Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Worshipping the goddess of anorexia???

Lindsay Lohan looking cute and healthy

Uber-thin Lindsay (right) with Nicole Ritchie

I was appalled and saddened to read an Associated Press "Religion Roundup" story today about the fact that many young girls have literally made a goddess out of anorexia.

According to the story: "Some weight-obsessed girls are worshiping
and praying to Ana to make them skinny.

"Experts say Ana -- short for anorexia -- is a role model to
some, a goddess to others and the subject of drawings, prayers
and even a creed. On weight-loss Web sites, Ana tells followers
what to eat and mocks them when they don't lose weight.

"Many followers wear red Ana bracelets and offer one another
words of 'thinspiration.' At least one Web site encourages
followers to make a vow to Ana and sign it in blood.

"One doctor says she treats some girls who personify their
eating disorder beyond just Ana. To them, bulimia is 'Mia.' And
an eating disorder often becomes 'Ed.'

"Another expert says, 'A lot of times they're lonely and
they don't have a lot of friends. So Ana or Mia become their
friend. Or Ed becomes their boyfriend.'"

This is the first I've heard of this phenomenon, and I find it appalling on several levels.

First of all, it makes me sick that girls are under so much pressure to be thin.

You only have to pick up a celebrity magazine to see girls like Lindsay Lohan (see Lindsay Lohan Too Thin?), who used to be a normal, healthy-looking young woman and who is now little more than a wraith. (Frankly, I thought she was adorable when she was a bubbly, freckle-faced redhead. She's now a stick-thin blonde who some observers say has had her freckles bleached.)

Unfortunately, by starving herself (which she denies she's doing, of course--she totally denies having any sort of eating disorder), Lindsay is simply following the Hollywood credo: You can never be too rich or too thin. Hollywood is completely unrealistic in its body images and expectations. When an actress comes along who has a little meat on her bones, a major deal is made of her excess weight. (Remember Kate Winslet in Titanic? By the way, I love this quote from Kate: "Like it or lump it...I'm not a twig, and I refuse to be one"; or Renee Zellweger supposedly being enormous in the Bridget Jones movies--give me a break!)

Young girls look at the stick-thin role models and think that's what they're supposed to look like.

I've struggled with weight all my life, and even now am trying to get a proper perspective on how to get rid of unwanted pounds.

As a teenager and a young woman in my twenties, I went the starvation route. Well, not quite starvation, but there were days when I had 300 calories or less. The result? I probably ruined my metabolism. I've come to the realization that any weight I lose will be slow and hard-fought. Despite the desire for fast results, a healthy lifestyle with gradual change is the way to go.

But of course, you can't tell that to a teen-age girl, who is bombarded with images of thin women everywhere she looks.

Besides being frustrated by the fact that young women are buying into a warped and unrealistic body image, I'm saddened by the fact that many are so lonely and so needy that they are making imaginary friends out of their eating disorders, or worshipping a "goddess" that doesn't love them and will ultimately destroy them. The voracious goddess of anorexia will take their beauty, their health and ultimately their very lives.

I so want these girls to know that there is a God who loves them, wants the best for them, and accepts them unconditionally. But if I'm being truthful, I'll have to admit that although I'm positive that God loves me just as I am, I can't say the same for people. Realistically, I know that women are judged by how they look. It's just a fact.

You know what? I wish we women could see ourselves as God does, instead of through the warped and distorted lens of today's culture.

To read more on a Christian approach to eating disorders:

The Fight with Food

Remuda Ranch

Friday, May 27, 2005

It's FRIDAY!!!!

...and I'm in the mood for a Friday Feast (by the way, congrats to the Friday's Feast meme on its first anniversary):

Approximately how many hours per day do you spend watching television?--An average of about an hour a day at the most. There is very little on TV that interests me. Of course, there will be the times when I'm alone and can indulge on a H/G TV or TLC spree, or the occasional movie on TV, but those times are few and far between.

Which colors decorate your kitchen?--Yellow and sage green. I LOVE it. I've never had a yellow kitchen before, and it lifts my spirits wonderfully.

