Sunday, December 30, 2007

Harry Potter - Volume 8?

Attention all my fellow Harry Potter fans!

J. K. Rowlings has given us a glimmer of hope that we may one day get to renew our friendship with the Hogwarts gang. Read about it here.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Sears Nightmare Continues

When last I spoke with a Sears representative, I was assured my problem was being addressed and I would have a new oven delivered on Christmas Eve.

Surprise, surprise - the local store has no record of any such delivery order. Calls to delivery central show there are no records whatsoever of a delivery order for me.

Sears lied. Again. Not only was I without an oven for the Christmas holiday, but I will also be without an oven into the New Year.

Locally, the salespeople have gone above and beyond to try to assist me. Under their breath, they whisper my experience is rather typical. I called the credit card line to put a protest on my account and a statement that I would not be paying another red cent until this situation was resolved. THAT customer service rep said, "I wish I could tell you this experience is unusual, but it's not."

I called the local store general manager and supposedly a new stove is to be delivered this coming week. I'll believe it when I see it.

Shop at Sears at your own risk.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington is one of my favorite actors. Not only is he handsome and charming, but he selects roles with meaning. I appreciate his professional body of work, but it was upon learning more about him as a man that his status as one of my favorites became set in stone.

I recently saw him on an episode of Oprah discussing their joint collaboration for the movie, The Great Debaters. As he talked, but more as the young stars talked about him, I was again reminded why I have such as high view of this thespian. The young stars quoted “Denzel-isms” such as, “Do what you have to do so you can do what you want to do.” Their affection and respect for him came through loud and clear.

This week, I came across an interview with him on that again affirmed my affection for the star. Read it here.

And, since it’s the Christmas season, catch him in The Preacher’s Wife for a fun holiday movie.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

How The Grinch Stole Christmas - Sears Style

I had originally planned to make this entry a Night Before Christmas spoof, but levity is not the order of the day currently.

In October, I purchased a brand new 2008 Kenmore confection oven. This wonderful thing had three racks! I was so looking forward to my Christmas baking. Then last Sunday morning, I tried to preheat my oven for a breakfast casserole and . . .nothing happened. I pulled out my manual, tried all the troubleshooting tips . . . nothing. The week before Christmas and my brand new 2008 oven had died.

A call to the national Sears helpline brought the news that the soonest a repair person could be out was New Year’s Eve! So much for Christmas Dinner, much less any baking. Undeterred, I called Sears at Fayette Mall where I had purchased my oven and a wonderful gentleman I know only as “Abe” took up my cause. Within an hour, I received a call from Sears’ customer service. From “Mabel”. [Cue Grinch theme.]

Mabel said a repairperson would be out if possible on 12/19/07. I told her that was a concern as well because if the repair was not easily fixable, I'm still looking at being without an oven on Christmas. I reminded her their policy was replacement within 90 days. I was told I would have to pay a 15% restocking fee. I would have to PAY to have their policy enacted. Further, when I expressed concern that this threw a wrench into my Christmas plans, she said, "Ma'am Christmas isn't until next week." I told her I was well aware of when Christmas was and I didn't appreciate the condescension. While Christmas may be next week, Christmas baking occurs this week! To add further insult, when I thanked her and said I was going to pursue it with the local store and hung up, I picked the receiver back up and discovered she hadn't hung up and REFUSED to hang up until she gave me Sears' Make A Wish sales pitch. I said, "Are you kidding me? After all this do you think I'm interested in further participation with Sears?" She said, "I'm not hanging up until I finish." She actually held my phone hostage! It was SURREAL.

Now, more angry than disappointed, I again call the chivalrous Abe who got his department manager, “Scott” involved. Finally a most apologetic man named “Albert” called and said a brand, spanking new oven is to be delivered and installed on Christmas Eve.

Word to the wise, Sears shoppers.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A Catalog Christmas

I've become a fan of Internet and mail order shopping. While others spend Thanksgiving evening scouring the sales circulars and setting their alarms to hit the road early on "Black Friday", I can kick back and watch football, go to a movie or warm up some turkey and stuffing for an evening snack gleeful in the knowledge that the following week with a few clicks on my trusty mouse, I will have purchased a good portion of my gifts in a matter of minutes on the Monday after Thanksgiving - Cyber Monday.

Starting in September, my mailbox is flooded with mail order catalogs. I have my favorites I carefully peruse (Signals for one). However since magazines sell/share mailing lists, I'll received dozens of others which will quickly be tossed in the garbage. I was all set to toss one of these when the phone rang. As I talked to the caller, I absentmindedly flip through the pages of a doomed NorthStyle catalog.

Then it happened. An item caught my eye. A little more than I wanted to spend on a knick-knack, but I liked it. More than that - I wanted it, perhaps because it reminded me of my beloved Yellowstone. This past weekend, my newest Christmas decoration was delivered:

For some reason, this just makes me giggle with delight!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

The Golden Compass Bombs

The Golden Compass, a movie based on a series of anti-Christian novels, is bombing at the box office. That's great news! While the movie has been sanitized of the anti-Christian dogma of militant atheist Phillip Pullman’s novels, the concern for many Christian groups is that the movie will inspire kids to want to read the books. Pullman acknowledged to the Sydney Morning News in 2003 his novels were “about killing God.” He wanted his series to become the anti-Narnia, the anti-Lord of the Ring.

In the Golden Compass, the church is the ground zero for evil and the heroine’s parents are the villains. Surprisingly for a movie based on books by an atheist, the film has included a lot of spirituality - of the occult variety. The movie’s web site (and future marketing efforts in toys, etc.) push the occult. Kids can discover their personal daemon (pronounced “demon”), an animal embodiment of their soul outside their body. Mystic accoutrements abound.

