Tuesday, December 23, 2003

Christmas greetings to all...

It's hard to believe another Christmas Day is just around the corner. Shortly afterwards, my family and I head out west for my son's wedding. Any prayers for traveling mercies will be deeply appreciated!

I will be taking an extended break from blogging as we celebrate the holidays and then the wedding. As my Christmas card to any who visit this blog, here are the lyrics to Chris Rice's beautiful "Welcome to our World," copied from this site. I think this song says it all.

"Welcome to Our World"

Tears are falling, hearts are breaking
How we need to hear from God
You've 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
Word now breaking Heaven's 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--Chris Rice

And by popular demand...

I shared this on the air on 101qfl this morning, and a listener asked me to post it on my site. Actually, I got it from the Grif net, Dr. Bob Griffin's site that e-mails humor and good stuff to me every day. (Check it out for yourself.)

Enjoy and take to heart:

I Corinthians 13 -- Christmas Style

If I decorate my house perfectly with plaid bows, strands of twinkling
lights and shiny balls, but do not show love to my family, I'm just
another decorator.

If I slave away in the kitchen, baking dozens of Christmas cookies,
preparing gourmet meals and arranging a beautifully adorned table at
mealtime, but do not show love to my family, I'm just another cook.

If I work at the soup kitchen, carol in the nursing home and give all
that I have to charity, but do not show love to my family, it profits me

If I trim the spruce with shimmering angels and crocheted snowflakes,
attend a myriad of holiday parties and sing in the choir's cantata, but do not
focus on Christ, I have missed the point.

Love stops the cooking to hug the child.

Love sets aside the decorating to kiss the husband.

Love is kind, though harried and tired.

Love doesn't envy another's home that has coordinated Christmas china and
table linens.

Love doesn't yell at the kids to get out of the way.

Love doesn't give only to those who are able to give in return, but
rejoices in giving to those who can't.

Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all

Love never fails. Video games will break, pearl necklaces will be lost,
golf clubs will rust. But giving the gift of love will endure.

Monday, December 22, 2003


"PETA turns so many away from their cause that I'm starting to think that they're funded by the meat packing industry."--John Little, Eye on the Left

Big Ups to "Time" for its choice of Person of the Year...

What could be more appropriate than Time's choice of "The American Soldier" as Person of the Year?

USA Today also writes about the choice today, quoting soldiers who appreciate the honor and say it should be good for morale.

Says Time's article online: "They swept across Iraq and conquered it in 21 days. They stand guard on streets pot-holed with skepticism and rancor. They caught Saddam Hussein. They are the face of America, its might and good will, in a region unused to democracy. The U.S. G.I. is TIME's Person of the Year."


Does PETA get through to anyone besides the "(disturbed) faithful"?

I stumbled across this blog called Eye on the Left just as Rockford has become the site of at least a few of the PETA billboards that are aimed-to-shock.

A few listeners have called me, outraged by the billboards, which feature a picture of a pig and the words "He Died for Your Sins"...as well as the admonition to "Go vegetarian." I ran a story about it this past Friday.

Rockford Register Star columnist Judy Emerson makes the billboards the subject of her column today; while she agrees that Christians have the right to be outraged, she seems to take an "ignore PETA and they'll go away" stance. Apparently other communities with the billboards have risen up in arms against PETA, only to give the lunatic-fringe animal-rights group (my words, not hers) the publicity they crave, and victim status to boot.

Says Emerson: "Let PETA practice its silliness while sensible Christians use their energy this holiday season feeding the hungry, tending the sick, spreading good will, praying for peace.

"Don’t we all have bigger fish to fry?"

Eye on the Left--which appears to be well-written, witty and timely-- meantime reports that PETA is up to even weirder silliness this Christmas season. They're handing out leaflets to children at performances of "The Nutcracker," with the message "Your mommy kills animals."

The Eye on the Left writer puts it succinctly:

"Once again the idiots at PETA fail to realize that their extreme message only plays with the (disturbed) faithful. Their tactics fail to convert. In fact, PETA turns so many away from their cause that I'm starting to think that they're funded by the meat packing industry."

Please don't ask me if I have all my Christmas shopping done...

The short answer? NO.

I'm hoping to get the bulk of it finished tonight. Doug and I always set aside one evening to get a large part of it done together, and there simply hasn't been time so far this season. It's been crazy.

Right now, we have a grand total of seven presents under the tree, and most of those are from Justin and Elizabeth to us!

Had our Christmas Cantata last night...

...and I have to say that it was probably my favorite of all those our church choir has done in recent years. The music and the arrangements were really beautiful and fun to sing as well, and the accompanying reader's theater had just the right touch of humor and heart-tugging moments, all centered around a vital message about the meaning of the season. All the actors did a terrific job.

"From Christmas to Calvary" is one of many musical pieces available from Bible Truth Music.

Friday, December 19, 2003

Another busy day today!

(Why is there a picture of Russell Crowe here? Just because I felt like it!)

Another busy day on tap for today. The good news: I got my dress for the wedding. No, it isn't the one I had planned to get (although that one WAS there.) This one I like even better, and it was 30 dollars cheaper! You can hardly beat that.

We still have to get Elizabeth's dress (it's being made), host the extended family Christmas party (although my sister-in-law is being kind enough to let us have it at her house...ours is entirely too small now), and get ready for the Trip to Boise.

So much to do. I feel like Prince Humperdinck in "The Princess Bride": "I've got my country's 500th anniversary to plan, my wedding to arrange, my wife to murder, and Guilder to frame for it. I'm swamped!"

Thursday, December 18, 2003

Life continues its frenetic headlong rush toward Christmas and the wedding...

Today is going to be a busy day. I have to go to Bergner's and see if the dress I want for the wedding is still there, and if it's not, I have to go to the two other Bergner's stores and see if it's there. And if it's not, I have to find another dress that I will like anywhere near as well.

This is the first time I will have been the Mother of the Groom...or actually, the Mother of Anyone Who Is Getting Married. I want to look my best if at all possible, you know what I mean? And this is a really...really pretty dress. Yes, it's going to cost more than I normally spend on a dress, although it IS on sale (I never buy anything not on sale!) and I do have a 30 dollar gift certificate to Bergner's that will alleviate the price somewhat.

Goodness, I do hope that dress is there.

I also have to go to the grocery store and get the ingredients for the thing I'm supposed to bring to my husband's staff Christmas party tonight (a relish tray.) Hopefully I'll find a lot of stuff to fill the relish tray that WON'T require hours of chopping vegetables. Baby carrots, pickles, olives and crackers, here I come!

One thing I DID manage to get done, that is something of a minor miracle, is get my Christmas cards mailed. I was quite pleased with the way our family picture turned out. No, it's not from a major portrait studio or anything like that. Basically, a friend took them. But I thought they turned out nice, and the price was right. If I can ever get access to a scanner again, I'll post one here. The one on my sidebar is from a year ago, before Daylyn really figured into our family. I was happy that we could all manage to pose together at some point before Christmas.

Wow, are stamps expensive now, or what?

I love GETTING Christmas cards. How nice, to have a time of year where you get more than bills and advertising in your mailbox.

Michael Jackson turns to Islam

No, I won't post a pic of him. We've all seen that sad mug shot of his enough...the pasty white make-up,half- confused deer-in-the-headlights expression (albeit a deer wearing black eyeliner and lipstick.) It's sad, and appalling...when did that adorable little boy, then goodlooking young man, turn into this oddity?

Now, the latest news...that Jacko is converting to Islam. I seem to remember that he and his family have pretty much been devout Jehovah's Witnesses heretofore, so Michael now trades one distortion of God's truth for another.

I don't despise Michael Jackson, and I won't go out on a limb and trumpet his guilt...although...honestly...it doesn't look good, in my humble opinion. I do think he's a prime example of a man whose fame, fortune and talents have failed to bring him real joy and peace.

There's only one Person who can give him that.

Wednesday, December 17, 2003

You're a mean one, Mr. Grinch!

My very favorite version of this song is the one by Sixpence None the Richer, which we play here on 101QFL. Leigh Nash's oddly lovely and lilting voice, and almost childlike quality in the speaking parts, really lends itself perfectly to this whimsical tune.

Apparently this reviewer of the 1999 Christmas compilation album, Happy Christmas Volume Two, agrees with me: "If you buy the CD for only one song, it would have to be Sixpence None the Richer's 'You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch.' Their oddball rendition is just too much fun..."

By the way, I've never seen the live-action "Grinch" movie, and I don't plan on seeing the current live-action "Cat in the Hat" movie...despite the fact that I've always liked Dr. Seuss. One reviewer said the "Cat in the Hat" movie just isn't "Seuss-y" enough. I'm pretty sure I know what they mean.

Come on,Chicago, give Rockford a break!

Apparently, some Chicago columnists have recently been rippin' on the city I've lived in for the past 23 years and that I now regard as my hometown...Rockford, Illinois.

