Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Remembering Clark (1952-2012)

At Christmastime each year,
My brother handed out large bags
Filled with odds and ends—
All labeled with one tag.

Clark didn’t wrap the gifts—
He piled them all together,
And stretched the limits of the bags
All tied with ribbon tethers.

But every item in those bags
Was chosen with much care.
Each gift connected to the one
Who reached in to see its wares.

Sometimes the gifts were odd,
Sometimes they brought a tear,
Sometimes they were just right
And brought grins from ear to ear.

Like Santa with his sack of toys,
Clark brought joy with bags of gifts,
And this Christmastime without him
He’ll be loved and dearly missed.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

I Won!

I won on Wheel of Fortune! What an incredible experience to meet Pat Sajak and Vanna White and fellow contestants from around the country. My final prize totals included a trip to Panama, a $1000 gift card for Omaha Steaks, and $16,000 cash! 

Read blog posts on the Wheel of Fortune website about my adventure. 

Blog Post #1
Blog Post #2

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wheel of Fortune Week!

Friday, November 23 is the day! The episode of Wheel of Fortune that I'm on will be aired that night. Take a look at my blog post on the Wheel of Fortune website. Click here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The New Book Look of Mormon

Whether Mitt Romney wins the 2012 Presidential election or not, Mormonism certainly wins as it pushes its way into the mainstream culture of the United States. This acceptance of Mormonism as a mainline Christian faith waters down the message of the Gospel—that there’s only one true way to salvation: Jesus Christ. Mormonism teaches a much different gospel. Mormons believe that Jesus is the eldest of the Mormon god’s spirit children, our brother, and also the brother of Satan, who came up with a better plan of salvation than his brother Satan, who now hates him. Mormon salvation is not based on "grace through faith and not of works" as the Bible teaches (Ephesians 2:8-9); but rather, they teach that people are saved by grace only "after we do all that we can do" (Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23).

Over the past several years Mormonism has inched its way into mainstream America through the entertainment industry with the television series Big Love (a depiction of fundamentalist Mormonism) and the 2011 Broadway hit, The Book of Mormon, as well as with television personalities such as Glenn Beck. Although The Book of Mormon musical parodies the Mormon belief system, the fact that the production exists and is successful shows the acceptance of Mormonism in our society. You know you’re popular when you are parodied!

The rise of Mitt Romney through the political ranks serves to further the reaches of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS). The willingness of so many Christians to embrace a Mormon as a fellow Christian is surprising to me. Surely, these folks are unaware of the basic tenets of Mormonism, which include a belief in three levels of afterlife, baptism of the dead, and denial of the Trinity. According to Romney's viewpoint the Mormon god was once a human on another planet who, through following Mormon practices, exalted himself to godhood and received a planet of his own to populate with multiple wives who remain "spiritually" pregnant for all eternity, giving birth to spirit children (i.e. you and me) who are born onto this planet (earth).

I’m certainly not opposed to a Presidential candidate who is not a Christian, nor a President who is not a Christian. I am opposed to groups and individuals rallying around a non-Christian and claiming he’s a Christian despite the fact that he is not, and in fact is a member of a group that completely denies the Gospel message presented in scripture.

Voters shouldn’t follow a candidate blindly, attaching labels where they don’t exist. Whether attacking President Obama by labeling him a Muslim (when he has declared he is not) or by supporting Governor Romney by labeling him a Christian (when he belongs to a religious organization that opposes Christian doctrine), voters should know the facts. Vote for the person you think will run the country well. Don’t place a vote based on religious fervor that can easily be swayed by untruths.

Sunday, September 09, 2012

Wheel of Fortune Adventure!

I was selected through an audition process to be a contestant on "Wheel of Fortune!" The show taped September 6, but it won't air until November 23. I can't tell any details about the episode, but I do hope folks will tune in to their local TV station to see Simpsonville, Kentucky represented on "Wheel of Fortune."

I had such a fun and exciting time, and I met fabulous people -- Sony Studios staff, as well as fellow contestants. If you have an opportunity to try out, definitely do it! This was absolutely one of the best experiences of my life!

Saturday, June 09, 2012

. . . And a Poem

Read Bible poems about passages from both the Old and New Testaments in my book, . . . And a Poem.

Get the Kindle edition for $.99 here.

Get the Nook edition for $.99 here.

Get the paperback edition for $6.99 here.

Read samples of poems from . . . And a Poem at the following blog:

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Grandpa's Apron - UPDATE

Grandpa’s Apron

Once as white as snow
Now stained with blood and sweat,
Butcher’s string for ties,
The hemline frayed like net.

