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.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Haley Beth Turned Five! 012309

Star Date 012309.  Oh, sorry....wrong show.  That would be January 23, 2009.

Yes, Haley Beth Templeton is now 5 years old (in earth years).  She had a wonderful birthday on the 23rd and a fun party on the 24th.  

The poor baby can't help being a Star Wars fan.  Her dad is probably one of the most dedicated SW fans I've never known.  (Of course, I know there are some REALLLLLY crazy fans out there who make Curtis appear disinterested by comparison...but as to fans that I personally know, he'd be right there at the top of the list.)

The fascinating thing about Haley is that her SW hero is not Luke Skywalker; not Hans Solo; not Princess Leia. She is a die-hard DARTH VADER fan.  Spooky, huh?  

The party was supposed to be at a park, but because of the threat of rain it was moved to Jon and Gina Michell's house.  Which was nice, because the kids got to party to the video accompaniment of STAR WARS on the plasma. It was tons of fun, and no one got caught in a trash compactor!

The not-so-usual party pinata.

The little Dark-Sider herself:  Darth Haley

The warriors at Darth's command.  Darth Haley
enjoys having the boys at her beck and call!

If I didn't know better, I'd say it
was in the genes!

Here's the wise little Yoda, or as they refer
to her in the Hood, YoLexDa.

Even evil inter-galactic super-warriors
enjoy their birthday cakes.

Cousin Emily certainly enjoyed HER cake!!

Lexi admiring the Star Wars loot.

Enjoying her off-theme birthday gift from Papa Don
and MaMa Lyn:  Lite Brite.  For those temporary
retreats from the Dark Side.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Give Me A Break!!!!!

This just in . . . a ridiculous article in the newest issue of VANITY FAIR.  I nearly gagged when I read it.  While there may be some statistical "truth" in what writer Dee Dee Myers says, the concept both angers me and creeps me out.  While her article is officially "commentary," it's interesting that she was formerly President Clinton's press secretary. Here's a taste of Ms. Myers' professional "commentary," nurtured and tempered, no doubt, by a lengthy career of more objective journalism:

"Barack Obama is the most famous living person in the history of the world. . . It seems indisputable to me that more people know at least something about the new American president than anyone alive, at this point--or any--in the planet's history."

Considering that she used the phrase "living person" makes the statement viable, I suppose. However, one almost gets the sense that she WANTS to say "the most famous person--living or dead--in the history of the world," when you read the subsequent paragraphs.

". . . Gone is the hunkered-down defensiveness of the past eight years, the lock-the-doors, draw-the-curtains, load-the-guns-to-keep-out-the-bad-guys mentality that turned the world against us. . . It was no accident that President Obama's first television interview from the White House went not to an American network but to an Arab one. . . Obama has made America cool again--and more than that, he's made his own brand arguably the most powerful the world has ever known."

Hmmmmm....and what "brand" is that?  I guess I'm just simple-minded enough to believe the most powerful "brand" the world has ever known is the cross of Jesus Christ.  Call me old-fashioned. (REALLY old-fashioned, evidently, because I believe Jesus is every bit as "living" as Barack Obama, and infinitely more "famous.")

I've been very uncomfortable over the last few months when I have heard some conservative pundits quipping about the presumed "messianic complex" of Obama. It just seems mean-spirited and a tad "bitchy" when they talk like that--much like whining kids who didn't get their way about something. But when I read things like this article, it makes me MUCH more uncomfortable. This isn't journalism. It's worship. It isn't even editorializing or "commenting." It's adoration. 

Creepy stuff.

SURELY nobody's going to start giving him stiff-armed salutes or referring to him as "My Leader." 

Monday, January 26, 2009


We just returned home from a 6:30 screening of TCCOBB.  We began our 2nd annual tradition of watching (at least) the top 5 Best Picture nominations for the Oscars.  

There was a grand total of 18 of us in the theatre. It was a Monday night, so 3-hour commitments were probably hard to come by.  Too bad. It was a BRILLIANT film.  If the quality of this picture is representative of the other four Best Picture noms, we're in for a real treat. As in all great movies, there are multiple themes at work in Button, making the story succeed at many levels:  youth and aging, time, death, and life, commitment, personal sacrifice, respect, and--most importantly--love.

I think it would fascinating to hear from people of different generations about what they took away from the film. Do younger audiences connect as deeply with the story as older ones might?  I'm convinced that the age of the viewer would be a significant factor in the "message" derived from this film. 

