THIS IS WHO WE ARE

This is what we do for the joy of the King,
For His peaceable Kingdom,
For a world in despair.
And this is why we bring any hope we can give,
Any bread from the table,
Any touch of His hand.
This is what we do.
This is where we go.
This is why we sing.
This is how we live.
This is who we are.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Pictures of My Mother . . .

I posted this on Mother's Day...a picture
of my mom, Kathryn Pearl Isenberg Sewell
taken when she was a young woman

The first anniversary of my mother's passing was 2 weeks ago.  That day (September 12), I posted pictures of my hometown that reminded me of my mother. This morning I received some pictures that Laura Plank, our graphics artist scanned for me. I thought I'd share some here.
This is a casual portrait a family friend took of
my mother.  She always had that big, welcoming smile.


Yep, that's little Donnie with my mom and
dad (Curtis) when I was 4 or 5.  Wish it were
a better picture so you could see how freakin' cute
I was back then.  (Just kidding!)

Ah, the back steps at 1904 W. Sunny St. in
Kissimmee, FL.  I wish I had a nickel for every
time Mother stood at that door and called me in
for supper.  Just like the hokey old gospel song,
"Come home, come home it's supper time...the
shadows lengthen fast."
I heard her sing that song many, many times.

Curt and Kate relaxing in friends' living
room many years ago

Mother and Kristi on the porch of our home
at Johnson Bible College, Knoxville, TN

Mother holding Jennifer; Kristi is holding 
a bottle or something for Jen.  Very similar to
Haley and Lexi, I think!

These two pictures were scanned together.  The top
one is of K & J having fun with Grandma.

The lower picture is of Mom and Dad "doing communion."
She prepared communion for over 25 years for our 
church in Kissimmee.  Only took off 3 or 4 times a year.  
Most of that time she washed the glass communion cups
by hand.  It was a labor of love for her.  (Plus, she
directed the church choir!)


We had silhouettes made of the girls one summer and
presented them to our mothers for Christmas.
  Mother loved these.  After her death, 
I brought the silhouettes home.  They're now
displayed in our guest room.

This is Mom relaxing at a friend's home.
That's me over to the left.

When we were at Johnson Bible College, we
often went to "Silver Dollar City" (now "Dollywood")
in Pigeon Forge, TN, at the foot of the
Smoky Mountains.  Mom and Dad loved going there.

Before Brian and Jennifer were married, Mom came
out for a visit.

This was taken during Mom's last trip to CA


Mom loved riding her 3-wheeler around the
neighborhood.  She did this until just a couple
years prior to her death.

Love this picture, even if it is fuzzy and blurry.
Mom loved the simple things.  Picking wildflowers
was more meaningful than receiving a $100 bouquet
from the florist.  She loved life at the grass roots
and never minded getting her hands dirty.  She was
a remarkable woman.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Better viewing


Wow....Apparently my post this morning was disturbing to my "readers," so I've repented, self-censored, and put these up in addition. (The pig-diety was actually on the Drudge Report this morning--that's where I found it.)  

Hopefully, these will be more comforting.  :)

Scroll down if you want to see the Pig-god.

You tell me . . . Is this art?

In the broadest sense, of course it is.  As you can see from the man in the background, this is a sculpture of some kind of a pig-god.  (By Chinese artist Chen Wenling.) See all the little red piggies worshiping? I suppose in 3-dimensions it's pretty scary, but the photo makes me laugh. As my mom used to say, "It's so ugly, it's cute!"  [okay--as Sarah Bruce commented, "cute" is a stretch.]  Believe it or not, I found it on the Drudge Report!!

Great way to start a new week, huh?

If you're looking at this before bedtime, sweet dreams!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Nine Days to WICKED!


Next Sunday evening, Kristi and Jennifer are treating Lyn and me to our "virgin voyage" with the show WICKED.  (I think we're the only two people in the universe who haven't seen it 2 or 3 times already.)  Getting this for a birthday present makes looking down the barrel at 60 less intimidating.  Thanks, K & J  (and Curtis/Brian)!

