Friday, March 30, 2012

Foyle's War

When war reached the shores of Great Britain, Christopher Foyle, a policeman and veteran of the Great War, requested a move from his police work in Hastings to an assignment in the war effort. Fortunately for Hastings, that request was denied.

Foyle's War is the gripping story of war's effect on England, especially in the southern coastal town of Hastings. The story is told in 22 episodes, each 100 minutes long. That is plenty of time to explore many aspects of life during wartime -- disruption of services, food shortages, uncertainty, fear, vengeance, bombings, treason, relations between civilians and military, propaganda, exploitation, and so on. And it is plenty of time to get to know the complex characters brought to life by filmmaker Anthony Horowitz. When dealing with crime during the daily stresses of wartime, even small breaches of the law are significant. So, too, are incidents of murder, which seems to happen a lot in Hastings.

The series opens in 1940 and progresses through the war and into the beginning of the nation's recovery.

The main character is, of course, Christopher Foyle, played by Michael Kitchen. He is relentless and wise. His keen sense of justice and his unquestionable honesty make him a clear leader and fearsome foe for those on the wrong side of the law.

Foyle's War is a surprisingly personable look into England during World War II through the eyes of Foyle and his co-workers, especially Sergeant Paul Milner, played by Anthony Howell and Samantha (Sam) Stewart, played by Honeysuckle Weeks, Foyle's driver. Each person, each relationship, is well-developed and we see the strengths, weaknesses, and quirks of them all. Even characters who have a lesser role -- Foyle's son Andrew, a fighter pilot with the RAF, and Sergeant Ian Brooke ("Brookie") who works at the Hastings police station, for example  -- are multi-dimensional and full of life. Character development was certainly a strong element of the series.

My knowledge of World War II, especially the European Front, is limited. But Foyle's War allowed me to see into the heart and mind of the British people during this period; it showed the impact that war had on a nation; and it satisfied my hankering for a good police show.

Tom and I thoroughly enjoyed the series, both times we watched it through. But we're not the only ones who loved it. Of the 92 customer reviews on Amazon for the boxed set of series 1-5, 83 viewers gave the show five stars. And most of the others who rated it three or four stars did so because of the quality of the disc on which it was recorded.

A pretty good recommendation, I'd say!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My Friend Ginger

Two Gingers
Meet my friend Ginger Lippke. I am always intrigued to discover another Ginger, as  I don't run into many people with my name. For years I smiled at her from across the sanctuary at church on Sunday mornings, but I didn't really get to know her until I started working as a mentor mom in MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers), where Ginger has served for several years. What a great lady to share a name with! (It's silly, but it always makes me smile when we see each other and exchange this simple greeting. "Hi, Ginger!" "Hi, Ginger!")

Actually, we do literally share a name -- Virginia Ann (and of course, our nickname Ginger). She and her husband Charlie have raised five kids, including a girl named Glory (my sister Peach's given name is Gloria) and a son named Samuel (just like our son).

Which is whose?
We have similar taste and lean toward the same style. At the first MOPS meeting last September we made name tags. Out of a dozen or more choices of designer paper to choose from, Ginger and I chose the very same paper and decorated it with the same style, even though we had no idea what the other was doing.

One day I showed up to MOPS in a one-of-a-kind brown knit jacket. "The jacket looks good on you," said Ginger. I thanked her and, because sometimes we say things that we were taught are not polite to mention, I said, "I got it at the thrift shop." Turns out she is the one who donated it!

I told you she has five kids. They are spread across the country, from New York City to Texas to California to Hawaii. Just her and Charlie and the dog at home now.

But it's not always been that way. While the kids were young Ginger and Charlie were hippies who lived in a converted school bus, and used a second bus as their homeschool classroom. As new Christians, they were alive with their love for Jesus. That love was nurtured over the years so that now Ginger's perfume is the sweet fragrance of Christ.

I recently attended a prayer meeting in the church classroom where she and Charlie teach 4th and 5th grade Sunday school. The room was decorated for Easter, complete with a cross and an empty tomb. Prayer journals lay at the children's places around the table, where they record their prayer concerns and the answers the Lord gives them. Pinned to the very top of the wall, where it meets the ceiling, was a small piece of paper, maybe 2 inches by 4 inches. Ginger told us that it symbolizes the span of our lives, and all the rest of the distance around the room  represents eternity. She circled the room with her hand two or three times for emphasis. "We put that paper on the wall to remind us how short life is, to help us remember to use our time wisely," she told us.

