Thursday, December 25, 2008

Worthy Is The Lamb, Hallelujah - TNT orphanage, Aizawl India

Wouldn't you just love to take a bunch of these children home and adopt them? (Especially the two little guys falling asleep at the beginning.)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Mary's Boy Child - Boney M

By request from last year. (This is my husband's favorite.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Let It Snow - Harry Connick, Jr.

Have you ever seen jazz Christmas lights? Check this out. It starts a little mild, but builds toward the end.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The Wexford Carol - Celtic Woman

The Wexford Carol (also known as the Enniscorthy Carol) is a traditional Irish carol, originating from County Wexford. It's a beautiful retelling of the nativity. The singer is Maeve Ni Mhaolchatha, an original member of Celtic Woman, who has now gone on to pursue a solo career.

Good people all, this Christmas time,
Consider well and bear in mind
What our good God for us has done
In sending his beloved son
With Mary holy we should pray,
To God with love this Christmas Day
In Bethlehem upon that morn,
There was a blessed Messiah born
The night before that happy tide
The noble Virgin and her guide
Were long time seeking up and down
To find a lodging in the town
But mark right well what came to pass
From every door repelled, alas
As was foretold, their refuge all
Was but a humble ox's stall
Near Bethlehem did shepherds keep
Their flocks of lambs and feeding sheep
To whom God's angel did appear
Which put the shepherds in great fear
Arise and go, the angels said
To Bethlehem, be not afraid
For there you'll find, this happy morn
A princely babe, sweet Jesus, born
With thankful heart and joyful mind
The shepherds went the babe to find
And as God's angel had foretold
They did our Saviour Christ behold
Within a manger he was laid
And by his side a virgin maid
Attending on the Lord of Life
Who came on earth to end all strife
There were three wise men from afar
Directed by a glorious star
And on they wandered night and day
Until they came where Jesus lay
And when they came unto that place
Where our beloved Messiah lay
They humbly cast them at his feet
With gifts of gold and incense sweet.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I'll Be Home For Christmas - Josh Groban

Pull out the tissues now. You're going to need them while you watch these two clips.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Breath of Heaven - Amy Grant

This is such a beautiful song, depicting what Mary, the mother of Jesus, might have felt. The visuals, from "The Nativity," produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, seem to fit the music perfectly.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Most Parodied Christmas Song Ever

When I was a little girl, I wasn't too crazy about singing The Twelve Days of Christmas, because it seemed to go on and on and on. It was kind of boring. I guess that's one reason everyone likes to put their own spin on it. Here are some versions I found, starting with my all-time favorite.

John Denver and the Muppets

Here's one for my little "princess" nieces.

Disney Princesses Twelve Days of Christmas

And one for a few of my nephews.

The Twelve Punishments of Christmas

One for everyone who has recently ended a relationsip.

The Twelve Days AFTER Christmas - Leslie Garrett

One for everyone in my generation. This was all over the radio.

Bob and Doug Mackenzie's Twelve Days of Christmas

And one for anyone who would like to simplify Christmas.

The Twelve PAINS of Christmas

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blue Christmas - Elvis Presley

Hmmm, I remember Elvis as a middle-aged fat guy in white bell bottoms and sequins. After watching this, I can see why women went nuts over him. (Yeah, he's good looking and he KNOWS it.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

My Favorite Christmas Commercial

Christmas music - Chocolate - Does it get any better?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Am Thankful For Music

Music has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a family where we would gather around the piano to sing. Our extended family reunions always involved a talent show and church services filled with music.

My mother is a contralto. She has always sung in church, at funerals, and at community concerts. In her mid 80's, she still has a better voice than people half her age. I'm a soprano myself, but I know the alto parts to all the hymns in the book simply because I listed to my mother in church. (This is helpful since my daughter has discovered she is an alto and I can sing alto with her to help her learn.) My father was a bass. He wasn't as comfortable singing in front of people as my mother was, but when they sang their song, "I Love You Truly" they blended beautifully.

I was in the concert band at school from 5th grade until I graduated from high school. I learned to appreciate classical music, from John Phillip Sousa to Wagner to Gustav Holst. If you've followed some of those links, yes, our high school band really did play all three of those pieces (but without the violins).