By the way, watching the documentary SHOW BUSINESS on Showtime has really gotten me excited...it shows all the background/rehearsals/production angst of the staging of 4 musicals in the 2004 Broadway season.  WICKED was one of the four. Way cool.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Roosevelt Was On TV????

"When the stock market crashed [in 1929], Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed, he said, 'Look, here's what happened.'"

     -  Joe Biden to Katie Couric in an interview this week.

I know this was probably just a brain-fart. He meant to say "radio," no doubt.  But if Bush, McCain, or Palin had made the gaffe, it would have been on every late night show, and the theme of front-page articles in dozens of major newspapers.  They would have been labeled "stupid," "old," or "ignorant." Biden, however, just said "television" when he meant to say "radio."

Francis and Billie: My Parents-In-Law

Lyn just spent a long weekend with her parents in Lakeland, FL.  She had a wonderful visit with them and took several pictures--some of which I'm posting here.  (The one above is of Lyn and her folks--Francis and Billie Joyce Reid--at the Red Lobster in Winter Haven, FL, after church Sunday.)

A few personal words here.  I have been greatly blessed to have these amazing saints as parents-in-law.  When Lyn and I first started out in marriage and ministry, we lived about 40 miles away from her folks. They helped us in countless ways as we settled into the day-to-day, week-to-week aspects of homemaking and ministry. I couldn't even begin to list all the things that they did to help us poor-as-church-mice newlyweds live comfortably. Lyn's dad was always a master of repairing things and building useful things out of materials at hand. He wasn't a "master carpenter" or craftsman, but the quintessential practical fixer-maker.  We still have the cradle he built when Lyn was pregnant with Kristi.  It will probably still be here when we're long gone.

When I was young and clueless about practical matters of ministry, I spent hundreds of hours in their parsonage living room, asking questions and learning much from their years of practical experience. I will treasure the memories of those conversations always.  (To this day, whenever I happen to look at a clock and see 12:22, I always think of them and those conversations:  they lived at 1222 Baldwin Drive in Orlando.)

Thank you, Mom and Dad Reid!


Billie and Francis at the fireplace at the 
Cracker Barrel Restaurant in Lakeland

Billie on her daddy's lap.  Her dad was
"Bill" Holmes--her namesake (she was the first-born)

Billie and her brother and sister (Damon and Barbara)
I'm thinking the sun was in their eyes--they're TRYING to smile!

Billie with her parents Bill and Pearl Holmes
at Billie's high school graduation

The Holmes siblings--grown up--with their parents

A four-generation picture:  L-R, Lyn's great-grandmother,
Stella Daymond; grandmother, Pearl Holmes; Billie, and
Lyn around age 13.


Lyn's grandmother's family.  She (Pearl) is on the left;
Great-grandma Daymond is in the center.  The other 
folks are Pearl's brothers and sisters.


This is the movie theatre in Lakeland where Lyn used to
enjoy films with her Aunt Barb.  (Elvis appeared here
once--Lyn's grandma was there!)


Lyn's folks eat lunch at Wendy's nearly every day of the week!
(This picture, however, is at Cracker Barrel, Lyn corrected.)

Lyn's brother Dan lives near their parents.  Here he and Billie are
 with Dan's wife Angie and 2 of
 their children--Seth and Danielle.

Dan's first-born, Nate, with Billie at half-time 

Francis with John Hasty (L) and Jim Reed.  John was 
the founding president of Florida Christian College (which
met on the campus of First Christian Church in Orlando
where Francis ministered for 14 years.  Jim is the 
minister of the church in Winter Haven where Francis
 and Billie attend each week.

Billie is the organist at Winter Haven Christian Church.
Impressive for an octogenarian survivor of a broken hip!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Call me crazy, but . . .


If I, on a very, very, very, very small scale, did to my business what the CEO's of those crazy mortgage companies and banks that went belly-up last week have done, I would be slapped in jail so fast I wouldn't have time to change underwear!  So how is it that these guys walk away with millions, and we taxpayers are going to have to fix the mess they caused?  If the government is going to put the $700 billion bailout on our tab, couldn't they at least hold the true perpetrators accountable?  Why are honest, hard-working people--people who never borrowed a dime in a sub-prime loan--being required to shoulder the bulk of this stupid debt, while smooth-talking, too-good-to-be-true deal-brokering foxes slip through the economic loopholes that the Feds are lining with gold?  It's crazy.  But I really don't think I am!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Brilliant Line...Gotta Share

I'm watching HOUSE tonight.  (Sorry, Lyn...I'll watch it again when you get home.)