The cast was amazing.  Brad Pitt certainly deserved his nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role.  I won't be at all shocked if he takes home the Oscar next month.

If the Academy is leaning toward voting for an epical film this year, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button will likely win. If it's in the mood for trendy, edgy, and more direct story-telling, it probably won't win. Whatever the result, I would STRONGLY recommend this movie to anyone.  It's one you definitely take home with you when you leave the theatre.

Just don't buy a soda before the movie starts.  If you do, you probably won't make it through the film without a restroom run!  It's L*O*N*G!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Perfect Way to Begin a New Administration

I got the link to this video in an email note this morning.  

It brought back memories of Ekklesia and Sanctified (for those of you familiar with PCC/Hope). It's the kind of arrangement I like to write myself for capable singers.  Anyway, in light of our "new day" in America, I thought I'd post it here.  I encourage you to listen.  I know I'll play it many times myself in the future.

Here's Celtic Women and their version of "Over the Rainbow."  Enjoy!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Choir Blooper

Okay, first of all, there's nothing X- or even R-rated about this blog post, even though that's what first comes to mind with the word "Blooper."  But we definitely had a "blooper scenario" last night at choir rehearsal.

The rehearsal itself went really well.  We worked on two numbers pretty extensively--made a lot of headway in getting both pieces down.  So far so good. 

After the music was rehearsed, we moved into "prayer request" time. There were some very heart-wrenching and heart-warming requests and praise reports that occurred.  

Just as we were ready to pray, one of the members had this request for a neighbor of his who had become suddenly ill this week with some kind of lung disorder.  The neighbor's wife had called the family doctor who told them to get to the hospital immediately.  The husband didn't want to have to summon an ambulance (probably from embarrassment or the understandable avoidance of the usual $1000 ambulance fee), so he insisted the wife drive him there.

She let her husband out at the emergency room entrance so she could park the car.

Still--so far, so good.

Then the prayer-requester said quietly, "But by the time she got into the hospital, he was already gone. (Pause)"

During the pause, the whole choir groaned loudly in sympathy for the poor wife who'd obviously been left behind.  I remember thinking, "Oh, no.  They SHOULD have taken the ambulance.  Maybe that would have saved his life!"

When the groans began, the requester realized what the choir was thinking he'd meant.  He got really panicky and shouted, "Not DEAD! Not DEAD!" He'd only meant to say that the man had already been taken up to surgery!  Well, the choir lost it in their laughter--I think there was even a guffaw or two.  It was so funny to be yanked from tragedy to comedy with just two words.  It would have been a great scene from SEINFELD , THE OFFICE, or some other quirky sit-com.

It's always good to be reminded that words spoken or written take on a life of their own, depending on context and assumed meaning. 

Beware of the poorly timed euphemism!  

Or the overly-extended pause.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

A.I. Returns!!!!

The show that launched a thousand careers. Well, maybe 25 or 30. Americans love talent--but they also love a good freak show.  A.I. in January gives us the best of both worlds. 

LOVE IT!  Can't wait 'til tomorrow night.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The White House--Then and Now

Last night Lyn and I were having a hard time finding anything to watch on TV.  We wound up watching a wonderful program about The White House.  It was a great HD tour of the mansion with some amazing photos and historical footage. (The picture above is said to be the very first photograph made of the White House, taken in 1846.)

One of the things that really moved me in watching it was the section on its original construction.  It was built almost entirely by slave labor.  It struck me as unbelievably poignant and ironic that in a mere nine days, an African-American family will be moving into that beautiful space--not to serve at the pleasure of the President, but AS the presidential family. Remarkable.

And then the thought hit me . . . if all the hooplah and speculation about Obama's birthplace actually being Kenya rather than Hawaii ultimately were proven to be true, it might be historical justice. Granted, it technically would be contrary to a Constitutional proviso; however, when one considers that most of the framers of the Constitution were themselves slave-owners or were in agreement with the practice, would such an infraction REALLY be all that big a deal?  

On January 20, history will once again be profoundly made.  Although I didn't vote for our new president, I am nevertheless in awe of the historical circumstances, and am thrilled to be alive at this amazing time.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Angel Unaware?

It's almost 3:15 a.m.  I'm having one of "those" nights.  Sleep came easy when I went to bed, but my brain is awake and my hands are hurting, and I have a meeting in less than six hours.

