Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Monday, March 28, 2011

Music for a Monday: Holy Radiant Light

Continuing with selections from February's concert...

This was my first exposure to the work of Russian composer Alexandre Gretchaninoff. I hope it won't be the last — his work is beautiful.

Have a listen to the Atlanta Sacred Chorale performing the English translation of Gretchaninoff's Holy Radiant Light and see if you don't agree.

Holy Radiant Light
Alexandre Gretchaninoff (1824-1896)
arr. Noble Cain

Holy radiant Light! Thou Holy Radiance of the Father, Glorious and Mighty!
Thou Only Begotten Son of God, Eternal, Holy Jesu!
Come we now to the hour of setting sun;
The lights of evening 'round us shine.
O Holy Trinity, Holy One,
We sing Thy praise evermore; We sing Thy praise, Holy Trinity!
With undefiled lips evermore Thy Glory [is] to be praised
Worthy art Thou, worthy to be praised evermore!
Holy Son of God, Source of every life;
Son of God, Thou radiant Light
All the world doth praise Thee evermore; praise Thee, Thou Son of God!
Holy radiant Light: Praise we now, and evermore.


Friday, March 25, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 35

The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.

It's been a week of catching up on reading, blogwise and otherwise. Some nice gems have been waiting patiently for me — I hope you like them as much as I did!

Happy Friday!


Quoted on my friend Mandie's blog:

“People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.” — Elisabeth Kübler-Ross


Of course, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is famous for her five-stage model for grief counseling.

And in case you missed it, last week Jennifer Fulwiler wrote what she calls her "annual meltdown" on The 5 Stages of Daylight Saving Time.

From the Denial stage:

Every year I try to find a loophole that would prevent me from observing the time change. I’ve tried to have my home declared part of Arizona, but the powers that be in the City of Austin seem to be part of the Daylight Saving Time conspiracy.
Brilliant. Not unlike the sun that, in a few weeks, will be setting at 10:00 p.m.


A few years ago, my friend Andrej moved with his family from Michigan to South Atlanta to live and work with the people there. Soon after they arrived, Andrej set up a bike ministry to help the neighborhood kids learn skills as they work on donated second-hand bicycles, and work toward owning bikes of their own.

Here's a great post from his blog, telling the story of getting pulled over by police on his tricycle. (Be sure to check out the rest of the site, including their goals and values. Of course, if you feel so inclined, consider helping out financially.)


My friend Dan is writing a series of articles tackling the paradoxes and tensions of Christian faith.

Dan teaches philosophy at a local college. As a Lenten practice, he's reading through Emil Brunner's Dogmatics, and posting quotes from the book along with his reflections. His posts are heady, yet worshipful (paradoxically). I'm enjoying reading his work, because he invites the reader to simultaneously wrestle with those paradoxes and become comfortable with them — another paradox!

One of those paradoxes is that God is revealed, yet veiled. Dan begins that discussion in the post Don't Talk to Strangers, and continues it in The Naked God and The Veiled God.


Earlier this week, I read two articles that contained homonym misuses. (I know, I've talked about my issues with this before.)

It's easier to overlook grammar mistakes in the writing of amateur bloggers, but these errors were on the websites of major publications. To me, that's a more serious infraction, since the author's work has theoretically been seen by at least one editor.

In these articles, I saw two common homonym misuses: peak (vs. peek) and discrete (vs. discreet). Not to be pedantic, but peak is the crest of a mountain — if you mean "to look quickly," use peek. And discrete means contained — if you mean "quiet and confidential," use descreet.

Not to be pedantic, of course.


Next month, I'm reviewing a book called Health, Wealth & Happiness. Every time I pick up the book or even catch sight of the title, I get the chorus of Time, Love and Tenderness stuck in my head. And I've never even been a Michael Bolton fan.

This memory of mine is sometimes a curse.


