Wednesday, December 17, 2008

WOO-HOO!!! Michelle wins Biggest Loser

...and, I'm going on blog hiatus for a bit

My favorite Biggest Loser contestant won the title and the 250-thousand dollar prize last night...thereby totally redeeming the show for me!

The Biggest Loser has tried my patience this season. I feel it lost a little sight of what fans really appreciate about the show--seeing hard work and determination pay off. Instead, we got way too much unpleasantness from certain participants.

Michelle Aguilar stayed sweet and pleasant throughout the show, while still being competitive and determined. I'm really, really glad she won.

I'll also give the show another chance in the season that begins January 6th. As I continue my own fitness journey, the show continues to inspire and educate me. I enjoy it!

Congratulations, Michelle, and God bless you!

...and I'm off to God's Country...

...otherwise known as the Great State of Texas!

I fly tomorrow (Dec 18th), and any prayers for traveling mercies would be greatly appreciated. I can't wait to spend Christmas with all the people I love down there, including my precious little grandson, Payton!

So if I don't get a chance to blog before then, a very sincere Merry Christmas to all of you who stop by this blog...and a very blessed New Year.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

My Fijian foot massage

A couple of weeks ago, one of our 101QFL sales executives told me I need to schedule an appointment at Salon Crimson for a foot massage. As often happens in radio, we were going to be giving away a gift certificate on the air for the massage, and they wanted me to experience it firsthand so I could talk about it on the air.

He didn't have to twist my arm. I've had massages before, and I find them incredibly relaxing. I was a little puzzled, though, that a foot massage was going to last an hour. That's quite a bit of massaging!

Well, when I called to make the appointment, I found out that it wasn't just my feet that were getting the massage. It was actually a full-body massage DONE BY the feet of the masseuse!

I was a little surprised, to say the least. Although I had vague recollections of seeing something like this on TV, I had to admit it seemed like kind of a funny idea.

After experiencing it, I have to tell you that I definitely would recommend it. At first, the idea of someone's feet being on your person is just a little off-putting.

However, I quickly stopped thinking about it when the incredible relaxation set in! It was really easy to forget that it was feet that were performing the massage.

Why the feet?

I did wonder why feet would be employed in a massage, instead of the hands and arms.

Well, according to, there are several benefits. They say the foot massage is often a more effective treatment for damaged, painful or tight muscles; clients often say it's a deeper yet gentler massage, and it can be done through clothing or on bare skin.

It's also beneficial for the person giving the massage, as it "saves therapist's hands, neck, arms and shoulders while avoiding kyphotic strain, cervico-cranial hyperlordosis, repetitive strain injury to hands and many overuse syndromes."

Would I do it again? Definitely, if it was free! And I have to say the staff of Salon Crimson couldn't have been more gracious.

But I do have to admit, I enjoy a regular massage just as much.

If you want to know more about Fijian barefoot massage, here's a video.

Friday, December 12, 2008

I'm tagged! Seven things about me...

...and a wonderful birthday

Before I get into the meme, I have to mention my birthday, which was Wednesday. The picture is of my daughter Elizabeth and me at Red Robin, where she and my husband took me for lunch that day. (I added the seasonal border on Snapfish, just for fun.) Both of them got me gifts that I had mentioned in passing and was very excited about receiving! My husband was a sweetheart, and made me feel great. It was a happy day.

As I get farther on the down side of fifty, you would think each birthday would be more depressing. However, my wonderful family made it a happy occasion. And I have to admit that it's encouraging to know that I'm probably healthier now than I was in my forties. I'm definitely taking better care of myself. I'm going to continue my personal mission statement of being the very best fifty-something woman I can be!

Thank you SO much to those of you who took time to wish me happy birthday on Facebook. That was so much fun, and so appreciated!

OK, now the meme...

My wonderful blogging friend Ann-Marie has tagged me with a meme in which I have to tell seven things about myself. I must admit I'm going to cheat a little, because I was tagged with a similar meme a few years ago, and some of my answers will be the same.

Here we go:

1. I spent two years in Beirut, Lebanon, when I was a child (my parents were missionaries.) The picture you see is of Beirut, and it is remarkably like my first impression of the city from our ship. As a litte girl I was immediately enchanted by the beauty of the place, which was not yet marred by war.

2. In the fifth grade, while in Lebanon, I got to help interview astronaut John Glenn. (I've blogged about the experience here.)

3. My favorite book of all time, not including the Bible which goes without saying, is Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte.

4. My family tree includes a lot of Scottish and Irish on both sides, but my mother's father was full-blooded Greek.

5. I am a grandmother, and it's one of my favorite roles in life! Little Payton Charles Douglas Swanson will be 2 years old on January 31st.

6. I don't like circuses. I'm not scared of them, I just don't like them.

7. I am a voice-over artist, and my voice can be heard on tutorials for several computer programs and a lot of phone surveys for restaurants and other businesses, among other things.

You're supposed to tag seven people with this and leave comments on their blog letting them know you tagged them...but I'm going to take the lazy way out and just invite everyone who reads to do this. Feel free to do it on your own blog, or in my comments section...I love getting to know my readers!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My vote was for Ed--as "Biggest Loser" winds up...

...a less-than-stellar season

As you know if you read this blog at all, one of my favorite TV shows--one of the few shows I watch regularly--really tried my patience this season.

"The Biggest Loser" has been a source of real inspiration in my own fitness journey. This season, it was mostly about game-playing, manipulation, and really unpleasant people getting their way.

And yes, Vicky's ultimate game-playing plan succeeded. Her alliance with Ed and Heba did result in them, as blue team members, making it all the way to the final four, and could result in her winning the big 250-thousand dollar prize at next week's finale.

I hope not. I've like Michelle (and her mom, Renee, who left the show last week) from the very beginning. Their pleasant personalities and obvious niceness, along with their hard work, determination and healthy competitiveness, are what the show's all about for me.

I think that what has grated on my nerves the most is the fact that Vicky's plan has worked almost like clockwork, with only a few setbacks (notably when Amy C had the courage to vote off Vicky's husband Brady, and the fact that Michelle and Renee of the black team just kept working extremely hard and losing weight.)

Unpleasant and annoying though she is, Vicky is a hard worker and a brilliant game-player. I have to give her that. But that's NOT why I watch "The Biggest Loser."

Last night, blue team/alliance members Ed and Heba, who are married to each other, fell below the yellow line that puts you in danger of elimination. Now it's up to "America" to vote: who will be the third person in the finale, alongside Michelle and Vicky?

Ed made a plea for us to vote for Heba. He wants her to have the chance to be in the finale.

Well, I voted for Ed.

Why? Honestly, I'm not trying to be spiteful. It's just that after watching Heba and Vicky scheme and manipulate week after week to play the game, I just want something NOT to go their way.