I can't imagine life without music. It's imprinted on my DNA. Unless someone is talking to me (and sometimes even then) I usually have music running through my head. I'll listen to anything except some forms of heavy rock (too painful to the ears) and rap (which is not singing - it's talking to a beat). Good music is good music, whatever genre it happens to be. But what I love most is when the words and the melody and voice combine to create something transcendant, when it speaks to my soul and becomes a prayer to God.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I Am Thankful . . .

For the beauty of the earth,
For the beauty of the skies,
For the love which from our birth
Over and around us lies,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grateful praise.

For the beauty of each hour
Of the day and of the night,
Hill and vale, and tree and flow'r,
Sun and moon, and stars of light,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our humn of grate-ful praise.

For the joy of human love,
Brother, sister, parent, child,
Friends on earth,and friends above,
For all gentle thoughts and mild,
Lord of all, to thee we raise
This our hymn of grate-ful praise.

For the Beauty of the Earth
Text: Henry Alford, 1810-1871
Music: George J. Elvey, 1816-1893
Jon Schmidt arrangement

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

What Does Thanksgiving Mean To You?

What does Thanksgiving mean to you? Getting together with family and friends? Feasting until you are so full you can't move? Pilgrims and pumpkin pie? Macy's parade? Football? Scanning the sales ads in preparation for Black Friday (biggest shopping day of the year)?

Do you take time to give thanks on Thanksgiving? Many families have a tradition of taking turns saying what they are thankful for before they eat Thanksgiving dinner. We should be able to give thanks every day of our lives, because we are blessed every day of our lives. And the more we take time to give thanks, the more blessings we will recognize. At the very least, let's take the month of November and make it a month of truly giving thanks. Maybe we'll make it a habit.

So what do you think? What are you thankful for?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vote Yes on Proposition 8

This blog is not usually politically oriented. I'm not crazy about the whole political process. It gets so contentious that I just grit my teeth and hope election day comes soon so we can get it over with.

But I have to take a stand on California's Proposition 8. I believe marriage is and should be between one man and one woman. Those who oppose Proposition 8 are very vocal and know how to use the media to their advantage. However, making the most noise doesn't mean you are right. But the "silent majority" is learning quickly.

I hope Californians will overwhelmingly vote YES on Proposition 8. And I pray that this time their supreme court judges will abide by the will of the people.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A Little Perspective

I had a wake up call today. Lately I've been grumbling a little about not having a working dryer. Mine doesn't work and it seems to have something to do with the wiring in our house, which is elderly. So until my husband can do some rewiring, I have to wash clothes at home and then either hang them up to dry or cart the wet laundry over to the laundromat a few blocks away.

This morning I had a nice visit with an older gentleman from our church who was washing and drying a bedspread in the extra large machines. (You've got to love a man who will do that for his wife.) During our conversation I discovered he had been an avid reader all his life until two years ago when he suffered a stroke that took away his ability to read.

I can't imagine living through many things more horrifying. (Not counting anything happening to a family member.) And I'm complaining about a lousy clothes dryer that won't work?

The good news is, this man's daughter bought him "Hooked On Phonics" while he was still in the hospital and he slowly worked his way through it. Now he can read enough to puzzle out a restaurant menu, but it takes him a long time. He usually just has his wife read it to him. And he "reads" books on tape and CD all the time.

So the laundromat isn't so bad. I actually get the laundry done faster there. There are nice neighbors to talk to sometimes. And I can get a lot of reading done. Lucky me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Food Storage as a Lifestyle

When I was growing up, my parents kept a cow in the freezer. Well, really just the edible parts. My father raised cattle and at least once a year he took one cow to the slaughterhouse. A couple of days later he would bring it back home, in small, neatly wrapped and labeled packages, ready to take up residence in the huge upright freezer with the cases of Blue Bonnet margarine and Whole Sun orange juice.

The large quantities of margarine and juice were my mother’s doing. She did most of her grocery shopping at a place called Waremart, which was like a low-tech Sam’s Club or Costco. At Waremart, we pushed (climbed on, jumped off of, ran around, and were run over by) large flatbed carts and loaded them up with whole cases of canned tuna and evaporated milk, tomato and cream of mushroom soup, and Spaghettios if we could talk Mom into it. There was a bucket of black grease pens at the front of the store by the carts, which we used to mark the prices on each case. Waremart saved money by just stacking the boxes on shelves and posting the prices above them. Then they passed on the savings to their customers.

