5 years of blogging

I’ve been blogging for five years this month. That seems like either too much or too little.

Today I had someone ask a question about a post from two years ago and I read stuff I didn’t remember. Also I was looking through posts to see if I had already said something I was thinking of doing for the “Seven not so Random” post and found a meme I didn’t remember answering and it said a lot about our home several years ago.

I love blogging. Thanks, R, for introducing me to it and getting me started.

There’s a shoe tax?

For decades, we’ve all been paying a hidden shoe tax. Critics say it’s a regressive levy that’s only hurting low- and middle-income families.

Now Congress is considering legislation that would eliminate the tax on low- to moderately-priced footwear, including children’s shoes—the footwear that families on the tightest budgets have to buy.

The tax got its start during the Great Depression. The government charged extra for companies that brought foreign-made shoes into the U.S. The idea at the time was to help American shoe manufacturers.

Today, few shoes are still made in this country, but the tax remains.

quoted from WFAA and found via Hoosier Army Mom’s blog

I’ve been paying $4 in taxes on each $20 in shoes? WHAT???

And, of course, if they get rid of the shoe tax, as they should, the government will have even less money to work with. But they should get rid of it. They should.

Seven not so very Random Things about Me

brought to you by Ron at Atypical Homeschool

(He said we could tag ourselves. So, tag, I’m it!)

1. I am overly addicted to navel gazing. (You probably already knew that from the tag.)

2. I hated reading literature in college and grad school, even though I am an English MA and PhD.

3. Sometimes I forget basic words and have to work around them. For instance, I once had to say “the big green thing in front of the TV” for the word couch. (Remember, I teach English. This can be a problem.)

4. I love writing letters, but I rarely do it. Too bad. It’s one of the few things that I like doing alone. I think it would be fun to teach a belles-lettres course which concentrated on the dying art of letter writing. I haven’t gotten so far as to make up the course content, but I have thought about it.

5. If there is a subject I would like to teach some day, I collect books in the optimistic expectation that I will someday teach just such a class. I have taught some fun and oddball classes, like Dinosaurs and Dragons and Games and Races through History. One class I have been preparing to teach for about four years and haven’t seen as a possibility yet is a literature class on science fiction and fantasy. (I am a big sci fi and fantasy reader. But in high school I offered to read anything other than The Hobbit because I didn’t understand it. And at 16 I took a science fiction literature course and got my first introduction to that. I didn’t really care for it then either.)

6. If I could claim as a home state anywhere I had lived, I would claim New York because I loved it. But I have lived in Texas most of my life.

7. My house is paid off. (Don’t hate me!)

Had it not been the Lord who was on our side…

Psalm 124

1 If the LORD had not been on our side—
let Israel say-
2 if the LORD had not been on our side
when men attacked us,

3 when their anger flared against us,
they would have swallowed us alive;

4 the flood would have engulfed us,
the torrent would have swept over us,

5 the raging waters
would have swept us away.

6 Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.

7 We have escaped like a bird
out of the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.

8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

Quotation from the NIV from BibleGateway.com

This psalm was turned into a praise song by Leonard E. Smith, Jr in 1985.

It reminds me why things have turned out well. The Lord was on our side.

Praying for the next president of the United States

I was led to pray for the next president. I will not be voting until the contest is probably down to one or two in my party. But I thought of the US and why we were founded. Did you know we were unique at the time? We may still be. We were created so that people could worship God according to their conscience. And God gave us free will. So God must approve of that, even when it makes him angry what we choose to do with that free will.

And I thought of Moses and the people of Israel and the situation of the Israelites in Exodus 32, beginning in verse 9.

9 The LORD said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. 10 “Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”

11 Then Moses entreated the LORD his God, and said, “O LORD, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 “Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. 13 “Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”

14 So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.

So I am entreating the Lord. Remember the reasons we established this country. It was for your glory. Please use this next election for your glory.

Caucuses pick the president

By the time Texas votes, the candidates will probably be already chosen.

Iowa 1/3
New Hampshire 1/8
Michigan 1/15
Nevada 1/19
South Carolina 1/26

There are heaps of states voting 2/5.

Texas doesn’t vote until March.

North Carolina doesn’t vote until May! Does anyone there go to the polls? Is there any reason? I am wondering that myself about Texas’ March caucus date.