The hands?  No big deal.  Just lots of little scratches from the one-on-one I had with the Christmas tree yesterday afternoon.  It's an artificial tree (only 2 years old), and should have been a piece of cake to put back into its box for its 10.5 month hibernation.  It decided, however, to be jackass-stubborn.  I couldn't separate the middle and bottom sections.  I worked a long time on it myself.  When Lyn got home, she and I tugged and pulled and fussed over it. (Video of that would have been quite entertaining, I'm sure.)  Then I went next door to conscript the help of a big, burly neighbor guy. He and I together couldn't make anything happen either--even after 10-15 minutes of tug-o-war with the tree.  

The bottom line:  the tree won the battle, but I won the war.  It's in the dumpster as I type. Its "hibernation" will be a little more exotic this year!

Anyway, back to the subject at hand. My insomnia.

As I said earlier, in addition to my battle-scarred hands, my wide-awake brain took me from my bed and down the stairs to the computer.  

I was thinking about a lady I met on the street New Years Eve.  It wasn't on Times Square for the ball drop--it was on Restaurant Row NEAR Times Square where Lyn and I had dinner a few hours before midnight.  As we were approaching our restaurant-of-choice, I heard a little voice call out.  It was an African-American woman, standing on the opposite side of the street, wrapped in an old blanket, trying to cope with the very cold night.

I walked over to her and was struck by her simple beauty.  Wrapped up in the blanket like she was, she looked rather majestic--certainly not like the stereotypical "homeless person" that comes to mind.  I didn't have much cash on me...a $5 bill and a few ones.  I gave her the $5 and kept the ones for a tip I figured I might need to give someone before the night was over.  (I should have just emptied my wallet for her, but "strategy-mind" trumped "compassion-mind.")

She was so appreciative of my little hand-out.  We chatted a few moments.  Restaurant Row is on 46th St.  She said she usually stayed up around 100-something.  I couldn't help wondering what had brought her so far from her normal area...I assumed it was the New Years Eve throngs.

She seemed a bit familiar to me, for some reason.  Maybe it was my mind playing tricks on me, but she reminded me a lot of a homeless woman I'd seen the day before.  That woman was lying on a cold street, too miserable to even call out to the people who passed by.  I noticed her, but walked by, giving only a glance in my haste.  But the image of her lying there stayed with me.  I felt really badly about not giving her anything that day.  Especially after meeting her Doppelganger the next evening!

I couldn't help but wonder if the two women might really have been the same person.  In fact, part of me wondered if she was really a "person" at all, but really someone placed there just for me.  I know that notion is probably from all those Hallmark shows I watched before Christmas, but whether or not she was an angel, she certainly fulfilled the role of one:  a messenger. They/she spoke volumes to me, even though I only conversed with the second. 

THEN, in his wonderful message Sunday, Dan (our outreach/missions pastor) spoke about daring to do more for God in 2009.  I once again thought of my Angel Lady in New York.  Is God laying this on my heart?  

My meeting this morning is about establishing a more organized system of volunteer visitation of the sick and shut-ins of our church. My small group is really passionate about taking this on for an in-church ministry.  At the same time, we are wanting to become involved at some level with the Orange County Rescue Mission, an organization that works among the poor and disenfranchised of the affluent OC.  

I don't know if my New Years "Angel" was human or heavenly, but I think her presence on that street was Providential to my 2009.  

Isn't it ironic that today is January 6--a.k.a. The Day of Epiphany?

Saturday, January 3, 2009

GOOD to be home!

It's so great to be back home!!  Our 5.5 days in New York were so very special.  It's been fun chronicling and sharing the pictures with everyone.  Thanks for all the comments and feedback on the postings. I hope all NYC lovers have the opportunity to spend some extended time there at some point.  It really gets in your blood!  (Even if your blood has gone "thin" from being in California too long!)

SPECIAL thanks to "Dr. Ron" for being so kind to loan me his great coat (pictured above in front of the NYC Public Library) to do the city in.  It was so warm without being heavy and bulky.  Jeanne Zenk made me the scarf for the trip, too. Thanks much Ron and Jeanne!

Friday, January 2, 2009

Good Morning America - Zzzzzzzz

We were up bright and EARLY this morning to head over to ABC (about 2 blocks from our hotel) for the taping of Good Morning America. All the regular crew was on vacation.  Bill Weir and Kate Snow (the weekend anchors) were hosting today.  They were great, but the show itself was a major sleeper!!! Lyn and I were on the off-camera side of the studio, so the only time we appear in the show is during the 8:00 sign-in and weather spot--both OUTDOORS!! So, we no sooner got warmed up in the studio than we had to put our coats back on to go out for that bit. Even tho it was an awful show and we didn't really have any studio on-camera time, it was fun. The pictures below speak for themselves.  