And finally, a time-lapse video of Arizona (and a little Utah):

Landscapes: Volume One from Dustin Farrell on Vimeo.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Walk to Beautiful

Earlier this month, I alerted you that I'd been working on a couple of posts having to do with women's health issues (see take #7 here).

This is the first.

It may be difficult to read. It was definitely difficult to write. But please stay, even if it's not clear right away how it applies to you or your life.


You are a 14-year-old girl. You've never been to school. You were married to a man in a neighboring village at age 13 — before your first menstrual period — and six months later, you became pregnant. Now you are in labor with your first child.

Labor has already lasted for three days, but still the baby has not come...

L. Lewis Wall, Jesus and the Unclean Woman, Christianity Today, Jan. 13, 2010
view A Walk to Beautiful online

Joining a film midway through without knowing the title or the subject can be a real adventure.

One evening about a year ago, I was channel surfing and I happened across a documentary called A Walk to Beautiful.

I could tell the film was about women in Africa with a somewhat common debilitating condition, but I couldn't figure out what that condition was.

But I've visited Africa, and I'm a woman. Those two sympathies, plus my curiosity, kept me tuned in.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


If you ever come to my house and look in my pantry, you'll see I'm well stocked with a certain product that bears my name.

So well stocked, in fact, you'd think I owned the company.

Right now, there are five cans of Pam in my pantry. Five. Because you need the original, and the olive oil, and the kind for grilling... and a couple of backups for when the current cans run out.

But as you probably know, like the person whose name it bears, that product is not without its flaws.

One flaw is the fact that it's aerosol (sorry, environment). Another is that the overspray residue bakes on and fuses to cookware in a process called polymerization.

Impressed? Don't be. I learned it here, from Heather Solos.

After she explains how that goo gets there, Heather gives some ideas on how to get rid of it (and when to leave it alone).

But my favorite part about that post is the way she ends it:

Want to take a guess as to the fix?

Quit trying to keep up with Rachel Ray, Ina Garten, and Paula Deen. Yes, they are all good cooks. Yes, they all have beautiful kitchens, but here’s the thing. That kitchen is a TV set, not reality. That gorgeous cookware is replaced as soon as it shows the the slightest sign of wear. Companies send them cookware to feature. What you see is not receiving daily use by people with better things to do than perform upkeep on their tools.

I don’t have a crew, do you?
Hmm. Stop comparing yourself to people who have a crew to help them look perfect.

It's quite possible this advice might have applications outside the kitchen.


Monday, March 21, 2011

Music for a Monday: I Dreamed a Dream

Today on Music for a Monday, I'd like to feature a song that's become even more well-known in the last year or so.

When we saw Les Misérables last month, we sat in front of a row of teenaged girls. Their whispered comments made us smile, especially when they recognized this song as the one that brought Susan Boyle into the limelight on Britain's Got Talent.

As much as I like the song on its own, it makes much more sense in the context of the larger story. [Insert strongly-worded statement encouraging the reader to see the stage musical or one of the zillion versions of the movie, or even to read the book.]

This video is from a community theater production of the show, and features Holly Kerker in the role of Fantine:

I Dreamed a Dream

(Fantine is left alone, unemployed and destitute)

There was a time when men were kind
When their voices were soft
And their words inviting
There was a time when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time
Then it all went wrong

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving

Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted

But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they tear your hope apart
As they turn your dream to shame

He slept a summer by my side
He filled my days with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came

And still I dream he'll come to me
That we will live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather

I had a dream my life would be
So different from this hell I'm living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed.


Friday, March 18, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 34

The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.


My friend Dave responded to a bizarre challenge I issued to him on Facebook:

And here it is.

Dave responded so willingly and did the job so quickly, I sorta wish I'd challenged him to record his cat reading Flannery O'Connor. (Dave? Are you reading this?)