Anyway, the "patient of the week" just delivered a line that I think is absolutely brilliant.  I got goosebumps when she spoke it.  I froze the scene and just sat contemplating what she said.  Then I played it back several times.  Outside the Scriptures, I can't say I've ever been so instantly affected by hearing a string of two brief sentences.

Here's the context:  A young, proud female doctor on House's team is incredulous that the patient (also female) is willingly taking a "2nd fiddle" view of herself.  The patient responds with:

"We can aspire to anything, but we don't get it just because we want it.  I would rather spend my life close to the birds, than waste it wishing I had wings."

It very likely won't impact everyone the way it did me, but it was something I really needed to hear. It pretty much summarizes my life philosophy--at least as it relates to my self-assessment--but I had never attempted to verbalize it.

I feel better getting that off my chest.  Now I'll finish the show.  G'Night!

My*Dog*Has*Fleas - And I'm not tuning a ukelele!!

Mandy is the 3rd puppy from the left--the biggest one
of the litter.  (She's nearly 20lbs now!)  She looks
very much like her mother now.

This is Mandy, shortly before we got her at 5 months


This is NOT Mandy, but I don't have any recent
pictures on my laptop.  She does look pretty much
like this one--who's name is Sarah Jo (I found her online)

So, here's the deal.  We've been at warfare the last couple of months. With fleas!  Mandy (our second Westie--West Highland White Terrier--now seven years old) is never outdoors except for "business" and the occasional walk.  Yet the poor thing has been battling with fleas this summer like never before.  Molly, Kristi and Curtis' Golden Retriever spent 5 or 6 weeks with us this summer--during their Residence Inn sojourn--and while she was here SHE was inundated by fleas, too. She'd never really had a problem either.  We've had the house sprayed and fogged TWICE, vacuumed like crazy, throwing away vacuum bags after ONE usage, used that nasty anti-flea stuff you squirt on your dog's back, and bathed her at least once a week--which isn't all that good for her sensitive skin (which is another story!).  We've done about everything but dress her in doggie Kevlar.

Things are better--thank goodness--but she still has a few of the little devils on her body.  I went to the vet yesterday and paid $18 for one little pill that's supposed to take care of all canine varmints--fleas, ticks, worms, etc.  Hopefully we can kill the things from the inside.

We're open to suggestions--aside from getting rid of the dog (which wouldn't really help US any--if there are still fleas nearby, we'll become their Holiday Inn!).  I think we may be finally winning, now that we've applied our own version of the Surge.  As of the last fogging/spraying, I haven't seen any fleas accept on poor Mandy. Hopefully, those days are soon behind us, too.

I would ask for prayer, but . . .  :)    

(I knew a woman back in the day who would pray over EVERYTHING in her life--what to cook for dinner, whether or not to buy a new iron or frying pan, should she wash the car or mow the lawn.  She was married to a preacher--but they eventually divorced.  I wonder whose prayer was answered when THAT happened. S*T*R*A*N*G*E! Hmm...maybe I should give HER a call! She can send up a "flea plea." Actually, I think she's dead now.  Never mind.)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Goody, goody! A parking ticket.

Our parking lot at church yesterday (Thursday, Sept. 18)

I took Lyn to the airport yesterday morning (LAX).  By the time I got to the church, there was NO place to park in our parking lot.  Over 3/4 of the parking lot has been ripped up for construction work. (We'll be parking on dirt this weekend.)  But yesterday, even the "dirt parking" was unavailable.  The women who'd come for their Thursday morning Bible study had taken all the spaces that hadn't been used by staff.  I figured, "No prob.  I'll just park on the street that runs parallel to the building."  The same street I've parked on many times for weekend services.

