Monday, February 27, 2006

Monday grab-bag

Happy Birthday, Elizabeth Taylor

74 years old today. Excuse me, but in her youth, was there ever anyone MORE gorgeous?

Elizabeth Taylor reportedly marked her birthday by donating a 300-thousand dollar mobile unit to the city of New Orleans to help treat AIDS sufferers.

And speaking of New Orleans...

New Orleans pastor Don Elbourne is blogging again

Don Elbourne, pastor of Lakeshore Baptist Church in Lakeshore, Mississippi, has been understandably scarce in the blogosphere since Hurricane Katrina destroyed his church's facility last year.

But now Lakeshore is rebuilding, and Don's blogging about the church's future plans as well as the church groups who have come down to lend their support.

Don's actual residence is in New Orleans, and thankfully suffered comparatively little damage from Katrina.

This story about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes just STEAMS me...

This one courtesy of my 101QFL co-host Darren Marlar:
"The latest dish from Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes is that they're having a huge tug-of-war over their soon to be born baby. Apparently part of the Scientology teachings is something called 'Processing a New Mother,' which involves separating mother and child for three days, allowing only minimal contact... Scientology teaches that newborns should be left totally alone for the entire first day after birth to help them recuperate spiritually after separation from the womb."

I firmly believe that the best thing for a newborn is to BOND with his mother as soon and as much as possible. Leaving a baby totally alone for the entire first day of its life???!!! This is one of the craziest Scientology tenets I've heard of yet.

I'm not sure why, but when I heard this story, I got visions of Rosemary's baby being whisked off to be hovered over by the keepers of the coven. Too creepy.


I've blogged about the loss of creationist Henry Morris and pianist Anthony Burger. Now, goodbye also to Don Knotts (1924-2006)--nice tribute here...and Darren McGavin (1922-2006). I'll always remember McGavin as the dad in A Christmas Story.

Creationist Henry Morris dead at 87

The man many consider the founder of the modern creationist movement has passed away. According to Answers in Genesis, Morris died February 25th after undergoing a series of debilitating strokes.

Morris was founder emeritus of the Institute for Creation Research and co-author of The Genesis Flood.

Answers in Genesis has more on the story.

Also blogging about Morris: blogicus and Sharper Iron...

Friday, February 24, 2006


Various and sundry Friday stuff:

One of my very favorite writers, Linda Hall, is finally coming out with a new book after a three-year absence.

This is great news! Linda is one of those writers who disproves the false notion that all--or even most--Christian fiction writers are cheesey and inferior. She is simply a terrific writer.

Linda Hall

I wrote this about Linda on my website: "With her page-turning narrative ability, realistic characters and intriguing plots, Linda Hall has quickly become a favorite author of mine. I had read a few of her books, including Margaret's Peace and Island of Refuge in the past, and recognized instantly her exceptional talent and singular style. Her recent books, including Sadie's Song and the first two books in the Teri Blake-Addison mystery series--Steal Away and Chat Room--have irrevocably hooked me. I highly recommend them!"

Dark Water, published by WaterBrook, will be available in April. I can't wait to read it!

Linda tells me in an e-mail: "...yes, it's exciting for me. God has really brought me through a sort of dark place - this past three years without a book release, and that's death to a CBA writer, where you're only as good as your last book and your last book better not be any more than a year old.

"But I feel good about this book - because it represents all of the inner struggles of the past three years."

Linda says she'll talk about her feelings more extensively in her blog soon. Meantime, if you haven't read anything by Linda, work on remedying that as soon as possible!

(Read my review of Sadie's Song here.) You can read more of my book reviews here.

To leave condolences on Anthony Burger's passing...

Fans of pianist Anthony Burger are still reeling from the news that he passed away Wednesday of an apparent heart attack.

Many tributes are pouring into the blogosphere, recounting the ways that Burger's music blessed so many people.

Martin Roth's Southern Gospel Beat has been doing a great job covering this story.

Martin quotes Mark Lowry: "I've been thinking... They tell me Anthony was playing We Shall Behold Him when he suffered a heart attack or whatever it was that made him pass. But, can you imagine for Anthony what that must've been like? To be playing for Gaither one minute and God the next? To be listening to the Homecoming singers - blink - and hear angels singing? Was Jesus standing in the crook of the piano where Anthony finished the song?" Wow.

