"God is the Lord of angels and of men -- and of elves."

- J.R.R. Tolkien
Posts From Our Blogroll
From Tim Challies
Thank God for the IMB

As I continue my year of so much travel, and as 2018 begins to draw to a close, I find myself pondering themes. What are some of the themes I have seen or experienced as I’ve traveled 16 countries across 5 continents? What are some of the common elements I can identify?

I’ll have much more to say about this in the future, but for today I want to tell about the one that continually that rises to the top: the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention. It seems that everywhere I go I encounter the IMB. In fact, the farther afield I go, the more likely I am to find evidence of its commitment to foreign missions. It has gotten so that I practically expect that no matter where I go I’ll soon come face to face with a smiling American. And, if not that, I’ll hear of how the IMB has built a building or resourced a ministry or funded a conference.

I wish I could tell a few of the stories, but in most cases I’m not at liberty to do so. Though some people have moved to these nations as pastors or missionaries, far more have had to move there as “workers.” They have gained access to nations hostile to the gospel through businesses or other enterprises. They are there legitimately, but carry on their missionary endeavors quietly and secondarily. But their stories are being recorded in heaven and someday we will hear how God called these very normal, very faithful people to fulfill his great commission.

Though I am not Southern Baptist and know too little about the IMB, its commitment to the world and its presence in so many nations has been one of the themes of this worldwide journey. It has become a deep and lasting encouragement to me. I thank God for the IMB.

From internetmonk.com
Lisa Gungor: I Found Unbelief through Pastoring A Megachurch

Lisa Gungor’s new book is called The Most Beautiful Thing I’ve Seen: Opening Your Eyes to Wonder. It is the story of her transformation from serving in a megachurch and singing in a Dove Award-winning Christian band to a painful and wondrous journey in the post-evangelical wilderness.

You can read more of the details over at Relevant, where Tyler Huckabee chronicles “The Evolving Faith of Lisa Gungor.”

For today, here is a video where Lisa describes some of that journey in her own words.

• • •

From Brandywine Books
Am Minot amused?

Norsk Hostfest

Posts from me will be sporadic this coming week, as I’ll be making my (more or less) annual pilgrimage to the Norsk Høstfest in Minot, North Dakota. I’ll be selling books, with Viking Legacy at center stage this year. And I figure there may be people around who’ll be looking for Norwegian translators. So I’ve printed up some business cards. Wish me luck.

From Tim Challies
Weekend A La Carte (September 22)

Today’s Kindle deals include a pretty good list of deals on some new books, some older ones, and a very good study Bible.

(Yesterday on the blog: How We Ordain a Pastor)

What’s the Main Concern for Christian Parents When It Comes to Gender?

“In teaching classes and seminars, I have noticed that what the older generation rejects, and what the middle generation isn’t sure of, the youngest generation likely adopts. But adopting culture’s understanding of sex and gender requires jettisoning God’s revealed design.” Parents, be prepared.

What’s So Great About Total Depravity?

“The doctrine of total depravity is not just something we learn so as to score high marks on some theology exam. Instead, total depravity is a doctrine to live by.” This is key–not even total depravity is mere abstract doctrine.

A Writer’s Prayer

Do you pray as you write? “Like all things in life, we can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15:5). Writers must abide in him and rest in his grace, wisdom, and strength. One of the ways we do that is in prayer. Like all the things we submit to our Father, we must submit our writing to him as well, asking him to use it for his glory and praise.”

How Microsoft Saved Apple (Video)

Did Microsoft really save Apple, as you sometimes hear? If so, why? “Today Apple is the most profitable company in the world and it very recently became the first trillion-dollar publicly-traded company in America. And yet just two decades ago Apple was on the verge of bankruptcy; surprisingly, it wasn’t Steve Jobs that saved them, but their biggest rival at the time: Microsoft.”

Creating Disneyland Was Like Building a Brand New City

“If visitors picked up maps to help them navigate the new park, they could see at a glance the payoff of years of planning: the shops and restaurants lining Main Street, the plazas, the wide avenues. Once a few opening day kinks were worked out, the park became the destination it is today. The magic city had finally sprung off the drawing board and into real life.”

Don’t Assume That Your Assumptions are True

Assumptions lead to darkness and the devil always thrives in darkness rather than the light. It would be really good to stop assuming and start asking people to verify that what you assume to be true is actually…true.”

A History of Healthcare

You may enjoy this brief history of healthcare as you see why and how Christians have done it so differently.

Flashback: Are You Going to Hurt Me?

Strength that was given to protect has been used to destroy, what was meant to bless has been used to harm. It has left this trail of fear, this trail of hurt, this trail of devastation.

Act Now. Pay Later

This week the blog is sponsored by Moody Publishers and is written by Robert Wolgemuth the author of Lies Men Believe. I am very thankful for each and every one of the blog sponsors. This site would not be possible without them.

We ought to be as earnest and frequent in our prayers of thanksgiving when the cupboard is full as we would be in our prayers of supplication if the cupboards were bare. —Jerry Bridges

From Semicolon
Saturday Review of Books: September 22, 2018

“I realize, of course, that I wasn’t born knowing how to read. I just can’t imagine a time when I didn’t know how.” ~Katherine Paterson


Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

From Brandywine Books
‘Tin City,’ by David Householder

Tin City

I felt as if I were committing four of the seven deadly sins just by walking with her.

I’m sticking with Rushmore McKenzie, private eye character created by Minnesota author David Householder, even in spite of the liberal virtue-signaling he seems compelled to inject into his stories. So far the stories have been worth the annoyance. So far.

In Tin City, Rushmore “Mac” McKenzie, gets a request for help from a friend. That’s what Mac does, after all. He came into a lot of money and no longer needs to work as a cop. So he helps friends. This friend is his late father’s best friend, a man who helped to raise him. Mr. Mosley is a beekeeper out northwest of Minneapolis, and he wants Mac to help him find out why his bees are dying off. It’s not the usual kind of mystery Mac investigates. It certainly doesn’t look to be very dangerous. But he wants to help Mr. Mosley.

Little does he know. Soon people are shooting at people, and people are getting raped and kidnapped and killed, and Mac finds himself in the center of converging whirlwinds of criminal and law enforcement plans and plots. And the price to be paid will be high indeed.

One thing I like about the McKenzie novels is that author Householder generally avoids the common trope of the Great Secret Conspiracy. He understands that big conspiracies don’t work very well in the real world, and what looks like some master plan generally turns out to be half-ignorant people making assumptions and stumbling against each other in the dark.

Cautions for language, violence, and mature themes. There’s a church and a pastor in the book, and they get treated pretty well.

From Tim Challies
Free Stuff Fridays (Moody Publishers)

This week the giveaway is sponsored by Moody Publishers, who also sponsored the blog this week.

Moody is giving away 10 copies to 10 winners, of the new book by Robert Wolgemuth, Lies Men Believe: and the Truth That Sets Them Free. Here’s how they describe the book:

You are being hunted.

Like a seasoned angler, our enemy opens his tackle box and selects the lure most likely to attract his intended prey—usually the one you and I are least likely to consider harmful. Each lie we bite on causes us to feel pain, lose or injure relationships, and miss out on the abundant life that God wants us to have. Lies Men Believeexposes the lies that men most commonly believe, and shows you how to combat those lies with the truth.

Lies like:

  • Pleasure and Entertainment Can Truly Satisfy Me
  • If I Mean Well, That’s Good Enough
  • If I Discipline My Children, They’ll Rebel
  • I’m Measured by How I Compare with Other Men

Find out how lies are holding you back from freedom, joy, and intimacy with God and others. Discover the power of the truth. Because once you fully embrace the truth, nothing is ever the same.

Enter Here

Giveaway Rules: You may enter one time. As soon as the winners have been chosen, all names and addresses will be immediately and permanently erased. Winners will be notified by email. The giveaway closes Saturday at noon. If you are viewing this through email, click to visit my site and enter there.

From Tim Challies
How We Ordain a Pastor

One of the solemn-but-joyful events in the life of a church is the ordination of a pastor (or elder, if you prefer). This is a rare event compared to many others, so is a time of special celebration. We have recently been able to enjoy it in our own church and in one of our church plants and have been greatly blessed. I thought it might be helpful to share the ordination vow our elders take before the church, and the reply our church takes before the elder. I trust you will see how each part of that vow is deeply grounded in Scripture. (You are free to adapt it for your own use as you see fit.)


Having repented of sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ; having been baptized and having been made a member of this local church; having faithfully served for many years in many capacities; having prayed and studied and read and grown in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus; and having aspired to this office of elder; and having been approved and affirmed to that office after careful examination by the elders and members of Grace Fellowship Church, do you now promise:

  • to lead a life worthy of emulation (Hebrews 13:7);
  • to joyfully watch over the souls of this flock as one who will give an account to God for each of them (Hebrews 13:17);
  • to always preach with the day of God’s strict judgment for teachers in mind (James 3:1);
  • to pray believingly for the sick (James 5:13);
  • to shepherd God’s flock that has been allotted to you willingly, eagerly, seeking to model first what you ask of them (1 Peter 5:1);
  • to serve the Lord with both joy and tears, to resist every temptation to shrink back from declaring the whole gospel whether in the privacy of someone’s home or the public square, to preach repentance and faith in Christ alone, to willingly accept suffering, should God place you in a position where obedience requires it, to value the calling and gospel of Jesus Christ above your own life, to guard the church as the blood-bought possession of Jesus Christ, and thus to care for her as his most valuable possession, to stay alert at your post, even willing to rebuke fellow elders who preach or teach any doctrine not found in God’s Word, to live as if, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:17-35);
  • to carefully weigh the words of the preached Word in this assembly (1 Corinthians 14:29);
  • to willingly suffer for Jesus’ sake hardship, physical torture, betrayal, inconvenience, exposure, disappointment, persecution, sovereign weakenings, calamities, and the daily pressures of concern for the church (2 Corinthians 11-12);
  • to value the Word of God over an argument won, to train yourself in godliness, to labour and strive with persistence in the work of your ministry more than any before you, giving God all the glory for any success, to address men’s lives as well as minds; calling others to follow your personal growth in godliness and sanctification, to keep close watch on your own life and your own doctrine (1 Timothy 4:6-16);
  • to purse righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, and gentleness, to never quit, give up, swerve from or slack off in your effort to fulfill your ministry, not even when you are middle-aged, tired, and suffering; to despise the allure of riches in this world and to live for the eternal wealth of Christ’s presence in heaven, to guard the sacred deposit entrusted to your care (1 Timothy 6);
  • to teach the Truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ in such a way that old men, old women, young men, young women, and children will understand how to adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ with good works, to value Jesus above your wife, your children (should God grant them to you), your church, your ministry, your knowledge, your self, and anything else in this world, to speak to God’s people with gentle authority, to be zealous for good works (Titus 2);
  • to not be ashamed of the gospel or the Savior, regardless of the audience, to flee youthful sins and run toward being a man of God who handles the Word of Truth accurately, to correct the ungodly with gentleness, not quarrelsomeness, to preach the Word of God; in season and out of season, reproving, rebuking, and exhorting with complete patience and teaching, to entrust your soul to the faithful Creator no matter the blessing, the trial or persecution (2 Timothy)?