The advertisers for Golden Compass were hoping to tap into the Narnia/Lord of the Rings/Harry Potter audience. No such luck and the $200 million dollar Nicole Kidman film is going down in flames. How appropriate!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Grandmothers are Getting Younger

I no longer feel badly about being immediately recognized as "grandmother material" on a recent trip to Hobby Lobby. Seems grandmother material can be under 30 these days. Here's a grandmother at 29!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Boo on The Bachelor

I don’t watch the Bachelor. I hate the show. No, really, I HATE the show. However, I caught the “After the rose. . .” segment Tuesday night. Ugh.

This is some kind of chauvinistic fantasy world. Here’s this guy presented with a 25-member harem. All these women basically parading around marketing themselves to this guy, “Pick me, pick me.” How exactly is this different from a bordello? [After all, later on in the season they have the “spend the night” date.]

After the Final Rose. . . a show where women come back to face the guy who dumped them so he can dump them again!

Ladies! Where is your pride? Where is your self worth?

What’s this “Pick me” garbage? I remember the Grey’s Anatomy episode where Meredith pleads with Derek to “Pick me. Love me.”

What happened to “Deserve me. Prove you rate me.”

That’s not arrogance. That’s self respect. And frankly, to this middle-aged married woman, that’s a commodity of which my younger sisters are in desperate need!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Harry, Heroes and HIS-story

One of the perks of being married to a minister is that you get lots of impromptu Bible studies. Our dinner table conversations often center on Scripture. What makes these conversations even more interesting is that my hubby Bobby is so very strong in the Old Testament and Biblical symbolism.

As a couple (and at church) we have read books on the Bible from a literary perspective. One of my favorites is A House For My Name by Peter Leithart. We can affirm what my childhood pastor taught as the "Three I’s" (inerrant, infallible, inspired) but also recognize that God works through means. In selecting writers, God selected their specific personalities and perspectives which would shape how the inspired Word would be written. Likewise, the various authors of Scripture used literary structures to convey their messages (acrostic poems, chiasms, etc.).

The more I study Scripture from a literary perspective, the more convinced I become that there are no original stories – all storytelling is in actuality a retelling of The Story.

Like Scripture, so many of our favorite fairytales and romance movies end in a wedding (or the lead up to the wedding). As Leithart has pointed out, Sleeping Beauty is a picture of the Gospel: The prince slays the dragon to rescue his princess as Christ slayed the dragon (serpent) and rescued his princess/bride (the Church). This is found throughout cinematic history.

My hubby and I watched an interview with J.K. Rowlings of Harry Potter fame and she said she was reticent to discuss her faith until after the series concluded. This was as the final book was being released and people were speculating about who would live and who would die. Bobby, having never read the books, said with complete confidence, “Well obvious Harry will die and resurrect. He has to. He’s the chosen child, the Chosen One.” Obviously.

I’m a fan of the television series, Heroes. During the November 5th episode of Heroes, I had an epiphany. It was during an exchange between Angela Petrelli and Peter when she tells him that he was the most powerful of all of the heroes. In the comic strips, a light bulb would have appeared over my head at that moment! Of course. Obviously. Peter is the series’ messiah. And Sylar is the antichrist.

Peter is the second son (like Jesus can be seen as the second Adam). He is responsible for the redemption of the 1st son, Nathan. He is the most powerful. He absorbs powers in a positive fashion. Sylar isn’t a Hero. He’s a wannabe. He’s a fake. He takes powers in a negative fashion as a destroyer. Ultimately, the battle will be between Sylar and Peter.

I’m not going to look for symbolism beyond that at this point. However, Heroes is written as a comic strip/graphic novel. That genre has a history of biblical themes, intentional or not (Superman, anyone?). I haven’t read interviews with the creators/writers of Heroes, so I don’t know their worldviews and expecting a consistent parallel with Scripture from a secular source is silly. But I’m looking forward to Heroes more than ever now.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


One of these days, I'm gonna throw a Halloween Party. Not a Harvest Party. Not a Fall Celebration Party. A Halloween Party. I will ask that my guests dress up as devils in red suits, witches with warts, any of the traditional costumes. All the things my childhood church would have frowned on!

Why the rebellion? Because we are letting the New Agers and pagans take away OUR holiday - All Hallow's Eve or Halloween. (November 1st is All Hallow's Day or All Saints Day). There were Christian reasons for the costumes once upon a time. For a good article on this, go here.

Of course, today much of the Christian origins are lost. Little girls are opting for tramp wear instead of angel wings. But, we can recover it. I'm convinced of that. And one day, I'm gonna throw a Halloween Party!

Monday, October 29, 2007

At the Movies: Disturbia

I loved Disturbia! I was a little reluctant to rent it fearing its target audience would be teens and twenties and thus “too young” for us to enjoy. Wrong! It is a teen comedy movie, but it’s also a boy meets girl movie and a buddy movie. A loose remake of Hitchcock’s Rear Window, it’s one of the most suspenseful films I’ve seen in a long time.

Shia LaBeouf plays Kale Brecht a smart young man who has withdrawn into a world of anger and grief following a tragic accident. A teacher pushes the wrong button and Kale slugs him and thus earning house imprisonment. Limited to his home and a 100-yard radius outside, boredom pushes Kale into the role of a voyeur. He fills his days spying on the neighbors, one of whom may just be a murderer.

Throw in beautiful new neighbor Ashley, best friend Ronnie (scene stealer Aaron Yoo), a domesticated Trinity as mom (the Matrix’s Carrie Ann Moss) and a brooding and menacing neighbor (David Morse) and you have the ingredients necessary to keep you laughing and biting your nails for a wonderful 104 minute thrill ride.

While Jimmy Stewart was limited to a long-range zoom camera, our young sleuths live in the 21st century and avail themselves of technology and the Internet. (There’s blatant product placement throughout the movie, but it doesn’t get in the way of the storytelling.)

