Friday, July 29, 2005

Happy Friday!

And I'm answering the Friday Feast:

Name 3 people whom you admire for their intelligence.

1) My friend Teri B.
2) Joel Griffith
3) Peggy Noonan


What's the last food you tried that you really didn't care for.--A cold coffee drink at a little coffee shop that has otherwise good stuff. But I only took a couple of sips and couldn't finish it. Frappacino is one thing, but iced coffee--no.

If you could rename the street that you live on, what would you want it to be called?--Well, it's a name that's hard to make people understand over the phone, confusing even when you spell it out. So I think I would name it something very easy to understand, like "Edgewood" (the actually name of one of my growing-up streets.) Or it would be cool to have the name of one of my children--Jonathan, Justin and Elizabeth. (There is a Jonathan Street in my town.)

Main Course

When was the last time you were genuinely surprised?--When I found out my sister-in-law was pregnant at the age of 42. Her oldest was a senior in high school. It was a surprise for all concerned! (But I'm happy to report that the baby was born a couple months ago, and everyone is fine.)

Share a household tip.--If you have boys in the family, keep a spray bottle of Lysol cleanser near the toilet at all times. That way, when you see a yucky toilet rim, you can spritz it and wipe it clean right then and there. (What did you want? I'm not Martha Stewart! :))

Have a wonderful and blessed weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Who is Father Matthew Fox?

a controversial priest calls for a "modern Reformation"

Matthew Fox

A local (Rockford, Illinois) pastor nailed Matthew Fox's "95 Theses for a New Millenium" to the door of the Emmanuel Lutheran Church yesterday, shouting, "May the church become new and alive!"

Pastor Jim Roberts mimicked Martin Luther's famous nailing of his theses to the Wittenberg Church door to herald an upcoming visit to Rockford by controversial Episcopal priest Matthew Fox to Rockford. He will lead a workshop for the Forest City Center for Creation Spirituality in September.

According to the Rockford Register Star, Emmanuel Lutheran is a "nontraditional Lutheran church," and Pastor Roberts is supporting Fox's appearance because "it's not necessary to agree with everything Fox says to see the value in his push for change."

Number one of Fox's thesis is "God is both Mother and Father." Some of the theses just sound like so much religious psychobabble: "The human psyche is made for the cosmos and will not be satisfied until the two are reunited and awe, the beginning of wisdom, results from this reunion."

Thesis number 72 calls homosexuality "altogether natural for those who are born that way" and "a gift from God and nature to the greater community."

From Fox's website: "In Fox's new book called "A New Reformation!" he proclaims that we are in fact confronted with two churches: one expressed by the image of the Punitive Father, personified by a rigidly hierarchical church structure, repression of the feminine, spreading of homophobia and the elimination of internal dissent; and the other expressed by the feminine figure of Wisdom, personified by a Mother/Father God of justice and compassion. It is time for Christians to choose whom it will follow: an angry exclusionary god or the loving open path of wisdom."

Why does 2 Timothy 4:3 suddenly spring to mind?

Just a visit to Fox's website is enough to convince me that he represents some of the most noxious of this era's extreme liberal theology. But as a longtime fan of Phil Johnson's Annotated Bookmarks of Bad Theology, I'd love to hear Phil's take on Matthew Fox. Phil?

On a personal note...

Today marks the one-year anniversary of my dad's death. I can hardly believe it's been a year. In my dad's honor, I'm re-posting my account of his homegoing, which included something remarkable just before he breathed his last.

My father, Thomas V. "Pepper" Garrett, went home to be with the Lord on Wednesday, July 28th, 2004.

Many of you know that my dad has been dying of cirrhosis of the liver/liver cancer for the past few years. In fact, not too long ago I blogged about my memories of wonderful times spent conversing with my dad.

He was a Baptist pastor and missionary whose entire life was dedicated to ministry. He was a wonderful man--wise, funny, kind, generous, musically talented. He adored his family and was happiest when we were all gathered around him.

I had planned for quite some time to visit my folks July 26th through August 4th. I knew my dad's condition and quality of life had deteriorated greatly, and although I didn't really expect him to die that soon, I wanted to spend some time with them, particularly to give my mom moral support and help in any way I could.

As it happened, the Thurday before the Monday I was to fly to Texas, my parents moved into the Christopher House, a hospice in Austin. An appalling feature of my dad's disease was that he suffered from nocturnal agitation. Although he was extremely weak, he could not stop walking around the house at night, to the point where his feet actually swelled. Besides depriving him of sleep, it did the same thing to my mom, who was his major caregiver.

My dad's hospice nurse had suggested taking him to the Christopher House for a few days so stronger medication could be administered that would give him and my mom some rest.

As it happened, my dad went to sleep on Thursday night and woke up only once--briefly on Friday night--until the following Wednesday.

Beverly, Dad and me July 2003

After ascertaining that my dad would probably be dying at the Christopher House, I was extremely concerned about whether I would be able to see my dad alive one more time. The airline tickets for my daughter and me had been purchased on Hotwire, and couldn't be changed.

Fortunately, I had said everything I wanted to say to my dad in previous visits. I had no regrets on that point. I just wanted to see him alive one more time.

As soon as Elizabeth and I arrived in Austin, my sister took us directly to the Christopher House. My dad was in a deep sleep, but when I told him I was there, he physically responded and even tried to open his eyes.

The next many hours in the Christopher House were extraordinary. My sisters, my mom and I kept watch over my dad, frequently joined by other loved ones. The nurses and doctors had told us that my dad could hear us, so they encouraged us to talk to him and sing to him. Although we often broke down in tears, there were also times of laughter and reminiscing.

When we sang to him, it was amazing to see him respond even while asleep. He would move his mouth and raise his eyebrows as if trying to join in with us. My dad could never hear anyone singing without wanting to join in! He was a beautiful singer and musician, and loved singing for the Lord more than anything.

On Monday night, my mom and my siblings all spent the night in the small room at the Christopher House. My mom and Beverly slept on a small couch that folded out into a small bed. I slept on a recliner. Lisa slept on a mat on the floor; David slept on the bare floor. We had grieved and said what we thought would be our final good-byes to our dad, but he didn't pass away that night. The vigil continued on Tuesday. It was extremely difficult to see my father's labored and ragged breathing, and it continued to worsen.