If you'd like to leave your own condolences, you can do so at click on "Message Board Condolences."

And what would Friday be without the Friday Feast?


Choose one: moving to another state, having triplets, or never being able to eat chocolate again.--(Goodness...why would anyone CHOOSE never to eat chocolate again?) I would have to say moving to another state. And not just any state...the GREAT STATE OF TEXAS.

Name a news story that truly shocked you.--Unfortunately, as a news reporter I frequently come across stories that repel, disgust or appall me. I'm trying to remember the last time I was truly "shocked," though. After over 25 years of doing this, it takes a lot to "shock" me. Truly there is nothing new under the sun, and I now realize that there is unfortunately no level of evil to which humans will not sink. The stories that sicken and anger me the most usually involve crimes done to innocent children, often by their own fathers or a live-in boyfriend of their mom. In the which case, my knee-jerk, not-very-Christian response is to think that the mom should be horsewhipped, and the dad or live-in boyfriend should be tortured slowly to death. (I'm sorry, but I feel VERY strongly about such things.)

Often, while dealing with ugly and disturbing news stories, I have to invoke Philippians 4:8: "...whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." It's sort of a spiritual shower to wash off the filth.

What was your very first job?--I bussed tables and refilled customers' tea and coffee at a Furr's Cafeteria.

Main Course

If you had the chance to read the diary of someone you're really close to, would you? Why or why not?--If I had the chance, or if I had permission? If I had permission, yes. If I didn't have would be such a breach of privacy...

What's something you're looking forward to?--My son Jonathan coming to visit us from Texas next week! YAY!

Have a blessed weekend, everyone!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Take part in a "Narnia" survey...

...and get a chance to win a free Ipod Nano

Buzzplant's Christian Music Updates invites you to take this brief survey about The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Bob Hutchins, president of Buzzplant, tells me this survey will help in further promotions when the next movie comes out in the Chronicles of Narnia series. Upon full completion of the survey, you will be automatically entered to win an Ipod Nano to given away by March 1st.

Buzzplant does internet promotions and marketing for faith-based organizations.

Carol Kent to keynote the Illowa Christian Women's Conference...

Carol Kent
I just interviewed Rita Ford of the Illowa Christian Women's Conference, which takes place March 24,25 and 26 in Davenport, Iowa.

Rita tells me that Carol Kent will be the keynote speaker, with Bonnie Keene (formerly of the Christian group First Call) will be the musical guest.

Carol is the author of the remarkable book, When I Lay My Isaac Down. I was privileged to interview her recently for my radio can read a transcript of that interview here.

Find out more about the conference here.

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Sad news for Southern Gospel fans...

Pianist Anthony Burger, a staple of the Gaither Reunions, is dead of an apparent heart attack. More at Martin Roth's Southern Gospel Beat.

Burger was 44 years old.

More: 3WC Radio News Blog, Musicscribe, Joe's Jottings, Life As I Know It

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Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Thank goodness!

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 9 out of 10 correct!

I was afraid I was going to embarrass myself. (Although, maybe I should be embarrassed that I didn't get all 10 correct. Rebecca did, and she's a Canadian!)

Idol ruminations...
I was unimpressed with most of the girls on American Idol last night, but thankfully I can't say the same for Paris Bennett, Mandisa, Lisa Tucker and Catherine McPhee. In my opinion, those are definitely the ones to watch!

Paris did herself proud with a bouncy rendition of "Midnight Train to Georgia," but I'm looking forward to hearing numbers than really showcase her vocal talent.

As for the rest of the girls...I kept being nervous for them, if you know what I mean. None of them had the confidence my top 4 exhibited; a few were just "aaiight" as Randy would say; the rest were actually BAD.

I won't get to see the boys perform tonight; will have to tape it. Looking forward to seeing what they can do!

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Hello and goodbye...blogs come and go

...and some Idol chatter

I'm sad to see BJ Hoff, one of my favorite writers, taking a break from the Blogosphere. Her Grace Notes has truly been a ray of wise instruction and knowledge of things both "authorly" (is that a word?) and spiritual.

Thankfully, BJ is leaving the door open and not dismantling anything, so we can hope for her eventual return to blogging when she deems the time is right.

You can also find out more about BJ and her wonderful books at her website.

Meanwhile, new blogs proliferate...and I need to bring one of them to your attention, especially if you're interested in theology and current trends in the church. My friend and former coworker, Joel Griffith, is the author of The Seventh Sola.

