Monday, January 31, 2011

While the World Watched

This memoir, written by a survivor of a Klan-planted bomb that went off in her church and killed four of her teenage girlfriends, both inspired and educated me. Carolyn Maull McKinstry tells of growing up in Birmingham (called "Bombingham" by many at the time) and how the tragic bombing of September 15, 1963 shaped her life for years to come. And though this tragedy occured in church, she looked to Jesus to heal her and help her forgive.

This well-written personal story contains a timeline, photos, copies of Jim Crow Laws and excerpts of speeches from Martin Luther King, Jr., John Kennedy and Governor George Wallace. It is very helpful in getting an overall picture of the segregated south and the Civil Rights Movement.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

365* 22-28, Snow Shrine, Snow Whine

Snowfall is magical to me! I can never get enough of it. Now, if I lived in Wisconsin, I'm sure I'd get my fill, but here in the south there is always a special excitement when snow is in the forecast and a feeling of disappointment if the snow does not materialize (or if our neighbors in surrounding counties get more than we do). At our house, we have a tabletop display that I have jokingly referred to as our "snow shrine" (which obviously does not work well).

And though I don't really collect snowmen (really, I don't), I practiced taking close-up photos this week on some of the snowmen around the house (including one that decorates the back of a toilet, one that holds mail, and one that contains this week's Mommytography "I Spy" object).

We were predicted to get up to 3 inches of snow this past Wednesday night. Instead, we got this "dusting" which looked more like a bad case of dandruff on our deck table.

Did we whine? You bet we did! Even if we had gotten the predicted 3", we would have complained to hear that Elizabethton got 4". Here is my son Noah watching for snow and giving his famous snow pout:

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thoughts on Happy Thoughts

I'm going to make a departure from my usual posts with photos, family news, or book reviews to share my thoughts about something.

For me, it started a few years ago. When listening to the Today Show, I heard Matt Lauer (or was it Ann Curry?) saying after some tragic event that they were "sending our prayers and happy thoughts." Now, I often hear them just sending "happy thoughts."

Is this the new politically-correct version of prayer? When someone doesn't really believe in the power of prayer (and doesn't want to be hypocritical) but wants to show they care, I guess this has become the appropriate thing to say. But if someone doesn't believe in prayer, do they seriously believe that "happy thoughts" are going to telepathically come to the rescue? I don't think so. I guess that they really don't know what to say, and they feel the need to say something.

Sometimes Christians (me included) are bad about saying that they are going to pray about something and then not doing it. In that case, they may believe in the power of prayer but be too lazy or forgetful to actually do it. In that case, they might as well have sent "happy thoughts."

For those of you who have prayed for us and Terry's job situation, I sincerely thank you! I also thank you that none of you have sent me "happy thoughts." If you do ever tell me you're sending me "happy thoughts," I won't be offended. But I hope you don't mind if I send up a prayer for you to come to know the God who truly answers prayer.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Goodness of God

I have really loved Randy Alcorn's books, so I was thrilled to get a chance to review "The Goodness of God: Assurance of Purpose in the Midst of Suffering." I was not disappointed. This is a small book on a big subject, but Randy Alcorn did a good job of making every word count. A lot of theology is covered, but it never took on a boring tone.

I would recommend this book to anyone wrestling with this issue, but better yet, read this book to prepare yourself when suffering inevitably comes!

Reading this review after the fact, it seems like one of the lamest ever. I guess I was just being lazy. I really did think this was an incredible book - and since it's barely over a hundred pages, it is an easy read. It was full of examples - some of Randy Alcorn's own life - and it left me with such a grand view of God's sovereignty. One of my favorite quotes was near the beginning. Hopefully, it will whet your appetite for more:

"Evil and suffering have a way of exposing our inadequate theology. When affliction comes, a weak or nominal Christian often discovers that his faith doesn't account for it or prepare him for it. His faith has been in his church, denomination, or family tradition, or in his own religious ideas - but not in Christ. As he faces evil and suffering, he may, in fact, lose his faith.

But that's actually a good thing; any faith that leaves us unprepared for suffering is a false faith that deserves to be abandoned. Genuine faith will be tested by suffering; false faith will be lost - the sooner, the better.

Believing God exists isn't the same as trusting the God who exists. If you base your faith on lack of affliction, your faith lives on the brink of extinction . . ."

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group in return for reviewing it on my blog

Sunday, January 23, 2011

365* 15-21 Beginnings

Sorry, that was the only theme I could come up with for this week's photos. I know I don't have to have a theme, but just humor me.