This article
by Valerie Phillips does a good job of summing up why the show needs to shed the negative aspects that it seems to have embraced this season.

Phillips tells quotes her sister-in-law, who has lost 50 pounds with the help of the show:

"I was so excited for this season to begin but have been so disappointed at the mean-spirited people they have chosen, especially Vicky, who has such hateful thoughts and actions toward many of the other contestants." she said.

She hopes that NBC will heed her plea: "Give us back the show that inspired us. Give us back the show that made us believe we can do this. Give us back the show that gave me hope."

Amen to that.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

OK, I know Blago is innocent until proven guilty, but I'm thinking...

...about what makes people in high places take risky chances?

And I thought our biggest news story today was the winter weather.

The arrest of Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich today on federal corruption charges has sent a shock wave around the state, despite the fact that the governor has been under investigation for some time, and despite the fact that our most recent governor is serving time on federal charges. Sheesh.

While these are only charges and haven't been proven (yada yada yada), I can't help but wonder WHAT people in high positions--whether it be elected officials, pastors, evangelists or priests--are possibly thinking when they partipate in wrongdoing. They are taking enormous risks when they do so. How do they possibly imagine they can get away with it?

And yet it happens over and over again.

Why? I believe one explanation is summed up in the word hubris:

In its modern usage, hubris denotes overconfident pride and arrogance; it is often associated with a lack of humility, not always with the lack of knowledge. An accusation of hubris often implies that suffering or punishment will follow, similar to the occasional pairing of hubris and nemesis in the Greek world. The proverb "pride goes before a fall" is thought to sum up the modern definition of hubris.--Wikipedia

This from an article titled "Why Good Leaders Do Bad Things" (from the Graziadio Business Report, which--perhaps ironically--is put out by Blagojevich's alma mater, Pepperdine University):

"Leaders with strong virtuous values are more likely to act ethically than are leaders who are operating with a weak or non-existent value system. One set of values that seems to be universally accepted includes wisdom, self-control, justice, transcendence, kindness, and courage. [my emphasis]...

"When faced with challenging decisions, leaders who have not internalized a value system that includes these values will probably respond with more variability than will one who has such a system. It is primarily in the situation in which the leader does not have an internalized value system that mental gymnastics or mind games may cause an otherwise good person to make unethical decisions."

Thomas Macauley wrote: "The measure of a man’s real character is what he would do if he would never be found out."

Whatever happens in the case of Governor Rod Blagojevich, I think I speak for thousands of Illinoisans who want a break from even the hint of the taint of corruption. Oh, for leaders--whether it be in politics, business or religion--who have true integrity!

The man of integrity walks securely, but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.--Proverbs 10:9

Monday, December 08, 2008

Chicago--City of the Year!

Kudos for one of my favorite cities

GQ Magazine has named Chicago "City of the Year."

I do love that city, but not so much for the reasons cited by GQ. From the Associated Press story:

Barack Obama's election as president, a yet-to-be built skyscraper and a Batman
GQ magazine says those are among the reasons it's picked Chicago as
its "City of the Year" for 2008.
GQ editor Sara Goldstein says Chicagoan
Obama's election is the most obvious reason.
But the magazine points to other
Chicagoans it says have changed the way the country does politics. That includes
Mayor Richard Daley and the president-to-be's chief strategist, David
GQ also cites Chicago's role as the backdrop in the latest Batman
movie, "The Dark Knight."
It calls the proposed 2,000-foot Chicago Spire the
next "American landmark" even though construction on the project has stopped
amid the economy downturn. If completed, it'd be North America's tallest

"Changed the way the country does politics"? Eeesh...I'm not so sure Chicago's politics are something to be proud of or emulated.

I happen to love the city because of all it has to offer culturally and its distinctive, exciting personality. It's just a really fun place to visit!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

The Gospel Music Channel's Top 10 Albums of 2008

The Gospel Music Channel has announced its Top 10 Albums of 2008. Interestingly, even though I work in Christian radio, there are a few artists on the list that I've never heard. If you enjoy any of them, let me know in my comments!

Oh, and this note: The Gospel Music Channel is offering you the chance to win all 10 CDs here.

Mary Mary - The Sound (Columbia/Integrity)
From the site: "..this duo continually sets new standards for artistic greatness, and The Sound has only solidified their lead in that regard. "

21:03 - Total Attention (Verity)
From the site: "The songs carry spiritual messages geared towards youth, yet inspiring for all, and an attention-grabbing sound that embodies the project's fitting name. "

Deitrick Haddon - Revealed (Zomba)
From the site: "'s Haddon's artistry and creative skill that allow him to blend it all together in a cohesive mix that simply works. "

DecembeRadio - Satisfied (Slanted Records)
From the site: "...these wild guys (in playing contexts only) return with even more muscle than the first round, all the while holding firm to their faith. "

Fireflight - Unbreakable (Flicker)
From the site: "...the high-octane troupe is carving out a niche of its own thanks to explosive chord progressions and spirited sing-a-longs. "

Josh Wilson - Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup (Sparrow)
From the site: "In an age where substance tends to triumph over style, Josh Wilson offers up both in spades. With vivid, faith-centered imagery in his songwriting..."

Newworldson - Salvation Station (Inpop)
From the site: "...fusing the soul roots of Sam Cooke, Stevie Wonder, and Donnie Hathaway with unapologetic, spirit-filled lyrics, while simultaneously injecting a huge shot of fun.

Brandon Heath - What If We (Reunion Records)

From the site: "There's an urgency in Brandon Heath's music that causes the listener to examine the world and their faith through a more finely tuned lens.

Crabb Revival - Runaway Train (Daywind)
From the site: "Fueled by a great collection of songs penned by patriarch Gerald Crabb, Adam, and Zach, this album is the standout in 2008.
From the site:

Greater Vision - Not Alone (Daywind) --I blogged about hearing Greater Vision in concert here.
I agree with these comments from the site:
"Great harmonies and poignant, powerful lyrics have always been the backbone of Greater Vision's music ministry and it's those qualities that make Not Alone one of the best discs of the year in any genre. "
What are your favorite albums from 2008? Let me know in my comments section...

Monday, December 01, 2008

Monday Melange

Benefit for Sydney Ives...Ugly Sweater time
...and "a lovely way to spend Christmas"

The little girl whose picture you see on the left is 10-year-old Sydney Ives. Sydney has an inoperable brain tumor, and I was privileged to m.c. a benefit concert for her yesterday.

You can read more about Sydney here and at her Caring Bridge site here.

As Sydney sang with her cousins and her beautiful mom, Tasha, I couldn't help but get emotional. Sydney has the most amazing spirit. As her grandfather said at the concert yesterday, she has faith far beyond her years.

Her grandpa told about Tasha reading the message on the Caring Bridge site from a woman who has accepted Christ after following Sydney's story for some time. "See, Mom?" Sydney said triumphantly. "That's why!"