I sent Christmas cards to 70 soldiers who are in Iraq over the holidays. I also got other people to write, too. So I mailed a total of 250 cards.

I got a three page letter in response to one card! I was amazed. It tells the whole story of how she ended up in Iraq working in the soldier’s mortuary.

I also got a post card from Anaconda. Did you know that the bases (at least one of them) have post cards the soldiers can buy and send out? I was astonished.

I got thanks for a Christmas card with a letter written on the card only.

These folks are not getting enough kudos.

Grama Delker’s sourdough biscuits

My grandmother-in-law cooked all her life for a living. These biscuits are a family favorite and are still served at the restaurant where she cooked. It’s a true road food restaurant in Springdale, Arkansas. The walls are decorated with a living bee hive, many Indian arrowheads, some animal heads, and family photos. There are other things as well, but the bee hive was the most memorable.

1 pkg yeast
1 c warm water
2 c buttermilk
3/4 c corn oil
1/4 c sugar
1/4 tsp soda
4 tsp baking bowder
2 tsp salt
6 c AP flour

Dissove the yeast in warm water. Then add the buttermilk. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Store the dough in the refrigerator. This dough will keep in fridge for several days. Make out the desired number of biscuits and set in a warm place to rise. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 425.

You can add a little extra flour and make dinner rolls. Let the rolls rise well in a warm place, then bake.

Grama Delker’s oatmeal cookies

I apparently got this from my MIL while we were at their house over Labor Day to see Pappa and Grama.

1 c butter
1 c sugar
2 eggs
1 c raisins
1 tsp baking soda
4 T raisin juice (see recipe)
2 c AP flour
2 c oats
1/2 t cinnamon
1 t vanilla
1/2 c chopped pecans (These are not nuts but are drupes. Learned that from Alton Brown.)

Cook raisins in 1 c water. Just a bit, if you cook too long the juice evaporates. Drain, reserving 4 TBSP juice.

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs.

Dissolve the soda in raisin juice and add this to the butter mixture.

Add flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla.

Mix well, then fold in raisins and nuts.

Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

Grama Willine’s pound cake recipe

The story: We went to visit Grama and Pappa on Labor Day weekend. The fact that Pappa was dying was eerily obvious. “He wasn’t all there,” is how my husband put it.

The fact that Pappa was dying brought to mind the fact that Grama might die too.

So I went to get her pound cake recipe.

But then I didn’t find it when I started putting all the recipes from the computer onto my blog so I could access them at someone else’s house without my computer.

So I borrowed E’s notebook and wrote it down again over the Christmas vacation when we were there.

Now I don’t know where that notebook is, but I found the recipe I wrote over Labor Day weekend. I think they are a bit different because Grama’s hand written notes confused me.

Grama calls this Millionaire pound cake. The recipe was given to her 49 or 50 years ago by a woman in her 60s. Grama has since seen the recipe (or one very similar) in Taste of Home.

1 lb butter
3 c sugar
1 tsp salt
6 lg eggs
4 c AP flour
3/4 c milk
2 or so drops of yellow food coloring
1 t lemon flavoring
2 t almond flavoring
2 t vanilla flavoring

All ingredients must be at room temperature.

Beat the butter until it is creamy. Add sugar and salt gradually. Add one egg at a time and beat well after each addition. Add flour and milk alternately. Beat just enough to mix after each addition. Add the flavorings. Mix.

Pour into a well-greased and floured large tube pan. Bake at 325 for 1 and 1/2 hours or until toothpick inserted “comes clean.” –Grama bakes hers for 1 hour and 45 minutes, but then she knows her oven well.

Top the hot cake with glaze: 1 and 1/2 c powdered sugar mixed with 1/3 c lemon juice. Let cool in pan.

Grama says she waits about ten minutes after pulling the cake out of the oven to put the glaze on. Then she waits about an hour to take it out of the pan. (Or longer.)

This recipe is freezable and it keeps in the fridge too.

I personally love the glaze and would make extra to put on individual pieces. Some people top it with vanilla ice cream.

Things I read today worth passing on

Red State says that China has a much smaller economy than ours and therefore isn’t as big a threat as perceived.

I will say that the information is interesting and new, but an economy smaller than ours can still get a bigger military with conscription and a heavier economic investment.

Right on the Left Coast quotes an article on the teenage brain. It’s clear from the research that teenage brains are more likely to make risky decisions during times of high stress.

