Saturday, January 31, 2009

I guess I better get around to that list

Do you have a "to do" list at home that you just don't seem to get around to?
  1. Upload photos to CVS or Wal-Mart that I haven't printed for September-January. Yeah, I just don't want to mess with that. I'm ready to get off the computer because I've spent way too much time doing absolutely pointless things on Facebook.
  2. Load photos onto digital photo frame I got for Christmas. Well, I'd have to make sure I had all horizontal photos and sort through them. I'm ready to get off the computer. I've spent way too much time messing around on my blog that everyone has already lost interest in.
  3. Figure out if it's the new camera that is sucking the life out of the rechargable batteries after just 5 pictures or if it's the battery charger or just the rechargable batteries. The batteries that came with the camera are a battery pack that would have to be charged on an Easy Share dock. Mom and Dad have one, but who remembers to take the camera over there?
  4. The USB and card drives on the front of my computer don't seem to be working. That requires problem solving skills and probably a call to technical support. I can get around it for now.
  5. There is the shelf and lamp and the books off the shelf just sitting over there in my dining area for the past two weeks since I got the urge to rearrange. I don't know for sure where I want to put them, and goodness knows I never sit at the table to eat a meal. Ah, who cares?
  6. The bathroom really needs cleaning. But who likes to clean the bathroom? I'm the only one that lives here, and as long as I'm not grossed out beyond belief, is it really hurting anyone?
  7. I haven't figured out my taxes yet, and I'd really like that refund money to pay off a bill, but doing my tax return might require thinking. I don't really feel like thinking on a Saturday night.
  8. There's that CD with the photos I was supposed to upload to the church website. I don't know that anyone looks at the photo page, and if they haven't missed them in three months... (also see #1 & #2)

So, maybe I'm just lazy. Maybe I just don't want to do anything, especially on the weekends, after trying to check off my "to do" list during the week.

It's 10:40 on Saturday night. I'm seriously trying to decide between moving that shelf somewhere or doing my taxes. I tend to be a night owl. Besides, I always take that Sunday nap anyway...

Friday, January 30, 2009

More Randomness

My originality is busted this week, so I'm sharing 25 more random things about myself.

1. I've been hit in the head with a live chicken.
2. I've had my car paper mache'd.
3. I have read Donny Osmond's auto-biography.
4. I have two friends named Audra on Facebook.
5. I was scorekeeper for my jr. college baseball team. Me in a dugout full of guys (and the baseball players are always the hot ones). Yeah, I enjoyed that.
6. My favorite fruit is pineapple.
7. It doesn't bother me to eat Mexican food 3 times a week.
8. My college degree is in art, yet I never took an art class until I enrolled in college.
9. Drinking Mr. Pibb used to make me flirty.
10. I have 18 first cousins. On Decmember 24, I had only seen 2 in the past year, and all live within a 150 mile radius.
11. I won $8.50 total my first trip to Vegas and lost $5.00 my second trip. Or something like that.
12. I went to the glass bridge over the Grand Canyon the week it opened. Two words: Rip off
13. I have an obsession with palm trees.
14. I still have nighmares about teaching 4th grade after surviving one semester 8 years ago.
15. Every year I organize and get everything ready for around 900 crafts for 4 nights of VBS (some nights we do two).
16. I'm webmaster for our church website - the first website I actually put together.
17. I take way too many pictures when I go on vacation, and am anal retentive about scrapbooking. I also give full blow narratives of my trips that may actually be funnier than my blog.
18. Someone once told me I should try to do stand-up at a comedy club amateur night.
19. I honestly believe that I could have been voted most hated in my high school class.
20. If you were to look really close, you would realize that even my current pair of glasses are a shade of purple, but I didn't realize that when I first picked them out.
21. I have a whole curio cabinet of Wizard of Oz plates, musical figurines and stuff like that.
22. My grandmother has had a strange habit of giving me numerous coin purses over the years.
23. My parents got my first name from the TV show "The Big Valley."
24. My parents picked my middle name while at a Texas Rangers game. Catcher Jim Sundberg and his wife had a baby girl that day named Audra Jeannette Sundberg, so they decided, hey that works.
25. I collect smashed pennies. I was quite excited to smash Lincoln's face only to imprint it again with Lincoln's face at his presidential library in Springfield, IL.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Christian Book Expo

ECPA Announces Christian Book Expo Dallas 2009

Consumer Book Event to Be Held March 20-22 in Dallas

* Visit www.ChristianBookExpo for the scoop on this first-ever show
* Check out the social networking links (MySpace, etc) at the CBE website. Bloggers can join group/s and tell friends about CBE.
* Blog about the idea of a Christian Book Show for the public, the panel topics and panelists, etc. The first 200 people to publish a CBE blog post of 100+ words will receive complimentary admission to the show! Send the link to your post to be eligible.
* Interview Mark Kuyper in advance of the show for a blog post.
* NOTE: Press registration is for professional members of the press only. However, coupons for $5 off admission are available at Family Christian Stores in the DFW area.

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX—The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) is launching the Christian Book Expo Dallas 2009, a new consumer-oriented book event. This event, a first for ECPA and the first Christian book fair of its type, will bring together publishers, authors and consumers. ECPA is holding this event to reach a critical demographic – anybody making or influencing book buying decisions.

The first Christian Book Expo will be held in Dallas, Texas, March 20-22, 2009, at the Dallas Convention Center. More than 389,000 square feet (100,000 is exhibit floor) has been reserved and dates are being set for the event in 2010 and 2011. ECPA is inviting publishers, ministries, authors and booksellers to exhibit in this open-to-the-public event. Activities at the three-day Expo will include workshops, seminars, mini-events and evening programming—all lead by authors.

“Reaching the consumer is essential to the future of Christian publishing,” said ECPA President Mark Kuyper. “Our goal with the Christian Book Expo is to connect the top authors from across the country with core customers from the region. We are dedicated to reaching the largest audience possible with the life-changing message in books, Bibles and other Christian resources.”

ECPA is actively marketing this event to area pastors, lay leaders, Christian ministry workers, area counselors, retailers and influential consumers. “Dallas was the natural choice for the first-ever Christian Book Expo,” says Kuyper. “There are more mega churches in the Dallas metropolitan area than any other city in the country and thousands of Christian book buyers call Dallas home.”

ECPA is currently finalizing the event pricing structure and will announce the specific prices soon. According to current price models, a consumer would pay no more than $50 for admission to the entire three-day event. Day passes will be significantly less and children under 17 would be admitted for free.

Kuyper and the ECPA Board believe the Christian Book Expo will compliment other industry shows. Says Kuyper: “We are strategically reaching out to consumers of Christian books. We know that a positive experience will only make them more loyal to Christian products—wherever they are sold.”

Christian products will be sold to consumers at the Christian Book Expo. ECPA sees several options for purchase—either direct sales from an exhibiting publisher, direct sales from an exhibiting retailer, or an exhibiting publisher can make sales arrangements in its booth from a local retailer. ECPA is also talking to retailers about a centralized store for the entire Expo.

However, Kuyper says that event sales are not the goal of Christian Book Expo Dallas 2009: “We are trying to build future retail sales. We believe these influential Christians will experience these authors and their message and take that message back to their friends and church families and in turn refer them to their local retailer. Our goal is for awareness and exposure.”

Support for the event is widespread across the industry. Michael S. Hyatt, President and Chief Executive Officer, Thomas Nelson and ECPA’s Chairman of the Board, believes this consumer-oriented event will provide significant opportunities to enhance the audience for religious books, “After attending the Guadalajara Book Fair this past fall, I saw first-hand how an event like this could connect authors and their books to the general public on a large scale. I think that ECPA’s Christian Book Expo will provide a similar opportunity for authors, retailers, and consumers to come together in a way that creates excitement for anyone who loves books. And for Thomas Nelson, we believe this event will be a positive experience for both our authors and our retail partners. We are committed to making this event a success.”

Hardy Weathers, President of the Nazarene Publishing House, agrees: “As a member of ECPA's board and the leader of a denominational publishing program, I am excited about the Christian Book Expo in Dallas. It is an opportunity for us to reach outside our natural audience to a larger group of influential book consumers.”

For more information on the 2009 Christian Book Expo, contact Mark Kuyper, 480-966-3998.

Visit www.ChristianBookExpo.com

# # #

The Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA) is an international non-profit trade organization, comprised of nearly 250 member companies worldwide, representing a combined revenue of nearly $2 billion. Founded in 1974, ECPA is dedicated to serving the Christian publishing industry through equipping its members through cutting-edge technology, meaningful data, dynamic educational opportunity and unprecedented access to markets. For more information about ECPA: 480-966-3998 phone, 480-966-1944 fax, 9633 South 48th Street, Suite 140, Phoenix, Arizona 85044, info@ecpa.org, www.ecpa.org.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Do you really want to know?