Ginger is quick to pray, whether on Facebook or in person. She turns everything that comes into her life back to God. And by her comments and her prayers, she turns other people to Him too.

Thank you, Lord, for my really lovely friend, Ginger. Bless her, and continue to shine through her. Amen.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Resurrection Sunday Dance, Budapest, Hungary

I found this video online the other day and was quite touched by it. This movement began in Hungary in 2010 when 1300 young people from Faith Church in Budapest performed this joyful dance on Easter Sunday. In 2011, 39 groups from all around the world joined in the dance! You can see videos of each of these groups at their website,

(Note -- if you click the YouTube button you will be able to view the video in a much larger format.)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Yes You Can -- Danielle's Dream

Danielle with TC3 resident, "Giant"
Danielle Richmond's life was full during her teens. She got her first job at 15, she volunteered at the  Red Cross Youth Corps and at Sacred Heart Women's Shelter, and she worked with the homeless.

"I'm frugal," she told me. "I would go to Costco and for $100 I could buy enough food to feed 100 people." Others would help her make sack lunches and they'd deliver them to Denver's homeless. Sometimes people donated funds; sometimes she paid out of her own pocket.

She spent time talking with people, getting to know them, and she realized how much conversation meant to the people she served. "Homelsessnes is dehumanizing. People -- good people -- turn their eyes away. They don't know what to do. This experience made me passionate about working with the homeless," she says.

Tent City 3 at Seattle Pacific Univesity
As a student at Seattle Pacific University, Dani enjoyed attending Compline, Saint Mark's Episcopal Church's evening service. One evening she noticed an announcement in the bulletin that there would be a meeting the following Sunday to discuss the coming of Tent City 3 to Saint Mark's. It was January, 2008, and she was a sophomore. She went back the next Sunday morning, attended the service, then met with the homeless advocacy team. She's been there ever since, worshipping with the congregation and serving as Saint Mark's liaison to Tent City 3.*

Danielle thought that if Tent City 3 would ever make its temporary home at Seattle Pacific, both the students and the Tent City 3 community would benefit. That became her dream.

During spring quarter, 2009, she was invited to speak at an open class session to an applied ethics class, showing a video about Tent City 3 and inviting students to contact her if they were interested in helping bring TC3 to SPU.

Among those wanting to get involved was Chris Kyle, who had just been elected to the position of the student body vice president of campus ministries. "He had connections!" Danielle told me. Together the group gathered data, interviewed prior church hosts for Tent City 3, explored the costs and logistics, garnered the involvement of several faculty and staff. But if Tent City 3 were to come to SPU, they would need to convince the administration. Modeled after Blueprint for Excellence, President Philip Eaton's 2004 strategic plan that cast a vision for the university's future, Dani and Chris, along with a team of interested students,  created their own 30-page view book, outlining what Tent City 3 is and why it should be housed at Seattle Pacific.

The process consumed their time and energy, but they were not alone. Jeff Jordan, now VP of Student Life, and Dave Church, VP for Facility Management, were both committed to bringing the transitional shelter to campus.

Danielle and Claire Burkitt chatting with Tent City3 resident
Danielle graduated from Seattle Pacific in 2010 with a major in theology and a minor in communications. After graduation she took a job in Student Financial Services at the university and continued to work toward bringing Tent City 3 to SPU. Four years from her introduction to Tent City 3, it began its two month stay on campus.

If you think that this process snuffed out her passion for serving the homeless, you'll need to think again. This articulate, earnest young woman has dreams yet to pursue.

She'd like to see an active student group that focuses on presenting forums and serving the homeless throughout the year and bringing Tent City 3 back to the SPU campus once every three years.

And she has her eye on a deserted Catholic school next door to Denver's Sacred Heart Women's Shelter, where she volunteered as a kid. She's a believer in helping folks transition out of homelessness, so she'd like to buy the building and use the classrooms for teaching during the day on topics such as filling out paperwork, writing a resume, interviewing for a job, and budgeting. In the evening the cots would be brought out and the building would be transformed into sleeping quarters. Meals would be prepared in the school kitchen and served in the gym/auditorium.