If, in the sight of God and these witnesses you do now set your heart to make this pledge, promising that when you fail you will seek both forgiveness and restoration as soon as is possible, then I call upon you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom to answer, “I do.”

“I do.”

And now, would all the members of Grace Fellowship Church please stand.

Do you, the members of Grace Fellowship Church, commit:

  • to obey this man, and to submit to him, remembering that he is keeping watch over your souls, as one who will have to give an account. Will you let him do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you (Hebrews 13:17);
  • to encourage and identify God’s grace in his life, especially the grace of humility, remembering that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4);
  • to pray for him, that God may open to him a door for the Word, to declare the mystery of Christ that he may make it clear, as he ought to speak (Colossians 4:2);
  • and to pray that he will finish his course and the ministry that he has received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God (Acts 20)?

If so, answer “We do.”

“We do”

Brother, because we believe the Holy Spirit has gifted you to this ministry and made you a gift to this church and trust that we have not acted in haste, but in prayerful dependence on Christ, therefore, it is our joy as the elders of this church to lay hands on you and call upon God himself to seal to you this ministry for your life and his glory.

(At this point the man kneels and the current elders lay hands on him and pray for him.)

From Tim Challies
A La Carte (September 21)

To this point we have been thrilled with my son’s freshman experience at Boyce College. If you have children gearing up for college, you may want to consider attending the upcoming Preview Day, since that is what convinced us (and him) it was a place he could thrive. Use the code PREVIEW18 to skip the registration fee.

Logos users will want to read this quick guide to all that’s on sale this month.

(Yesterday on the blog: A Day With Amy Carmichael)

4 Reasons to Remember your Creator in Middle Age

It’s not just in the younger years that we need to deliberately remember our Creator! “Remember, middle-agers, our Creator is in the business of re-creating. In salvation, He begins the process of making all things new, including His creatures. In fact, the Creator lived as a creature in the midst of His creation to save His creatures.”

Traveling the World Was Never the Same Once the Boeing 747 Debuted

The 747 was an innovation that forever changed the world. “Like other American emblems of design and commerce, from the Empire State Building to the Golden Gate Bridge, the 747 endures—a little past its prime, sure, but undiminished in memory and in its power to inspire and awe.”

The Sadistic Quest to Design a Tinier Airline Bathroom

Speaking of air travel, you start to wonder how much tinier and how much less comfortable things can get before the inevitable backlash.

Emotional Intimacy

“Being safe emotionally is the thing that all other things in a marriage depend on. Emotional abandonment occurs when couples either refuse to communicate on a deep level, or they speak in such an abusive way that one of the partners withdraws. And without emotional safety in a marriage, defensiveness and selfishness grow and that makes it impossible to be vulnerable or intimate.” Here are a few tips on deepening emotional intimacy.

Biblical CBT

I appreciate this brief look at how to address unbiblical thinking with distinctly biblical alternatives.

A God-Directed Orphan Ministry

“Charles Spurgeon is remembered primarily for his powerful, Spirit-anointed preaching ministry that pointed thousands of individuals to Jesus Christ as their Savior and built up tens of thousands of believers in their Christian faith. For three decades Spurgeon regularly preached to 5,000 or more people at his church, the Metropolitan Tabernacle in London.” But there was much more to his ministry than that.

Examining the Theology and Practice of the Bethel Movement

The context for this piece is Australia, but the article itself is a carefully-documented examination of some of the most prominent concerns with Bethel Church and its worldwide movement.

Flashback: The Beginner’s Guide to Conflict Resolution

Conflict is an opportunity to grow in grace, in character, in love, in humility. It all begins with two simple questions: What kind of conflict are we in? And what do we need to do to resolve that kind of conflict?

Never let a hurried lifestyle disturb the relationship of abiding in Him. —Oswald Chambers

From Brandywine Books
‘A Hard Ticket Home,’ by David Housewright

A Hard Ticket Home

After Minneapolis author David Housewright wrapped up his Holland Taylor detective series (temporarily, as it turned out) he moved on to create another Minneapolis PI with a slightly more Travis McGee flavor – Rushmore McKenzie, former St. Paul police detective. “Mac” didn’t leave the force because of a traumatic experience or a principled conflict with the brass. He recovered several millions of embezzled money, and the insurance company paid him a 50% finder’s fee – but only after he’d resigned. Now he lives in a big house and, like Travis McGee, just “does favors for friends.” Unlike McGee, he doesn’t care about being paid. Hard Ticket Home is the first book in the series.

The Carlson family of Grand Rapids, Minnesota needs a favor. Their youngest daughter is dying of leukemia and has to have a bone marrow transplant. They think their older daughter Jamie might be a compatible donor – but Jamie ran away several years ago. Mac agrees to try to find her.

This leads him to walk into – and partly set off – a murderous crime spree involving some of the most successful people in Minnesota – people hiding a very dark secret. They have dangerous associates who don’t like private eyes snooping around, and some of them have no scruples about killing Mac – or the people he cares about.

I enjoy Housewright’s stories very much, and I always relish a Twin Cities setting. My only concern is that as he goes on he comments more and more on politics. He’s fairly mainstream, but I think he hits the right harder than the left.

But he hasn’t lost me yet. Cautions for language, very ugly violence, and mature themes.

From Tim Challies
A Day With Amy Carmichael (EPIC: India)

Nine months into my round-the-world EPIC journey, I finally visited India where I was able to spend a day at Dohnavur Fellowship, the incredible organization founded by Amy Carmichael. Here is a little bit of what I saw and experienced.

This video was sponsored by Zondervan, and they would like you to know about the new book Know How We Got Our Bible by Ryan Reeves and Charles Hill.

If you’ve never read a biography of Amy Carmichael, perhaps consider this one by Iain Murray or this one by Elisabeth Elliot. You can’t go wrong either way!


Tim: Just throw it in my… or do I throw it in here and just chug this?

Cameraman: I think you put the coffee in and you chase it with the water.

Tim: Put it in my mouth?

Cameraman: Yes, down your throat.

Tim: That was not delicious.

Cameraman: I’m impressed.

Tim: But it’s in.

This video is made possible in part by Zondervan and their new book, Know How We Got Our Bible, by Ryan Reeves and Charles Hill. This is the newest volume in the excellent Know Series edited by Justin Holcomb and I’ll tell you more about it in just a moment.

Tim: We’ve just arrived at Dohnavur Fellowship here in the far south of India. This is the place Amy Carmichael brought into existence through prayer, you could say. She served here for many years. She died here. And she has left behind this incredible legacy, I’m so excited to go and explore it.

Tim: Okay, right. And then, on the property, there’s still children living here?

Man: Yeah, 200, but now there are a lot of restrictions. Until 2002, we were able to take children from babies, 1-day babies, even 2-day babies. But now from 2002, government has restricted it that allows us to take children only from the age of 5. Until then we were taking from all over India.

Man: And in different parts of the world we are able to shine as witnesses for Christ.

Tim: Right. Oh, okay. So, all of this, she saw? All of this was built under her? Okay.

Man: Yes. Actually, most of the construction was over by the 1950’s.

Tim: Okay. She died in, is it 1951?

Man: 1951, yes.

Tim: Right, okay. And when did she first settle here?

Man: Actually, she came through this village in 1902.

Tim: 1902? Okay.

Man: Nineteen zero zero.

Tim: Oh, 1900. Okay.

Tim: These are the living quarters where she stayed for many, many years. Many of her personal effects are still here. Her library is still here and I believe largely intact. It’s interesting to go through. She was a voracious reader and read across many, many topics. Of note, there’s lots of commentaries, lots of Bible works. And then there’s also quite a lot of biographies. She seemed to enjoy reading biographies of many of the great missionaries.

Coming around, there’s this painting here of the Matterhorn and apparently, she especially appreciated a metaphor related to mountains which is: Sometimes life’s trials seem too difficult to endure, and yet just as somebody eventually prevailed and climbed the mountain, so we too can endure and overcome, through Christ’s help, the trials we endure.

She spent her later years bedridden and you can actually see a mark on the ground there where the post of the cot was. But above her bed then she had these promises that were very precious to her. She would meditate on them, pray and claim those promises to sustain her through very, very difficult days.

Woman: When I came here, I was an 8-day old baby. Amma’s child.

Tim: Oh, really?

Woman: I was born in 1948.

Tim: 1948, okay.

Woman: Amma died in 1951.

Tim: ’51, right. So, three years old.

Woman: Amma gave me the name that means flower.

Tim: Oh, really? She gave you your name?

Woman: In 1924 Amma started to build this church.

Tim: Okay. So, Amy built this, or Amy oversaw this being built? Wow. She was an ambitious person.

Tim: Wonderful. Beautiful.

Woman: Easter Sunday morning, the whole family will come here.

Tim: Yes. Oh, okay.

Woman: You know the story about Prina?

Tim: I know the story of Prina, yes.

Woman: She’s called Amma.

Tim: Okay.

Woman: So Amma likes to call her children Amma.

Tim: Okay. Amma is mum, right? Mummy?

Woman: Mother.

Tim: Mother. Right. So, if we go around here and we see a child, they’ll be saying amma to their mother? Okay. And it’s very similar in almost every language, has ma, mum, mother, yes. Every language has the same word. Because it’s the first one baby’s can make, right? Mama.

Tim: It was her wish that she be buried in an unmarked grave, she be buried even without a coffin. They did not put her in a coffin, but they did choose to mark the grave with a simple bird bath. She had a great love for nature, a great love for animals, for birds. So, they put a bird bath here with her name and the date of her death on it. And every day they come out and the put water in it to ensure the birds can still enjoy this spot.

As Christians, we read our Bibles and study our Bibles and love our Bibles, but maybe we don’t think too much about how we got them in the first place. In, Know How We Got Our Bible, Ryan Reeves, and Charles Hill walk readers through the history of the Bible, covering how and when it’s books were written, the formation of the old and new testaments and finally the translation efforts that have led to our modern versions today. This short book makes a perfect introduction for those thinking about it for the first time and an excellent refresher for those who have thought about it all before. You can buy it wherever great books are sold. For more information visit Zondervan.com.

From Brandywine Books
A peg-legged legend

Long John Silver

It be our fashion to honor “Talk Like a Pirate Day” here at Brandywine Books, and I’d be a Dutchman if I failed in my bounden duties in that regard. So here’s a tale for ye, mateys, from a book called The Pirates, by Douglas Botting, published in 1978 by Time-Life Books:

The lead-up: In August 1720, an East Indiaman called the Cassandra (an ill-fated name if ever I heard one) was set upon by two pirate vessels commanded by Edward England and John Taylor, off the island of Johanna near Madagascar. The Cassandra’s skipper was James Macrae. Macrae ran his ship aground to escape the attackers, and after ten days in hiding returned to try to negotiate with the freebooters. The pirates were divided in their opinions as to whether to kill the captain or to spare him on account of his bravery.

At a critical moment a fierce-looking, heavily whiskered pirate seaman, with a wooden leg and a belt stuffed with pistols, stomped up the deck swearing like a parrot; taking Macrae by the hand he swore that he knew the captain, he had sailed with him once, and was very glad to see him. “Shew me the man that offers to hurt Captain Macrae,” he roared, “and I’ll stand to him, for an honester fellow I never sailed with.” This unnamed member of Taylor’s crew was to gain immortality many years later as the inspiration for Treasure Island’s Long John Silver.