Name 2 brand names you buy on a regular basis, and what do you like about them?--I buy Estee Lauder make-up on a regular basis--primarily, their Double Wear foundation. I just really like the way it looks, and I never buy any other foundation.

I switch up my hair conditioners all the time, but I use Pantene True Confidence Anti-Dandruff Shampoo
on a regular basis. I find it keeps the itchiness and flakes at bay, while still smelling nice and helping my hair look pretty. I used to use a Matrix anti-dandruff shampoo, but I found the Pantene stuff works just as well for half the price.

(Interesting note, though--since moving into our new home, I'm beginning to wonder if my dandruff problem wasn't the result of hard water. We have soft water here, and I've noticed a big difference.)

Main Course

What is your biggest fear?--Losing a loved one. It's a fear I had to face when my dad died last year, and it was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through.

If you could wake up tomorrow and find yourself in another location, where would you want to be?--In my mom's house in Texas. I can't describe the feeling of love and acceptance I get from being with her. And I LOVE Texas.

Bonus Birthday Question
What's your favorite flavor of birthday cake?--Homemade brownie chocolate cake (like a Texas sheetcake) made with buttermilk and delicious homemade frosting. I try to make this cake whenever anyone in my family has a birthday. It's delectable!

Since I won't be blogging for the next few days, I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a blessed Memorial Day. May we never forget the sacrifices that have been made for our freedom!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Yes, I'm happy for Carrie, but congrats to a couple of other people too...

...the big news is that a homeschooled 13-year-old won the 2005 National Geographic Bee in Washington, D.C.

Nathaniel Cornelius did homeschoolers everywhere proud, topping young people from across the nation to win a 25-thousand dollar college scholarship. Go, Nathan!

And about Carrie...

I didn't get to watch the entire show last night--I have a feeling it was probably bloated with a lot of junk to fit the two-hour time-slot, anyway--but I'm pleased with Carrie Underwood's American Idol win.

As I've said earlier, Carrie has a great voice, very pleasing to listen to, with a good deal of range and power. She's gotten a lot of criticism for her lack of stage presence, but that's something that can be acquired with time and experience.

Her duet with Rascal Flatts last night was gorgeous. I think she's going to be a star.

Meantime, a local girl wins a Christian version of idol...

22-year-old Stephanie Goldsmith of Rockford is the winner of Inspiration Sensation, a Christian singing competition that aired on the Total Living Network. The finale aired May 21st.

According to this Rockford Register Star article: "The 22-year-old Auburn High School graduate is the daughter of Pastor Robert and Phyllis Goldsmith of Greater New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ. She was only 4 when she started singing lead in the church choir."

Congratulations, Stephanie! We look forward to great things for you.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I've been reading some terrific fiction lately...

While on the BCS senior trip, I devoured some page-turners:

Storm Gathering, by Rene Gutteridge

Self Incrimination, by Randy Singer

R is for Ricochet, by Sue Grafton

The first two are terrific Christian fiction. Rene Gutteridge and Randy Singer are great storytellers at the top of their game.

The third is the latest in the Kinsey Milhone series by Sue Grafton. They're not Christian books, but Grafton had me at "A is for Alibi." I'm now up-to-date in the alphabetically named series, and I'm bummed that I now have to wait a while for the next book! Kinsey is an extraordinarily likable heroine, and Grafton really makes you feel that you're right there with her.

I'm hoping to interview Lisa Samson within the next few weeks about her latest book, Club Sandwich.

A new book by Lisa is a major event for me. I've been hooked since Church Ladies, which in my opinion was a breakthrough in Christian fiction.

If I get to read the book soon and interview Lisa as hoped, you can bet I'll be blogging about it!

AFA ends Disney boycott

American Family Association
has ended its 9-year boycott against Disney.

AFA president Tim Wildmon says Disney is now "one of the less egregious perpetrators of the homosexual agenda," and that he's encouraged that Disney is making "efforts to connect with Christians" by co-producing the film version of C-S Lewis's 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.'"

To be honest, I never paid much attention to the boycotts, or boycotts in general for that matter. I really question their effectiveness, especially in an era when just about everything you purchase or consume is the product of conglomerates that no doubt include elements that are objectionable in some way. You'd end up having to boycott almost everything!

