Thursday, April 29, 2010

A review by Patrick

I am not a fan of modern Christian music.  I think that most of it is anthropocentric, trite, cacophonous noise, lacking a sense of reverence and transcendence.  Alas for Rich Mullins (RIP).  But for all his lyrical artistry, even he is starting to sound worn (and, lets face it, so 1990’s).  Sara Groves is very, very good.  (Real men indeed listen to her all the time, then tell the world on blogspot.)  But one gets the impression at times that her God is some mystical entity, with fuzzy borders, more often named “Hope” than “Jesus.” 
            And I have never been a fan of Steven Curtis Chapman.  I think his lyrics have always been sound, but there was always something just a little too Nashville about him, like we should all get funky and jump around to guitar music (e.g. “so sink or swim I’m divin’ in,” etc). 
            A month or so ago I happened upon a favorable review (somewhere) of Beauty Will Rise, and I decided to download it.  I had already heard the tragic story.  Chapman’s 6 or 7-year-old daughter accidentally struck and killed by her teenage brother backing the family SUV out of the driveway.  As a father of two girls, I cannot imagine.  The grief ended Chapman’s music career, though, as it turned out, not permanently.  He’s re-emerged and blessed us with these 12 songs, all speaking to the tragedy and his and his family’s journey through it.  They all speak poignantly to the journey through the valley of the shadow of death.   Has anyone not been there before?  Is anyone there right now?
Out of these ashes, beauty will rise
We will dance among the ruins,
 we will see it with our own eyes
            The first song is Chapman’s admission that right now heaven for him is reuniting with his daughter, plain and simple. 
Heaven is the sound of her breathing deep
Lying on my chest falling fast asleep
As I sing
He later tells the story of his daughter’s becoming a Christian just days before her death.  He speaks of his family’s reuniting with her in heaven, and how in that moment, her brother will finally realize that everything is okay.  Then he speaks to the modern day tax collectors and sinners.  If God can meet him where he was, then you are most certainly not beyond his reach, though you may be lying in a bed you made for yourself in Sheol.
God’s love is all over this album.  It has been a great comfort for me.  I highly recommend it.


Wednesday, April 28, 2010

$30 well spent

Since I am finally wearing shoes that allow you to see my pretty piggies, I cashed in on my Christmas pedicure from my father.  While there, I discovered the greatest invention since disposable diapers.
Enter....the "Swivel Sweeper" seen on TV(so you KNOW it works).  ;o)

At the salon, they said they were skeptical, but they found that it really works both on hard floors and on carpet....even for hair (they do hair too).  This little beauty comes with a rechargeable battery.  Just plug it into the wall.  That means no cord and easy storage.  The four revolving bristles (one on each side) pick up your mess.  I thought, "look out Cheerios, you may have met your match!"  And then, are you ready for this?.......there is a trap door.  You squeeze two little tabs on top to release the contents into your trash.  You never touch the mess.  No bags.  It picks up things as large as shredded wheat cereal and as small as craft beads or crumbs.  IT WORKS!  I'm told they are available at places such as Target and Walmart.  I bought mine on ebay.  If you have small children, this will decrease your post meal/post snack/post craft clean up time by leaps and bounds.  If you have medium sized children, I imagine it will still be your best friend.......I don't have any of those yet.  And, if you have accident prone adults in your home, again, you need this.

The Swivel Sweeper works for me!  
For more Works for Me Wednesday, go here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Advice anyone?

I just got a notice that my "promotional rate" is finished for my phone/internet plan with Verizon.  I thought, surely if I call, I will be able to get the same rate.  No.  Anyhow, I think the amount Patrick and I pay for a basic phone plan and internet service (around $90) is ridiculous!  We don't have cable, so we do the bundle package for phone and internet with Verizon.  I know I could find a cheaper phone plan (ie Vontage), so I asked how much it would be to just get internet from them.  The difference was an astounding $2.  Yes, TWO DOLLARS!  Even the sales lady was surprised.  SO, now I find myself wondering if there is a cheaper option for fast internet.  As much as we LOVE our iPhones, we are also debating if this is an extravagance we should eliminate.  What do you use for your phone, cell phones, and internet providers?  Any advice?

Monday, April 26, 2010

What I've been reading...

