Saturday, February 28, 2009

Voices Silenced

I grew up hearing Paul Harvey's voice every morning on the radio while I got ready for school. I've continued to tune in to hear him as often as I could through the years. Though I knew he was aging, I was always disappointed when a stand-in did the news. Something about his voice drew us in. He was interesting, amusing, earnest, and honest.

And now he's gone. We'll miss him.

Closer to home, we'll miss Bill Hubbell. He passed away Monday after a long decline in health.

Bill was one of those guys that everybody loved. He had a ready smile and a generous heart, willing to give much out of the little he had.

He gave me my popcorn maker.

And my iron.

And some very random Christmas decorations.

92 years old. And forever young.

Weekend, America

One of my favorite radio programs, Weekend America, was recently pulled from the air. One thing I always liked was the way they started each segment by asking the "man on the street" this question:

What are you doing this weekend?

I'm heading to a one day writers conference where I'll get to hear Paul Young, author of THE SHACK, speak and I'll get to spend some time catching up with friends.

How about you?

What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Permanently Deferred

I've been permanently deferred. Disqualified. Uninvited.


Several times a year, the kids and I take a little trip down to the local blood bank so I can donate blood. A small thing to do, really, to save a life.

Only now they don't want my blood. New regulations are coming down the pipeline to disqualify anyone who has previously had malaria from giving blood. Ever.

I'll miss donating, actually. And I'll miss the nice ladies who hand out cookies and who remember my kids from visit to visit. And I'll miss that cozy feeling I get from doing something nice. I guess I need to find something else nice to do.

Maybe I should buy some girl scout cookies. That would be nice.

Meanwhile, would you consider giving blood in my place? I'll come eat cookies with you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Top Reasons Why I'm Not on the Amazing Race

10. They haven't asked me.
9. I know I'd have to go bungee jumping.
8. There are a whole lot of boring travel hours they don't show between moments of ultra-high stress.
7. I'm not pretty when I get tired.
6. I refuse to go bungee jumping.
5. I don't like the way I act under pressure and I sure don't want anyone else to see it.
4. I wouldn't want to have the unfair advantage of speaking Evegbe. You know that would come in handy.
3.I'm not bungee jumping.
2. My passport's about to expire.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

BBC's Big Read!

In 2003, the BBC asked British citizens to name a favorite novel. Here are the top 100 (updated a couple of times since 2003)

Apparently the BBC reckons most people will have only read 6 of the 100 books here. I've read slightly more than that (54), but I bet not as many as my dad.
1) Bold those you have read.
2) *Star the ones you loved.
3) Italicise those you plan on reading.
  1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
  2. *The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
  3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
  4. * Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
  5. *To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
  6. *The Bible
  7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
  8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
  9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
  10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
  11. *Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
  12. Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
  13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
  14. Complete Works of Shakespeare (major plays, sonnets, but not everything!)
  15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
  16. *The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
  17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
  18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
  19. *The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
  20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
  21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
  22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
  23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
  24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
  25. * The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
  26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
  27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  28. *Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
  29. *Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
  30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
  31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
  32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
  33. *Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
  34. Emma - Jane Austen
  35. Persuasion - Jane Austen
  36. *The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
  37. *The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
  38. Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Berniere
  39. *Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
  40. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
  41. Animal Farm - George Orwell
  42. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
  43. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  44. *A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
  45. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
  46. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
  47. The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
  48. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
  49. Atonement - Ian McEwan
  50. *Life of Pi - Yann Martel
  51. Dune - Frank Herbert
  52. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
  53. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
  54. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
  55. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  56. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
  57. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
  58.  The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
  59. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  60. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
  61. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
  62. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
  63. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
  64. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
  65. On The Road - Jack Kerouac
  66. Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
  67. Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
  68. Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
  69. Moby Dick - Herman Melville
  70. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
  71. Dracula - Bram Stoker
  72. *The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
  73. *Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
  74. Ulysses - James Joyce
  75. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
  76. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
  77. Germinal - Emile Zola
  78. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
  79. Possession - AS Byatt
  80. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
  81. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
  82. The Color Purple - Alice Walker
  83. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
  84. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
  85. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
  86. *Charlotte’s Web - EB White
  87. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
  88. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  89. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
  90. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
  91. *The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
  92. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
  93. Watership Down - Richard Adams
  94. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
  95. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
  96. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
  97. Hamlet - William Shakespeare
  98. *Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
  99. *Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
Oh, dear. I seem to have lost #100. Please fill in with the book you think should be on this list.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Under the Eye of the Clock

Christopher Nolan, author of Under the Eye of the Clock, died today at the age of 43. Nolan was crippled by Cerebral Palsy since his birth. Crippled in body, but not in mind. Nolan was brilliant.