Down to the wire for Bo and Carrie...

I must admit, my interest in American Idol has flagged somewhat since I haven't been able to watch the show for the past few weeks. But tonight's the night that the winner will be announced, and I must admit that I'm leaning towards Carrie.

She's beautiful, has a great personality and a great voice. She just seems a natural fit for the top honor.

But I won't be upset if Bo wins, either. Everyone says that they're both winners just by making it to the top two--both destined to get record deals.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

I'm fascinated by names...

I'm fascinated by names, and have been since I was a little girl. The way they sound, their origins, their meanings.

I've loved the names of my three children--Jonathan, Justin and Elizabeth--since I was literally a child.

Why do people choose the names they choose for their children? I'm intrigued by the process, although I've gone through it myself, with my husband, three times. A given name is so important, so major.

I teach a Sunday School class of third-grade girls, most of them African American. One recent Sunday, I was amazed when I took the roll and found:


Oh, and there was also a Kayla and a Maria. Boring in comparison, huh?

I've noticed that many names once considered "old-fashioned" are resurfacing and being considered cool--Sophie, Isabella, Ava--partly thanks to movie stars. Will Julia Roberts' "Hazel" and Gwyneth Paltrow's "Apple" launch a trend?

I am Cynthia Susan, named for my mother Cynthia Anne, and she was named for her aunt Cynthia Pearl. I used to think "Pearl" was so passe, but now I think Cynthia Pearl sounds really lovely.

Just as I'm drawn to all things Irish, I love names of Celtic or Gaelic origin. Granted, they often sound nothing like they look--Sean, Siobhan, Tighe, Aislinn. But I'm a sucker for anything with an "O'" or a "Mc" or "Mac" in front of it, and love the way they roll off the tongue: McDonough, McCullough, McNamara, O'Shaughnessy.

My husband is a Chicago Cubs fan, and there used to be a player named Kevin Tapani. I once thought it would be funny if he had a daughter named Tiffany. Tiffany Tapani. And then, on my recent travels, I saw a sign for a town called Parsippany. What if that's where she lived? Tiffany Tapani from Parsippany. Am I weird, or what?

What names do you love? How did you select your children's names? My inquiring mind wants to know.

Monday, May 23, 2005

It's so Monday...

I answer the Monday Madness questions

I'm just emerging from one of the most hectic time periods of my life.

Friday night, my daughter Elizabeth graduated from high school. She's my baby, so it was a very poignant milestone for me as well as for her. She's not sure right now of her future plans, so it looks like we'll still have her with us for a while at least, which is just fine by me!

Anyway, the graduation went well, as did the open house we had for her afterwards.

Another era begins.

Major stuff is happening at work, which I'm not at liberty to blog about, but which also signals changes for me. Wow, the older I get, the more resistant I am to change!

I can only trust God for the grace to keep putting one foot in front of the other, come what may. After all, my times are in His hand, and everything that concerns me.

Meantime, I'm enjoying having my son Jonathan and his wife Daylyn visiting us from Texas. They leave tomorrow, but it's been wonderful. When I went to bed Thursday night, I had the lovely feeling that all my children were under one roof--that's not something that happens all the time!

Since I have nothing huge to blog about today, I'm going to do something I haven't done in a while...MONDAY MADNESS!

Check it out, and answer the questions with me if you will--either here in my comments section, or on your own blog.

Monday Madness

The following all begin with 'In your lifetime, have you....'

1. ...ridden on a rollercoaster?--Funny you should ask. Last Tuesday, as part of the BCS senior trip, we went to Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio--widely acclaimed as one of the best such parks on the planet, and revered for its daring roller coasters. Did I ride? NO. The last roller coaster I rode was the Rattler at Fiesta Texas in San Antonio, circa 1994. It freaked me out so badly, I decided never to do it again. I'm sure I rode some previously as well--but never again!

2. ...performed (in any area of the arts) onstage?--Yes. Singing, speaking and acting.

3. ...planted a garden?--No...I wish! I love gardens, both the floral and the vegetable kind, and I love garden veggies. But I never learned how to do it, and I'm woefully ignorant. It's on my list of things to learn about.