Early this week, I was out of town for a day-long interview for a graduate program I applied for. We didn't get agendas ahead of time, so I had no idea how they’d fill the entire day, but I was hoping it would include spa treatments… massages or pedicures or something… you know, sending a message about counselor self-care.


Speaking of self-care, I just read a great article on counselor wellness. Even if you're not a counselor, if you have a role that requires a lot of one-way giving (teacher, medical professional, parent...), there's great advice here for you.


So... in case you're curious about the result of the interview mentioned in take #2... the process went well (though, sadly, it didn't include a massage or a pedicure), and later in the week I received an invitation to join the program.

Looks like my next few years are... let's just say, booked.


Here's a graph with so many current applications:

A thought-provoking graph from Jessica Hagy of Indexed


It's not too late to offer your input on Say This, Not That! I've heard some great responses, and I'd love to hear from you!


I have a couple of posts in the works that have to do with women's health issues. (Not my own, mind you. There are some places this blog will not go, and that's one of them.)

I tell you that now so that you're prepared, in case you need to do this:

Happy Friday, friends!


Thursday, March 17, 2011


Today is Nat King Cole's birthday.

Nat "King" Cole (1919-1965)
We know him best as the velvet-smooth voice performing The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire).

But Nat King Cole was originally known for his skills on the piano — check out this early video of the King Cole Trio:

I mentioned Cole briefly in a couple of posts last month, because of the anniversary of his death, and because of his role in African American history.

From William Ruhlmann's biographical sketch on AllMusic:

For a mild-mannered man whose music was always easy on the ear, Nat King Cole managed to be a figure of considerable controversy during his 30 years as a professional musician. From the late '40s to the mid-'60s, he was a massively successful pop singer who ranked with such contemporaries as Frank Sinatra, Perry Como, and Dean Martin.... as a prominent African-American entertainer during an era of tumultuous change in social relations among the races in the U.S., he sometimes found himself out of favor with different warring sides. His efforts at integration, which included suing hotels that refused to admit him and moving into a previously all-white neighborhood in Los Angeles, earned the enmity of racists; once, he was even physically attacked on-stage in Alabama. But civil rights activists sometimes criticized him for not doing enough for the cause.
A couple more performances:

And just for fun, an appearance on the gameshow What's My Line:

Happy Birthday, Nat. You're still Unforgettable.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011


In the movie Last Holiday, lead character Georgia Byrd (played by Queen Latifah) thinks she has only a few weeks left to live, so she opts to take a vacation at a luxury hotel in Europe.

In one scene, a hotel employee offers Georgia a menu of spa treatments — massages, facials, seaweed wraps — but when she gets to anti-aging treatments, Georgia turns her down flat.

No need for anti-aging treatments if you're not going to be around next year.

Anti-aging. What a weird phrase.

Are we really walking around with picket signs that read NO MORE BIRTHDAYS?

We may not like aging, but do we really like the alternative?

At this point, you might be thinking, OK, Pam, you're picking the phrase apart much too literally. And you're right. (Though when I searched for an image to illustrate this post, I ran across this cartoon. Obviously I'm not the only one who's made that connection.)

But it's not like the products labeled anti-aging are really going to keep the years from piling up the way they do.

We're not really against aging as much as we're against the signs of aging... especially the more outward physical signs. And we'll do just about anything to ward them off.

I understand. There's a complex connection between age and self-acceptance. And it touches women in far deeper ways than our looks, since how we look is so closely tied to desirability, which is closely tied to our relationships, which are closely tied to lots of other stuff. (Which is why advertising works.)

In her blog Halfway to Normal, writer Kristin Tennant puts it this way:

The problem creeps in and takes up residence, I think, when our understanding of beauty is too narrowly-defined, and doesn’t leave room for the progression of life. Can we broaden how we see beauty, and be beautiful with grey hair? Can we see beauty in the stretch marks that formed when we carried our babies in utero? Can laugh lines (often known as “wrinkles”) around our mouth and eyes make us more beautiful, not less, because they tell a story about who we are and where we’ve been?
I'm working on developing that attitude. Which doesn't necessarily mean that I'm boycotting anti-aging products. But I'm laughing at the irony of the phrase.