He wrote so many words worth remembering, but this passage stands out to me today:

Communion served to join the silent boy with silent God, and into his masked ear Joseph poured out his mental whispering, begging blessings to be showered on his faithful friends. He looked out on scattered continents whispering his awe and pleaded for his brothers and sisters as though skin colour was but a variation of family crests. Wisdom seemed to wise him to see his awful boyhood as though awfulness was beautiful. His heard secrets cradled him and fruit served yet again to form on hiltopped briar.

I can only dream of penning words as profound as dwelt in Nolan's mind. 

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Groundhog

Punxhatawny Phil might not be the best forecaster. He said we'd have 6 weeks of winter, but now, only a couple of weeks later, we find ourselves enjoying spring weather.

64 degrees yesterday.

I went outside and pulled some weeds. Tiny green shoots are forming at the base of the mums. Tulip stalks stick 4 inches out of the ground, reaching for the sun we've all been so hungry to see. (As they grow, they are eagerly gobbled up by fat squirrels. Some things never change.) Even my stupid cherry tree, the one we peeled all the bark off of in an effort to kill it, has a handful of scraggly pink blossoms on the tips of its spindly branches.

I know I shouldn't be fooled into thinking this is actually spring. The rain and wind and cold will return. But today, I'm thankful for small reminders of God's faithfulness to bring the dead to life, to renew his mercies every day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Bucket List

Just one more game of tag. And then - I promise - back to real life! So much still to do! Where should I begin?

Things you have done during your lifetime:

( ) Gone on a blind date
(X) Skipped school
(X) Watched someone die
(X) Been to Canada
(X) Been to Mexico
(X) Been to Florida
(  ) Been to Hawaii
( )Gone Skinny dipping
(X) Been on a plane
( ) Been on a helicopter
(X) Been lost
(X) Gone to Washington, DC
(X) Swam in the ocean
(X ) Cried yourself to sleep
(X ) Played cops and robbers
(X) Recently colored with crayons
(X) Sang Karaoke
(X ) Paid for a meal with coins only
(X) Been to the top of the St. Louis Arch.
(X) Done something you told yourself you wouldn't.
(X) Made prank phone calls
(X) Been down Bourbon Street in New Orleans
(X) Laughed until some kind of beverage came out of your nose
(X) Caught a snowflake on your tongue
(X ) Danced in the rain
(X ) Written a letter to Santa Claus
(X) Been kissed under the mistletoe
(X) Watched the sunrise with someone
(X) Blown bubbles
(X) Gone ice-skating
(X) Gone to the movies
(X) Been deep sea fishing
(X ) Driven across the United States
( ) Been in a hot air balloon
( ) Been sky diving
(X ) Gone snowmobiling
(X ) Lived in more than one country
(X) Lay down outside at night and admired the stars while listening to the crickets
(X) Seen a falling star and made a wish
(X) Enjoyed the beauty of Old Faithful Geyser
(X) Seen the Statue of Liberty
(X) Gone to the top of Seattle Space Needle
(X) Been on a cruise
(X) Traveled by train
(X ) Traveled by motorcycle
(X) Been horse back riding
(X) Ridden on a San Francisco CABLE CAR
(X) Been to Disneyland OR Disney World
(X) Truly believe in the power of prayer
(X) Been in a rain forest
(X) Seen whales in the ocean
() Been to Niagara Falls
( ) Ridden on an elephant (Does a Camel Count?)
( ) Swam with dolphins
( ) Been to the Olympics
( ) Walked on the Great Wall of China
(X) Saw and heard a glacier calf
( ) Been spinnaker flying
(X) Been water-skiing
(X) Been snow-skiing
(X) Been to Westminster Abbey
(X ) Been to the Louvre
( ) Swam in the Mediterranean
( ) Ran a marathon
(X) Been to a Major League Baseball game
( ) Been to a National Football League game

Monday, February 16, 2009

Maybe I Do Need to Get a Life

A friend posted a list of movies on Facebook and said, "If you've seen at least 85 of these movies, you don't have a life."

You know me. I couldn't resist filling out the form. It didn't take long to see that the list was heavy with horror flicks, sci-fi, and chick flicks. Guess which ones I've seen.

Who decides that 85 is the cut-off? Is the person who's seen only 84 of the movies busy and fulfilled while the guy who's seen 86 is a schlub who sits on the couch with his beer and popcorn and can't bother to pick up his own kleenex. If he even uses kleenex.

About half way through the list, I was thinking... 

If you fill out this form, you might not have a life. ( no offense.)

A third of the movies I've seen because my husband wanted to see them. A third because my kids wanted to see them. And then there's the rest.

And, no, I haven't seen 85 of them. So I must have a life. I MUST!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Name Game

And now a short interruption from the February blues. Play along if you want.