4. ...ever had to reformat your hard drive due to a virus/spyware?--Not me personally. Our engineer at work has had to do it to my work computer.

5. ...written a book? A poem? A song?--I've started writing books many a time, but never followed through. I have written poems, but not very good ones...and never a song. Songwriters mystify me--how ARE they able to do that? I totally admire people who can create music.

6. ...sang karaoke?--A few times, but never at a karaoke bar.

7. ...been interviewed by a local tv station/newspaper?--Yes, a few times.

8. ...witnessed a tornado/earthquake/hurricane first-hand?--No, and I hope not to!

9. ...participated in a photo scavenger hunt?--I don't think so. I've done other types of scavenger hunts.

10. ...traveled to another country?--Yes--my parents were missionaries to Beirut, Lebanon when I was a child, and later (when I was in college) to Chihuahua, Mexico. I've been to:

What is now part of Israel

My dream is to go to England, Ireland and Scotland--especially Ireland.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

And more harrowing adventures...

NYC skyline at night

Well, I'm back in the Midwest--which now appears to be a bastion of elysian tranquillity after my adventures in the nation's Capitol and the Big Apple!

When I last left you, I had reported on our exciting and terrifying evacuation from the U.S. Capitol grounds. (See my last post if you missed it.)

Running through the streets of D.C.-- to the tune of sirens, whistles, shouting and fighter jets--thinking for all the world that we were running for our lives, left us with a generous dollop of post traumatic stress disorder. Or at least it did me. Never mind the fact that we quickly found it was all a big mistake--it was VERY real (although also SURreal) while it was happening.

But the next morning, we loaded up the van for Somerset, New Jersey. The object: a few days seeing the sights of Manhattan, starting with a performance of The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway that night. (Staying in New Jersey, by the way, is much cheaper than staying in New York City.)

I was extremely anxious that we wouldn't get to the play on time, knowing that once the performance starts, no one is allowed into the theater until intermission.

I had seen the play in Chicago and I've seen the movie, but none of the kids (including my daughter, who was one of the high school seniors on the trip), had seen the play...and none of us had ever seen a play on Broadway, so needly to say, we were jazzed.

We were told that the train from New Brunswick, New Jersey, to Penn Station in NYC takes about 45 minutes, and it would be a "short walk" from the train station to the Majestic Theater, where our tickets were already waiting for us. As we boarded the train, it looked like we were doing fine time-wise, but with no time to spare, depending on the length of our walk to the theater.

We're chugging along pleasantly, and have just entered a tunnel, when suddenly the power goes out on the train, leaving only some auxiliary lighting. We coast to a stop.

No panic yet...I've been on the NJ transit system before, and I know brief outages do happen.

Then one minute stretches into two, then three, then four...our kids are anxiously looking around and asking, "Is this normal?" None of the other passengers seem panicked in the least, which gives me a modicum of comfort.

But here's the thing. I'm claustrophic. I've been known to border on a panic attack when I can't get a zipper unzipped (ok, I'm exaggerating, but you get the picture.) I'm already having to breathe deeply and self-talk to keep from panicking. On my side of the train, I see nothing but the black wall of the tunnel (later, kids on the other side told me there was a walkway, but I didn't know that at the time.)

Soon, a female voice comes over the speakers: "Ladies and gentlemen, as you can see, we have lost power. We've been informed that there are currently no trains going into or out of New York City. We don't know why at this point. We'll pass along more information to you as we receive it."

Well, you've got to understand. Along with my mounting claustrophobia, I have just come out of the scariest thing that ever happened to me. I start envisioning the worst: terrorist attack? hours of being in this train with NO WAY TO ESCAPE??????

I was convinced that if and when I did depart the train, it would be as a raving lunatic in a strait jacket!

I manage to quell the rising panic by bowing my head and praying, over and over again like a mantra, "Jesus, please let this train start. Jesus, please let this train start. Jesus, PLEASE start this train!"

Whether it's due to my effectual fervent prayer or just coincidence, the lights flash back on, the engine hums, and we're on our way again! What a relief!!! We were without power for probably only ten minutes or so, but it seemed like the longest interval in my life.