Joel was the news director here at 101QFL for several years. He is a staff writer for Slavic Gospel Association, and a co-host of the radio show, Perspective Underground.

I have always loved Joel's way with words, his dry sense of humor and his passion for Biblical truth. You may not agree every point of his theology, but you'll be challenged to think and search the Scriptures.

And on a totally different subject...PARIS BENNETT!

Paris Bennett

Maybe we here in Rockford are getting just a little too obsessed, given that Paris Bennett hasn't lived here for a while. We're certainly making the most of her connections with our city, and a lot of us cheering her progress on American Idol.

The Rockford Register Star has an article on Paris today.

I have picked out one or two other favorites, one of them being Mandisa. I thought she handled her remarks to Simon Cowell (about his mockery of her weight) with remarkable grace and class. Even Simon was humbled...and I'll bet that doesn't happen too often!

On her profile on Idol's website, Mandisa says her own "American idol" is author and speaker Beth Moore. Says Mandisa: "She inspires me to live more like Jesus and I want to do the same." She cites Jesus as her hero, though, saying her saved her life.

Gotta admit I'm looking forward to watching tonight. :)

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Monday, February 20, 2006

America's Best Restrooms

(L)Shoji Tabuchi's Ladies' Room

When you gotta go, you gotta go...but it sure does help if the restroom is clean. Take it from me. I've traveled all over these United States by car from the time I was a little girl. I've been in some of the worst restrooms imaginable, and also some of the best.

Hey, I've even been in Shoji Tabuchi's ladies' room, (picture above), which is the height of luxury when it comes to public loo's. (Shoji, by the way, is an entertainer in Branson, Missouri.) And I give props to Chicago's O'Hare for its nifty plastic-wrapped toilet seats--you simply wave your hand and voila, a fresh one appears, with the assurance that it will be shredded when you're done with it. Oh, that all toilet seats were so sanitary!

Let's face it, we probably couldn't get along without public "facilities." So it makes me very proud to know that an Illinois restroom is one of five finalists in this year's in this year's America's Best Restroom contest, sponsored by Cintas Corporation's Sanis brand of restroom services.

USA Today's article
quotes Quad City International Airport (Moline, IL) aviation director, Bruce Carter: "We do get good compliments about the terminal and its cleanliness...That's just a tribute to the staff who do a nice job and work hard to keep it first-class."

Good for you, Quad City International Airport! May others follow your shining example.

By the way, Cintas will announce the winner in April.

Another shameless plug:

If you would be so kind as to go vote for me in the Share the Love Blog Awards? Midnight Cenral Time today, Monday, February 20th, is the deadline for voting. I'm nominated in the "Happiest" category. MUCHAS GRACIAS!!!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Why am I an Anglophile?

When I read that Rae of A Likely Story is going to London this summer, I felt a sharp pang of envy.

The truth is, I have been an Anglophile ("one who greatly admires or favors England and things English" for a very long time.

I suppose it all began in the third grade, when my family moved to Beirut, Lebanon to be missionaries. There was a long waiting list to get into the city's only American school, so my parents enrolled us in Manor House School, and a very proper British school it was.

I can remember nervously sitting in the lobby, facing a large portrait of Queen Elizabeth. I remember my first teacher, Miss Diamond, who insisted I pronounce words like "aunt" properly ("No, no, no, not 'ant' 'ant' is a little creature that crawls on the ground").

I remember Miss Gardiner, my next tacher, who terrified me. She was stocky and stern, wore her iron-gray hair in a braid that encircled her head, and she wore "chunky" shoes long before they were popular. Math was a hellish nightmare for me, because my fellow-students had learned their multiplication tables in kindergarten, and I was just now trying to learn mine. Agonizing.

But somehow I survived the trauma of adjusting to a British school, and I grew to enjoy many aspects of it. I loved my fellow students, many of whom were British, Australian or South African. And Manor House gave the gift of literature to a child who was already a voracious reader.

When fifth grade rolled around, I transferred to the American school. But somehow the love of "things English" had wormed its way into my heart, and it has never let go.