And on Sundays, the stage in the auditorium would become the platform where she would preach the gospel to those who would choose to attend. By then, she'll be an ordained pastor in the Episcopal church.

* * * * * * * * * * * * 

*Tent City 3 is one of Seattle's transitional shelters for homeless men and women. The Seattle Housing Authority contracts with area organizations, churches mostly, to a provide temporary location for up to 100 residents, for a maximum of 90 days. This self-governing community oversees its own 24-hour security and each resident has responsibilities to fulfill in Tent City 3's operation. They maintain strict rules of conduct: sobriety, no violence, no drugs.

Check out SPU's Tent City 3 pages for more information.

(Yes You Can is a monthly feature that tells the story of someone who has had a dream, followed their dream, and made a difference in their world because of it.)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Mixed Messages

My sister Peach recently got her first smart phone. It kept messing with her, erasing her contact list and other tricks. The day she sent her husband a text message (in English, of course) and it arrived on his phone in Chinese, she knew the phone had to go.

She replaced the phone and got her new one all set up. Last week she and I were driving Mom to Seattle to meet up with our sister-in-law, Gail, who was flying in from Juneau. We were planning to meet her for lunch at 12:15.

At 11:30 Peach got a text message from Gail. I'm waiting for my suitcase and then headed to get the car. Peach picked up the phone to speak into it. She told us that the phone could transcribe her words into a text message for Gail.  "Hi Gail. We are in North Everett. You arrived sooner than we anticipated, so maybe you will have time to go shopping. I will call you when we are closer. Good-bye."

When we met up with Gail she said the message didn't make much sense.  Then she pulled out her phone and showed us the text message she had received. ideal at work where just in the north part of the average I think you got your sooner than we anticipated no I am I have time to go shopping I will be there as well let you know ever get closer I buy.

Monday, March 19, 2012

A Visit to the 100 Acre Wood

I'm all a-puddle. I wandered into the 100 Acre Wood this morning, in search of a certain conversation between Piglet and Pooh, and stayed longer than I had intended. While eavesdropping on the circle of friends who inhabit the woods, I found I couldn't just snatch my quote and leave. They invited me in for a bit of honey, and it was as sweet as any I've ever tasted.

I hadn't meant to, but I stayed for lunch. And now I find it's time to go. I don't want to go, but I will have my memory of these dear friends, and will hold their words in my heart. Here's some of what they said ~

"Some people care too much. I think it's called love."

"What day is it?"
"It's today," squeaked Piglet.
"My favorite day," said Pooh.

"I wonder what Piglet is doing," thought Pooh. "I wish I were there to be doing it, too."

"Good morning, Eeyore," said Pooh.
"Good morning, Pooh Bear," said Eeyore gloomily. "If it is a good morning, which I doubt," said he.
"Why, what's the matter?"
"Nothing, Pooh Bear, nothing. We can't all, and some of us don't. That's all there is to it."
"Can't all what?" said Pooh, rubbing his nose.
"Gaiety. Song-and-dance. Here we go round the mulberry bush."

"If the person you are talking to doesn't appear to be listening, be patient. It may simply be that he has a small piece of fluff in his ear."

"You can't help respecting anybody who can spell TUESDAY, even if he doesn't spell it right; but spelling isn't everything. There are days when spelling Tuesday simply doesn't count."

"One of the advantages of being disorganized is that one is always having surprising discoveries."

It's snowing still," said Eeyore gloomily.
"So it is."
"And freezing."
"Is it?"
"Yes," said Eeyore. "However," he said, brightening up a little, "we haven't had an earthquake lately."

"Always are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think."

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

All quotes found here

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sara's Shoe Drive Update

Here is an update on Sara's Shoe Drive, a story I posted in January.

The Shoe People

I'm so disappointed that I don't have a picture of our hospital's clothing closet to post but I keep forgetting to take my camera to work. Suffice it to say, it is bursting at the seams! We went from not having enough to meet the needs, to enough to meet every need, to enough to provide for those with only one set of clothing to enough to....take a cart to the units and offer trade-ins for people who just need something newer or nicer or better fitting!! We are able to provide 2 or 3 complete changes of clothing to people going to shelters and group homes! I wish I had adequate words to express this miracle born of your generosity and love. Packages and monetary donations from all over the United States have found their way to Kingswood and your story has been shared at the highest levels of the Henry Ford administration. We have a local girl scout troop who comes once a month to organize our clothing closet and this month they said they couldn't do it anymore because there isn't enough room for all of the clothes and shoes.