Emerging into Penn Station, we get our bearings and realize the Majestic Theater is eleven blocks away. We have over thirty minutes till curtain time--can we walk that far, that fast?

We do, and with about fifteen minutes to spare. Doug picks up our tickets as we wait in line. We are in Manhattan! We can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

The play was fabulous. Hugh Panaro as the Phantom was wonderful--his voice a thing of beauty. Although I find Gerard Butler extremely compelling in the movie, no one pretends that he has a fantastic voice. Hugh Panaro does. We all really enjoyed the play.

After a bite to eat, we head back to Penn Station--only to find out that the fire that caused the power outage has prompted major delays and cancellations. We have to walk to a different station to catch a different kind of train to Newark. This one is nowhere near as comfortable as the other train; due to the situation, it's extremely crowded; we have to stand in uncomfortably intimate proximity to strangers, and it smells strongly and pungently as if someone has just thrown up.

We arrive in Newark to find that we've missed the last regularly scheduled train, but a policeman tells us an extra train will run to accomodate everyone who didn't make it. But he tells us it's going to be a long wait, and to "make ourselves comfortable."

We sit for over an hour on the bare floor of the train station, but finally a train does arrive to take us back to New Brunswick. This one is not as crowded; blessedly, we get to sit down and relax.

Finally, at about four o'clock the next morning, we approach our hotel. We're greeted by a sea of emergency vehicles, police cars, ambulances and fire trucks! Did our hotel burn down in our absence???

No...it turns out it was a pretty bad fire at a restaurant across the street. We later find out that a couple of firefighters were injured, but apparently not in any lifethreatening way.

You would think that the law of averages would save us from any further mishaps. Not so. On the way to a church in Manhattan on Sunday morning, zooming along in five lanes of New Jersey highway traffic, our van suffers a tire blowout. We're stranded on the side of the road for three hours. Triple A comes and tries to change the tire, but the jack breaks. We think the van has fallen on the guy whose working underneath the van, but he shimmies out unharmed, thank God!

The remainder of the trip wound up in fairly normal fashion. We saw and did a lot of wonderful things along the way. I love Washington, D.C., with its stately memorials, and the Arlington Cemetery, and the outstanding and intensely moving Holocaust Museum.

In NYC, besides seeing Phantom, we toured NBC studies, went up the Empire State Building, and shopped till we dropped. New York is an incredible city, with an exciting heartbeat all its own.

But I was quite happy when the van rolled into our pleasantly uneventful town.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

I was evacuated out of the U.S. Capitol

and other harrowing adventures from the Berean school senior trip

I'm not going to have time to blog at length about this--it's the first time I've been able to get to a computer on this trip--but yes, I was at the U.S. Capitol building last Wednesday when it was evacuated. Of course, as we know now, it was just because of a small airplane that had made a big mistake and wandered into the no-fly zone. But at the time, no one knew that, and it was pretty frightening!

Our group of fourteen--six girls, six boys, my husband and myself--were waiting in an awning just outside the Capitol building to visit the House of Representatives gallery. We were next in line to go inside the building, when suddenly the group that had gone ahead of us starting coming back toward us. "They're telling us to leave," a woman explained helplessly, and that was when we started hearing people urgently yelling at us to "run, get out, move, run!!!"

People started running frantically off the grounds, herded by police officers and other staff members who kept shouting at us like drill sergeants--one cop even shouted loudly, "Don't you remember 9/11? This is not a drill! RUN!!!"

Meantime, sirens off all kinds were sounding, official cars were zooming by with police escorts, whistles were blowing, and we heard fighter jets overhead. My first reaction was confusion, then disbelief--"This CAN'T be happening!" Then fear sets in, then self-preservation. My husband was struggling to keep our group together. Girls were having trouble running because of sandals and flip-flops; one boy in our group lost a shoe at one point and had to get it back on; all the while people continued to yell at us to "run! move! get out of here!"

I don't know how far we ran, maybe only a few blocks, but we re-grouped in front of the Department of Health and Human Services building, and shortly afterward a security guard informed us that the all-clear had been given. Shaken, out of breath, still on edge but relieved, we started calling family members on our cell phones.