The pirates allowed Macrae to go free….

Captain Macrae’s savior, however, was not the sole inspiration for “Barbecue” Silver (who used a crutch, not a wooden leg). Author Robert Louis Stevenson told the poet and editor William Ernest Henley, author of “Invictus” (who had one leg), that he was the original.

From Brandywine Books
Why Read James Fenimore Cooper’s Books?

American author James Fenimore Cooper was born September 15, 1789. He died September 14, 1851. Daniel Webster said the following year, Cooper’s work was “truly patriotic and American, throughout and throughout.”

“He possessed the power of amusing,” he said, “and of enlightening readers among the younger classes of the country, without injury to their morals or any solicitation of depraved passions.”

But that was then. Do we still need to read The Last of the Mohicans or The Leatherstocking Tales today? Kelly Scott Franklin of Hillsdale College says we should. “For all his long-windedness, Cooper is the master of light and shadow; his American landscape is surreal, rugged, beautiful, and dangerous.” (via Prufrock News)

From Brandywine Books
I’d Rather Ye Saw on the Ship Knees Than Mine.

September 19 is Talk like a Pirate Day, so here’s a selection of dialogue from Walter Scott’s The Pirate.

“The lads,” he said, “all knew Cleveland, and could trust his seamanship, as well as his courage; besides, he never let the grog get quite uppermost, and was always in proper trim, either to sail the ship, or to fight the ship, whereby she was never without some one to keep her course when he was on board. — And as for the noble Captain Goffe,” continued the mediator, “he is as stout a heart as ever broke biscuit, and that I will uphold him; but then, when he has his grog aboard — I speak to his face — he is so d—d funny with his cranks and his jests, that there is no living with him. You all remember how nigh he had run the ship on that cursed Horse of Copinsha, as they call it, just by way of frolic; and then you know how he fired off his pistol under the table, when we were at the great council, and shot Jack Jenkins in the knee, and cost the poor devil his leg, with his pleasantry.”1

“Jack Jenkins was not a chip the worse,” said the carpenter; “I took the leg off with my saw as well as any loblolly-boy in the land could have done — heated my broad axe, and seared the stump — ay, by — ! and made a jury-leg that he shambles about with as well as ever he did — for Jack could never cut a feather.”2

“You are a clever fellow, carpenter,” replied the boatswain, ” a d—d clever fellow! but I had rather you tried your saw and red-hot axe upon the ship’s knee-timbers than on mine, sink me!

— But that here is not the case — The question is, if we shall part with Captain Cleveland here, who is a man of thought and action, whereby it is my belief it would be heaving the pilot overboard when the gale is blowing on a lee-shore. And, I must say, it is not the part of a true heart to leave his mates, who have been here waiting for him till they have missed stays. Our water is wellnigh out, and we have junketed till provisions are low with us. We cannot sail without provisions — we cannot get provisions without the good-will of the Kirkwall folks. If we remain here longer, the Halcyon frigate will be down upon us — she was seen off Peterhead two days since, — and we shall hang up at the yard-arm to be sun-dried. Now, Captain Cleveland will get us out of the hobble, if any can. He can play the gentleman with these Kirkwall folks, and knows how to deal with them on fair terms, and foul, too, if there be occasion for it.

“And so you would turn honest Captain Goffe a-grazing, would ye?” said an old weatherbeaten pirate, who had but one eye; “what though he has his humours, and made my eye dowse the glim in his fancies and frolics, he is as honest a man as ever walked a quarter-deck, for all that; and d—n me but I stand by him so long as t’other lantern is lit!”

This was really an exploit of the celebrated Avery the pirate, who suddenly, and without provocation, fired his pistols under the table where he sat drinking with his messmates, wounded one man severely, and thought the matter a good jest. What is still more extraordinary, his crew regarded it in the same light.

2A ship going fast through the sea is said to cut a feather, alluding to the ripple which she throws off from her bows.

From Brandywine Books
‘Another One,’ by Tony Faggioli

Another One

I’m ambivalent about the “naturalistic” school of Christian fiction. There’s a small group of Christian authors – and make no mistake, they are brave souls – who’ve decided that the gospel is badly served by the sugar-coating and bowdlerizing so common in Christian fiction. They believe it’s time to drop the taboos, because how can we expect people to believe what we say about heavenly things when we don’t tell the truth about earthly things?

I salute their courage and honestly, and I’m not entirely sure they’re wrong. I try to steer my own fiction closer to that line than many, so I’d be kind of hypocritical to condemn them. But I can’t deny they make me a little uncomfortable. It may be just because I’m old.

Tony Faggioli is the author of Another One, the first in a trilogy of supernatural crime novels starring Evan Parker, a Los Angeles police detective. The book is presented from multiple viewpoints, following Parker (an Iraq War veteran with PTSD) as he and his partner investigate the murder of a Hispanic gang member shot to death in a Korean neighborhood. We follow Father Bernardino Soltera, who is trying to help a young girl who has gotten pregnant by her gang member boyfriend, and is contemplating abortion. And Hector Villarosa, a gang leader just released from prison. He finds that his girlfriend has taken up with another man, and is contemplating revenge even as he struggles with guilt over setting his own cousin up to be murdered.

These men are bound together, not only by intertwined crimes, but by the visions they see – beings of good and beings of evil who respectively promise to protect or to kill and damn them.

Author Faggioli has some strengths as a writer. His characters and dialogue are excellent. The realism of his settings and descriptions are as good as you’ll find in any crime novel (I think – though he thinks a Glock holds a “clip”). I think he does a pretty good job of incorporating supernatural elements into a realistic story (a challenge I’ve faced myself, though never in this kind of gritty environment).

His weakness is his wordsmanship. Sentences like “Father Bernardino Soltera sat opposite the girl before him in his office and waited.” (Hint: you can drop the words “before him” and lose none of the meaning of the sentence.) And he has a problem with homophones: “reign” for “rein;” “council” for “counsel;” “cloistered” for “clustered.” While I was reading, I thought this was a first novel, which would make the errors somewhat forgivable. But it turns out Faggioli has written a whole series of novels before this, of which this trilogy is a spin-off. He should get a good copy editor; his stories are worth the effort and expense.

I did enjoy reading Another One, though it made me a little uncomfortable (probably on purpose). If you like this sort of thing and can handle a lot of obscenity, it’s worth reading. Cautiously recommended for its proper audience.

From Brandywine Books
Daniel Krauthammer on Finishing His Father’s Book

Charles Krauthammer’s son, Daniel, has written a touching paragraph on his father’s final project.

When his health crisis struck a year ago, my father was in the advanced stages of work on a new book. And when his health deteriorated and the end of his life was approaching, he entrusted me to bring it to completion on his behalf.

Read the rest here.

The book, The Point of It All: A Lifetime of Great Loves and Endeavors, will be released in December.

From Brandywine Books
‘Superheroes Can’t Save You’ by Todd Miles

There is no hint that Batman is anything other than an incredible human being (with seemingly unlimited amounts of cash). Though such qualities and skills are never found in any one real human being (that is what makes him Batman, after all), they are just human qualities and skills. He may be the most remarkable human being in comic lore, but in the final analysis he is just a human being.

And some people feel the same about Jesus.

Todd Miles, professor of theology at Western Seminary in Portland, Ore., spent most of his allowance on comic books for many years back around the time each book cost a quarter. He would browse the drug store rack weekly, reading most issues while in search of the few he would redeem with his not-so-hard-earned dollar. Many years later (after the experiments of a mad scientist would ruin his ambition to become the first man to circumnavigate Mars in a weather balloon), he connected his theological training to his comic lore fascination to make this conclusion: “Every bad idea about Jesus can be illustrated by a superhero,” at least the biggest bad ideas can. He ran with that idea in a Sunday School class, later a youth retreat, and with much encouragement wrote a book on it.

Superheroes Can’t Save You covers seven of the most popular heresies about the person of Christ Jesus, tying each of them to memorable superheroes. The chapter on the Trinity ties to Ant-Man, arguing against the idea that God manifests himself in one of three modes: the Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. The chapter on Jesus’s full humanity connects to Superman, explaining how Jesus, as God, did not merely pose as a man (as Kal El did in taking the alias Clark Kent) but became a man completely.

While each chapter is not evenly paced, they do follow a pattern. Miles begins with the comic lore, segues into the heresy, takes a moment to explain who commits the heresy today, describes the biblical truth, and then offers reasons for the importance of these truths. I think in every case, the key problem with the heresy is the undermining of our salvation. The Bible offers a clear logic for salvation, why we need it and how it is accomplished. With humor and careful writing, Miles tells his readers these alternate concepts of Christ don’t work in that logic. Thor can’t save us. Neither can a savior like the Hulk with all of his incredibleness. Only the living Jesus can save us.

I said each chapter is not quite even, because some of them dive into the comic storyline more than others and some swim through history more than others. Miles’s explanation of each heresy in a modern context brings the history forward, so it doesn’t remain as weird ideas from the past. Casual readers can discover liberals commit the Batman heresy and ways we teach about the Trinity easily lead people into the Ant-Man heresy (Oneness Pentecostals teach that heresy explicitly).

In the chapter on the Green Lantern heresy, Miles’s dive into Christ’s humility as Paul puts it in Philippians 2:5-8 had me in tears. Christ Jesus is awesome. He is the only one who can save us. But from who? Luthor? Bane? Magneto or Doctor Doom? No, the real life treat we face is ourselves. We have forged our own destinies, followed our own dreams, and would pour dust upon dust forever if the Lord God, our Creator, refused to intervene.

From Semicolon
Wizardmatch by Lauren Magaziner

We all have such different senses of humor. What to me is just silly may be laugh out loud funny to you. What is witty and fun for me may be boring to another person. So, when I say that humor in Wizardmatch just didn’t tickle my funny bone, that’s not to say that it won’t poke yours or that it shouldn’t. A chocolate pudding swimming pool, a boy whose magical talent is burping out birds, a wizard grandfather who is a spoiled brat—these just weren’t very humorous to me. But you—or your kids– may find them to be hilarious.

“Mortimer de Pomporromp—the oldest, most powerful, most celebrated wizard in his entire family—had the sniffles.”

Now, that’s a promising first line. I liked the name, Mortimer de Pomporromp. I liked that Mortimer’s granddaughter Lennie, the actual protagonist of the book, was half-Filipina. I liked Mortimer’s sensible assistant, Estella. I liked the persnickety cat, Fluffles aka Sir Fluffington the Fourth. I liked the eventual emphasis on forgiveness and family unity and teamwork.

I didn’t care for the constant sparring and fighting that went on between all of the characters in the book. I just didn’t like any of them very much. I didn’t like the snot/barf/gross motif that wove its way throughout the story either, although I realize that repetitive emphasis on bodily functions wasn’t written in for my benefit. Authors think middle graders in particular love that kind of stuff, and they write down to them, IMHO.

Then, there were some things in the book that just didn’t make sense. Lennie thinks her grandfather may be favoring her brother Michael over her partly because she’s a girl but also because she’s part Filipina. However, Poppop Pomporromp does favor Michael, who’s also half Filipino. When the villain of the story is trapped in a supposedly inescapable sticky trap, it turns out that it is escapable after all. And all of the adults in the story are horrendously bad at being mature adults; they’re more childishly competitive and bickering than the children. (Maybe that’s not so unrealistic as I wish it were.)