Shia LaBeouf is outstanding. I had a hard time believing this was the prankster from Even Stevens. He actually made me forget I was watching an actor – I just saw Kale.

Disturbia proves that old-time thrillers can still be made, that gore isn’t necessary and the PG-13 rating isn’t at all as limiting as R-rated directors want to insist.

[For a parents’ guide to Disturbia go here.]

Best Spaghetti Sauce - EVER

A friend of mine posted this recipe back in the summer as "the best-tasting spaghetti sauce." After having the pleasure of tasting it - she's right!! Here's the recipe. She has other recipes on her site that you might be interested in (she's a good cook!).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


When driving home at night, I’m going slower than I usually do. Living out in the country, I know at any time some critter can pop up out of the brush and onto the road in front of you. So the other night, I wasn’t surprised to round a curve and see a skunk in the middle of the road in front of me.

The little fur ball was in no hurry to get out of my way, so I honked my horn. The skunk bared its teeth and sprayed! Thankfully, I was out of range. He was still in the road, so I revved my engine. He walked a little further, snarled and sprayed again.

We repeated this process twice more and by this time, I’m irritated! “You little silly thing! I’m trying to protect you. You’ll get hit if you stay on the road,” I grumbled from behind the wheel.

Then it hit me. The Lord had just given me an object lesson. How many times do I growl and snarl when my plans are thwarted? I’m sure the Lord looks at me and marvels, “You little silly thing! I’m trying to protect you.”

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Is This For Your Granddaughter?

It's amazing the damage five little words can do. There I was minding my own business at Hobby Lobby. I had picked up a cute little "Baby's first Christmas" ornament to send to a dear friend. I was full of warm fuzzies thinking about Elaine and Ella Rose. That's when the attack occurred.

The cashier picked up the ornament and said the appropriate, "Oh, how cute!" Then she stabbed five dagggers into my heart:

"Is this for your granddaughter?"

Immediately the girl knew she had stepped into a mine field! Perhaps it was the color draining from my face. Perhaps it was the sharp intake of breath I had upon hearing the vile question. But really I think it was the blood spurting from my wounded ego that began to pool on the floor at my feet that gave it away!!

Is this for your GRANDDAUGHTER?!!!!

I've never lied about my age. (I'm 45.) I've never evaded questions about my age. And, truth be told, it is completely within the realm of possibility for me to be a grandmother.

BUT. . .

I don't want some cashier at Hobby Lobby confirming that fact!


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

If I Could Turn Back Time. . .

I returned from a brief visit to Gatlinburg to find a friend had tagged me for a Table Topic: “If you could relive a time or event in your life, what would you choose?” Since Rosie listed five, I took that as a precedent and have listed my five times/events I would love to relive:

#5 Summers on my grandfather’s porch listening to family and family friends spin yarns and tell tall tales. I’d love to hear those stories again and ask the questions as a child I so wish I would have asked now that I no longer can.

#4 (tie) A late spring afternoon sitting with Bobby at the back of the Jefferson Memorial. Looking out at the spring blooms and the coral, lavender and pink tinged clouds as the sun set while we shared our hopes and dreams.

Late one early spring evening in Gatlinburg, Bobby and I are sitting around the fountain in The Village after the shops had closed and other visitors had gone to their hotel rooms and we are once again sharing our hopes, dreams, fears, desires and plans.

#3 On our honeymoon, Bobby and I had the wonderful opportunity of touring Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany. As a little boy, Bobby had seen a photo of this castle and couldn’t believe it was an actual place! As a teenager, he had traveled with his family to Germany and hoped to visit the castle only to arrive as the gates were closing. This was a crushing disappointment, but years later it made sense. The Lord had planned for Bobby and his new bride to experience the fairytale castle together. I was so thrilled for him, thrilled to witness the fulfillment of one of his dreams, and then it happened. I fell in love with the place too. Now we refer to it as “our castle.”
#2 My wedding day. I know it’s corny, but there you go. I enjoyed my wedding. The ceremony was God-centered, not us-centered which is what we wanted. We had a church-shaped wedding cake because the Church was such a part of us as a couple. The songs all had such meaning for us. One special song, My Tribute, was played during the prelude: “How can I say thanks for the things You have done for me? Things so undeserved, yet you give to prove Your love for me. . .all that I am or ever hope to be, I owe it all to Thee.” As we went to dinner that evening at the Brown Hotel, we passed a conference room and a soloist was singing that song. It was like a hug from God.

#1 Time with my Dad. Dancing with him. Listening to him singing or imitating someone or telling a story. Telling him I love him one more time.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Gone Grey

My inaugural post on this blog was about Grey’s Anatomy. I’ve written a few posts since then about the show and my appreciation for the writers and actors. I’ve often felt the show provided rich insights into the human heart and relationships. It was for this reason I put up with the immorality. The workplace is Seattle Grace Hospital and I had always felt the hospital’s name was a metaphor (like each character’s chosen specialty) of what characters were seeking or experiencing.

Things change.

I slogged through last year. I kept waiting for the characters to start acting like the characters I knew. Never happened. Meredith and Derek on the outs. Again. George sleeps with a “friend”. Again. (This time after he marries Callie.) Meredith loses more loved ones. Christina and Burke implode. Retreads. I’ve already watched these story lines. Most disappointing, however, was the complete lack of redemption. All this ickiness and nothing to show for it.

So when Grey’s Anatomy premieres next week, I won’t be tuning in. I’m saying goodbye to Seattle Grace and hello to an extra hour a week to read.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

At the Movies: Wild Hogs

Wild Hogs is a movie for guys. It has guy humor. It has guy pathos. And it had this gal in stitches!

If you’re under 35, you’re probably going to miss the humor. You need to be at the age where you’re looking back at your “glory days”. In fact, unless Springstein’s "Glory Days makes you sing along every time you hear it, wait a few years before seeing Wild Hogs.

