Thursday, December 21, 2006

Merry Christmas to all who visit my blog...

I'll be taking a blogging break until Tuesday, January 2nd, Lord willing and if the creek don't rise. In the meantime, I invite you to check out my Top Posts of 2006, below.

I hope all of you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas. My prayer for you is that you will know the Christ of Christmas in a real and beautiful way!--Cindy

My Top Posts of 2006

It's hard to believe another year is almost at an end. For my final Thursday 13 of 2006 (I'll be on vacation next week), I thought I'd delve into the archives to find what I consider to be my best posts of 2006. Granted, it's very subjective! :)

In no particular order:

1 Conversations with My Father--I reminisce about the great time I used to have talking with my dad--and ponder on the privilege of conversing with my heavenly Father

2 Favorite TV Characters Day --I profile my faves, past and present

3 It's ten o'clock. Do you know what your children are blogging?--A plea for parents to get a clue

4 Why is ketchup so good???--A lighthearted paean to my favorite condiment

5 Happy 25th anniversary to me!--I look back on a quarter century of employment at the same radio station

6 In praise of the bedtime story--a fond look at a tradition I hope will never die

7 Whatever happened to really good movies?--Would it be so hard for Hollywood to clean up its act?

8 Flying isn't fun anymore--A bit of a rant on the state of air travel today

9 My evacuation from Lebanon --As Americans are evacuated from the wartorn country, I look back on my own sudden departure from Lebanon in 1967

10 The children of Iraq--I can't take credit for this one--my brother wrote this heartfelt post about Iraqi children

11 Katrina: one year later, a Mississippi church continues to rebuild--my interview with pastor Don Elbourne

12 My 9/11 tribute to Jean Hoadley Peterson--Taking part in the blogosphere's tribute to 9/11 victims was an unforgettable experience

13 Does "realistic fiction" mean wallowing in filth?--Another mini-rant

I invite you to check a few--or all!--of these posts out, when you have some free time. And I encourage you to highlight some of your own favorite posts in 2006. Let me know if you do so--and/or if your own Thursday Thirteen is up--in my comments section!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Has Rocky found the Lord?

I was amazed when I heard Sylvester Stallone was planning to resurrect the Rocky Balboa character for a sixth round. Now, more cause for amazement: number one, that critics are saying good things about the movie, and that Sylvester Stallone seems to be reaching out to Christians with this film.

What's your favorite Christmas TV special?

I'll admit, I can't pass up A Charlie Brown Christmas, and It's A Wonderful Life is on my list of top 5 movies of all time.

But if you want a big selection, check out 101 Classic Christmas videos that you can watch online.

If you need a good laugh...

...go here and superimpose a pic of your face on this elf. I did it; it looked hilarious, and I was a much better dancer than I'll ever be in real life!

Way-Back Wednesday

And here's what I was blogging about a week ago today--December 20, 2005:

Are there any Christmases past that stand out in your memory as especially wonderful, for whatever reason?

I have a few.

On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (I forget which!) of 1973, I was in my senior year of high school and my sister who lived in Utah at the time had just had a baby girl. My parents, my younger sister and younger brother and I were traveling up to Utah for Christmas, and we stopped for lunch at a ski resort in Monarch Pass, Colorado (pictured above.)

I will never forget the beauty of that Christmas lunch. We were seated near a fireplace, facing a window with a gorgeous view of people skiing down the slopes in the gently falling snow. Having lived most of my life in places where it didn't snow at Christmas, this was like walking into a live Christmas card. Beautiful! I was so filled with Christmas spirit, I was almost bursting.

One of the happiest Christmases I've spent in recent years was Christmas 2002. My oldest son was working in Ohio, and since he worked in a mall, he had Christmas Day off, but had to work both Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas. We decided to take Christmas to him.

He lived in a little Victorian house in Cedarville, Ohio, where he had attended college at Cedarville University and where my second son was a student. All Jonathan's house-mates had gone home for Christmas, so we moved in. We stayed up for hours watching DVD's of Sports Night. I made Christmas goodies and we finished up our shopping at the mall where Jonathan worked.

On Christmas Day, I cooked a turkey dinner with all the trimmings, and after dinner we drove around and looked at Christmas lights in the falling snow. It was wonderful...and it was the last Christmas we spent as just our immediate family, since Jonathan got married in January 2004.

Last Christmas, 2004, was also wonderful because I got to spend the holiday with my family in Texas. It was bittersweet because it was the first Christmas without my dad, who passed away in July 2004.

But it was also lovely, because I was surrounded by loved ones I normally don't get to be with at Christmas. One of the highlights was my mom taking all us "girls" to the see Ballet Austin and the Austin Symphony perform "The Nutcracker." That was truly a special occasion!

My niece Katie, my daughter Elizabeth, my beautiful mom, me, and my daughter-in-law Daylyn at "The Nutcracker"

I'm planning another trip to Texas this holiday season, and I can't wait to see my loved ones there.

What about you? Any special Christmas memories? I'd love to hear them...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Listen to my interview with Evie Tornquist Karlsson

Evie with Rebecca St. James

...and to a very funny "12 Days of Christmas" bit

Still Ringing Those Bells, Revisited

I'm happy to let you know that you can now listen to my 12/8/06 interview with still-beloved singer Evie Tornquist Karlsson. Just go here and click on "EvieInterview" to hear it. (By the way, I accidentally uploaded the unedited version which includes some pre-chatter and a countdown. Sorry 'bout that.)

Please let me know if you were able to listen to the interview, and any feedback you might have. This is the first time I've uploaded an entire interview, so I'm interested in hearing if there were any problems accessing it, etc.

By the way, if you're looking for an accompaniment soundtrack for "Come On Ring Those Bells," try this link. It's not for the Evie version of the song, and I wasn't able to listen to the sample soundclip, but I assume it's the same song.

And here is a link where you can order a songbook containing the sheet music for "Come On Ring Those Bells," along with a long list of other Christmas songs.

And now for something completely different...

A couple of years ago, my 101QFL co-host Darren Marlar and I taped a skit that imagines what it would be like if someone actually received the 12 Days of Christmas gifts. I play "Agnes." Listen as Agnes goes from being totally thrilled about the gifts to...not so much:

12 Days of Christmas Skit

Can it really be a week?

Point of Grace

No "Thursday Thirteen" today, but I'm finally checking in after a week's absence from the blogosphere! I know, I know...I've just been bogged down with other stuff. Today's going to be rather stream-of-consciousness, but here goes...

~I know you're all dying to know what I've been up to during my unintentional blog-o-silence. Well, on Sunday I celebrated my birthday. It was (gulp) the Big Five-Oh, and that may be the last time you see me admit to that in public. For years I've freely given out my age, thinking, "Hey, why try to deny it?"

But now I'm seeing the wisdom in keeping quiet about it. I've reached the age where, when I say "I'm 50," people either respond with a genuine "You don't look it at all!" or with no such comment. I'm thinking admitting to my age might not be worth the occasional "You don't look it at all"s. You know what I mean?

