Monday, December 31, 2007

My "Best of" Posts for 2007

I'm borrowing an idea from Sherry of Semicolon here...digging into the 2007 archives of "Notes in the Key of Life" to showcase what I consider my best posts of the year.

Here we go...

--My first interview with Chip Flaherty of WaldenMedia, about "Amazing Grace"-- I was, and am, intrigued by Flaherty and his brother, who head the company that produced "Amazing Grace" as well as "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "Bridge to Terabithia," "Charlotte's Web," and others. Flaherty says that rather than curse the darkness of Hollywood, they decided to light a candle. I think that's cool.

--Remembering the poetry of childhood--Responding to Rebecca's call for posts about poetry brought back a lot of good memories for me.

-What's the deal with literary spam?--I blogged about a very strange e-mail phenomenon.

--A tale of two fathers--I contrasted the true stories of two fathers: one who lost his entire family in a tragic flood, and one who is charged with killing his entire family in cold blood.

--Thirteen Things I Miss About My Dad--Funnily enough, I believe some of my Thursday Thirteen posts were among my best. This tribute to my late father was one of them.

--"I am cut"--This post about a controversial song brought a lot of response from people concerned about the practice of anguished young people cutting themselves. (There was more feedback in this post.)

--Thirteen Reasons Why I Love "Lost"--in which I try to explain my passion for this TV show, one of the few shows I watch on a regular basis. It returns January 31st, and I'm really hoping it lives up to my expectations! By the way, (and hat tip to Robin Lee Hatcher), if you'd like a short synopsis of the show so far, you've got to see this 8-minute 15-second video. Just follow the link and click on "Catch up on Lost."

--My interview with Randy Alcorn--Randy's Deadline was one of the best books I read last year, and I really enjoyed getting Randy's "eternal perspective" on the Christian life.

--My second interview with Chip Flaherty of Walden Media--OK, so yes, I enjoy interviewing Chip Flaherty! In this one, he looks back on the success of "Amazing Grace."

--My interview with Francine Rivers-- I was excited to interview one of my very favorite authors and find out that she is indeed working on a new full-length novel.

--Thirteen Pictures of a Year with Payton--Becoming a grandmother was the most wonderful thing that happened to me in 2007! I love this pictorial chronology of Payton's first year.

I hope you'll take a moment to check out a few of these posts. And I do want to wish each of you a happy, blessed and prosperous 2008!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Stuff you need to know!

The weather outside is frightful.

We are expected to get up to 6 inches of the white stuff today. It's really gorgeous falling...but it's tough to get around in, if you don't have a one-horse open sleigh! Also, I lose my appetite for snow once Christmas is over and it's no longer needed for picturesque Christmas ambience. are some things you need to know and/or check out on this last Friday in December:

--Speaking of snow, Jan has a lovely video of snow falling around her Colorado home. Especially nice if you live where there is no snow!

--Sherry of Semicolon is showcasing her 12 best posts of 2007. Hmm...not a bad idea.

--Speaking of "Best Of" lists, Times Online has a list of the 100 Best Movies of 2007. (I've seen exactly three of them.)

--Denzel Washington's faith seems pretty genuine.

--More about the atheism of The Golden Compass author Phillip Pullman.

--Think you know the GOP candidates? The Evangelical Outpost will test your knowledge with a Pre-Caucus Candidate Quiz.

--The popular Heavenly Daze fiction series, by Angela Hunt and Lori Copeland, may be continuing.

--Three of my favorite gifts this Christmas were those I received from my daughter Elizabeth: the book Gone with the Wind, the DVD of the movie Gone with the Wind, and the book Rhett Butler's People, which is the story told from Rhett's point of view. I'm engrossed in that right now. I must say author has Donald McCaig nailed the voice and spirit of Rhett. I'm not done with the book yet, so I'll withhold my review until I've finished, but right now it definitely has me!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas was wonderful...

(Left) The scene is set for our Christmas celebration...

