Monday, December 29, 2008

From The Squalor of A Borrowed Stable

I had anticipated singing this in church since the beginning of advent - then at last, yesterday, we sang it during worship.

For Pride and Prejudice Fans:

This is hilarious. :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Past

Another Christmas has come and gone. It seems that the older I get, the faster it comes around (and leaves again!) every year. :) There were parties, concerts, delicious holiday baking, and fun times shopping and gift planning with my family. There is always so much to do and see around Christmas that I always have the feeling when it's over that I forgot something. (It's weird, but it's the same feeling I get every time I leave a hotel, too!)
I received a bounty of good gifts this year, and I'm just not sure I deserved as much as I received. My family knows how much I love books and they gifted me with so many that I am in a quandary as to which I should read first:

I also received The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen ( a wonderful book full of her quotes) and Jane Austen: An Illustrated Treasury (perfect for an Austen book lover!)

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Christmas on Main

On the first Saturday of this month, we spent a day with Sarah and Kathryn on Main Street, near their home. The street was decorated and beautiful, the weather cold, and we had a wonderful time walking around and looking at all of the Christmas decorations.
(above)The giant outdoor tree
(below) Street garland

(above) Kathryn scrunches her nose for the camera
(below) Lexi takes in a store's miniature Christmas village

(above) A scene from one of the displays
(below) The weather turned bitterly cold while we were still out; here we are attempting to warm ourselves up with hot cider (and poor Lexi was in short sleeves!)

(above and below) It isn't an outing with my niece if we don't pose her for pictures at some point. I placed her in front of the tree in different positions while Landon snapped away with his new Canon 40D.

(above) Kathryn and I cuddle against the cold wind
(below) Lights on Main

(above) A favorite cafe on Main
(below) Kathryn and her aunt Ashley look at lights

(above) Kathryn in a tunnel of lights
(below) Lexi finds an old camera in an antique store
all photos by Landon

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Friday, November 07, 2008

Post-Election Thoughts

and hope are offered here and here. My thoughts? God is sovereign and he rules and reigns over the affairs of men. He raises the nations, he tears them down. We may be subject to our new leader, but he is still subject to God, whether he knows it or not. It's been interesting to be a witness to history. This is something that will be told and wondered at for years to come. I only wish such a moment could have been made with a conservative leader. But it is done, the story is not over yet, and we don't know what God has in store for this nation. My greatest hope is that the church will wake up and begin to do the job it should have done long ago: aiding the helpless, poor, and weak. We left them to the well-meaning-but-hopelessly-inadequate mercy of government welfare programs and then we wondered why low-income citizens placed more hope in the government than they ever did in the church. For all the failings of various government welfare programs, they did do one thing the church didn't: offer help to hurting people. It is our failing we should heartily repent of. Had we shown people mercy and hope, had we ourselves implemented programs, then social compassion and mercy could, potentially, have been the church's powerful testimony to an unsaved world. As it is now, we have failed to show the love of God when he had shown us his greatest love and mercy. Our eyes having been opened, we should have lived out the compassion we had ourselves received.

One last thought: history alone will show the kind of leader President George W. Bush has been. For 8 years he lead this country, right or wrong, and he deserves our respect, which is being held from him by the very people who once believed enough in him to elect him twice. In the middle of media-influenced vitriol and spite towards the President, this tribute by former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer stands out as a testament to a leader who never backed down on something once he was convinced it was right. He begins:
I’ll miss President Bush’s moral clarity. The president’s critics hated his willingness to label things right or wrong, and the press used to bang me around for it, but history will show how right he was.

Shortly after 9/11, the president gave a speech in which he talked about the fight between good and evil, and that good would win. Afterward, I told him I thought he was being simplistic: “There are a lot of shades of gray in this war. I think it’s more nuanced.”

He looked at me and said, “If this isn’t good versus evil, what is?”

Then he reminded me that when Ronald Reagan went to Berlin, he called on Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down this wall” — not to put a gate in it or to remove some bricks. Mr. Reagan said to tear it all down.

Mr. Bush saw the presidency as the place to call the American people to big challenges — in morally clear terms. As his spokesman, I knew that many people would be uncomfortable with how easily he made such moral judgments. I also knew that many Americans welcomed his tough, direct and unambiguous moral clarity.

I’ll miss that direct talk. In the age of terrorism, the one thing we have to fear more than anything is moral relativism.
Read the rest here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Finally, Campaign '08 Ends

Election day is nearly over (yes, I voted today!) and at long last we can breathe a sigh of relief to know that whatever the outcome tonight, tomorrow America can move on. Now that you've voted, I think it's time to sit back, relax, and enjoy some election day humor while the ballots are counted. Here, here, and here are good places to start.