Everybody and their cousin, boss, high school sweetheart, best friend and worst enemy has answered "25 Random Things About Me" on Facebook this week. For those of you who missed my Facebook installment, I will present to you my list.

1. I have taken a former Miss America through the Whatburger drive thru.
2. I have taken a Grammy award winner through the Chic-fil-a drive thru.
3. I have met Chuck Norris.
4. I have met Ty Pennington. (At the time Jenny asked who? Then she became jealous when she started watching Extreme Makeover Home Edition, and I said, "yeah, so I met him."
5. I witnessed former Texas Gov. Ann Richards be rude to above mentioned former Miss America.
6. Alan Colmes has actually replied to one of my emails before, but I don't remember what it was.
7. I got an autograph from A-Rod before his first game in Arlington as a Texas Ranger, and now I despise A-Rod.
8. I have gone to the Rangers Home Opener 9 out of the last 10 years. I only missed the year I started to work at B&B on Opening Day.
9. I was Valedictorian of my high school class.
10. I thought I wasn't going to be able to graduate from college because I thought I was going to fail my last Spanish class.
11. The teacher of above said Spanish class claimed to be from another planet. His native language wasn't English or Spanish, so maybe he was.
12. I absolutely hate it when people call me Audrey, but I do answer to BaqBaq which is a chicken noise.
13. I've been to 27 out of 50 states, and may add 4 more this year.
14. My 7 year old niece and I are already planning a vacation to Hawaii when she graduates from high school. She's already saving money.
15. I've been to 8 major league baseball ballparks, but three are no longer played at.
16. I've been to both the Sears Tower and the Empire State Building.
17. My favorite city is Chicago.
18. After reading someone else's random 25, I have to say I've only been to two New Kids on the Block concerts.
19. I saw Kenny Rogers at Bass Hall last Saturday night.
20. A couple of co-workers and I have a strange fascination with the Dugger family from Arkansas, and Jim Bob kind of gives us the creeps.
21. As a child, I had twin imaginary friends, Lynn and Tin. One was black and one was white, but I don't remember which was which.
22. I called in and voted for Mark Cuban on Dancing with the Stars.
23. I taught my self how to crochet.
24. I collect mugs, but don't like coffee.
25. I haven't eaten anything chocolate in almost 2 1/2 years.

I've been tagged again, so I think I'm supposed to come up with 25 more.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sometimes you just need a snow day

Earlier today, I updated my status on Ping.fm so that I could actually frequently Twitter, change my Facebook status and all that stuff. My status was: Audra asks, "do you ever just need a break from reality?"

Well, it ended up as a post here on my blog because I didn't know what I was doing, and I can't get the status thing to work correctly on the right. So, instead of deleting it off, I'll just edit this post and ask that question. (Let me just say, how all these sites and blogs and updates and all are linked together just blow my mind.)

Wouldn't it be nice to sometimes just take a break from all your mess? And man, life can be messy. The problem is, whatever your mess may be, it'd be there when you got back from your break.

Ok, that's all the profound thought that I have for today. My brain is fried.

Monday, January 26, 2009

We're In This Boat Together by Camille Bishop

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


We’re in This Boat Together

Authentic (August 14, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


In her thirty-year teaching career, Dr. Camille Bishop’s love for students and her penchant for adventure have taken her to classrooms all over the world. After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington with a degree in math, Dr. Bishop began her career in the trenches as a secondary mathematics instructor in the North Carolina public school system. This first taste of teaching convinced her that she had found her calling, so she enrolled in graduate school, earning a master’s degree in education at North Carolina State University. Since 1988, she has been on the faculty of the University of the Nations, a non-profit educational institution with a global network of locations.

Through her work with the University of the Nations, Dr. Bishop has visited sixty nations of the world, interacting with educators, government officials, and other non-profit agencies. While leading an educational development project in Albania, Dr. Bishop sensed the need for more training. She returned to the U.S. and received her Ph.D. in education from Trinity International University, where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on leadership transition between the generations. This research became the focus of her unique new book, We’re in This Boat Together.


Product Details:

List Price: $14.99
Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Authentic (August 14, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068373
ISBN-13: 978-1934068373

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Preface


Raging, white-foamed water surrounded our black rubber craft. The raft seemed like a bathtub toy compared to the expanse of the river. The noise was deafening. My stomach lurched as we sank into another unexpected drop. Menacing boulders poked up through the water. Why had I selected Class IV and Class V rapids for my first white-water experience?


My first white-water rafting expedition was with a group on the New River in West Virginia, with rapids that have special names attached to them. Paddling the tranquil water before the first rapid, I found it hard to believe that we would hit rough waters. But the rafting guide’s instructions kept pounding in my head: “Don’t lose your cookies.” She had informed us that we should navigate that rapid before lunch! I was nervous. Suddenly the raft several hundred feet ahead of me disappeared. It simply dropped out of sight. All my senses came to attention.


Fear seized me. My stomach churned. I clutched the oar tightly, preparing myself for the precipitous drop just ahead of me. There was no turning back. We had miles to go and numerous rapids to ford before the adventure would end. I wondered if I would survive. Hours later, exhausted from all the adrenalin that had pumped through my body, we arrived at the end of our journey. I had lived to tell the tale. And I even had a photo to prove it!


Similar thoughts, feelings, and reactions emerge when people are faced with transition in an organization, especially when the change involves leadership. And let’s face it—in the life of an organization the time to transfer leadership will come if the group hopes to continue. The first question becomes What will the transition look like? Is it possible to prepare for transition in ways that allow for tranquil waters or at least smaller rapids? Does transition have to be tumultuous, wrenching, and as terrifying as Class IV and Class V rapids? How can we pull together to make leadership succession work between generations?


In today’s workforce no one is exempt from the fact that four generations are currently represented. From the worlds of business and education to nonprofit organizations and churches, a similar scenario exists. One might find in the same company a seventy-year-old working alongside a twenty-two year- old. Down the hall, a Gen Xer might be consulting with a Baby Boomer. What are the defining qualities of each of these generations? Many questions come to the surface:


• Are there generational differences in work ethic—and if so, what are they?

• How does each generation relate and respond to authority figures?

• How does each generation perceive women in leadership?

• What are their expectations in the workplace?

• How do they balance the demands of work and home?

• What are their views about money and fiscal responsibility?

• How does each generation view the role of leadership in an organization?


These questions reflect the need to better understand the values and behaviors of each of these four generations. Research indicates that our perception of leadership is linked to the particular generation in which we grew up. Without that knowledge, transitions in leadership can be very messy. Insight and appreciation of generational differences can prepare a workplace for a much smoother changeover.


The Silent Generation consists of those born between 1925 and 1942. They are the children born during the Great Depression and the generation sandwiched between the first and second world wars. Boomers followed the Silent Generation (1943–1960) and were raised in an era of opportunity, progress, and optimism. They also experienced a radically changing society marked by rebellion, shifting social norms, and outward challenges of authority. Growing up in the shadow of the Boomers, Gen Xers were born between 1961 and 1981. They are technologically savvy and were raised in the age of dual-career families. Finally, Millennials, some of the newest members of the workforce, were born between 1982 and twenty years thereafter. A “plugged-in” generation, they have been around technology since birth. The Internet world of blogs, wikis, podcasts, and ever-present e-mail is as natural to them as breathing.


Each of these distinct groups of people see life differently because of the times in which they grew up. Just consider the differences that might exist in financial matters between those who grew up during the Great Depression and those who were raised in the “instant credit, no-payment-until-next year” society.

Might there be a clash between Henry, a member of the Silent Generation who sees leadership as the general who goes to the helm, and Jason, an Xer who is distrustful of leaders and prefers collaboration? You can almost feel the white water forming.


How can we navigate the rapids of transition? The answer to that question is the reason for this book. So grab your oar, don’t forget your life jacket, and push off into the white water. It is going to be quite a ride!



Prologue

Meet the Rafting Team


Rumbling down the dirt path to the launch site, the aging yellow bus that once served public schools came to a creaking halt. Daniella, the guide, stood stoically on the riverbank to meet the latest group, their company having paid good money for a white-water adventure. Medium height, bronzed from the sun, and rippling muscles, she has encountered all types. Nothing would surprise her.