The movie begins by introducing us to Doug, a former wild and crazy guy who has settled into suburbia as a “lame” middle-aged Dad [Tim Allen]; Woody, who married a swimsuit model and was living the high life – until divorce and bankruptcy lowered his position [John Travolta]; Bobby, a henpecked plumber who has a crappy job- literally [Martin Lawrence]; and then there is Dudley, a shy computer geek who is terrified of talking to a woman [William H. Macy].

The four friends escape the dullness and disappointments of their day-to-day lives by straddling their Harleys for afternoons of make-believe when they don their leather and become Wild Hogs. Woody, unable to deal with his downturn in fortune, cajoles his three friends into a cross-country road trip. This trip, as expected, becomes a source of revelation for the foursome.

Tim Allen’s Doug is the emotional center of the film. He’s not running from something as much as he is trying to recover something. John Travolta is in fine comedic form as the poseur extraordinaire Woody (almost made me forget his Scientology weirdness). Martin Lawrence is great as the henpecked, macho-wannabe Bobby. And then there’s William H. Macy. Macy, Oscar-nominated and an Emmy winner, manages to be hysterical as Dudley without ever turning the character into a caricature.

The four men are endearing (although some of the y-chromosome humor did make me groan). Marisa Tomei adds another good-hearted girlfriend role to her resume. Ray Liotta plays Jack, the Wild Hogs’ nemesis - a real biker gang leader. John C. McGinley plays a quirky character that may make it impossible for Scrubs fans to ever look at him the same way again! By the way, did I mention the movie’s ending has a neat cameo?

If you’re looking for a fun evening, Wild Hogs will bring home the bacon.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Christian Heroes

A few years ago, my hubby taught a Sunday School class on church history. Being a history buff in general, I relished this class. As time went on however, the class was bittersweet. I loved what I was learning, but I lamented not having grown up being familiar with some of the great heroes of the Christian faith. In elementary school, I could have told you lots about George Washington, Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson and the like. However, I would have been stymied had you asked me about Polycarp, Athanasius, Augustine or who the “Morningstar of the Reformation” was. [John Wycliff]

How sad.

Too many times, Protestants forget that for centuries there was one church. The St. Patrick of the Catholic Church is also our Patrick – a man to be greatly admired and imitated. It’s okay to call him “saint” - after all, Christians are “saints.” The Apostle Paul often wrote letters referencing “the saints” of his time. There are wonderful heroes that are dubbed St. This or St. That. The history of the Catholic Church before the 16th century is the history of Protestants as well and we should know it! We should know the personalities involved in the Protestant Reformation. We should be at least as familiar with our Christian heroes as we are our country’s founding fathers.

To that end, I picked up a small little book entitled, Against the World: The Odyssey of Athanasius by Henry W. Coray. I wanted to know the man who uttered the famous line “Athanasius contra mundum” or “Athanasius against the world” as he stood for the doctrine of the Trinity against overwhelming odds.

The battle was over Jesus and His place in the Trinity. Against Athanasius was Arius. Arius basically maintained there is only one unbegotten God, one originated Being, without any beginning of existence. The Son, therefore, had a beginning, and was therefore a created being, though the greatest and first of all created beings. Since he was created he was also mutable [changeable], but because he was chosen of God on account of his foreseen merits he was entitled to the veneration of men.

Arius was an eloquent and winsome preacher who knew how to make the most of his appeal and even put some of his propositions into jingles, which the common folk sang. The popularity of his hymns and chants contributed greatly to the spread of his heresy.

Between Arius and Athanasius was the middle majority led by church historian Eusebius of Caesarea. Because of their Arian leanings, this group proposed a compromise position by allowing that the Son was of “like substance” with the Father (homoiousios). Believing Truth cannot be compromised, Athanasius and the orthodoxy party continued to maintain the Son was of the “same substance” with the Father (homoousios), until finally, after considerable debate, the emperor threw the weight of his authority in the balance and thus secured the victory for the party of Athanasius. The Council of Nicea in 325 A.D. gave us the Nicene Creed which set forth Athanasius' view as the orthodox position.

Ah, but there’s the rub. Having a religious issue settled by political means creates its own problems and the Arius vs Athanasius battle would continue all of Athanasius’ 80+ years!

The means people are willing to use says a lot about their character. The Arians hurled false accusations after false accusations against Athanasius. They manipulated rulers resulting in Athanasius being exiled five times for his unwavering commitment to the exclusion of one letter (homoousios vs homoiousios)! The Arian supporters time and time again barged into church services of Athanasius’ followers and raped, beat and murdered many of the congregants. All this in the name of religion! (And we think things are bad today!)

Ancient creeds, which set forth doctrines Christians take for granted today, were forged many times by the blood of brave, uncompromising believers:

The Nicene Creed
I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and
of all things visible and invisible.

And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of
the Father before all worlds; God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God;
begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things
were made.

Who, for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven, and was
incarnate by the Holy Spirit of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was
crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the
third day He rose again, according to the Scriptures; and ascended into heaven,
and sits on the right hand of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory,
to judge the quick and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.

And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of Life; who
proceeds from the Father and the Son; who with the Father and the Son together
is worshipped and glorified; who spoke by the prophets.

And I believe one holy catholic and apostolic Church. I acknowledge one
baptism for the remission of sins; and I look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Witty Music

In this blog’s heading, I warned that sometimes the entries are seriously frivolous. This is one of those times.

I LOVE Brad Paisley! Not only is he an incredible guitarist, he’s also one of the wittiest songwriters around. I even look forward to reading the liner notes of his CDs because of the comedic tone. He has such a mastery of the clever turn of phrase, double entendres (never too risqué) and word pictures. His latest, Online makes me giggle. If you spend anytime in cyberspace (or have a young person in your life who does), you’ll appreciate this one. You can watch the video here. (See how many of the performers making cameos you recognize. There are tons!)