(Below) On Christmas Eve, my son Justin flew in from Texas. After picking him up at O'Hare, we went to Maggiano's in Schaumburg for dinner.

It was a wonderful evening, and we made memories!

(Left) The table set and ready for company...(we put a table in the living room for the occasion)

On Christmas Day, we had several relatives over for a traditional turkey and ham dinner. Then yesterday, Justin had to fly back to Texas. It had been a whirlwind visit, but it made Christmas so much better for us! (My other son, my daughter-in-law and baby Payton were spending Christmas in Idaho with my daughter-in-law's family.)

I hope everyone had a lovely Christmas!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Merry Christmas to all who visit my blog...

And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.--John 1:14

I will be taking a blogging break for the next several days to enjoy the holidays with my family, so I wanted to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very merry Christmas and a blessed New Year!
If you've never taken the opportunity to seek a real relationship with the Christ of Christmas, I pray that you will do so today.
As has been my tradition for the past few years, my Christmas card to you is this beautiful song by Chris Rice. You can hear the song here. As you read the lyrics, take just a moment to think about the real meaning of Christmas:
Welcome to Our

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
Youve been promised, we've been waiting
Welcome holy child,
Welcome holy child

Hope that you don't mind our manger
How I wish we would have known
But long awaited holy stranger
Make yourself at home
Please make yourself at home

Bring your peace into our violence
Bid our hungry souls be filled
World now breaking heavens silence
Welcome to our world
Welcome to our world

Fragile finger sent to heal us
Tender brow prepared for thorn
Tiny heart whose blood will save us
Unto us is born
Unto us is born

So wrap our injured flesh around you
Breathe our air and walk our sod
Rob our sin and make us holy
Perfect son of God
Perfect son of God
Welcome to our world

Thursday, December 20, 2007

13 Pictures of a Year with Payton

Since by far the most exciting thing to happen to me this year was becoming grandmother to baby Payton, I thought I would exercise a proud grandma's perogative and chronicle the year in pictures with my adorable grandson! While I only got to be with him four times, my daughter-in-law was great about filling in the gaps with e-mailed pictures. So here we go...starting with one of his very first photos on his January birthday.













and finally...with Mommy and Daddy, December 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

I feel like a loser....

...because I didn't get to watch the entire season finale of "The Biggest Loser"!

I had to do a radio remote last night, and my daughter went to a basketball game. We regrouped at home, excited about wathcing the long-awaited finale. After following these people all season long, we were so invested in their lives and their weight loss!

Just as we were settling in cozily to watch what should have been recorded on our DVR, we realized hadn't been.

WHAT a disappointment! Yes, we watched the last hour of the show live, so we got to see the weigh-ins and the winner (Bill, deservedly so, in my opinion!)

But we didn't get to see ANY of the other contestants, and how fabulous everyone says they looked! Plus, I haven't been able to find ANY pictures or video on line...not even on the official Biggest Loser site.

It's hard to imagine that we could be as "into" the upcoming season as we were this last one, but I suppose it will happen!

I had never watched the show before this season, and it quickly became one of my favorites. It's always inspiring to see someone transform themselves physically. Kudos to all the contestants for turning their lives around.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Get ready for "Lost"...

...and other stuff to tell you!

--For all you "Losties" out there: if this trailer doesn't whet your appetite, nothing will! (This is a longer one than the one you may have recently seen.)

--(Hat tip to Mei Flower):

You Should Have a Gold Christmas Tree

For you, the holidays represent a time of optimism and wealth.
You definitely have a generous spirit, and you give a lot during the holiday season.

You really go over the top for Christmas. Everyone on your list gets a great gift.
Even if you don't have a lot of money during the holidays, it's the one time you pretend like you do.

Your gold tree would look great with: All kinds of metallic decorations

You should spend Christmas Eve watching: Miracle on 34th St

What you should bake for Santa: A ton of cookies, cupcakes, and candy. You would enjoy spoiling him.