And most teenagers are in times of high stress most of the time.

Betsy’s Page lets us know that the Brits can figure some things out. Some British child psychologists are suggesting not getting all het up about boys playing gun games. They say it might even be good for them.

Imagine that.

Sigmund, Carl, and Alfred say that Bhutto, contrary to the West’s presentation of speaking no ill of the dead, was a corrupt and dangerous politician.

I learned more about Bhutto from this blogger than from any of the hagiographic writing about her death, which didn’t really deal with her life except that she twice led Pakistan.

Cronaca has a piece on Santa denial being illegal in Russia because you can’t discredit parents and teachers.

I wonder which one wins if the parents and teachers disagree.

Ms. Frizzle had a post on handmeon, a gift ecology where you give something away so that it can be held and then give away again and there are blog posts so each person who gets it can write about it and say what it meant to them. Ms. Frizzle suggests that it be a way of sharing a new way to give gifts.

I love the idea and look around my house for something I would be willing to pass on. Btw, Ms. Frizzle, I rarely pass on my books. I do buy additional copies for giving. I’ve only twice given books away. Twice I have been sad later. Only once was really a problem, though. And that’s because I can no longer get a copy of the book.

List of Books 2007

I quit writing this list in October. I only started including romance novels around the fifteenth of September and I didn’t keep a careful listing. For example, I read three in the bookstore today and so don’t have them at hand to list the names.

11 fiction
36 mysteries
18 children’s books
46 science fiction
56 fantasy
33 nonfiction
48 romance that I wrote down the names of
3 inspirational fiction

I guess I wasn’t reading as much this year. I only have 185 books, not including the romance books. Which I still insist I read 300+ of. I need to try next year to ONLY write down the romance. Maybe that would help.

Ordinary Heroes: A Novel by Scott Turow
Irish Magic II- story by Susan Wiggs was good, the rest not so much
The Man from Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller, very well written Western
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Through the Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll
The Princess Bride by Wm Goldman, warning, the last two pages of the story should not be read. Just skip them. They weren’t in the screen play and the movie, thus, is better than the book.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Journal by K. Atkinson, depressing but quick read about life and murder in the suburbs 11

The Visitant by Kathleen O’Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear- icky Anasazi stories of murder and incest mixed with interesting archaeology characters being developed–Don’t know if I’ll read the others.
The Price of Murder by Bruce Alexander
Jack, Knave, and Fool by Bruce Alexander
Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris, a great book, I enjoyed it.
Death of a Duchess by Elizabeth Eyre. I liked it well enough to get another of her books to read.
Shoes to Die For by Laura Levine. My short review is here.
Hasty Death by Marion Chesney- good, fun, fairly light reading
Sick of Shadows by Marion Chesney
Our Lady of Pain by Marion Chesney
The Grilling Season by Diane Mott Davis- didn’t like it, too depressing
Cross Bones by Kathy Reichs
Mistletoe Murder by Leslie Meier- I really liked this one, even though she didn’t know who it was till the end.
Turkey Day Murder by Leslie Meier- This is much later in the series and I didn’t like it as much. She looks like an idiot at the end and everyone is patronizing. I’m still going to look for other books, though.
Christmas Cookie Murder by Leslie Meier
Tippy Toe Murder by Leslie Meier
Bimbos and Zombies by Sharyn McCrumb
Shakespeare’s Trollop by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare’s Christmas by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare’s Champion by Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare’s Counselor by Charlaine Harris
Real Murders by Charlaine Harris
The Julius House by Charlaine Harris
Dead Over Heels by Charlaine Harris
A Fool and His Honey by Charlaine Harris
A Bone to Pick by Charlaine Harris
A Really Cute Corpse by Joan Hess, fun light read- Claire Malloy mystery
Misery Loves Maggody by Joan Hess- Arly Hanks mystery, not as good
Monday Mourning by Kathy Reichs, better than Cross Bones but very painful in places
Death at Dartmoor by Robin Paige- very good, weaves together several returning characters
A Trust Betrayed by Candace Robb- not as good as I was hoping. Think I’ll give up on the author.
Don’t Look Now by Linda Lael Miller- This is an author I like in romance. I wasn’t as impressed with the mystery, but that may be because I kept expecting the romance to get stronger and it never did.
Death at Glamis Castle by Robin Paige- a good series, still good after several books
Death in Hype Park by Robin Paige
Murder at the Monks’ Table by Sister Carol Anne O’Marie
Once Upon a Crime by M.D. Lake- didn’t like this one
The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters- good book, lookng forward to reading more of hers 36