His breakthrough comedic story song was probably I’m Gonna Miss Her (although everyone knows it by the title, The Fishing Song). Here’s Alcohol and Celebrity (William Shatner is hilarious!).

Brad is great at comedy, but he’s not one dimensional. Check out his ballad about his wife, She’s Everything. And if you wonder where he’s coming from, watch When I Get Where I’m Going.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

The Queen: Royalty & Rehoboam

I have never been an anglophile. I didn’t stay up to watch the Royal Wedding of Charles & Diana like a lot of my romantic peers. The British were always too stuffy for my taste. That was before I encountered The Queen.

The movie is a study in contrasts: The Royal Family - older, staid and traditional and the Blairs – younger, informal, modernizers. To a lesser degree, it is also a study of two princesses: Elizabeth, who was thrust into the monarchy at a young age and whose life seems to exemplify British ideals of a stiff upper lip, dignified carriage and proper conduct, and of Diana, who also was thrust into the royal life at a young age but in a completely different age, as it were. It is the contrast between paradigms – old/traditional and young/modern and the lifestyles inherent in each. This is the core story of the film while the events depicted center around the death of Princess Diana.

I was reminded of this movie recently as my hubby is preaching through the books of Kings.
I Kings 12:6-11 recounts King Rehoboam receiving two offers of advice on how to respond to Jeroboam’s request for a lightened load on the people:
Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who stood before his father Solomon
while he still lived, and he said, “How do you advise me to answer these people?”

And they spoke to him, saying, “If you will be a servant to these people today, and serve them, and answer them, and speak good words to them, then they will be your servants forever.”

But he rejected the advice which the elders had given him, and consulted the young men who had grown up with him, who stood before him. And he said to them, “What advice do you give? How should we answer this people who have spoken to me, saying, ‘Lighten the yoke which your father put on us’?”

Then the young men who had grown up with him spoke to him, saying, “Thus
you should speak to this people who have spoken to you, saying, ‘Your father
made our yoke heavy, but you make it lighter on us’—thus you shall say to them:
‘My little finger shall be thicker than my father’s waist! And now, whereas my
father put a heavy yoke on you, I will add to your yoke; my father chastised you
with whips, but I will chastise you with scourges!’”

The actual vulgarity of the advice of the “young men,” who were probably in their 40s, is missing from our translation. These middle-aged men acting like boys and their brashness and vulgarity contrasted with the thoughtful, diplomatic response of the elders is what reminded me of the movie, The Queen.

For the Royals, the world is black and white. There are things you do and things that simply aren’t done. Propriety rules. The Blairs were disdainful of the pomp and the pomposity of these royal figureheads. Cherie Blair’s contempt for Her Majesty has been widely documented. Members of the Blair camp are depicted referring to the Queen as an old bat, while the Queen is incredulous that her prime minister and staff “live like college students.” Tony Blair came to power on the promise of modernizing, changing the processes of power. The Queen is depicted in the film as not so subtlety reminding the new Prime Minister of his place:

HM Queen Elizabeth II: Have we shown you how to start a nuclear war yet?
Tony Blair: Er no.
HM Queen Elizabeth II: First thing we do apparently, then we take away your passport and spend the rest of our time sending you around the world.
Tony Blair: You obviously know my job better than I do.
HM Queen Elizabeth II: Yes well, you are my tenth Prime Minister Mr. Blair. My first of course was Winston Churchill, he sat in your chair in a frock coat and top hat. And he was kind enough to give a shy young girl like me quite an education.

However throughout the course of the movie, you see Tony Blair developing a respect and even affection for the Elizabeth. There is a scene in which he comes to her defense against his director of communications:

Alastair Campbell: Well, at least the old bat's finally agreed to visit Diana's coffin.
Tony Blair:
You know, when you get it wrong, you really get it wrong! That woman has given her whole life in service to her people. Fifty years doing a job SHE never wanted! A job she watched kill her father. She's executed it with honor, dignity, and, as far as I can tell, without a single blemish, and now we're all baying for her blood! All because she's struggling to lead the world in mourning for someone who... who threw everything she offered back in her face. And who, for the last few years, seemed committed 24/7 to destroying everything she holds most dear!
Helen Mirrem did a magnificent job and is well-deserving of her Oscar. This film humanizes Elizabeth. It paints a picture of a woman who had greatness thrust upon her and who tried to do her best for her country. A woman with frailties and foibles, but one who is always mindful of her duty. The movie paints a picture of The Queen as a monarch, grandmother and wife. The finished portrait, I believe, is a complimentary one.

God Save the Queen!

Monday, August 27, 2007

In His Feathers

Confession: I’m one of those people who often skips to the last chapter of a book to see if the ending will be satisfying. I don’t want to invest in a character only to be bummed at the end. However, I found a book whose final chapter I just wanted to skip.

In His Feathers tells the story (mostly in her own words) of Sharon Bomgaars’ last two years as she fought ovarian cancer. Sharon, an avid journal keeper and letter writer, pours out her heart in words which reflect her frustration, fear, anguish, joy, wonder, faith, resolve and, most of all, her authenticity.

With each turn of the page, I found myself liking Sharon more and more. She was an avid birdwatcher and as I read of her delight in finding bluebirds in her bluebird house or seeing an elusive warbler, it made me want to reach through the pages, back through the years and hug her.

I loved the gallows humor she and her husband used to deal with her illness. Once Sharon called her husband while away on a trip with her daughter and upon hearing her voice he asked, “Is this my Angel?” “Nope! I’m not one yet!” was her reply. Sharon would often make funny references to her husband’s “next wife” and justify expenditures because “Boo Boo” would spend it anyway!