The bus door opened. Only four brave souls stepped off—a small band of rafters today. They are a departmental task force from Handover Corp., (* Handover Corp. and all of its “employees” are fictitious.) a medium-sized company that was founded in the 1950s in the local area. The company rep told her this was a team-building exercise. Daniella, a Swiss-German, sized them up.


Nate, a tall and lean young man in his early twenties, appears to be in his own world. His black special-edition iPod matches his long dark shorts and is blaring tunes into his ears. A plain white tank shirt exposes a solid tan and well-etched muscles. A simple, black, lattice-looking tattoo circles his right bicep. His head is shaved. Nate hung out at Starbucks last night, researching this rafting expedition. The GPS software on his laptop allowed him a virtual tour of the river, with close-ups of each rapid. He Skyped a buddy of his in the Ukraine who had gone white-water rafting a few months ago, and then he eased into a chatroom to get some more input. He can hardly wait to blog the experience. Hired fresh out of college with a degree in computer security, Nate has been with Handover only a year. He blocks the hackers.

Nate has no idea how long he will be with Handover. Maybe he will start his own business in a few years.


Brianna, a blond who just turned thirty-two, looks distracted. She barely made it to the bus on time after dropping off her only child, Abby, at preschool. Her husband, Kyle, owns his own business, and they both work hard, juggling the demands of home and work. At least they share the load equally and have some flextime in their schedules. Handover even allows her to work from home one day a week. She designs webpages and has been with the company for five years. Brianna is short and a little thick in the hips. Too much fast food. But her turquoise-blue tank suit with matching sarong covers most of the overindulgence.

She IM’ed a bunch of friends the day before to talk about this trip and was feeling better about it. A team-building experience would look good on her resume. Who knows how long she will be at Handover? Opportunities abound, and experienced webpage designers are in demand.


Brad is in his late forties and wonders if he can actually do this. Although stocky and athletic, he has suffered from carpal tunnel syndrome and a frozen shoulder in the past year. Besides that, his desk is piled with a backlog of work. He really doesn’t have time for this. He sincerely hopes that extra compensation is coming his way for his participation and that he will survive it unscathed. Brad designs software and works extra hours, trying hard to please. Handover is going through some transitions, and he wants to avoid any downsizing. He has twenty years with the firm; but software design could be outsourced. He would like to retire early, at age fifty-five, with a solid pension and then explore other options—like the local golf course. He is expecting a sizeable inheritance. At least he looks good in his Eddie Bauer rafting outfit and Ray-Ban sunglasses. A Nike baseball cap covers his head.


George, though the oldest member, is spunky. At sixtyeight his wrinkled face reflects his years, but he stands tall and confident. He could stand to lose a few pounds, but they are mostly concentrated in his paunch. A pork-pie hat sits squarely on his balding head. A navy blue T-shirt hangs loosely over his torso, with the white Handover Corp. logo squarely over his chest. He has worked at Handover his entire career and is proud to be part of the organization. He maintains the computer hardware. George wants to keep working as long as he can. Handover hadn’t focused much on team building in the past. But times—they are a-changin’. He can adapt. He is a survivor.


“Good morning,” Daniella said rather flatly to the foursome. How many times have I given this spiel? “Welcome to the Black River Rafting Expedition. Everyone needs a life jacket, oar, and helmet. Please suit up.”


As she observed the foursome rummaging through the bin of life jackets and helmets, a question jogged through her mind: How do these four folks work together in the same department?


A totally different question ran through the minds of the Handover group: Can this tough lady get us safely down the river?


“Where do you want us to sit in the raft?” asked George, his comment dragging her back to the present. “I’d like to sit in the front, if you don’t mind,” he said.


Brad rolled his eyes and shot a quick glance at Brianna, who mouthed, “What’s new?” Nate was just unplugging his iPod.


Daniella rasped, “Just get in. We’ll sort it out in a few minutes. I’ve got the rudder position.”


As the raft slid into the river, George was perched in the front, Brad was on the right side, Brianna was on the left side, and Nate was in the back with Daniella. The inky water was like glass, smooth and tranquil.


“Okay, let’s review a few things,” said Daniella. “First, I’m guiding this raft. If you don’t listen to me, you could put all of us at risk. Until it gets rough, you are free to sit on the sides of the raft. But when I say to get down and sit low, do it. At some places in the rapids we’ll have to pull strongly to one side or the other. And sometimes the roar of the water will be deafening. You’ll have to strain to hear me. Everyone needs to repeat my instructions out loud so we are all on the same page. Questions, anyone?”


“Got it,” replied George. Just follow the directions.


“Sounds logical to me,” said Brad. Let’s get this show on the road; I’ve got work to do. Sure hope my shoulder doesn’t flare up again.


“I’m with the team,” responded Brianna, her voice a little shaky. This could be riskier than I thought. I have Abby to think about.


“Yo, I’m in,” chimed Nate. This looked awesome on the GPS.


“All right, let’s practice a few maneuvers,” commanded Daniella. “Nate, take a position behind Brianna. And George, move back in front of Brad.”


“Okay, we’ve got two on the right and two on the left. When I say ‘Paddle left,’ George and Brad stop paddling; and Brianna and Nate, you guys paddle like your lives depended on it. Reverse it for ‘Paddle right.’”


“Paddle right,” shouted Daniella. “And remember to repeat the command.”


“Paddle right,” Nate, Brad, Brianna, and George said in unison. It was a little anemic.


“Shout it loud!” yelled Daniella from the back of the raft.


“PADDLE RIGHT!” screamed the foursome. George and Brad paddled furiously, moving the rubber raft significantly to the right.


“Low in the boat,” commanded Daniella.


“Low in the boat!” came the reply, and all four of them slid off the sides and sat down.


“Okay, one last maneuver,” said Daniella. “All of you need to be able to get back in the boat if you go overboard. Brianna, let’s start with you. Slide out, and I’ll show you how to get back in.”

Before she could protest, Daniella gave Brianna a little nudge, and over she went with a splash.


“Dang, it’s cold!” Brianna exclaimed, trying to catch her breath from the shock of the chill. Grabbing the side of the raft, she tried to pull herself up; but her legs slid under the boat, and she looked helpless.


Daniella chuckled. “Okay, good try. Grab onto the raft, and put one leg over. The rest of us will help you roll back inside.”


Brianna placed her short, hefty leg on the side of the raft; and, sure enough, it worked—Brad and Nate pulled her in.


George, Brad, and Nate all took turns getting into the water and maneuvering back into the boat. Nate was the only one with enough upper body strength to pull himself in without assistance.


“One final thing,” said Daniella. She reached beneath her life jacket, unsnapped a sheath, and pulled out a menacing six inch hunting knife. “If someone goes overboard and gets trapped under the raft, I have to act quickly. I’ll slash the raft and try to pull the person up. I hope that doesn’t happen, but I’ve had to do it before. Questions, anyone?”


Brianna’s face was ashen. All of this for a team-building exercise?


“All right, let’s go!”


Daniella dug her oar strongly in the water and pushed out to the center of the river. What a motley crew. Oh well, we’re in this boat together. Time to experience the real thing.


Not too far ahead lay the first rapid, “Big Mama,” a steep drop and blazing ride through white water, shifting currents, and a challenging obstacle. The team would soon be tested.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Lobster and the Gambler

Last night was an adventure. I along with my parents had tickets to see Kenny Rogers with the Ft. Worth Symphony at Bass Hall.

My parents had in their mind that they wanted to eat at Riscky's BBQ. The problem? They couldn't remember where the restaurant was. I was driving, and I don't particularly enjoy driving around downtown anywhere when there are tons of one way streets and stop lights. After a while, we were all hungry, and we all kind of just gave up.

I found a parking lot, and we walked a couple of blocks up to a couple of restaurants. We knew they were steakhouses, but didn't really realize the one we chose was quite the kind of place that it was. Meaning, it was one of those places where the grilled chicken costs $20 and the sides are all ala carte at $8 each.

It's not that I've never been to a place like that, but they just make me nervous. In the past, when I've been places like that, I've been on business trips and I always feel so terribly out of place. I don't know how many waiters we had and they swoop in to take the sweet and low wrappers off the table and readjust my knife by mere millimeters. And my dad was being a bit goofy, and the anxiety was building. The longer I sat there, the more nervous and nauceous I was getting. I couldn't even look at Dad, and he kept saying things like, "you are usually the only one that I CAN laugh with." Mom decides we can't take Dad anywhere (I should tell you the Sears Tower story).