Children’s Books:
(I like to read these and I don’t usually put them on the list, but maybe I should.)
Vampires Don’t Wear Polka Dots
Santa Clause Doesn’t Mop Floors
Leprechauns Don’t Play Basketball
Ghosts Don’t Eat Potato Chips (Except that it is obvious they do.)
Zombies Don’t Play Soccer (This one was strange. It was clearly not a zombie at the end.)
Aliens Don’t Wear Braces
Gargoyles Don’t Drive School Buses (I liked this one. In it a library is saved.)
Frankenstein Doesn’t Plant Flowers
Martians Don’t Take Temperatures
Skeletons Don’t Play Tubas
A Weave of Words, beautifully illustrated
The Year Without Rain, beautiful illustrations, tells a historical tale of sharing and keeping people alive
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by A. Wolf
The Truth of the Three Billy Goats Gruff, by Otifnoski
The Popcorn Machine (read this one about ten times)15
Amelia Bedelia
Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia
the Amelia Bedelia with the jelly roll (My student wanted to know what one was, so I made it for her. She didn’t care much for it, but I did a good job.)

Science Fiction:
Accidental Goddess by Linnae Sinclair– I very much enjoyed this one.
Gabriel’s Ghost by Linnae Sinclair. My review.
Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber
Alien Taste by Wen Spencer– Fascinating. First Ukiah Oregon book. As of January 2007 there are four.
Tainted Trail by Wen Spencer
Bitter Waters by Wen Spencer
Dog Warrior by Wen Spencer
Games of Chance by Linnae Sinclair: I have read this one about seven times in one week. It is excellent.
Freehold by Michael Z. Williamson
The Weapon by Michael Z. Williamson
Here Be Monsters by Christopher Stasheff
Matadora by Steve Perry
Black Steel by Steve Perry
Albino Knife by Steve Perry
Brother Death by Steve Perry
The Omega Cage by Steve Perry
The Machiavelli Interface by Steve Perry
The Man Who Never Missed by Steve Perry
The Musashi Flex by Steve Perry
Dinosaur Planet by Anne McCaffrey- start of five books, pretty good
Dinosaur Planet Survivors by Anne McCaffrey
Sassinak by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon- works off earlier book
The Death of Sleep by Anne McCaffrey and Jody Lyn Nye- develops character from earlier book
Generation Warrior by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Moon- pulls all the characters together. Don’t think they really did a good job of Lunzie throughout, but okay.
Get Off the Unicorn by Anne McCaffrey- short stories, some of which are parts of books, some of which were new to me
I’ve been re-reading the Honor Harrington series by David Weber:
On Basilisk Station
The Honor of the Queen
The Short Victorious War
Field of Dishonor
Flag in Exile
Honor Among Enemies
In Enemy Hands
Echoes of Honor
Ashes of Victory
War of Honor
At All Costs
The Shadow of Saganami
Crown of Slaves
More than Honor
Worlds of Honor
Changer of Worlds
The Service of the Sword
The Excalibur Alternative by David Weber. First time I read this, even though I’ve owned it for a while.
The Apocalypse Troll by David Weber. 44
Soon I Will be Invincible
Endless Blue by Wen Spencer (It isn’t out yet. I read it on Baen.)