Our family also had a garden; a very LARGE garden. With 9 children, my parents had a lot of cheap (free) labor. After endless hours of hoeing, raking, planting, watering, weeding and weeding and weeding, came the harvesting. And canning. We picked and shelled and snapped and washed and chopped for hours. Once when I was a teenager Dad came home from work and after cleaning up he decided to help cut corn off the cob. He helped so enthusiastically that we later found corn kernels all the way into the next room on Mom’s piano.

For breakfast we ate cracked wheat cereal made from the grain my father planted and harvested on the farm, or pancakes with chokecherry syrup made from the fruit we had picked, juiced and bottled. A typical lunch was sandwiches made with my mother’s homemade bread, tuna from the storage shelves and home canned pickles. Dinner frequently involved parts of that cow in the freezer and the vegetables we had grown. Dad sometimes commented on the personality traits of the particular cow we were eating.

My parents grew up during the Depression and were a young married couple during World War II. As Dad put it, during the Depression there were things to buy, but nobody had money, and during the war they had money, but there was nothing to buy. Like Joseph of Egypt, my parents understood the wisdom of storing up in times of plenty to carry them through times of hardship. But instead of just keeping piles of grain in a bin, they stored food our family really would eat, and we really did eat from our food storage.

For those of us who don’t have the wisdom gained from living through the Depression and World War II, it seems easier to save time and think of pizza as the staff of life and McDonald’s as our personal caterer. But even when we have more money than time, it would be wise to remember the lessons of the past. Whether the crisis is national, worldwide, or just personal, there may be times when there are things to buy and we have no money, or we have money to spend but nothing to spend it on.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Caught in the Headlights: 10 Lessons Learned the Hard Way, by Barry K. Phillips

"I suspect, like most of you, I've set out after some things that I thought I really wanted, only to find out that what I really wanted was something very different--better, as it turns out, but different."

Caught in the Headlights

Trade Paperback: 116 pages

Publisher: Cedar Fort (June 2008)

ISBN-10: 1599551675

ISBN-13: 978-1599551678



Get your copy here.

Caught in the Headlights was not what I expected. To be honest, this is not a book I would have picked up for myself. The cover invokes visions of hunting season and deer-versus-car collisions, neither of which I like. And I'm not so much into the self-help genre these days. But a friend gave me a copy and there was a foreword by Glenn Beck, so I thought I'd give it a shot. It wasn't what I expected. It was better.

Yes, it's worth reading. Phillips discusses 10 common goals many people have, like happiness and success. Then, in a very readable style and with a large dose of humor, he explains how he discovered that the end results he thought he would achieve by pursuing these goals were really best achieved by going in a different direction.

This is one of those books that caused me to think of things in a new light, to consider concepts I had not thought of before. And, you know, I like that.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Preparedness Principles: The Complete Personal Preparedness Resource Guide for Any Emergency Situation, by Barbara Salsbury

I have several books on emergency preparedness in my personal library (remember Y2K?). But I think I'll be able to replace most of them with Preparedness Principles by Barbara Salsbury. As the subtitle says, it is a complete personal preparedness resource guide.

Lately, it seems natural disasters are occurring more frequently. I remember a time when any disaster would dominate newscasts. Now floods, tornadoes, and wildfires, all in different areas, have to share airtime. Add to that high fuel prices and the high food prices caused by high fuel prices, and things are getting scary. All the hoopla about global warming (which, by the way, was invented by Al Gore), just raises the stress level. But that's a subject to save for another blog.

Even in my little neck of the woods, where hurricanes are something you see on the television and the mountainous terrain is not conducive to tornadoes, we have our own brand of emergencies. The power goes out on a regular basis, sometimes associated with bad weather, sometimes not. Severe winter weather is so common the local school board just plans a week or two of snow days into the yearly schedule.