Elizabeth Davies has an interesting article in today's Rockford Register Star, titled "Smells like snobbery--Chicago, stop rippin' on Rockford!"

Particularly stinging is this quote from Chicago Sun-Times columnist Neil Steinberg: "Rockford is an argument against the idea of human grace... Ten miles of Wal-Mart, Jiffy Lube and Olive Garden leading to a bleak downtown where the pedestrians all seem to be killing time, waiting for the shelters to open. 'Let the insects win,' I think darkly."


Davies disagrees with Steinberg's assessment of the Forest City, saying that she is a Chicago girl who chooses to live here...and that she appreciates the affordable housing and the fact that she can get anywhere in town inside of 20 minutes, among other things.

To be honest, I wasn't crazy about Rockford when I first moved here. I had lived in fairly large cities for a good portion of my young life, and in a fairly bustling college town for another portion of it, and Rockford seemed a bit dull to me at first.

Through the years, I have come to appreciate it. This is a great town in which to live and raise children. Sure, it has its faults, problems and ugliness just like any other city in America. But it also has a great deal of beauty...it's not called the Forest City for nothing; there are trees and beautiful parks galore.

I love the Swedish and Italian influences on everything from architecture to food...I challenge anyone to come up with better pizza than Giuseppi's or better Italian food than Maria's, Lino's, Pino's and a host of other local restaurants too numerous to mention.

Some of the loveliest old, dignified, beautiful homes grace tree-lined boulevards here. The Fourth of July celebration, with its dazzling fireworks show, is one of the best around. And who can not like a city that boasts the scenic Sinnissippi bike path and the gorgeously ornate and historic Coronado Theater?

Chicago is an amazing, incredible city, and I love that I live so close to one of the greatest cities in the world. But I agree with Elizabeth Davies. Chicago...lay off my hometown!

Feliz Navidad!

All I can say is, I hope Jose Feliciano is getting royalties on that song. I've heard it repeatedly in just about all radio genres so far this season.

I got curious about what Jose is up to...after all, "Feliz Navidad" first came out in the early 70's, I believe...and found that he's still going strong, and has his own official website. According to his site, Feliciano "has been acclaimed by critics around the world as the greatest living guitarist."

Confession: I always liked his version of "Light My Fire" better than Jim Morrison's. :)

A Soldier's "Night Before Christmas"

You may have seen this version of "The Night Before Christmas" before, but I think it's worth reading again, as many of our American troops remain in harm's way during this Christmas season. As the sister of a Gulf War veteran Marine, I have a soft spot in my heart for American servicemen and women.

The author of the poem is unknown, but some say it was written by a U.S. Marine stationed in Okinawa. Some Internet sites don't include the last eight lines, but I think they're great.

Here's the poem:
'Twas The Night Before Christmas'
A Soldier, The Night Before Christmas

'Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone
In a one room house made of plaster and stone.

I had come down the chimney with presents to give,
And to see just who in this home did live.

I looked all about, a strange sight did I see,
No tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.

No stocking by the mantle, just boots filled with sand,
on the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sober thought came through into my mind.

For this house was different, it was dark and dreary,
I found the house of a soldier, once I could see clearly.

The soldier lay sleeping, silent, alone,
curled upon the floor in this one room home.

The face was so gentle, the room in such disorder,
Not how I pictured a United States soldier.

Was this the hero of whom I just read?
Curled up on a poncho, the floor for a bed?

I realized the families I saw on this night,
owed their lives to these soldiers, who were willing to fight.

Soon round the world the children would play,
And grownups would celebrate a bright Christmas day.

They all enjoyed freedom each month of the year,
Because of the soldiers, like the one lying here.

I couldn't help wonder how many lay lone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.

The very thought brought a tear to my eye,
I dropped to my knees and started to cry.

The soldier awakened and I heard a rough voice,
"Santa, don't cry, this life is my choice;

I fight for freedom, I don't ask for more,
My life is my God, my country, my Corps."

The soldier rolled over and drifted to sleep,
I couldn't control it, I started to weep.

I kept watch for hours, so silent and still
And we both shivered from the cold night's chill.

I didn't want to leave on that cold, dark night
This Guardian of Honor so willing to fight.

The soldier rolled over, with a voice soft and pure,
whispered, "Carry on, Santa, It's Christmas, All is secure."

I looked at that soldier, on that cold Christmas night.
I thought of his comrades, and knew he was right.

This great world is freer, for they're willing to fight
For Freedom and Christmas, and all that is right.

So to all you, my friends, U.S. troops in all lands,
Know that you are remembered by family and friends,

For this one special night, may you rest without fight,
Merry Christmas, my friend, and to all a good night!

Tuesday, December 16, 2003

More about Nicholas Jonas

I mentioned this remarkable 11-year-old singer/actor in my blog recently, and got a nice e-mail from his dad, Kevin Jonas, who told me: "Nicholas truly does have a deep love for Jesus."

Nicholas' song "Joy to the World/A Christmas Prayer" is filling radio airwaves this Christmas season.

I've added more info about Nicholas on my website for those of you who are interested.

A positive story about a child, in a world where there are so many sad or negative ones. Good stuff.

Monday, December 15, 2003


“We can’t change the channel, because this isn’t just a television invention. This is our culture. This free-for-all, libertine, conscienceless maypole dance is what we’ve created from once-strong roots of Puritan rectitude. A nation once lampooned for its innocence now wallows in smut of every kind. Were it not for the new counterculture—the millions of families attempting to raise moral and idealistic kids despite the deluge of decadence—I’d be in doubt about our future.” —syndicated columnist and political analyst Mona Charen

Saddam caught like the rat he is...

I was getting ready for church Sunday morning, a Christmas CD providing background music, when my husband came up the stairs fresh from his shower with the words: "Have you heard the news? They captured Saddam Hussein!"

I responded with a classic jaw-dropping. Just total, stunned surprise. Next, I turned on the TV and found Fox News right away. We watched, in amazement, the first raw videotape of a doctor poking and prodding around in the mouth,ears and hair of the man responsible for so much death and destruction.

He looked wild-eyed, wild-haired, disheveled and dirty...a pathetic mess. I can't imagine a much more degrading image for someone who once strutted his pride, tyranny, defiance and cruelty on the world scene.

We must now wait and see just how much of an effect Saddam's capture will have on the war on terror. But I'm sure I'm not alone in taking immense satisfaction in knowing that one of history's most heinous villains is now under lock and key.

'Tis the season of the inflatable snowman???

I'm not imagining it...inflatable Christmas decorations appear to be the hottest holiday decorating trend this year. Just drive down any street in your neighborhood and you're likely to see more than one blown-up snowman, Santa or teddy bear grinning at you.

A Google search quickly turned up this article by Jura Koncius, which says: "Forget icicle lights, pre-lit wire deer and illuminated spiral trees. The outdoor decoration that is blowing away the competition this year is the giant holiday inflatable."

Apparently a lot of retailers are saying they can barely keep the inflatables in stock...and Target Stores spokewoman Paula Thornton-Greer is quoted as saying, "Inflatables are one way that people can instantly make any yard look professionally decorated without breaking the bank."

They really are kinda cute. The inflatables are powered by small plug-in fan motors, and held down by tethers and spikes. However, from what I've seen, they're not immune to toppling over. I've got to admit I have to grin when I see a jolly Frosty, face down in the snow. :)

Friday, December 12, 2003

Now you can listen to my interview with Jeri Massi!

Jeri has converted my radio interview with her, about her outstanding "Valkyries" novels, to an MP3 file. (It's 16 minutes long and is about 15 MB.) You can click here to listen to the interview. If that's not possible for you, you can click on the links on my sidebar to read excerpts from the interview.

You can also read my review of Valkyries if you like.

Folks, I'm the kind of person who won't waste time reading a book that doesn't interest me, and I literally couldn't put "Valkyries" down. The books (there are two of them) are riveting.

Hope you'll be able to listen to the interview.

By the way, Jeri got some good news about "Valkyries" recently. This from a bulk e-mail she sent:

"I received a letter from my publisher yesterday telling me that VALKYRIES: Some Through the Fire (Volume One of the two volume set) has been submitted as a nominee for the Christy Awards. If you're not into Christian religious fiction, the Christy Awards are our annual book awards for books published in the previous year in the USA. Finalists are announced in May, and the winners are announced at the end of June."

Great job, Jeri!

Some interesting comments on this phenomena we call "blogging"

Clarence left some comments here about what I understand is called "genetic memory"...the only way I can explain the strong pull I experience to all things Celtic. Clarence agreed with me, saying he experiences similar feelings when hearing music related to his own ancestry.

His comments led me to check out his blog, "Can You Hear Me Now?" He has some great thoughts about this blogging phenomena. Why do we do it?

Well, personally, I enjoy it because it's a quick and easy way to get my creativity on...an efficient and enjoyable way to write something and share something that might reach a few people or even touch a few hearts.

Says Clarence: "I read one comment where the author described some Blogs are containing 'daily life GARBAGE.'