Happy Election Day!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Ready to Live, Ready To Die

Gayle Williams was an aid worker who was martyred this week at the age of 34. She was described as someone who "always loved the Afghans and was dedicated to serving those who are disabled... She herself would not regret taking the risk of working in Afghanistan. She was where she wanted to be -- holding out a helping hand to those in need." The Taliban claimed responsibility for her death.

Yesterday I attended a women's luncheon at my church. Let me say that I attend a wonderful church which happens to be in a beautiful, wealthy area. Our struggles in the church are not such as dealing with poverty, but more of how to deal with wealth. There are some truly devoted people in my church who do use their wealth to advance God's kingdom, and then there are some who are there only because the church is close to where they live, and convenient to attend. So we have a variety of people at my church, but the most visible are the beautiful, wealthy ones.* All that to say, that I attend a "safe", church in a historic building, crammed full of people who have never been made to suffer for naming the name of Christ (and I am one, too), and yesterday we all attended a beautiful luncheon, each table decorated with fresh roses, places set in perfect order, gifts beside our plates, and delicious food and dessert to munch on while we heard a speaker talk about, of all things, mercy and hope.

What is my point? I don't know how to suffer for Christ because I've never been made to. Our speaker yesterday pointed out that we should never begrudge the happy days God gives us, that we have to deal with them like we do the bad days. God gives both. But you know, I feel so very strange to have it so easy here. I'm not asking for persecution, and in all honesty, I don't want it. But the rest of the world is dealing with suffering every day, and my greatest concerns are what to wear next, or if I should change jobs, or which friends to spend time with. I am happy and have a wonderful life right now, and praise God for such a gift. I'm not saying I never cry from emotional hurts or physical pain, but these things are never inflicted by others because I am a Christian, and that makes a lot of difference. I thought this statement from an article about Gayle Williams strikes the point I have been trying, in a very roundabout way, to make:

"When confronted by the stories of those who live their faith among people who hate them for it, I am inspired, saddened, thankful, and convicted all at once. The death and murder of Gayle Williams startles those at ease to reflection. The pervasive opposition in the lives of believing university students awakens even seasoned believers to their own apathy. How courageous is the believer who follows Christ among those who hurl insults and hostility? How treasured is the Bible that must be buried in the backyard for protection? How sacred is the faith of one who is willing to die for it?"

The author goes on to say:

"Mark Twain once said, 'Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect.' For those of us who live the faith we profess without challenge, trial, or risk, reflection may well be appropriate. Is it possible that we have so shut ourselves up in Christian circles that we have closed ourselves off from the unbelieving world and hence any chance of suffering for Christ? Is it possible that we are so at ease among the majority that we avoid venturing out as the minority among those who might hate or hurt us? Certainly we experience hostility and persecution indirectly; Bill Maher’s new film Religulous is one example among many. But how we are personally interacting with the angry, the lost, and the broken masses Jesus once wept over is another thing entirely. How effectively we live as 'the salt of the earth' that Jesus described depends on our place and posture within it. Surely salt that remains content within the shaker has lost its saltiness."

Read the article in it's entirety here, then reflect on your position as a Christian, and whether you are ready to live, suffer, or even die for the name of Christ.

*Let me say this also about my church: there is an active emphasis on reaching out to the urban areas surrounding the church and beyond, we also send out a great many missionaries, and we are beginning to see more ethnicity represented in the services. The leadership knows it's challenges and is attempting to respond accordingly. Not all people who attend are who's who or have enviable jobs, homes, wealth. We are beginning to see, and we do rejoice in, the variety of people who are coming in as a result of active service by church members in various urban areas.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How Not To Help The Poor:

Anthony Bradley writes:
If there's one lesson from the "war on poverty" programs the US government instituted in the 1970s it is that government programs were the primary source of the destruction of the black family and the erosion of the dignity of the black men in particular in low-income urban areas. Good intentions ain't enough. The federal programs pushed out the church and destroyed many black communities. It took about 20 years to see the effects of well-intended but stupid government programs. The crazy notion that "we just need to get the right government program" is fantasy.

HT: Justin Taylor

Easy Economics

This explanation is the best yet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


One of the best things about living where we do is being able to witness the Monarch butterfly migration to Mexico once a year. Every time I step out of the front door and into my mom's garden, those colorful butterflies rise and fall, circling around and above me, greeting me with their pulsating wings and peppering the sky with vibrant hues of orange and black. It is a moment of serenity and joyous movement all at once, as only butterflies can do - and I watch in amazement and wonder, giving thanks to our Creator who gives and breathes life into all creation, people and butterflies alike. :)

Last Saturday, we had the joy of joining my sister-in-law and Kathryn for an event near their home celebrating the Monarch butterfly. There were butterfly releases, face painting, pumpkin decorating, butterfly picture making, and free popcorn. A few pictures of the event, taken by Landon:

I guess scarecrows like butterflies, too.
It was a chilly morning, perfect for stopping in at the little coffee shop on Main Street.
A vintage steam engine still makes a run between local cities. People waiting to board.