And maybe that's a start.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Happy Pi Day!

I need this plate.
It's Pi Day (3.14)!

How many days of the year do you get to celebrate a geeky math pun with food?

I probably won't bake, but I might make a pizza... or, if you're from New York, a pie. And I will probably tell my pi joke at least once.

It's a day of math, language, and culinary marvels. What more could you add to such a day?

How about music?

Here's a great little video that "plays" with pi:


Friday, March 11, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 33

The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.


March 2 was the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, aka Dr. Seuss. What a talent!

One of my favorite sites, CakeWrecks, ran a great tribute to Seuss last Sunday. Here's just one sample:

...and I would eat it on a train, and in the rain, and in a box, and with a fox...


If you missed Tuesday's post Say This, Not That, please check it out... your input is needed!


From our Theology Can Be Fun department, theologian D.A. Carson guest raps on the Westminster Catechism.


Last weekend, I took a group to our local sculpture garden, which was just featured on Woman's Day's website (scroll down to the fifth garden in the article).

Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park


Speaking of Woman's Day, Tuesday March 8 was the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day. (No relation to the magazine with the similar name.)

Join Me on the Bridge event, International Women's Day 2011


Today, March 11, is Johnny Appleseed Day. (Or, at least, one of them.) Have an apple to celebrate!


And finally, a video for organizing the bookcase:

Happy Friday, friends!


Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Say This, Not That: an interactive post

You've probably seen Eat This, Not That!, the book that shows how simple food swaps can result in better health.

The book doesn't demonstrate the obvious (plain nonfat yogurt is better for you than a hot fudge sundae? Who knew?!). Rather, it shows how two restaurant items that look equivalent can contain vastly different calorie counts, as well as saturated fat and sodium levels, and how a little education and extra care can make a huge difference. (Really huge. Check out the preview — some of the comparisons are amazing.)

And now, walk with me into the strange inner workings of my mind:

The other day, I was chatting with a couple of friends when the topic of dumb things people say when someone's hurting came up.

We've all done it — said something insensitive when a friend is grieving, given a pat answer to one struggling with infertility — said exactly the wrong thing to someone, inadvertently causing them more pain. It might be that we're uncomfortable with others' suffering, or it might be that we just don't know what to say.

Enter Say This, Not That. Like the pairs of restaurant dishes featured in Eat This, Not That!, two statements can seem somewhat similar, and the intent is the same — but the effect is very, very different.

As with Eat This, Not That!, a little education and extra care to Say This, Not That can make a huge difference.

And that's where you come in.

  • Instead of "At least he's not in pain anymore" or "She's gone to a better place," say... what?
  • Instead of "Let me tell you about my miracle baby" or "You can always adopt," say... what?

Tell me your Say This, Not That ideas in the comments (or send them via the contact form), and I'll publish them in a future post. I've used grief and infertility as examples, but your Say This, Not That ideas can be about any struggle, especially one you've been through.

The Book of Proverbs says the tongue has the power of life and death (Prov. 18:21). I figure if people can be shown more uplifting options, we might choose to Say This, Not That.

And we'll all be better for it.


Monday, March 07, 2011

Music for a Monday: When David Heard

Today I'd like to feature another piece from the February concert of the community choir I sing with.

An ensemble drawn from the larger group performed four pieces, including this one.


Using a recording by The Cambridge Singers, this video sets the music with a slideshow that combines classic artwork depicting King David with contemporary photographs of parents grieving the loss of sons and daughters in wars and other conflicts. The slideshow is hard to watch at times, but captures the universality of parental grief.