"I've got some real news for that person. The details of someone's daily life is NOT garbage. Why do you suppose there is so much interest in the details of daily life for someone living in Iraq? John Q. Citizen, who lives where the conflict is on-going and conveys what they see and hear with their own eyes in the best language they possess is REAL NEWS. They aren't freelance reporters out for some sensational story line. They have no hidden agenda or code to adhere to. They write about what is reality to them, the way they see it."

I agree. I find the daily life musings of people quite fascinating. Maybe it's because, for the most part, I love people and want to hear their story. :)

Thursday, December 11, 2003

A beautiful Christmas book with a vital message...

I just interviewed Grace Johnson, an author and playwright who happens to live right here in my hometown.

Grace has come out with a wonderful book called "The Candle in the Window." It's based on a short story by Leo Tolstoy, "Where Love Is, There God is Also"...and the simple theme of the book, as it was in the story, is Christ's teaching that "whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me."

The book is richly, gorgeously illustrated by Newbery Honor Award-winning illustrator Mark Elliott.

Grace tells me: "Having read the story and seen how many friends...teacher friends that I knew...that liked to read that every year to their children, I never saw it illustrated in any way...I wanted to write something that was done in a certain kind of lighthearted way that would be a happy book to read at Christmas
and yet would hit the sadness that I think so many people feel (during the Christmas season.) Because, you're supposed to be so happy, you're supposed to be so jolly, and that is the time that so many people are more aware than others of what they've lost: a family member's death, or a husband leaving them, or whatever it is. I just think we would be amazed at looking at a whole throng of people, how many of them have sadness, and I like to address that."

Grace also wanted to get the "least of these" message across to readers: "I find myself thinking, 'What am I doing that's directly for Christ?' I don't think sending money off to missionaries that I hardly know or care about, or another gift for Aunt Susie who doesn't need a thing...but I'm always reminded of my son who as an adult worked for a time in a facility that was for very severely developmentally challenged adults. These adults wore diapers, and it was my son's job to change them...and he said the only way he could get through it was reminding himself that he was doing it for Christ."

The story closes with a lovely ancient candle prayer, which Grace found years ago:

"Lord Jesus, thou whose birth we celebrate, we have lit our candle in the presence of each other and the holy angels. Kindle in our hearts thy flame of love, that day shall break and shadows flee away. Amen."

The main character, Gunther, discovers that he has shown kindness and compassion "to the least of these," and thus to Christ...and has been visited by angels:

"Slowly he shook his head in wonder. 'We have lit our candle, Lord Jesus, and you came!'

"He knelt beside the window. 'Kindle in my heart thy flame of love, that day shall break and shadows flee away,' he murmured softly.

"And Gunther looked into his heart and knew that it was so."

As I said, a beautiful book with a meaningful message.

"The Candle in the Window" is written by Grace Johnson and illustrated by Mark Elliott. It's available through www.bakerbooks.com and www.amazon.com, or your local Christian bookstore. I think it would make a lovely gift for a special child on your list, or anyone who loves wonderful books.

Apparently Evie is still pretty popular!

Since I noticed that a lot of web-surfers have been ending up on my blog or my website by searching for a reference I made to Christian singer Evie Tornquist-Karlsson, I decided to put more info about Evie on my site's page about my favorite Christmas music.

Most of the seekers seem to want the lyrics to "Come On, Ring Those Bells," so here also is a link to the lyrics and guitar tabs for that song.

By the way, Evie is still going strong and even touring a bit. She appeared with Mark Lowry at a concert last year for Radio 91, and was as lovely as ever. Apparently she and her husband Pelle Karlsson and their family are a "spokesfamily" for the Sky Angel Christian TV network, or were at one point.

There you go. Hope I've brightened up the season a bit for Evie fans! :)

Heard Enya's version of "Silent Night"...

...on the way into work this morning, and it was eerily beautiful. It was in Gaelic, which I find strange and lovely. When I hear Irish music, something calls out to me on a deep and primitive level. Some people think there is a something deep within us that connects with the country or countries that figured prominently in our ancestry. I think there may be something to that...else why have I been inexplicably drawn to Ireland ever since I was a little girl? I have strong Irish strains on both sides of my family tree.

, by the way, is the sister of Christian singer Maire (pronounced Moya)Brennan, whose voice and style is much like her sister's, but has a lot more Christian and spiritual content. I have one of her CD's, "Perfect Time," and like it very much.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

You say it's your birthday? It's my birthday, too!

Yep...I was born 47 years ago today. I really can't believe I'm that old! It's already been a nice birthday, though. Chris opened up the phone lines for listeners to call in and wish me happy birthday, and people were so sweet. Warm fuzzies galore. :)

Sharing a birthday with me today is Michelle Gartshore, a lovely person who checked out my website and blog and sent me a very kind e-mail! Happy birthday to you, Michelle! (She'll have a whole lot fewer candles on her cake than I will, though! :))

I suppose I should wax eloquent about midlife, how I'm dealing with aging and all that kind of stuff. The truth is, aging is probably the least of my worries right now. Yes, there are definitely things I could do to get in better shape and promote my health and longevity. One of my New Year's resolutions had better be getting into a consistent and workable exercise regime, no doubt. However, although I am disturbed when I notice a new wrinkle here and there, I've been told that I could pass for quite a bit younger than my age. (I think I have my Grandma Garrett to thank for the good genes.) So, I'm not obsessing about growing old just yet.

The fact that I've never been a smoker or alcohol drinker also works in my favor, I believe.

I do want to be the very best and most attractive 47-year-old woman that I can possibly be. Overall, I think I'm a much more interesting woman than I was, say, 20 years ago. Life experience and accrued wisdom will do that for you, I believe. I pray that I can have that beauty that glows from the inside...the kind that makes my mother a still-beautiful woman at 70.


A while back, I put a tribute to my father on my website that included lines from a song I used to love to hear him sing. It's called "Submission," and can still be found in some old gospel songbooks...none of which I have access to right now.

I got an e-mail from a Daniel Pollard, who was searching for the lyrics to the song so he could sing it a cappella in a Bible study group.

I was able to find the lyrics through a Google search, although the author's name is regrettably not included. I'll have to ask my mom if she can find the song for me so I can give credit to the author. In the meantime, check out these lyrics...wow.


The path that I have trod has brought me nearer God

Though oft it led thru sorrow's gates

Though not the way I'd choose,in my way I might lose

The joy that yet for me awaits.


Not what I wish to be, 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.

The cross that I must bear if I a crown would wear

Is not the cross that I should take

But since on me tis laid I'll take it unafraid

And bear it for the Master's sake.

Submission to the will of Him who guides me still

Is surety of His love revealed

My soul shall rise above this world in which I move

I conquer only when I yield.

I conquer only when I yield.

A lot of scriptural truth in that song! I can still hear my dad singing it, and I get a little choked up thinking about it. He still sings a little, but rarely sits down at the piano like he used to. :(

Monday, December 08, 2003


Diane Keaton,57, on the fact that she's hasn't joined the trying-to-look-young bandwagon most Hollywood actresses are on: "Somebody's got to be old. Somebody's got to be out there. Because I believe everyone has to have something to look forward to. Everybody has to have someone that they can see and go, 'That was an older person. Look, they were still funny,' or 'They were still very vital, crazy and passionate.'"

Feeling a little "farklempt" (Yiddish for choked-up and emotional)...

Jonathan and Daylyn leave today, after a lovely four and a half days here. I've enjoyed them so much! They now go their separate ways before meeting again in Boise a few days before The Wedding.

^Daylyn and Jonathan^

I've never been a mother of the groom before, so this is all unchartered territory for me. I'm nervous about a lot of things...will we get there OK? (The road trip is going to be a long one, and bad weather could really ruin it). Will we blow our one big responsibility, the rehearsal dinner? Reservations have been made for it...just hoping it goes smoothly and the food is good. We chose from a list of places Daylyn gave us. Will Liz's dress turn out good? Will I find a dress? Will I look OK? (Pictures will record everything for posterity, of course!) Will Jon and Daylyn be safe when they drive a van and U-haul from Boise to Texas after the wedding?

Wow...lots of fodder for prayer there.

One good thing...the shower was lovely.

Anyway...I seem to be living on the edge of tears lately, for some reason. Well, I guess it's not so hard to understand. My firstborn is taking one of the biggest steps of his life, and my father is near the end of his. It's all a lot to digest.

Thursday, December 04, 2003


"There is no spectacle on earth more appealing than that of a beautiful woman in the act of cooking dinner for someone she loves."--Thomas Wolfe

Back from the Lonestar State...

I just got back Tuesday from a trip to Texas to visit my family members who live there. Some of you may know that my father is terminally ill of liver disease, and I'm trying to get down there as often as possible. My sister Lisa made this visit possible, and I'm so thankful.

The day after I returned...yesterday...Jonathan and his fiance Daylyn arrived for a visit, Jonathan flying up from Texas and Daylyn from Idaho, meeting at O'Hare. It's wonderful to see them, and I'm giving Daylyn a bridal shower tonight.