(By the way, I don't know where I went wrong in answering those questions, but that's not really me! I do like to give great gifts, but I'm not extravagant, and I go more for traditional decorations.)

--Take this Christmas song quiz (hat tip to Angela Hunt.) I got two wrong!

--Some of my favorite Christian authors share some of their favorite Christmas memories.

--If you want your heart to be completely warmed, read what happened to Donna-Jean. In fact, just read it. You must.

--And THANKS so much to everyone who left "gifts" for me yesterday--in the form of comments! I was blessed and encouraged!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Would you give me a gift?

Don't worry, you don't have to spend a dime!

I'd love it if you would simply leave a comment on this post. If possible, leave a link if you have a blog of your own, and even let me know if you are a semi-regular reader or how you found my blog. If you've been "lurking" a while and never commented, make today the day you come out of the shadows and say "hi."

That's all I'm asking!

Later today I plan to update this post with some (hopefully) interesting and informative stuff, so come back if you can. But in the meantime, the best Christmas gift you could give me would be a brief comment letting me know you read this blog. I would really appreciate it!

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Battling bronchitis

I've been MIA for a few days! Unbelievably...after having strep just several weeks ago...I now have bronchitis. I was thoroughly miserably for a good three days, but I'm now on an antibiotic and a steroid and I'm feeling much better. Well, just thought I'd post something in case any of my legions of readers were wondering. (smile)

Now, back to your regularly scheduled broadcast...

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How you can order Evie's new Christmas music!

Yesterday, I had the chance to interview beloved Christian singer Evie Tornquist Karlsson.

As I told Evie, one of the main searches that brings people to my blog at this time of year is for info on Evie and/or her Christmas classic, "Come On Ring Those Bells." This is the third time I've interviewed Evie in recent years, and I'm starting to feel like we're old friends!

Evie even sang "Happy Birthday" to that cool or what?

By the way, she's keeping busy with concerts, both solo and with Rebecca St. James. And she and her husband Pelle are actively involved with the Back to Jerusalem project, and have even made recent trips to China to encourage believers there.

To order Evie's new Christmas music...

A few years ago in an interview, Evie told me that she had gone back into the studio to re-record some of her Christmas songs and add some new ones. These CD's are usually sold at Evie's personal appearances, but until now, there's been no way for you Evie fans who read this blog to get ahold of the CD's.

Now, Evie has given me an address to which you can write and order the CD. Unfortunately, I have no pricing information, but at least you can send your inquiries here:

Whitefield Music
P.O. Box 9499
Naples, FL 34101

You can go here to hear the entire interview, which is about 16 minutes long.

Monday, December 10, 2007

So, another birthday today...

It's hard to believe another year has come and gone, and I'm celebrating another birthday today!

This past year was quite an eventful one for me. On January 31st, I became a grandmother. Little Payton has revolutionized my life! The sad part is that I've only gotten to see him four times so far, but you can bet I made the most of every minute I was able to spend with him. I'm crazy about that little boy, and I love being a grandma. As my mother has said, "It adds a whole new dimension of love to your life." She's so right.

In September I was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. What seemed like an upsetting and depressing turn of events actually became a blessing in disguise. I am now eating more healthily than I ever have in my life, and exercising on a much more consistent and committed basis than I ever have. Diabetes finally gave me the motivation I've always needed to stick with a healthy eating and exercise plan, and I actually feel better than ever.

There are several things that tell me that I'm not young any more...little things that I won't go into, because if you're my age, you've noticed them in yourself too...and if you're younger, you don't have to worry about that yet.

But there are many ways in which I really do feel that "I'm not getting older, I'm getting better"! That's my story and I'm sticking to it, anyway. (smile)

Doug and I got a Christmas letter from a friend who talked eloquently about finding the beauty in life. She talked about finding beauty on her morning in her mother's aged hands and her father-in-law's zest for in her husband's joyful praise-singing. She ended her letter with the admonition, "In 2008,look for the beauty!"