The Story of the Trapp Family Singers was a good but long(ish) read.  It was not a book I couldn't put down, but it was an interesting story none the less.  The beginning is similar to the movie, but Maria Trapp tells their story long after they escape to the US.  Sometimes the perfect harmony and  altruism of this family is unbelievable at best and annoying at worst, but I found it overall to be inspirational. 

Death in Holy Orders was my first P.D. James mystery.  I had to get through the first third before I really got into it.  You really can't predict "who done it" because she gives reason for many people to be suspect.  She has excellent character development, as you feel you know something about the nature of even the most minor characters.  Similar to a Sherlock Holmes mystery, you aren't sitting on the edge of your seat, scared at every turn, but it is fun to read through the process of the investigation and the logic behind the detective's conclusions.  She explores many ways that good and evil interact in our society and human nature.  Without giving anything away, there was one part of the ending that was WAY too contrived, but overall it was a good read.

Never Let Me Go is written by Kazuo Ishiguro (who also wrote Remains of the Day).  I can't really tell you anything about this book because anything I write will be giving something away.  You don't really "get it" for a long time into the book.  I expected to like this book more than I did.  It was recommended by someone for our book club....someone that is well read and has good taste.  Maybe it was too built up in my mind for me to actually enjoy it.  However, when I finished it, I did find myself wishing I had someone to discuss it I guess it really may have been a good book club selection.  Anyone read it?

The Zookeeper's WIfe by Diane Ackerman.  If you can get past all the technical nature writing, there is a wonderful story here.  Ackerman tells the true story of Jan and Antonina Zabiniski, who ran the Warsaw Zoo, and harbored hundreds of Jews, during the Nazi occupation.  Much of it is written using Antonina's diaries.  If you enjoy reading about WWII heros, this glimpse into life in the Warsaw ghetto is certainly worth your time.

You should read The Reason for God (Belief in an Age of Skepticism) by Tim Keller.  Really, you should.  It is a modern day "Mere Christianity," addressing many of the common arguments against Christianity.  The first half is entitled "The Leap of Doubt," and it explores "beefs" people have with Christianity....How could a good God allow suffering?  How can a loving God send people to hell?  Christianity is a straitjacket....are just a few of the chapters.  The second half is "The Reasons for Faith."  In this section, Keller writes about why we all KNOW that God exists, and he gives compelling reasons for why Christianity makes sense.  It is a great book for apologetics, will strengthen your faith, and/or may answer some questions for you if you haven't yet made the decision to give your life to Christ.  This book is well written and easy to read.  One of the best I've read this year...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Flashback Friday

This is a random picture I found when looking through pictures from Korea.  This is in the middle of nowhere....

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Miss Christie visits...

Our friend, Christie, has appeared in many posts before, most of them from when we were stationed in Korea.  She even has her own label.  We love her.  She is such an amazing friend, and we are honored that she takes the time to visit us almost every time she comes to the US (she is currently stationed in Germany).  You should also know that she brings the coolest gifts with her, but that's not why we love her...okay, well, it might help Adeline love her a little more.

A play dough factory!!!  Hours of fun.

Every little girl's dream...

...and then her daddy (the token boy around here) makes duck roadkill.  Seriously.

Tiny Talk Tuesday

While reading the story of Jonah...
me:  "Jonah didn't obey God, and there were consequences for his actions.  Just like you have consequences when you don't obey mommy and daddy."
A:  "I could be in a whale's belly."

Camille is tired/ hungry and is crying on our drive home.
A:  "Camille, stop fussing.  No more drama!"
       (if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black...)


I'm putting Adeline to bed...
me:  "Adeline, mommy needs to go downstairs now.  Mr Salada is coming to pick up something."
A:  "Is he going to take the cupcakes?"


me:  "Adeline, you need to learn to pee in the potty like a big girl."
A:  "I don't want to be a big girl.  I want to be a baby girl!"

Head over to Mary's for more tiny talkers.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Sunday Finest---Easter edition

Of course, I tried to get "the perfect" shot before leaving for church
(thanks mom, aka grandma, for the dresses...)

The Buchanan's graciously invited us over for lunch after church....

Mrs Buchanan (Carla) even made these pretty spring colored cupcakes just for Adeline.

...AND she planned an egg hung just for her.

"Miss Tammy" was there too.  She loves my girls.  The feeling is mutual.

Hope you had a wonderful Easter, reflecting on Christ's sacrifice.