Butcher’s hat crisply starched
High above his brow;
A proud workingman--
I can see him even now.

Grandpa was a butcher. I remember him coming home from work with his white butcher's hat. I'm sure he usually left his work apron at work, but he had a few at home that Grandma would sometimes wear when she cooked. I didn't realize until last Christmas that Mom had one of his aprons. Here's a picture of me modeling it.

Grandpa died when I was 9 years old, so I only have snapshots of memories of him -- the smell of chewing tobacco, the image of him sitting in his chair on Grandma's front porch, the gruff sound of his voice (never mean, just deep and kind of gravelly).

Mom doesn't collect or display lots of family mementos like that apron, so I was pleasantly surprised to see she had it. I was glad to have the opportunity to place that piece of family history over my neck and pose for posterity.

Next step: Find a picture of Grandpa in that apron . . .

UPDATE: Mom sent a picture! My Grandpa is on the far right in the white cap.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Gold Compact

The dainty gold compact
So intricately designed
Holds memories of a romance
From another day and time.

He gave it to her early
In their young courtship days
A promise for a future—
A symbol for his praise.

The years flew by too quickly,
And death came much too soon,
But the memory of their love
In this trinket had been hewn.

She laid the much-loved object
In her only daughter’s hands—
With the hope that love’s legacy
Would continue in God’s plans.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Rich Man and Lazarus

The pastor's sermon today was from Luke 16:19-31 - The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus. Instead of writing down notes, I jotted down a poem. Sometimes that's just the way I roll.

Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
Luke 16:19-31

Once there was a rich man
Who lived in luxury,
At his gate a poor man lay
With sores from head to knee.

Finally, the poor man died
And went to Abraham.
The rich man went to Hades—
The place of the damned.

The rich man shouted, “Abraham!
I’m in anguish in this heat!
Send the poor man, Lazarus,
With cool water for relief!”

But Abraham said to him,
“Remember how it was?
You had everything you wanted—
Now it’s Lazarus who does.”

“No one goes from here to there;
A chasm separates.”
So the rich man pleaded, “Tell my clan,
Lest they should share my fate.”

Abraham reminded him,
“They had Moses—prophets, too.”
The rich man pleaded, “Send the dead!
That will make them see what’s true!”

Abraham just shook his head
And said, “They still won’t listen.
They ignored the words of God
And will ignore the One who’s risen.”

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Search Committee: A Review

I was intrigued by Tim Owens’ debut novel, The Search Committee, because I’ve spent the last one and a half years on my own church’s search teams for a new children’s minister and a new student minister. Coincidentally, we completed our tasks the week before I read the last chapter in The Search Committee.

Although the search team in Owens’ book is Presbyterian and is looking for a pastor, and I am Southern Baptist and was part of a student minister’s and children’s minister search, I could still relate to the frustrations, triumphs, and bonding experienced by the committee members. In the book, we are introduced to Travis, Dot, Matt, Frankie, Susie, Joyce, and Bill who each represent various archetypes of a southern protestant congregation. The story takes place in North Carolina, but the setting described by Owens is one that any southerner can easily recognize and relate to. The author is careful not to go overboard with the use of southern dialect and stereotypes, but he does portray characters in a way that non-southerners might doubt are accurate. This southern-born and -raised girl can attest to the accuracy, though!

I like the way the author introduces and fleshes out each character, giving equal time to every member of the search committee. We observe not only the interactions of the search team members with each other, but also get glimpses into each member’s past and insight into why they act and react the way they do. The group of seven travels the North Carolina countryside seeking a new pastor, but also learning about life and love alongside each other. Forgiveness, redemption, and hope are themes throughout the book and each play out not only in the individual lives of the characters, but also in the work of the search team as a whole.

I like the way the author incorporates actual sermons throughout the book. We “hear” the same sermons as the search team, and we are able to reflect on them just as the characters do. I also like the well-placed Bible verses and excerpts at the beginning of each chapter from Presbyterian catechisms and Book of Order. They tie in well with each chapter and provide an interesting look into the world of Presbyterian Church order.

Perhaps I enjoyed The Search Committee because it paralleled the work I was doing for my own church as I spent many hours, weeks, and months with an equally varied group of folks. At the very least I can attest to the accuracy of the author’s portrayal of the frustrations and joys we experienced as we searched for the right ministers to make our church whole. His team, like ours, followed God’s lead to find the right person for the right time for their church, and I’m glad to have participated in both of those journeys.

Note: Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of The Search Committee for the purpose of reviewing it.

Countdown to Elianna!