Be that as it may, my birthday was actually one of the nicest ones ever. Family and friends (maybe feeling sorry for me?) conspired to make it really wonderful. It was a painless entry into my 50's. I told my husband my goal is to be the best, most attractive 50 I can be. We'll see how that goes.


Yep, this week I began a 16-week fitness program at a local spa/fitness facility. It's all part of an advertising campaign with the radio station. The upshot: Radio 91's Charmel Jacobs and I are committed to working out at least three times a week for the next 16 weeks.

As part of the deal, we get a weekly spa service--a manicure, a pedicure, a facial, whatever--a different one every week. (This week it was a full body massage. If you've never had one, to quote Ferris Bueller, if you have the means, I highly recommend it!)

As I see it, if I am going to a gym three times a week for sixteen weeks, some physical good is going to HAVE to come of it. Again, we'll see what happens.

~Yes, I did my interview with Evie, and she was a delight. I want to blog about it, but I'm waiting to find out how I can make the entire interview available for you to listen to. I still haven't done that, so hopefully I can tell you more in the next several days.

~I'm really enjoying Christmas music this season. Besides my usual favorites that I've blogged about in the past, I've been enjoying the second Point of Grace Christmas CD, the Bryan Duncan Christmas CD, and a Frank Sinatra one. I've also been listening to selections from Handel's Messiah. Brings back memories of going to see a performance of it last year, and which I also blogged about.

Till next time...

Thursday, December 07, 2006

13 memories from my childhood

It was a frigid morning here in Northern Illinois, and as I was imparting the chilly details to 101QFL listeners, I got a sudden flashback: myself, as a child, eating oatmeal, Malt-o-Meal or Cream of Wheat prepared by my mom before braving the long, cold walk to school.

That prompted a discussion about hot cereal, with listeners calling in to reminisce about their own childhood fondness--or lack thereof--for the likes of Malt-o-Meal.

It being Thursday Thirteen day, I decided to take a trip down memory lane and look at 13 memories from my childhood. Not saying all of these are "favorite" memories...but memories nonetheless...from someone whose childhood spanned the late 50's to the early 70s:

1) Having hot cereal for breakfast before braving the aforesaid chilly walk to school while we were living in Springfield, Missouri

2) Playing outside! We actually did that for hours at a time in those days

3) Eating chicken pot pie--the first bite burned the tongue, but the rest...mmmmm

4) Enjoying flannelgraph lessons in Sunday School

5) Watching re-runs of "The Three Stooges"

6) Watching corny, innocent shows like "Petticoat Junction" and "Green Acres"

7) Wishing I had special powers like Jeannie and Samantha, so I could clean my room up or do the dishes with a crinkle of the nose

8) Laying on the floor and listening, enraptured, to my parents' albums of "Swan Lake" and "Rhapsody in Blue"

9) Playing "Kay and Donna" with my sister Lisa. We would pretend to be these teen-aged girls named Kay and Donna, and had made up elaborate backstories to go with it

10) My dad ad libbing funny songs with our names in them

11) Being proud of my dad when he would sing a solo in church

12) My mom--just always being there and being wonderful

13) Spending 2 and a half years in Beirut, Lebanon. As I've said before, it shaped my life in far-reaching ways

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I talk with Angela Hunt about "The Nativity Story"

The Nativity Story hasn't had a particularly blessed advent into the holiday movie scene, but there are apparently some very positive things to say about this retelling of the Biblical account of Jesus' birth.

Critics haven't been universally kind to the movie, although the main criticism I seem to hear is that it's "dull"--and that, of course, is all in the eye of the beholder. I would imagine non-Christian movie critics are approaching the movie with a bias to begin with anyway, simply because it is a movie about Jesus. I can't imagine them wildly applauding it.

Disappointing response

Reportedly, the movie's creators are very disappointed in the response of Christian moviegoers to the film. This article by Dan Wooding quotes the movie's producer, Marty Bowen: "I thought it was incredibly disheartening for a variety of different reasons, not the least of which is you hear this common lament from moviegoers that America feels like Hollywood has lost touch with what they want to see. People feel like there is too much violence in movies and too much disrespect towards the family.

“Now finally a Hollywood studio has stepped up and put their money where their mouth is and has committed to making and releasing a movie, not on a couple of screens but rather on a very big very large fashion – more than three-thousand screens around the country -- and giving the audience what they say they want and yet that sense of urgency in that audience isn’t there to go and see it."

Angela Hunt talks about the movie

Be that as it may, I was delighted today to interview one of my favorite authors, Angela Hunt, who wrote the novelization based on the movie's screenplay. In this 1 min. 12 sec. soundclip from our interview, Angela talks about her reactions to seeing the film.

Meantime, Plugged-In Online has good things to say about the film, concluding: "Christmastime moviegoers will undoubtedly leave the theater more filled with the true Christmas spirit than when they arrived. Even better, as screenwriter Mike Rich told Plugged In Online, ['If we can get viewers to go beyond Matthew's and Luke's early chapters, and maybe even get to the Gospel of John, then this movie will have served its purpose.'"

Read more about Angela Hunt's development of "The Nativity Story" novel at her blog.
Related Tags:

Monday, December 04, 2006

Update: the baby is back in the manger

I posted this yesterday as an example of political correctness run amok:

"ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (AP) - Christ is missing from Christmas
in St. Albans, West Virginia.
The town's holiday display has a manger with shepherds, a
guiding star, camels and a palm tree, but no baby Jesus, Mary or
Mayor Dick Callaway said it was done for purely technical
reasons. He explains, 'It's not easy to put a light-up
representation of a baby in a small manger scene.'
But Parks Superintendent David Cunningham said Jesus was
left out because of concerns about separation of church and

UPDATE: The baby is back in the manger.

St. Albans mayor Dick Callaway tells AP that after getting inundated with protests--from as far away as South Korea!--the baby Jesus is now part of the St. Albans nativity scene. Callaway, who is a Baptist deacon, says it was never his idea to exclude the Christ Child.

For more on the grinchiness of people who want to delete Christ from Christmas, read my December 2004 interview with John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute.

It's on! I'll be talking with Evie Tornquist-Karlsson

For all you Evie fans out there--and you are legion!--I'll be interviewing Evie this coming Friday, and of course I'll blog about it.

I get a lot of e-mails asking me where I can find Evie music, etc. Unfortunately, I am not the fount of Evie info. But if there's anything you'd like me to ask her (within reason, of course!:)), let me know in my comments section.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Quote o' the Day from my brilliant nephew

"MTV's 'reality' show known as 'The Real World' is off and running again. I guess MTV doesn't think its audience is sick of seeing drunk people kiss. I know I am. I made the mistake of watching five minutes of the first episode, and let me tell you, it was the worst five minutes in television history. After it was over I felt like I had to take a shower. The lack of morality was astounding. I think it's funny that MTV is trying desprately to help find a cure for aids,while two complete strangers are having unprotected sex on their tv show......hmmmm......I smell irony..... maybe MTV should stop trying to save the world, and realize it's helping destroy it."--my brilliant nephew, "The Swedish Panther"

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thirteen "Carols of the Year"

Since 1986, Northern Illinois University professor emeritus William Studwell has been selecting a "Carol of the Year." For many of those years, I have been interviewing him about the featured carol, and I will be doing so today.