At 12:30 AM Wednesday morning, Lisa and her husband David and I decided to go to her house and try to get some sleep. My dad's heartbeat was still relatively strong, and it didn't appear he would die in the next several hours. We knew the next day would probably be a rough one, and decided it would be better to face it after having had some rest.

However, shortly before 7 AM on Wednesday morning, my mom called to tell us my dad only had a few minutes. Shortly afterwards she called to tell us that he had indeed passed away, at 7:05 AM.

You often hear stories about Christians seeing a glimpse of heaven as they died. D. L. Moody reportedly said: "Is this dying? Why this is bliss...There is no valley....I have been within the gates...Earth is receding; Heaven is opening; God is calling; I must go. "

My dad never spoke, but my sister and my mom tell me he woke with a start; his eyes came open, clear, bright and aware, and he looked up with an expression of incredible awe and joy on his face. As they talked to him, telling him they loved him, he continued to look upward with that rapturous expression before taking two peaceful breaths (his earlier breathing had been labored and difficult), then he went home to glory.

I wish I had been there. But just hearing my mom and sister describing mom called it a "beautiful" death...renews my faith. Heaven is not just a lovely myth; it is REAL. And I believe my dad caught a glimpse of it before his soul actually departed his body.

The funeral, on Saturday, was more a celebration than anything else. There were tears, but there was laughter as well. There was joy! Beverly, Lisa and I had pre-recorded "Home Where I Belong" and Lisa had pre-recorded "Beulah Land," (we would never have been able to make it through the songs live) and a tape of the song "At The Crossing" was played.

The way the service ended was extremely fitting. My dad loved nothing more than when his close and extended family members would gather around the piano and sing. With my cousin Elaine playing the piano, several of my cousins sang "I'll Fly Away." It was wonderful! My dad would have loved it.

How do people who don't know the Lord make it through the deaths of their loved ones? I'm so glad we don't "sorrow as those who have no hope." We'll miss our dad terribly, but we'll see him again. And he is happier and better off now than he ever was in these "Shadowlands."

I'll close with the poem my mom chose to put in the programme of my father's funeral:

"SERVANT of God! well done,
Rest from thy loved employ;
The battle is fought, the vict'ry won,
Enter thy Master's joy.

The voice at midnight came
He started up to hear
A mortal arrow pierced his frame,
He fell--but felt no fear.

The pains of death are past,
Labor and sorrow cease;
And life's long warfare closed at last,
His soul is found in peace.

Soldier of Christ, well done!-
Begin thy new employ;
And while eternal ages run,
Rest in thy Savior's joy."--James Montgomery

P.S.--My heartfelt thanks to the many people--many of whom had never even met my dad--who prayed for him and my mom during the course of his illness. You know who you are. You'll never know how much it means to me and my family.--Cindy

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Why am I blogging about Victoria Jackson????

Not as often as I should, I check out this terrific website, (bear with me, I'm getting to Victoria Jackson in a moment.)

If you haven't checked out Thunderstruck, you need to--especially if you're a Christian who blogs or is involved in the media in any way. I think of it as a kind of Drudge Report from a Christian worldview. It's a one-stop shop with a wealth of links to articles about things relating to Christianity or just of interest to Christians. It's all put together by a man named Steve Beard.

Anyhoo, I was looking at Thunderstruck today and decided to check out Steve's surf page, which lists what I assume are the sources of his linked stories. One of the links, in the "Coolies" category, is former Saturday Night Live cast member Victoria Jackson.

Now, Victoria was fresh on my mind because I had caught the tail end of VH-1's Celebrity Fit Club last night (my son graciously allowed me to do so during commercial breaks of the Cubs game.:))

Yep, Victoria Jackson is a cast member of Celebrity Fit Club II. I had watched a few episodes of the show last season, with the fascinated-yet-appalled spirit one holds for viewing a train wreck.

I'm always trying to lose weight myself, so the sight of these celebrities humbling themselves with the unflattering "before" shots and exposing their weight stats for the world to see, was interesting to me. Anyone who has been to a Weight Watchers meeting can't help but identify with the anticipatory dread of getting on that scale (although thankfully, at a WW meeting your results aren't broadcast to the room, much less a television audience.)

As I said, I haven't viewed an entire episode this season. My son tells me Gary Busey, who claims to be a Christian, has behaved somewhat erratically on the show. All I know is, he's downright scary-looking, even when he's smiling. Maybe especially when he's smiling.

And Willie Aames, AKA Bibleman, was almost unrecognizable from the character he played on "Charles in Charge."

So, I followed the link to Victoria's website. I had heard that she's a Christian too, and this quote on her site confirms it:

"Well, I'd feel like we didn't really connect if I didn't tell you about what I really feel is important. I am a genuine true blue believer...not in Kaballah...not in Scientology...not in the New Age movement...not in Mormonism...not in Buddism...not in Hinduism...not in Catholicism...not in Protestantism...but in Jesus Christ. I've studied all those other religions...and as a cynic, and a free spirit...I personally decided to put my faith in Jesus. I've read the Bible all the way through....and I believe it is the Truth...the Word of God. Read John 3:l6, Ephesians 2:8,9, Romans 3:23, and Romans 6:23 and tell me what you think. What do you think? Jesus claimed to be 'the Lord'...He was either the 'Lord', a liar, or a lunatic. Tell me what you think and why. After all, none of us has died and come back to we all have our faith in something. What is your faith in? I'm eager to listen and discuss."

Way to go, Victoria! I always thought she was one of the funniest people on SNL during her stint there (I don't watch the show now, BTW). She doesn't really look very overweight to me, but I'll be watching her progress.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Mel Gibson is making another historical movie in an ancient language

Mel Gibson is set to begin filming a movie set in a 500-year-old Mayan culture...and like "The Passion of the Christ," it will feature actors speaking an ancient dialect.

The film, "Apocalypto," is slated for a 2006 release, and Gibson's Icon Productions is partnering with Disney to make the movie.

Nothing is being released about the plot, and reportedly it will feature unknown actors. So far, nothing is making me want to see this movie, but I'll take a wait-and-see attitude.