A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer– good book I enjoyed it. The boys said it sounded like a romance, but really its a milieu story.
Tinker by Wen Spencer– R recommended the book and I read it. I enjoyed it so much I had to order the sequel.
Wolf Who Rules by Wen Spencer
Divine by Choice by P.C. Cast– I didn’t love this one as much as the first, but it is good. I didn’t like it because I don’t like the fact that she has sex with someone other than her husband. It kind of ruined the true love aspect of the book.
The Outstretched Shadow by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
To Light a Candle by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory
A Walk in Wolf Wood by Mary Stewart- fun, fairly light reading
The Witching Hour by Nora Roberts
Winter Rose by Nora Roberts
A World Apart by Nora Roberts
Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine- Came to me highly recommended and I liked it.
The Wizard of London by Mercedes Lackey– My brother said not to buy it in hard back. That was a good call. It has great character development, but the plot is a little… flimsy.
Another Day, Another Dungeon by Greg Costikyan– light read, a little slow in the middle, but good.
Grave Sight by Charlaine Harris. About a woman who can feel where and how the dead died.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris
Club Dead by Charlaine Harris
Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris
A Wizard’s Dozen edited by Michael Stearns: There were a few good stories, but overall, not that good.
Saint Vidicon To the Rescue by Christopher Stasheff.
When Darkness Falls by Mercedes Lackey and James Mallory (Book 3 of the Obsidian Trilogy)
White Night by Jim Butcher, very good, reminded me why I bought them all
The Crafters by Christopher Stasheff
Goddess of Love by PC Cast
Oath of Swords by David Weber
War God’s Own by David Weber
Windrider’s Oath by David Weber
Furies of Calderon by Jim Butcher
Academen’s Fury by Jim Butcher
Cursor’s Fury by Jim Butcher, an amazing book, third in a series, I’ve read it three times in two days.
One Good Knight by Mercedes Lackey- good, enjoyable book
Fortune’s Fool by Mercedes Lackey- very light weight, definitely don’t buy it in hardback
His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. I read it twice in a row.
Throne of Jade by Naomi Novik
Black Powder War by Naomi Novik
Empire of Ivory by Naomi Novik (Do not read it until the fifth is out.)
Phoenix and Ashes by Mercedes Lackey– some obvious anti-war propaganda that doesn’t belong to the war it is purported to match, but a good book despite that
Serpent’s Shadow by Mercedes Lackey
Exile’s Honor by Mercedes Lackey38
It takes a Thief
Exile’s Valor
Arrows of the Queen
Arrows Fall
Arrows Flight
Winds of Change
Winds of Fate
Winds of Fury
Storm Warning
Princess of Wands by John Ringo- a light fun book
Goddess of Love by PC Cast
Divine by Mistake by PC Cast
Goddess of the Rose by PC Cast
Divine by Choice by PC Cast (don’t like this one, too much pain, S&M, child abuse)
The Down Home Zombie Blues by Linnae Sinclair
Captain’s Fury by Jim Butcher (the fourth in his series)
Reserved for the Cat by Mercedes Lackey
World War Z by Max Brooks (interesting but depressing, haven’t finished it, don’t know if I will)
The Dragon Hoard by Tanith Lee 56

The Faiths of Our Fathers by Alf J. Mapp, Jr.
Women in Anglo-Saxon England and the Impact of 1066 by Christine Fell
Art & Love: An Illustrated Anthology of Love Poetry from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Reading in Bed
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Dr. Laura
How to Write Love Letters
Book Lovers Quotations
The Oxford Book of Nursery Rhymes. I’ve been wanting this book since I read it in the American Library in Geneva, Switzerland, which, by the way, was run by Brits. It had way too many biographies, but I found some great books there. I indented this even though it has been 20+ years since I read it.
The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey
Paradise Lost by Milton
Scott’s Miscellany
Moving West Songbook with historical commentary by Keith and Rusty McNeil- neither of the songs I was particularly interested in had anything about their roots written down. Instead it was a social commentary on black-face in minstrel work. 11
Duty First by Ed Ruggero- I didn’t get to finish it because someone stole my book out of my teacher locker. Ouch.
The Language of God by Francis S. Collins
Hearing God by Dallas Willard
The 4-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss
Wit and Wisdom from Poor Richard’s Almanac by Benjamin Franklin
Reading in Bed
Study Skills for College Writers by Laurie Walker
Dead Men Do Tell Tales by William R. Maples, PhD and Michael Browning, good book by a forensic anthropologist
The Feejee Mermaid and Other Essays in Natural and Unnatural History by Jan Bondeson, chock full of info but very dry… Talks about literary authors and their comments on the different things.
Amelia Peabody’s Egypt: A Compendium edited by Elizabeth Peters
Oy! The World of Jewish Humor- funny and I read some jokes I haven’t heard before
The Best Life Diet 23
The Faces of Jesus: A Life Story by Friedrich Buechner
I Sold My Soul on EBay by Mehta
Thomas Merton: A Book of Hours by Kathleen Deignan and John Giuliani
Prayer: Does It Make Any Difference? by Philip Yancey
Being Prepared: Protecting your family from hurricanes, earthquakes, and other disasters by Katharine C. Rathbun, MD
How to Read a Book by Adler and Van Doren (I’m not finished yet.)
Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose
The Case for the Real Jesus by Lee Strobel 31
The Annotated Mother Goose (I got it for Christmas. It’s a great book.)
Taking Our Cities for God by John Dawson