Preparedness Principles is a great resource book to help you get ready for anything. It covers every aspect of emergency, short-term, and long-term preparedness. There's even a section on budgeting and getting out of debt. Wondering what to put in your emergency evacuation kit and what to keep it it? Trying to figure out what to store, where to put it, and what to do with it once you have it? Wishing you could grow a garden, but you have nowhere to put it? It's all in one book. Preparedness Principles covers everything from how to remove algae from water storage containers to what to do in case of terrorist attacks.

Salsbury imparts the wisdom she has gained from experience, both from living through more than her share of disasters and from conducting extensive experiments. (Check out the weevil vs. bay leaf experiment, page 43.) She also includes the first-hand accounts of disaster preparedness and survival from friends, relatives, and students of her classes and workshops. Throughout the book she sprinkles a liberal dose of humor, and numerous references to the absolute necessity of chocolate.

Armed with my copy of Preparedness Principles, I feel like I can really get my food storage and 72-hour kit under control, and keep it that way. It's already solved one onging dilema for me. I'm always wracking my brain to come up with ideas for wedding gifts beyond towels and dishes. Problem solved! A copy of Preparedness Principles and a can of wheat!

If you would like to purchase a copy for yourself, click here.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

"Room for Two" by Abel Keogh

"Sweetie, I'm home." I tried to put as much kindness into my voice as possible. I didn't want to have another argument--at least not right away.



A gunshot echoed from our bedroom, followed by the sound of abullet casing skipping along a wall.

Everything slowed down.

"Room for Two" is the true story of Abel Keogh's struggle after his young wife's suicide, his feelings of guilt that he might have been able to prevent it, and how he was able to find peace and happiness again.

I heard Able speak at a writer's conference and was intrigued enough with his story that I later went to his website to read the first chapter. It was so good I would have run out immediately to get a copy and find out what happened, but everything was closed. I had to wait until the next morning. You can get a copy here. Go ahead. I'll be here when you get back.

Once I had "Room for Two" in my hands I was reluctant to stop reading. I had a pretty good idea how the book would end. (The "About the Author" page in the back is a spoiler.) However, by the second page I was emotionally involved with this story. I stayed up until around 2:00 a.m. to finish it. Yes, it was worth the sleep deprivation the next day.

I guarantee, "Room for Two" is one of those stories you will not easily forget. I'm recommending it to all my bookish friends. (Hey, I wonder if anyone has sent a copy to Oprah?)

Monday, March 24, 2008

I should have had a designated driver!

When my DH picked me up from the 2008 LDStorymakers Writer's Conference (he had been visiting family in Utah while I was at the conference), one of the first things he said to me was, "You are wired!" I admit it. Every year I go to this writer's conference to get my batteries recharged and it works so well that for a while I have trouble winding down. And I was finally able to meet Kerry Blair, one of my favorite authors, just before the Whitney Awards. I was so jealous of the people who were able to get tickets. Next year, I hope the Whitney's are held at a bigger venue.

On the way back to Idaho, DH was feeling tired, so I offered to drive. After all, I was still wide awake and running on adrenaline from the conference. Unfortunately, he started asking me what I had learned. I started explaining blogging and podcasts and book trailers. Then suddenly I realized that I had no idea where we were. I had completely missed the exit to Tremonton (which is very well-lit with huge signs) and was heading to Boise. I had driven 12 miles with no clue I was going the wrong way! I took the first exit I saw and turned back the other way. We decided maybe DH should drive after all, and I just talked the rest of the way home to keep him awake.

I'm still pretty pumped up about the whole weekend, but operating on a more normal level. Please everybody, next year when the conference is over, don't let me get behind the wheel.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Oh, My Aching Hands!

I swiped this cartoon from Tristi Pinkston's blog. It reminds me of my life, except she should be wearing blue striped pajamas, the dog should be a cat trying to shove it's head under her hands as she is typing, and her desk is not messy enough. My day job is medical transcription. I work from home, which means I can go to work in my pajamas. It also means I'm supposed to be typing as fast as I can for 8 hours a day. This month I've been getting a lot of overtime because a couple of my coworkers quit and have not yet been replaced. This is a serious deterent to doing anything else involving a keyboard, like blogging and working on my other writing projects. I think this is my first post in the month of January. Got to get back on the wagon.