We had been scheduled to meet with our congressman, Don Manzullo, at 2:30 PM. A quick call to his office confirmed the meeting was still on; capitol tours had even resumed.

After meeting with Don, (who I've known since before he was a congressman), he escorted us through the underground passageway from the Rayburn office building to the Capitol, and one of his assistants made sure we got our tour and gallery visit after all.

Looking back on the whole experience, it seems slightly surreal. At the time of the evacuation, I truly thought I was in danger of dying. It really was the scariest thing that I've ever gone through. The fact that we now know there was no real threat doesn't diminish the very real fear we experienced at the time.

Definitely, the Berean senior class will never forget their senior trip!

The drama actually continued on Thursday night, when we went to see The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and had an adventure on the New Jersey transit system. But that's a blog for another time.

To add insult to injury, a pigeon pooped on my shirt in Manhattan last night.

We still have a few days left in our trip. Say a prayer if you will, that things will go smoothly from here on out! :)

Friday, May 06, 2005

A tribute to my mother

I wrote this tribute to my mother for Mother's Day 2003. Since then, my dad has passed away, but the essence of tribute remains the same.--Cindy

The time: the early 60's. The place: Hobbs, New Mexico. The young woman is getting out of the car, all dressed up to play the piano for a wedding, or a funeral, or some such occasion. I can still see her in my memory: radiantly lovely, wearing a hat and red lipstick.

She is my mother, and although she has always been there in my memory, this is the first clear memory I have of actually looking at her and realizing: This is my mother, and she is beautiful.

Words usually come easily for me...they tumble out of my mind, onto my keyboard with fairly effortless alacrity. But now, as I try to frame the words to paint a portrait of all my mother is to me, I find myself strangely tongue-tied. What words are there to describe someone who is so all-encompassing...so incredibly necessary to my life? Someone who has embodied love, support and nurturing since before I was born, and for all these forty-plus years since?

I'll try to describe her. Nearing seventy years old, she's still beautiful. She has sparkling green eyes; a lovely full,expressive mouth...a dazzling smile. The years have been kind to her, and she is a prime example of how decades of righteous living can influence a woman's face...years free of alcohol ,cigarettes and immoral living. Years dedicated to God's service and unselfish love for her husband and children. She has the sort of radiant, luminous, from-the-inside beauty that defies age.

My mother was not born into the best of situations. Although her parents loved her in their way, she wasn't raised in a Christian home, and she saw and experienced some of the uglier aspects of human nature while still very young.

From these circumstances, while still a young teenager, she became a wife, and a mother to my older sister. It was as if she was born to that role. Even her mother-in-law marveled at how this teen-aged girl immediately became a great mom.

My mother has always liked hot baths...really, really hot baths. There's a story behind that, too. Mother says that when she was a little girl, she realized that she was probably going to hell when she died. No one had told her how she could avoid hell, so she decided she would try to prepare herself for it. She got used to taking baths as hot as she could possibly stand them.

Fortunately, my mother did find out how she could look forward to a home in heaven. As a young mom, she and her mother were invited to a revival meeting at the independent Baptist church in their small west Texas town. Both of them ended up accepting Christ as their Saviour at that meeting, and life would never be the same for either of them.

Somewhere during the same period of time, my father also became a Christian, and as a very young married couple my parents began serving the Lord. The journey eventually took them to Bible college in Missouri, pastorates in four states, and even twice to the mission field.

My mother has so many character traits I admire and wish to emulate, usually with less success than I would like.

She is an unselfish person, with a real servant's heart. She is never happier than when doing things to make the people she loves happy. The words "nurturing" and "giving" characterize the unstinting love she freely gives to her family.

She is a disciplined and industrious person; she eats healthily and in moderation, retaining a girlish figure that would put women half her age to shame, and as my father has often pointed out with a certain pride, she never goes to bed with dirty dishes in the sink.

I've often thought this disciplined side of my mom comes from her Greek heritage. Her father was full-blooded Greek, and his family originated in Sparta, the part of Greece known for people with a history of military toughness, endurance and self-denial. (I sometimes think that gene totally escaped me.) :)

But this is only one side of my mother. She is really fun to be around. She has a quirky sense of humor, a ready laugh and a gorgeous smile. One of my cherished images of my mom is of her singing as she flits around the house, doing chores (I told you she is industrious and always busy).