What I DIDN'T know was that some of our dear neighbors had managed to get a city ordinance passed to keep high school kids from parking on the street between 7am and 4pm Monday-Friday.  (This street doesn't even pass through the residential area, but requires residents-only permits for parking!  Go figure.)  Anyway, the sign announcing this was near the fire hydrant that I made sure to park far, far away from.  Thus my ignorance remained.  

So, after a productive morning, I was ready to treat myself to a sushi lunch.  I crossed the street to my car and saw this little piece of paper stuck under my wiper, its end gently flapping in the breeze. My first thought was that those little Vietnamese-operated nail salons were really on the ball if they were advertising that far away from a strip mall!  To my horror it was a $55 parking ticket. I've gotta say, though, it was a state-of-the-art ticket.  It had all my information, date of the expiration of my registration, etc. all neatly computer printed. (Another reason CA is going down the tube financially, no doubt. If a lowly traffic cop can print out a citation that looks like it was PUBLISHED, for Pete's sake, I suppose my $55 fine makes sense, in a sick sorta way. Heck, it probably should be RAISED!!!) I guess I'm dreaming to try to get out of it.  But I'm gonna try anyway!  

Fifty-five dollars for parking on a wide-open main drag.  Give me a break!!!  (mumble mumble)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"I Want Her to Decimate This Woman"

I get so weary of such stellar political authorities as Chevy Chase and Matt Damon being given significant air time to lambast and verbally annihilate Sarah Palin. (See the video clip below of Chase's recent Saturday Night Live "review" on MSNBC.) Even when I agree with certain positions held by the Left, I am chagrined by the verbal assaults they always seem to throw at the Right. (Watch any Oscar show, Letterman show, last week's MTV awards, etc.)  Of course, people on the Right do their share of haranguing, but it never seems to have the vitriol of the Left.  (How many Democrats refuse to put a party bumper sticker on their cars for fear of having their car trashed or keyed?  How many Democrats actually fear losing their jobs or failing a class because of their political views?)  I've never heard any public figure on the Right verbally wishing somebody on the Left were dead. I've heard it from public figures on the Left. I think the Left might gain a lot more traction than they do if the hate-speak were toned down.  If the public discourse were more civil and less vitriolic, people on the right might be more reachable. I get tired of hearing how folks who are brave enough to publicly label themselves "conservative" (or, heaven forbid, admit they are Republican), are basically perceived by many (most?) Democrats to be uneducated, Bible-totin' bigots.  Conservative women and people of color are considered, in effect, "neutered" or lobotomized into "Uncle Toms" if they choose not to share the Left's view of gender and race. (Hey, I voted for Clinton twice, so I think I can say these things.)  Do politics HAVE to be so sleazy and mean across the board? Criticism--even severe criticism--is fine. Serious disagreement is fine.  But unmitigated hatred and verbal gall???  To quote another stellar figure, Rodney King, "Can't we all just get along?"

Friday, September 12, 2008

Happy Thoughts of Mom - December 25, 1918 - September 12, 2007


My mother, Kathryn Pearl Isenberg Sewell, went home to be with the Lord a year ago today. I'm determined to have happy thoughts about her, even though I miss her greatly. Laura, our graphics designer at church is scanning some photos of Mom that I'll post later. But today, I thought it would be fun to share some pics of places in my home town of Kissimmee, FL, that I associate with my mother. (There are other places I would like to  include, but I don't have pictures in my computer.)

This is a look at downtown Kissimmee as it was in the early 50's--when I was a pre-schooler. This is Broadway, a true "boulevard" with its grassy median.  Mom and I used to spend a lot of time in that McCrory's department store, about the only place in Kissimmee to shop for anything other than groceries and hardware.  Every July and February our town (known for its many ranches) hosted the Silver Spurs Rodeo.  Parades went up and down Broadway for every rodeo season. Quite the event. I loved it when two marching bands would be on both sides of the street playing different songs simultaneously--sounded like music by Charles Ives! Oh yeah...that "Hunt Bros" was a great drug store with a tremendous soda fountain.  I discovered the "Vanilla Pepsi" there--5 cents a serving!  YUMMY!  Their ice cream floats were pretty great too!  It was always fun to see old men sitting on benches in front of Hunt Brothers, solving all the problems of the world.