OK, I'll take a deeper plunge into my anxiety sitting there for the sake of getting to the root of anxiety moments. I didn't feel like I belonged there. I didn't want to give the impression that I was raised in a barn. I guess I was trying to impress and not disappoint the wait staff or other patrons? Enough psychological evaluation, back to my story.

Surprisingly, the crab stuffed lobster tail was an affordable special, so we all had lobster tail. I'm not really sure that I had officially eaten lobster tail before. A special occasion!

We couldn't wait to get out of there. The lobster and crab were good, but we were ready to go.



Then it was time to head over to Bass Hall for Kenny Rogers and the Symphony. I had never been to a symphony performance before, so that was really neat. It was a great show. Kenny was hilarious and can still sing his hits. But, we weren't sure he was going to make it out to the stage. He was walking like he just had or really needed a hip replacement. Actually he walked like he had a botched hip replacement similar to his botched face lift where they pulled him a little too tight. He has to be about 70, and I guess he has to keep up with his young wife and 4 1/2 year old twins.
It was a great show, and I have a special surprise for a certain one of my blog readers. I actually did what you requested! Sorry they decided to dim all the lights for the video screens and Kenny is just a silloute. Enjoy!

video

PS to Christi: We stopped at Cracker Barrel for dessert. I had bread pudding just for you. It was good, but unlike any pread pudding I had ever had.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

I should have known better

I thought that maybe, just maybe my dad had taken my word on the fact that I was not going to Branson come July. I should have known better.

I guess I stepped into the subject, but it was sort of like a land mine buried underneath something. I was riding around with my parents as they were looking for houses for sale (by the way, I saw them slowly drive by the townhouse across the street to get the phone number off the sign). We're hungry and Dad asks, "where can I get a steak sandwich?" I reply Braum's because it's the only place in our town, but then jokingly add "Steak & Shake."

Evidently, he associates Steak & Shake with Springfield, MO. I guess we have stopped there twice. Once on the way to Branson, but the first time I stopped there was on the way to CHICAGO. Dumb me for not putting that together, but I promise you there are Steak & Shakes in other places in the US. I believe that we have eaten at one in Memphis before.

So, here goes the conversation after I say S&S.

Dad: You are going to Branson, aren't you?

Me: No, I'm not.

Dad: Yes, you are.

Me: Actually, no, I'm not.

Dad: Sure you are.

Me: No, I am not going.

Dad: Well, I'm going to plan for you to go.

Me: Well, plans sometimes have to be changed, and your are going to have to because I'm not going.

Dad: Yeah you will. By the time we go, you will.

Me: *Sigh* no...

He's worse than Sam I Am in Green Eggs and Ham. However, this story shall end differently. I have tried green eggs and ham, and I got food poisoning last time. If they are so great, he can keep them to himself.

I assure you I'm being as mature as one can be in a conversation such as this. Mom didn't include me in the count when she made reservations for the condo, she said. I told her this was going to be a long 6 months leading up to the trip if he keeps it up.

Not that I'm going into the reasons why, but I do have 5 main reasons with additional supporting points as to why I will not be a part of this trip.

By the way, I have yet to read (and I'm sure there is a reason why), nor do I plan to ever read a book set in Branson.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Savannah from Savannah

A couple of days ago, I finished reading Savannah from Savannah by Denise Hildreth. This was one of my 49 cent purchases at Mardel's. Denise stopped by my little blog and commented back when I mentioned that I would be reading this book next. Denise wasn't sure she was happy that I found her book for such a bargain. If it makes her feel any better, I did just buy two more of her books at full price at Barnes & Noble with my gift card!

In Savannah from Savannah, Savannah Phillips has just finished graduate school and is an aspiring writer hoping to become the next great American novelist. And she might have too, if she weren't convinced that her mother, "Vicki", rigged a writing contest that she entered. Trying to prove that she could make a career on her own, Savannah moves back home to the city her mother lives for, Savannah.

Savannah secures herself a job with the local newspaper and sets out to become the city's next great human interest columnist, trying to fill some very big shoes. Frantically searching for a story for her first column, Savannah thinks she's hot on the trail of revealing some questionable activities surrounding previous Miss Georgia United States of America pageants.

Although she hates the pageant world, I have to say that Savannah is a bit of a drama queen and can certainly be outspoken. Some of the other characters in the story are down right hilarious such as Vicky, and Miss Amber Topaz. Both reminded me of a former beauty queen I met once upon a time.

I've always enjoyed reading, but I really enjoy reading books that much more when they are set in a city that I have been. Over the past several years, I've been fortunate to visit a number of new cities, and I loved that I could perfectly picture what the author was describing having been to Savannah before. Denise even mentioned the Forrest Gump bench that I posted a picture of before. And Paula Deen's Lady & Sons restaurant. Yum.

I used to be able a novel for enjoyment and not really get a take away message from it, but lately every book that I've picked up and read resonated with me somehow. The final pages of the book, held a little insight into a lesson I've been trying to teach myself lately. Amber the pageant queen is talking to Savannah and says, "I've spent my entire life allowing other people's opinions to define me. And I made a decision that I'm not going to do that anymore." Two sentences among 324 pages, but they jumped out at me profoundly.

Of Denise Hildreth's two other books that I bought, one is a stand alone and the other is the third in the Savannah series. B&N didn't have the second book in the series, so I'm going to have to get it next time I buy on Amazon. I have several other books in my stack to read, but I'm going to come back to Savannah later.

For some reason, most of the books I've read in the past year take place in Georgia or South Carolina which is where I went on my last real vacation. I have started Neta Jackson's Where Do I Go?, so now I get to go back to reading about my favorite city to visit, Chicago.

Enjoy some of my photos from Savannah!
Hey Ya'll! Gotta love some fried chicken and gooey butter cake at Paula Deen's Lady & Sons
For anyone who has ever taken a tour of Savannah: "Spanish Moss is neither Spanish nor moss. It is a member of the pineapple family." In the book, Savannah's mom would probably have you fired if you didn't say that. "Vicky" is the head of the chamber of commerce and dresses up as a tourist to evaluate tour guides. I'm really surprised the Spanish moss line didn't make the book.
The book also tells about Tybee Island. I climbed to the top of the lighthouse by myself, and got quite dizzy coming back down. My legs were quite wobbily too.
The famous waving girl statue.
Forrest Gump's feather flew over the top of this steeple in the opening scene of Forrest Gump.
The bridge over the river into South Carolina. Except we didn't take that bridge. Long story...
I just thought this was a cool picture.
This is the square behind Forrest Gump as he waits for the bus, contemplating the box of chocolates.

My parents let me out of the truck to get this picture and almost got lost going around the one way streets trying to figure out how to get back to pick me up.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Won't you be my neighbor? or not...

Mom called me last night after church. We had just talked on the parking lot, so I wondered what was up.

Her question: "How would you feel if we were your neighbors?"

Brakes coming to a halt, record screeching, followed by crickets chirping.

"My neighbors? Huh?"

While Mom was at church, the preacher from the Baptist church they live behind/around the block from came over to talk to Dad. They have been trying to buy up all the land around my parents house and are evidently serious this time about wanting to buy their house. (The building committee didn't like the price before, but hey, the house is paid for. If you want it bad enough, you can pay for it.)

Well, evidently the preacher is quite serious if he skipped out on his own mid-week service to come talk "we need your house because we want to build a bigger building." I'm not really sure why they need such a large building. They really should have built out on more land when they built their ugly monstrosity of a new auditorium back a number of years ago and had room to grow.

Back to the neighbor part. I knew the other side of my duplex wasn't open and they weren't going to join the land of the renters on my side of the street. With today's economy, there isn't much for sale anymore because everything is off the market it seems. Mom says the only sign she has seen lately is for the townhouse across the street from me on the corner. She always liked the garden window in the kitchen when she's driven by.

I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm OK about the window, but how about my parents moving across the street?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Speechless?

OK, well, I'm not speechless, but I don't have a lot to say today of any value. Wait, I'm not sure that anything that I've said recently was of value anyway.

I can report that I tried rearranging my living room last night. I don't know what I'm going to do with it now though. It's not working as it is. I'd move it all back where it was, except for the fact that I really, really, don't want to unhook and move my computer again.

One solution would be moving the chaise into the spare bedroom and buy a purple couch and chair (they would fit with the computer where it is now), however, my lucky lotto ticket hasn't landed on my desk today. No, I don't buy lotto tickets. I'm gifted one scratch off ticket per year for Christmas, and I never win anything.

If I think of something more fascinating to share, I'll come back and revise my daily post, but I don't expect it for tonight.