One of the first words that comes to mind when I think of my mother is ladylike.She is, in some ways, like a Southern belle...decorous and discreet. But if so, she is also like the title of that popular movie of several years back, a "steel magnolia." There is backbone to this Texas belle ,and woe be to the person who wrongs her children! I have never known anyone like my mother to be able to tell a person off--in the most ladylike and genteel way--but leaving no doubt that you have been told off. She is notto be messed with, when it comes to those she loves.

The closest I've ever seen to this is the Dixie Carter character on "Designing Women." I've often chuckled while watching Julia Sugarbaker give someone a dressing-down on that show...I can't help but think of my normally soft-spoken mom. But mind you, she would only do this to someone who truly deserved it.

My mother's walk with the Lord is also something I want to emulate. She is a real prayer warrior. I have so many memories of hearing her pray, and there have been times I have literally seemed to feel her prayers for me when I've been in dangerous or difficult situations. Call me mystical, but there is just something about a mother's prayers!

My mother has endured many trials in her life, and sometimes, I admit, I've questioned why this wonderful woman should be inflicted with so many circumstances that to me seem unfair and unjustified. But these trials have not broken her. Instead, she seems to grow stronger and more lovely with time.

Now, she's going through one of the saddest trials, as my father faces terminal illness. My heart goes out to her, and I feel helpless as I want to be the kind of comfort and support she has always been for me.

I have done such an inadequate job of painting this picture of my mother. I want to convey the beauty, the kindness, the strength, the warmth of this remarkable lady, and I can't seem to find the right words to really do it.

I guess for me, it all comes down to one thing: thanking God for this wonderful mother. My heart really does burst with gratitude. To have a person that you know will always love you, no matter what...that's worth more than my pathetic words could ever express.

My mother's name is Cynthia, and I am honored and privileged to have been given her name. I doubt if I will ever be able to live up to it, but I will never stop trying.

Lots of years have passed since my childish eyes watched that beautiful young woman get out of the car. But those years have only increased her beauty, as well as my love and appreciation for all she means to me.

I love you, Mother! Thank you for everything!

NOTE:--I'll be gone for about a week and a half, and probably won't be blogging during that time. Hopefully I'll be back in full effect by the around May 18th. See ya then!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

When God's people pray

"...when you go to God and you go with boldness and you go with persistence and you rush in and you unload what’s on your heart, and first you ask and then you start pleading and then you start banging, know this, that God is delighted with that...delighted with that because He with His perfect love and perfect wisdom and perfect power and perfect provision is able to give the best to His children. In fact, Psalm 84:11 says, 'He withholds no good thing from those who walk uprightly, His children.' He holds nothing back.”--John MacArthur

Today is the National Day of Prayer. Of course, every day should be a day of prayer for Christians, but I think it's great that we have a day actually set aside to focus on prayer and stress its importance.

I am far from the prayer warrior I should be, yet I am continually amazed at this incredible resource that we have. That we can go with boldness before God, and interact with Him, and talk intimately with Him, and bring our burdens and requests to Him--and He answers! He really does! Amazing. Ineffable. Incomprehensible. The Creator of the Universe, listening to me. Caring about me.

I love Wayne Watson's song, "When God's People Pray":

"He alone can know the need in me, before a single word begins
The Holy Spirit intercedes for me, I will trust in Him.
He will not turn away, when His people pray.

"When God's people pray and take the pains of earth
to the doors of heaven;
when God's people pray there is hope reborn,
there is sin forgiven,
and miracles you can't explain away, when God's people pray."

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

More Narnia stuff

USA Today has a good article today about the upcoming Narnia movie.

I'm both excited and nervous about the movie. I first read the Narnia books when I was about eight or nine years old, when my parents were missionaries to Beirut, Lebanon.

I'll never forget the immediate sense of wonder and fascination that gripped me the minute I started reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Many years later, I introduced the books to each of my children in turn, and I still re-read them occasionally.