This is a shot (actually a postcard view) of the Olympic size swimming pool at the Tropical Hotel in downtown Kissimmee.  Unlike modern hotels, the Tropical welcomed non-guests to use that pool.  It was quite the hang-out for kids my age.  My mother would take me there many times during the course of a summer.  Just around the corner from the hotel was the Arcade Theatre where Mom would drop me off with a friend to watch a movie for 50 cents, and buy popcorn for a dime.

This is a picture of the dedication of the Hart Memorial Library next door to the Presbyterian Church and across the street from the old Central school where I attended 3rd, 5th, and 6th grades. From the clothes the folks are wearing, I'd say it was early 20th century. Anyway, my mom was always an avid reader--she planted the passion for books and reading in me.  We would frequent the library at LEAST once a week--usually on Wednesday evenings on the way to prayer meeting and "midweek Bible study" at church.

This is the Osceola County Courthouse, one of the neatest and most stately buildings anywhere. In an annex building that you can't see here (it was behind those oak trees to the left) I went to take my driving test--twice.  Mom took me both times.  I failed the first test because I was so nervous--the officer told me to turn right and I turned left.  That WOULD be the time my dyslexia reared its head! Mom and I laughed about that for years.

Miss you, Mom!  Give Dad my love.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

River of Resolve

The days following September 11, 2001, were extremely dark. Scary. Sad. Uncertain. Something had entered our reality that we had never imagined.  I remember being in a daze for nearly a month.  My eating was out of control--I turned to food for comfort.  Nearly everyone I know gained weight in those days.  (Nobody was eating in restaurants, but we were pigging out at home!)  

The night following the 9/11 Memorial Telethon, I wrote a poem that I later set to music. Although it's a bit "artsy," I think it reflected the sense of unity (a somewhat militant unity, I have to admit) that seemed to characterize our whole nation in those early days.  Sadly, much of that sense of unity unraveled as weeks turned into months, months into years.

Here's the poem:

RIVER OF RESOLVE

Three hundred million broken hearts
Bleed a River of Resolve.
Her path of Holy Justice--
Heartless terror to dissolve.

She winds through hallowed rubble
And sacred shards of steel,
Invading dens of peril
With heroism's keel.

Her currents shatter hatred
With devastating flood,
While taking restitution
For pure and guiltless blood.

This River's flow is steady,
Her mighty mission true,
Her shiny surface glistens--
Shades of red and white and blue.

Her depth cannot be fathomed,
Her width cannot be breached;
Her length cannot be measured,
Her limits never reached.

Three hundred million broken hearts
In grief, have linked as one.
Resolved.  Committed.  Ready.
And only just begun.

Billy Joel performed the night of that telethon.  I think all 300 million of us were in a "New York State of Mind" that evening.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog

I read two blogs tonight that I really needed to read.

Kurt Goble raised a fascinating question in his post:  Have blogs been superceded by Facebook? Of course, he had a whole gang of people tell him via comment that blogs AND Facebook have their own places.  
I have been seriously considering shutting my blog down.  I feel like when I write I'm basically jabbering to myself like the woman I saw on Beach Boulevard the other day who was obviously off her meds. She was having a knockdown dragout fight with an invisible foe.  I had my car windows rolled up and I could practically hear her railing. I sometimes think blog readers occasionally stumble on my blog and get the same impression I got of Shouting Lady.

But then I read Jon Michell's great post about talking with his children about 9/11.  The concept of that difficult task never really entered my mind. We live in such a messed-up world; trying to make some sense of it for our children and grandchildren is a formidable task. 

So, I guess I'll hang with the blog thing a while longer. (At any rate, I'll keep reading OTHER people's blogs.) I keep learning all kinds of things that I never am challenged to think about on Facebook.


Sunday, September 7, 2008

Emily is "Recognized"

At our church, we have had "Baby Recognition Weekend" twice a year. (We'd like to make it once a year, but we have so many babies, we may be rethinking that!) Anyway, this was the weekend, and Emily got her official recognition today. It was such a special morning. It seemed just like yesterday that Jennifer was a little girl standing on a stage reciting a line or singing a song in a children's program. Now she's up there with her great husband, holding their own child. Wow. 
 