I remember, just after "The Passion of the Christ" was released, Gibson was talking about making a movie about the ancient British heroine, Boudicca (this article is dated April 2004). The movie had already been tagged with the moniker, "Braveheart in a bra." At the time, it was reported that no less than four films were being developed about Boudicca, including one by Steven Spielberg.

Now with the buzz accompanying this Mayan movie, I'm not hearing anything else about the Boudicca film. Frankly, the Boudicca movie intrigues me more. But again, I'll wait and see.

, by the way, is one of my favorite movies of all time. Yes, I have to close my eyes during the more gory parts. And that is probably my biggest complaint about Gibson--he overdoes it with the blood and gore. Yes, he does it all in the interest of historical accuracy, but it's just too much for my sensibilities.

However, while I've always been fascinated with all things Irish, Braveheart launched my twin passion for Scotland. I think it's a wonderful movie, rich with history, drama, power and feeling.

One of my favorite things about Braveheart was Angus Macfadyen, the wonderful Scottish actor who played Robert the Bruce. Macfadyen got robbed in that he didn't get an Oscar nod. The role called for him to display strong emotions, sometimes in his facial expressions alone. He is truly an under-rated actor, especially in that role.

I got an e-mail from Saddam Hopkins...

Lately, my inbox has been flooded with e-mails from "people" whose obviously computer-generated names include a lot of unlikely (although, granted, not impossible) combinations. Japhet Bryan. Haled O'Connell. Ferguson Espinoza. Gerfried Moran.

Apparently, they're trying to fool me into thinking they're real people sending me a real e-mail, but I'm not buying it for a second--especially when the subject lines are phrases like "Really Works GGreat," "If Youu Need It," and "Feels Biggerr." By the way, just the fact that this company apparently can't spell correctly would be enough to put me off buying its product. But if the misspelled words are aimed at allowing the spam to slip through my filters, unfortunately it's working.

Sure enough, "Saddam Hopkins" was trying to sell me Viagra--something I'm not in the market for, and if I were, I wouldn't buy it over the internet from someone named Saddam.

I was telling my co-host, Darren Marlar, about the e-mail yesterday. "Like people named Hopkins would actually name their child Saddam," I huffed.

"I dunno," he grinned. "Maybe they had a feeling he was going to be a real terror."

I spewed the water I had just gulped, that struck me so funny.

But, don't you just hate spam?!? Despite my best efforts to filter it out, it still worms its way into my e-mail. One of the worst annoyances of modern life.

Thought about who you would vote for in '08?

(Via Hugh Hewitt), Patrick Ruffini is conducting a straw poll including some '08 GOP hopefuls. Go vote and take a gander at the results.

Ruffini does have this disclaimer: "...of course...All of this means very little three years out."

Monday, July 25, 2005

What's your blogging personality?

(Hat tip to Amy Andrews...)

Your Blogging Type is Artistic and Passionate
You see your blog as the ultimate personal expression - and work hard to make it great.
One moment you may be working on a new dramatic design for your blog...
And the next, you're passionately writing about your pet causes.
Your blog is very important - and you're careful about who you share it with.

However, today I seem to have no blogging personality at all! Despite a restful weekend, I'm sleepy today and can't seem to shake it. The sweltering temperatures we've been experiencing are supposed to gradually cool down a bit, so hopefully I'll have more energy and pizzazz tomorrow. In the meantime, have a great Monday, all!

Friday, July 22, 2005

So much to blog about, so little time...


Oh, you're wondering what the pic of Gerard Butler is all about? No real reason...but while we're on the subject, if you've seen both The Phantom of the Opera play and the movie, which did you like best, and why? My husband much preferred the play, and really didn't care for the movie at all. There are things I like about both.

By the way, you can read here about my experience seeing the play in Chicago.

Now on to more stuff...

~The events in London continue to disturb, especially since it prompts the question: when will it happen here again? La Shawn Barber thinks it's only a matter of time...and she speculates about what NYC's random backpack searches will be like:
"They know exactly the type of person to search: young, male, and Arab-looking. But they’ll stop you, white American man minding your own business, and you, black woman visiting from Arkansas.

"I guess random 5-year-old girls need to make sure those pink Barbie backpacks are free of contraband. And 80-year-old Granny had better give it up, or she’ll be in a world of hurt."

~Do you have a reluctant reader in your family? Yesterday I interviewed Max Elliot Anderson about his books specifically aimed at kids who he calls "reluctant readers." Max himself is a reluctant reader, so he knows whereof he speaks.

Among the devices he uses to capture and keep his readers: bright white pages, short paragraphs, very little description, lots of action and dialogue. Anderson has gotten a lot of good feedback from parents who had despaired of getting their kids to read.

Anderson's books are being compared to everything from the Hardy Boys to Tom Sawyer to Jack London.

~I myself am a more-than-willing reader, and I've been devouring books in record times lately. For instance, I read Maeve Binchy's Nights of Rain and Stars almost in one sitting the other night. A friend had left James Patterson's Lake House in our guest room, so I gobbled that one up as well. Fascinating but disturbing premise: kids who have been engineered to be part bird, part human.

~I interviewed Julie Anne Fidler last week about her Adventures in Holy Matrimony, and was going to blog at least transcribed excerpts, but technical problems nixed that. Suffice it to say that Julie was a delightful guest, as interesting and engaging voice-to-voice as she is on her blog and in her book.

This is what I blogged earlier about Julie's book. Do buy it and give it as a gift to a bride-to-be--along with some gorgeous lingerie or needed housewares, of course!

~Southern Gospel with an Aussie accent?
Martin Roth, whose Martin Roth Christian Commentary has languished for some 18 months, is back online--but with a blog about one of his passions, Southern Gospel music.
Roth bemoans the fact that most of his favorite artists never make it to the land down under. I'm not as big an SG fan as my husband is, but I do like several artists and have gotten to see many of them in concert, including three or four Gaither Homecoming events.

He says he's not sure if his Southern Gospel Beat really qualifies as a blog, but it works for me!

~Along with drought conditions, Northern Illinois expects to experience a heat wave this weekend, with temps expected to top 100. I will no doubt spend my weekend praising God for air conditioning!

And finally...I answer the Friday Feast:

What kind of car do you drive? If you could make an even trade for any other car, what would you want to drive?--I drive a Cutlass--I'm not even sure of the model year!--but if I had my druthers, I'd drive a PT Cruiser.