These are busy days!

Some of my favorite Christmas music...

I'll admit it, I'm a sentimental softie when it comes to Christmas music. It's one of my favorite things about the season, which I still love in spite of the stress and commercialism that threatens to spoil everything at times.

The following is lifted from my website:

The Soundtrack of Christmas

Christmas music I love...

There are certain musical sounds that have formed the backdrop of Christmas for me...some in years past,and some in more recent years. I can remember growing up to the lilting sounds of Brenda Lee's "Jingle Bell Rock" and "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree"! In junior high,I was introduced by an incredible music teacher to the majesty and wonder of Handel's "Messiah." The strains of "For Unto Us a Son is Born" never fail to stir me, and I could make a good case for "The Hallelujah Chorus" being sung in Heaven!

When I was in Bible college, Evie Tornquist was all the rage. I still enjoy Evie's "Come On,Ring those Bells"!

Years ago,my sister gave me a Christmas tape of the Oak Ridge Boys. I've since lost it, and would love to have the CD. I can remember playing it for my little sons at night while they went to sleep during the Christmas season.

Some of my favorite Christmas music is more contemporary, but several have quickly become standards in our home. Here are a few:

For the fourth year I'm thoroughly enjoying Michael W. Smith's "Christmastime." I heartily recommend it!

No one is going to pretend Smitty is an awesome vocalist, but he is, in my opinion,a musical genius, and there is something endearing about his voice, too. The arrangements and orchestration are absolutely gorgeous as well. This is one of my very favorite Christmas albums. It is the perfect, joyous blend of the lighthearted and the reverent. Now I can't imagine the Christmas season without it.

His first Christmas album (I believe it was just titled "Christmas"), also remains a Christmas season staple for me, but it has a much different tone. The first album is more quiet and worshipful overall.

All of Amy Grant's Christmas albums are great,but my personal favorite is "Home for Christmas." It has become a seasonal classic in our home.

Also once again enjoying Point of Grace's Christmas C-D...I believe it's called "A Christmas Story." Lush, shimmery, angelic female four-part harmony, with a nice balance of the sacred and the secular.

And one of the best Christmas albums EVER...4Him's "Season of Love". I can't come up with enough superlatives for this one. . 4Him's version of "Little Drummer Boy" is one of my favorites...and "Strange Way to Save the World" is beautiful and poignant. A must-have!

And now for something completely different...

My son Jonathan has never been a huge fan of Christmas music...and he got especially burnt out on the sounds of the season when he worked in a Franklin Covey store at an Ohio mall for two years in a row. Here, he argues his case against Christmas music:


By Jonathan Swanson

I have been called a Grinch before because I don't always "Get in the Christmas Spirit". I have always realized that Christmas music and the Christmas atmosphere don't excite me as much as some, but I always am truly moved when that second hand goes from 11:59:59 pm Dec. 24 to 12:00:00 Dec. 25. I have diagnosed my lack of Christmas spirit as a disdain for crappy, so-called Christmas music. Yeah that's right, I dislike Christmas music. Before you picture me with a cane and a t-shirt that says "BAH HUMBUGG", let me clarify. Not all music that is passed off as Christmas music is really Christmas music. "Hark the Herald Angels Sing", "Silent Night" - these are real Christmas songs, but I am convinced that upwards of 70% of Christmas music is not Christmas music at all! I think real Christmas music should, at some point or another, mention Christ and his birthday! Most of it does not even come close! Let me give you a taste of what I've been subjected to just about every day, for the last two Christmas seasons :

"Santa Baby" - "Santa cutie, there's one thing that I really need, Santa baby, slip a sable under the tree, For me.I've been an awful good girl, Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight." (imagine this performed by a disgustingly whiny/flirty female voice)

"What Christmas Means To Me" - "Candles burning low,Lots of mistletoe,Lots of snow and ice Everywhere we go Choirs singing carols Right outside my door All these things and more All these things and more That's what Christmas means to me, my love Christmas means to me, my love" (the legenday Stevie Wonder stumbles through this ode to remind us that Christmas isn't about a virgin birth and the arrival of the God-man that will change the course of history, it's really about kissing strangers under a plant, and singing songs in the cold)

"We Wish You the Merriest" - "We wish you the merriest, the merriest, the merriest, the merriest to youWe wish you the merriest, the merriest, the merriest, yes the merriest, / We wish you the merriest, the merriest, the merriest Yule cheer,/ We wish you the happiest, the happiest, the happiest, yes the happiest, / We wish you the happiest, the happiest, the happiest New Year./ May your tree be filled with happiness, happiness and friendliness for all / May your heart be filled with cheerfulness," /

(Yes this is actually a song, if you've ever heard it, you know how much it sucks.)--Jonathan Swanson

Wednesday, November 26, 2003


"When he said we were trying to make a fool of him, I could only murmur that the Creator had beaten us to it." Ilka Chase

Happy Thanksgiving to the millions who read my blog!

OK, OK, it's more like the ten people who read it. :) Seriously, though...I really do have a lot to be thankful for. Not the least of which is my dear husband and precious children.

And I'm not just generally thankful to fate, destiny, or some unidentified force. My thanks goes to God, the almighty and powerful creator of the universe, who for inexplicable reasons chooses to seek a personal relationship with me...to love me in spite of my innumerable faults and failings. Amazing, humbling and awe-inspiring.

Oh, yes, I'd say "thanks" are definitely in order.

My daughter is a Grobanite

No, she hasn't joined some freaky cult. She is a fan of Josh Groban, a young man with an heart-meltingly beautiful voice.

Lately, I've been falling asleep to the melodious sounds of Groban's voice coming from my daughter's CD player in her room. Let me tell you, there are much worse things to fall asleep to. Groban has a classically trained voice, and he wraps it beautifully around real songs, often in Italian. Some of his songs, like "The Prayer" and "You Raise Me Up," have definite spiritual overtones.

Critics are giving lukewarm reviews to his latest CD, Closer . The top complaints seem to be what they view as the overly-lush orchestration and overly-sentimental lyrics (People Magazine even hinted he should stick to Italian). People's critic also said Closer is a CD only Grobanites will love.

Guess that makes me a Grobanite, too. :)

I still love Groban's debut CD. And I'm pleased that Elizabeth is developing a discerning ear when it comes to music.

And speaking of music, and young prodigies, check this young man out...

interviewed Nicholas Jonas on Radio 91 yesterday. This remarkable 11-year-old not only has a great voice, but loves Jesus, has a heart for others, and writes a lot of his own songs! Wow!

Click here to hear a sample of Nicholas' song, Joy to the World/A Christmas Prayer.

Tuesday, November 25, 2003

A "seeking" song...

Every once in a while, a popular song comes along that seems to be saying, "I'm looking for God...someone help me find Him."

I heard such a song recently. The lyrics are poignant; they paint a vivid portrait of a messed up world that (although they don't realize it) is desperately in need of a Savior. The song is "Calling All Angels," by Train:

"I need a sign to let me know you’re here
All of these lines are being crossed over the atmosphere
I need to know that things are gonna look up
Cause I feel us drowning in a sea spilled from a cup
When there is no place safe and no safe place to put my head
When you can feel the world shake from the words that I said

And I’m calling all angels
And I’m calling all you angels

And I won’t give up if you don’t give up
I won’t give up if you don’t give up
I won’t give up if you don’t give up
I won’t give up if you don’t give up

I need a sign to let me know you’re here
Cause my tv set just keeps it all from being clear
I want a reason for the way things have to be
I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope inside of me

And I’m calling all angels
And I’m calling all you angels

When children have to play inside so they don’t disappear
While private eyes solve marriage lies cause we dont talk for years
And football teams are kissing queens and losing sight of having dreams
In a world where all we want is only what we want untill it’s ours

And I’m calling all angels
And I’m calling all you angels..."

The line "I need a hand to help build up some kind of hope in me..." speaks volumes.

Songs like this strongly remind me of what I should be doing and being as a Christian in this troubled world. The writer of this song is not the only person that "needs a hand to help build up some kind of hope." I'm supposed to be that hand, representing the hand of Jesus to neighbors and acquaintances.

It goes back to the Casting Crowns song that I posted earlier in this blog. "If we are the body, why aren't His hands reaching?"

Funny that a secular song has preached me a much-need sermon.

Friday, November 21, 2003

Thanksgiving Forecast (corny but funny :))

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 dimish 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.

Thursday, November 20, 2003

Scroll down if you're looking for my interview with Jeri Massi

I love Justin!

When we realized that it just wasn't going to be financially feasible for my 20-year-old son Justin to go back to Cedarville University this fall, I was disappointed for him. He was all set to begin his junior year as an accounting major. He really enjoys Cedarville and has made a lot of friends there. Our older son Jonathan is a 2002 graduate of the school, which is a Chrisitan liberal arts college with a wonderful spirit.