Wow. To value one soul like that...

Anyway, if you're a praying person, do keep Sydney and her family in your prayers.

Two cool items from USA Today Pop Candy:

Ugly sweaters?

Well, it's that time of year again...time to don your ugly sweaters! Most of us have at least one or two ugly sweaters in our past, but who knew there would be a website devoted to them? Here's their mission statement:

"Our sole mission is to quickly & conveniently provide people nationwide with quality ugly sweaters that will end their sweater-searching woes and make them the talk of the party."


And if you've always wanted a beard..

(I can't say that I have), but you can Build a Beard here.

What Christmas music are you enjoying now?

Gotta say, I'm loving Kristin Chenoweth's A Lovely Way to Spend Christmas. It's a nice blend of the spiritual and the secular...from the quietly worshipful "Born on Christmas Day" to vintage perky, funny Kristin on "Christmas Island," with a lot in between...even a cover of the Carpenters' "Sing." You can see the video for "Christmas Island" here.

What's your favorite? Let me know...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

"The Biggest Loser" gets another reprieve from me...

...and my yearly Thanksgiving forecast

Vicky in the foreground, Michelle and Renee across the table

Biggest Loser Michelle is my new hero...and she pretty much singlehandedly--well, with help from her mom, Renee--kept me from ditching one of my favorite shows altogether last night.

I honestly don't wish any evil on Vicky. That just wouldn't be Christian. But I've made it clear on this blog how I feel about her. Last night, before even watching the show, I had decided that that would be the Last Chance I would give it. If it bummed me out last night, I was going to bail on it until the finale.

Well, for the bulk of the show (again, what's with the "heavy" puns that pop into my mind when writing about a weight loss show?!), things were not looking good for NBC retaining my viewership. (I'm sure NBC brass were sweating buckets as they gauged my reaction, right?)

It was beginning to look horribly like The Vicky Show. Vicky, in my face, talking, talking, talking. (Is it just my imagination or did she get more face time than any of the other contestants last night?) Vicky crying. Vicky laughing. Vicky smirking. Vicky winning every challenge that was offered up.

I got the feeling the show was trying to atone for Vicky's extremely unpleasant characterization thus far this season by trying hard to present her as more humane and likable. But guess what? It didn't work.

I just didn't see how the episode was going to end up without one of the two remaining black team members--i.e., Michelle and Renee--going home. And even though I love blue team member Amy, and think she's sweet and adorable, I couldn't stomach the thought of an all-blue-team Biggest Loser. The show was going to lose me.

Well, amazingly, Michelle and Renee didn't go below the yellow line (going below the yellow line, for you non-Biggest Loser watchers, means that you're in danger of elimination)! Not only that, Renee lost 8 pounds and Michelle lost TEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

For the second time this season (the first being when Amy wonderfully voted Vicky's husband Brady off the show) I pretty much came off the couch, whooping and hollering with excitement.

I'm sad to see Amy go. She was a real sweetheart, and sadly seemed oblivious to the meanness of Vicky--who never stopped harboring a massive grudge against Amy for voting off Vicky's hubby.

BUT--Michelle and Renee live to fight another day. I have been so impressed by their classiness, grace and beauty. Even last night, when it was obvious that they had had it up to here with Vicky's antics, they never acted with anything less than class. I just love them! I would so love to see one of them win the entire thing.

Next week is one of my favorite episodes. It's the one where the remaining few contestants are given make-overs, and it becomes really apparent just what an incredible change they've made in themselves. So this season's TBL retains my viewership for at least one more week. After that...who knows? It all depends on the outcome of the next week's episode.

Now for my traditional corny-but-funny Thanksgiving forecast:

Turkeys will thaw in the morning, then warm in the oven to an afternoon high near 190F. The kitchen will turn hot and humid, and if you bother the cook, be ready for a severe squall or cold shoulder.

During the late afternoon and evening, the cold front of a knife will slice through the turkey, causing an accumulation of one to two inches on plates. Mashed potatoes will drift across one side while cranberry sauce creates slippery spots on the other. Please pass the gravy.

A weight watch and indigestion warning have been issued for the entire area, with increased stuffiness around the beltway. During the evening, the turkey will diminish and taper off to leftovers, dropping to a low of 34F in the refrigerator.

Looking ahead to Friday and Saturday, high pressure to eat sandwiches will be established. Flurries of leftovers can be expected both days with a 50 percent chance of scattered soup late in the day. We expect a warming trend where soup develops. By early next week, eating pressure will be low as the only wish left will be the bone.

Let me just take a moment to say...

I just want to attempt to express how thankful I am to God for His amazing grace and goodness. I thank Him for my husband, my family, and all the blessings with which he's enriched my life.

Happy Thanksgiving, Everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Christmas Quiz!

My sister sent e-mailed me this quiz today, and I thought it would be fun to post it here...AND to ask you to participate! Answer the questions, either in my comments section or on your own blog...and if you do so on your blog, be sure to leave a link.

The picture at right, by the way, is my livingroom decked out for Christmas dinner last year.

Here we go:

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper unless I’m in an enormous hurry. I learned to wrap beautifully while working one Christmas season at a local gift shop

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial

3. When do you put up the tree? After Thanksgiving day—but I’m not planning on putting one up at all this year, because we’re planning on going home to Texas for Christmas!

4. When do you take the tree down? Usually after New Year's day—unless I get really sick of it and take it down right after Christmas…

5. Do you like eggnog? It’s OK…just the non-alcoholic version. I got sick on it one year and avoided it for years, but now I can handle it in small doses

6. Favorite gift received as a child? A baby doll when I was about in the second or third grade. I had seen it at a department store and coveted it, so I was so happy when I got it! Other than that, I would have to say books were my favorite gifts

7. Hardest person to buy for? My father-in-law

8. Easiest person to buy for? Elizabeth

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, I do now—a gift from a friend a couple of years ago

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Try to mail them

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? There’s a long story behind this, but—a comb

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Absolutely “It’s a Wonderful Life”—I cry every time!

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Way too late

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don’t honestly think so…

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Marshmallow Fudge…although now that I’m diabetic, I can’t consume it in the mass quantities I used to!

16. Lights on the tree? Of course...and next year, God willing, I will get a PRE-LIT tree!

17. Favorite Christmas song? Traditional carol: Hark the Herald Angels Sing Newer: Chris Rice's "Welcome to our World" and Mark Lowry's “Mary Did You Know?”

8. Travel at Christmas or stay home? Have done both--plan to travel this Christmas!

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? I think so--as long as I'm singing the song!

20. Angel on the tree top or a star? Neither…an enormous bow

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Usually Christmas Eve. My husband is Swedish-American, and I understand Swedes celebrate on Christmas Eve...that seems to hold true with his family and now, ours

22. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? The traffic! I have very little patience for it. And rude salespeople...and long lines.