Here are 13 of Studwell's picks for "Carol of the Year," starting with 1994 and ending up with his current pick, "The First Nowell" (yes, that's "Nowell," not "Noel," according to Studwell.)

Carols of the Year

1994--God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
1995--Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly
1996--The Christmas Song
1997--O Holy Night
1998--Sleigh Ride
1999--Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer
2000--It Came Upon a Midnight Clear/Frosty the Snowman (tie)
2001--O Come O Come Emmanuel/Silver Bells (tie)
2002--The Holly and the Ivy
2003--Good King Wenceslas
2004--Go Tell it On the Mountain
2005--Angels We Have Heard on High
2006--The First Nowell

So, what about you? Got a favorite carol? Mine is "Hark the Herald Angels Sing."

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Are those "Lost" loose ends frustrating you?

If, like me, you're a fan of the show "Lost," you've probably been fairly frustrated of late.

First, there's the fact that after just a handful of fall episodes, the show is on hiatus until February.

Then, there are all the "loose ends" that have been dangling annoyingly, episode after episode. Yes, part of the enjoyment of "Lost" is that you can't possibly have anything all figured out. Theories abound at the same rate as do the inevitable questions. But must there be SO many loose ends?

In case you're a "Lost" fan and you've become lost (no pun intended!) in the maze of loose ends--and you want to get them all straight (although you won't get answers to them, of course)--here's a way to pass the time until the show returns in February. has gone to the trouble of rounding up the Top 50 "Lost" Loose Ends. Enjoy.

And here's an irresistably fun time-waster:

Make my people sing.

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I did. :)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving! I prepare to take a blogging break...

I will be taking the time tomorrow to give special thanks to God for His many blessings. So many things for which to be thankful!

Also, this note: I'll be taking a blogging break as I head off to Texas to visit my loved ones there. Lord willing and if the creek don't rise, as they say, I should be back on Wednesday, November 29th.

And good news for you Evie Tornquist Karlsson fans: I have made contact with Evie and I will be interviewing her shortly after I return. And of course, you'll hear all about it in this blog. The thirst for Evie knowledge never seems to diminish, and I promise we'll get caught up on all things Evie.

And now, my traditional---

Thanksgiving Day Forecast

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

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

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

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

Happy Thanksgiving Day, and may God richly bless you!

Monday, November 20, 2006

It's a little early for American Idol talk, but...

Jennifer Hudson's hey, it's Monday. And I'm in TV limbo, because while "Lost" is on hiatus and "American Idol" is still waiting in the wings, there is hardly anything I care to watch on television.

Anyhoo...about Jennifer Hudson.

Anyone who watched Season 3 has to remember the travesty that occurred when Jennifer was voted off. Some blamed it on a massive power outage in Hudson's native Chicago; some cited it as one of the reasons AI needs to look into its voting procedures.

All during that season, I had been rooting for Hudson. She has, quite simply, an amazing voice. In this day when popular music seems to be mostly people talking, or singing in breathy whispers, Hudson is a throwback to an age when people really sang. And I mean, really sang.

She was voted off way too soon, appallingly too soon, and Fantasia ended up winning that season.

Fast forward to December 2006. Not only did Jennifer snag a role in the movie Dreamgirls, based on the Broadway hit of the same name--well, now early critical buzz is that Jennifer Hudson OWNS the movie. That she outshines Beyonce, the nominal star of the movie--and even that she could be nominated for an Oscar as Best Supporting Actress.

Wow, triumph has to be really sweet for Jennifer Hudson right now.

Original Supremes: Florence Ballard, Mary Wilson, Diana Ross

By the way, you may know that Dreamgirls is based on the story of the Supremes, the classic 60's Motown girl group. In real life, Diana Ross was put out in front of Florence Ballard as lead singer of the group, because Motown producer Berry Gordy thought her high, light voice would have better cross-over appeal than Florence's powerful, soulful voice.

Diana zoomed to super-stardom while Florence ended up drinking too much, getting fired from the group, and dying in poverty of a heart attack in her early thirties.

Apparently, Dreamgirls' plot closely mimics the real story.

The lilting tunes of the Supremes never fail to take me back to my childhood and remind me of my older sister Bev. It's hard to imagine what the Supremes would have sounded like with Florence Ballard at the helm, or whether Flo's life would have had a happier ending. But things are looking really good right now for the singer/actress who plays the woman based on her.

Related Tags:

Friday, November 17, 2006

This and that...

...ruminating on OJ Simpson, the Black Smoke on "Lost," and The Nativity Story

I received with great interest a package from Tyndale House earlier this week, full of companion books and info to the upcoming movie, The Nativity Story.

I first heard about this movie through the blog of one of my favorite authors, Angela Hunt.

Angela has written a novel based on the screenplay by Mike Rich, whose screenwriting credits include "Finding Forrester," "The Rookie," and "Radio."

Angie writes on her blog, "I got a call last May from Tyndale House--the film was being produced by New Line Cinema, and Tyndale wanted to know if I would take the screen play and write a novel from it. A rush job, but I'd just written MAGDALENE, and all my first-century research was still in my head. So I jumped at the opportunity, I loved the script, and wrote the novelization in a matter of weeks."

She adds humorously that writing the book wasn't such a tough gig because "the story was already plotted."

I have Angela's book, and hope to get around to reading it within the next several days.

As for the movie--Hollywood has burned me before when it comes to Bible-based films, so I truly hope this won't be the case with "The Nativity Story." I've heard some good things about it. If they are faithful to the Biblical account, I'll be very happy. This is a story that needs to be told to the masses, and alarmingly, in today's politically correct society, many people aren't familiar with it.

I'll say this: I like the casting of Keisha Castle-Hughes as a very young Mary. And all the pictures I've seen from the film look amazingly authentic.

The Black Smoke on "Lost"--nanotechnology?

My only problem is that Darren Marlar loaned me Michael Crichton's Prey, and I'm totally absorbed in it. Darren loaned me the book after I mentioned that some people theorize the black smoke on Lost--the cloud that killed Mr. Eko--was based on "swarm" nanotechnology like that featured in Crichton's book. I've heard that the producers have denied this, but the swarm in "Prey" sure does remind me of that smoke in many respects. Hmmmm.

What is OJ Simpson thinking!?!

I have to agree with La Shawn Barber on this one. The fact that O.J. Simpson actually participated in a book called "If I Did It, Here's How it Happened," is so mindboggling as to leave me dumbstruck.

I'll admit, I've always wanted to know the "rest of the story," and I would be sorely tempted to read the book. Is that horrible?

The publisher of the book, Judith Regan, is saying that she didn't pay O. J. for the book...that he was paid through a third party and that she was told the money would go to his children.

It's Friday!!!

Everyone go out and have a blessed weekend!

Related Tags:

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thirteen Things On My "Life List"

Ireland's Cliffs of Moher

My cousin Kathy recently encouraged the group of Garrett cousins who stay in touch via e-mail to write down things we'd like to do before we die...a sort of "Life List."