Wonderful though it is, Cedarville is also very expensive. And Justin had some bumps in the road of his employment situation over the summer. The result: just not enough bucks to get back into school.

The news isn't all bad, though...it appears he will still be on track to graduate with his class when he goes back in January. And the Lord has graciously provided the financial means for him to go back. I'm thrilled for him, but another part of me is sad.

You see, I LOVE having Justin around. With his sense of humor and "joie de vivre," he injects a major shot of fun and happiness into our household. He gives Elizabeth a hard time, and sometimes they rough-house together like they did when they were little. I'll hear Liz screaming with laughter while Justin "terrorizes" her...but she's crazy about him.

He's working in the deli at Wal-Mart, and his hours are varied, so I end up getting to spend quite a bit of time with him.
And I know I'm going to miss him dreadfully when he goes back to school.

I think it's been great for Doug, too. He has a companion to watch and discuss sports with...Justin is as big a sports fan as his father. And, Justin is the child, out of all my three, who is most like his father in so many ways. Sensible, capable, logical, but also blessed with a great sense of humor.

Let's face it, I'm crazy about all my children, equally. But I am so grateful for these few months with Justin around. As He so often does, God took something negative--a delay in Justin's college education--into a gift: some quality time with my baby boy.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

Scroll down to read excerpts of my interview with author Jeri Massi

Veteran Apologist Bob Passantino Dies

Received word of this from Kevin Johnson of Mount Carmel Outreach and the Institute for Christian Apologetics:

(From Cornerstone Magazine's website):

"Answers in Action's Bob Passantino died Monday, November 17, of a massive heart attack. Well-known as a writer and speaker, Bob's greatest contributions may have come from the vital ministry he and his wife, Gretchen, have run from their modest dwelling in Orange County."

Passantino and his wife authored several books on things like witchcraft, Satanism and the occult. I honestly can't remember if I ever read any of his books, but I remember hearing a lot about his ministry. Click here to read more about Passantino.


Part Two: My Interview with Jeri Massi, author of "Valkyries"

Here is Part Two of some excerpts from my interview with Jeri Massi, author of Valkyries.

(This is all I'm going to post of the interview, but I'm looking into converting the actual audio into some form where it can be listened to online.)

Scroll down to read Part One


CINDY: Why was it so important to you as an author, Jeri, to get across the theme of grace...because that is the overriding theme of these books.

JERI: I think the most important thing that any of can us can know is the grace of God.This is stated in the book by one of the characters, because really, the grace of God is the only thing that we possess.We tend to think that we have our education, our family, our place in our church,our physical home, our money, our jobs, and we really don't...any of that can be taken away in an instant. But what we have that we never lose,
if we have Christ, we have Christ forever...and all of the wealth that God pours out to His Son Christ,
He also gives to us through Christ because we belong to Christ, and we are one with our Saviour.

When I started to get ahold of that truth...when I realized that no matter how nice I looked, how well I could speak, what I could accomplish...all of this is very temporal, changeable and ephemeral...and it's all sort of a hoax even that I play with myself, because I remain a sinner...that I completely depend on God, whether I know I depend on Him or not, my life is completely dependent on His good will. But God is very good, and very gracious, and He holds before mankind forever this promise, this bounty, this wealth that we can have in Christ...and really,that is the only thing that we get.

Again, as I looked at Christian fiction as a younger woman, I was disheartened because even though I live a moral life and I definitely advocate moral behavior, very much Christian fiction tends to display the idea that Christianity is the same thing as morality, and it is not. Christianity is about Christ and belonging to Christ and having Him be our righteousness, our forgiveness and our resurrection.

CINDY: The story is set in a Catholic school, and there are some negative aspects of the Catholic faith portrayed in the book, but not totally. Can you speak to how you dealt with that, because I know that is an aspect of the story that is somewhat autobiographical for you.

JERI: Right. Well, I went to Catholic school for nine years. I went to a parochial school for eight years and then a private girls' school for one year where basketball was very important to the people. Again, after I got saved at age 14, I was amazed at some of the hostility I saw towards Roman Catholic people. But my church,which is BenSalem Baptist Church up in Philadelphia, was very good, and our church was about 80 per cent former Roman Catholic.

But in the book,I did want to clearly show the errors of Roman Catholic belief, the doctrine, what is written on the page. But in the book, one person who is a model Valkyrie is one of the sisters, sister James Anne, who
who is based on a nun who had in elementary school. Now in the story
she is a retired high school teacher, but I had a sister James Anise who who was the first person who ever sincerely took me aside to tell me that Jesus loved me.

Now, nobody is saved but by the blood of Christ, but God's grace is God's domain...He dispenses His grace, He grants mercy, and there are Roman Catholic people who do truly trust the Savior. And so I didn't want to vilify people...I care about Roman Catholic people. I would like them to be able to come to Christ without the intervention of a priest or a pope, because we can come to directly come to Christ, and that was very important for me to say.
So I do identify the fallacies of doctrine, but I've never yet had a Roman Catholic person who has read the book
complain to me about the book. In fact, a couple of people were very keen on reading the book,
because they wanted somebody who has been a Catholic to talk about these issues and present some ideas about the grace of God and the power of Christ to keep us from sin.

Tuesday, November 18, 2003

Part One: My interview with Jeri Massi, author of "Valkyries"

Here is Part One of some excerpts from my interview with Jeri Massi, author of Valkyries:

CINDY: First of all, what is a "Valkyrie," and how does that figure into the books?

JERI: A Valkyrie comes from Norse mythology, and the Valkyries were Odin's shield maidens.
The myth is that Odin, the Norse god, wanted to have a retinue of people who would serve him, but he realized that if he picked men they would glory in their strength...so he picked women to become warriors that would serve him because they had to derive their strength from him.

When I was in grad school, I read that in Renaissance literature Christians routinely used pagan literature, because they believed that pagan literature in some shadowy way would point to Christian truth, since
Christian truth is all truth. So looking at that mythological element, I thought, that is really a dim pointer at a
a very pertinent truth for us: that our strength comes from God, and thata woman who is trusting in the Lord really gets her strength from him and is capable of doing great exploits in the name of God.

CINDY: And that whole Valkyries symbolism does have significance for the young girl in the book, Tracey Jacamuzzi.
Just give me a little thumbnail sketch of what this story is all about.

JERI: After I worked for BJU Press, I was disheartened at how Christian fiction, especially for young people, tends to portray saved people---Christian people, believers--as being beyond their own sin, tends to portray them as being very very good. And some that's still out there tends to really draw a sharp dichotomy; and Christians are portrayed as being good and unsaved people are portrayed as being bad.

We're all sinners...I'm a sinner, I know that. I was saved when I was 14 and remained a sinner and am a sinner today...and one of the great mottos of my life is that every day of my life I continue to sin and every day of my life Christ continues to save me and be my salvation.

So I wanted to write a story about a teenager, a young person, who gets saved and does remain a sinner, and
it's there in the story that she truly is saved, truly wants to follow the Lord, but she battles what she is. And that is the story; that's the story of the exploits that she has before her, to overcome sin, which ultimately she finds out
is overcome by Christ.

And so, to write that story,just because I like adventure stories, I just had to put something exciting in there, and I decided that girl's basketball was probably the best pick for me to use, and so I used that.

The story does surprise some people because there is a certain amount of violence in it, fighting in it, and it's among girls, and that has surprised some readers--I haven't received any complaints on that--but
it is a very gritty story of a girl coming to Christ and living in very tough circumstances...and she has to develop traits of strength, truth, courage,fortitude and personal integrity, and all of that is set in a Catholic school.

She's raised Roman Catholic, she is saved at a Baptist tent meeting; her parents ship her off to this Catholic school; she starts really shooting off her mouth about how all these people are wrong...and the captain of the girl's basketball team essentially says to her, "You know, you have got a big mouth, and you're going to get yourself killed here, and I don't want to hear anything about God, but I'm going to teach you how to play basketball."

And so this girl, Liz Lucas, befriends Tracey and they become best friends, and Liz truly is a wonderful best friend
and teaches Tracey how to play basketball, and very much of the story is devoted to their exploits on the ball court.

CINDY: You and I were talking about that earlier, and it's appropriate nowadays because
girls' sports is huge now, all across the board...in Christian schools, in public schools, everywhere;
girls' basketball is very exciting nowadays, and (laughing) I'm biased because my husband is the coach of a girl's basketball team, but I tell you, there's some real excitement in girl's athletics these days.

JERI: I'm really glad to hear that, because I'm a fourth-degree black belt in tae kwon do-- I'm a terrible basketball player, I know all about the game, but I'm an awful basketball player--but, yes...When I was growing up, Christian girls did not have that type of fiction available to them...adventure stories that feature girls, or stories of courage and strength that feature young girls, and that was one of my goals. I think that women face many dangers, especially today, and all of the virtues have to be learned by everybody, and it was important to me to
get that across in the book.

Coming: Part Two of excerpts from my interview with Jeri Massi

Monday, November 17, 2003

This is so funny!!! Looks like one blogger is busted....