I love the British way of wording things, so it's no surprise that many of my favorite authors are British. From Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte to C. S. Lewis, Agatha Christie, Enid Blyton, Noel Streatfield, Mary Stewart (who I blogged about recently), Victoria Holt, Maeve Binchy (Irish, but still...), Rosamunde Pilcher and (more contemporarily) Katie Fforde...the British world is one I enjoy visiting for the duration of a book. I just love immersing myself in that atmosphere.

Two of my favorite childhood books, both of which I have been able to find on the internet in recent years, were both British: Red Knights from Hy Brasil and Auntie Robbo by Ann Scott-Moncrieff.

Speaking of British authors, are there any Christian British authors? If so, please recommend them to me. (I know of only one that I can think of...Sam Yarney, whose Ninety Days I read and enjoyed.)

As for British humor--well, I know it can get bawdy at times, but I find the uniquely British turn of phrase often makes funny things even funnier. I've done my share of laughing at Monty Python, the British version of "The Office," and various British movies (About a Boy, with Hugh Grant, comes to mind immediately, but there are many others.)

And the accent. Don't even get me started. You could read the dictionary to me in a British accent and I could listen all day! I don't even mind Simon Cowell that much, just because I enjoy hearing him talk. (By the way, he referred to himself as "appalling" last night! That's got to be one for the record books.)

My dream is to someday take a tour of the UK that will let me visit England, Ireland and Scotland. Until then, I'll curl up with my British books or watch a British movie, a cup of Earl Grey tea in hand...

(For more on my British obsession, read:
My blog has a British accent today)

And speaking of American Idol...GO PARIS!!!

Our girl with the Rockford connection, Paris Bennett, made it over another hurdle last night. She is now one of the 24 finalists on American Idol.

Here's a article about Paris that goes into detail about the Rockford connection.

This is when it really starts to get good. Go, Paris!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

I'm nominated! Woo-hoo!!!

My wonderful blogging friend, Katy Raymond of Fallible, informed me yesterday that she has nominated me for a "Share the Love" Blog Award! The awards are sponsored by One Woman's World. Yep, I'm nominated in the "Happiest" blog category.

I would be thrilled and honored if you would take the time to go and vote for me.

I actually voted for Katy, and Carol of She Lives, in more than one category. Both their blogs are awesome. But I do definitely intend to check out some of the other blogs that I wasn't familiar with before.

It's kind of funny that I should be nominated for "Happiest" blog...I guess this blog does tend to dwell on the positive rather than the negative much of the time, although I like to think it has its moments of seriousness and gravitas. (Plus, my husband would be the first to tell you that I'm not "happy" all the time! And if Mama ain't happy, ain't nobody happy!)

However, there are much worse things to be called than "happy," and I'll certainly take it!

The Christian Carnival is up

Check out this week's Christian Carnival , hosted this week by Pursuing Holiness. Lots of good stuff there!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Happy Valentine's Day

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove:
Oh, no! it is an ever-fixéd mark,
That looks on tempests and is never shaken;
It is the star to every wandering bark,
Whose worth's unknown, although his height be taken.
Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
Within his bending sickle's compass come'
Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
But bears it out even to the edge of doom.
If this be error and upon me proved,
I never writ, nor no man ever loved.--William Shakespeare

Monday, February 13, 2006

Blogging my dogs

My niece, Channing, with Brandy

According to Carol of She Lives, today is "Blog Your Dog Day." And since this is Monday, and no pearls of wisdom seem to be falling from my mouth (or keyboard), I will oblige.

How did someone who has never been a dog-lover end up with not one, but TWO dogs? Well, chalk that up to my love for my family.

I know it makes me seem like a cold-hearted witch, but I just never grew up being a lover of dogs. Yes, we had the occasional dog, but they were pretty much my brother's domain. I really didn't have a lot to do with them. And since we usually lived places where the climate was generally warm, said dogs lived outdoors, heightening my lack of proximity to them.

But several years ago, when my husband and kids came home with an adorable German Shepherd puppy, how could I resist those pleading puppy dog eyes? (Or those of my husband and kids?)

She joined our family in April--the height of thunderstorm season in northern Illinois--so we named her Stormy. She has been a very good dog for us. She was house-trained in no time at all; she's generally obedient and docile, but I'm pretty sure she would kill for us. She's also a very beautiful dog.

Her only faults are that she barks too much and she sheds like there's no tomorrow. Because of the shedding, she is mostly an outside dog.

Then there's Brandy, who you see above (unfortunately, I don't have a pic of Stormy on the computer.)

