
And the highwayman came riding—-
The highwayman came riding, up to the old inn-door."

I enjoyed little gems like William Blake's Infant Joy:

"I have no name;
I am but two days old."
What shall I call thee?
"I happy am,
Joy is my name."
Sweet joy befall thee!

Pretty joy!
Sweet joy, but two days old.
Sweet Joy I call thee:
Thou dost smile,
I sing the while;
Sweet joy befall thee!

And this one from Robert Browning:

The year's at the spring,
And day's at the morn;
Morning's at seven;
The hill-side's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in his Heaven -
All's right with the world!

I was introduced to poets like Emily Dickinson, T. S. Eliot, e. e. cummings, Christina Rosetti, William Shakespeare, Vachel Lindsay, Walter de la Mare, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Carl Sandburg, Robert Frost, and a host of others.

The quirky humor of Lewis Carroll's The White Knight's Song, from Alice in Wonderland, appealed to me:

I'll tell thee everything I can;
There's little to relate,
I saw an aged, aged man,
A-sitting on a gate.
"Who are you, aged man?" I said.
"And how is it you live?"
And his answer trickled through my head
Like water through a sieve.

He said, "I look for butterflies
That sleep among the wheat;
I make them into mutton-pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men," he said,
"Who sail on stormy seas;
And that's the way I get my bread--
A trifle, if you please."

But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one's whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That they could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
To what the old man said,
I cried, "Come, tell me how you live!"
And thumped him on the head.

(You can read the whole thing here.)

I don't know where that book is. The last time I saw it, the cover had broken apart and whole sections were missing. But the more I think about that book, the more I want to own it again--and maybe even a copy for my new grandson. (There are some copies available online.) What better way to give him a love and appreciation for poetry?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Faith Like a Child

"I long to worship Jesus with the heart of a child, in a state of pure and true adoration. Yet so many things of the world cloud my thoughts and pull on my heart until it's no longer just a girl in the arms of the Father"
~ Darlene Schacht ~
"The Mom Complex"

"They say that love can heal the broken
They say that hope can make you see
They say that faith can find a Savior
If you would follow and believe
with faith like a child"--Jars of Clay

One of things I love about Jesus is that, in his physical life here on earth, he loved children. Isn't it wonderful that, included in God's inspired, inerrant word, are instances of Jesus displaying that love of children? Of him urging his disciples not to turn them away--"for of such is the kingdom of heaven"?

When I was a little girl, there was a popular children's Bible whose cover depicted Jesus surrounded by little children. The picture might be considered schmaltzy today, and I question how much Jesus actually looked like that depiction (probably not much at all!) Still, the picture imparted happy feelings to my childish mind. It illustrated to me, vividly, that Jesus loved little children. That he took time here on earth to care about them.

Few things are as precious, sweet and innocent as a little child. That's why it's such a vile and horrific crime when adults destroy that innocence.

Jesus says we are to become as little children. So Darlene's hope and wish to become more like a child is not a mere whim--it's something Jesus exhorted us to do.

Lord, let us affirm and value the faith and innocence of our precious children. And Father, let me be more like a child, full of simple trust in You.

Monday, February 05, 2007

"I am from"

Join an "I Am From" Contest

(The pic is of several of my cousins and me with my Grandma Garrett, circa 1967. I am the one with the goofy-looking dark hair, top far left. The baby in my Grandma's lap is my brother David.)

I've seen this "I am from" thing on many different blogs, but it took Mary at Owlhaven to get me to write one myself. Mary is holding a contest seeking entries in the "I am From" or "I am" format.

The deadline for the contest is February 10th.

Please go to this post at Owlhaven and tell her in her comments section that you heard about the contest right here at Notes in the Key of Life. Pretty please?

If you like, you can use this form as a prompt. That didn't fit very well for me, since my family moved around so much when I was growing up, I don't really feel like I am from one physical place. So I tailored it a bit, and I take it that's OK to do. Anyway, here's my "I Am From."

I am from dreamers and storytellers and wanderers, but I am also from workers and savers and entrepreneurs.

I am from ice-cold Coke and corner grocery stores and swimmin' holes and wishing wells and pumpjacks and oil fields.

I am from Celtic and Mediterranean, from Scottish and Irish and Spanish-French and Greek.

I am from laughers and debaters and preachers and performers and singers. Oh yes, I am from singers.

I am from dyed-in-the-wool Republican conservatives, but I am also from yellow-dog Democrats.

I am from talkers...people who will talk to you for hours about the knottiest and most profound theological questions, or the most trivial or hilarious of topics.

I am from writers...people who can express themselves on paper as easily, or even more easily, than they can verbally--and that's saying something.

I am from romanticists...people who don't deride romanticism as corny or schmaltzy; people that delight in a love story. Oh yes, I am from people that delight in a good story.

I am from musicians; as I told you, I am from singers. But that doesn't say it all. I am from people who would not be able to get through a day without music; I am from people who appreciate music, from people who "get" music; from people who are fluent in its language and understand its ability to convey truth and emotion.

I am from people who enjoy life to the fullest. From people who keenly savor and delight in everything from the physical expressions of love to the enjoyment of delicious food.

I am from humorists...from people who love to laugh and to make other people laugh. People who richly enjoy the funny in life.

I am from people who love and place a very high value on family.

I am from fiery Baptists and ardent Methodists, but I am also from Greek Orthodox and devout Catholics.