23. Favorite ornament theme or color? I’ve been doing burgundy and gold for the past few years…honestly, I’m a little tired of it.

24. Favorite dessert for Christmas dinner? Pumpkin pie, with cool whip on top and a good cup of coffee!

25. What do you want for Christmas this year? For all of my family and friends to be safe, healthy and happy...and to spend Christmas with my precious little grandson

26. Any special Christmas traditions? No unusual ones

Now your turn!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Should we avoid giving gift cards this Christmas?

Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop, investigates

As part of my radio job on 101QFL, I do a feature called "Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop."

Basically I take an e-mail rumor and do my best to verify its accuracy or inaccuracy. This week, the subject is an e-mail that I've gotten from several people, warning not to buy gift cards this Christmas because of a long list of retail stores that may or may not be closing:

The Case of the Useless Gift Cards?

Are a large number of retail chains planning to go out of business by the end of 2008—meaning you should not buy gift cards from them for Christmas?

That’s the subject of an e-mail that is currently making the rounds…I received it from no less than three people in the past few days, and CyberSnoop has been asked to verify its accuracy.

Some of the stores mentioned are Ann Taylor, Disney Store, Eddie Bauer, Foot Locker, Home Depot, Macy’s, Sharper Image, and Talbot’s…the list goes on.

According to several sources, including and, the e-mail is a mixture of accurate, inaccurate, and outdated information. Quoting truthorfiction:

“It is true that some of these companies are facing tough times
financially, but not all of them are going out of business. Bankruptcy
sometimes means they are closing their doors. But sometimes it also means
that they are reorganizing and intend to continue. Sometimes other
companies may purchase them out of bankruptcy.”

As Snopes mentions, business information like this tends to be volatile, especially during tough economic times. Some of the chains in the e-mail have closed some of their stores or have intentions to close some. Some have closed a relatively small number of underperforming stores…some have sought bankruptcy protection but remain open…some have come through bankruptcy and emerged re-organized.

Probably the only way to be on the safe side? Avoid giving gift cards this Christmas. Either take the time to choose a gift…or if you really don’t have time, give cash!

Shedding light on another Internet rumor, this is Cindy Swanson, CyberSnoop…reminding you to check it out BEFORE you hit that “send” button!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

13 Things to Tell You About...

My adorable little grandson Payton on Halloween

Thirteen interesting bits of information and/or links to share with you! Here we go...

1. Here's a book trailer I voiced for Virginia Smith's upcoming book, Age Before Beauty:

If you're an author who needs a voice for your next book trailer, let me know!

2. Have you ever considered The Most Under-rated Muppets? (I personally liked Roosevelt Franklin.) Hat tip to USA Today Pop Candy.

3. I know sometimes we feel like the economy is bleeding us dry...but apparently it's forcing some people to give--or actually sell-- their life blood. Plasma donations are way up.

4. Have you ever suffered from airport stress? Some airport workers are learning how to deal with it.

5. I got ahold of a copy of Kristin Chenoweth's Christmas CD, and I've already snuck a few listens...violating my no-Christmas-music-before-Thanksgiving rule. I've gotta tell you, I love it! See/hear a sample here.

6. Archaeologists believe they've found the tomb of the biblical King Herod.

7. Say it isn't so! Revered *British actor Christopher Plummer, probably best known for playing the father in The Sound of Music, says the movie is..."yucky"!!! Well...I have to admit that "Something Good" song that he sang was kind of sappy. At least he admits Julie Andrews was awesome.

8. Unless you live in a cave, you will hear, or you have heard, about "Twilight." USA Today has an article.

9. This is heartwarming: our troops will get Christmas trees.

10. Want another sneak peek of Christmas music? Relient K's Sleigh Ride is a treat; lead singer Matt Thiessen's voice has never sounded sweeter.

11. Give Books for Christmas! Author BJ Hoff inspired my recent posts on that subject; now she's doing a two-parter on the subject.

12. Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee answers a fun Christmas Q and A, which I might just do tomorrow.

13. The late, legendary Bob Hope is getting a stamp.

*Nicholas of A Gentleman's Domain tells me Christopher Plummer is not British, but Canadian! Who knew?

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! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reality check

Note to self: Biggest Loser IS just a TV show...

Are you like me in that you have little happinesses that serve as things to look forward to in your rather mundane week? Well, the TV show The Biggest Loser has served that purpose for me. I would think about the show coming up on Tuesday and get a happy little feeling.

Well, I'm kind of having to confront my own reality check. It IS a reality show, and not worth me placing too much importance on it. (I know, some of you are probably saying, "Duh....")

How did I arrive at this reality check?

The Vicky Problem

Well, in the next few paragraphs, I'm going to explain my feelings toward Vicky, but...wait for it...there's a big BUT (or maybe that's an unfortunate choice of words)--there's a big HOWEVER coming up.)

It all started when I began to realize that one of the participants in this season of the show really annoyed me. In fact, I was quite vocal about the fact that I had never had such an intense negative reaction to any reality show star, and definitely not on The Biggest Loser.

You see, The Biggest Loser has mostly been about inspiration and admiration for me. I enjoyed watching these very obese people morph, as the weeks went on, into slim and fit people. I've always loved make-overs of any kind...and since I am on my own fitness journey, I found their progress very inspiring. I never actively disliked one of the participants.

Until now. And apparently I'm not the only one--google "Biggest Loser Vicky," and you'll find out that the entire Biggest-Loser-watching blogosphere is pretty much united in their aversion to Vicky.

On the show, she comes across as being conniving, manipulative, and generally unpleasant. Even if the show has used editing to make her appear even more unpleasant, her own words and actions pretty much indicate she's at least somewhat unpleasant.

But here's the big HOWEVER...

After the November 11th episode, anti-Vicky rhetoric reached a zenith in the blogosphere--and I was part of that. I didn't go so far as to call her an evil b-word, but I did express my dislike for her.

I enthusiastically looked forward to last night's show. I really wanted to see Vicky continue to get her come-uppance and hopefully get voted off.

It's just a show...but Vicky's a real person

Well, she didn't get voted off. And it looks like her much-vaunted alliance is still intact...which means one of my favorite participants, Coleen, was voted off last night, and my two remaining favorites, Michelle and Renee, are in danger of being voted off in the next few shows.

I need to say this: Vicky on the Biggest Loser is a real person. I've seen really hateful things said about her online, and I understand that she has actually had death threats phoned and mailed to her home. THIS IS DEPLORABLE AND TOTALLY INEXCUSABLE.

By spewing venom about a TV show participant that you don't like, you are exhibiting even worse behavior.
After all, Vicky's unpleasantness isn't directed at YOU personally!