This week I took tons of pictures at the wedding of a daughter of a dear friend of mine. I was not the wedding photographer - in fact, I tried to be wherever she wasn't in order to catch something that she might miss (like the groom using his laptop to try to capture the wedding on Skype, an effort that failed due to low signal strength). I also got caught up taking lots of pictures of the wedding cake topper and cupcakes. The DELICIOUS cupcakes were provided by a local shop, "The Ugly Cupcake," and they asked me to take some photos for their website.

It was so fun to capture the beginning of this couple's new life together, and I think the shot of the bride and groom together captures the excitement that was in the air.

My other shots were taken at the beginning of the day on two different days this week.

On this first one, the sky was so pink, that I looked up from my reading and ran outside for a photo.

For this second shot, the moon was setting as the sun was rising. It made for a very wintery scene and reminded me of the book "Owl Moon."

Monday, January 17, 2011

Defiant Joy

G.K. Chesterton was a famous and very skilled English literary critic. So I find it a little intimidating to critique a biography of a literary critic.

Kevin Belmonte's book, "Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K. Chesterton" was about two parts biography to eight parts AP English Literature. It tells of the life of Chesterton through the lens of his own writing - which was extensive. I am familiar with Chesterton only through his wonderful quotes (one of which I've had on my blog for years!) and his book "The Man Who Was Thursday" (which I admit was very hard for me to understand), so perhaps I don't have the intellectual experience to fully appreciate this type of biography. I would have preferred a more narrative style. I definitely had to put on my thinking cap along with my reading glasses.

The book did inspire me to read more of Chesterton, though, and I think reviewing literature with the help of Chesterton would be one of the best ways to study English Literature from a Christian worldview. I hope to do such a study with my boys in a few years, so this volume will definitely come in handy.

I'm also inspired by Chesterton's modesty and charity toward those who disagreed with him. What's the point of having a good argument if your style means no one will listen? So here is one of my favorite quotes about Chesterton from this book:

"Chesterton was one of the deepest thinkers who ever existed; he was deep because he was right; and he could not help being right; but he could not either help being modest and charitable, so he left it to those who could understand him to know that he was right, and deep; to the others, he apologized for being right, and he made up for being deep by being witty."

I know I can never be a deep thinker like Chesterton, and it is likely I will never be as witty, but by God's grace, I hope to be modest and charitable. That will have to do.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

365*8-14 Road Trip

Disclaimer: Do not try this unless you are a trained professional. Or at least if you do, don't tell anyone you got the idea from me!

This week, I didn't have any idea what to take a picture of, plus I was going to be gone most of the week for business training. I decided to pack along my camera on my road trip to St. Louis. Well, twenty hours in a car by yourself can lead you to some novel sources of entertainment (I gave up reading while driving over twenty years ago, but I used to be quite good at it). I'll also point out that I was using my Panasonic "point and shoot" this week, not the Panasonic G1 with interchangeable lenses that I used last week.

So there is really nothing remarkable about most of these shots except that they were all taken from the interstate while I was driving (usually at 75 mph). For the record, I did not look through the viewfinder. I truly did "point and shoot" and then I would make adjustments if needed. I did NOT use burst mode as that just seemed like cheating. Timing was critical on lots of these. In some cases, it was snowing. In other shots, it just looks like it's snowing because the window is so dirty.

I also completed the "self portrait" and "upside down" challenges (I chose an ambulance thinking it would be both upside down AND mirror image, but since the ambulance was in front of me that wasn't the case). I had a lot of fun!




Posted by Picasa

Saturday, January 8, 2011

365*-3/7 - Whatever Your Hand Finds To Do

Ecclesiastes 9:10 "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might."

I didn't start out to have a "hand theme" this week, but when my first two pictures were of hands, I decided to just go with it. It was a fun way to "focus" on some of the different activities we do around here - from the artistic to the fun to the mundane. My days are full of such variety. I thank God for the beautiful and for the mundane and ask Him to help me embrace 2011 and all He has for me in it. I'm thankful that He holds me in His hands!

Sunday, January 2, 2011


I decided to take some more pictures of hands. These hands belong to Allie, one of my nieces who was here for the weekend to celebrate New Year's. Allie loves to play piano (just like her aunt!), and I like to spend time with her at the keyboard.

I think maybe the shots are better in black and white. Just seems appropriate for a piano shot.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


I almost forgot I was supposed to make a photo for my blog today (as part of the Mommytography Project featured on the sidebar). I decided to snap some shots featuring a handmade sweater that my mother-in-law gave me today. She did a great job with it, and it was a real surprise as she has just picked up knitting this year. Here she is finishing up the belt for the sweater, and I also took a photo that shows the texture of the sweater and the bokeh of the tree in the background. Maybe later in the week I'll take a photo of me wearing the sweater.