I loved the honest acknowledgement of self-centeredness in pursuing trips and plans. She frequently references a Barney Fife-ism that dogs take care of their own but giraffes think only of themselves and Sharon readily admits giraffish tendencies! When tweaked about giraffish actions, she is actually playful in her retort, “But, are you dying?”

Knowing her time was short, her willingness to be adventurous increased. On a California trip to the mountains, Sharon writes of the experience:

[After a ranger had warned of a hike being too dangerous]
“Well, I’m really not too concerned about the risk,” I told her. “I already
have cancer. If something goes wrong, I’ll just go fast and easy instead of slow
and hard.”

My comment was a bit crude, but I truly meant what I said. In
the old days I held so tenaciously to life, gripping it with frightened hands.
That time is past. The days allotted to me are and always have been entirely
beyond my control. None of my care or foresight will stay the hand of God if He
chooses to end them.

There’s a lady who doesn’t just talk about the sovereignty of God, she understands it. This resonated with me so much. I saw my Mom lose a whole lot of fear post-cancer. That disease disabuses a person of any notion of control quite quickly.

Sharon didn’t like the path God chose for her, but she submitted to it. She clung to a good God “who doesn’t make mistakes.” She expresses gratitude for the time she did have on this earth with her family. Over and over again, she compares herself to people who had less time than she was being allowed.

What a lesson! My husband says people always compare up – we always look at those who have more and ignore how many more have less. We don’t see how truly blessed we are.

While my Mom was battling cancer, Tim McGraw’s song, Live Like You Were Dying was getting a lot of play on the radio. It meant a great deal to me then and still does now:

And he said some day I hope you get the chance
To live like you were dyin'
Like tomorrow was the end
And ya got eternity to think about what to do with it
What should you do with it
What can I do with it
What would
I do with it
Sharon has made me ask those questions. She wanted to suck life dry of experiences, live and end her life in a faith-affirming manner and cling to “...a good God and an Almighty God who has created us and saved us. I’ve moved beyond trying to figure all the rest of it out.”

Sharon Bomgaars was an ordinary Mississippi mom, but she is also an extraordinary someone you should get to know.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Every good gift and every perfect gift. . .

One more blurb about our trip out West. On our way home, we wanted to stop in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (right outside of Aspen) and see Maroon Bells again. This is such a lovely, peaceful stop. We got to our hotel late in the afternoon and Mom and I were big kids and anxious to go see it right now! My hubby reminded us that the sun would be setting and we would be there in the dark, but he relented and played chaffeur once more.

What we found was a wonderful gift from God. There in June - it was snowing. We were seeing Aspen with snow in the summer! It was breathtaking. The drive in was beautiful, but what the Lord arranged was magical:

Right around that curve, Bobby stops the car. There is an animal in the road in front of us. Mom and I were in such disbelief that Bobby had to say, "Ladies? That's a bear." A bear! In Aspen! Sure enough, a brown bear was just a few yards in front of the car in the middle of the road looking as stunned to see us as we were to see him! By the time the shock wore off and we reached for the camera, he had scurried up the hill. There were deer everywhere. Unfortunately, my photos aren't good, but I include them to give you an idea:

Here's the Currier and Ives scene that awaited us at the lake:

The setting sun gave everything the blue cast of twilight and I felt I was walking in a dream. But the best part was the look on my Mom's face. She had a look of pure joy and wonder.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Everlasting Covenant

The Drudge Report had this photo of a rainbow appearing after Hurricane Dean had passed over. Our God is a faithful God:

It shall be, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the rainbow shall be seen in the cloud; and I will remember My covenant which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. The rainbow shall be in the cloud, and I will look on it to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”
Genesis 9:14-17

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Neti Pot Testimonial

I'm usually leery of anything that has an "eastern/mystic" origin. However, I kept hearing about neti pots and their beneficial effects for people who suffer from sinus problems. This year has been an especially rough one for me with my allergies, so I reached the "I'll-try-anything" stage and bought a neti pot.

It's basically nasal irrigation. You mix up warm salt water in the pot and then tilting your head, you pour the saline solution into one nostril and it drains out the other side (in theory - the first couple of times, you will swallow a little salt water!). Here's a photo of the process. I found it to be helpful (once I got over the "ick" factor).

There's an old adage that says if you don't have allergies when you come to Kentucky, you soon will! I've recommended this to a friend who also found it beneficial. You can get these at local drug stores.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Elvis Redux

In honor of the 3oth anniversary of his death, here are a couple of You Tube clips of Elvis. One from the 50s and another from his Aloha from Hawaii concert in the 70s. I saw him in the early 70s twice (sheesh that dates me, but I was a preteen for the record!) I can still feel the tympanis pounding 2001: A Space Odyssey before he took the stage.

I tease my hubby that I only married him because he does a killer Elvis impersonation!!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Yellowstone Animals

I fell in love with Yellowstone. I would love to go back tomorrow! The land is wild and free and beautiful. For an animal lover like myself, it was heavenly. I especially loved the buffalos.

The elks are nice too!

And no trip to Yellowstone is complete without seeing a bear (or two!)

But on the cuteness scale, it's hard to beat a marmot! (left)

On our last day as we were leaving, we finally saw a moose:

Ubiquitous You Tube

It seems everywhere I turn these days, someone is talking about something on You Tube. Knowing that "www" can stand for worldwide waste of time, I had made a diligent effort to avoid the site. Then it happened. I hear my hubby laughing uproariously and he says, “Alisa! Come here, you have to see this.” I like charlatans being exposed, so with that, I was hooked on You Tube.

It began innocently enough. My Mom came down for a visit and knowing how much she likes Merle Haggard, I showed her a clip of him from 1969 singing one of his signature songs.

I saw an interview with Bruce Willis. I’ve always liked him – so much so I actually own an album by him, Return of Bruno! He even had a modest hit, a duet with the Pointer Sisters, Respect Yourself. With a quick search on the web’s video nirvana, you can revisit that bit of 80s nostalgia here.