Anyway...after last night's show, I felt strangely deflated. First of all, Vicky isn't nearly so venomous when she isn't being cocky. Heba, the other person I didn't care for, seemed to be nothing but nice last night. Amy didn't save the day by voting Vicky off: in fact, she showed grace by allowing her to stay on the show when, honestly, I doubt if Vicky would ever show such grace to her.

Still, I don't think I'll continue to watch the show if it all comes down to Vicky and her alliance. Frankly, I wish them well, but I just don't care enough about them to remain invested in them. I'll probably watch the finale, but if Renee and Michelle go, it just won't matter to me.

And maybe that's the way it should be. It IS just a TV show.

The reality check? Real life is what matters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The favorite books YOU got as gifts...

...quite a few people answer my informal poll!

I'm doing what I can to encourage people to buy books for Christmas! They are enduring gifts, usually not very expensive, and have the power to change lives and open doors of learning and imagination.

Yesterday I asked people on Twitter, Facebook and the comments section of this blog to tell me about a favorite book that they received as a gift. I got some great answers!

Here they are:

"A book I had loved as a child - Never Tease a Weasel. But if you are looking for books to give, I love Reflections for Ragamuffins by Brennan Manning. It was a gift to myself."--Kay Hennis Day of Loop de Loops in La La Land

Speaking of gifts to yourself, my daughter Elizabeth says some of her favorite books were "gifts to herself." They include one of her all-time favorites, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith. A big World War 2 buff, she also cites 1942:The Year that Tried Men's Souls, by Winston Groom, which was a gift from her grandmother.

Mandy Erickson works with my daughter at Borders, and you can see her jotted recommendations under books around the store--as with Francine Rivers' wonderful Redeeming Love. One of Mandy's favorite gifts? "The Jolly Postman! It was filled with letters and postcards that fairytale characters had written to each other. So cool."

Mark Jones is a Georgia pastor who tells me: "A good friend gave me a copy of A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23...which is a classic work from the seventies. I still have it on the bookshelf and refer to it fairly regularly for a great illustration."

An old college friend of mine, Lesa Russo, had a few to mention: "A biography of Lucille Ball - amazing book and life story. Also Erma Bombeck's life book." She also says The Shack and The Grace Awakening were book-gifts that were life-changing for her.

From Darlene Rexrode :"One favorite was The Giving Tree when I was young."

Ben Ratze is a teen who attends the school where my husband is the administrator: "The Narrow Road, I loved that book, it has little stories of missionaries that laid down their lives for the cause of Christ. It's a great book for teens." (I got curious about this book, and it really does look good--it's co-authored by the likes of Brother Andrew, John and Elizabeth Sherill, and the members of Jars of Clay.)

Laura Elizabeth Klinger's favorite is by one of my favorites, Irish author Maeve Binchy: "The Lilac Bus," says Laura. "We seldom are aware of the intricacies of a person's life; we don't know how others don't understand, or misinterpret, us."

"Captivating."--Melanie Coldiron Hull(I'm thinking Melanie might be referring to this book by John and Stasi Eldridge.)

Laurie Lynn Kobernat Nunez goes to my church. She cites a book I also bought and enjoyed, by a long-time missionary to the Philippines: "Sam [her husband] just bought me Never Alone by Uldine Steffy at our missions conference - it's awesome!! I love reading biographies/nonfiction..."

"Piercing the Darkness by [Frank]Peretti," says Kristina Clark Melville. "I know it's fiction but it helped me visualize what spiritual warfare could look like."

Writer Tracey Bateman, whose books I've enjoyed, says her favorite book-gift ever was The Best Loved Poems of the American People.

Linda of Mocha with Linda, whose "Booked for the Holidays" give-away I mentioned yesterday, tells me: "When I was 9 or 10, my grandmother gave me Little Town on the Prairie. I devoured it - and was delighted to find out there was a whole series of books! I told my mom 'Grandmother didn't know she was starting me on a whole new reading adventure.' I just about wore those books out and practically had them memorized."

From BJ Hoff, whose portrayals of Irish characters I love: "There have been so many! Everyone knows I love receiving books for birthdays, Christmas--any and all occasions. But the one that stands out most is probably The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing. 3 volumes, given by husband."

Writer Susan J. Reinhardt tells me: "My Mom and I were in the Christian bookstore last weekend. She bought me two Joel Rosenberg books for Christmas. My to-be-read stack is multiplying. Yay!"

Ann-Marie Soderstrom, whose Lefthanded Rabbit blog I enjoy a lot, illustrates how a book given to a child can be life-changing: "My mom gave me The Hiding Place when I was 12, and it changed my life. I began to study the Holocaust in earnest and still do today. Still my favorite book." I love that book too, Ann-Marie! An incredible portrait of grace amid persecution.

Thanks so much to everyone who replied!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Buck the Christmas "gloom and doom"--give a book for Christmas

More media doom & gloom about holiday book sales today. We need to "preach positive" to balance this. Books make nice,inexpensive gifts!--Writer BJ Hoff on Twitter

I can't remember a single Christmas in my life when I didn't either give or receive at least one book, so I wholeheartedly agree with BJ Hoff on this.

Books make wonderful gifts...and they don't have to be expensive. They don't have to be 50 dollar coffee table books (in fact, even those gorgeous coffee table books often go on sale, deeply discounted).

I'm trying to build up my personal library of classics. Borders, where my daughter works, has a line of classics in paperback with beautiful covers, usually for about 6.99.

Children's books can be very reasonable, and most small children love to be read to. Slip a paperback novel, preferably Christian fiction, into your teen-ager's stocking. An athlete's bio for your sports-crazy son, or a how-to-be-a-better-golfer book for hubby.

Many of my favorite, and most enduring, Christmas gifts ever have been books. When my parents were missionaries to Beirut, Lebanon, when I was a child, I really got into British writers. I can remember getting Noel Streatfield's White Boots , which launched me into a Noel Streatfield marathon. Another time I got an anthology of stories by Enid Blyton-- who probably most American children have never heard of, but whose writings I adored.

Actually, I could never list all the favorite book gifts I've received, because many of my favorite all-time gifts, throughout my life, have been books.

What was your favorite book you ever received as a gift?

I "twittered"' this question, and Katy McKenna Raymond replied: "My mother purchased this book when I was 11: 'Don't Call Me Katy Rose.' My name is Katy Rose! I still have it..."

No doubt about it, those childhood books, often received as Christmas or birthday presents, evoke fond memories to this day.

What was your favorite book you ever received as a gift--whether as a child or more recently? Please answer in my comments section...I'll blog about your replies tomorrow.

Booked for the Holidays!

Speaking of about winning some that you could give away as Christmas gifts?