Final word: I didn’t care for it. You may like it better than I did. It depends on your sense of humor.

From Semicolon
Top 50 American Speeches and Declarations for our Homeschool Listening

I found several lists of of the greatest speeches of the twentieth century, the most important political speeches, the most memorable speeches in the world, etc. But I really found no list like this one. The speeches that really influenced the history of the United States were not just the politicians’ speeches. They were the preachers’ sermons, and the educators’ lessons, and the journalists’ essays that were read aloud and presented in the churches and lecture halls throughout the country.

John Winthrop, A Model of Christian Charity (City on a Hill), on board the ship Arbella while en route to the Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1630.

Jonathan Edwards, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, preached at Enfield, Connecticut, July 8, 1741. Read by Max McLean.

George Whitefield, The Method of Grace sermon, 1738-1770, read by Max McLean.

Patrick Henry, Liberty or Death, March 23, 1775

The Declaration of Independence, July, 1776. Written by Thomas Jefferson, et. al., read by Max McLean.

Thomas Paine, The American Crisis, December 1776. Orson Welles reads Thomas Paine’s The American Crisis.

President Washington’s Farewell Address, 1796. (Youtube: Learn Out Loud).

Thomas Jefferson’s First Inaugural Address, 1801, Washington, D.C.

The Monroe Doctrine, President Monroe’s 1823 message to Congress.

Daniel Webster’s Second Reply to Hayne, January 26–27, 1830. Orson Welles gives an excerpt from Webster’s speech.

Andrew Jackson on Nullification, 1832.

Frederick Douglass: The Church and Prejudice, November 4, 1841, Plymouth County, Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Cady Stanton: Seneca Falls Keynote Address, July 19, 1848, Seneca Falls, New York.

Sojourner Truth (1797-1883): Ain’t I A Woman? 1851 Women’s Convention, Akron, Ohio.

Frederick Douglass, What to the Slave is the Fourth of July? July 5, 1852, Rochester, NY.

Abraham Lincoln’s House Divided Speech, 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.

John Brown’s Speech to the Court at his Trial, 1859, read by Orson Welles.

Abraham Lincoln, The Emancipation Proclamation, September 22, 1962.

Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, November 19, 1863.

Abraham Lincoln, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865; Washington, D.C.

William Jennings Bryan’s ‘Cross of Gold’ speech, 1869 Address to the Democratic National Convention.

Dwight L. Moody, Law and Grace sermon, 1870’s.

Susan B. Anthony, On Women’s Right to Vote, 1872.

Chief Joseph Surrender Speech, October 5th, 1877.

Frances E.W. Harper, Woman’s Political Future, World’s Congress of Representative Women, Chicago, 1893.

Booker T. Washington, The Atlanta Compromise Address, September 1895.

Theodore Roosevelt: The Man with the Muck-Rake, April 15, 1906, Washington, D.C.

Theodore Roosevelt, Citizenship in a Republic, April 23, 1910; Paris, France.

Billy Sunday, The Old-Time Religion, c. 1910.

Russell Conwell, Acres of Diamonds, 1913.

Woodrow Wilson’s War Message, April 2, 1917, Washington, D.C.

Woodrow Wilson, 14 Points speech to Congress, January 8, 1918.

R.G. Lee, Payday Someday, c. 1920.

Calvin Coolidge’s 1925 Inaugural Address.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933

Lou Gehrig, Farewell to Baseball Address, July 4, 1939; Yankee Stadium. Text and audio of the entire speech.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s War Message, December 8, 1941.

Harry S. Truman: The Truman Doctrine, March 12, 1947.

William Faulkner, Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech, December 10, 1950.

Douglas MacArthur: Farewell Address, April 19, 1951.

Billy Graham, New York Crusade Sermon, How To Live The Christian Life, 1957.

John F. Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961.

John F. Kennedy, The Decision to Go to the Moon, May 25, 1961; Rice Stadium, Houston, TX.

I Have a Dream Address by Martin Luther King, Jr., March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, August 28, 1963

Malcolm X, The Ballot or the Bullet, April 3, 1964.

Paul Harvey, Freedom to Chains, 1965.

Martin Luther King, Jr., I’ve Been to the Mountaintop, April 3, 1968, Memphis, TN, the night before Reverend King was assassinated.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, A World Split Apart, June 8, 1978, Harvard University commencement.

Ronald Reagan Shuttle Challenger Disaster Address, January 28, 1986.

Ronald Reagan at the Berlin Wall, Brandenburg Gate, June 12, 1987.

From Semicolon
Saturday Review of Books: September 15, 2018

“A book that requires nothing from you might offer the same diversion as that of a television sitcom, but it is unlikely to provide intellectual, aesthetic, or spiritual rewards long after the cover is closed.” ~On Reading Well by Karen Swallow Prior


Welcome to the Saturday Review of Books at Semicolon. Here’s how it usually works. Find a book review on your blog posted sometime during the previous week. The review doesn’t have to be a formal sort of thing. You can link to your thoughts on a particular book, a few ideas inspired by reading the book, your evaluation, quotations, whatever.

Then on Friday night/Saturday, you post a link here at Semicolon in Mr. Linky to the specific post where you’ve written your book review. Don’t link to your main blog page because this kind of link makes it hard to find the book review, especially when people drop in later after you’ve added new content to your blog. In parentheses after your name, add the title of the book you’re reviewing. This addition will help people to find the reviews they’re most interested in reading.

After linking to your own reviews, you can spend as long as you want reading the reviews of other bloggers for the week and adding to your wishlist of books to read.

From Semicolon
Spindrift and the Orchid by Emma Trevayne

spindrift: “(more rarely spoondrift)usually refers to spray, particularly to the spray blown from cresting waves during a gale. This spray, which “drifts” in the direction of the gale, is one of the characteristics of a wind speed of 8 Beaufort and higher at sea.” (Wikipedia)

Called Spindrift because she was rescued from the sea after a shipwreck that killed both of her parents, the girl who lives with her grandfather in the apartment above his shop of magical curiosities has only one keepsake from her childhood. Spindrift has a clear glass ball that has always only been a plaything, a reminder that someone cared enough to set her adrift, wrap her in a blanket, and place the glass bauble beside her in the boat. Now, though, things are starting to change. A mysterious man is looking for a black orchid. Spindrift’s grandfather has begun to share with her the letters that her mother sent to him long ago. And the glass orb has become something more, something powerful, something magical.

Maybe you should quit here if you’re going to read the book because the rest of this post may include spoilers. Is it a spoiler to say that I was reminded of Gollum and the One Ring as I read about Spindrift and her black orchid? I liked the friendship between Spindrift and her two besties, Clemence and Max. I liked the loving relationship between Spindrift and her grandfather. The plot was logical and made sense, but it wasn’t completely predictable. And I especially liked the ending.

I read a book, The House of Months and Years, by Emma Trevayne last year, and I wasn’t too impressed. This one is much better, and I plan to recommend it to LOTR fans, N.D. Wilson fans, and others who like magical quest stories.

From The Living Room
thursday 13

This week: 13 things you do for self-care.

  1. Get counseling when I need it
  2. Vitamin D supplement, probiotic, OTC allergy meds, fish oil
  3. I’m trying to get better about consistent exercise…
  4. Also trying to get better about eating well.
  5. Starting to get better about wearing sunscreen.
  6. I paint my own toenails because I’m one of those people that hates pedicures.
  7. Once a year I’ll do a foot peel–you soak your feet in this liquid for an hour and then over the next few days your dead skin all peels off. It is mildly horrifying, but your feet feel and look amazing afterwards.
  8. I’m not totally consistent about this, but I use the Headspace app to do some deep breathing in the morning or to help me fall asleep and it’s great.
  9. Also trying to hang out with my people more, because community is necessary and good.
  10. Can we count church here? I suppose that is not so much self-care as it is being open to God’s care for me, yes?
  11. Every once in a while I’ll do a brain dump in my notebook–just make myself write anything that comes to mind for 10-15 minutes and fill up a couple of pages. Surprisingly helpful.
  12. Need to schedule it for this year, but yearly checkup at the doctor.
  13. Creative endeavors–knitting, guitar, etc.

From Semicolon
Born on This Date: Carol Kendall, b.1917, d.2012

The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall. The story of five non-conformist Minnipins who become unlikely heroes. The Periods, stodgy old conservatives with names such as Etc. and Geo., are wonderful parodies of those who are all caught up in the forms and have forgotten the meanings. And Muggles, Mingy, Gummy, Walter the Earl, and Curley Green, the Minnipins who don’t quite fit in and who paint their doors colors other than green, are wonderful examples of those pesky artistic/scientific types who live just outside the rules of polite society. The Gammage Cup was a Newbery Honor book in 1960.

The Whisper of Glocken by Carol Kendall. A sequel to The Gammage Cup, Whisper continues the story of the Minnipins and their isolated valley home. In this story which takes place among a new generation of Minnipins, the Minnipin valley is being flooded. Five new unlikely heroes—Crustabread, Scumble, Glocken, Gam Lutie, and Silky— set out on a quest to release the dammed river.

The Firelings by Carol Kendall is a third fantasy novel for middle grade readers and older, but it does not take place in the the world of the Minnipins. Instead, the Firelings are a group of people who live underneath a volcano and worship the fire god, Belcher. As the heretofore dormant volcano begins to erupt, a group of again “unlikely heroes” must find a way to save the Firelings.

Ms. Kendall also wrote a couple of children’s mysteries, a couple of adult mysteries, and two collections of folk tales, Chinese and Japanese. She liked to travel, but made her home in Lawrence, Kansas.

In a 1999 lawsuit, an author, Nancy Stouffer, accused J.K. Rowling of plagiarizing the name “Muggles” from her books. But Rowling’s lawyer pointed out that Carol Kendall used the name “Muggles” for one of her, very ordinary, characters many years previous to Rowling’s or Stouffer’s use of the term/name. Carol Kendall is said to have laughed at the brouhaha and said, “I’ve got no quarrel with them … There’s only so many ideas and if you have one then someone else out there probably has the same one, too.”

Quotes from Kendall’s books:

“No matter where There is, when you arrive it becomes Here.”

“When you say what you think, be sure to think what you say.”

“You never can tell
From a Minnipin’s hide
What color he is
Down deep inside.”

“If you don’t look for Trouble, how can you know it’s there?”

“Where there’s fire, there’s smoke.”

“It was easy to be generous when you had a lot of anything. The pinch came when you had to divide not-enough.”

“No hurry about opening his eyes to see where he was. If he was dead, he wouldn’t be able to open them anyway; and if he was alive, he didn’t feel up to facing whatever had to be faced just now. After a while it occurred to him that he had no business being dead. You couldn’t just selfishly go off dead, leaving your friends to their fate, and still feel easy in your mind.”

“[I]t came to him—–the truth about heroes. You can’t see a hero because heroes are born in the heart and mind. A hero stands fast when the urge is to run, and runs when he would rather take root. A hero doesn’t give up, even when all is lost.”

All three of Kendall’s fantasy novels for children, but especially The Gammage Cup, are not as well known as they ought to be and also highly recommended—by me.