I thought it would also make a good Thursday Thirteen. So here goes--not necessarily in this order:

1) Take a trip to Ireland, Scotland and England--my main dream since I was a child has been to visit Ireland!

2) Go to Paris

3) Go to Savannah, Georgia

4) Go to the Western Colorado Rockies for a vacation

5) Take a trip to New York City with my mom and sisters

6) Get my voice-over career going to the point where it's more than just a supplemental income

7) Get down to a healthy, reasonable weight and stay there

8) See my son Justin graduate from college

9) See my daughter Elizabeth find the direction God wants for her life

10) See Justin and Elizabeth in marriages as happy as Jonathan and Daylyn's

11) Sing in a production of Handel's Messiah

12) Spend as much time as possible with my future grandchildren

13) My life mission statement: "O Lord, let Your light shine on others through me."

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Way-back Wednesday

Reprise: The Best Banana Bars Ever

Peeking back into the archives of NITKOL, as I've been doing on Wednesdays lately... I find that a year ago today, I was blogging about the death of Adrian Rogers.

It's hard to believe that good man has been in heaven for a year now.

However, that week I was also blogging about the fun I had at a party of the adult Sunday School Class my husband teaches. And I posted one of the most delicious recipes ever. You MUST try it:

The best banana bars ever...

Besides a pot of chili, I took these amazing banana bars to the party. This is the second time I've made them, and they fly off the pan like hotcakes and get tons of compliments.

Credit where credit is due: I got this at, although it is exactly the recipe my friend Toni (one of the best cooks I know) has made for years. She tries to keep the ingredients on hand at all times, because she's often stuck with bananas that have ripened too much to eat.

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed ripe bananas
1 (16 ounce) container cream cheese frosting


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 10x15 inch jellyroll pan.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, then stir in the sour cream and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; stir into the batter. Finally, mix in the mashed banana. Spread evenly into the prepared pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow bars to cool completely before frosting with the cream cheese frosting.

NOTE: I do one thing differently...I actually buy two containers of the cream cheese frosting and put about one-and-a-half containers of frosting on the bars. It just seems to make them more luscious. But they're great with just the one can, too, especially if you're not a big frosting fan.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Today is Young Reader's Day

Every day on 101QFL, Darren Marlar and I take a look at what we call "Holidays That Make You Go 'Hmm?'" Sometimes the holidays are weird or wacky, but today is something really special--National Young Reader's Day.

I've been a voracious reader ever since I could string words together on a page, and I had some definite favorites as a child.

I blogged about some of my favorites on 12/15/05:


I went to a British school for two years, and read "Jane Eyre" at the age of eight or nine. It remains one of my favorite books of all time other than the Bible...probably my very favorite.

I remember one Christmas, when I was nine or ten, I got several classics, including "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen, "Gulliver's Travels" by Jonathan Swift, and "Villette" by Charlotte Bronte. But probably one of my very favorites was a large anthology of Enid Blyton.

Enid Blyton
was a British writer who was very prolific. I loved everything she wrote, including a series she did about a girl's boarding school called "Malory Towers."

[NOTE 11/14/06): I'm delighted to find that you can buy many Blyton titles new now, and they are also available new or used on sites like eBay and]

The anthology was a huge,almost coffee-table size book full of her stories. I loved that book and wish I knew where it was today. (By the way, I still have many of the hardcover books my parents gave me in those days, and re-read them every now and then...even the ones that were for children.)

(I blogged last year about my delight in finding one of my childhood favorites, "Red Knights from Hy Brasil," by Christine Savery.)

It was during this era that I also fell in love with Noel Streatfield's "shoes" books, C.S.Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia, and anything by Louisa May Alcott.

Beirut also had a Christian bookstore in those days, owned by a British missionary society. They had a great selection of books from Moody Press (anybody remember the Danny Orlis series?) as well as many by British authors. Again, I still have many of those books.

And today I ordered another of my childhood favorites...

It's "Auntie Robbo," by Ann Scott-Moncrieff.

I've probably read this book at least once a year throughout my entire life. The problem is, my copy--yes, the paperback one my parents bought for me circa 1966--is coverless and missing the last couple of pages of the book.

The engaging, quirkily humorous story is about an eighty-something Scottish lady who is highly eccentric and stubbornly independent, and who totally refuses to act her age.

Seen through the eyes of her great-nephew Hector, who is a boy of eight or nine, Auntie Robbo is a highly admirable and fascinating character. The two live a carefree and rather undisciplined life in the Scottish hills, and Hector's perfectly happy with the status quo.

When the second wife of Hector's late father shows up to claim him as her own--Hector has never met this obnoxiously annoying lady until now--Auntie Robbo and Hector go on the run. Their adventures make for delightfully absorbing reading, even at my advanced age.


I did get my copy of "Auntie Robbo," by the way, in very good condition, and thoroughly enjoyed re-reading it.

Now that I'm about to become a grandmother, I realize that my knowledge of children's fiction is pretty limited. If you can give me some recommendations, I'd really appreciate it!

Monday, November 13, 2006

A cool story out of Iraq

Edgar Feghaly

Our church just completed our annual missions conference, and for me, one of the highlights was getting to spend time with an old friend from Lebanon. Edgar Feghaly is around my sister Beverly’s age, and he was a teen-ager when Lisa and I were little girls while our parents were missionaries in Lebanon.

Edgar, or Eddie as we called him, ended up coming to America for his education, then went back to Beirut and pastored a church there. He later felt God calling him to be a missionary to the entire Middle East region. He now focuses on planting churches around the Middle East and northern Africa, and God is using him in an amazing way. He helped plant a Baptist church in Baghdad that is doing very well.

We had a wonderful time visiting with Edgar and his adorable wife, Rosann. Eddie has great things to say about my parents, and it brought back a lot of sweet memories of my dad.

Last night, Edgar told our church about a very cool incident. I’m going to try to relate it to you.

A cool story

Every year, Edgar asks American churches to donate money, totaling about 500 dollars, to buy presents for the children in the Baghdad church. He says when he first came to Baghdad, the children rarely smiled. He wondered what he could do to bring a smile to their faces, and he thought, “Toys!” So the pastor of the Baghdad church usually takes the money and spends it on toys, wraps them, and the children open them in a Christmas celebration at the church.

One recent Christmas, the Baghdad pastor called Edgar and said the children really needed clothes that Christmas. He asked if he could take the money and spend it on clothes instead.

Edgar was reluctant, because he really wanted the children to have toys. But he told the pastor, “Fine, get clothes instead—but be sure and wrap them and put them under the tree so the kids can open them as presents.”

When it came time to have the Christmas celebration, the pastor of the Baghdad church loaded a bus with kids and church members. However, their progress to the church was halted by a group of U. S. Marines. One of the marines asked the pastor where they were going, and he said, “To our church, just around the corner.”

“There’s a church just around the corner?” the marine asked incredulously.


“What kind of church?”

“An independent Baptist church,” replied the pastor.

“There’s a Baptist church around the corner?” the marine repeated. “Take me there.”

So the pastor led the Marine, along with several other Marines, to the church, where the Christmas tree waited with its presents—clothes, but not toys, for the kids.