Always wanted to juggle? Learn how here.

Remember Alex P. Keaton’s dance with Ellen Reed to Billy Vera & the Beaters’ At This Moment? Relive it here.

Wanna see inmates dancing to Michael Jackson’s Thriller? Go here.

See "All for one and one for all" animal style here.

Politically minded? Watch Reagan’s “Tear Down This Wall” speech here. Two years later, the Berlin Wall did come down. Watch an ABC news report on the historic event here.

With the success of You Tube, other sites are getting on the video bandwagon. Google has a video section. There’s at least one video there I wish everyone would watch, The Great Global Warming Swindle. Get beyond the hype here.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Consequence of Ideas

What are you willing to die for? What ideas are so important that you would risk your life in their defense? These questions were prompted by a very powerful movie, Sophie Scholl. The movie depicts the nobility of ideas and courageous faith of German students during WWII. It is gripping, it is inspiring and it is a must-see.

Nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 2005, it won several German film awards. Film critics raved. Christianity Today did a good review. The film is subtitled, but don't let that hold you back.

What's remarkable is the film is based in facts, newly available documents detailing Sophie's interrogation and trial. Sophie is a Christian heroine, someone whose courage and steadfastness is a worthy example to emulate. At the movie's end, my hubby expressed his gratitude that the Lord was honoring Sophie these years later.

". . . for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed." I Samuel 2:30

Creation Museum

A few Saturdays ago, we had a church outing to the
new Creation Museum in northern Kentucky. Coming during the week would have been hard for a lot of our members, so there we were on the day the museum had its 100,000th visitor! The museum had hoped for 200,000 the first year – they have far exceeded their own expectations! They’ve done it up right, not cheesy at all.

There are multimedia presentations, fascinating models (including a chance to go inside Noah’s ark) and, what the media and critics don’t want you to know, lots

of science! Every news report I’ve read

or heard has begun, "The controversial new museum."

The only thing controversial about the museum is it dares to teach creationism.

The museum’s ticket prices are a little pricey for large families, but the group rates are very affordable.

The museum’s diner, Noah’s Café, was a wonderful surprise. Often having a captive audience, on-site eateries are usually expensive. Noah’s Café was very reasonable and the food was good.

Genesis is foundational to Scripture. I know sincere Christians espouse non-six day theories, but in my opinion they are sincerely wrong. Their hermeneutic, when applied to the rest of Scripture, undermines Scripture. Check out the Creation Museum. The media preaches evolution all day long - why not hear the other side?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Little Girl Grown

How can that graceful, elegant woman be the freckled-faced giggle box I remember?

On June 23, 2007, Bobby again had the privilege of marrying off one of the kids of Christ Covenant. Sarah and Hawthorne had met as 12-year-olds and friends and family members might just swear they’ve been in love since then!

Their wedding was a traditional, beautiful affair. Now, the happy couple are making their home in Pennsylvania and I am missing Sarah already!

Theological Worldview Quiz

So...where on the theological worldview spectrum do you find yourself? Here's a quiz to help you answer that question.

Accomplishing a Life Goal

I remember watching the movie A Walk To Remember and being intrigued by the heroine's list of life goals - things she wanted to accomplish before she died. Already middle aged when I watched this, I nevertheless decided right then and there I was going to make my own list of life goals.

I have several. While out in New Mexico in 1986, I saw for the first time the end of a rainbow as it touched down in a field, colors splashing on the ground. I didn't know rainbows actually touched down! One of my life goals is to stand in the end of a rainbow.

I want to see the Northern Lights in Alaska.

I want to see Italy.

I want to write a book.

I want to see an owl in nature (not a zoo or wildlife display).

One of my goals was to see a bald eagle in the wild. Eagles are in far western Kentucky, but not around my home. As I mentioned in an early blog, I did see a bald eagle in flight while in Wyoming this year. But the Lord orchestrated much more than that for me a few days later!
My Mom had always wanted to see Montana, so on our trip to Yellowstone, my hubby surprised her by going over 100 miles off course just so he could take her up through Idaho and into Montana where we would enter Yellowstone through the West Yellowstone entrance. (Bobby really is a gem!) We would never have had a reason to go to the West Entrance of Yellowstone had we taken the direct route from Jackson Hole to the South Entrance.

We hadn't gotten very far through the West Entrance, when we saw rangers and a restricted area. No stopping, No parking signs were everywhere. Then we saw why. A bald eagle was nesting right by the road! The rangers were protecting the nest because if people were allowed to get too close, the parents might abandon the nest.

There it was - an eagle with two fledglings. The distance was a little too much for our camera, but I'm including the photos anyway!

Our last day in Yellowstone, we returned to visit our eagles. The day was overcast and the parent wasn't on the nest, rather he/she was across the road. However, Bobby did get a shot of the fledglings as they raised up out of the nest. The adult on a dead tree was absolutely regal!

We parked right beyond the restricted space and started talking to the lady ranger on guard at that end. She was amused/touched by the tears streaming down my face and allowed us to walk a little further than we were supposed to so we could get a better photograph. She told Mom and Bobby, "I've never seen someone cry over an eagle before!"

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The Princess Bride Turns 20!

ABC News' web site has a photo profile of the stars of The Princess Bride 20 years later. (How can that be?!). Wanna feel old? Go here.

Devotions Revisited

A dear friend asked me to contribute some devotions for her discipleship group a while back. I was very diligent for a while, but haven't contributed any recently (sorry Rosie!).

Here are a few of my contributions:


In the Fall of 2004 by a freak accident, my eardrum was punctured. My first thought was, “I just became deaf in my right ear.” Of course, after the initial panic passed, I realized my right ear wasn’t deaf just injured. The next few weeks while my ear healed, I learned a great deal.