From Semicolon
Outlaws of Time: The Last of the Lost Boys by N.D. Wilson

Outlaws of Time: The Legend of Sam Miracle, Book 1
Outlaws of Time: The Song of Glory and Ghost, Book 2

I wrote of the first two books in this series that they were confusing, violent, headache-inducing, and fascinating. I want to like Mr. Wilson’s series about a boy named Sam Miracle and his sidekick(?) or maybe companion(?) or maybe better half, Glory Hallelujah. I want to understand or even just appreciate the books. But I just can’t keep up. And I can’t decide if that’s my fault as a reader or Mr. Wilson’s failing as a writer.

This third book is about the fall and rise of the son of Sam Miracle and Glory Hallelujah, Alexander Miracle. I think. Or maybe it’s about a Korean American girl named Rhonda who learns to be brave and walk through darkness. Or maybe it’s about how Sam and Glory sacrifice themselves to save their son.

The thing is N.D. Wilson writes delicious prose. His sentences are at times mesmerizing. Examples:

“Darkness wasn’t possible with smooth blankets of snow on every horizontal surface, and jagged rime frost armoring every pole and wire and fence post. Light, any light, bounced and bounced and lived on in such a white winter, but it also arrived in stillness, with none of the traffic and chatter of day.”

“And when she and Sam were deep in that oily and foul nothingness, she even sang. And while it helped Sam’s memory when an unbroken song straddled two different times, he knew that Glory didn’t just sing for him. She threw her voice through that outer darkness as a call to the ones she had loved and lost, and she hoped they would hear it, and know her voice, and be stirred.”

“It was like a magic beanstalk of flame. How high could it reach? Where was the ceiling in this place? Would it walk away like a tornado or would it sit here growling until there was no more oily air to burn? And how long would that be? He could see tendrils of darkness being swept up in the cyclone, slithering across the stone floor and groping through the air like his own hands had been only moments ago. The spinning inferno slurped it all in as it grew.”

See, the man can write. He’s definitely got the word picture thing going.

But . . . I have time travel whiplash. And Death keeps happening in these books, but it gets undone, or something. People go back in time and die over and over again, but they manage to change the timeline. And they don’t die or they don’t stay dead? So. what use is it to try to kill the villains in the piece if nobody really stays dead? On the other hand, it seems as if some of the villains are really, truly dead and gone. Have I mentioned that I’m confused?

If you’re going to read these books, and if anything I’ve written about them intrigues you and even piques your curiosity, I’d recommend that you try, then read them in order: The Legend of Sam Miracle, The Song of Glory and Ghost, and then this one, The Last of the Lost Boys. I don’t know if this book is the last in the series, or if there will be another book in which Sam’s and Glory’s son, Alexander, learns to travel through time and “wield power without rage.” But the ending does leave the latter possibility wide open.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click on a book cover here to go to Amazon and buy something, I receive a very small percentage of the purchase price.
This book may be nominated for a Cybils Award, but the views expressed here are strictly my own and do not reflect or determine the judging panel’s opinions.

From Semicolon
Old Friends by Tracy Kidder

I like Tracy Kidder’s books. His Soul of a New Machine is a classic nonfiction introduction to the culture of the high-tech computer industry. Among Schoolchildren gives an in-depth look at the community of a fifth grade classroom. House shows the joys and challenges of building one’s own home. And in Kidder’s Strength in What Remains the protagonist of the book, also nonfiction, is a young man from war-torn Burundi who finds friends and sustenance in the United States. Mountains Beyond Mountains is about American philanthropist and doctor, Paul Farmer, who works through the medical and international aid communities to help tuberculosis patients in poverty-stricken places.

I guess one thing that draws me to Kidder’s books is their emphasis on community, on looking deeply into a community of people who are pursuing a goal or forming a group to mutually support one another in life. Old Friends is about the forced community of a nursing home. Lou Freed, a 90-something Jewish man, and Joe Torchio, a 70-something stroke victim, are assigned to each other as roommates. Lou, nearly blind but otherwise healthy, has recently lost his beloved wife. Joe has re-taught himself to walk and talk, but he still warns others that he is only working with half a brain. The two men live in a New Jersey nursing home, Linda Manor, where they interact with other residents, staff, and visitors in a “home” that will most likely be their final place, their last experience of community.

It’s a gentle story, somewhat tragic, but ultimately hopeful. The residents of Linda Manor are a mixed bag. Some are cognizant of their surroundings, intelligent and aware, and others are overcome by dementia or Alzheimer’s or some combination. Joe calls the former, the mentally alert residents, those who got-all-their-buttons. Some Linda Manor residents spend their days in bed or watching television; other roam the halls. One picks imaginary flowers from the carpet as she walks through the home. Joe and Lous participate in exercise classes, bingo games, and other planned, and sometimes unplanned, activities. They deal with visitors and phone calls and health alarms and staff cuts. They talk about how to maintain or improve their health and how to relate to or help the other residents and the staff at Linda Manor. They make jokes, act in a play directed by one of the residents, Eleanor, and monitor each other’s mental state and physical ailments.

The ending for this book was always going to be a problem because we all know how it ends. These men are not going to recover their health, go home, and start over. As it is written, the book covers a year of life at Linda Manor, and the two old friends are still old and still friends at the end of the year. Of course, I wanted to know what exactly happened to Lou and Joe and when, but a part of me is content to leave it there. I guess I know generally what happened since it’s been over twenty-five years since the events in the book took place. And that’s enough. From the introduction to the book:

There is an ancient proverb:
Don’t judge a life good or bad before it ends.
~Sophocles, Women of Trachis

Other books about growing old or about nursing home residents:
The Song of Sadie Sparrow by Kitty Foth-Regner. Sadie Sparrow is an eighty-six year old widow who has come to live at The Hickories because her daughter is too busy to care for her at home. Meg Vogel is freelance writer who has been hired to write the residents’ biographies, to take down their stories. Their friendship seems unlikely, but as they get to know each other and the other residents and visitors, their questions and the answers they find lead them to consider eternal truth and ultimate answers.
A Song I Knew By Heart by Bret Lott. This novel is based on the book of Ruth, and the characters even share (or come close to) the Biblical names: Naomi, Ruth, Mahlon, Eli, and Beau. However, this book is the story of an elderly Southern woman who has been living in the Northeast. After the deaths of both her husband and her only son, Naomi decides to return to her childhood home in South Carolina.
Winter Birds by Jamie Langston Turner.
A Severed Wasp by Madeleine L’Engle. Katherine Forrester Vigneras is an elderly, and quite famous, pianist, musician, and grande dame. She moves to lives in New York City and finds community in the people who live near and in relation to the Cathedral of St. John the Divine.
Summer of the Great-Grandmother by Madeleine L’Engle. Nonfiction. Reflections on family life, death, and dying in a Connecticut farmhouse.
Being Mortal: Illness, Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande. A doctor writes about his own experiences with aging parents and the issues surrounding terminal illness, hospice, nursing home care, and death and dying.

From Semicolon
The Inventors at No. 8 by A.M. Morgen

George, the Third Lord of Devonshire and the unluckiest boy in London, has a number of problems. Everyone who comes near him seems to die or at least suffer some sort of tragedy. He’s an orphan with no family left. He has sold almost everything he owns, but he’s about to lose his home anyway. His last heirloom, a map that’s supposed to reveal the hiding place of a treasure called the Star of Victory, is stolen. And his only friend and caretaker, his manservant Frobisher, has disappeared, presumably kidnapped.

Then, George meets Ada Byron, his neighbor across the street, and life gets even more interesting—and dangerous. Ada introduces George to Oscar, whose father is a long-absent pirate, and to Ruthie, the orangutan who is Oscar’s friend, and the four of them set out to find the map, the Star of Victory, and Frobisher. Will George’s notoriously bad luck jinx the entire quest? Is Ada really able to fly—and land—her own self-invented flying machine? Are Oscar and Ruthie a help or a hindrance in the mission to find the Star of Victory? Where and what is the Star of Victory, and can it help them rescue Frobisher? And is Ada like her estranged father Lord Byron, “mad, bad, and dangerous to know”?

At the end of this rather extravagantly nonsensical story, the author quotes Ada Byron Lovelace herself, who was a real person, really the inventive and talented daughter of Lord Byron, the poet. From a letter to Ada Byron’s mother:

“P.S. I put as much nonsense as I possibly can in my letter to you because I think it compensates you for the grave dry subjects of your letters, but I suspect the truth is it gives me pleasure to write nonsense.”

I suspect it gave Ms. Morgen much pleasure to write this fantastical adventure story, and it gave me some pleasure to read it. I did have trouble following the logic of the story, but that may be due to the lack of logic in some parts. The children, as children and adults are wont to do, often make assumptions and jump to conclusions that are unwarranted. If you are looking for a Poirot-type logical and sensible mystery story, this adventure isn’t it. But it is a romp. And the characterization is lovely:

George, the 3rd Lord of Devonshire, is a Puddleglum, pessimistic, superstitious, wary of Ada’s flights of fancy, and untrusting (with reason). But he works himself up to bravery in spite of his fears, and he begins to believe in impossible adventures by the end of the book.

Ada Byron is the Pied Piper, luring George into adventure, danger, and belief in the impossible. She is inventive, intelligent, and confident, everything that George isn’t and doesn’t believe he can possibly become. In the author’s note, Ms. Morgen tells us that twelve year old Ada Byron really did dream of building a flying machine, but it never quite got off the ground.

Oscar is bit less well-developed as a character, but he does add “character” to the ensemble, especially when he talks to Ruthie the orangutan using semaphore sign language.

Anyway, for the enjoyment of this particular fantasy, you will need to suspend disbelief and judgment and maybe logic and just go with the flow. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

From Semicolon
The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn

With over six million copies sold, countless children have been introduced to Chester Raccoon through The Kissing Hand, the first title in the series that firmly shows the importance of characters with whom kids can share their troubles. Now in its 25th year of printing, The Kissing Hand has found its way into the hearts of teachers, librarians, parents, and children around the world, especially during times of separation like starting school, entering daycare, or going to camp. Celebrate the special Kissing Hand anniversary with Chester and his mother in this limited edition family keepsake with a dedication page, Letters to Chester booklet download and, of course, heart stickers.

That’s the PR copy, and I did get a copy of the 25th anniversary edition of The Kissing Hand for review purposes. It seems to be a love-it/hate-it kind of book with parents and precious preschoolers in the love-it camp and librarians and jaded older children on the hate-it side. Or maybe not. The Kissing Hand is included on Betsy Bird’s Top 100 Picture Books List at #95 with commentary that it “seems to raise no ire. It simply fulfills its purpose in life and continues onward after that.” Publisher’s Weekly calls the book “sugary” and “pleasant if sentimental.”

I find it certainly appealing to some, but rather forgettable for me. Maybe I just don’t care for “therapy books.” Or perhaps I’m too much of a homeschooler to fully appreciate a book that’s meant to comfort a child who’s being sent off to day care or kindergarten. The 25th anniversary edition is lovely, and I will include it in my library. However, since my library patrons are also crotchety homeschoolers who eschew sending off their children to school, it may not get much circulation.

Publication date for the new edition is September 11, 2018—tomorrow. It seems a bit late for back-to-school, but if your child is still having separation anxiety, The Kissing Hand may even now come in handy, so to speak.

From The Living Room
thursday 13

This week: Books you’ve read in the past 12 months.