Brandy has been with us since Thanksgiving of last year. We picked her up from my sister Beverly when we spent Thanksgiving with her in Wyoming. Several of my family members from Texas were there as well, and that's why you see Channing holding Brandy.

Brandy is one of the cutest dogs I've ever seen, and has a sweet, jolly little personality. I have never EVER seen a dog love her toys as much as Brandy does. I find it very endearing that Brandy doesn't shed at all. However, she has been very challenging to potty-train. Even though she's well over a year old, she still has the occasional accident, which drives me nuts.

Although sometimes the responsiblity of taking care of two animals gets to be a bit much (although I must say, Justin and Elizabeth take care of most of it when they're around), I really do like both our dogs. They're both special in their own way.

Friday, February 10, 2006


Do I seem a little euphoric?!?

I give you a hodge-podge of stuff...

Give Me That Old Time Darwinist Religion?

In celebration of Charles Darwin's birthday, some 400 mainline and liberal ministers have promised to preach a sermon or lead a discussion supporting Darwin's theory of evolution this Sunday. More here.

Air Force prayer guidelines relaxed

The Air Force has released new guidelines that, quote, "respect the rights of chaplains to adhere to the tenets" of their religion. More on that here.

Funny stuff!

Divine Vinyl is one of my favorite features on Marc Heinrich's Purgatorio. I don't know why, but the outdated, cheesey album covers just crack me up. (Remember, folks, this is a parody/satire site. Don't take everything literally.)

This goes on my list of great blog names: Dane Bramage. (So far, one of my all-time faves is Dignan's 75-Year Plan, but you will only get that if you've seen Bottle Rocket.)

And now, Friday's Feast!

Answer the questions in my comments section, or on your own blog.

What was a class or course you took while in school that you realize now was a total waste of time?--Any kind of math after elementary school. I never use algebra in my everyday life.

Who is the tallest person you know?--Well, one of my husband's high school basketball players several years ago, David Puckett, was about 6'7". I don't think I know anyone taller than that.

What's your favorite midnight snack?--I never snack at midnight. I have to be up at four AM. Even if I don't have to work the next day, I don't eat that late...I would wake up sick at my stomach.

Main Course
Have you ever found money somewhere? If so, where did you find it, and how much was it?--Not anything substantial. But I'm always delighted when I'm rummaging around in the deep recesses of my purse and I encounter an errant dollar bill. I'M RICH!!!


Where would you like to retire?--God's country, of course...TEXAS.

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Thursday, February 09, 2006

Why is ketchup so good???

"The taste of Heinz's ketchup began at the tip of the tongue, where our receptors for sweet and salty first appear, moved along the sides, where sour notes seem the strongest, then hit the back of the tongue, for umami and bitter, in one long crescendo. How many things in the supermarket run the sensory spectrum like this?"--"The Ketchup Conundrum," The New Yorker Archive.

My name is Cindy, and I'm a ketchupaholic.

I've always loved ketchup inordinately, putting it on such a wide range of foods that I risked grossing out fellow diners (now, out of deference to the squeamish, I avoid putting it on my baked potatoes in public. But it's good. Really it is!)

Actually, in recent years I've come to realize that my tomato fixation isn't confined to ketchup. I crave ALL things tomato and tomato-based. I mean, I really crave them.

Tomatoes themselves--especially the plump, ripe, juicy ones that are given to me from the gardens of generous friends in late summer--sliced up and eaten with a dash of salt, or in tandem with sliced garden cucumbers soaked in delicate rice vinegar.

Tomato soup--intertwined with the memory of being sick as a child, and pampered by my mother. Just sick enough not to have to go to school, but not too sick to enjoy and be comforted by the mug of Campbell's tomato alongside a grilled-cheese sandwich and chased by the good-for-my-tummy 7Up.

Tomato sauce--ladled on my spaghetti, permeating my lasagna noodles, or generously applied to pizza crust-- especially at my favorite local Italian eateries, Giuseppe's, Pino's and Panino's.

Salsa. Tomato juice. V-8 juice. I'm telling you, if it's tomato-based, I probably crave it.

But the king of all tomato-based products is Heinz ketcup.

I was reminded of this when I answered a food survey posted by Marla Swoffer on her blog, Always Thirsty. It's a fun quiz to take, starting with the question, "What's your favorite way to eat scrambled eggs?"