Take your phone number and add each number together separately (example: 8+6+7+5+3+0+9=38) - what's the total?--27

When were you last outside, and what were you doing?--Early this morning--leaving the house and getting in my car to go to work.

Main Course
What is your favorite restaurant, and what do you usually order there?--I have a lot of favorites, but usually I end up coming back to Chili's, where I usually order the chicken tacos. And I MUST have the chips and salsa--so it's always the struggle of trying not to eat too many of them before the real food comes!


Name 3 things in which you occasionally indulge.--Oh, boy. A chocolate malt with extra malt from BeefARoo. A chocolate shake with whipped cream on top from Steak n Shake. A chocolate concrete from Culver's. (Do you see a pattern emerging here?)

Now, I hope everyone will go out and have a blessed and wonderful weekend!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Keeping an eye on London

Very disconcerting to learn this morning of more attacks in London.

One of my first thoughts was, how terribly demoralizing for Londoners. I feel for them.

I'm a person who never really feared things like public transportation, air travel, etc. It was just a part of life, and I blithely trusted that everything was going to be OK.

9/11 changed that, but I got back on an airplane and have flown many times since. Yes, I always say a prayer for safety as soon as my rear hits the airplane seat, but I'm not an idiot--I know bad things can and do happen.

And that 15-minute incident I lived through in Washington, D.C. in May really affected me. As I've said before, although it turned out to be just a scare and not terrorism at all, we didn't know that at the time we were running off the Capitol grounds.

Notwithstanding, I wasn't afraid to hop on a train from New Jersey to Manhattan the very next night. But when the train lost power and we sat for several minutes in a tunnel with no explanation, I almost started to panic--and I'm sure it was because I was, psychologically and emotionally, still feeling the effects of the incident in D.C.

So I have at least a tiny inkling of what it's like for those London residents. I'm sure they've just started to regain their confidence in a normal routine of life--and now they're hit with this. It's got to be nerve-racking at the least, and terrifying at the worst.

While surfing BlogExplosion not long after the London incident two weeks ago, I actually read a London blogger whose attitude was "Hey, Americans, we don't need your pity or your prayers." The gist of it was that she was actually annoyed by the expressions of solidarity and compassion she'd read in US blogs in response to the incident. She went on to say that our shock and compassion was misplaced, because Londoners have dealt with terrorism just fine for many years (the IRA, etc.)

My first, knee-jerk reaction was to think, "Well, excuse us for being caring and concerned!" But I can't believe that all Londoners are like that blogger.

When Americans were dealing with 9/11, we deeply appreciated the expressions of concern from other nations.

Maybe Britishers have such a stiff upper lip, they don't need our compassion. But I don't really think so. So I'm extending it once again: London, you're in my thoughts and prayers. Whether you want to be or not.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Quote o' The Day

Author Angela Hunt

"Sometimes I get irked . . . when I hear people bashing Christian fiction, faith fiction, whatever you want to call it. In most of these cases, people either haven't read it, or they haven't read it in the last five years, or they read ONE book that could be called "Christian" and have written off the entire genre--and its authors."--Angela Hunt

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Does anybody ever dress up anymore?

...and the latest White House flip-flop controversy

Actually, I think the girls of Northwestern's women's lacrosse team look quite lovely in their official White House picture. But there's no denying it--they're clearly wearing flip-flops on their feet.

Is that so wrong? Well, apparently some of their friends and family thought so, according to the Associated Press story: "A front-page story in the Chicago Tribune included the headline 'YOU WORE FLIP-FLOPS TO THE WHITE HOUSE?!' inspired by an e-mail sent to player Kate Darmody from her older brother after he saw the photo on the team's Web site.

"Family members of other players expressed similar dismay, insisting the summer footwear staple was too casual for a visit with the president."

The girls countered that they weren't wearing ratty beach sandals, but dressier versions of the summer staple. And to their credit, they're auctioning off the flip-flops to raise money for a sick child.

I have a feeling W probably could care less what the girls were wearing on their feet--he doesn't strike me as the type who would be offended, especially since they looked quite presentable otherwise. Bush's own daughter Jenna reportedly appeared in court a few years ago wearing capris and flip-flops.

However, the story did make me think about how apparel etiquette has either changed or fallen by the wayside in my lifetime. And it begs the question: Does anybody ever dress up anymore?

OK, I know this is going to sound strange to some of you, but years ago, I actually used to dress up to fly somewhere on a plane trip. I don't do that anymore, and haven't for some time--but even now, I try to strike the right combination of casual, comfortable and--well--nice.

And don't think me judgmental when I say this, but whatever happened to "Sunday-go-to-meetin'" clothes? Nowadays it's not uncommon to be trying to worship while derriere-cleavage (let alone the other kind of cleavage), thongs peaking out of low-rise jeans, and bare midriffs are clearly in view.

On the other hand, I've seen churches where Sunday services were virtual fashion shows, with women feeling like they have to have a new outfit every week, and where dressing up to "show respect to God" somehow became a measure of your spirituality. I think that's not only pretentious and creepy, but unbiblical to boot. And certainly no one should feel like they can't come to church because they don't have an extensive wardrobe of expensive suits.

Don't get me wrong; I'm all for being comfortable. I haven't put on a pair of pantyhose all summer, and when I do wear them, they're the first thing I rapidly peel off when I get home.

However--that said--there are, or should be, some occasions where you dress up. And I think the whole notion of dressing up is going the way of the buffalo, so to speak. Modesty and decorum--etiquette, for that matter--seem to be quaint and archaic notions from the distant past. And I, for one, think that's kind of sad.

Granted, I am a woman who doesn't go to the grocery store without freshening my make-up.

Monday, July 18, 2005

The debt I owe to John Glenn

John Glenn, from

Today is the birthday of astronaut/U.S. Senator John Glenn, and that got me thinking about how a brush-with-fame moment launched me (appropriate wording, eh?) on my journalism career, at the tender age of ten.

The year was 1967--five years after Glenn's orbiting the earth in "Friendship 7." Astronauts were heroes to kids my age...bravely and literally going where no one had dared to go before.

My parents were missionaries in Beirut, Lebanon, and I was a student at the American Community School there (having spent the first year and a half of my education in Lebanon at a British school, Manor House.)