Romance: (List only started in September.)
Forever Blue by Suzanne Brockman
Everyday, Average Jones
The Admiral’s Bride
Identity: Unknown
Get Lucky
Taylor’s Temptation
Night Watch
Hawken’s Heart
Harvard’s Education
Over the Edge
Into the Night
Hot Target
Gone Too Far
Force of Nature by Suzanne Brockmann- I did not like this one as well. It’s a romance novel with gay guys as the main characters. That’s not the worst. They fall in love at first sight, spend maybe two hours together, and they’re “in love forever.” That’s stupid. Guys or girls.
Red Wolf’s Return by Mary J. Forbes
The Daddy Makeover by Raeanne Thayne
The Baby Gamble by Tara Taylor Quinn- a depressing book where you get the idea that the main characters are going to die in two years.
The New Girl in Town by Brenda Harlen
Temporary Nanny by Carrie Weaver– a bit depressing
Taming the Playboy by Marie Ferrarella
Her Best Man by Crystal Green
Twin Surprise by Jacqueline Diamond
The Sheriff of Heartbreak County
and 10 others 33
Their Christmas Wish Come True by Cara Colter- sweet, positive, fun- started off a little sad, but rushes to a good finish
All Through the Night by Suzanne Brockmann (This one may have broken me of my liking for her books. She accuses the US of torture because someone got tortured by drug lords in China [relevance?]. She definitely has an agenda with this book. All the proceeds from this book go to support the redefinition of marriage. And I’m totally sick of people falling in love with the person the first second they see them and that being their soul mate.)
Looking for Sophie by Roz Denny Fox
With This Ring by Lee McKenzie (published in Dec. but written about August)
Texan for the Holidays by Victoria Chancellor (didn’t think the character development explained the whole Scarlett persona and change of the main character)
The McKettrick Way by Linda Lael Miller
The Christmas Date by Michele Dunaway
Angels of the Big Sky by Roz Denny Fox
The Ladies’ Man by Susan Mallery
The Rancher’s Christmas Baby by Cathy Gillen Thacker
The Older Woman by Cheryl Reavis
Her Hand-Picked Family by Jennifer Mikels (a keeper)
Royal Protocol by Christine Flynn (a keeper)
Familiar Stranger by Sharon Sala (I went and read some of her other books because I adored this one. But they were all depressing.)
To Be a Mother by Rebecca Winters 48

Inspirational Fiction:
One Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury
Beyond Tuesday Morning by Karen Kingsbury
When Joy Came to Stay by Karen Kingsbury

I’ve read a lot of books this year. Even if I didn’t read as many as I thought I did. At least, not including the romance novels, I read a book every two days.

Prayer list

Classes at Community College 2- So far only three of them are making. I don’t want to have two night classes there and a third at CC1. I would prefer to work part-time to that.

It is partly my need for a certain schedule, but I had that schedule before the rest.

Youth minister search- That whoever is best for our church and whomever we are best for is clear and chosen.

Finances- That R’s new venture is a financial success. That would just be so cool, making money at his photography.

My mother- That she would get well quickly and stay well.

Leaning on the Lord

We are bringing in three youth minister candidates this month.

One of them lied in his philosophy of ministry sheet. I would have thrown him out, but I’m not in charge of the universe and other people see it as “only exaggerating.” I think that is a problem.

One of them asked if they could pray for my son when I said he is an atheist.

One of them is working on an MDiv and eventually wants to be a college professor. (Not immediately, but eventually.)

I guess you can see which one I like the best. How would the leader of our group characterize these guys?

One is working in youth ministry currently.

One is working at Starbucks.

One doesn’t want to be a youth minister long term and can’t come until June anyway.

That’s a big difference in the characterization, isn’t it? The one working at Starbucks (who prayed for my son) has 8 years ministry experience. He quit when his elders refused to talk to his wife and gave him different directions than they told other people they were giving him. I think that is a legitimate reason to quit. And his elders didn’t have anything bad to say about him.