It was powerful to hear Bruce's challenge to all the parents, encouraging them to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.  I would recommend you read Jennifer's own account of this morning...it's very moving.  

Here are a few video images--sorry about the quality. video

Friday, September 5, 2008

The GEEK Bible

For all my Geek friends....there is spiritual hope!!!


Is It Just Me and My Computers. . . ?


I was just reading Kristi's EIGHTEEN comments on her blog about Haley's sleep issues.

Thought my eyes were going to weld together because I was squinting so hard to read them. 

What's up with Blogspot that the comment fonts are so teeny tiny all of a sudden?

I click the "make text larger" button under the View tab.  Then when I return to the actual blog, it's like reading the top lines of an eye chart!!!  The system designer needs to reset the comments default font.  I thought at first I'd accidentally done it myself on my laptop, but it's on all three (occasionally four) computers that I use.

HELP!  I'm going blind here!!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

VERY interesting thought . . .

This morning I was listening to Dennis Prager as I drove from the gym to the church. As you might expect, he was talking with callers about the Palin speech last night.

He made an observation about the major philosophical differences between the parties, particularly as they regard the role of government in relationship to the individual.  I don't think I've ever heard it put quite as succinctly.  In effect, according to Prager, there are two driving forces at work.  Among Democrats, it's the need for security. (Not national security, but the security of the individual. Government taking care of all our personal needs.)  Among Republicans, it's the need for liberty.  The freedom of the individual to make grown-up choices, the opportunity--based upon disciplined hard work--to become whatever he/she can become, etc. 

I'm sure it's a bit of an over-simplification, but I think you can follow the tributaries of many platform issues from either party and they'll make their way to one of those philosophical rivers.  In my opinion, however, both "rivers" tend to overflow their banks.  The security-seekers can only receive their care-giving at the expense of others. The liberty-seekers tend to label many with legitimate needs as "lazy" and "unproductive" and "opportunistic."  Thus the need for balance and "truth-seeking" like I wrote about the other day.  

I'd love to see balance between security and liberty personally, if such a thing can be achieved. For instance, something HAS to be done about health care in this country.  Perhaps not, "universal" in the socialistic ideal of the word, but certainly something effective that will positively affect everyone.

Monday, September 1, 2008

It's Not Fun to Cry on Your Birthday

I hate for this post to be a downer, but it's 7:01 am and I'm sitting in the family room in tears.  

Part of the tears are sleep-related, I'm sure.  (I slept great until 5, but after a visit to the bathroom, I was wide-awake.)  I finally gave up on the effort to go back to sleep and came downstairs at 6:30. (Yesterday I was wide-eyed at 4!) 

Of course I turned on the TV first thing to check on Gustav's overnight behavior.  At church yesterday (and Saturday) we set aside a portion of every worship service to pray for the potential victims of the hurricane--particularly our Katrina-spawned friends in Burris, LA. It looks like the brunt of the storm may hit a little west of them, but they'll still get throttled pretty soundly.  The "good" news is that the storm seems to have downsized a bit.  As of this writing it's a Cat2. So, there were some Gustav-related tears.

Yesterday at our birthday/Labor Day cookout with family and friends (the Bakers--Billy's birthday is tomorrow), Billy informed me that Jason Caid, one of the "kids" who was in my HIU summer high-school tour and eventually a student at Hope, died suddenly of a rare cardio-vascular condition in mid-July.  Another former student had posted the blog account that Jason's wife wrote describing his death. Reading that brought more tears.  

I don't mind (too much) embarking on the last year of my 6th decade. [No, I'm NOT 69!!]  I mind terribly that a young husband was taken away from his loved ones just after completing his 3rd. Although he's gone to a far better place, the truth of his wife's closing statement remains:  "At 7:15 PM on July 13, his heart stopped and my heart broke."

"Lord, as I enjoy the fun perks of starting a "new year," help me remember that there are many who are dealing with life realities today that are altogether void of fun."