Grace for the Afflicted

It is time for a FIRST Wild Card Tour book review! If you wish to join the FIRST blog alliance, just click the button. We are a group of reviewers who tour Christian books. A Wild Card post includes a brief bio of the author and a full chapter from each book toured. The reason it is called a FIRST Wild Card Tour is that you never know if the book will be fiction, non~fiction, for young, or for old...or for somewhere in between! Enjoy your free peek into the book!

You never know when I might play a wild card on you!


Today's Wild Card author is:


and the book:


Grace for the Afflicted: A Clinical and Biblical Perspective on Mental Illness

Paternoster (September 5, 2008)


ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Dr. Matthew S. Stanford is professor of psychology, neuroscience, and biomedical studies at Baylor University, where he also serves as the director of the Psychology Doctoral Program. He received his Ph.D. in neuroscience from Baylor in 1992. After graduating from Baylor he completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas Medical Branch. Prior to returning to Baylor as a member of the staff in 2003, he was a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at the University of New Orleans.

Product Details:

List Price: $19.99
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Paternoster (September 5, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1934068446
ISBN-13: 978-1934068441

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


Fearfully and Wonderfully Made


The church we were involved with at the onset of my son’s [mental] illness did not respond to us when we requested that a team come out and pray over him. . . . We were looking for support and comfort, and the churches we encountered were

not equipped to give that to us because they did not seem to have a complete handle on what we were dealing with. We have fallen away from the church, but not from God. —Laurie, mother of a son diagnosed with schizophrenia


“The Scriptures tell us that in Christ we have everything we need for life and godliness, correct? So can you explain to me why Anna’s bipolar disorder and her dependence on medication is not an issue of weak faith or sin?”


Only two of us stayed after the church meeting that morning, talking over coffee. I was a deacon in the church at the time, and the man who asked the question was a friend and respected elder. The question took me by surprise, and initially I was speechless (a condition for which I am, unfortunately, not known). If you have a loved one with a mental illness—or you yourself struggle with the debilitating symptoms—your first reaction to such a question may have been more along the lines of sadness, disgust, or anger.


But in my friend’s defense, he sincerely wanted to understand something he saw as alien and frightening. Was Anna sick, or was she spiritually weak? We know from 2 Peter 1:3 that we do have “everything we need for life and godliness.” Yet, even though Anna professed Christ as Savior, her life was a mixture of family problems, shame, suffering, and strange behavior. How should the church respond?


Science and faith have had a long and tense relationship. A dangerous and damaging battle—a battle between faith and psychiatry/psychology—is being waged daily in churches throughout the world. And lives are being destroyed. Men and women with diagnosed mental illnesses are told they need to pray more and turn from their sin. Mental illness is equated with demon-possession, weak faith, and generational sin. The underlying cause of this stain on the church is a lack of knowledge, both of basic brain function and of scriptural truth.


Mental illness is a frightening experience, not only for the afflicted but also for those who witness an individual struggling with strange thoughts and behaviors. An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages eighteen and older (one in four adults) suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.1 Centuries of tension between the church and the scientific community have made pastors and laypeople alike wary of adopting scientific explanations for behaviors and thoughts that, on the surface, may appear sinful (e.g., suicidal ideations).


Again, I believe that the lack of understanding in the church related to mental illness is rooted in spiritual ignorance and fear. So, let’s look first to God’s Holy Word to gain a better understanding of how we were created, what effects the Fall has had on our physical bodies and minds, and who we are in Christ.


How Are We Created?


We have been created in the very image of God (Genesis 1:26). We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). We are complex beings, unlike any other living creature: the union of a physical body with an immaterial mind and spirit. While each aspect is separate, in some sense, they are connected and affect one another. The Scriptures attest to this truth.


You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deuteronomy 6:5)


My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God. (Psalm 84:2)


And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength. (Mark 12:30)


Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23) (all emphases, author’s)


The Body


At one level we exist in a physical body so that we can interact with the physical world around us. Our heart pumps; our stomach and intestines digest; our muscles relax and contract; our lungs inhale and exhale; our brain cells fire. We are God’s creative masterpiece: a miracle of skin, bone, and blood formed from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7). But at the same time we are so much more. We perceive. We think and reason. We pray.


There is also an immaterial, nonphysical aspect to our being—what some call our mind or soul.


The Mind


What is the mind? This question has baffled philosophers and scientists alike for thousands of years. Are our thoughts and perceptions merely the product of neurochemical changes and electrical discharges in our brain? Or is our mind something more—something immaterial, more than the sum of our parts? I believe the truth is somewhere in the middle. The functioning of our brain is integral to the existence of our mind, but that alone is not sufficient to explain it. Likewise, to imagine our mind as completely separate and unrelated to the physical does not seem correct either. Body and mind are intimately connected, each affecting the other. We retrieve a past memory of a fearful event in our mind, and our physiology reacts. Our sensory receptors are activated by familiar stimuli in the environment, and past thoughts and feelings rush to consciousness.


The Scriptures often speak of the mind. It is here that we . . .


Plan our actions

The mind of man plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. (Proverbs 16:9)


Choose to sin

For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace, because the mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so. (Romans 8:6–7)


Pray

What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing

with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. (1 Corinthians 14:15)


Receive revelation and understanding from God

Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. (Luke 24:45)


Meditate on the truths of God

Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (Colossians 3:2)


Are transformed by the indwelling Holy Spirit

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:2)

(all emphases, author’s)


It is with our mind that we think and choose. It is our mind that controls our actions. And it is our mind that God wants to change through the process of sanctification, conforming us ever closer to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29). A physical body formed by the hands of the Maker in union with an immaterial mind that controls and plans our behavior is a truly miraculous concept, though a difficult one to grasp. And the Scriptures teach us that we also have a third and even more amazing level of being, a spirit.


The Spirit


It is not uncommon for neuroscientists to talk and debate about the mind. We might use fancier words like consciousness or self-awareness to make it sound more “scientific,” but we are still talking about an immaterial, invisible aspect of our being. Things that can’t be seen make scientists uncomfortable. We don’t like to say that something is beyond our understanding or that it can’t be measured. We may admit that we don’t understand something presently but qualify our admission by saying that with enough study and the continued advancement of science we will one day. So to describe us as having a spirit, in addition to a mind and a body, seems almost heretical from a scientific perspective. But here is where we scientists must understand that Scripture is our ultimate authority and that it precisely describes our created being in the context of our relationship with God and our fellow human beings.


God created us as a unity of three parts, much like Himself. In our inmost being we are spirit, the very breath of God placed into a shell of dust (Genesis 2:7). That is how we differ from the other living creatures: both were created from the ground (Genesis 2:7, 19), but only humanity is created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26). I like the way Paul Brand and Philip Yancey describe it in their book In His Image:


“And the Lord God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (2:7).


When I heard that verse as a child, I imagined Adam lying on the ground, perfectly formed but not yet alive, with God leaning over him and performing a sort of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

Now I picture that scene differently. I assume that Adam was already biologically alive—the other animals needed no special puff of oxygen, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide to start them breathing, so why should man? The breath of God now symbolizes for me a spiritual reality. I see Adam as alive, but possessing only an animal vitality. Then God breathes into him a new spirit, and infills him with His own image. Adam becomes a living soul, not just a living body. God’s image is not an arrangement of skin cells or a physical shape, but rather an inbreathed spirit.2


Our body, while we see it as our true identity, is little more than a container for our true essence, which is spirit (2 Corinthians 5:1). It is in our spirit that we have the opportunity to be in union with the very God of the universe (Proverbs 20:27; Romans 8:16).


Bringing It All Together


So how does all this work together—body, mind, and spirit? Let’s look at a simple visual representation. Figure 1 shows three concentric circles, each separate but interacting with the one above and/or below. The outermost circle represents the body, which is in contact with the earthly environment (outside) and the mind. The middle circle is the mind, which is connected to the body through the functions of the brain and nervous system but also in contact with our immaterial spirit (the innermost circle). The body senses and reacts to the external environment; and the mind uses that information to perceive, understand, and interpret our surroundings. The mind also forms our thoughts and plans our actions. The spirit, when connected to God, works to transform the mind into the very image of Christ, which results in an ever-increasing display of godly behaviors through the body.


We are an amazing creation! The physical (body) interacting with the immaterial (mind/spirit). Physical beings designed to be in an intimate communion with the very Creator of the universe, who is spirit (John 4:24). That is how we were created, and that is how it was supposed to be. But humanity fell (sinned), and the consequences of our disobedience are felt every day, both spiritually and physically.


How Have We Been Affected by the Fall?