  1. Tom Hanks, Uncommon Type (yes, that Tom Hanks)
  2. Rachel Khong, Goodbye Vitamin
  3. Gregory Cole, Single, Gay, Christian
  4. Sue Grafton, X
  5. Min Jin Lee, Pachinko
  6. Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You
  7. Joy Beth Smith, Party of One
  8. Daniel Coyle, The Culture Code
  9. Nnedi Okorafor, Binti
  10. Edward Lee, Buttermilk Graffiti
  11. Suzanne Stabile, The Path Between Us
  12. Austin Channing Brown, I’m Still Here
  13. W.B. Sprague, Lectures On Revivals

From The Living Room
Random thoughts on a Saturday night

  1. Line I thought of but haven’t had the time to sit down and write a whole poem around yet: “I was born in the shadow of the valley of death.” (I was born in a Korean county that’s home to a valley called the Punch Bowl, where hundreds of Korean and American soldiers met their fates during a Korean War battle; this feels like a rather poetic if somewhat grim detail.)
  2. Speaking of Koreanness, I have come across a YouTube channel called Korean Englishman that is pretty much what it says: It’s a young English guy who grew up in a city in China where there are a lot of Korean people, and he fell in love with Korean culture and language. So he’s basically acting as a one-man Korean tourism board, introducing his English friends to Korean food and stuff, and he has quite a following of Korean people, which sort of surprised me. But as someone said in the comments on one of his videos, Koreans are very curious about what other cultures think of theirs, so this guy’s appreciation of Koreanness is really affirming to them.
  3. This does, however, have me thinking about a lot of stuff–there’s part of me that’s bothered by it centering on the experiences of a white British guy instead of on the stories of actual Korean people, but on the other hand actual Korean people don’t really seem to mind and are in fact really stoked about it? Maybe it’s an American attitude toward race and culture that people in Korea don’t have?
  4. And it also has me thinking about the fact that I have not intentionally sought a whole lot of Korean experiences in America, which is nuts when I live in a city that has loads of Korean people in it, and I think it’s at least in part because I’m nervous about whether or not I’d be perceived as not being Korean enough, or whether or not I’d be looked down on for not knowing certain things, or not knowing more than a handful of Korean words. (I mean, all my experiences with first- and second-generation Korean-Americans have never indicated that this would be the case; to be honest, it’s been well-intentioned but misguided white people that have made me feel less than for not knowing my own culture.) I feel like I need someone to hold my hand through the experience, and to be honest I don’t really move in spaces where there are a lot of other Korean people, so…now I’m kind of reevaluating all that. So watch this space, I’m sure I’ll have more thoughts on this later!
  5. Anyway! I have thus far spent this weekend eating BLTs with farmers market tomatoes and jalapeño bacon from HEB (SO GOOD) and nursing a sinus headache that is probably related to this rain we’re getting. I’ve noticed that since Harvey last year I’m a little more skittish whenever it rains a lot, which I’m sure is the case for a lot of people in southeast Texas.
  6. I’m just going to leave you with this after all of this Korean angst:


From Overcoming Our Genes

I think Wandra posted this at the picnic in 2011

As I sit next to my open office window with the gentle breeze caressing me, I contemplate my life. I marvel that I've made it this far-- 3/4's of a century.  There have been many changes during this time. People of our age had more cars with stick shifts than automatic transmissions.  And now we are facing the age of the self driving car.  We had our radios and black and white movies; then came black and white TV followed closely by both in color.  Computers have gone from room size to the smallest that will fit in a pocket.  Now we have computers in phones, watches, refrigerators, and just about everything, including humans.  We've seen a man walk on the moon and plant an American flag.  (I think the U. S. could colonize the moon and Mars.  My brothers always hoped that we would.)   

The adjustments in my life have been many as well.  At Groveton I didn't make cheerleading! I wasn't asked to the senior prom. (Now with the sexual revolution happening that was a good thing!) I was chosen for several parts in Tiger Theatre productions.  I was made business manager of the Tiger Rag.  Mrs. Lindberg chose me as her assistant and told me that I should major in PE in college. I received a BA from EWU and taught school ( 3 years.) I married and had 2 children. Now I have 3 grandchildren. I've lost my older brother (accidental death) and younger sister (cancer), both GHS grads.  I came down with fibromyalgia.  I've traveled all over the world by plane, train, car, bus, cruise ship, le truck, and sailboat.  Through it all, by God's grace, I've learned to be content.  

My family's move to Virginia,  my experiences at Groveton High School, and the people who have kept in touch through reunions, have been a blessing.  I could name names (you know who you are)  but I may leave somebody out.  I will just post the pictures.  I was a lost Groveton High School classmate from 1961 until 1991 and then again in 1996.  Maybe you were a lost classmate also.   
 GHS class of 1961 graduation

 GHS 1961

GHS 1961

 GHS '61 Reunion 1991

GHS Class of 1961 Reunion 1991


2001 Mt. Eagle Elementary reunion

1958 , '59, '60, '61 reunion 2001

GHS band alums and Mrs. Tabor 2001

Jamie white and Barry Mates 2001



 GHS '61 2005























2011 Classmates who attended Belleview Elementary

We have lost many of our Groveton classmates along the way.  I pray that they have all made peace with God through Jesus so that we can have a big reunion in Heaven. 

From Overcoming Our Genes

4th Grade Mt. Eagle Elementary, Alexandria, VA

 5th grade Mt. Eagle Elementary Alexandria, VA

My fictionalized story about our move to Virginia when I was in 4th grade:
       Jo held down her skirt so the wind wouldn’t whip it up as she pounded down the cement sidewalk on her way home from school.  The heavy schoolbooks bounced in her backpack and long dark braids swung and wisps fell out around her freckled face.  Dust rose in clouds off the blacktopped street as cars sped past.  While she waited for a break in traffic she kicked the “Welcome to Fairfax County” sign post.  Virginia was such a bummer. 
       Jo yelled as she shoved open the front door of the brick duplex in Jefferson Manor where she lived with her family.  “Hi mom I’m home.  I gotta get out of this dumb skirt.” She kicked the door shut.  Up the stairs to her bedroom she bounded.  Ugh!  She hated this house with nothing but bare grass around it.  In Alaska they had a river boat they cruised on the Chena River.  She didn’t have to worry about cars speeding by.  There was a lot less traffic.  And that smelly cow farm down the road made her sick to her stomach.
Into her room she ran, dropped her books onto the rollaway bed she shared with her sister, and slammed her room door.  She yanked off her blouse, skirt, and slip and slid into her comfortable blue jeans and T-shirt.  Whew!  That’s better, she said to herself.   I’m glad it’s Friday.  I don’t have to wear that stupid skirt again until Monday.
       Skipping down the stairs she found her mom in the family room changing her brother Sam’s diaper. “Mom, I can’t stand wearing skirts to school.  My bare legs stick out like tooth picks.  Why can’t I wear pants like the boys?” 
       “It’s the school’s dress code, Jo.”
       “Well I hate it!  I wish we were back in Alaska.”                                                  Mom sighed.  “When your dad got transferred from Alaska to Virginia I didn’t realize there would be so many adjustments and changes.  You could wear pants to school in Alaska because it was so cold.  But here it doesn’t get as cold.” 
       “People are too uptight here,” Jo said.  “Nothing is the same in my life. I think I’ll pack my suitcase and move back to Alaska.” 
       Mom smoothed vaseline on baby Sam’s bottom and didn’t say anything.  
       “What’s wrong with these people?  I can’t play kickball in a dress at recess.  I end up staying inside and playing computer games.  I don’t get enough fresh air because I have to wear a dress all the time.  I hate the weather here too.  It’s so hot and muggy.  In Fairbanks it never got muggy.”
       Mom shrugged and left the room, calling as she headed for the basement stairs, “Watch Sam for me, please, the laundry’s done.”
       “Okay—can we have blueberry cobbler for dinner though?”
       “Blueberries are too expensive here,” Mom said.  She disappeared down the stairs.
       “Oh no,” said Jo disappointed.
       She lifted Sam and plunked him down in his high chair in the kitchenette. Then she washed her hands with dish soap, pulled the built in bread board out from the slot over the silverware drawer, snatched the peanut butter out of the refrigerator, and grabbed two slices of bread.
       “You understand, don’t you Sam?  You’re an Alaskan baby!”  Sam grinned up at her.  His nickname was Sourdough Sam after the sourdough starter everyone had in their refrigerators on the last frontier.  Jo made her sandwich and talked to Sam.
“Remember those giant blueberries we used to pick when we camped on Mt. McKinley.  Yum!  And sleeping in our white Eskimo tent with warm down bags. I remember waking up with frost on our eyelashes.  Sam watched her intently as he chewed on his teething biscuit. 
“Can’t you just smell the campfire?  When the sun melted the frost off the berries we picked buckets full.  Oh and those Alaskan king crab legs.  Smoked squaw candy, I’m drooling.”  She tickled Sam’s cheek.  “You’re drooling too Sam!”
Sam laughed and watched Jo carefully; his big blue eyes staring, and his mouth open as if he were anticipating a bite of the sandwich.
       Jo continued on her rant. “In Fairbanks we could stay up all night and play softball if we wanted to because it was light all night.  Everything’s different here in the south.  None of my favorite foods.  And skirts, skirts, skirts for school.  Well, no one said I had to wear skirts places anywhere besides school.  I know, I’ll wear my new blue and pink striped sweater and new jeans to church on Sunday.”   This idea cheered her and she happily munched her sandwich and fed a bite to Sam.
       On Sunday morning Jo appeared downstairs ready for church dressed in her favorite jeans and sweater.  “Are you sure you want to wear that to church, Jo?”  Mom asked.
       “Yes, I’m absolutely sure,” said Jo.
       “Well, okay then.”
         The family arrived a bit late for Sunday school and slipped into the back pew of the sanctuary for the opening exercises.  Soon it was time for their individual classes.  The boys and girls went to separate classes and the adults went to their class.
         When Jo joined the circle of girls her age she stared at them and tried not to giggle.  They all wore a-line dresses with shiny glitter or velvet trim, clunky sandals, and nylons, like they were dressed for a wedding, or something.   Jo felt very uncomfortable and self-conscious.  I bet they LIKE to wear dresses, she thought as she glared at them.  I must be the only girl who likes to wear pants.  Even my sister likes dresses.
       Mrs. Smith began the lesson.  “The scripture for today is Philippians 2:14 — “Do everything without complaining or arguing.  What does this mean?” asked the teacher.
       Jo thought about how she had complained since the move.  She picked at her cuticles so she could keep her head down and avoid eye contact with anyone.
       “I think it means I should feed my pet goat and not complain when he butts me in the rear when I turn my back,” said a girl named Sandy.  Everyone chuckled including the teacher.
       Kimberly said, “I think it has something to do with getting along with other Christians.”
       “Those are good answers,” said the teacher.  “It also means if we complain about changes and hardships in our lives we are complaining about God’s will for us.” 
“You mean we shouldn’t complain about where we live or our families?” said Amy.
“That’s a wonderful way to put it,” said Mrs. Smith.  “And it’s hard to do, isn’t it?”  All the girls nodded in agreement.  Mrs. Smith continued, “I catch myself complaining and being impatient when my children don’t take care of their clothes.  Then I remember God is patient with me when I don’t do what is good.”
       Jo didn’t say anything because she realized she was complaining about EVERYTHING. She thought about Philippians 2:14 and the teacher’s words.  Did they apply to all the changes in her life she complained about? She prayed silently, “Dear Lord, please forgive me for complaining.  Help me to be able to wear a skirt happily, and to accept all the changes in my life.  In Jesus name, Amen.” 
       After church everyone stayed for a potluck fellowship.  Men and women bustled and set up tables.  The food was placed in bowls and platters and wonderful smells came from the kitchen as casseroles were warmed.  The girl named Sandy walked up to Jo when the table was spread with all the food.
“Jo want to sit with us?” Jo looked at Sandy’s velvet trimmed dress and the tiny flowers in her pierced ears.  She hesitated.  Then she looked at Sandy’s friendly face. 
  “Oh, sure,” she said.  “Is it all right Mom and Dad?”
“Go ahead, find us afterward,” said Mom, and Dad nodded.
Sandy and Jo slid plates off the pile and stood in the food line.  There were some foods she recognized like fried chicken and potato salad but there were strange looking foods too.
“What’s that?” Jo asked Sandy pointing to a bowl of beans with black dots on them. 
“Black-eyed peas.”
Jo swallowed hard.  “And what about that?”  She pointed to a bowl of slimy looking green stuff.
“That’s okra.”
Ugh!  Oh how she missed all the good food in Alaska, especially the hot sourdough rolls.  “In Alaska, we…”  Sandy was watching her face and Jo stopped.  Okay, maybe now was a good time for her to practice that scripture and not complain so much.
“What were you going to say?” Sandy asked.
“In Alaska we don’t have such yummy looking fried chicken and potato salad.”
Sandy grinned.  “My mom made the potato salad.  Try some it’s really good.”
Jo walked behind Sandy and put tasty looking food on her plate while she talked to Sandy.  Inside she felt warm and happy—the best she’d felt since she’d moved here.  Giving up complaining felt great—maybe she’d keep it up.
She looked at Sandy and grinned.  “I might even try the okra.”