What is an outdoors event, any event, without funnel cakes and:


Kathryn on a hay bale.

Love this sign!

Kathryn models her very own butterfly LassieGirl pinnie, created for the event.

A Liberal Supermajority

From the Wall Street Journal:

If the current polls hold, Barack Obama will win the White House on November 4 and Democrats will consolidate their Congressional majorities, probably with a filibuster-proof Senate or very close to it. Without the ability to filibuster, the Senate would become like the House, able to pass whatever the majority wants.

Though we doubt most Americans realize it, this would be one of the most profound political and ideological shifts in U.S. history. Liberals would dominate the entire government in a way they haven't since 1965, or 1933.

The article goes on to cite some examples of bills that would have passed had it not been for the Senate minority stopping them. The author then concludes with this:

In both 1933 and 1965, liberal majorities imposed vast expansions of government that have never been repealed, and the current financial panic may give today's left another pretext to return to those heydays of welfare-state liberalism. Americans voting for "change" should know they may get far more than they ever imagined.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

True Womanhood

I regret not having made a serious commitment to attending this conference for women going on now in Chicago. Thankfully, this amazing event is being shown via live feed here (register for free and then you're good to go), where you can watch the sessions and even the worship (with the Getty's leading it! My favorite team of modern hymn writers). Catch it live, otherwise you'll have to pay for the archives. It is worth your time to tune in, believe me. Tim Challies is also live blogging it here. I am lifting from his page this part from John Piper's message tonight:

"...wimpy theology makes wimpy women. The opposite of a wimpy woman is not a brash, pushy, loud, uppity, arrogant Amazon, but a woman of character (and here he provided several examples of faithful, suffering women). Wimpy theology does not give a woman a God big enough or good enough to deal with the realities of life and still rejoice. This poor theology is plagued by woman-centeredness; it does not have the granite foundation of God’s sovereignty underneath; it does not have the structure of a God-centered purpose for all human life."

Go read the rest.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

VP Debate

I will be watching with the rest of the country. I'm very curious, as I imagine everyone else is.
The media, tentatively criticizing Sarah Palin at first, have gained momentum in the past couple of weeks. I know that the interview Sarah Palin did with Katie Couric was widely panned, but I think everyone should be made aware of the difference in the way she was interviewed compared with Couric's interview with Biden two days before Palin's. Here is Palin's interview (part one and two), here is Biden's. You don't have to watch more than a few minutes to see the huge difference. In the interview with Palin, Katie Couric interviews her in a darkened room, leans into Sarah Palin in an aggressive way, looks stern, asks questions in a near sarcastic tone, and does her best (to me anyway) to not put Palin at ease. She asked tough questions and is unrelenting when Palin can't answer in a way satisfactory to Couric.
In the Biden interview, Couric is relaxed, lounging on his couch while she interviews him on his bus and among his supporters. She never once asks a tough question. Not once. He smiled, laughed, his happy campaign pictures flashed across the screen as his supporters cheered him on camera, while Sarah Palin looked like a criminal placed for questioning. Nobody panned Biden's interview because there was nothing to pan.
I don't mind watching tough interviews because I think it is a test of a candidate's ability to talk about issues away from a debate or campaign setting. But please, please be fair and treat both opponents equally. Couric's interviews were just another example of distorted media bias. Where are the real journalists out there who will refuse to let their political ideologies get in the way of their reporting?

When you find one, let me know, k? :-)

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Celebration Season

Fall brings a flurry of birthdays for this family. Since Mom's birthday is the end of September, it kicks the celebratory season off. Here are a few photos from her day:
Another year, another age, but who's counting? :-)

Bendel likes to party.

Kathryn spent the day with Mimi.

But finds some time for Pawpaw too. ;)

Here she helps Mimi unwrap gifts.

Ashley used a fall inspiration for decorating.

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Airplane Watching

On Saturday we decided to go check out the new observation area at our airport. It was fun to watch all the planes taking off, going to destinations that, for all we knew, are exciting and unique. They were probably only going to other boring cities, but it's fun to imagine differently. ;-) I am sure all the passengers on the various planes were wondering what celebrity was on their flight, the way people crowded in to watch landings. There were airport employees, families, photographers, and people (like us) who were just interested in observing. I never knew before then what a sport airplane watching could be.

The following photos were taken by Landon (of course) and represent just another day at the airport.

Lexi gets a close up look at what could be called the "behind-the-scenes" area of the airport: the gates and tarmac.
We were there for a few international arrivals. (Nice big planes!) I became travel anxious when I spotted BA. Must go to London now! was my immediate thought.

Ah, nothing like a visit to the airport to make the travel bug bite deep into a currently stationary object such as myself. Next year promises to be a good travel year for me, if I can only hold out until then... ;-)