Linda of Mocha with Linda is giving away books on her website for the next four weeks. She's calling it "Booked for the Holidays." Go here to get on board!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Fun at Great Harvest Bread

My co-host, Darren Marlar, and I did a 101QFL radio remote this morning at Great Harvest Bread Co.--which, if you don't know, has the most amazing, delicious breads anywhere! We had such a great time meeting promised, I'm sharing some highlights:

Thursday, November 13, 2008

13 Things I Miss About My Dad

Today is my dad's birthday. He passed away in 2004(I blogged about his passing here.) I seem to miss him more instead of less as time goes by. This is a repeat of a Thursday Thirteen I did earlier, but I wanted to re-run it in honor of my dad's birthday.

Here are 13 of the many things I miss about my dad:

1) His dedicated and passionate love for the Lord

2) His sense of humor--including his corny-but-funny jokes

3) His love of music--something he passed down to all of his children

4) His beautiful singing voice. I can still hearing him sing his signature song, Submission:

Not what I wish to do
Nor where I wish to go
For who am I, that I should choose my way?
The Lord shall choose for me
Tis better far, I know,
So let him bid me go, or stay.

5) Hearing him play the trombone--something he continued to do until he got really sick

6) Talking with him. Long, meaty conversations, about everything from politics and current events to theology and everything in between. I miss that so much.

7) Going on walks with him. Every time I visited my folks in Texas or they came up to visit me, my dad and I would go walking together.

8) Hearing him pray. Many's the night I would hear him praying in another room as I fell asleep.

9) The way he would literally be on the edge of his seat when there was a fight scene in a movie or TV show

10) The way he would play with his grandchildren--horsing around with them when they were younger, playing Dominoes or other board games with them as they grew older

11) The funny songs he would make up on the fly--and often inserting our names into
existing songs

12) The way he would greet me when he phoned me: "Cindy? This is your daddy..."

13) The many ways he showed his love for his family

I miss you, Daddy.

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.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Vicious Vicky of the Biggest Loser

I told my radio co-host, Darren Marlar, this morning that for the first time in my life last night, I actually uttered the exclamation, "BOO-YAH!!!!"

Spoiler alert if you watch the show and haven't seen it yet:

It looks like the mean and awful Vicky got her "come-uppance" last night.

Sam Barrington of Sam I Am has my thoughts exactly:

"I don’t think I have ever disliked anyone more in any reality show I have ever watched (including Survivor’s Johnny 'Fairplay') than Vicky on this season’s Biggest Loser. I have never seen such a small group of people turn nothing into something with such immaturity and pettiness (OK…that might be a little exaggeration…I have…afterall pastored a church for 12 years :)) as I have witnessed on the blue team with Brady, Vicky, and Heba. Bob can’t admit it, but I think he doesn’t like his blue team.

When Amy C. flipped teams and voted out Brady, my living room erupted with cheers."

Getting that excited over a reality TV show might seem strange to you, but these days, I get my little happinesses wherever I can find them!

Seriously, I was prepared to stop watching the show if Vicky and her gang continued to dominate the "game." And I would miss it, because now that I'm on a lifelong journey of health and fitness, the show is often a genuine encouragement and inspiration to me.

And I agree with Sam...Bob is much too nice a guy to approve of such hatefulness.

Take the Shakespeare or the Bible quiz!

Where did these quotes come from...Shakespeare or the Bible? (I'm ashamed to say I got one wrong!)

Hat tip to Rebecca Writes.

The Bible or The Bard?

Score: 90% (9 out of 10)

Happy Wednesday, all!

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Hero for Today

Missionary Edgar Feghaly

When American missionary Clyde Aynes answered the call to go to Beirut, Lebanon as a missionary in the late 1950's, he couldn't have known that a little Lebanese boy would grow up to impact so many lives.

That little boy is now missionary Edgar Feghaly, and I'm privileged to call him my friend.

Edgar was the keynote speaker this past week at our church's Missions Conference. In case you're not familiar with the concept of a missions conference, it usually consists of a few days of special meetings featuring missionaries reporting on their work in various parts of the world.

Edgar accepted Christ as a seven-year-old boy in Beirut, Lebanon. Fast-forward to 1965. My family sailed to Beirut to help in the missionary work headed by Brother Aynes and his family. That's when we came to know Edgar and his wonderful family.

A friend of the family

By then, Eddie (as we called him--and it's hard for me to think of him otherwise!) was a teen-ager. My sister Beverly was also a teen, and she recalls that she and Eddie had a great brother-sister-type relationship. They would argue and bicker, but also had great times together.

Even as a teen, Edgar was a big part of the ministry. He often interpreted for my Dad as he preached, or for my mom as she told Bible stories to the children. I can remember him hanging out with us in our home, even going on a trip with us once.

I was a little girl at the time, but I thought Eddie and his brothers, Ramon and Robert, were handsome and fun. They were always very sweet to me and my younger sister.

Our family lost touch with Edgar after we left Beirut due to Six Day War in June 1967. In the intervening years, Edgar came to America to attend college and married a lovely American girl named Rosann.

He ended up going back to Beirut to pastor there, and he has some harrowing tales of his life and church being spared despite being situated squarely in what became a Hezbollah stronghold.

The gospel to Iraq...and beyond

Now Edgar and Rosann are based in Tennessee, working with The Middle East and African Partnership to plant churches in places like Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Morocco, Liberia, Sudan and others.

Edgar is rather like a modern-day Apostle Paul, helping churches get on their feet and become independent, then moving on...but always making sure those churches are financially supported and checking on them to see how they're faring.

During the missions conference, Edgar told some amazing stories of terrorists and former Iraqi military leaders having their lives transformed by the power of Christ.

He believes that if not for 9/11 and the U.S. military involvement in Iraq, that country would never have been opened to the gospel, and countless Iraqis would never have had the opportunity to accept Christ.

I blogged earlier about one of my favorite stories told by Edgar--about our troops arranging a Christmas party for Iraqi children--here.

Just one life...

Edgar often reflects on what his life would have been like if a missionary had not shared the Gospel with him. He believes he would have either been a terrorist or dead.

Instead, the ripple effect continues. Edgar keeps sharing the Gospel with people, who continue to share it with others. The results will only be known in eternity.

In the meantime, I'm glad to call Edgar Feghaly my friend. He is a true hero of the faith.

You can find out more about the outreach to Iraq at the Gospel to Iraq website.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

13 Things to Tell You About!

As always, if you're busily surfing Thursday Thirteens, bookmark this and come back later to check out the links! I know there's a lot of info here, but be patient with me!

The Amazing "Face"

1. The book trailer for Angela Hunt's THE FACE is out! I have more than one connection with this incredible trailer for an incredible book. Created by PulsePoint Design, the trailer features the author herself as the main narrator...and I must say, she does a terrific job. With a few lines each are my daughter Elizabeth Swanson and my radio co-host, Darren Marlar.