Well...naturally, I like them best topped with ketchup or salsa. Marla also asked, "Which foods/condiments do you insist on using a certain brand? (tell us the brands too)" To which I replied, "It's Heinz Ketchup all the way. To me, no other brand comes close. Goodness, I think I'm flexible on just about everything else!"

Apparently, I'm not alone in my Heinz fixation (although one commenter says she refuses to buy Heinz--could it be because of the Theresa Heinz Kerry connection? That's a connection I try not to examine too closely).

And someone calling themselves "Atlantic" posted the link to the article from which I quoted above. It's lengthy, but if food lore interests you, it's intriguing.

How about you? Is there a certain food brand you refuse to do without? do you like your scrambled eggs? :)

Oh--and if, like me, you've always wondered why ketchup is sometimes called catsup, wonder no more.

One more thing...Paris is through the next round!

Forget Paris Hilton. The real star in my book is Paris Bennett, the American Idol contestant with the Rockford connection! We were treated to just a snippet of her singing last night, but as far as I'm concerned, she's the one to watch in this competition. Go, Paris!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

It's ten o'clock. Do you know what your children are blogging?

Parents need to take a closer look at sites like

"A predator's dream come true...a parent's worst nightmare"

It seems like a no-brainer...parents who care about their youngsters should make themselves aware of what their kids are doing online.

Blog sites--like in particular--are coming under the microscope after a spate of sexual assaults on seven 12- to 16-year-old girls by men older than they claimed to be who located them through MySpace.

Culture Clips quotes Middletown, Conn., police Sgt. Bill McKenna: "It's a predator's dream come true, this Web site. Because not only can you see them, but you can see their friends. You can find out where they go to middle school and high school."

Again from Culture Clips: "One of the cases reportedly involved a man who traveled more than 1,000 miles to meet a Connecticut girl with a profile. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal says his office has received many complaints from parents regarding the ease of accessibility to sexually suggestive material on MySpace. "As a parent, I find it appalling and abhorrent that a Web site would so poorly police its pages," he said. "This Web site is a parent's worst nightmare." [my emphasis.] A response from stated that the site is committed to providing a safe environment for users, though it admitted it's difficult to discern whether users tell the truth about their age."

The article also quotes Nancy Willard, director of the Eugene, Ore.,-based Center for Safe and Responsible Internet Use, "The key thing is that young people appear to be totally oblivious to the fact that everything they post in these sites is public, permanent, accessible from throughout the world and easily transmittable to anybody. [When adults read the sites,] teens argue that you're invading my privacy. That's just the point. It's not private."

The Family Research Council is also urging parents to get involved. Says FRC president Tony Perkins: "Parents should carefully monitor children's use of websites such as My advertises itself as a 'place for friends' but is becoming less than friendly after the disappearance of several teenagers who have posted profiles on the site.

"As authorities recognize the growing problem of predators trolling the internet seeking to exploit and victimize children, they must aggressively enforce the laws that protect our children. However, parents should understand that they are the first and sometimes only line of defense between their children and the predators."

The answer? Parents, get a clue. Make sure you know what your teen is doing online. Monitor their myspace or other blogs, even if they claim it "invades their privacy." If it's's NOT private.

NOTE: More interesting reading about "the MySpace generation" here. Be sure to read the comments below the article as well.

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Monday, February 06, 2006

Reading Mary Stewart

OK, sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to what I'm reading. I can have a stack of books that I need to/want/should read, and I'll meander off and read something just for the heck of it. Or I'll have two or three books that I'm dabbling in at various times of the day or week.

That's how it is right now. I have several review copies of books that I'm actually looking forward to reading, and I find myself immersed in Mary Stewart's Nine Coaches Waiting.

My love affair with Mary Stewart's writing actually began when I was just a little girl, in the mid-60's. My older sister Beverly had bought Stewarts' The Moon-Spinners (on which the 1964 Hayley Mills-starring movie of the same name was based), and I ended up reading it. And re-reading it.

Even as a little girl, the suspense and romance of the tale captured me, and I loved Stewart's beautiful, almost poetic descriptive passages. The story was set in Crete, and it made me want to go there.

I've been a Mary Stewart fan ever since...but only, interestingly enough, of her romantic suspense novels. Stewart has written at least four historical/fantasy books set in Arthurian times, but I've just never had a desire to read them.