At one point, the pastor was told that the area around the church had initially been blocked off because the U. S. military had confiscated some explosives that, if they had not been found, could have destroyed the church and the entire surrounding area.

As the service began, several of the Marines disappeared for some time.

When they returned, they were carrying multiple bags of toys for the kids.


You can read more about Edgar Feghaly and the Baghdad church here

Read my brother's post about the children of Iraq

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Thirteen Things I Like About Texas

In a couple of weeks I'll be heading down to the Great State of Texas to visit my loved ones who live in the Austin area. So I thought it was appropriate that I have a Texas theme for my Thursday Thirteen today.

Here we go...things I like about TEXAS:

1) The fact that several of my dearest loved ones live there

2) The fact that it will be (in all likelihood) the birthplace of my very first grandchild

3) The fact that Texans are so proud of their state, you can get just about anything, from tortilla chips to lawn ornaments, in the shape of the Lone Star State. See the pic above, which my son Jonathan took with his cell phone at the HEB supermarket last night. Only in Texas!

4) Texas accents. They are different from other southern accents...a fact that the producers of the show, "Dallas," never seemed to catch on to. Texas girls do NOT talk like Southern belles.

5) Round Rock Donuts--IMHO, better than Krispy Kremes.

6) Tex-Mex food. Amazing.

7) Sonic. (I know other places besides Texas have it, but Texas is where I'm able to enjoy it.My personal fave is the cherry limeade.)

8) The way that most Texans don't feel the need to be politically correct.

9) Bluebonnets. Breathtaking when they're in full bloom.

10) Dillard's. Another thing we don't have in Illinois.

11) Austin. A very cool city.

12) The fact that I can go there in January and wear summer clothes.

13) Dr. Pepper. Yep, it originated in Waco, Texas. Someday I'm going to make it to that Dr. Pepper Museum!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Way-back Wednesday

Continuing my new Wednesday tradition of delving into the archives of "Notes in the Key of Life"...

A year ago, I was blogging about fiction. You'll remember, not too long ago, I added my voice to BJ Hoff's opinions on "honest" Christian fiction. A year ago, I was having similar thoughts. Check out this entry from November 9, 2005:

I'm not crazy about the trend toward "edgy" Christian fiction

The opposite of edgy?

I've been a lifelong reader, supporter and proponent of Christian fiction...ever since I was a little girl and hoarded my Felicia Cartright, Danny Orliss and Joy Sparton books (and if you've been a Christian fiction reader for as long as I have, you'll recognize those names!)

And let me say right off the bat that I don't care for formulaic, pie-in-the-sky, Christians-are-perfect fiction either. I stopped reading Grace Livingston Hill books when I was in my teens (although I must say I was always intrigued at the names she gave her characters); I have no problem with realistic situations and even controversial subjects, like homosexuality and abortion.

However, I'm concerned about the current trend in Christian fiction toward "pushing the envelope." (By the way, would someone please tell me exactly what "the envelope" is, and where it needs to be pushed to?) I'm told that Christian authors are being urged to be more "edgy" and "gritty."

I don't know about you, but one of the reasons I read more Christian fiction than any other kind, is because it is clearly, obviously, DIFFERENT from mainstream fiction.

Christian fiction offers an ultimate hope--Jesus Christ--that most mainstream fiction can't offer.

In recent years, I believe Christian fiction has handled the seamier side of life with discretion and care--not shying away from the troubling and controversial issues of today's culture, but portraying them in a way that is not offensive and degrading to readers who are trying to obey Biblical injunctions to keep their minds and hearts pure.

In encouraging their authors to "push the envelope" go for "grittier" and "edgier" content--well, if that means including profanity and sexual frankness that crosses a line--I believe Christian publishers are doing their readers a great disservice. And guess what? I don't believe it's what most readers want.

One of my most admired Christian authors, BJ Hoff, blogged eloquently about this very issue the other day. Although BJ dwells more on the definition of "edgy fiction," I love this quote from her: "If your only interest in writing fiction is making eyes bug and jaws drop in CBA, if you want to push the envelope as far as it can be pushed and then go a notch farther--then you might want to ask yourself why."

Just one case in point: I was recently sent a historical Christian novel that I believe came really close to crossing a line. The main thing I remember about the book was not any Christian message at all, but the thick cloud of sexual tension that the writer relentlessly hammered at throughout the story. It was one of those plot lines in which the man and woman had gotten married out of convenience, but began to fall in love with each other. There were constant references to things like the man gazing at his wife's tempting cleavage or rounded rear-end. Frankly, I was turned off. I can read a Harlequin novel if I want that kind of thing.

Contrast that with Liz Curtis Higgs' Scottish series. She manages to portray yearning between a husband and a wife with class and grace; not skirting around the issue when it is germane to the story, but doing so with discretion and good taste.

Liz Curtis Higg's Whence Came a Prince

Not pushing that ubiquitous "envelope."

No doubt there will be an audience for the envelope-pushing fiction books. But this is one reader who is fine with that pesky envelope staying right where it is.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The joy of getting a magazine in the mail

My reminiscing about "Calling All Girls" magazine yesterday--and Katy McKenna's comment that she used to subscribe to the magazine as well--sent me Googling to see what I could find out about the magazine. And sent me further down memory lane.

As I told Katy, I was reminded that "Calling All Girls" eventually changed its name to "Young Miss," which in later years was shortened to "YM." Above, you can see a copy of the magazine with Lucille Ball, Luci Arnaz and Desi Arnaz Jr. on the cover. (Remember Here's Lucy? I loved that show...more skipping down Memory Lane...)

I remember other magazines that I received while a missionary kid in Lebanon. "Young Pilot" was a small Christian publication put out by the Prairie Bible Institute in Alberta, Canada. I loved "Young Pilot," and as a nine or ten-year-old, often wrote to the magazine. I remember the thrill of seeing a couple of my poems in print. I noticed that you can get old copies of Young Pilot on eBay. I should try to do so.

Another one we received was Jack and Jill, which is apparently still in publication. Cool.

Right now, I only get one magazine in the mail--a friend subscribed to Today's Christian Women for me. And my mom subscribed to Focus on the Family's excellent Brio and Beyond for my daughter.

So, my love for magazines got a very early start. And it continues to this day. Ask my husband...I spend way too much money on them in grocery store check-outs.

Happy Birthday, Billy Graham...

...88 years old today.

Today is Election Day...

My daughter and I are about to go do our civic duty, she for the very first time. Whatever your political leanings are, I encourage you to VOTE. If you're a Christian, vote your values.

I don't blog politics very often. I leave that to people who are good at it. However, I do have very strong political opinions, and I pray for my country and the outcome of this election.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Happy Birthday, Sally Field

Sally Field is 60 today, which has me feeling nostalgic (and kinda old).

When I was a missionary's kid in Beirut, Lebanon in the mid-60's, my parents subscribed to several magazines for me. One was the rather cornily-named "Calling All Girls." I really loved that magazine, though--and I remember when the issue arrived with Sally Field, as Gidget, on the cover.