Looking for a new youth minister is not fun.

And I am leaving the church at the end of January. The mess with the elder over the one candidate who lied on his philosophy of ministry degree and with the teacher of my youngest has been the final camel’s back breaker. I think we might have stayed, even so, if there were not a better church anywhere. But one started in September that we know and like, so… We’re out of here.

Our youngest wants to stay at this church and we have told him he may attend when there is nothing at the new one. However, so far he’s been going to class here and then going to church with us at the late service. R would rather go to the early service, but is waiting so that M can go to church.

The first three weeks of January M and I need to be at church for both class and church. Then I’ll be gone.

Why don’t I leave now? Because I think (truthfully or not) that the work I am doing with the youth ministry search committee is something God has given me to do. I think they are going to choose the wrong candidate, unless God drops a piano on that one, but I need to do my best to get the kids there the best youth minister I can. This youth minister will be my son’s (at least for a while) and there are plenty of other kids there that I care about.

I wish, though, that it were February and it was all over.

God, please make it crystal clear to everyone which youth minister you want at Kingwood. Even to me.

Illinois gun law change

Guns will be harder to buy if Illinois legislators get their way. And it will be almost impossible to be a gun dealer in Illinois.

Who is doing this?

The Cook County Board of Commissioners is the governing body for a region that contains the City of Chicago and 132 other municipalities. It is the second-largest county in the country, housing 5.4 million people. This board is the 19th largest governing body in America.

What are they doing?

This new legislation, if passed, would not allow gun dealers within 15 miles of another dealer, even if the other dealer was in a different county. Gun dealers also would be unable to be located within a mile of any public or private school, a mile from any church or place of worship, home for the aged, indigent or veterans, military stations or public parks.

What else is it doing?

…all revolvers and every automatic made up to now would become illegal.

I hope the gun owners in Illinois make enough noise to scare this off.

Quotations are from Kane County Chronicle.

I learned about this at Stop the ACLU.

Good King Wencelas

was a duke of Bohemia (later part of the Czech Republic) in the 900s. He was a Christian, as was his father and grandmother. His mother was a pagan, as was his younger brother. His father died when he was 13 and his mother became regent. She murdered his grandmother. She also discouraged Christianity, banishing the priests from the country. At 18 he became king and re-established Christianity. In his 20s he was murdered by his brother and other nobles who didn’t like what he did. from Royalty

The feast of Stephen is St. Stephen’s Day, December 26th.

The story was written down in the 1800s by an Anglican minister who heard the tale from British soldiers. He wrote it to teach children about generosity. from Answers at Yahoo

1. Good King Wenceslas looked out,
On the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about,
Deep and crisp and even:
Brightly shone the moon that night,
Though the frost was cruel,
When a poor man came in sight,
Gathering winter fuel.

2. “Hither page and stand by me,
If thou know’st it, telling,2
Yonder peasant, who is he,
Where and what his dwelling?”
“Sire, he lives a good league hence,
Underneath the mountain,
Right against the forest fence,
By Saint Agnes’ fountain.”

3. “Bring me flesh3 and bring me wine,
Bring me pine logs hither:
Thou4 and I will see him dine,
When we bear them thither.”
Page and monarch forth they went,
Forth they went together;
Though the rude5 winds wild lament,
And the bitter weather.

4. “Sire, the night is darker now,
And the wind blows stronger;
Fails my heart, I know now how,
I can go no longer.”
“Mark my footsteps, my good page;6
Tread thou in them boldly;
Thou shalt find the winter’s rage
Freeze thy blood less coldly.”

5. In his master’s steps he trod,
Where the snow lay dinted;
Heat was in the very sod
Which the saint had printed.
Therefore, Christian men, be sure,
Wealth or rank possessing,
Ye who now will bless the poor,
Shall yourselves find blessing.

from Hymns and Carols of Christmas

I have always liked the song. When I was reading Gordon Dickson’s The Dragon and the Troll, I really appreciated it. The main character is a modern man who becomes trapped in an alternate universe/history somewhere about five or six hundred years earlier. He is a wizard in the new universe. He is at a Christmas party and is asked to lead a song. He leads the song “Good King Wencelas” and there is total silence. Of course no one sings with him. (They don’t know the song, since it isn’t written until the 1800s.) But there is silence afterwards and he is afraid he has broken some rule of piety. Then the bishop roars out, “Quite right” or some such and orders the main character to sing again. This time the whole room sings with him. (In those days people had to memorize quickly and accurately.) It is quite a scene. And it has encouraged my enjoyment of the song.