For those of you who may not know, Lyn is a real GMA junkie, so it was a Mecca-like pilgrimage event for us to do this. We were there in August 2007 also. The whole gang was there that day...except for Robin who was undergoing cancer treatment at the time.

I'm posting this to publish tonight at 10:00 Pacific. We'll be back in CA by then (hopefully) and our NYC adventure will be history. It's been great, but we're VERY glad to be heading home this afternoon.  California, here we come.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A WICKED Day in New York -- Day #4

After stuffing on the breakfast buffet (they call it the "Broadway Buffet" here), we headed out for another bus tour...this one is the "Downtown Tour."  We had a fantastic tour guide today...her knowledge about the City was broad and deep.  She talked brilliantly about everything: architecture, history, art, music, theatre, demographics, literature, science, and international affairs.  And she did it all with this great winsome and funny manner.  It was a great way to get to know Downtown Manhattan. Definitely had some show-biz in her past, you could tell.

One of the first stops this morning was the great Carnegie Hall.  The picture looks like it was raining...that's actually these gross smears/stains on the bus window.  Just pretend it's rain, ok?

This is one of the original sites of the Macy's Department
Store.  Macy tried and failed THREE TIMES 
to get a store off the ground.  He lost 
everything he owned on three different occasions.  The
fourth time, it worked...he eventually moved 
to the present 34th St. site.

This is one of the downtown Bloomingdale's Stores.  It
occupies what used to be a factory building "back in the day."

I forget what these buildings are...there are just
SO many gorgeous places downtown.
(Again, pretend rain!)

Love this building with the clock.  Like Bloomingdales
in the picture above, this was originally a factory
 building way back in the 19th century.

This is the very famous jazz club in the Village--The 
Bitter End.  Has been around for YEARS and still
quite the hot spot for musicians and audiences alike.

This is one of the city government buildings.  If
I recall correctly, the original theatre district was
in this moved along with the NY Times to
the "Times Square" area where 7th Avenue and Broadway

This is just one of the many city streets we
passed this morning.

This wall mural was one that DKNY had posted
at the time of the 9/11 attacks.  (Note the Trade
Center Towers in the "N").  Because the
Towers were featured in the mural, it became a
protected DKNY will be advertised
there from now on with the City's protection and

After 9/11, children all over the world painted their
"feelings" on little tiles.  These tiles were 
attached by an artist to this fence near Ground
Zero.  It has become one of the most poignant memorials
of the great National Tragedy.

We got off the bus at the Waldorf-Astoria for two reasons. 
 A) We neededto go potty;  B) We wanted to see this world
renowned hotel.  Glad we did.  I can see why
the Obamas (and every other world leader) like
to stay there!

Here's one of the many trees in the beautiful lobby
of the W-A.  We didn't take pictures of the
restrooms, but they were gorgeous.  The men's
was white marble, with fancy chandelier in the center,
and beautiful crown moulding on the ceilings.
A guy handed me a paper towel after I washed my
hands.  AND, he wasn't expecting a tip!
(At least he didn't make it blatantly
apparent when he didn't GET one!  haha)

A shot of Lyn in the lobby.  She looks like
she belongs there, huh?

This was Cole Porter's's prominently 
displayed in the hotel lobby.

This marble mosaic is part of a HUGE 
circular design in the lobby floor.

After we left the W-A, we went to St. Patrick's
again.  I wanted some daytime shots.  Here's a long
shot of the nave ceiling.  Gorgeous.

More ceiling and some beautiful pointed-arch
blue windows.

One of the rose windows at the north trancept.

Tonight we ate dinner at Bobby Flay's 
Bar Americain near the Gershwin Theatre
where we saw WICKED.  The restaurant
was really pretty.  The waiter was great, and
the food was excellent.  Lyn's a huge BF fan.

These wreaths were on a wall opposite our 
table.  Kinda sad to realize that soon these and
all other decorations around the city will soon
be put back into their storage boxes for another 10-11 months.

It was a great day...But we're ready to go home tomorrow!
(After we do ABC's Good Morning, America)

Hope you had a Happy New Year!