Check it out: "Mom finds out about blog..."

Heh, heh, heh...I'm glad there's nothing in this blog that I'm ashamed of...except possibly for the fact that it may be boring as heck.

But my mom is welcome to read it, anytime. In fact, Mom, if you're reading this right now: I love you!!! You're the best. :)

If we are the body of Christ....

One of the criticisms of today's Christian music--and sometimes deservedly so--is that the lyrics are shallow, lacking meaning, and often seem to have little to do with the Lord.

But that's not always true, not by a long shot. For example, one of the songs our station currently has in fairly heavy rotation is by a new band called Casting Crowns.

(Pictured: [L to R] Mark Hall, lead singer of Casting Crowns, and Hector Cervantes, guitar and vocals)

My daughter and I heard their song, "If We are the Body," while we were out and about this weekend, and we were both struck by how meaningful and even convicting the lyrics are. Here they are:

"If We are the Body
Casting Crowns

It's crowded in worship today
As she slips in trying to fade into the faces
The girls' teasing laughter is carrying farther than they know
Farther than they know

But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

A traveler is far away from home
He sheds his coat and quietly sinks into the back row
The weight of their judgmental glances
Tells him that his chances are better out on the road

But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

Jesus paid much too high a price
For us to pick and choose who should come
And we are the body of Christ

But if we are the body
Why aren't His arms reaching?
Why aren't His hands healing?
Why aren't His words teaching?
And if we are the body
Why aren't His feet going?
Why is His love not showing them there is a way?
There is a way

Jesus is the way"

My heart hurts when I hear news...

...like the news about the collision of the two Black Hawk helicopters in Iraq over the weekend.

I am a conservative, and I support President Bush, and I understand the need for the United States to get tough against terrorism. That said...as a mother of two young men and the sister of a young man who served in the Gulf War...my heart hurts every time I hear the news of even one more young life lost in Iraq.

While I long for a world where mothers would never have to bury their beautiful sons and daughters, I tend to believe that--as the Imperials used to sing--"There will never be any peace until God is seated at the conference table."

President Bush says he spent time in prayer over the weekend at Camp David, for the troops in harm's way and for their families. May we all join him in that prayer.

I had a wonderful time with my daughter on Saturday!

Elizabeth and I had some great one-on-one girly time together on Saturday. :)

First, I took her to get her hair cut and highlighted. We go to the home of a woman named Lori, who has a little salon in her basement. The prices are very reasonable, and she does a terrific job. Liz got blonde highlights, which look beautiful with her Swedish-girl complexion and blue eyes. And she went for a change that might seem minor, but gave her an entirely new look: bangs. From there it was on to the a regular salon where she gets her eyebrows waxed.

Of course, I'm totally biased, but she looks absolutely beautiful.

The eyebrow waxing is always fun, because Genevieve is a Christian and a faithful listener to the radio station. The salon is a day spa that has all kinds of beauty services, including hair, makeup, massage therapy, facials, you name it...but it's not snooty like a lot of the day spa's I've encountered.

The atmosphere is really neat, though. It's in an old Victorian house that used to be part of the now-defunct Victorian Village shopping area near the downtown part of our city. Genevieve leads you up to a room that she has tastefully decorated with purple touches. Soft harp-like music is playing, lending an air of tranquil serenity. Elizabeth lies down on a special couch, and Genevieve begins to do her magic. Liz always emerges with movie-star-gorgeous eyebrows.

I've often wanted to have it done myself, but the truth is, I'm not sure if I have enough eyebrows to work with! I do pretty well on my own just by regular plucking of strays. Maybe someday...

I also have a free facial coming to me from Genevieve that I haven't taken advantage of yet. I'm thinking of saving it for the stress-filled holidays.

When she was finished, Gen persuaded Liz to let her put some lipstick on her and have her kiss an index card for a "Hot Lips" contest the spa is having. Normally Elizabeth wears just a touch of gloss, but she looked gorgeous and glowing with a berry color. I was bowled over at my daughter's beauty, but as soon as we got into the car she rubbed the lipstick off: "That was just too much, Mom!"

Anyway...it was just a lot of fun having this mother-daughter time together. Another reason I thank God for blessing me with a daughter along with the two boys.

Friday, November 14, 2003

A terrific phone conversation

I got a phone call today from Jeri Massi, the author of the Valkyries books, and what a pleasure to talk with her! She is intelligent, insightful, and actually very pleasant to talk with. I'm looking forward to interviewing her about "Valkyries" some time next week.

I'll admit, one of the things I love about my job is the opportunity to get paid for talking about great books!

I was delighted to see that Jane Kirkpatrick has included a transcript of my interview with her, as well as my review of "A Name of Her Own" and "Every Fixed Star," on her website. You have to do a little searching for it, but if you click on "Monthly Memo's" and scroll down, it's there. You can also read it on this blog. Check the sidebar for a link.


Master and commander Russell Crowe

I don't know what it is about Russell Crowe that appeals to me so much. I know he's not technically handsome, certainly not in a "pretty boy" kind of way, but in movies that I've seen him in, I find him strongly appealing.

USA Today gives Crowe's new movie, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World
a great review today, with three-and-a-half stars. And USA Today movie reviewers don't go freely tossing those review stars around.

Mike Clark calls the Peter Weir-directed movie "mystically entertaining," and "a plain old good movie," and calls Crowe's performance "his second consecutive performance (after 'A Beautiful Mind') to better his Oscar-winning role in 'Gladiator.'"

I'm a big fan of Gladiator...more on that later...but the first time I noticed Crowe was in an apparently little-seen and much-panned Western movie called The Quick and the Dead.

He didn't even have a big part in the movie(or at least not big enough, in my humble opinion), which starred Sharon Stone as (improbably) a gunslinger who gets involved in a gunfighting competition to avenge her father's death. Crowe played a former preacher who is hated by the movie's villain, Gene Hackman. Crowe's performance made me sit up and take notice and ask, "Who is this guy?"

Gladiator only served to reinforce my admiration of Russell Crowe as an actor. And that's not the only reason I love the movie. If you love history, as I do, it is a must-see. (Yes, there is violence and gore, but almost no bad language and/or sexual situations.)

This movie also brings the marvel that was the Roman war machine to vivid life...and helps you understand the Apostle Paul's military metaphors when he writes about spiritual warfare. Talk about "fiery darts"!

After seeing Crowe as General Maximus, fit and powerful, it was stunning to see his transformation in A Beautiful Mind as a brilliant professor suffering from mental illness. There are certain scenes in which you can scarcely believe that this is the same man who was in "Gladiator." To me, that's one of the marks of a great actor...to so completely portray a character that you forget about previous characters he's played, or even his real-life persona.

As a Christian, I take a dim view of Hollywood, since I know there is little of real worth to come out of the movie-making industry. Yet, I truly enjoy quality movies that spin great yarns, portray fascinating characters, and are not diametrically opposed to a Christian world view.

I know that most Hollywood actors probably have philosophies and lifestyles that are the polar opposite of my beliefs, and I'm not saying I admire Russell Crowe as a person. (Although I do like the fact that he's taking a good deal of time off from acting to be with his wife and his expected baby, because he wants to immerse himself in fatherhood.)

But I can certainly enjoy and appreciate his acting...and I'm looking forward to, at some point, getting a chance to see "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World" for myself.

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Thank the Lord for a great husband!

I got a ticket last night.

Shoot, I HATE that feeling...you know the one when you're hit with the realization that the flashing red and blue lights behind you are intended for you.

The scary thing is, I was clueless. My daughter and I were on our way home from her guitar lesson. It had been a twenty-minute drive in dense fog, so I was a little unsettled and creeped out from that....but that doesn't explain why I completely blew by a stop sign just a few blocks from my house. A stop sign that I see, and observe the formality of stopping at, pretty much every day of my life!

So unaware was I that I had transgressed the law, that when I saw the flashing lights I thought, "Oh, it must be an ambulance..." (a common occurrence because we live near a major local hospital.) But, nope, it was for me.

75 dollars! Of course, I didn't have to pay it at once, but there it is, hanging over my head. I was really dreading telling my husband. I had already been formulating how I was going to tell him that I went to Target to "pick up a few things" and ended up buying a skirt for myself and one for Elizabeth. (But, hey! Mine is an Isaac Mizrahi denim skirt on sale half-price at 12.48, and Liz's was only 4.98! It would have been a crime not to buy them, right? :)

Doug was so sweet about the ticket, though. And he even liked the skirt. We ended up snuggling on the sofa watching TV for the rest of the evening, with me thanking God once again for a kind and loving husband. Not saying he never gets horked off at me (and justifiably so at times)...but it sure was nice to given a hug instead of a reprimand.

Sheesh, why on earth did I run that stop sign????


Speaking of Liz's guitar lesson...

Sometimes it's a sheer pleasure just to listen in.