(You can read the rest of the story here)

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Saddler's Legacy by Rosslyn Elliott

I've just completed Rosslyn Elliott's book series, The Saddler's Legacy. The two volumes, Fairer Than Morning and Sweeter Than Birdsong, tell the story of the Hanbys, an actual 19th century family in Ohio.

In Fairer Than Morning we meet Ann Miller, the eldest daughter of Samuel Miller, itinerate preacher and saddle maker. We also meet Will Hanby, an orphaned teen who has signed on as an apprentice to another saddler, Master Good. As we get to know them we are confronted with both evil and beauty in the pages of this story.

With great attention to historical detail, Elliott weaves a story that is full of action, justice and grace. It is beautifully written, drawing the reader into the hearts of the characters and setting us down in a time so well described that we feel we are watching the action unfold with our own eyes.

The Hanby family saga continues in Sweeter Than Birdsong, with Ben, son of Will Hanby, filled with an urgency to help slaves find their way to freedom. He is particularly intent on finding Nellie Gray, the wife of a slave whom he had watched die several years earlier. Ben is equally intent on winning the heart of Kate Winter, a painfully shy,beautiful young woman with an exquisite voice. Through this equally well-written book we get a glimpse into the issue of slavery and how it threatened to divide our nation.

It was Kevin Austin, a modern day abolitionist with Not For Sale, who put me on to these books. Slavery, whether through injustice toward the apprentice that bound him to a cruel master or through men and women being owned by others, is clearly a major theme in both these books. As Kevin and others working to set people free in our day would tell you, slaveryis still a very real issue.

Throughout Sweeter Than Birdsong, Ben struggled to compose a song in honor of Nellie Gray. In real life, Ben Hanby published Darling Nellie Gray in 1856 and it became popular throughout the country, helping set the stage for abolition. I think you'll enjoy this video of Ben's song.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Is It Spring Yet?

Thursday, March 8, 2012, 8:57 a.m.
I have an early morning errand in Mt Vernon today. I am driving north on I-5 before the sun has crested the foothills. The way the clouds lay in the sky reminds me of a Japanese rock garden, recently raked. Smoke circles from the chimneys of distant farm houses, creating a delicate haze that settles on the rooflines. Horses graze on dewy grass; tiny grape buds in the vineyards along the freeway await the sun's warmth.

A dusting of snow lingers on the hills. Perhaps it will vanish in today's full sun. Mount Baker hides behind the ridge and can only be seen from one spot along the freeway, where the hills part. My eyes are drawn again and again to the northeast, waiting for Baker to come into view. Today clouds hang low around the top of the mountain, obscuring its peak.

On my return trip half an hour later, the clouds have completely swallowed the mountain. By now, the sun has fully appeared in the sky, its brightness having washed over the landscape, stealing the glisten of the early morning. It is still beautiful, but the wonder inside me has subsided.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012, 8:57 a.m.
My feet are cold; my hands are cold. Snow covers the yard and is heavy on the car. The clouds are swollen with precipitation, even after the bucketsful that they dumped on us all day yesterday.

Just walking to the mailbox required rain gear. The storm drain could not begin to handle the volume of water that was rushing toward it. And the river seemed near capacity the last time I drove past it. Yesterday I wondered if schools would be closed today because of floods.

They are closed, alright, but it is because of snow.

* * * * * * * 

Of all the seasons, surely Spring is the overcomer. The tenacious lion of Winter, unwilling to give up his rule, seems too mighty for the sweet Spring lamb. But Spring belongs to the lamb and, no matter how he roars, Winter must step aside. Out of the way, then, be gone with you! Persevere, little lamb. Your time is fast approaching.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Dinner at the Ocean View Restaurant

A group of 40-year-old girlfriends discussed where they should meet for dinner.  Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the waiters there were well-built and good looking.

Ten years later, as 50-year olds, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner.  Finally it was decided that they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the food was good and the wine selection was good also.