From Overcoming Our Genes

My son is a drummer/ percussionist.  I was interested to hear the review of this 2013 documentary about a small town where some of the worlds best music was born.  This is from a Christian perspective.  Click here to listen or read the review.

Below is an interview of Muscle Shoal's "Swampers"--  the percussion section.  Those of us of a certain age will know where "sock it to me" came from:

From Alexandra K. Bush
Off You Go. . .

Last year, I put my freshman college student on the plane from post, gave him a hug, and he was off to college. As an “international” student, he had someone meet him at the airport and the international student group made newcomer’s beds with sheets (so sweet.)

This year, I’m in a FB group for this college for parents. So many questions… Ones I didn’t even think about… About the dorms, transportation, lots of details.

It’s triggered a little mommy-guilt in me… Was I not supportive enough? Should I have gone with him to settle in? Should I have bought him a dorm minifridge? Did he have everything he needed? (Thank goodness for those international student-sheets!)

But the story I’m telling myself if that he is a capable young man.

And he is.  Well-traveled and able to handle unexpected bumps in the road.  His faith is strong (and weak, and strong. . .)

Our relationship is honest and he knows he can always text  me. He’s handling his independence well.

From Overcoming Our Genes

Chris, Roberta, and friends in front of L'Opera Paris

In the late 90's Chris and I were in Paris during one of his business trips.  Being the anti-litter bug person that I am, I looked for a garbage can somewhere on the street to throw away wrappers from sandwiches we had eaten. There were garbage cans on the street but the lids were fastened down.  We thought that there must have been bomb threats which were dealt with by stopping the use of garbage cans.  

Napoleon's Tomb

We saw soldiers in the airport in Rome carrying automatic weapons.  It dawned on us that this world is now a more dangerous place. 

Thus the U.S. Congress deadlock on our immigration policies.  Many would like to immigrate to the U.S. as our country is safer from threats than many.  The problem is that we are fearful of illegal immigration.  In my opinion the solution would be to have more legal entries and more judges to vet the people wishing to come in.  How difficult would it be to build the wall, open Ellis Island, or in some other way increase entry points and hire judges?  

Eiffel Tower
Here is a 23 minute speech by Steve Russell, Congressman from Oklahoma.  He explains what our Founders intended for our immigration policy.  Click on the link to watch the video.


From Alexandra K. Bush
Making it Home

I’m visiting my mom (retired Navy wife) in her two bedroom condo. She’s been open-handed with letting things go through the years.

What she has now is a carefully curated collection of eclectic loveliness. Seriously. I love it. It is eclectic. It is only the most beautiful and sentimental of 40+ years of moving. Well, mixed with some whimsical pieces that currently catch her fancy.

Nothing seems cluttered, but everywhere I look is a treasure. Many I recognize from my childhood, but others are items she’s added since I left home.

I know so often in the Foreign Service we share the simulataneous struggles and adventures of being given an odd space and items to combine to make “home.” My mom has done it, has modeled it for me.

And now, here in the other side, she’s made a peaceful home with the beauty and memories she’s collected along the way.

From the morning bus ride
Empty nesting

Yesterday we dropped Blake (our fourth) off at College.

The nest is empty.

From the morning bus ride
Kept from stumbling

Then God said to him in the dream, “Yes, I know that in the integrity of your heart you have done this, and I also kept you from sinning against Me; therefore I did not let you touch her. – Genesis 20:6 NASB

There is something astounding about this statement of the Lord to Abimilech: “I also kept you from sinning against Me.”

When I look back on my life, I can recount a lot of instances when I sinned. Heck, when I look back on today I can recount a lot of instances, and I haven’t even had my morning coffee yet.

But what takes my breath away is the remembrance of all the instances in the past when I had opportunity to sin and somehow God made the way of escape. This includes times even before I came to Christ.

It wasn’t me not wanting to sin. It was God keeping me from tremendous future trouble and regret.

He didn’t have to do that. I would have deserved the consequences of my actions. But he loves me and he knows my name and he cares for the glory and honor of his Name.

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Jude 1:24‭-‬25 ESV

From Alexandra K. Bush
Wearing Hearing Aids Changed My Life

I drove a little purple Honda Civic hatchback when I was in my 30s.  It was a great car, but it was low to the road and I could hear the tires on the road and every noisy bump.  When all four boys were in the car with me, it was super noisy.  I’d hear them chatter in the back seat.  (Okay, sometimes fuss at each other in the back seat.)

Then I got hearing aids.

And I realized for the first time that they weren’t just being noisy in the back seat — but they were also trying to talk to me.


Hearing aids changed my life in a way that makes me both sad and happy.  They made me a much better mom, because I realized that my kids in the back seat actually wanted to talk to me — and weren’t just making noise!   Sad, because I realized that for so many years I was tuning them out because I couldn’t really hear and understand them.

My hearing loss is in the speech banana.  Part of the reason why it took so long to have my hearing loss diagnosed was because I could hear — just there were sounds that I couldn’t pick up.

Our brains are so amazingly adaptive.  The actual phonemes that my ears couldn’t hear were “filled in” by my brain. 

Li_e when you _ead th_s _ente__e — you ca_ u_dersta_d wha_ I’m writi_ by the lette_s and patte_ns you ca_ _ead, an_ you_ b_ain fi__s in the b_a_ks. 

That’s how I hear conversations without my hearing aids.  My brain is working overtime, not only filling in the missing sounds but also taking cues from the patterns of speech.  It is easier for me to understand people with whom I spend a lot of time, because I’m familiar with their speech rhythms.  (That’s one of the reasons I understand Hubby’s Russian more easily than the average Ivan on the street.)

Because my hearing loss requires so much extra decoding of language, it is no wonder that now that I have hearing aids my brain is less tired at the end of the day!

Many people don’t realize they have hearing loss because they can still hear quite a bit, and their brain is working hard to help them understand what others are saying.  Often hearing loss comes on gradually, and we adapt.  Or the loss begins outside of the speech banana, at higher pitches, and so the loss of hearing isn’t initially impacting conversation.

In addition to not realizing the onset of hearing loss, many people are resistant because it is associate with getting older and many have a resistance to acknowledging that.  I was in my mid-30s when I was diagnosed with moderate bilateral sensorineural hearing loss.  I felt validated — it wasn’t all in my head!  But also I was young enough that I didn’t feel like it was a sign of getting older.

Have you wondered whether you may have the beginning of hearing loss?

Is it harder to understand the speech of little girls than other people?  Do you prefer to talk in person rather than over the phone?  Do you avoid noisy restaurants because it’s hard to have a conversation with people?  Can other people hear the music playing at a store, but you can’t? These may be hints that your hearing needs to be evaluated.

I had no clue what the first step was when I wanted to get my hearing checked.  There are three primary paths you can take to have your hearing evaluated.

I was referred to an ENT who had an audiologist on staff, and scheduled an evaluation with an audiologist.  This is often covered by insurance, billed through the ENT.

An audiologist may also have an independent office, not affiliated with an ENT.  After my first hearing test, my follow up appointments have been with the audiologist in her office.

You may also be able to get a screening, but not full audiology exam, through a local hearing aid business.  My local hearing aid specialist at Lifestyle Hearing is a great guy and provides screenings. This is often a good low cost option.  (Ye, some hearing aid businesses do try to oversell higher end hearing aids, and so I recommend this with caution.)

I’ve been wearing hearing aids over a decade.  I’m so thankful for the impact they have had on my mothering and the ability I have to really listen to my children.


From Overcoming Our Genes

1982-- no people on the beach with us in Biloxi.  We found out later that the locals did not swim in the Gulf as it is polluted.  Both kids broke out in a rash from contact dermatitus. We stuck to the swimming pool at our apartment complex after that.

We left Seattle in June of 1982 for Mississippi.  Chris would attend a 5 month school after he reenlisted in the Air National Guard.  On our way through Hornbrook we dropped off our dog and cat for Grandma and Grandpa to care for while we were gone.

Wayne came through Biloxi on his way either to or from Africa.  He helped Jes with his swimming lessons. Heather took this one.

Chris took this one.

We did some sightseeing.  Here is one of the mansions we visited.

My high school classmate and her family came to visit us all the way from Florida.

The kids played on the playground equipment at Keesler.

We visited New Orleans.

I tried a mint julep.  I was surprised that it wasn't green.

Chris was NCO class leader.  He was in charge of having the room cleaned.

Chris was an honor graduate.

As a direct descendant of veterans who fought on the side of the north, in the Civil War, I was a militant yankee.  The war was over-- the south lost--get over it, was my thinking.  But when we moved to Biloxi, (pronounced biluxi), in 1982, I began to feel some suspicion from some neighbors who were not in the military. (One neighbor caught herself saying that "he swears just like a Yankee.")  Apparently Yankees were not very good people in the minds of these southerners.  How could this have been carried down through the generations?  Oh right, I was the same way.  (Grandpa said we were Scotch, Irish, Dutch, and Yankee, and mostly Yankee.)

So what are our rights?  Is it the right of the Union to force the southern states to give up slavery?  Is it the right of the southern states to build monuments of Confederate War heros?  We are told in Mark 8:34 "And (Jesus) calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever would save his life[a] will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it."

So, as Christians we must ask this question--Is this spreading the gospel and making disciples?  Well, with slavery abolished there was more freedom to teach the gospel to all.  Confederate statues are just a reminder of what not to do.  One city council member in Richmond, VA said that plaques could be placed by each confederate statue explaining what happened so that we will not repeat the bloodshed.  