I am from people who love and revere God and His Word. I am from churchgoers and pastors and pastors' wives and missionaries and Sunday School teachers....from people who believe God is the be-all and end-all of all existence.

I am from Texans and Louisianians and Arkansans. I am from chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes and gravy and banana pudding.

I am from Garrett and Zarafonetis and Dozier and Carroll.

I am from Pepper and Cynthia.

I am blessed.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Reflections on being a grandma

...and, Open Mic Friday!--and a few other pertinent things

Well, those of you who are grandparents tried to prepare me for the burst of love I would experience at the birth of my first grandchild, but I guess I still wasn't prepared.

I can't describe how crazy I am about this baby, and I haven't even gotten to see him yet in person! I oonstantly look at the few pictures I have of him. I can't wait to see and hold him...hopefully in the very near future.

I do have a favor to ask. If you are a grandparent whose grandchild(ren) lives quite a ways from you, please give me some advice on how to live through this! How do you keep yourself alive and real to the grandbaby that lives so far away?

I do try to get down to Texas as often as possible, and I'm sure my son and his family will try to make it up here as well. But I would love to have some concrete suggestions on how to make sure baby Payton knows and loves his grandparents.

Open Mic Friday!

I must say, this hasn't been the smash hit I hoped it would be, but here we go again. This is YOUR TURN to give me any links that you think are worthy to be read...whether it's a post of yours or someone else's, a favorite website, or just introducing us to your blog. So, give me your links!

As always, I only ask that they be clean, profanity-free, and family-friendly. Just leave 'em in my comments section.

Update on Burlap to Cashmere's Johnny Philippidis beating case

Back when Burlap to Cashmere band member Johnny Philippidis was brutally beaten in an apparent road rage incident, I blogged about it and even interviewed Johnny's sister Nicole a few times.

The latest on Johnny: reportedly he and his cousin, B2C member Steven Delopolous, will be touring, as Burlap to Cashmere, with Jars of Clay.

Back when this happened, I requested Google to alert me if there was any media update on Johnny's case. Surprisingly, there was one in my Gmail today. You can read the article here.

Bear Down, Chicago Bears!

Well, of course it's all about the Bears this weekend, but Green Bay Packers fans also have something to celebrate. It's just been confirmed that Packers' quarterback Brett Favre is returning for another season. (As of the last Packers' game of the season, that was in doubt.)

And now I leave you with a Chicago Bears joke. Go out and have a wonderful and blessed weekend!

This morning a Gary, Indiana kindergarten teacher explains to her class
that she is an Indianapolis Colts fan.

She asks her students to raise their hands if they are Colts fans, too.
Not really knowing what a Colts fan was, but wanting to be liked by
their teacher, their hands fly into the air.

There is, however, one exception. Susie has not gone along with the
The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different. "Because I'm
not a Colts fan" she reports.

"Then," asks the teacher, "what are you?"

"I'm a Chicago Bears fan," boasts the little girl.

The teacher asks Susie why she is a Bears fan. "Well, my Dad and Mom are
Bears fans, so I'm a Bears fan, too" she responds.

"That's no reason," the teacher says. "What if your mom was a moron, and
your dad was an idiot. What would you be then?"

Susie smiles and says, "Then I'd be a Colts fan."

Go Bears!

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Thursday, February 01, 2007

13 Things To Let You Know About

1) I love American Idol, but I'm tending to agree with Robin Lee Hatcher's opinion about this year's version so far. Would it kill them to let us see a few more of the good singers and a few less of the freaks?

2) Speaking of Robin Lee Hatcher, she's featured in this month's Christian Women Online magazine. She's a wonderful author!

3) Christianity Today is Out with it's list of the Ten Most Redeeming Films of 2007.Have you seen any of them? Let me know if you liked them.

4) Speaking of films: "The Last Sin Eater" is based on a novel by one of my favorite authors, Francine Rivers. See the trailer here. Wow, a movie about a little girl that is wholesome and uplifting? What a concept.

5) I'm totally rooting for Da Bears, but I'm deeply impressed by the quiet faith and character of both Bears Coach Lovie Smith and Colts Coach Tony Dungy.

6) With the Academy Awards coming up, how would you like to see some of the old, classic Oscar-winning movies? USA Today's Pop Candy tells you how you can have your own private Oscar Fest.

7) I love Rodney Olsen's contingency plan for if his cell phone ever gets stolen.

8) You, too, can vote for America's Best Restroom!

9) Does it amaze anyone else that Michael Dell, CEO again of Dell Computers, is only 41 years old? People, he started the company in his college dorm room.

10) You know what? Eight-year-old standup comic Dustin Joiner is actually pretty funny. (hat tip to my co-host and comedian Darren Marlar.)

11) Who among us doesn't desperately need prayer? So I think this is a great idea.

12) Did I happen to mention that I'M A GRANDMA??? Beautiful Payton was born yesterday, January 31st.

13) And I've updated my slide show of Baby Payton with some pics of day 2 of his little life. So, I'm a pround grandma--isn't bragging rights part of the package? :)

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!

First Photos of Baby Payton

Here are the first pics of my new grandson, Payton, born early Wednesday morning. Most of the shots are of Payton getting his first bath. We're anxiously awaiting more photos, as Payton lives in Texas and we live in Illinois. I can't wait to see and hold this precious baby!

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