Like most of her early novels, Nine Coaches Waiting (published in 1958) feels slightly dated, but in a very charming way--as if one had somehow landed in the middle of a Grace Kelly movie.

I know what happens in the end (or at least I have a vague memory of it), so why am I re-reading this book? For the same reason that I grab a Mary Stewart book whenever I see one at my local branch library. I like visiting that era and those locations (Greece, France, Austria, Lebanon, wherever); I love Stewart's ability to put me there; I like her heroines and their love interests, and I still admire her lyrical, descriptive way of turning a phrase.

Plus, if you read any of Stewart's suspense novels, you'll know that she can sneak in a shocking twist with the best of 'em.

Any other Mary Stewart fans out there?

It's perfectly fine to make fun of Christians...

...but at least NBC is backing off on one instance of doing so.

This from an American Family Association e-mail:

"Tupelo, MS – The American Family Association (AFA) says the reason NBC has not publicly announced they are removing a segment from 'Will and Grace' that mocks the crucifixion of Jesus is that the network is under pressure from the show’s producers to keep the segment.

"Donald E. Wildmon, AFA chairman, says that is the only reason NBC has not already announced the withdrawal of the segment. AFA was successful in getting NBC’s 'The Book of Daniel' cancelled because of lost revenue and low ratings.

"He said he is basing his views on feedback that AFA supporters are getting from NBC affiliates.

"The network announced earlier this week that the April 13 episode of 'Will and Grace' would feature Britney Spears as a conservative Christian who contributes a cooking segment called 'cruci-fixins.' NBC said they would air the episode on Maundy Thursday, the evening before Good Friday when Christians mourn the crucifixion of Christ.

"'NBC has been bombarded with calls from their affiliates concerning the program. They have refused to publicly say they are dropping the segment. If they don’t drop the segment the network stands to lose millions of dollars in advertising revenue and have the episode dropped by about 40 percent of their affiliates,' Wildmon said.

"'But if they do drop the segment, it puts them at odds with the producers and Hollywood for bowing to pressure from what they say is a tiny number of rightwing fundamentalists. Do they offend Christians or do they offend Hollywood?' Wildmon asked."

Does anyone else see the irony?

Media across the world are being terrorized because of the Danish cartoons depicting Muhammad. Meantime, Jesus is everywhere mocked, parodied and made a laughing-stock, and that's perfectly OK.

We shouldn't be surprised. The Bible itself foretold that Jesus would be a stumbling-block--the Greek word is "scandalon"--that would be offensive to the world.

Michael Card's song, Scandalon, sums it up:

"He will be the truth that will offend them one and all
A stone that makes men stumble
And a rock that makes them fall
Many will be broken so that He can make them whole
And many will be crushed and lose their own soul
Along the path of life there lies a stubborn Scandalon
And all who come this way must be offended
To some He is a barrier, To others He's the way
For all should know the scandal of believing..."

I'm not surprised by the hatred of Jesus. But for me, it's like pouring salt into a wound to see the Saviour of my soul, the best Friend I will ever have, mocked and blasphemed.

But I'm not going to go burn something down in retaliation.

Monday Madness

And on a lighter note, I answer the Monday Madness questions. Answer them here, or on your own blog!

1. I consider myself to be very organized.--Uh, NO. FALSE. I make attempts at it, making lists and going through periodic bursts of organization, but it's not my strong suit.

2. I tend to get more done when I'm pressed for time.--Sometimes. If I'm under pressure, I will generally rise to the occasion.

3. Multi-tasking is something I do often.
--TRUE. I'll clean house while I'm talking on the phone, for example.

4. I might be a perfectionist.
--Again, sometimes. I want some things to be perfect, but others I have a more laissez-faire attitude about. I try not to sweat the small stuff, and that's definitely not a perfectionist attitude!

5. I enjoy Mondays as much as I enjoy Fridays.--Definitely FALSE!!! I tend to endure Mondays--the week stretches out ahead of me like a gaping cavern. On Fridays, I almost always feel a sense of euphoria.

6. If I didn't make a list (or hang a post-it note) I'd forget what it is I need to do.--Well--not always, but since it could easily happen, I try to always write down important things.

7. I have no problem asking for help when I don't understand something.
--Absolutely TRUE. I have no problem with that at all.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Woo-hoo!!! FRIDAY!