After the shock had worn off, I thought for a minute about how to respond to my friend’s question about Anna. I asked him, “Do you know anyone who has heart disease and regularly takes medication?”


He said that he did, but before I could continue, he asked me if I was trying to say that Anna’s bipolar disorder and heart disease were somehow the same. Throughout this book, I will try to answer that question. How are they the same? How do they differ? But first we need to answer a more foundational question: What are the results of man’s sin?


When a follower of Jesus Christ is asked that question, he or she will often quote Romans 6:23: “The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Such a response correctly points out that spiritual death, or separation from God, is the result of sin. As children of Adam, we are sinful by nature and therefore spiritually dead and separated from God at birth (Romans 5:12).


I have always thought it strange, however, that the answer to the question rarely goes beyond the spiritual. Clearly, spiritual death resulted from our sin. But what about the other aspects of our being, our mind and body? How were they affected by the Fall? I have suggested that the Scriptures describe us as a three-part being, with each part interacting with and affecting the others. If that is true, then our sin must have also adversely affected our mind and body. I’m not saying that this truth is completely unknown in the church today. Plainly, the Bible teaches us that we are fully defiled by sin (body, mind, and spirit)—caught in what some theologians call “total depravity” (see Romans 3:12). Yet the church emphasizes the spiritual effects of sin while minimizing or disregarding the mental and physical effects. As I stated above, I think this results from a misunderstanding of what the Scriptures teach about how we have been created.


Birth


At birth, we are physically alive but spiritually dead. We are born with an imperfect body, scarred as the result of generations of sin. On the day that Adam and Eve fell, they forfeited their intimate relationship with God, and they became mortal. And we were placed at the mercy of the environment and natural biological processes that wreak havoc on our bodies and minds. But as Jesus teaches in the story of the man born blind, each time we struggle with illness and physical weakness is an opportunity for “the works of God” to be “displayed” (John 9:1–3).


Growth


When Adam and Eve fell, we were forced to fend for ourselves in a hostile and fallen world. Look at figure 2 to get a better idea of how and why we think and act the way we do. As we grow and mature, our body and mind learn to interact with and react to our fallen environment, all the while spiritually separated from God by our sin. The body, physically affected by the Fall, gathers sensations and stimuli from the earthly environment (small black arrows). Our mind, knowing only sin because of our separation from God, chooses to satisfy itself by the “If it feels good, do it” lifestyle, or what we in psychology call the pleasure principle. In doing so, it associates normal physiological reactions and sensations with lustful desires and wants, causing impure thoughts to come to mind almost instantly in common, everyday situations (James 1:14–15). It is in our mind that we choose to sin (2 Corinthians 10:5); and it is with our body (Ephesians 2:3), or “members” (Romans 7:23), that we act out our sinful thoughts (large black arrows). This process is altered only in the individual who comes to a saving faith in Christ Jesus, and even then that believer continues to struggle with a sinfully programmed mind and body (Romans 7:14–25).


In addition to the sinful desires that attempt to control us, another result of sin is physical death and decay.


Physical Death


God told Adam that in the day he ate from the forbidden tree he would surely die (Genesis 2:16–17); and while He certainly meant this in the spiritual sense, He also meant it in the physical sense. The moment that Adam disobeyed he began to age and decay (Genesis 3:19). Physical death came a little closer each day of his life, and so it continues for us. In fact, the Scriptures tell us that the whole of the physical creation was affected by our sin and longs for the day of redemption (Romans 8:19–22). Our bodies are damaged because of sin. We age. We get sick. We suffer physically and die because the physical creation has been affected by the Fall.


However, while we were all born “dead in sin,” which affected our body, mind, and spirit, there is an amazing truth for those who have been “born again”: we are new creations in Christ; the old things have passed away; the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17)!


Our Identity in Christ


Have you ever thought about what it means that you are a “new creation”? It means that you have been fundamentally changed; what you were before becoming a Christian no longer exists. That is not how I used to see myself. I lived Sunday to Sunday, holding on to some kind of faith-based fire insurance that I could turn in at my death in order to get into heaven. I certainly didn’t see myself as Paul describes the believer in Ephesians 1, having every spiritual blessing. I now recognize that as a believer in Jesus Christ I was chosen before the foundation of the world; predestined for adoption as a son of the living God; purchased out of slavery to sin and death; forgiven of all my sins—past, present, and future; given spiritual wisdom and revelation; and marked as such until the day that I stand before Him holy and blameless.


Do you see yourself that way? If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then that is exactly how God sees you—whether you accept it or not. It doesn’t matter if you are struggling with mental illness. You are a new creation in Christ if you have received Him by faith. And we who minister to those who struggle with mental illness should remember that they are His chosen children, if they are in Christ, and they should be treated as such.


A Transformed Life


We were born with a fallen nature, which we received from our ancestral father Adam. But when a person comes to faith in Jesus Christ, he or she is “crucified”! The “old self” is nailed to the cross with Christ, never to return (Romans 6:6; Galatians 2:20). God gives us His Spirit; Christ’s very life takes up residence in us (Colossians 3:1–3). We have His righteousness (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Philippians 3:9) and a new, Christlike nature (Ephesians 4:24). Spiritually, we sit at the very right hand of God Almighty (Ephesians 2:6).


So, just like my friend said, as believers we are complete in Christ, having everything we need for life and godliness in Him (2 Peter 1:3). That is true in the spiritual realm, but remember that we are a unity of three parts. What happens to our body and mind after we are transformed in the spirit?


Being Conformed to the Image of Christ


You were born affected by sin, and you lived some period of time before coming to Christ. Consequently, you have habits, thought patterns, and biological predispositions that are the result of your old self. This “sinful flesh” does not disappear because you have been given a new life. But change is now possible, whereas before it was not.


Let’s look at figure 3 to help understand our new life. We now see, in the inner circle, the very life of Christ within us. The Scriptures teach us that we are to submit ourselves to Christ, allowing Him to transform our minds (Romans 12:1–2). In the diagram this is represented by the small white arrowheads. As our minds are transformed and our thoughts are taken captive to Christ, He begins to take control of the “members” of our body (symbolized by the three large, black-and-white arrows), and our behaviors change (Colossians 3:5–10).


Why Write This Book?


At this point you may be saying to yourself, I thought this book was about mental illness and Christianity. When are you going to talk about my son’s disorder? I need to know what to do! Why am I having these thoughts and feelings? I don’t want to be like this!


Those emotional responses, and many more like them, are why this book has been written. But beyond that, I have seen the limitations of psychiatry and psychology firsthand.


As a research scientist studying human aggression, I see the results of the Fall every day—broken men and women who want to behave differently but feel as if they have lost control of themselves, wives who fear their husbands, children who seem destined to repeat the sins of their fathers. In my laboratory, we test the effectiveness of different medications on aggressive behavior. In many instances the treatments are successful: the patient’s aggressive behavior is reduced in intensity and frequency. But is that enough if the person still does not know Christ? The medication treats only the physical effects of the Fall. The mental effects often remain; and if the patient does not know Christ, so does his or her spiritual separation from God.


I hope this chapter has shown you that we have been affected by sin at all three levels of our being. Both believers and nonbelievers carry the physical and mental effects of sinful programming. Fortunately, believers have been transformed in their inner being and are righteous before their Maker. But that does not instantaneously remove the sinful “flesh” we still carry around. Sanctification is a process by which our minds are transformed through submission to Christ. Biological defects and weaknesses do not go away by themselves, no matter how much we want them to or have faith that they will. God can certainly choose to heal us supernaturally, and in some cases He does so. But we should see our weaknesses as an opportunity to grow in our faith (2 Corinthians 12:7–10; James 1:2–4). Like the man born blind, we are flawed so that “the works of God might be displayed” in us (John 9:3).


1. Ronald C. Kessler et al., “Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of Twelve-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), Archives of General Psychiatry 62 (2005): 617–27.


2. Paul Brand and Philip Yancey, In His Image (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987), 22.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

What not to wear

I admit that I have not seen much of the inauguration coverage, but I have it on now as to not be totally clueless as to what went on today.

The first question I have to make/question I have to ask is this: What was up with Aretha Franklin's hat? That was the biggest bow that I have ever seen affixed to someone's head.

My next question, while I have the TV on watching the recap, is when did Katie Couric get that bad haircut?

As I got ready for work this morning, I had Good Morning America/Early Show/Today Show on. I flipped through the three. Nothing was going on at this time, but full coverage was indeed under way. As the anchors on the various networks watched for the new first family to emerge from the Blair House, it was obvious that they didn't have much to say at that time. "Well, Harry, the environmental lobbyist are not happy this morning. Look how much exhaust is coming out of the presidential limo as it idles waiting for hours to drive the Obamas two blocks."