Sally Field as "Gidget"

I thought she was adorable, and I was just sorry I couldn't watch the series. (Remember, folks, I was about nine years old at the time.)

I made up for it when we returned to the states and I became a big fan of "The Flying Nun." Go figure--a little Baptist girl enjoying a TV series about a Roman Catholic nun who could fly.

In later years, of course, Sally left her Gidget and Flying Nun days behind and got her props as a serious actress. I liked her in movies like "Places in the Heart," "Murphy's Romance," "Steel Magnolias" and "Not Without my Daughter."

But serious actress or not...and age 60 or not...she'll probably always have that "cute" factor that grabbed me when I was nine years old.

How about you? Any favorite Sally Field roles?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Thirteen Blogs I Enjoy

These are in no particular order, and I plan to do a follow-up with more favorite blogs later, so don't be upset if you don't see yours here!

And do please take a moment to visit some of them when you can, if you don't already do so.

Write Thinking--Author Robin Lee Hatcher's Blog--always interesting and appealing

A Chelsea Morning--I love Barb's graciousness and warmth

The Amazing Shrinking Mom--great source of inspiration and encouragement for anyone fighting the "battle of the bulge"

As I See It Now--Debra's thoughts, photographs and nostalgic ambience warm the very soul, and are often as good for me as a devotional

Author Intrusion--the blog of author Lisa Samson--as funny, quirky and appealing as Lisa herself

The Seventh Sola--My friend Joel has such a way with words--and he doesn't mince them!

Reflections in Life--the blog of my friend Randy--always thoughtful and reader-friendly

Semicolon--Sherry's a book fanatic like I am!

She Lives--She does indeed! Carol's blog is infused with her humor, creativity and zest for life

The Journey--What's not to like about a fellow Christian radio broacaster, from the Land Down Under, no less!

My Peace of Mind
--Ashley's personable, charming and reader-friendly--and she takes the time to comment on my blog, so I love her!

Karagraphy--Joy Writing in France--My friend Joy is experiencing a once-in-a-lifetime adventure--living in Bordeaux, France and teaching English as a second language. She's also chronicling her experiences through fascinating photos. I'm living vicariously through her!

--a one-of-a-kind picture blog. I especially love Marc's regular Divine Vinyl feature. :)

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Photos, re-touched or not...

A stunning video

"It's a confusing form of self-loathing and self-hatred, really - on one hand, one knows that physical appearance isn't all that matters, that one's heart does - but also knowing on the other hand that it is all that matters. We're told so every day."-- Miss O'Hara

For some time now, I've enjoyed Miss O'Hara's blog. She's a very lovely and intelligent young woman who doesn't mince words and is quite politically-savvy, but that's not all she blogs about.

Having lived through anorexia at one point in her life, she has a good deal to say about women and self-esteem issues. So it's with a hat/tip to her (and do read her post) that I share this stunning video:

Coincidentally, my friend Beth recently blogged about related issues. Like it or not, these are questions all women ask ourselves. That's just the way it is.

Speaking of retouched photos...

I'm not quite sure how I found her blog, but I continue to be impressed with Melodee of Actual Unretouched Photo. Mel is witty, charming and smart.

I like her response to a blog post in which a woman wrote about feeling extremely uncomfortable and out-of-place at a barbecue hosted by Christians (among the woman's chief complaints was the fact that [horror of horrors!!!]no alcoholic beverages were served.) Mel's post on intolerance toward Christians is balanced and wise.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Does "realistic fiction" mean wallowing in filth?

Some authors are able to write honestly without writing obscenely
"I didn’t flood the books with gratuitous gore or punishing violence. I didn’t pepper the dialogue with obscenities to convey the characters’ desperation or bitterness or anger or despair--though there was plenty of all that. I didn’t elaborate on the savagery of murder or give a clinical description of a rape scene or make any other attempt to write down to my readers as if they wouldn’t understand the effects of such horrible disease or what took place during such deprivation, violence, and destruction. I made every attempt not to underestimate those who bought my books, and for that reason I found it altogether unnecessary to push the ugliness in their face."-- Author BJ Hoff

BJ Hoff became, and has stayed, one of my favorite authors ever since a friend loaned me her Emerald Ballad series several years ago.

BJ writes on her blog about how she faced the challenge of portraying one of the most horrific eras in Irish history without resorting to graphic depictions of ugliness.

Her message is one that needs to be heard by those who are producing Christian fiction today. Apparently there are those who feel that the boundaries as to what Christian writers can or cannot write should vanish, or at least be pushed to the outer limits.

A vivid example of such a debate--albeit in mainstream fiction, not Christian--took place in the news just this past week, when Republican Virginia senate candidate George Allen pointed out controversial passages in the fiction books written by his opponent, James Webb.

Even some conservative pundits are saying that it was dirty pool for Allen to leak those passages so close to the election. Honestly, I don't have a dog in that fight. All I know (and I don't care if this makes me sound unsophisticated, gauche or un-intellectual) is that I found the passages vile and disgusting, and I wish I had never read them.

Even John Grisham, who seems to be able to write about bad things without forcing readers to delve into muck, defended James Webb (he's actively supporting his candidacy.) Grisham said something (I wish I could find the exact quote!) about writers having to honestly portray life as they see it.

As I told BJ Hoff in her comments section, "The first book in the Emerald Ballad series (a series which I've often said is one of my favorites, ever) is indeed sad, pulling no punches about that time in Ireland's history.

"I, too, was dismayed by reality that was portrayed, but that basis had to be established for the rest of the series to make sense. And it NEVER violated my desire as a Christian to focus on things that are uplifting and beautiful--while not ignoring the reality of sadness and ugliness in our world."

Christian fiction writers, don't apologize for illuminating beauty and goodness instead of ugliness and depravity.

You can write honestly about the horrors of life without, as BJ writes, "I could reel off any number of other authors writing in the Christian market who have done the same thing, who have written about different eras and about different events using different characters--to tell a story the way it needed to be told, honestly and realistically--without sickening their readers or beating them over the head with gratuitous brutality and viciousness and gore-galore. It’s called honest fiction."

I couldn't say it any better.

Related Tags:

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's Friday!!... but I'm working tomorrow...

I do the Friday Feast

Yep, I have a radio remote from 11 am to 1 PM tomorrow,and I have stuff to do prior to that, so I won't be sleeping in as long as I'd like to!

It's been a long, somewhat stressful week, so I'm going to leave you with the Friday Feast meme today. Feel free to answer the questions in my comment section or in your own blog!

Create a new candle scent.
--Narciso Rodriguez for Her

Name one way you show affection to others.--
--Feeding them! Maybe there's a bit of Jewish mom in me...

What is your favorite writing instrument?--
The Uni Ball Vision/Elite

Main Course
If you were given 25 dollars to spend anywhere online, from which site would you buy?--

Are you dressing up for Halloween? If so, what will you be?--
--Nope, but I'll be handing out candy to the adorable little kids who come to my door!

Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Open Mic Thursday!

Your chance to shine!

Once again, an all-call for readers to leave their links in my comments section.