My hearing was intact in the ear, but with the hole in my eardrum I wasn’t able to isolate voices or specific sounds well. Too much information from the world around me was getting in. It was the strangest feeling. All this noise and yet I wasn’t hearing anything at all! When my hubby and I were at a restaurant, I had to put an earplug in the injured ear so I could hear his voice above all the din around us.

My sheep hear my voice. . . Let’s be honest, sometimes the din of the world around us is so loud, it’s hard to hear the Savior’s voice. When the world around us keeps getting louder and louder, we have to be sure we are not dependent on that Voice coming from outside – it needs to come from within. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee. We all need that earplug – the filter that helps us isolate truth from lies, the light that clearly shows the path ahead. [Read: Proverbs 2:1-9]


My husband and I came home from church on Sunday and out in our back yard, hanging from a branch of our redbud tree, was a big thing that wasn’t there just the night before! “What in the world is that?” my hubby and I asked each other in unison. Out came the binoculars and as it brought the thing into focus, we realized it was an ever-increasing swarm of bees on what looked like the beginning of a hive right there only several yards from our back door! We searched the phone book for bee removal services and I put on my shoes to go warn the neighbors to keep their kids away from our yard. My hubby grabbed the phone to call a local home supply center to see if there were any “do-it-yourself” options for the invasion of the bees.

And then. . . as he dialed the number, he said, “Alisa, look.” The thing was dissipating. Gradually, the mass of bees were flying away and the thing was unraveling like a snagged sweater. Within minutes, the thing was completely gone. We watched the swarm, twirling like a tornado, disappear.

We all have things. Things that perplex us. Things we don’t know how to resolve. Things that are, frankly, scary. But like the bees, our Creator controls all things.

Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you. ~ I Peter 5:7

That’s more than a children’s Sunday School memory verse. That’s what we have to hold on to when we have to deal with things.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Of Making Many Books There Is No End. . .

The Lexington Herald-Leader recently had an article about favorite books. A handful of people were surveyed for their list of favorite books and readers were asked to send in their own lists.

One entry caused me to say aloud, “Oh! Me too!” when I saw the title of one of my favorite books as a kid: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konigsburg.

Another frequent entry made me cringe - The DaVinci Code. Are you kidding me? A few fell into the “I’ve-been-meaning-to-read” category such as Rocket Boys by Homer Hickman (I loved its movie, October Sky). And, of course, Tolkien. I know any well read person has read Tolkien, but I frankly find his books tedious. [Let the stoning begin…]

Some books on the lists were expected and, in some cases, applauded – Gone with the Wind, Huckleberry Finn, Jane Austen’s books, and, of course, To Kill A Mockingbird.

I sat down to write my list of favorite books and found the task harder than it first appeared. I decided to stick to fiction only…but how do you define “favorite”?

The ones that had an impact on your life, helped to define who you are? [For example, The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier – the main character Jerry has a poster which reads, “Do I Dare Disturb the Universe?” Very influential when I read it as a middle schooler in galvanizing me to stand my ground on my beliefs.]

Is it the book/s that helped you fall in love with reading – The Bobbsey Twins, The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew series. I remember reading Katie For President and telling Mom I couldn’t go to bed yet because if I put the book down I would miss something!

Or is it the books you can read over and over again? Here, in no particular order, are some of my favorite reads:

Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell – Classic love story. Time capsule. Historical Fiction. Two of the most captivating characters in literature – Rhett and Scarlett.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – This usually isn’t the first book to come to mind when the name Mark Twain is mentioned. A departure for Twain, who slightly turns his attention from the social realm to the political.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy. The British Zorro who uses his wits as well as his sword. I can’t sum it up better than an reviewer: "The Scarlet Pimpernel" shows the virtues of monarchy, the vices of democracy, the nobility of taking personal risk to life and limb for strangers, the villainy of the will of the masses, the weakness of grim single-minded determination, and above all, the strength of laughter and a light heart.”

Desiree by Annemarie Selinko. Young love and political realities come to play in this historical romance novel. I read it originally as a teenager and still love it. I’ve given it to many teenage girls to introduce them to the spunky spurned fiancée of Napoleon, Desiree Clary. Desiree didn’t become Empress with Napoleon, but she did become Queen of Sweden! This fictionalized account of her actual life is a wonderful read.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen. Classic love story with a wonderfully strong female lead.

Debt of Honor by Tom Clancy. The first of Clancy’s books I read. Famous for his research, when Clancy wrote of an F16 pilot’s flight, I felt I was sitting in the cockpit with him. I love how he throws out seemingly random subplots and then weaves them all together into a core plot.

Emily Loring romance novels. Ms. Loring’s books were originally published in the 1930s and the morality of that age shines through. The climactic romantic encounter may be a brief peck on the cheek! Her heroes were men of honor, dignity and valor. Her heroines were courageous, graceful and kind. I always told Mom I wanted to marry a “Loring man”. (And I did, by the way.)

My favorite – To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It’s about injustice and racism, but it’s also about a little girl opening her eyes to the world. I had such a soft spot for Boo Radley [There was an interesting sidebar article to the main article on books I mentioned earlier. It asked, “Are you Atticus or Scout?" I’m Scout. ]

Lucy Maud Montgomery, author of the Anne of Green Gables series, wrote of why we love books:

Here with hosts of friends I revel

who can never change or chill;

Though the fleeting years and seasons

they are fair and faithful still!

Kings and courtiers, knights and jesters,

belles and beaux of far away,

Meet and mingle with the beauties

and the heroes of to-day.

All the lore of ancient sages,

all the light of souls divine,

All the music, wit and wisdom

of the gray old world is mine,

Garnered here where fall the shadows

of the mystic pineland's gloom!

And I sway an airy kingdom

from my little book-lined room.