John Glenn was visiting Beirut to tend to some business dealings he had there at the time. (My memory is foggy, but I think it had to do with PepsiCola or some other soft drink). Someone persuaded Glenn to put in an appearance at the American Community School, and he was to appear at an all-school assembly.

The appearance would be in the form of a sort of press conference. Two kids, a boy and a girl, would be chosen from each grade to get their chance at "interviewing" the former astronaut. I was the girl chosen from my fifth-grade class. We sat in chairs on the stage, facing Mr. Glenn.

Actually, each of us would be allowed to pose just one question to Mr. Glenn, but we could form our own questions. Mine: was he ever scared or nervous when he was in outer space?

For the first time in my life, I realized the thrill of asking a famous person a question, having that famous person treat my question as valid and worthy of answering, and having them reply well.

Many times in my career in radio, I've been one of several reporters at a news conference at which the focal point is someone quite famous. I'm not naturally an aggressive person, so it takes some nerve to ask a question loudly and clearly enough to let it be known that this is my moment, my chance to ask my question.

How will the person respond? Will he/she deride the question or de-value it in some way? That's always a possibility. So it's great to hear the person say something like "Great question," or even just to hear them go on to answer it in solid and substantial fashion. Especially when it may be a tad controversial. And I'll admit, I've gotten a little thrill as I think, "This is going to sound great on the radio." And I'm even gratified when I see it on TV later, and realize the sound bites used were from the reply to my question.

John Glenn treated a little ten-year-old girl's question with respect and consideration. He admitted to being nervous and even a little lonely in space--but went on to say that he was so busy working the controls and doing his job, that he had little time to dwell on such things. At least, that's how I remember his reply.

I had always loved reading and writing, but that experience was a turning point for me. I had discovered the thrill of asking questions and getting answers.

From then on, I interviewed everyone from fellow students to siblings and relatives. I spent my junior high and teen years with a portable tape recorder always at hand. I was a reporter and then an editor on my high school newspaper staff, and then my college newspaper staff. From there, it was a short hop to radio news, which I've been doing for over 25 years now.

I still love interviewing. I love satisfying my curiosity by delving into other people's stories and, with my questions, guiding them in the process of revealing their thoughts and feelings.

So, happy birthday, John Glenn. And thanks.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

News of a new "Pride and Prejudice" movie...

...and I do the Jane Austen meme

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in A&E's "Pride and Prejudice"

From Blest with Sons, news of an upcoming movie based on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. But Blest has seen the trailer (I haven't), and she's disappointed already: "I am dismayed, disenchanted, and disappointed. Changes. Changes. Changes. Hardly a scrap of Austen’s subtle dialogue is visible… Just the blunt gaucherie of standard Hollywood. They’ve even added stupid jokes like Mr Collins accidentally saying 'intercourse' from the pulpit and getting flustered. And Keira Knightley’s Elizabeth is much too…coquettish. Sigh."

Blest calls the A & E version "my favorite movie ever and in my opinion the best adaptation of a book ever." You know, I've never seen it in its entirety. I should rent it sometime for Liz and me.

In the meantime, even though it's been a while since I read a Jane Austen book (although I've read P & P many times), I will do Blest with Sons' Jane Austen meme:

The Jane Austen Meme

Jane Austen

Which of Jane Austen’s novels have you read?--Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park and Emma

What is your favorite?--Pride and Prejudice

What is your favorite Jane Austen movie?--
A tie between Emma and Sense & Sensibility. (As I said, I haven't seen A&E's Pride and Prejudice in its entirety.)

Which novel would you most like to see redone as a movie? Any casting suggestions?--Sadly, I can't remember the other books well enough to recommend casting!

Which Austen character do you most resemble?--
Except for the fact that she's supposed to be beautiful, I may resemble Jane Bennet a little. In that I'm underconfident, somewhat tentative and a little ditzy at times.

If you could be transported into one of the books, which character would you want to be?--Elizabeth Bennet, without a doubt. She's one of the coolest, smartest, spunkiest heroines in all of literature!

Which character does your spouse most resemble?--
Hmm. He has a few Mr. Darcy traits, but more of Charles Bingley--fun-loving, jovial and a people-person.

If you could change anything in any Austen book, what would it be?--
Can't think of a thing!

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

B. J. Hoff is back in the blogosphere!

B. J. Hoff

I'm delighted to report that one of my favorite authors, B. J. Hoff, is blogging again. She had taken time off from Grace Notes, but now finds things have settled down a bit in her life so she can again share her wise advice and seasoned perspective on writing fiction.

If you're an aspiring writer, B. J. has some of the most practical and down-to-earth advice--a trait she shares with fellow-writer and blogger Robin Lee Hatcher.

And if you had B. J. on your blogroll before, take note that she has a different URL now, and make sure and change the link.

As I've said here many times, I fell in love with B. J.'s writing several years ago when I read her "Emerald Ballad" series. She is an expert on all things Irish, and Irish people come brilliantly and lovingly to life on the pages of her books. If you love fiction, and you haven't yet read anything by B. J., you must remedy that as soon as possible!
But you can start with checking out her blog.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Did I tell you I love to read?

This is the image that author Jeri Massi chose to represent me in her sidebar links. I like it. And she got it right--I'm a confirmed bookworm. Reading is, and has always been, one of the chief joys of my life.

(By the way, you can read Jeri's A Standard Christian online as an ongoing serial, or buy it in its entirety. And her Valkyries books are excellent fiction reads. Read my review of Valkyries 1 and 2 here or my interview with Jeri here.) (UPDATE: Apparently, "A Standard Christian" ends its online run tomorrow, and you'll have to buy the book online if you want to read it.)

Anyhoo--back to reading. In honor of their tenth anniversary, has come out with their 25 bestselling authors (hat tip to Tim Challies). Voracious reader that I am, I've read surprisingly few of them. Maybe it's because I'm not really a bandwagon person---I never feel the need to rush out and buy a bestseller just because it's a bestseller, or because it's on Oprah's book list.