As before, please only link to posts that are clean and family-friendly. Otherwise, it's wide open--you can link to your own blog and tell us a little about it, or link to a worthy post by yourself or another blogger.

Or, feel free to link to your Thursday Thirteen as well.

Go ahead, step right up to the microphone! :)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Way-back Wednesday

What I was blogging about a year ago at this time:

I'm thinking about making this a regular feature...going back into the archives of "Notes in the Key of Life" to reprise some past posts. Because, let's face it, who really looks into your archives...and there may be some good stuff there?

On October 26th, 2005, I was blogging about:

My Top 25 Books of All Time (first posted 10/26/05):

"...the list reeked of a literary snobbishness that glories in things that truly don't matter to the enlightened believer. Certainly not all of them would meet that classification, but over-all, the list is a veritable roll-call of the hoity-toity secularists who wouldn't know good literature if it bit them on the....nose."-Dan Burrell, on Time Magazine's Top 100 Books list

I love Dan's characterization of the Time Magazine List of Top 100 Books from 1923 until the present, and it makes me feel a bit better about the fact that I've only read eight of the books of the list.

Dan suggested that I come up with my OWN top 25 list, and after careful thought and reflection, I have come up with one. Understand, I'm probably leaving some out that just slipped my mind. But these are the ones that immediately come to mind.

My criteria, I will admit, is mainly that I loved these books for one reason or another. In most cases, there was just something about them that reached out and grabbed me and wouldn't let me go.

In several cases, they were life changing in some respect. A few of them are obscure; at least a couple of them are British books from my childhood as a missionary, and you've no doubt never heard of them. But this is MY list, so I reserve the right to put them there.

Now, I would love to see your list. Please take a little time to come up with your own list and either blog it or post it here in my comments section. I'd also love to know if any of my favorites are on your list.

You may notice that the majority of my favorites are fiction, but don't limit your list to fiction. I just happen to enjoy fiction most.

Oh...and the Bible is not on the list, because I believe it goes without saying, the Bible is the number one book of all time. But it's too big to even go on such a list, because it's not just a book. It's a living thing. It's the very Word of God.

One other explanation: in a few cases, I count a series of books as one book, simply because I can't divide them up--they stand so strongly as a series.

So anyway, here's my list (with occasional comment):


(in no particular order)

1. Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott--really kicked off my lifelong love of reading
2. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis
3. Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
4. Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte
5. Gone with the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell
6. Great Expectations, by Charles Dickens
7. Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
8. Red Knights from Hy Brasil, by Christine Savery (read here about how I re-discovered this childhood favorite)
9. Auntie Robbo, by Anne Scott Moncrieff (read here about how I re-discovered this book)
10. The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis
11. Villette, by Charlotte Bronte
12. Through Gates of Splendor, by Elisabeth Elliot
13. Shadow of the Almighty, by Elisabeth Elliot
14. The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom
15. The Persecutor, by Sergei Kourdakov
16. New Moon Rising, by Eugenia Price
17. This Present Darkness, by Frank Perretti
18. My Life Without God, by William Murray
19. The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde Pilcher
20. The Emerald Ballad Series, by B. J. Hoff--reinforced my love of all things Irish, and showed me just how good Christian fiction can be
21. The Mark of the Lion Series, by Francine Rivers--introduced me to a remarkable writer, and reinforced to me just how good Christian fiction can be
22. Pilgrim's Progress, by John Bunyan
23. Streams in the Desert, edited by L. B. Cowman
24. Not My Will, by Francena H. Arnold
25. Anne of Green Gables, by L. M. Montgomery

I may comment more on some of my choices during the coming days, and I'm sure I'll think of others that SHOULD have been on my list.

Meantime, check out this set of lists of best Christian books. Some of these should definitely be on my "to-read" list, but I do have a question about one of the seven Celtic monk books? Oooh-kay...

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More good reason to eat your veggies!

What are you doing to stay young?

As I hurdle with break-neck speed toward the looming big 5-Oh, I am ever more conscious of doing and eating things that will help prolong my life and the quality thereof.

This new study gives me even more reason to continue my quest for eating my veggies in abundance. Fortunately, I love vegetables, so this isn't a chore--I just have to remind myself to focus on it more.

With my father having died of liver disease, this study has prompted me to eat mandarin oranges on a regular basis.

And I heard on John Tesh (yes, I do listen sometimes!) that you can keep your brain sharper by cross-training it...for example, do crosswords one day, jigsaw puzzles another, sudoku another. I don't like sudoku or jigsaws, but I wonder how cryptoquotes fit in? I love cryptoquotes, as well as crosswords.

What are you doing to stay young? I'd love to hear!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Defending the old-time TV family

Jane Wyatt and Robert Young in "Father Knows Best"

I'd like to see a TV dad who knows best, at least some of the time

I felt a touch of sadness when I heard that actress Jane Wyatt passed away at the age of 96. To be honest, I don't think I ever watched an entire episode of Father Knows Best. It was before my time, and I don't think it ever gained the kind of re-run ubiquity that some other old TV shows have enjoyed.

Obviously, Wyatt lived a long life, and we can hope that she was ready to meet her maker when she left this earth on October 20th. So why my sadness?

Well, Wyatt's passing--although her TV career ended years ago--represents just one more toll in the continuing death knell of any kind of decent family viewing on network television. Along with any kind of viewing that gives a positive portrayal of a traditional nuclear family.

And that's really sad.

The "war on fathers"?

"Father Knows Best" has been relentlessly made fun of and criticized for representing a picture of the American family that was unrealistic at best and harmful at worst--harmful, in the eyes of some, because it perpetuated a stereotype that few families could ever hope to live up to.

But Wyatt herself defended the show in a 1966 interview: "We tried to preserve the tradition that every show had something to say. The children were complicated personally, not just kids. We weren't just five Pollyannas."

I, for one, would find it refreshing if there were more TV shows that actually showed a dad that wasn't a complete loser or a bumbling idiot. In this WorldNetDaily article, David Kupelian recently wrote about the war on fathers: "Today, more often than not, television portrays husbands as bumbling losers or contemptible, self-absorbed egomaniacs. Whether in dramas, comedies or commercials, the patriarchy is dead, at least on TV where men are fools – unless of course they're gay."

Kupelian ends his article this way: "When we break the bond between fathers and their children, we're breaking the bond between God the Father and our nation. When we restore that connection, our society will be healed. It's as simple as that.

"That's God's way. Listen to Him. He's your Father, and believe me, He knows best."

Hmm. I don't think I could end my post any better than that.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Need a chuckle? Dogs in costume, and more

My sister sent me a hilarious e-mail full of photos of dogs in costume, and this was my favorite. I couldn't find a site with those same pictures, but there are some pretty funny ones here. Go and enjoy a chuckle. :)

For another grin, go to Brandie's blog and check out a video that's sure to tickle you.

While we're chuckling, Pecadillo is looking for a new car, and let's us join in the search.

I can't resist Purgatorio's Divine Vinyl posts. Today, he showcases the penchant of Christian musicians of yesteryear to pose for their pictures next to...trees.

Have you come across something (clean and family friendly) that made you laugh lately? Or even elicited a decent chuckle? Feel free to post a link in my comments section. I LOVE to laugh!