I need to add that Elizabeth is playing the role of a speaking deaf girl. One of the main characters is a 20-year-old girl with severe facial deformities, including the ability to hear only with a cochlear implant. Elizabeth had to do some research to be able to sound like a speaking deaf girl. The way she speaks in the trailer is not her normal speaking voice.
Scroll down to watch the trailer.

2. Here's what I had to say about The Face after reading an advanced copy last summer:

“In The Face, Angela Hunt has crafted an extraordinary tale that’s impossible to put down! The meticulously researched story line could have been lifted from today’s futuristic, high-tech headlines, and the undercurrent of international espionage will keep you turning pages. But long after you’ve finished The Face, you’ll be thinking—not only about the characters Hunt brings to life so skillfully, but the questions the story raises and the truths it underlines. The Face speaks profoundly to our inherent need for love and acceptance, as well as to the value we place on physical beauty. With each succeeding book—thanks to her masterful storytelling and thought-provoking plots, Angela Hunt’s stock as a contemporary writer of real importance continues to rise.”

(I need to add that I wrote this before I had any idea my daughter would have a small part in the book trailer. :))

Happy birthday, Billy Graham

3. Tomorrow is the 90th birthday of Billy Graham.

Prayer for persecuted Christians

4. Sunday is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, when churches in the United States and around the world will focus on prayer and support for our brothers and sisters who are being persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ. More at the Open Doors USA website.

Some positive news for pro-life advocates

5. After the election of the most pro-legal-abortion president ever, there is still some good news for pro-life activists.

Thirty Days of Thankfulness

6. Author Robin Lee Hatcher is blogging about things she's thankful for, every day this Thanksgiving month.

Wah-Wah, Joaquin :(

7. Actor Joaquin Phoenix is quitting acting to concentrate on music. Wow...that's the loss of a very talented actor.

Farewell, Michael Crichton

8. What was your favorite Michael Crichton book and/or movie? Sadly, the author passed away Tuesday. Of course, Jurassic Park was an incredible book and movie, but I also really liked the under-rated Timeline movie (an early glimpse of Gerard Butler), and when my co-host Darren Marlar loaned me the book Prey , I was riveted. The book was about nanotechnology, specifically about a swarm that reminded me and a lot of other people of the smoke monster on "Lost"...but "Lost" writers and producers are insistent that the smoke monster is NOT about nanotechnology.

What the Dickens??

9. Speaking of interest in Charles Dickens has been ignited by a not-yet-published book called Drood, by Dan Simmons. My daughter brought home an advanced copy from Borders, where she works, and I've got to admit: fascinating. It deals with Dickens' life after he was involved in a deadly train collision, and it's written, Salieri-like, from the viewpoint of his protegee and friend, Wilkie Collins. After reading Drood, I checked out Peter Ackroyd's comprehensive biography, Dickens--and was amazed to learn that much of the stranger-than-fiction stuff in Drood actually happened.

Entertainer of the Year?

10. has created a game where you can choose your favorite pop culture personality of 2008.


11. Unbelievably, this Illinois man has an amazing streak of holes-in-one at a local golf course.

Baby Obama?

12. Barely elected, and Barack Obama already has a baby named after him.

13. And now, the book trailer for Angela Hunt's The Face:

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! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The campaign is over, but the praying is just beginning...

...time to move on

One of my Facebook friends had this as her "status" today: "Jennifer has noticed 3 types of post-election FB statuses: 1) We're doomed! 2) Booyah, losers! In your face! and 3) It's ok God's in control!"

I guess you could put me in the number 3 category.

That said, I've found some great food for thought among other Christian bloggers today, and I thought I'd share some links you. Whether you're sad or happy about the outcome of the election, if you're a Christian, there are some major issues you've had to confront. Think of some of these links as sort of a "How should we Christians now live, post-election?"

The answer to that question, by the way? Pretty much as we were already SUPPOSED to be living, pre-election.

Check these out:

--Justin Taylor's Between Two Worlds has guest posts by pro-life spokesman Scott Klusendorf,Christian author Randy Alcorn and black American pastor/author Eric Redmond.

--Josh Harris is calling on us to pray for President-elect Obama.

--As is the Presidential Prayer Team.

--The Liberty Counsel is calling on conservatives to return their core values and rebuild their base.

--Some eloquent and balanced thoughts from Cindy at Still His Girl.

--And more gracious and challenging words from Albert Mohler.

So let's move on...but move on with prayer and purpose.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

All is well

"True/False: The day after the election, regardless of who wins, the tomb will still be empty."--Bill Reichart, Provocative Church

A sampling of what some bloggers are saying today:

"... I want to express my gratitude for living in a country in which citizens select their leaders....And I'm glad to be alive to see both an African American and a female be key figures in the race for the top two offices in our country."--Linda at 2nd Cup of Coffee

"Yes, I dread an Obama presidency, but my faith in God holds steady. He will accomplish his purposes, even if he has to use President Barack Obama to do it. You see, God is already using Obama to accomplish one of his purposes: to light a fire under me. I’ve been holding back on you, God, and you’ve been patient."--La Shawn Barber

"In my view, one thing is certain—Christians have a moral obligation to vote, and to vote remembering God is watching them. Too many Christians do not vote, almost arguing this disengagement from the process is a spiritual act. The truth is we should be grateful for the opportunity to vote; many in this world do not have that privilege. We should also vote recognizing the Lordship of Jesus over all of our lives and becoming fully engaged in the social and political world."--Adrian Warnock, a Brit

"Here’s the reality American Christians must own up to: Being on the 'in' with American politics has not stemmed the tied of moral corruption in our society and hasn’t helped the church as much as everyone thinks it has. Instead we have churches that look an awful lot like the sinful world, and a Christian culture that has so misunderstood the gospel that it associates the fall of Republican power with the Return of Christ and the final judgment!...But perhaps, just perhaps, by not being so consumed with our (fictional?) place in the American political system we can finally focus on regaining a proper understanding of the gospel, and develop a more spiritually mature church."--David Dunham, Christ and Pop Culture

--"...ultimately our problems will not be solved by the right man (or woman) in the White House. It simply doesn’t work that way. We live in a democracy, a representative form of government, where it’s as much if not more our responsibility to love and take care of our neighbors than our politician’s responsibility. Real and lasting change comes from knowing and loving the folks who live in the houses that sit next to ours rather than saving all of our longing and hope for the voting booth."--Derek Webb, who actually (and probably somewhat controversially) believes you don't have to vote if it violates your conscience

--David Wayne of Jollyblogger has a picture of what most of us are going to look like tomorrow morning.

--Donna-Jean of Liberty and Lily is voting for Trig.

--Last but not least, if you're a Christian and you're worried about the outcome of the election, Bill Reichart of Provocative Church wants you to take this test.

Me: and when you've taken it, feel free to shout hallelujah!

Monday, November 03, 2008

Are you freaking out about the election?