Amazon's Top 25 Bestselling Authors

I'll boldface the ones I have read:

1. J.K. Rowling--Nope, I haven't succumbed to the Harry Potter craze. Just doesn't appeal to me--if I want fantasy, I'll re-read the Chronicles of Narnia.
2. Spencer Johnson
3. Nora Roberts --Several years back, I went on a Nora Roberts spree at the library. I'd have to say she's one of the best of her kind, although any sort of spirituality is markedly missing from her books.
4. Dan Brown--Ah yes, the "DaVinci Code" guy. Not interested.
5. Dr. Seuss --Love him.
6. John Grisham --Read several, and liked them. But I think there are several Christian fiction writers that are every bit as good as him, and some even better.
7. Stephen King--I must admit, I've been fascinated by some of the movie versions of his books, but I've never read any of the actual books. To me, it would be kind of like saying, "OK evil, here's an engraved imitation to come dwell in my mind." (Why that's not true of the movies, I don't know.)
8. J.R.R. Tolkien --Read the Lord of the Rings trilogy, but not until just a couple of years ago. I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and wanted to read the books BEFORE watching the movies. I found the movies were remarkably faithful to the books. I really liked the books, but I found I prefer the style of Tolkien friend and contemporary C.S. Lewis. (I really got bored and annoyed with all the long "songs" in the Tolkien books, for instance.)
9. Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins --Nothing against these men; I'm sure they're fine Christians. But after the first couple of "Left Behind" books, I lost interest...and it amazes me how long they've been able to drag the Tribulation out.
10. Jim Collins
11. Phil McGraw
12. Robert Atkins
13. C.S. Lewis --Oh, yes. On the short list of my favorite authors. I discovered Narnia at about age 8 or 9, and have never looked back. I'm hoping the upcoming movies do the books justice.
14. Mitch Albom
15. Ken Blanchard
16. James Patterson--I think I read one of these books..."Kiss the Girls"? Very disturbing.
17. Stephen R. Covey--My son worked for Franklin Covey for a while, and he did become very organized and motivated at that time! I've never read "Seven Habits of Highly Effective People," but one habit has stuck with me: Be proactive. I'm not usually, but I try to be! :)
18. Mary Pope Osborne
19. Marcus Buckingham
20. Lemony Snicket
21. John C. Maxwell
22. Janet Evanovich
23. Robert T. Kiyosaki
24. Arthur Agatson
25. Tom Clancy--I loved the movies "Patriot Games" and "The Hunt for Red October," but I've only actually read "The Sum of All Fears." And to be honest, it was tough going at some points. While reading a fiction book, you shouldn't have to say to yourself, "Well,I guess I should really read more of the book." It should be a case of having difficulty putting it down.

How about you? Read any of the authors on this list? Can you recommend them? Let me know in my comments section or on your own blog.

Oh, and speaking of Narnia...

Miss O'Hara pointed me in the direction of this excellent article by John J. Miller. Good stuff.

Monday, July 11, 2005

My heartfelt congratulations... Miss O'Hara, who shares some good news on her blog today. Ah, yes...ain't love grand?

I've been reading Miss O's blog for quite a while now...ever since discovering it through Julie Anne Fidler's. Miss O has a refreshing, sparkling style, but she's not afraid to get tough and even irate when it's warranted. And boy, is she smart.

And speaking of Julie Anne Fidler, I've been trying to arrange an interview with her about her book, Adventures in Holy Matrimony.

Julie talks about how she and her husband dealt with disasters on several fronts that struck them almost the minute they got married. Still a young woman who hasn't been married for many years, Julie nevertheless fills this book with the common sense and practical advice that comes from having gone through adversity and lived to tell about it.

Appealingly reader-friendly, and marked by Julie's trademark candid transparency and breezy wit, the book is also rich with Biblical perspective and spiritual insight.

Engagement is rightfully--as I'm sure Miss O'Hara is experiencing right now--a time of heady elation and high romance. But I wouldn't hesitate to slip a copy of Julie's book in with a shower gift for a bride-to-be. While definitely not a downer, the message of "Adventures in Holy Matrimony" might be: yes, love and romance are fantastic, but sometimes things go wrong--even things totally beyond the control of either partners. In that case, don't despair: with God's help, some great advice and some hard work, marital love can survive, and be even stronger and more precious than before.

Friday, July 08, 2005

"Faithful Women": My interview with Noel Piper

"God uses the weak things"

"I think one of the reasons there are so many stories of people in the Bible is that we learn by seeing what happens in other people's lives. God could have just given us a book of teachings, but but he gave us a lot of people's stories."--
Noel Piper

CINDY: I recently read a book that both blessed me and really challenged me in my walk with Christ. That book was Faithful Women and their Extraordinary God, by Noel Piper. The book tells the stories of five Christian women who faced difficulty and sacrifice, and the amazing things that God did through them. And I'm delighted to have as my guest today the author of that book, Noel Piper. Noel, welcome to Weekend Rockford.

NOEL: Thank you, I'm glad to be here.

CINDY: I know that you are a pastor's wife, and that you are the wife of John Piper of Desiring God ministries. Noel, tell me a little about yourself and your family and your husband and your ministry.

NOEL: Well, we have five children--four grown-up boys who are all married, our youngest just got married this spring, and a nine-year-old daughter who I home school. She's at camp this week for the first time ever, so we have an empty house, unusually.(laughing)

We're at Bethlehem Baptist Church (Minneapolis, Minnesota), and we're celebrating our 25th anniversary this year of my husband being one of the pastors there, the preaching pastor.

CINDY: Noel, this book--I've got to tell you--it's just really impacted me. I remarked to myself that it's been a long, long time since I read a book that so impacted me spiritually, I've got to tell you that. I sat there reading just in awe and amazement--

NOEL: Well, that's a real answer to my prayers for what the book would be.

CINDY: Not only is it an entertaining book in its way, in the fact that it tells fascinating stories that you just want to keep reading, but it really impacted me because all of these women that you profile--Sarah Edwards, Lillias Trotter, Gladys Aylward, Esther Ahn Kim and Helen Roseveare--I had heard snippets about all of these women and read snippets about them, but reading their entire stories just honestly blew me away, they were so amazing.

What led you to write a book about Christian women of the past?

NOEL: For several years now I've been each year focusing on one woman that I would do research on and find her story to prepare to tell to the women at our church in a special summer Sunday School class. And then I find myself when I'm speaking at retreats, whatever the Biblical topic is I'm speaking about, one of the sessions would be, I would use one of these biographies as a lived-out example of what we were talking about.