I love that! With so many ugly things going on in the world--the senseless shootings, the poverty, the disease, the scary presidential elections--there is still beauty everywhere. There can even be beauty in me, even as I add another (figurative) candle to my birthday cake. (Yeah, that really is figurative, because I won't be eating cake today, and if I did, that many candles would probably end up with a call to the fire department!)

But seriously. I will look for the beauty this year, and if I look, I know I'll find it.

Friday, December 07, 2007

Did you ever sneak a peek... one of your Christmas presents?

This morning on the 101QFL morning show, our informal poll asked listeners if they'd ever sneaked a peek at one of their Christmas presents.

We got some hilarious replies. One guy said that he so routinely looked at his presents that there were Christmases that he knew everything he was getting. Didn't that spoil the fun on Christmas morning, I asked? He replied that he's an actor, and that the fun for him was convincingly acting surprised when he actually opened the gifts!

Another woman recalled finding, as a little girl, a Barbie Dream House under her parents' bed. As they loaded up to head to a relatives' house to open gifts, she realized they hadn't taken the Barbie Dream House. "Are you sure you've got everything?" she pleaded. She ended up having to admit that she'd found the gift, but her parents weren't giving up yet...they tried to convince her that it was for a cousin. Sure enough, though, she got it on Christmas morning.

One listener told of a childhood friend who brought over a new gadget (I forget what it was), and said, "I'm getting this for Christmas. I snuck it out of the house." Now, that takes chutzpah---playing with the gift that you haven't even been given yet!

I'll never forget one Christmas when I was stowing unwrapped presents for my kids between my bed and the an area I didn't think they would think to look. However, I walked in one day to show something to a friend...and caught my son Justin (probably 10 or 12 at the time) crouching by my bed! Busted!

My boys have since told me that they often peeked, and even knew ahead of time about some of big gifts that we gave them.

To be honest, I've never understood the peeking thing. I have always wanted to be surprised when I opened my Christmas gifts. Even some of our callers admitted that it took a lot of fun out of it for them.

How about you? Have you ever snuck a peek at a gift before Christmas? Did you have to act surprised when it came time to open the gifts--and did it take any of the fun out of the gift opening?

Let me know in my comments section.

And, everyone have a wonderful and blessed weeken!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The 13 Most Requested Christmas Songs

These are the top 13 most requested Christmas songs, according to Pop Culture Madness:

1. Here Comes Santa Claus - Gene Autry
2. The Christmas Song - Nat King Cole
3. Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer - Gene Autry
4. Peace on Earth/Little Drummer Boy - Bing Crosby & David Bowie
5. White Christmas - Bing Crosby
6. A Holly Jolly Christmas - Burl Ives
7. My Little Drum - Vince Guaraldi (Charlie Brown Christmas)
8. Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town - Bruce Springsteen
9. Christmas Shoes -Newsong (or Alabama)
10. Last Christmas - Wham!
11. Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley
12. Winter Wonderland - Eurythmics
13. Frosty the Snowman - Jimmy Durante

For the complete list, go here.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Let It Snow!

When my daughter Elizabeth, my nephew Jeff and I got home from a basketball game last night, the snow was falling gorgeously (is that a word?), and I decided to take some pictures. Here are a couple...Elizabeth and me in the snow, and Jeff and Liz in the snow.

You know, it's a pain to get around in, but nothing puts you in the Christmas spirit more than a beautiful snowfall!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

What's your favorite Christmas movie?

...and, some pictures of Baby's First Haircut

On our morning show on 101QFL this morning, Darren Marlar and I took a poll on our listeners' favorite Christmas movies or TV specials. The question: what movie/special do you HAVE to watch in order for it to really feel like Christmas?

Here are some of the answers:

~It's a Wonderful Life--a personal favorite of both mine and Darren's

~A Christmas Story
~White Christmas

~Holiday Inn
~National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

~How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original animated version)

~A Charlie Brown Christmas

What's your favorite? Let me know in my comments section...and if you blog about it, I'll link to you!