Are you still fighting the Civil War?

From the morning bus ride

I’ve been away for a while; went on a cruise with the family and extended family. It was great!

While on the cruise I read a new treasure I recently bought: The Hobbit facimile first edition. This is the original 1937 version with the original Riddles in the Dark and Tolkien artwork. I forgot how good that book is.

In other news, I’m going to seminary. I start my first class in a couple of weeks.

And, as always, I’m a sinner saved by grace.

From Alexandra K. Bush
Talking about Teens on Theology Gals


Theology Gals abbreviates to TG.
TulipGirl abbreviates to TG.
It was meant to be.

I was recently invited to discuss parenting teens on the Theology Gals podcast.  It was so encouraging to me and I feel even more committed to praying for my teens after talking with Coleen and Angela

I invite you to listen in as we discuss topics such as…

  • How can we build stronger connections with our teens?
  • How do we help our teens with mood swings?
  • How do we encourage our teens spiritually?
  • How do we handle our teens questioning the faith?

Listen online, like on FB, follow on twitter @TheologyGals, and subscribe in your favorite podcast catcher.  I know you’ll come away as encouraged by this discussion as I was!



From The Living Room
thursday 13

This week: 13 things that you have been obsessed with at some point in your life.

  1. The musical Godspell–I was in it when I was in high school and I went pretty deep down the internet rabbit hole doing research. (There was a pretty epic production of it in the ’70s in Toronto that had Gilda Radner, Martin Short, Eugene Levy, Paul Shaffer, Victor Garber, and Andrea Martin in it, which I wish I had a time machine to go back and watch.)
  2. I freely admit that I know way too much about Hamilton.
  3. Thanks to my having watched the behind-the-scenes features on the extended edition DVDs, I know more about the props, costumes, and scenery in the Lord of the Rings movies than I do about American history, and that is a fact.
  4. For a Korean-American Protestant, I know a surprising amount about Jewish spiritual practices.
  5. I was super into Homestar Runner in high school and college, just like we all were.
  6. I definitely went through a serious U2 phase while I was in grad school. (Like, I own Boy and October kind of serious.)
  7. When I was a kid, I was super into Adventures In Odyssey (I still listened to it in high school, not even kidding).
  8. In early elementary school for some reason I got super into presidential trivia–to this day, I can name all of the presidents in order and can name off some super random facts about all of them. (Can I tell you about most of their policies? No, of course not.)
  9. I read all of the Little House on the Prairie books as a kid, multiple times. (I went back and read a couple as an adult a few years ago, and it is amazing just to think about all the stuff they had to do just to live. And yes, there are some super problematic racial things in there, so read with a grain of salt.)
  10. American Girl. (I grew up in the late ’80s and ’90s in a middle-class household in the United States; of course I was into American Girl.) I have read all of those books multiple times, too. And I had Kirsten, for the record.
  11. I binge-watched all of Lost during my second year of grad school and I am one of those weirdos that liked the ending.
  12. Still a pretty serious Whovian, although not the kind that goes super deep down the rabbit hole. (I haven’t seen any of the 1st-8th Doctors’ episodes, for example.)
  13. And of course Harry Potter, because I am a true millennial. I read Goblet of Fire instead of studying for my finals my sophomore year of college (and my grades kind of showed that…oops).

From Overcoming Our Genes

Burbank, California 1948.  Turning five.

I don't feel a day over 102 having arrived at the three fourths of a century mark yesterday.  Some do not like to even mention that they have a birthday.  Others may even call a birthday party a "reunion." I have always loved to celebrate my birthday.  I don't know why. It may be genetic.  I was born in July so I was never privileged to have a party at school.  Many times all my friends would be out of town on my birthday or our family would be traveling cross country.  But in my later years I have had several friends and relatives to make an effort to remember me with a card or a party! 

 My favorite cake from my folks.  I love to dance.

1995 turning 52
1997 Moms in Touch 
2004 Moms in Touch
Moms in Touch
2008 Moms in Touch
Moms in touch party
Cousins turning 65
Chris, Heather, and Jes organized a "surprise" birthday party for me at MBYC

Getting older
2013 Chris arranged a pizza party for my 70th at church
Cake by Jessica

Cake by Sammy

For this birthday my family put together a picnic.  It is great to have a birthday in July because most likely the weather will be nice!

Proverbs 16:31 Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.

From The Living Room
thursday 13

(kept forgetting to do these; it’s back now)

This week: 13 things you’re really into right now.

  1. My parish (*that’s my church’s parlance for small groups/home groups/community groups/whatever your church calls that) introduced me to a board game called Jokers and Marbles and I’m obsessed enough that I’m thinking about getting my own board so we can have tournaments. It’s pretty much just Sorry!, but…better somehow?
  2. I deleted all social media except for Instagram from my phone, and turned off access to Safari, and it’s GREAT. (It’s slightly annoying when someone texts me a link and I can’t open it, but other than that it’s been really good for my brain.)
  3. The Daily Liturgy Podcast–as a very audio-oriented person, I have found it really helpful.
  4. So we got new vending machines at work and they have Topo Chico in the plastic bottles in them, and I’ve been getting the Touch of Grapefruit flavor pretty much every day–I think I may be the only person buying them, but I’m so glad that they’re there. (We also have plastic bottle recycling at work, so I feel less bad about my habit.)
  5. A new podcast called No Chill Enneagram and it’s fantastic, y’all. Maybe not the place to go if you want to learn about the Enneagram–that’s what The Road Back to You is for–but if you’re deep down the rabbit hole and you want to stop weirding out the people around you, this pod is for you.
  6. I went to sleep before 9 o’clock the other night and it was GREAT.
  7. So Lin-Manuel Miranda (plus a couple of other folks from the Hamilton creative team) are doing a limited series about Bob Fosse and Gwen Verdon and I am HERE FOR IT.
  8. LMM is also going to direct a movie of the musical Tick, Tick…BOOM. My friend Hannah and I were musing that either Jonathan Groff or Jeremy Jordan is probably going to end up playing the lead, but maybe Santino Fontana from Crazy Ex-Girlfriend might? Or it’ll probably get cast with some upstart unknown guy? Either way, I really hope it’ll be good.
  9. The trivia quiz website Sporcle now has a showdown mode that lets you play against another person live, which is like crack for me. (There is a reason I went on Jeopardy and that is because it combines trivia with competition.)
  10. I switched a while back from the Apple Podcasts app (which is straight garbage, don’t @ me) to an app called Overcast, which is wonderful and free and I recommend it to you all.
  11. Another good thing for my brain: I don’t let my phone in my room (I charge it in my bathroom), and I’ve started using a little battery-operated alarm clock from Ikea. It’s actually really nice and easier for me to turn off my thoughts at night.
  12. Linda Holmes, who is a culture writer for NPR and host of the excellent podcast Pop Culture Happy Hour, recently got a dog named Brian. I love this because a) I love dogs with people names and b) Linda started an Instagram account for pics of Brian called primodogcontent, and I adore it. This is a particularly good recent post.
  13. Finally: This weekend the Revoice conference is happening and I’m really grateful for its presence and the witness of its organizers; they’ve received a great deal of criticism from both the right and the left, as is unfortunately to be expected, but they’re holding to their convictions and are carrying on. I have some friends who are there and I’m so stoked for them; I’m also looking forward to any audio that gets posted from it.

From the morning bus ride
Jesus saw their faith

And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”
Mark 2:4‭-‬5 ESV

I love this passage of Scripture.

Did you notice this? “When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'”

Does it seem a little incongruous? It seems that Jesus saw the faith of the friends and so rewarded the paralytic with forgiveness and healing. How did “their” faith benefit the paralytic? Is faith transferable?

I think their are a few answers. In one way, yes, it is (stick with me here). But before I get into that, I think it’s likely that “their” refers to all five of the guys, including the four vertical guys and the one horizontal guy.

But the sense in the passage is that the faith of the friends was marvelous to Jesus. They had lifted their buddy up to the top of the roof and broke through to get him in front of the Lord. Forget the property damage, I think it’s clear Jesus absolutely loved seeing faith in action.

In the gospels Jesus always honors faith. In this one sense, their faith was transferable to their friend: think about what it was that these four guys wanted? More than anything they wanted their friend to be physically healed. They wanted it so bad and they also believed so thoroughly that Jesus would provide that healing that they ripped open a roof and caused a spectacle. Jesus saw their faith, honored it, and went further even than they expected. He healed their friend spiritually first. Then physically.

Too often when I think of “faith” my mind’s eye pictures a person who is stationary, but who internally, devotionals believes in the Lord. But faith is something that is not stationary.  It moves, it breathes, it lugs a fellow up onto a roof and digs a hole to lower him down (and the implication is these four guys didn’t expect to have to lift him back up because that brother was going to walk out).

People shouldn’t have to have mind-reading capabilities to see our faith.

Jesus saw their faith.

From the morning bus ride

I tend towards depression and anxiety, naturally. Not clinical levels of it, but enough to keep me awake at night sometimes. I’m not proud of this – I know with surety that it is a time-waster and a joy-stealer. And it doesn’t do a thing to help a person resolve the issue that is causing the depression and anxiety.

I’ve recently been hit with multiple circumstances that involve me waiting on other people to do what they need to do. This has stretched me and I’ve failed those tests of kindness multiple times.

So many people deal with so much more than I do in my relatively easy, comfortable life. But this is weighing on me today.

I don’t know how to end this post.

From Overcoming Our Genes

In June of 1961 I was graduated from Groveton High School in Alexandria, VA.  In the fall of 1961 Groveton admitted the first black student, Rayfield Barber.  He was interviewed at the 1996 GHS reunion.  He had a good experience at Groveton. Click on the You Tube above to hear the 5 minute interview.

My parents set the example for our family--we treated everyone with respect.  When my youngest brother, Wayne, wanted his black friend to join his Cub Scout troop at Calvary Presbyterian his friend was not permitted to join.  I believe my dad quit that troop and joined another one where Wayne's friend was accepted.  Today Calvary is integrated.  See the picture below.

Below is a link to a video of a talk by Peter Hubbard, pastor of North Hills Church in Greenville, SC.  I thought he explained racism and a Christian approach very well.  My parents would agree with him.  The talk is about 40 minutes long. Click on the link to view.


From Alexandra K. Bush
Elixir of Life

“Mom, C17 just taught me how to make coffee!” exclaimed A6.

My work here is done.


From Overcoming Our Genes
JULY 20, 1969

Photo by Chris Brown

Where were you on July 20, 1969?  It was on a Sunday.  Many of you had not been born.  But if you are old enough to remember that day maybe you will remember Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.  

From the morning bus ride
Knowing and being known

But now thus says the Lord , he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you. I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, Do not withhold; bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” – Isaiah 43:1‭-‬7 ESV

We are not accidents. We were created and formed. Because of this, we can know and be known by our Creator. And it is a very good kind of knowing; redeemed and called by name, a precious possession of the Creator.

Not called to a life of ease, but called to a life of intimacy, of knowing and being known as we walk through floods and flame with the One who promises never to leave or forsake.

The One who calls us precious and honored and loved. Us!

He promises to restore, to bring it all back, to make all things new and as they were meant to be at first, for his glory and for those who call his name and are called by his name.

Praise be to God.