But back to what really matters, apparently.

"Robin, the moment that everyone is waiting for is to see what the Obamas are wearing." "Matt, all eyes are watching for Michele Obama to see what she has chosen to wear to the swearing in ceremony." I'm not making this up.

"Now we go to Barbara Walters as she remembers evening gowns of inaugurations past."

"Well, Charlie, you can tell a lot about the tone of a President's Administration by what the first lady wears to the inauguration balls."

I was watching American Idol instead of the coverage of the first ball on TV, so I had to look up on CNN.com to see a photo of the ball gown. After all the build up, I was expecting something a little different, but what I'm not sure.

Honestly, I cannot believe they haven't brought out Joan and Melissa Rivers for commentary on this day. Well, I take that back, I haven't turned on to E! to watch what they have to say.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Culture Gone Wild

Dr. Albert Mohler available for comment on today’s sex-saturated culture

Just a few recent headlines:
·A 22-year old woman from California is auctioning off her virginity online. The latest reports are that bidding has reached $3.7 million.

·After receiving criticism for his choice of Saddleback pastor Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at the inauguration ceremony itself, President-elect Obama announces the choice of Bishop Gene Robinson, the openly-homosexual Episcopal Bishop, to open the mass event at the Lincoln Memorial with prayer.

·The former head of an Ohio faith-based agency is accused of running a website where users are able to post reviews of prostitutes.

·Newsweek and other media outlets do follow-up stories on Ted Haggard’s scandal.

·The Vatican reports a decrease in homosexual behavior in Catholic seminaries.

·Recent studies reveal statistics on abstinence pledges and the latest figures on teen pregnancy rates around the country.

Lifetime monogamy is passé. Pornography infiltrates nearly every home. Homosexuality is applauded. Lust is redefined. The media remind people every day that assumptions about what is right and wrong, sexually, are different today than they were fifty—or even ten—years ago. Principles of morality that formed the pattern for generations of American families are conspicuously absent. What happened and why? What are the lasting ramifications of such changes on society?

Written by Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., the man Time.com called “the reigning intellectual of the evangelical movement in the U.S.,” Desire and Deceit is a thoughtful book for anyone looking for cut-to-the-chase answers to the toughest questions about sexual morality. With an engaging topical approach, Mohler applies biblical principles to today’s most relevant and highly charged issues. Here he offers real-life solutions that will equip, inform, and inspire readers as they speak the truth to a society hungry for answers.

Dr. R. Albert Mohler Jr. is president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, serves on the boards of several organizations, including Focus on the Family, and hosts a radio show that is broadcast daily on eighty stations nationwide. Widely sought out as a commentator, Dr. Mohler has contributed to The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal and has appeared on Larry King Live, The Today Show, The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and The O’Reilly Factor. He and his family live in Louisville, Kentucky.

Desire and Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance

by R. Albert Mohler Jr.
Multnomah Books/ISBN: 978-1-60142-080-0/160pages/hardcover/$14.99
http://www.publishersdesigngroup.com/
http://www.albertmohler.com/

Leadership in the Workplace

Navigating the rough waters of leadership transition

George, Brad, Brianna, and Nate are connected by their jobs; the four of them make up the IT department at Handover Corporation. They also represent four distinct generations. They all have their own specialties, and when the day is done they go their separate ways—that is, until the company sends them on a white-water rafting trip to encourage team building. Surviving the rapids, they return to work to discover that their CEO is stepping down, sending the company into a tumultuous transition. They rely on the skills they just learned in order to survive and remain in the boat together.

This scenario serves as the plot of a unique new book, We’re in This Boat Together: Leadership Succession Between the Generations, by Camille Bishop, Ph.D. A career educator with thirty years of international teaching experience, Dr. Bishop knows exactly why the average business book fails to resonate with readers. “So many business books are full of great information, but they’re boring,” she comments. “I wanted to write something that was interesting and would grab people’s attention, but would also present good information.” The result is a business book that is as engaging as it is informative.

The transfer of power within an organization is rarely easy; however, in light of the looming economic crisis, more American companies have been forced to make difficult decisions regarding personnel. The face of leadership is changing in companies across America, and the stakes have never been higher.

Excerpt taken from the Preface of We’re in This Boat Together by Camille Bishop, PhD
(Used with permission of Authentic, ©2008)

In today’s workforce no one is exempt from the fact that four generations are currently represented. From the worlds of business and education to nonprofit organizations and churches, a similar scenario exists. One might find in the same company a seventy-year-old working alongside a twenty-two year- old. Down the hall, a Gen Xer might be consulting with a Baby Boomer. What are the defining qualities of each of these generations? Many questions come to the surface:

• Are there generational differences in work ethic—and if so, what are they?
• How does each generation relate and respond to authority figures?
• How does each generation perceive women in leadership?
• What are their expectations in the workplace?
• How do they balance the demands of work and home?
• What are their views about money and fiscal responsibility?
• How does each generation view the role of leadership in an organization?

These questions reflect the need to better understand the values and behaviors of each of these four generations. Research indicates that our perception of leadership is linked to the particular generation in which we grew up. Without that knowledge, transitions in leadership can be very messy. Insight and appreciation of generational differences can prepare a workplace for a much smoother changeover.

The Silent Generation consists of those born between 1925 and 1942. They are the children born during the Great Depression and the generation sandwiched between the first and second world wars. Boomers followed the Silent Generation (1943–1960) and were raised in an era of opportunity, progress, and optimism. They also experienced a radically changing society marked by rebellion, shifting social norms, and outward challenges of authority. Growing up in the shadow of the Boomers, Gen Xers were born between 1961 and 1981. They are technologically savvy and were raised in the age of dual-career families. Finally, Millennials, some of the newest members of the workforce, were born between 1982 and twenty years thereafter. A “plugged-in” generation, they have been around technology since birth. The Internet world of blogs, wikis, podcasts, and ever-present e-mail is as natural to them as breathing.

Each of these distinct groups of people see life differently because of the times in which they grew up. Just consider the differences that might exist in financial matters between those who grew up during the Great Depression and those who were raised in the “instant credit, no-payment-until-next year” society.
Might there be a clash between Henry, a member of the Silent Generation who sees leadership as the general who goes to the helm, and Jason, an Xer who is distrustful of leaders and prefers collaboration? You can almost feel the white water forming.

How can we navigate the rapids of transition? The answer to that question is the reason for this book. So grab your oar, don’t forget your life jacket, and push off into the white water. It is going to be quite a ride!

We’re in This Boat Together: Leadership Succession Between the Generations by Camille Bishop, Ph.D.
Authentic/ISBN-13: 978-1-934068-37-3/203 pages/softcover/$14.99
http://www.authenticbooks.com/

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I'm sore, but I'm not that sore

At church this morning, as I rose from my seat at the end of class to head towards the auditorium, I came to the conclusion that my lower back hurt from moving furniture by myself. I kind of pulled something in my right hip and thigh, but I consider myself quite fortunate.

Down the pew this morning, my brother, Brian, was in much worse shape. There was a little too much "Song Leader Says" going on this morning for his taste. Song leader says, "stand for this song." Song leader says, "you may sit down." Song leader says, "please stand for the song before the lesson, " followed by, "you may have a seat." The closest 85 year old woman who recently had a hip replacement had nothing on Brian's pain and speed.

If Brian were computer literate and savvy, which I must add that he isn't, he really should have a blog of his own to tell his daily chronicles. So help me, sometimes he has more strange occurrences in his life than anyone I know.

On Thursday, he went to the auction barn in a nearby town, and bought something like 11 bulls and was loading them into a trailer. I really don't know what happened next because after it was all said and done, Brian doesn't know what happened, but he got knocked down and trampled by a number of bulls. He thinks it may have nine.

The story as relayed to me was when he opened his eyes, he was laying on the ground and not quite sure how he got there. He did not remember what he had done earlier that day, or what he had to do later that day. He called someone to meet him and drive him into Corsicana. He ended up at convenient care (which I find absolutely absurd--in a minute you'll read why) before they sent him to the emergency room.

Turns out he had a slight concussion, two hairline fractured ribs and a very sore jaw (he thought it may have been broken at first). He is bruised all over, including his tongue according to Julie, and sore from head to toe.

I was talking to Mom on the phone when he called her about 7:30 on Thursday night. She had to take the call and call me back. I think the phone conversation started, "I'm OK, but I just got out of the emergency room."