I love Lewis' depiction of heaven in The Last Battle. Re-reading it a few years ago, I got tears in my eyes as the story impressed on me the truth that heaven is real, and so much better than anything we'll ever experience here on earth:

"'When Aslan said you could never go back to Narnia, he meant the Narnia you were thinking of. But that was not the real Narnia. That had a beginning and an end. It was only a shadow or a copy of the real Narnia which has always been here and always will be here: just as our own world, England and all, is only a shadow or copy of something in Aslan's real world.'

..." 'There was a real railway accident,' said Aslan softly. 'Your father and mother and all of you are—as you used to call it in the Shadowlands—dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.'

"And for us this is the end of all the stories. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before."

After a lifetime of loving these books, I can only hope that Disney will give them the proper treatment and respect that they deserve. The spiritual allegory aspect of the tales is central and crucial, so it can't be glossed over. So far, it's looking good. We can only hope!

Did you love the "Chronicles of Narnia"? Which book is your favorite? (Mine is The Silver Chair.) Tell me about it in my comments section.

Monday, May 02, 2005

I've been tagged

...and, Chicago was wonderful!

Chicago skyline

Rodney of The Journey has tagged me to complete three of the following sentences, then pass them on to five more people. (Here's the way it works, according to Rodney:)

"It's part of a new meme that is travelling through the blogosphere. The idea is if you're tagged, you need to choose 5 (or more if you like) occupations from the list below and then finish the sentence for each that you've chosen.

"You then tag three more people who must do the same. You can add more occupations to the list when you pass it on but you must choose your 5 from the list provided by the person who tagged you. You're also asked to trackback to the blogger who tagged you if you know how."

Here's the list (the ones in boldface at the bottom are the ones I've added):

If I could be a scientist…
If I could be a farmer…
If I could be a musician…
If I could be a doctor…
If I could be a painter…
If I could be a gardener…
If I could be a missionary…
If I could be a chef…
If I could be an architect…
If I could be a linguist…
If I could be a psychologist…
If I could be a librarian…
If I could be an athlete…
If I could be a lawyer…
If I could be an innkeeper…
If I could be a professor…
If I could be a writer…
If I could be a llama-rider…
If I could be a bonnie pirate…
If I could be a service member…
If I could be a photographer…
If I could be a philanthropist…
If I could be a rap artist…
If I could be a child actor…
If I could be a secret agent…
If I could be a comedian/comedienne…
If I could be a priest...
If I could be a radio announcer...
If I could be a phlebotomist...
If I could be Paris Hilton's stylist...
If I could be a movie producer...
If I could be the CEO of Microsoft...

If I could be an athlete...maybe I would exercise more and be in better shape than I am now!

If I could be a rap artist…...I would use my platform to spread beautiful and uplifting messages instead of ugly and hate-filled ones.

If I could be a librarian…...that probably wouldn't be the best thing, because I'd be wanting to spend all my time reading the books instead of doing the work.

If I could be a scientist…...I would do everything in my power to find a cure for Alzheimer's.

If I could be a linguist…...I would probably really enjoy my work, because I love words and am fascinated with their meanings and origins.

I'm tagging Robin,
Beth, and Ashley.



Honestly, I fall a little more in love with that city each time I visit it!

On Friday, my mom and sisters (my mom and sister Lisa were visiting me from Texas; my sister Bev was visiting form Wyoming) and my daughter Elizabeth and I took the el train into Chicago.

We got situated in our beautiful room at the Renaissance Hotel, then were off for some shopping on the Magnificent Mile. What a blast!

We then had some fantastic Italian food at a place called Tucci Benucch, in the Bloomingdale's building on Michigan Avenue. Liz and I split tiramisu; it was delectable.

The next morning, we had breafkast at Ada's on South Wabash, then strolled State Street for some more last-minute shopping before heading back on the el. Liz and I got off at the Cumberland Park 'n Ride where we had left our car; Mom and my sisters took the el all the way back to O'Hare.

It was the perfect finale to a wonderful week with my dear ones. The only way it could have been more perfect would be if it had been about 10 degrees warmer.

What an awesome time. I can't wait to go back!
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