I'll admit it, I have been

I feel crazy, hope is hazy right now
But I won't freak out, I won't freak out
At the sound of the landslide inside
Fear wants to take my peace of mind
Won't run, won't hide
I will lift my hands up high

In my troubles, I have doubled my prayers
'Cause I need them, I need them like I need the air
Landslide, inside, fear wants to take my peace of mind
Won't run, won't hide
I will lift my hands up high
Here's to the Name above all names
Here's to the one who saves
I will trust You Jesus, I'll be brave

I will live my life day by day
'Cause You're the only Truth the only Way out of
This landslide

The above are the lyrics to a song we were playing here on 101QFL not long before the last presidential election, by a band called Seven Places.

Ironically, the name of the song is "Landslide." The current implications of that title I will leave to you to sort out. :)

Anyway, there is more truth than poetry in those lyrics. I'm claiming some verses today and tomorrow, that Carolyn McCulley highlighted in her blog, Radical Womanhood (she has been fasting and praying for our nation):

"...the Bible says the heart of the king is in God's hands and He can direct it as He wills (Proverbs 21:1). Many are the plans of a man, but it's the Lord's purposes that stand (Proverbs 19:21). No matter which candidate wins, we need to pray for our leaders and for true righteousness in our nation's laws."

From me, a heartfelt "amen."

Friday, October 31, 2008

"Who is Gene Kelly?"

"Gene was among the wonders of the 20th century."-- Stanley Donen

"He could do anything... and did everything."-- Debbie Reynolds

"Gene was one of a kind. He revolutionized dancing in film...[he] was a disciplinarian and a perfectionist... I should know."-- Frank Sinatra

"Young and suave once upon a time, but then the gracefully aged and mature, Gene Kelly is the forever and timeless hero of Metro Goldwyn Meyer (MGM) Studios --one of the greatest leading men in Hollywood and one of the *BEST* there will ever be."--From

In my Thursday Thirteen about my family (see below), I mentioned that when my husband sings, he sounds like Gene Kelly.

One of the comments came from Ganns: "Who is Gene Kelly?

Ganns, you can be forgiven for not knowing. You're young and you live in the Phillipines.

But let me educate you. Gene Kelly was one of the greatest entertainers of Hollywood's so-called Golden Era.

He wasn't really known for his singing...singing was something all MGM musical stars did in those days while they were dancing. But I happen to love his slightly raspy voice.

My husband's voice is one of the coolest things about him. He has a natural husky/raspy thing going that--well, let's just admit it--is sexy. And I've always thought so, even when I didn't know him very well at all.

When he was in high school and the Godfather movies were just coming out, people thought he sounded a little like Marlon Brando in that famous role.

As a teen-ager, I used to love sitting up to watch what was then called the "Late Show" on TV. Often it would be one of those spectacular MGM musicals, often starring Gene Kelly. I loved them!

So when I first heard my husband sing, I realized quickly--he sounded like Gene Kelly.

So Ganns, just for you...and everybody who remembers those days fondly...I give you Gene Kelly.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

13 Things about My Family!

My beautiful grandson, Payton

1. My husband Doug is a gifted teacher and school administrator.

2. My husband sounds like Gene Kelly when he sings.
3. My daughter Elizabeth plays the guitar beautifully.
4. My son Jonathan and his wife Daylyn are the parents of my adorable grandson, Payton, who will be two years old in January.

5. My daughter-in-law, Daylyn, plays the harp like an angel.
6. My son Justin loves to play golf, and I hear he's pretty good.

7. My daughter Elizabeth can do impressions--for example, she does a great Christopher Walken!

8. My husband Doug hates to fly. OK, make that he WON'T fly.
9. My son Jonathan has very naturally curly hair, just like me.

10. My husband and sons are huge Chicago Cubs and Chicago Bears fans.
11. My son Justin has the cutest dimples.
12. My sons are both good in math--something they did NOT get from me.
13. My children, like me, all love music passionately and couldn't get through a day without it.

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, October 29, 2008

Rachel's Secret--BJ Hoff in top form

The Amish meet the Irish in Hoff's new series

Rachel may have a secret, but it's no secret that B. J. Hoff is one of my favorite writers--and her latest novel doesn't disappoint.

In this first in the Riverhaven Years series,we meet Rachel--a lovely young Amish woman still grieving the loss of her husband in 1850's Ohio.

The arrival, literally on her doorstep, of a mysterious, wounded Irish river captain irrevocably shakes up Rachel's quiet, orderly world. Where did Jeremiah Gant and his black friend come from, and why is Gant suffering from a gunshot wound?

The answers aren't long in coming. And B.J. Hoff does a beautiful job of subtly capturing the growing tenderness and attraction between the handsome Irishman (no one depicts the Irish better than Hoff) and his quiet hostess. It's an attraction that seems doomed, thanks to the strict Amish rules against mingling with outsiders.

At the same time, Rachel's mother and a kindly English doctor are in much the same predicament.

Meantime, Rachel and her family must find a way to deal with growing anti-Amish hostility that threatens their very safety--and a subplot involving the Underground Railroad adds suspense.

But I must admit, the story involving Rachel and Gant was the most compelling to me. B. J. Hoff has a gift for drawing fully fleshed-out, nuanced characters that become very real to the reader--and I must admit, I fell a little in love with Jeremiah Gant myself.

I look forward to the next book in the series and revisiting these characters and their stories.

See the book trailer for Rachel's Secret below.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Monday Melange of my favorite "Heroes"

A plethora of interesting links for you to check out...

--My own problems with this season of "Heroes" are addressed in this article...along with suggestions to fix the problems

--Meantime, are you missing "Lost"? Here's a sneak preview of the 2009 season

--Is popular urban-legend/email hoax-debunker "in the tank" for Obama? An e-mail now circulating, as well as bloggers like this, says Snopes can't be trusted on Obama...but another fact-checking site, Truth or, is condemning the anti-Snopes rumor. What do you think?

--The Hallmark Channel will air a sequel to Angela Hunt's The Note (hat tip to Angela's A Life in Pages.) Unlike "The Note," Angela has nothing to do with the sequel, but she does say she read the script and liked it.

--Still not sure who you're going to vote for? This site tells you where candidates stand on the issues that are important to you.

--Very much enjoyed my phone interview Friday with Auralia's Colors and Cyndere's Midnight author Jeffrey Overstreet...I'll be blogging about it shortly.

--Taco Bell is giving away free tacos for a certain period of time tomorrow (Tuesday.)

--This tribute from a man to his grandmother touched my heart...and made me realize the huge impact a grandmother can have on a life.

--Better Homes and Gardens has launched 100 Days of Holidays--"packed with great holiday recipes, craft and decorating ideas and more." (Hat tip to Dena Dyer.)

--I didn't contribute to Fall into Flavor this week, but be sure and go check out the posts by people who did!

Go out and have a wonderful Monday.
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