1. YOUR SPY NAME (middle name and current street name)

2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME (grandfather/mother on your dad's side and your favorite candy):
Alta Reese

3. YOUR RAP NAME (first initial of first name and first 3,4 or 5 letters of your last name):
P SlaK

4. YOUR GAMER TAG (a favorite color, a favorite animal)
Green Giraffe

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME (middle name, and city in which you were born):
Kay Juno

6. SUPERHERO NAME: ("The", your favorite color and the automobile your dad drives)
The Blue Astro

7. YOUR ACTION HERO NAME (first name of the main character in the last film you watched, last food you ate)
Toby Pizza

8. YOUR MOBSTER NAME  (Name of your first pet and the name of the street you grew up on)
Yo Yo Mendenhall

Thursday, February 12, 2009


I've been trying to post a blog from my laptop all week, a nice blog about snowflakes and warmth and good friends and gratitude.

But, alas, I think my laptop must have caught my cold and is unable to process my requests.

I know how it feels. Thoughts and words get clogged up in the sinuses behind my eyes and come out as sneezes and sniffles and indistinguishable mutterings. I'm sure I've used the phrase "death warmed over" more than once today, but I couldn't tell you the context. Every few hours, one of my nostrils clears long enough for me to remember what breathing used to be like. But the moment passes.

I bought pizza for dinner tonight and announced that I'm done cooking until I'm over my cold. No one seemed too disappointed.

So, if you're looking for a happy blog about happiness and the hope of spring, stay tuned. I'll post it as soon as me and my computer get over our colds.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

God Among Us

A story during the sermon this morning caught my attention and tugged at my conscience.

A woman went to Africa as a missionary. She lived among the people, learned their language, ate their food, and loved them. She had to return to America from Africa and another missionary moved to the village in her place.

"I'm here to tell you about Jesus," the new missionary announced.

"No need," he was told. "We already know her."

It's been a weekend of remembering and reflecting back as I've spent the last two days with former teammates to Africa. These teammates were those type of people, the ones that people saw and knew that Jesus walked among them. It's an honor to be associated with them.

I wonder what people saw when I was there. I wonder if I was Christ to them or the ugly American. Probably a little of both.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

5 Things Tag

For once, I think I'm the last one to play!

5 Things I Was Doing 10 Years Ago

1. Doing step aerobics at 6 a.m. every Monday, Wednesday and Friday
2. Translating a children's Bible study book into French and Ewe.
3. Teaching "Wednesday School" to MKs.
4. Making tortillas, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole from scratch.
5. Growing bananas, mangoes, pineapples and coconuts in my garden.

5 Things On My To-Do List Today

1. Help the kids with their school work.
2. Buy stamps.
3. Teach a violin lesson.
4. Email the French homework to my class.
5. Take the gang swimming.

5 Snacks I Like

1. Red Vines.
2. Triscuits and Sun-dried tomato hummus (thanks, Sara!)
3. Biscotti with tea.
4. Greek Style yogurt (thanks, Lori!)
5. Popcorn with ranch dressing flavoring.

5 Things I Would Do If I Were A Millionaire

1. Travel!
2. Buy a little bit bigger house with a little bit bigger yard.
3. Invest.
4. Go back to school.
5. Give a lot away.

5 Places I Have Lived (For Various Lengths Of Time)

1. Albertville, France
2. Togo, West Africa
3. Juneau, Alaska
4. St. Louis, MO
5. Searcy, AR

5 Jobs I Have Had

1. Speech Therapist for Home Based and Migrant Head Start
2. Recreational Director for kids in Group Homes
3. Missionary
4. French Teacher
5. Fiction Review Editor for New Wineskins Magazine

5 People I Tag (to post a "5 Things . . . " on a blog or facebook or in my comments or just in casual conversation)

1. Sandi
2. Shelli
3. Lori
4. Angel
5. Jackie

Monday, February 02, 2009

First Monday

I love talking with friends. Conversation can go any which way depending on the day and who I'm with. This weekend, hanging out with one of my buddies, we've covered topics ranging from the economy to bad haircuts to raising kids to home improvement plans.

Conversation with God can go every which way, too. My prayer times often skip the deep stuff to get to the easy prayers - prayers for people who are traveling or those who are ill, for those going through divorce and those who want blessings for their plans. Good prayers to pray, but they don't require any risk on my part.

Today, though, I've been called to a harder prayer. A friend of mine is calling people to mobilize in prayer on the first Monday of every month in hopes that we will see God moving in hearts around the world. On this first 1st Monday, he's asking that we fall silent before God and that we confess to him our own sins and failings, the failings of the church and of the nation.

Honestly, when I heard him say it, I thought, "well, at least confessing the last two will be easy." But God calls us to humble ourselves before him and before each other. And humbling myself means doing the hard things first.

There are many ways you can live out a deeper life, but for now, I'm going to join the worldwide prayer of 1st Mondays. (You can join the 1st Monday group on Facebook for more information.)