Happy St. Stephen’s Day!

Things I didn’t know about compact fluorescent lightbulbs

They contain mercury and are dangerous if broken. They can’t just be thrown away because they contain mercury.

CFLs are not for use in track, recessed or dimmer fixtures.

….You as a consumer will be required to find certified waste recycling centers to turn in your dead and broken bulbs.

….The industry is currently aiming at totally mercury-free CFL lighting, but this is still five to 10 years away

from World Net Daily

Merry Christmas, My Friend: A soldier’s silent night

There are lots of sites out there giving different names of the author and different times when it was written. But this one seemed to have the most authenticity, including dates and places the piece was actually published.

Written by former Marine Corporal James M. Schmidt, in 1987 when stationed in Washington D.C., it was pounded out on a typewriter while awaiting the commanding officer’s Christmas holiday decoration inspection. It was originally title “Merry Christmas, My Friend”, and was an instant success that reportedly brought tears to the eyes of the barracks Commander who ordered it distributed to everyone he knew. It appeared in the barracks publication Pass in Review in December 1987 and Leatherneck Magazine in December 1991.

Here it is:

Twas the night before Christmas, he lived all alone,
In a one-bedroom house made of plaster and stone.
I had come down the chimney, with presents to give
and to see just who in this home did live.

As I looked all about, a strange sight I did see,
no tinsel, no presents, not even a tree.
No stocking by the fire, just boots filled with sand.
On the wall hung pictures of a far distant land.

With medals and badges, awards of all kind,
a sobering thought soon came to my mind.
For this house was different, unlike any I’d seen.
This was the home of a U.S. Marine.

I’d heard stories about them, I had to see more,
so I walked down the hall and pushed open the door.
And there he lay sleeping, silent, alone,
Curled up on the floor in his one-bedroom home.

He seemed so gentle, his face so serene,
Not how I pictured a U.S. Marine.
Was this the hero, of whom I’d just read?
Curled up in his poncho, a floor for his bed?

His head was clean-shaven, his weathered face tan.
I soon understood, this was more than a man.
For I realized the families that I saw that night,
owed their lives to these men, who were willing to fight.

Soon around the Nation, the children would play,
And grown-ups would celebrate on a bright Christmas day.
They all enjoyed freedom, each month and all year,
because of Marines like this one lying here.

I couldn’t help wonder how many lay alone,
on a cold Christmas Eve, in a land far from home.
Just the very thought brought a tear to my eye.
I dropped to my knees and I started to cry.

He must have awoken, for I heard a rough voice,
“Santa, don’t cry, this life is my choice
I fight for freedom, I don’t ask for more.
My life is my God, my country, my Corps.”

With that he rolled over, drifted off into sleep,
I couldn’t control it, I continued to weep.

I watched him for hours, so silent and still.
I noticed he shivered from the cold night’s chill.
So I took off my jacket, the one made of red,
and covered this Marine from his toes to his head.
Then I put on his T-shirt of scarlet and gold,
with an eagle, globe and anchor emblazoned so bold.
And although it barely fit me, I began to swell with pride,
and for one shining moment, I was Marine Corps deep inside.

I didn’t want to leave him so quiet in the night,
this guardian of honor so willing to fight.
But half asleep he rolled over, and in a voice clean and pure,
said “Carry on, Santa, it’s Christmas Day, all secure.”
One look at my watch and I knew he was right,
Merry Christmas my friend, Semper Fi and goodnight.

With a slight change of wording, the poem has become known as “A Soldier’s Silent Night,” and was recorded under that title by Father Ted Berndt as a tribute. Berndt was a World War II Marine veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart. At the time of the recording, Father Berndt was a priest at Bread of Life Charismatic Episcopal Church in Dousman, Wisconsin. He died March 19, 2004. The poem was recorded in one take. The recording received a national A.I.R. (Achievement in Radio) award from the March of Dimes.

Both of the above are taken from Hymns and Carols of Christmas.

You can listen to the recording at Radio Cafe Hertford.