Happy Friday all, and have a blessed weekend!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Embracing Grace, and dealing with choices

Liz Curtis Higgs and Lisa Samson never fail to please

In the past few months, I've had the pleasure of not only reading books by two of my favorite authors, Liz Curtis Higgs and Lisa Samson, but interviewing them for my radio show as well.

Liz departs from her successful Scottish fiction series to pen a small but lovely book called Embrace Grace.

Carol Kent, author of When I Lay My Isaac Down, writes of Liz's book: “Embrace Grace isn’t for perfect, churchy women who have never made a mistake. It’s for women who’ve blown it and are willing to investigate a better way to live. Liz Curtis Higgs is vulnerable, authentic, honest, and compassionate. Embrace Grace provides answers, truth, and a map that will take you from shame and guilt to a hope-filled future.”

Liz compares guilt to a heavy, scratchy overcoat in this :58 sound clip from our interview:

Straight Up, by Lisa Samson

Straight Up
is the story of two cousins, Georgia and Fairly, how they deal with the choices they've made in life, and the uncle who binds them together.

Don't expect pat answers or everything to be neatly tied up in a bow in this book. However, as always with a Lisa Samson book, you can expect a great read--transparent, funny, and true-to-life, with characters that you care about, and a storyline that engages you and pulls you in. And though Lisa is never, ever preachy, you can also expect fresh insights into spiritual truths.

When I interviewed Lisa, we agreed that it's not too much of a spoiler to reveal that Georgia goes into a coma. But that doesn't mean Georgia goes silent as a character...and Lisa and I talk about that in this 1 min. 18 sec. sound clip:

If you want to know more about other books by Liz Curtis Higgs and Lisa Samson, check out these links:

My review of Thorn in My Heart, by Liz Curtis Higgs

My review of Whence Came a Prince, by Liz Curtis Higgs

My review of The Church Ladies, by Lisa Samson

My June 2005 interview with Lisa Samson

My March 2004 interview with Liz Curtis Higgs

My post about Liz Curtis Higgs' "Unveiling Mary Magdalene"

Related Tags:

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

OK, "Lost" is starting to annoy me a little

Evangeline Lilly (Kate)

Don't get me wrong, it's still probably my favorite TV show. And I will definitely watch tonight's episode at some point, after DVR-ing it due to other obligations. But I have a bone to pick with the show's powers-that-be.

The Others
are too much in control, too pervasive, have too much of the upper hand. There's just too much Others.

Our survivors can't seem to catch a break against the Others, and that's getting old fast.

I do think The Others are interesting, and I'm intrigued to know more about them. But not at the expense of face time for all the other, established characters I've come to care about.

And I'm already tired of Jack, Sawyer and Kate being in captivity. I want to see The Others facing some real setbacks. I want to the scoreboard to even out a little--right now the Others are in total dominance.

And I want to wipe the smirk off that Ben guy's face. I'm beginning to miss the days when he was getting thrown around by Sayid.

And what's with Juliet? She comes across as sweet, loving and caring, but apparently she wouldn't think twice about blowing Kate's head off.

Reportedly, "Lost" viewership was down somewhat last week, which disappointed the show's producers. Producers, let it be a lesson to you. "Lost" fans--well, at least "Lost" fans like me--love the show in large part because we care about the main characters, the survivors of the plane crash.

I understand the need to introduce new blood, new storylines, etc. But again, not at the expense of the characters we know and love.

At least tonight's episode will bring back some of the mainstays that we haven't seen so far this season.

Meantime, this USA Today article helps you track down some of the characters you haven't seen in a while.

Related Tags:

Monday, October 16, 2006

A must-see video

Recently I interviewed Don Elbourne, pastor of Lakeshore Baptist Church in Lakeshore, Mississippi, about his church's mission to rebound from the devastation of Hurricane Katrina.

Now you can see a video about it, (hat/tip to Don) filmed by members of Trinity Lutheran Church of Joppa, Maryland. I dare you not to be moved!

As Don told me in our interview, the rebuilding efforts are far from older. Skilled help, financial help and prayers are still needed.

Happy Bloggiversary to Me!

Somehow I missed this, but as of October 10th, I have been blogging for three years!

Funny, but I've never gotten tired of it. I see blogging as a much-needed and enjoyed creative outlet for me. I also use it as my own personal soap-box or showcase.

When I was a little girl, I often created my own newspapers and magazines, literally cutting-and-pasting pictures into my own original copy. Blogging is almost a grown-up extension of that. My family teases me about my devotion to blogging, but I think they understand. This is something I truly enjoy.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Here's your chance to shine

Post your links here; it's Open Mic Thursday

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and I have to admit, I'm shamelessly ripping this idea off from Adrian Warnock.But hey, it's a great idea.

What you do: Go to my comments section and post a link to a blog post you think is worthy of sharing. It can be from your blog, or someone else's.

If you're not sure how to use html to provide a link in your comment, just type out the link and people can copy-n-paste it into their browser.

Hey, I'll make it even easier. If you don't want to single out a post, just invite people to your own blog and tell us a little about it.

All I require is that the post and/or blog be family-friendly--clean, with no profanity or sexual content.

If you want to invite people to your Thursday Thirteen, that's fine too.

So happy Thursday, and step right up to the microphone!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

In which I claim relationship to "a missionary statesman"

My husband's uncle writes a well-received book on missions

Well, Bob Bixby beat me to the punch.

After receiving in yesterday's mail Paradigms in Conflict: Ten Key Questions in Christian Missions Today, I was all set to blog about the author, Dr. David J. Hesselgrave, who happens to be my husband's uncle. But I notice that Box Bixby of Pensees blogged about Dr. Hesselgrave just yesterday, and in very glowing terms.

Writes Bob: "We were delightfully refreshed by his passion for truth, his vigorous explanations and critiques of the emergent church, his opinion on all things world missions, and his old-fashioned views of missions. By 'old-fashioned' I mean a yearning to turn the eyes of young pastors away from the allure of extra-biblical methodology and toward a recommitment to straight-forward, propositional evangelism and church-planting."

I've talked with "Uncle Dave" occasionally throughout my 28-year marriage to his nephew, and I always knew he was very intelligent, intellectual and erudite. I knew also that he and his wife Gertrude had been missionaries to Japan (Gertrude is older sister to my husband's dad).

I also knew that books he authored are used as textbooks on missiology for Christian colleges; in fact, my own son Jonathan used one of his books while at Cedarville University.

But I must admit that, until reading some of the reviews for his new book, I didn't quite grasp just how respected and reknowned Uncle Dave is in the world of missions. One reviewer writes: "David Hesselgrave has been the leading spokesman for evangelical missions for decades." That's a pretty big statement!

I'm just a few pages into the book right now, but already I'm impressed with how reader-friendly it is. No high-flown uber-intellectual literary prose here--this is practical, down-to-earth stuff.

And obviously very needed, if we are to understand our role as Christians in fulfilling the Great Commission.

As I commented on Bob's blog, I'm happy to claim even a non-blood family relationship with this man.
Related Posts with Thumbnails