Elizabeth's guitar teacher, Jerry Jacobs, is a marvel. Jerry is in an oldies band called "The Missing Links" that wins all kinds of awards locally, and a more talented guitarist you would be hard pressed to find. I still usually accompany Liz to her lessons, since she doesn't yet have her driver's license.

Last night I was treated to a lovely duet of "What Child Is This?" with Elizabeth playing her acoustic guitar and Jerry accompanying her on his electric one. Gorgeous! Then, Jerry pulled out his harmonica and accompanied her with that on a blues number. And let me tell you, Jerry can play that harmonica!

It's pretty cool when you take your child to a music lesson and end up getting treated to ear candy.

Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Regrets...I've had a few???

I love Frank Sinatra's voice. Let's face it; few singers before or since have possessed Ol' Blue Eyes' ability to put over a song with sheer heart and emotion. But while I appreciate the singer, I can't say I've ever really admired the man. Case in point: his "My Way" has always struck me as an egotistical ode to humanistic pride. (I know he didn't write the lyrics, but he sure sang them with conviction.) One of the lines I truly can't relate to:

"Regrets...I've had a few/ But then again, too few to mention..."

Too few to mention? Wow. I certainly cannot identify with that statement...and it seems incredible, not to mention rather arrogant and callous, that a person could come to the end of his life and have too few regrets to mention.

Regrets? Yep, I have more than a few. For starters, I regret everything I have done (and still do) that has caused pain and disappointment to my precious Lord...who, amazingly, continues to forgive me and love me in spite of my multitudinous sins and shortcomings.

I also deeply regret any pain or hurt I have caused to my fellow travelers on this journey--be they loved ones, friends or acquaintances. How strongly I wish I could go back and prevent actions and decisions that may have caused such pain!

I'm so thankful that God has promised to forgive, although regrettably (there's that word again!) not everyone else will be able to do so. I grasp on to I John 1:9--"If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Thank you, Lord, for that!

Other regrets? Well, I would have enjoyed my youth more--appreciated the luxury of smooth skin, gray-less hair and abundant energy and health while I had it...instead of wasting those beautiful years worrying about some extra pounds I had to lose.

I would have cherished my childrens' babyhood and young childhood years more, knowing in hindsight how lightning-quick those sweet days vanish from sight.

Oh, I could go on and on, but I have a feeling I could work myself into a pretty severe depression if I kept this up!

Regrets? Yeah, I've had more than a few...too many to mention! But the optimism in me--the faith and
hope in me--tell me not to dwell too much on those regrets.

The past cannot be re-lived. There are no do-overs in life. But happily, our God is a God of second chances--actually, of many chances. He is a Sovereign God who has a master plan for my life.

So, the golden-throated crooners can warble all they like about doing it "My Way."

With God's help...I'll choose to do it His Way.

Monday, November 10, 2003

Yummy Taco Soup Recipe

As the days get nippier (at least in my part of the country--heck, nippy nothing, it's dipped into the 20's several times),
thought I'd share a really delicious recipe for Taco Soup. It's actually from Weight Watchers, so it's lean and low-fat, but don't tell anyone that will be put off by the fact that it's actually good for you. :)


1 pound very lean ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 large can Mexican-style Ro-Tel Tomatoes (or two regular)
1 can pinto beans
1 can black beans
1 can chili beans
1 can corn
1 packet Taco seasoning mix
1 packet Ranch style dressing mix

Brown the beef with the chopped onion; drain. Add other ingredients; DO NOT DRAIN beans and corn.

Cook and simmer until all the flavors are nicely mixed. You might want to serve with some shredded cheddar for sprinkling over the top.

You could also make this in the crockpot (brown the ground beef first, of course), and come home from work or church to a ready-made meal. Add corn muffins or tortilla chips and a tossed salad if you like.


Spent the weekend at the Sanctuary of Mary and Joseph...

Actually, that's the setting of "Valkyries" Books One and Two. Yes, I read BOTH of them in their entirety over the weekend...and still managed to clean, do laundry, visit my sister-in-law, go grocery-shopping, out to dinner with friends, and to church twice on Sunday!

The books are that good. Read my review of them on my website.

I'm also planning to do a radio interview with the author, Jeri Massi. Quite frankly, I'm in awe of her writing talent. These books are unusual in Christian fiction! I know Jeri through an Internet forum, and I've always been struck by her brilliant wordsmithing. (wordsmithery? whatever: the lady can write!)


Wedding plans continue on apace...

I'm just finishing sending Daylyn the last of the wedding invitation addresses from our side...and am embarrassingly tardy in doing so. I'm afraid we haven't made the best impression as future in-laws, when it comes to getting wedding-related things done in an expeditious manner.

Just a few more addresses that it will take a bit of detective work to track down, and I'm all set. Now we just have to make motel reservations, make reservations for the rehearsal dinner, get Doug and Justin fitted for their tuxes, get Elizabeth's bridesmaid dress made, and get a dress for myself put on layaway. Doug and I need to crack down on our normally procrastination-prone selves and get on the stick!

Often in a marriage, one person is the procrastinator and the other is the efficient type. Don't get me wrong, Doug is much more efficient and organized than I am, but we both tend to procrastinate. NOT GOOD!

I need to keep reciting one of Franklin Covey's mantras for highly successful people: Be proactive!

I am looking forward to the wedding, though. Daylyn is a lovely and precious girl, and Jonathan is madly in love with her. For a pic of them, click here.

She is going to be a lovely bride!

Friday, November 07, 2003

Sweet! It's the weekend, and I have new fiction to read!

When I arrived at work this morning, there was a package from Moody Press waiting for me. It contained Books One and Two of "Valkyries," a series written by Jeri Massi. I've heard a lot of great things about these books, and I can't wait to sink my teeth into them! How providential that they arrived just as the weekend gets underway. Friday night is really the only night of the week I can stay up late without worrying about having to get up early the next morning.

I don't know what, if any plans we have for this weekend. Well, church on Sunday of course, but other than that I don't know. Justin is going tomorrow night to see Jerry Seinfeld live at the Coronado Theater. That should be pretty cool. Jerry Seinfeld is pretty hilarious. It's cool how he can glean humor from everyday situations and observations.

Here's a sample:

"The Swiss have an interesting army. Five hundred years without a war. Pretty impressive. Also pretty lucky for them. Ever see that little Swiss Army knife they have to fight with? Not much of a weapon there. Corkscrews, Bottle openers. 'Come on, buddy, let's go. You get past me, the guy in back of me, he's got a spoon. Back off. I've got the toe clippers right here.' "--Jerry Seinfeld


Speaking of the Coronado...

The Coronado Theater is one of the most beautiful theaters I've ever seen. You can take a virtual tour of the theater if you like. Not too long ago, the historic theater underwent a massive renovation project. Great care was taken to preserve the history of the theater, while taking care of much-needed improvements, and it's more gorgeous than ever. This theater's history harks back to the days of the silent movies...it truly is something our city can be proud of.


A funny thing happened on the way to work...

Earlier this week, I dragged myself out of bed one morning feeling particularly tired. Truth to tell, I never hop out of bed excitedly at four a.m.--but that morning, I seemed even more weary than usual and less ready to face the day.

But I slogged up, (is that a word? :), got ready and headed off to work. Glancing at my car radio, I noticed that the digital time display read "3:50." Huh??? Justin often drives my car, and I wondered if he had turned the clocks back again for the end of Daylight Savings Time, maybe not knowing it had already been changed.

I don't see any bank clocks or anything like that on the way to work, and I wasn't wearing my own watch because its battery was dead...so I had to wait till I got to work that I found out that, indeed, I was at work a whole hour early!

Well, I got a lot accomplished at that early hour, although I was especially sleepy that day.

But here's the funny thing. I got a call from my sister-in-law Gail that night. She had heard me talking about it on the radio, and she had done THE VERY SAME THING THE VERY SAME DAY! The only difference was, she realized it in time to head back home instead of showing up at work. I can't believe the same thing happened to us on the same day. What are the odds? :)

In may case, I had inadvertently made my clock radio be one hour later than it should have been...apparently my hand slipped while I was setting the alarm, or something.


Wishing I was there....

My sister Beverly is visiting my folks in Texas right now. I so wish I was there. I'm experiencing a bout of homesickness, not to mention missing Jonathan, who I haven't seen since July. He and Daylyn are coming in early December.

I love being with my sisters, too. They are so much fun and so wonderful...beautiful women with great personalities and senses of humor. I miss them a lot.

And I want to be spending as much time as possible with my Dad, as he doesn't have much time left with us.

People who have all their family nearby are so blessed.

Wow, I'm starting to feel a pity party coming on. Need to remind myself that I am also blessed in a host of ways. Thank you, God, for your goodness.

"This I recall to my mind, therefore have I hope. It is of the LORD's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness. The LORD is my portion, saith my soul; therefore will I hope in him..." (Lamentations 3:21-26)

I love that verse!

Thursday, November 06, 2003

My site has been added to a webring!