Some pics of Baby's First Haircut

While my son, daughter-in-law and my Adorable Grandson were in town for Thanksgiving, we took him for his very first haircut. It was just a trim, really, but significant because the cut was given by the same man who cut Jonathan's hair for the very first time. I wish I could scan the pics from Jon's first cut, because the look on his face is remarkably similar to Payton's. Anyway, here are a few...and thank you, Max, of Eastgate Barber Shop!

The obligatory "before" shot

Note that this is a real, old-fashioned barbershop...none of your newfangled frou-frou stuff!

Daddy's hand kept him steady and provided reassurance.

Not quite sure what's going on.

Still not sure what to make of this whole process, but taking it in stride.

Strangely, I can see traces of both myself and my husband in this shot. He is normally a perfect mix of his own mom and dad!

Feeling pretty good about himself now.

The "after" shot--what a big boy!

Monday, December 03, 2007

12 Days of Christmas Questions

Hootin' Annie
has started a 12 Days of Christmas meme..and since it's Monday and my brain is devoid of any original blogging thoughts, I'm happily participating.

Find out more and get the graphic here.

Here we go:

1. Christmas is _Jesus______. [fill in the blank with ONE WORD]

2. In memories, what was the best part of your Christmases past?--Opening presents!

3. Was Santa ever good to you? [describe how and what]--Many times. I remember, when I was about eight, getting a baby doll that I had long coveted at a local department store. When my parents were missionaries to Lebanon, a favorite great aunt visited and bought beautiful bicycles for my sister and me.

My favorite presents of all were books, though--even when I was a little girl, I was an avid bookworm. I never remember being disappointed at Christmas.

4. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both?--My husband's family is Swedish in origin, and the tradition of celebrating on Christmas Eve has persisted. When our kids were little, we always came home and opened presents after the Swanson family gathering on Christmas Eve. We still open presents then.

5. Is there something you make each and every year? [craft or recipe]--I always make Ritz crackers with peanut butter, dipped in almond bark. Now that I've found out I'm diabetic, I won't be indulging as heavily in these delectable treats, but I'll still make them.

6. What is your favorite five[5] Christmas songs/hymns?--
(In no particular order):

--Hark the Herald Angels Sing
--For Unto Us A Child is Born, from Handel's Messiah
--Welcome to Our World
--Sleigh Ride
--Joy to the World

7. Is there a new tradition for Christmas since your childhood days?--I don't remember getting Christmas stockings as a child, but I've always given them to my kids. Although they got to open their presents on Christmas Eve, they awoke to find their stockings full on Christmas morning.

8. Describe one of your Christmas trips. [whether it's across town or across country]--We've gone home to Texas a few times for Christmas, starting with when I was expecting my first child, Christmas 1979. A few of my favorite Christmases were in Wyoming with my sister Bev and her family. The snow, the mountains and evergreens were postcard perfect for the season, and Bev and her husband have always made us feel so very welcome and loved. We have wonderful memories of sitting around the fire watching Christmas movies, and incredibly delicious food.

9. Do you have a special Christmas outfit to wear for the day?--I try to have something festive and new to wear for the Swanson family gathering (which is now no longer on Christmas Eve. The brothers and sisters now celebrate Christmas Eve with their own individual kids and grandkids, since the family has gotten so big.) But on Christmas Day it's usual something pretty but comfortable.

10. Have YOU or any of your family members sat on Santa's lap?--Not me! I think all my kids have at one point, as babies. I don't think they liked it, either!

11. What is/or will be on your Christmas tree this year?--I haven't put mine up yet, and to be honest, I'm kind of dreading it! My son Justin has traditionally been the one to help me, and he doesn't live here right now (sad face.)

12. Do you/or have you decorated your yard for Christmas?--Not really. I have some wreaths on the lights on either side of my garage door, and a wreath on the door, but that's about it.
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