Because I think one of the reasons there are so many stories of people in the Bible is that we learn by seeing what happens in other people's lives. God could have just given us a book of teachings, but but he gave us a lot of people's stories.

And so, there are people after the Bible as well--we can just look at the people next to us, for that matter, to see how God is working, and sometimes we can see it more clearly in somebody else's life than can in our own.

Sarah Edwards

CINDY: Let's just take a look at some of the women in particular. Sarah Edwards was the wife of Jonathan Edwards--best known, probably, for his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"--

NOEL: Ah, but so much more than that (laughing).

But so much more than that, you're right...and the profile you give of Sarah really gives us a lot of insight into Jonathan as well. This woman raised 11 children. She died at the age of 48, which is the age I am, which touched me right there. But one thing you point out, and I had heard this before, but the descendants of Jonathan and Sarah, according to a study that was done by a man comparing two different families--their descendants just did remarkable things. Can you kind of share that?

Well, I list here in the book, all the pastors, teachers, government officials, authors, missionaries "by the droves"--this was in 1900, so about 150 years after Sarah and Jonathan were living.

One biographer says, "Can there be any other mother in America who has contributed so much to America?" and I take that--not that I'll ever have as many descendants as Sarah Edwards, for one thing (chuckling)--but as an encouragement.

She was just drudging along every day, doing things that took a lot more effort for her to do than for me to do, and she had no way of knowing how God was going to use that in the lives of her children and on through the years.

Esther Ahn Kim

CINDY: One of the stories that impacted me the most, I think, was the one of Esther Ahn Kim, because she endured amazing amount of persecution that there's no way we as Americans could ever identify with. Tell us a little about her story.

She's Korean--she's dead now, but she lived at the time of the Japanese occupation of Korea. And the burning issue for Christians then was whether to bow at the Shinto shrines, which was required by the Japanese in their country. She refused, and she was a teacher in a school, so that made her a leader of sorts.

So she was imprisoned for six years. And one of the things that really struck me was how much Scripture she had just right at the tip of her mind's tongue to speak to herself--not time to pull a Bible out, or look up in a concordance, "Where's that verse about what?" And so, I think that's one of the powerful things about her story is the power of Scripture that is hidden away in our hearts.

One thing that I think we can all gain encouragement from is the fact that none of these women were really remarkable women in their own right--well, of course, Helen Roseveare was a doctor, but you know, most of them were just ordinary women.

Gladys Aylward, in fact was deemed too uneducated to be approved as a missionary by the China Inland Mission. Tell us a litte about Gladys; her story is amazing as well.

Gladys Aylward

NOEL: She was a parlour maid. She decided she felt God was calling her to China. She had about two cents and her Bible, not much more than that. But she said God said to her, "I'm the God of Nehemiah, I'm the God of Moses; if I can do for them, I can do for you." And so she just saved up her money and went to China on her own.

That is truly a story of how God uses the weak things. I really see that as a theme through this book.

They were women who didn't think of themselves as doing anything extraordinary. They were what 2nd Corinthians says "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." That would be a main theme of all these stories. It's God who is powerful.

CINDY: was actually God doing these amazing things through these women.

What do you hope that we as Christians, and particularly Christian women, take away from reading the stories of these women?

NOEL: I'm glad there are five stories in this book, because I think it will be different for different women.

For someone who reads Gladys Aylward's story, it might be an encouragement that ou don't have to have a college degree in order for God to do great things.

For Sarah Edwards' story, it might be that you don't have to be away from home doing things out in the world; you can be doing the daily mundane things, wiping noses and dirty bottoms and whatever, and God is using you through that and doing His work through that.

For Helen Roseveare, who was a doctor in Congo, she felt inadequate almost entirely because she didn't feel like she was trained specifically for the kind of work she was called to do, but she saw God working through her weakness as well. She underwent terror and attack during the revolution that was happening there, and she saw God saying, "They're not attacking you, they're attacking Me."

So, each of these stories is for a different woman in a way, although I hope they're all for all of us.

CINDY: A couple of the things that I took away from the book was that every single one of these women--and it sounds so basic--but reading God's word and praying were just major in their lives...

Absolutely necessary.

CINDY: ...And then just the power of prayer in all of these women's lives, how they just relied on that so much.

NOEL: Here's another thing that I would hope women would see from this. What I see in my life and the women around me, is that the women who want to be the best mothers, the women who are most involved in ministry, are the ones for whom it is the very hardest to find the regular time in God's word and praying. And we are the ones who need it most--I mean, if it can be said anybody needs God more than somebody else. But here are women whose lives dictated against them having any time in God's word, and yet, it was crucial to them.


Noel tells me that there will probably be a sequel to Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God. She says she'd like white modern-day Christians to see how God has used women of different colors and cultures, like the first single female missionary from the United States, a freed slave named Betsy Stockton.

You may want to check out Noel's other books:

Treasuring God in Our Traditions

and a children's book, Most of All, God Loves You

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Terrorism in London

How ironic that just yesterday we were congratulating London in getting the 2012 Olympics. Now the celebratory mood turns somber with this morning's news of a series of blasts in the city, with Al Qaeda reportedly claiming responsibility.

As I mentioned yesterday, Phil Johnson is in London for a School of Theology conference at Spurgeon's Metropolitan Tabernacle. Phil has checked into his blog with word that he and his wife Darlene are OK, as is blogger Adrian Warnock, a London pastor who Phil had just met for coffee at Waterloo Underground Station. Adrian is also blogging about the current situation.

Our prayers are with Londoners this morning.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Another good reason for me to go to London...

London's Trafalgar Square

...the 2012 Olympics.

Yep, London Town beat out the Big Apple, Paris, Moscow and Madrid. Of course, I hope I get a chance to visit London before 2012!

Speaking of London, Phil Johnson is there for a conference right now, and his blog has become a journal of his London activities. I particularly enjoyed his post about Bunhill Fields, the London cemetery that's the final resting place of such luminaries as John Bunyan, writer Daniel Defoe, poet William Blake, and Susannah Wesley (mother of John and Charles). Very interesting stuff.