And since I have nothing of any substance to say, I give you the Friday Feast. Answer these questions in my comments section or on your own blog!

On a scale of 1 to 10 (10=highest), how sociable are you?--Oh, goodness. At least an eight or nine. I love being around people and interacting with them. I do need the occasional "alone" time, though, so I wouldn't give myself a 10.

Name 3 DVDs you currently own.

The Phantom of the Opera
The first season of "Lost" (actually, that's several DVD's)

I still have a few of my favorite movies only on VHS. I need to remedy that.

If you were to win a superlative award now (such as most talented, class clown, most likely to succeed), what would it be?--Right this minute? Probably "most sleepy"!

Main Course
What is your favorite radio station?--Oh, that's easy. 101QFL/Radio91!

Complete this sentence: I believe the Bible because God breathed it.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

And so this is Groundhog Day...

Naturally, I can't let Groundhog Day go by without mentioning the movie of the same name, which happens to be my favorite Bill Murray movie. I've watched this numerous times, and never fail to guffaw.

I just thought this French ad for the movie was great. Maybe they don't have Groundhog Day in France--well, of course they probably wouldn't--so the title there, "Un Jour Sans Fin," means "A Day Without End."

So...about Groundhog Day. Normally, even though it doesn't matter at all what Punxsatawney Phil or the nearer-me Jimmy the Groundhog (Sun Prairie, Wisconsin) have to say, Groundhog Day makes me happy. Because it means that January is behind us, Valentine's Day and two of my children's birthdays are right around the corner, and spring can't be too far away, can it?

A positive prognostication from Phil or Jimmy (or both), unscientific and silly though it may have been, was at least a glimmer of hope to those of us who shiver and trudge and scrape through long, frigid winters.

But even though Jimmy had good news today (Phil didn't), I find myself being kind of blase about the whole thing. Illinois has had one of the warmest Januarys EVER. It hasn't really felt like winter at all. It's enough to make you hop on the global warming bandwagon, for Pete's sake.

But if Groundhog Day, the movie, is on TV at all, I may try to catch it. After all, it's in keeping with a time-honored (well, since 1993 anyway) tradition.

Happy Groundhog Day, everyone!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Check out the Christian Carnival

"I have seen, at different times, the smoke of a thousand villages—villages whose people are without Christ, without God, and without hope in the world."
Robert Moffat (1795-1883) Pioneer Scottish missionary to South Africa.

If you're relatively new to the blogosphere, you may not know about the Christian Carnival. It's a weekly showcase of Christian blogging, hosted by a different blogger each week. Simply choose something you posted during the past week and submit it to the Carnival...I use this handy submit form.

Submitting posts to the Carnival is a good way to bring new traffic to your blog. It's also a great way to familiarize yourself with other Christian blogs, and check out some terrific writing. This week, the Carnival is being hosted by Rev-Ed.

Missionary quotes

I've always admired the men and women who go out as missionaries to foreign countries. My own parents did this in the 60's and 70's, and I know firsthand the personal sacrifice that is involved in such an undertaking. I believe missionaries are, for the most part, remarkable people-- a special breed, unsung heroes.

The movie The End of the Spear--regardless of how you may feel about the controversial casting of a gay actor (read more about that here and here)--has once again put missions in the spotlight.

I've blogged about how the story of the five slain missionaries, recounted in Elisabeth Elliot's Through Gates of Splendor and a readers' theater in which I participated in college, Bridge of Blood--had a major impact on my life as a young woman.

(By the way, I read a review of The End of the Spear in which the reviewer decried what she called the missionaries' "hubris" and "pride" in foolishly trying to reach this remote tribe in hopes of converting them to Christianity. I beg to differ! The missionaries' motivation in risking their lives was a sincere desire to bring the gospel to a violent people who had never heard the name of Christ.)

Anyway...missionaries. One of the posts I found on the Christian Carnival is a compilation of missionary quotes, from Mary Slessor to Nate Saint, at Disciple's Journal. Great stuff.

My new favorite diet drink

OK, for the most part, I really don't like diet drinks. And although CocaCola (classic) is my favorite soft drink, I've never like Diet Coke.

But folks, this Diet Black Cherry Vanilla Coke is GREAT. Honestly, it tastes less like a diet drink that just about any diet drink I've ever had.

And I'm not even getting paid to say this!
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