I still have some furniture to move, but needless to say, I won't be able to call my brother to help.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The strange urge to move furniture

For weeks I have had it in my mind that I wanted to rearrange all the furniture in my house. I've had excuses or other things to do the last few Saturdays, but I finally rearranged my bedroom today.

I got productive and cleaned out a bag full of stuff to throw away from three dresser drawers as I took them out to move my dresser. I took the box springs and mattress off the bed to move the frame. I actually switched the walls that those two pieces of furniture were on. Got it all done myself until Dad came over to hang the huge palm tree picture I picked out for Christmas. He helped me moved the chest of drawers 18 inches from where I had moved it to where it needed to be.

I plan on rearranging the living room tomorrow, but I'll probably move it right back where it is. I've arranged and rearranged my living room a number of times because I have a hard time putting my chaise somewhere else that I like. There's only so much arranging to be done with the entertainment center and storage unit next to it having to stay in the same place.

At the very least in the spare bedroom, I need to move my bookshelves closer together. Jenny came to get my breakfast bar with stools that had been sitting in that room for her apartment. The table had been sitting in the purple room because I'd had my computer on it for a period of time, but it was just a random piece of furniture once I moved the computer. I'd rearrange more in there, but I have a hutch for the lack of a better description that can only be in so many places because of all the stuff hanging on the walls. I can't take down all my frames and move them without putting way too many more holes in the wall.

So, that was my Saturday for the most part. I'm ready to read a book and/or watch a movie now.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Captain Crispy saves the day

No, I'm not referring to an obscure cereal super hero. Today's blog entry would have been pretty boring today if author and friend Chris Plekenpol hadn't stopped by the office.

I'll back the story up several months to reveal the nickname in the title - Chris had come down to our office and several of us were brainstorming about his ministry, future books, and possible website names, etc. We all agreed that no one would be able to remember how to spell his last name. Someone commented it may just have to be Chris P. Well, Chris served in the Army, and he was a Captain... I suggested that maybe Captain Chris P was not the best way to present him since that would sound like he belonged on a box of cereal.

So, anyway, Chris came down from Dallas today to speak at a youth retreat at one of the local churches. He got down here early and was in the area with time to kill, so he came on into our offices and decided to hang out in my office for a while.

Chris can make me laugh like few people can. Mostly I laugh at Chris laughing at himself. He doesn't just laugh, the man roars. I doubt anyone could wear a frown around him for long, and he certainly had me laughing today.

He asked me if I had been reading his latest notes on Facebook about dating. I said, "no," but then asked, "oh, you mean the one where you talked about wanting to find a woman who was a member of Mensa and could read your mind? Chris, I've tried to read your mind before and it's quite a scary thing." Let the laughter begin.

Well, he has decided that his next book is going to be on dating, specifically that it is scriptural for a woman to pursue a man. As a side note, he met Alison Shelby who is speaking this weekend to the girls at the retreat, and she doesn't necessarily see eye to eye on the subject. I expect there to be some interesting conversations this weekend, especially once Matt and Misha join in, but I digress. (Misha and Alison may just win out over Chris and Matt.)

So, he was having me read his Facebook notes that are potential chapters and give feedback. He does have quite a point regarding Ruth, I must say. I started reading one about Adam and Eve, and had to ask him, "um, Chris, are you saying that you want a woman created just to help you out and get your stuff done? Is being a member of Mensa not enough?" Obviously, that was not the point in the end.

While spontaneously laughing at his own wit, at which time I told him he had to tell me what he was laughing at if he was going to laugh, he wrote his latest piece on Isaac and Rebekah. I'm still not exactly sure how she was pursuing him, but Chris asks the question, "does the Bible condone mail order brides?" Interesting question indeed. I told him what I really got out of their story was that they were cousins...

All of this seems quite random, I'm sure, but it would make more sense if you were to log onto Facebook and become friends with Chris and read his notes. Maybe these links will work and you can access them from here:

Is it Biblical for Women to pursue men? Ruth and Boaz
Is it Biblical for Women to pursue Men part II Adam and Eve
Is it Biblical for women to pursue men part III Isaac and Rebekah
The Old Soul - this one is actually the one that talks about Mensa and what he really means by that

One of his upcoming notes is supposed to be on Jacob and Leah, per my suggestion. In my opinion, that's a pretty blatant example of pursuit when it comes down to it. We got a good laugh out of my suggestion that it could be a whole chapter about when the "ugly" girl goes after the guy. Come on, we can all picture it and have seen it in real life.

I can admit that this whole post today could be one of those "you had to be there moments", but sometimes that happens. My shout out for the day is to "Captain Crispy"! Thanks for the laughs because goodness knows, you can never laugh too much.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I'm bringing funny back

TOPIC #1:

This is just an observation, but have you ever noticed, you can just look at someone on American Idol and tell if they have talent or not? This is a TACKY ALERT, so I'm warning you now in case you want to quit reading.

Just watch these first auditions. There isn't one strange or extra frumpy or dressed-up crazy person that has talent. There was just one guy that got through that was wearing a plaid shirt and average looking they let through, so I'm not saying you have to be drop dead georgeous.

But come on, if you are watching, you know what I mean. If someone looks like their mom might have been on last night's news report when the tornado came through the trailer park (you know they always pick the most bizarre or unfortunate looking people), you probably can't carry a tune in the bucket that's on the front porch. That's ok though because if you are wearing a pink cowboy hat and pink boots, you aren't going to Hollywood either. If you have the world's biggest 'fro, you can't sing. If you are wearing yellow feathers like big bird, surely, you don't seriously think that you can win a Grammy, do you?

There was just a poor guy with a very unreal color of hair cut in a chili bowl with bangs who wore his medal for singing in elementary school who sang an original song. (Side note, I don't think any guy should ever have bangs.) This is just a piece of advice for all, don't ever audition with an original song. It was bad. Simon just asked, "Did you just write that song for your pet?" "No, it was supposed to be for my mother."

TOPIC #2:

Michelle Obama has hired a decorator to the stars to come in and redecorate the White House. That just doesn't sound right to me, regardless of who is coming into office. Evidently the decorator has wanted to get his hands on the White House for some period of time becauase he's ready to get rid of the paint color. I guess that refers to a certain room because I don't think you can paint the White House blue, you know what I'm saying?

You just think of the White House being this historical, almost untouchable place. Some things you just don't mess with, you just live with. I mean, you just don't throw out Abraham Lincoln's desk.

The article I was reading did link to pictures showing the change in decor of the oval office over the years, so things are changed more than I realized they were. I can also report after reading it that Michele Obama is into white couches, not purple, so I don't have to worry about her tracking down mine at Miles Furniture and buying it before my tax refund check comes.

TOPIC #3:

I texted Jenny today that I had found us a trip to go on. There is a New Kids on the Block cruise in May--in fact, the weekend of her birthday! In reality, they should be renamed Dirty Old Men on the Block, but I digress. Oh, we were fans in the day, and somewhat revived our interest in a strange way with their comeback this year. When we went to relive our jr. high years in October when they came to Dallas, we had a good time, but have to say, we weren't as insane as a number of the fans that were there that night. We just thought it would be fun to see them again.

Jenny wore my t-shirt from 1990 along with my pins that I had saved for over 18 years (somehow she lost my Joey button though) almost as a dare. BUT, we certainly didn't make our own I (heart) Jordan t-shirts or anything. Amy, Jenny and I certainly didn't wear matching bedazzled hand made shirts proclaiming our favorite song. (Can you believe people actually buy bedazzlers?) I do admit that I paid way too much for a program because I have a thing about framing programs and hanging them on my walls.

It was really cool to see everyone in sycronization raising their hands in the air and waving like they just didn't care to Hanging Tough. Seeing 20,000 people doing anything in sycronization is kind of unique.

We both agreed we'd love to by flies on the cabin walls during this cruise from Miami to the Bahamas complete with meet and greets, photo opportunities, trivia contests (which New Kid had a dog named Nikko?) and concert. That had to be one wild and crazy trip. I can't imagine how crazed these people going on this cruise must be. While talking to Jenny on the phone, I looked up rates because we were curious. I think the thing was just announced today, but it's almost all sold out. Women in their 30s are nuts, I tell you!

I really must tell Paige about this. Jenny and I have turned her on to the New Kids. If she found out about this, she may just jump off of the Branson wagon and onto the boat.

In regards to this picture I posted, you know these guys are old (Jon turned 40 recently) when they have to sit down on the piano bench and take a break after "dancing" one song on a rotating stage. You could just tell they were getting dizzy sick and had to get their breath.