And speaking of admirable Christian women (Susannah Wesley), I'm set to do an interview tomorrow with Noel Piper about her book, Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God. This slim volume had a real impact on me, spiritually. Noel's accounts of the lives of Sarah Edwards, Gladys Aylward and others truly moved me. These women accomplished great things for God. Their lives, filled with difficulty and sacrifice, make my modern life seem ridiculously soft and cushy.

Noel Piper, by the way, is the wife of John Piper of Desiring God ministries.

Am I the only one bothered by this?

While Live 8 artists donated their talents, they reportedly got goodie bags from local sponsors filled with as much as 12-thousand dollars worth of stuff.

Maybe I'm oversimplifying things, but couldn't the cost of those "goodies" be better off going to the starving people that Live 8 was designed to help? Even if that isn't a good argument for some reason, it just doesn't seem appropriate to be showering already-rich artists with luxury items for participating in a benefit concert.

At least one ethicist agrees with me: "Another ethics expert said he wonders why the companies who donated the gifts wouldn't just give the money to charity.

" 'There is nothing stopping the businesses from taking a stand, saying, `No, we are going to take this money, and we are going to give it to the charity,'" said Rushworth M. Kidder, president of the Institute for Global Ethics in Camden, Maine."

I'm a link du jour!!!

I'm honored to discover that Ganns of Superblessed recently made me a Link du Jour. Ganns said some really kind things about my blog, and I appreciate it very much!

Thanks, Ganns. You superblessed me today!

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

"I am an American soldier..."

Staff Sgt. Spike Goodrich

"I am an American Soldier."

That's how Army Staff Sergeant Spike Goodrich began his speech yesterday at 101QFL/Radio 91's Patriotic Prayer Breakfast. "I am a Warrior and a member of a team. I serve the people of the United States and live the Army Values. I will always place the mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit.
I will never leave a fallen comrade."

Goodrich then went on to recite the rest of the Soldier's Creed, and to relate it with his own walk with Christ, both as an Operation Desert Storm veteran and a sergeant in Iraq.

We've had big-name speakers at the Prayer Breakfast before--Ollie North, Tim Lee, and Darrell Scott come to mind--but I was impressed and moved by this simple talk from an ordinary soldier.

Goodrich spoke simply but movingly of narrow escapes from death in Iraq. He spoke of the difficulty of spending 15 months away from his wife and two small boys. Back in 1991, he was deployed to Saudi Arabia when his son was just two days old.

He also expressed gratefulness for people who pray for the troops, and it moved me to pray more.

Thanks, Spike Goodrich and thousands more like you who serve our country faithfully. I appreciate you deeply.

Writing the troops

During Operation Desert Storm, I was emotionally involved, because my brother David was a Marine deployed on the USS Tarawa in the Persian Gulf. I wrote several service people through the Any Service Member program, and ended up establishing pen-pal relationships with members of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines, both male and female. The letter-writing (e-mail wasn't so prevalent then) personalized the conflict for me, and brought much-needed word from home to the troops I wrote.

Fast forward some fifteen years--e-mail is common, and even troops in remote places have internet access. Letters to "any service member" are no longer encouraged due to anthrax threat, but I've discovered that you can post messages to the troops on

You can also "Adopt a Soldier" and encourage the troops in various ways by going to

These troops are doing so much for us--the least we can do is give them our encouragement and support!

Hey, I'm a tropical storm!

This is the first time there's been a tropical storm with my name on it. I hope I won't do a lot of damage! At the very least, my husband will now have a new nickname for me whenever I freak out. :)

Friday, July 01, 2005

Happy Friday before the Fourth

The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays of the year. This year, as I have for the last couple of decades, I'll be taking part in 101QFL/Radio 91's Patriotic Prayer Breakfast at Sinnissippi Park, then later that evening I'll be in the parade along with other radio staff members. In between, I'll be going to a family picnic.

Just interviewed Shannon Kubiak...

...and what a remarkable young woman! In her early 20's, Shannon is already an established public speaker and the author of five books. She has a real heart helping teen-aged girls find their identity and purpose in Christ.

I talked with Shannon about her book, God Called a Girl--How Mary Changed Her World, and You Can Too, which is illustrated with lessons from the life of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Writes Shannon: "Although God called many great men of faith to incredible tasks in the past, there came a time when a man would not do. So...God called a girl. The same God is calling again, and this time He's calling you. Are you willing to step forward and answer that call?"

Shannon is getting married this September, and she has also wrapped up a three-book series titled "Being a Girl." Best wishes to her in her upcoming marriage and ministry.

I'm not too cool to do a meme--so here's Friday's Feast!

I'll answer the questions here--you do the same, either in my comments section or on your own blog!

Where do you plan to go on vacation this year, or where would you want to go?--I'm not sure if we'll get to have a vacation any time soon, but I'd love to be able to go home to Austin, Texas at some point this summer. Sure, it's beastly hot, but several of the people I love most are there!

As far as a dream vacation? If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know my dream is to go to Ireland.

What color is your bedroom? If you could redecorate it, what would you change?--Right now, the walls are an off-white called "Cozy Cottage." My bedding is sage green and burgundy. If I could redecorate it? I'd probably just put more color on the walls, maybe the sage green. I'm pretty contented with it the way it is right now, having only lived in it for a little over three months!

Do you have a bumper sticker on your vehicle? What does it say?--Nope. My husband doesn't care for bumper stickers, mainly because they're a sticky mess to remove. At one time or another, we've had those plastic clingy things that you can put in your back window, saying "Cedarville University" (where my sons go/have gone to college.)

Main Course
What's the worst pain you've ever been in?--Fortunately, I've never been in a great deal of pain. I don't think I could take it. I'm a pathetic wuss with an extremely low threshold of pain. I suppose it was painful when I was recovering from my C-sections, but that doesn't hold a candle to what women go through in labor.


Who is your favorite celebrity? What do they do that inspires you?--Wow, I'm going to sound so cynical here, but I really don't have a favorite celebrity. There are a few women I admire greatly--you can read about them here if you like.

I also admire people like Tim Lee and other American service people who have given a great deal for their country. And many missionaries and modern-day martyrs who aren't famous at all, but whose rewards will be great in heaven because of their unflagging faithfulness.

As far as "celebrities" go, my favorite actor is Russell Crowe, but not because of anything I admire in his personal life...he's just really good at what he does.
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