When David Heard
Thomas Tomkins (1573-1656)

The text is taken from 2 Samuel 18:33:

When David heard that Absalom was slain
He went up into his chamber over the gate and wept,
And thus he said:
My son Absalom
O Absalom my son,
Would God I had died for thee.


Friday, March 04, 2011

7 Quick Takes: Volume 32

The idea of 7 Quick Takes Friday comes from blogger Jennifer Fulwiler, who hosts it weekly at her site, Conversion Diary.

ATTENTION: Important news about Les Misérables contained in take #7!

Today, apparently, we're mostly talking about food. Enjoy, and Happy Friday!


So last week, I talked at length mentioned our trip to Chicago.

Before we left the city, we stopped in at Au Bon Pain for coffee and sandwiches to take on the train. And I know you don't read this blog to hear what I had for dinner on a given evening, but let me just say: snow peas on a sandwich are a revelation.

Farmers' market season cannot come soon enough.


One funny thing about Au Bon Pain: they have several southwestern-sounding menu items (I'm an Arizonan — I notice these things), but no locations in the southwest. Hm.

They also have no locations in my area — but then the menu didn't include any sandwiches called The Grand Rapidian or The Amway or even La Grande Vitesse.


I've just discovered food columnist Mark Bittman. His work is a rare combination of social awareness and culinary goodness. How have I missed him all this time?

Here are a couple of video posts from his blog where he's cooking on the Today show:

He's also authored several cookbooks, which would look even better to me if I used cookbooks.


Speaking of cookbooks... this book recently came to my attention via my Biola Alumni magazine:

Don't worry, friends — it's completely tongue-in-cheek.
No imaginary animals were harmed in the writing of this cookbook.


This video will make you want to bake bread (or take up the accordion):

In fact, Mark Bittman wrote an article that talks about the same slow-rise process as is featured in the above video.


Can you handle one more recipe site in this post? Smitten Kitchen is another new discovery. I haven't tried any of her recipes yet, but the writing is fun and the photography is beautiful. The site's tagline is Fearless cooking from a tiny kitchen in New York City, but it's so much more.


Now, if my incessant blathering about Les Misérables has worked its magic (by which I mean, has made you want to see the musical), but your circumstances (by which I mean, location and/or budget) have conspired to keep you from the show, I have great news: PBS is airing the Les Misérables 25th Anniversary Concert this Sunday!

What a perfect way to cap off the weekend!


Tuesday, March 01, 2011

An imagined phone conversation between Rob Bell and John Piper

Date: Feb. 26, 2011
Time: around 3 p.m.
Place: Grandville, Michigan

[phone ringing]


"Rob? It's John Piper. Do you have a few minutes?"

"I, uh... sure, John. How are you? How was the sabbatical?"

"Great, thanks for asking. Hey, I don't want to take too much of your time, but there's something I'm concerned about, and I wonder if we could talk about it."


"It has to do with your latest book. Now, I haven't read it yet, but there's some buzz about it... admittedly, mostly by bloggers who also haven't read it... but what I'm hearing has me concerned. I don't want to react in haste, though. I'd like to read the book, and then set up a time where you and I can talk about it in person, prayerfully, as two brothers in Christ."

"I'd like that, John. Let's make it happen."


Sigh. If only...

Maybe if the everyday rank-and-file churchgoer saw this kind of conversation modeled by the big names, we might be inspired to have similar conversations with one another: humble, genial, gracious... civil.

Who knows... we might even be able to engage in grace-filled conversations with non-Christians, without panicking... and without feeling the need to win.

Aside from my wishful imaginings, I'd like to point you to a great post on this episode, and the bigger issues it exposes, by Rachel Held Evans. Her concluding thought:

At the end of the day, this isn't really about Rob Bell or John Piper or a single book or a single blog post. It's about a conversation that's been rumbling beneath the surface for a while now and has finally found the light.

May it be lively. May it be civil. And may it honor the One who prayed that our unity would reflect the sweet harmony of the Trinity... because the world indeed is watching.