This is so cool! Ellie Shroder, webmistress of The Christian Fiction Site, has invited me to join "The Power of the Story" webring.

A webring is defined as "a group of websites linked together by topic or interest. " Since my website has an entire page devoted to Christian fiction reviews and recommendations, Ellie invited me to join her webring.

Ellie's site is great...far more extensive than mine when it comes to Christian fiction. (Fiction is just one aspect of my site.) Like me, Ellie also has aspirations to write fiction herself. And she lives in New Zealand. How cool is that?

I think Doug is a little puzzled sometimes as to why I enjoy fiddling around with my site so much. I don't know, it just fulfills some creative urge in me. When I was a little girl, I used to make my own newspapers and magazines, cutting out pictures from magazines and pasting them on. I loved doing that, and could while away hours writing articles and literally "cutting and pasting." In some ways, my website feels like an extension of that. It's just really enjoyable for me.

There is so much great Christian fiction out there, by the way. I could immerse myself in it! When I'm reading a really great book, the house could be falling in around me and I would scarcely notice. I have to force myself to come up for air. I LOVE TO READ!!!


How about a little cell phone etiquette here?

With the fact that just about everyone and their dog has a cell phone now, I've noticed a phenomenon that is starting to irk me. (Maybe it's because I don't have a cell phone myself?) Anyway...it seems that a lot of people will just ramble endlessly on their cell phones when they are with you.

Don't get me wrong...I can totally understand having to make or take a call when you're out and about with a friend or family member. Of course, that's going to happen. I'm talking about just yammering on, ad infinitum, while your companion just sits there.

I've particularly noticed it in teen-aged girls, who all seem to be equipped with cell phones these days. My own daughter will probably end up with one as well, when she starts driving. But now,she often finds herself being the third wheel in a social situation with friends who ignore her while they gab endlessly on their cell phones.

You know, I'm sorry, but I think that is just rude. Save your lengthy conversations for another time if you're with someone else. I think that's only common courtesy.

And I'm certain my friend Julie Frantz of Everyday Etiquette would back me up on that.

OK, end of mini-rant. :)

Monday, November 03, 2003

If you'd like to read my interview with author Jane Kirkpatrick...

...check it out on my October 28th and 29th entries.


I've been thinking a lot lately about the grace of God...

We went to the Mark Lowry concert Friday night (more on that later), and one of the most powerful songs he sang was called "Isn't It Amazing?" It was all about the overwhelming, staggering, awe-inspiring grace of God.

Not for the first time in recent months, it got me thinking about how incredible God's grace has been in my life.

Most people who have known me for years will tell you that I was something of a "goody two-shoes." Part of that was out of a genuine desire to please God and my parents; part of it sprang out of my general make-up of just being the kind of person who didn't want to make waves or upset the apple cart.

However, I think I became a little self-righteous...a little judgemental. And that frame of mind is NOT one that tends to make you realize just how dependent you are on God's amazing grace.

In recent times, though, I've had occasion to once again have my eyes re-opened to...and my heart be overwhelmed by... the awesome, loving, restorative grace of God. He has shown me just how indebted I am to His grace, how needy I am for it, and how deeply grateful I am for it. Not only the grace He has directly shown me, but the grace He has shown me through people in my life who extended it to me during times I needed it most.

Wow...I get a little emotional just thinking about His grace. No wonder they use the adjective "amazing"...there are few words that can really describe it.

By the way, if you'd like to hear that Mark Lowry song on RealPlayer, click here:



Speaking of the Mark Lowry concert...

It was fun, and a genuine blessing! We kind of made it a family affair. Doug, Elizabeth, my nephew David and I helped take tickets. Ray helped work the product table.

Mark is truly funny...there was a lot of laughter. But what gets overlooked sometimes because of his crazy personality, is that Mark is a gifted vocalist. Not only does he have a great voice, but he also has the ability to interpret a song in a way that gets every ounce of meaning across to his audience.

When he sang his "Mary, Did You Know?"(he co-wrote it with Buddy Greene) I was blown away. The lyrics are so great anyway:

Mary, did you know, that your baby boy would some day walk on water?
Mary, did you know, that your baby boy would save our sons and daughters?
Did you know that your baby boy has come to make you new?
This child that you've delivered, will soon deliver you.

Mary, did you know, your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?
Mary, did you know, that your baby boy will calm a storm with His hand?
Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod?
When you've kissed your little baby, then you've kissed the face of God.

Mary, did you know?
Mary, did you know?
The blind will see, the deaf will hear, the dead will live again.
The lame will leap, the dumb will speak the praises of the Lamb.

Mary, did you know, that your baby boy is Lord of all creation?
Mary, did you know, that your baby boy will one day rule the nations?
Did you know that your baby boy was heaven's perfect lamb?
This sleeping child you're holding is the great "I am".

Backed up by the Southern Gospel trio "Lordsong," Mark gave me the most stirring rendition of this song that I had ever heard. It was wonderful...and worth the price of admission (if I had paid, but I didn't have to! :))

Lordsong was great...a little reminiscent of the Martins. And Stan Whitmyre on the piano was super, too. In fact, we bought one of his CD's for Elizabeth. She loves piano music.

In all, it was fun evening.


A not-so-great eating experience...

Well, OK, not only was it not-so-great...it was actually bad.

Have you ever eaten at a restaurant that looked nice, was clean, etc, but just had really lousey food?

That happened to us the other night. Nothing was really wrong with the food...I mean, it wasn't dirty or unsanitary or anything like that. It just tasted BAD! Just...yucky. And since it was the general consensus of all of us at the table, and we had ordered a variety of different food, we had to conclude that the place really just didn't have tasty food.

Doug and I talked about it later, and we were both reminded of Giuseppe's...of how we eat there cheaper than anywhere else (including the unsatisfactory place), and we all always get satisfied. I mean, I honestly can't think of a bad eating experience I ever had at Giuseppe's.

Friday, October 31, 2003

Scroll down to read my interview with Christian author Jane Kirkpatrick...

Seeing Mark Lowry tonight!

The station is sponsoring a concert of the Christian funnyman/singer tonight, and I'm helping with the product table. Mark's stuff has been increasingly funny lately, IMHO. Unfortunately, I think a lot of Christian comedians are really lame, but I recently saw Mark's "Remotely Controlled" video (I know, it's kind of old now), and some of the stuff was guffaw-inducing. Not to mention, the guy can sing, and he's the co-author of one of the prettiest Christmas songs to come down the pike in years: "Mary, Did You Know?" Mark has secured his musical legacy with that song.

I interview a Christmas carol expert every Christmas season, and he once told me that of all the newer Christmas songs, "Mary, Did You Know?" has probably the best shot at becoming a classic.

Another beautiful Christmas song (not by Mark Lowry) is "Strange Way to Save the World," by 4Him. In fact, their entire Christmas album is a must-have...as far as I'm concerned, Christmas wouldn't be the same without it!

Last year I put a whole thing about my favorite Christmas music on my website. I'm planning to do that again this season.

Why am I thinking about Christmas music right now? Oh yeah...Mark Lowry..."Mary, Did You Know?"...and maybe it's cuz my sister Beverly called me today and told me there are TWENTY INCHES OF SNOW ON THE GROUND in Casper, Wyoming where she lives!

Shoot, it's just too early for such a big snow!

Thursday, October 30, 2003

For Parts One and Two of my interview with author Jane Kirkpatrick...

Scroll down a bit. They're on my entries for October 28th and 29th.

This Christmas, I'm going to pack a shoebox!

For the past few years, I've said I was going to do this, but never "got around to it" (queen of procrastination that I am).

This year I'm going to do it. In fact, the next time I go to the grocery store I'm going to pick up an extra item or two to put in a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child.

You simply get a shoebox from out of your closet and fill it with things for a needy child. Children in Bosnia, Kosovo, Jordan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, and many other war-torn and poverty-stricken countries will receive a shoebox full of gifts...and the gospel message will be given along with every box.

This is from the official website:

"Operation Christmas Child sends a message of hope to children in desperate situations around the world through gift-filled shoe boxes and Christian literature. This program provides an opportunity for individuals of all ages to be involved in a simple, hands-on missions project that reaches out to suffering children while focusing on the true meaning of Christmas—Jesus Christ, God's greatest gift. In 2002, we collected over 6 million shoe boxes worldwide and distributed them to children in about 95 countries."

What an incredible way to teach your children about giving, and share the love of Christ with a hurting child! Kathy Klag of Operation Christmas Child tells me that small stuffed animals are one of the favorite gifts of the children, because many of them have no toys, no pets, nothing to hang onto and love. The kids are starved for color and fun. You can include hygiene items, warm socks and gloves, hard candy and chewing gum.

You can click here for more information, suggestions for packing your shoebox, and how to find out where you can drop off your box in your area.

Quoteworthy: The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children." -- Dietrich
Bonhoeffer (1906-45).

Whew! Does America's vile child abuse/pornography subculture and the appalling abortion rate come to mind?

God help us.

Related Posts with Thumbnails