Ten years later, as 60-year-olds, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner.  It was decided that they would meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because it wasn't noisy and it had a beautiful view of the ocean.

Ten years later, as 70-year-olds, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner.  Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because the restaurant was 
wheelchair accessible and they even had an elevator.

Ten years later as 80-year-olds, the group once again discussed where they should meet for dinner.  Finally it was agreed that they should meet at the Ocean View Restaurant because they had never been there before.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Hymn of the Month -- Jesus, Lover of My Soul

I was looking for a hymn on YouTube recently, I think it was Jesus I Am Resting, Resting, but I could not find the tune that was familiar to me. All the songs posted were sung to a newer tune. It was a fine tune, but it wasn't the tune I wanted. As I was grumbling to myself about how many of the good old hymns have been set to more contemporary music, it occurred to me that the tunes I grew up on are not necessarily the original tunes. I've been singing modernized tunes, although they may be 300 years old! Maybe I shouldn't get so worked up about people setting the wonderful old hymns of the church to newer, more contemporary music.

I received an e-mail from my friend Jerry Piger, a pianist and former music professor at Seattle Pacific University. He shared some thoughts on hymns, hymn tunes, and John and Charles Wesley:

"I enjoyed your comments on John Wesley. In my own research I found that Wesley was very concerned about changes being made to his brother's fine lyrics. John made sure the theology was sound before he gave his "okay" to the hymn. John issued the statements that were in your last blog about not changing anything because there were unscrupulous men back then (no copyright laws) who had no compunctions about ripping off intellectual material.

"One of the funnier stories about John was when Charles presented him with Jesus, Lover of My Soul. John was shocked at this kind of thinking because of the common use of the word, lover. After thinking it through, however, John came around and decided that Jesus is indeed the Lover of our souls.

"John, to his dying day, and he lived most of the 18th Century, hated the tunes that were given to his brother's fine hymn lyrics. It wasn't until the Oxford Movement that gave us the marriage of the old lyrics to the melodies that we associate with them. Of course, the Oxford movement was much more than that, but giving the church some great tunes was one thing they accomplished.

"...There are some great differences in opinions regarding the tunes. The British, to this day, think we are nuts reserving one tune for one hymn (lyrics). As long as the meter is the same, the English sing many different tunes to the same hymn. In fact, I have seen "split" hymn books from England that allows the alignment of any hymn to any tune. And, by the way, the English own their own hymn books along with their Bibles. They bring both (or at least they did in the past) to church."

Here are several versions of Jesus, Lover of My Soul. Three of the tunes are from the 1800s. Aled Jones' rendition is sung to the Aberystwyth tune by Joseph Parry, (1879).  The Refuge tune, circa 1865, and the Martyn tune from 1834 are the two tunes on the second video featuring the South African Mass Male Choir.  There are two other videos, both new tunes. One is by the group Indelible Grace and the other by a Dutch woman, Judith Sportel.

Which do you like best? What do you think of old tunes in new settings? Do you have any you'd like to share?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

How to Tie Your Shoes

If you find that your shoes won't stay tied, listen to a simple technique that could make the difference for you. Even if you only wear slip-ons, you'll find this video entertaining!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Colors of Africa

Early on in Tanya Shaffer's story, The Girl Who Drank Petrol*, is a rather long descriptive paragraph that tells why she loves Accra, Ghana. She describes the pulse of the city, the diverse buildings, the way the people dress, the women's elaborate hair styles.

What most caught my imagination was this description, buried in the middle of the paragraph:

And the colors! Brilliant shades of orange and red, turquoise and lilac, fuchsia and teal. The African fabrics would make a flamingo look drab. The prohibitions against combining reds and pinks or circles and stripes were absent here. Fabrics of every description lived side by side in delirious dissonance, a dizzying visual feast.

In just four months I'll be able to experience Africa's colors for myself!

*from Best Travel Writing 2007: True Stories from Around the World, p. 103

Friday, March 2, 2012

Reading List

I've heard several recommendations for books lately that I am putting on my reading list. Since I haven't read them myself, I can't give you my take on them, but they might be books you'd like to look in to.

Loving the Way Jesus Does by Phillip Ryken
According to blogger Trevin Wax, "Phil Ryken takes readers through “the love chapter” (1 Cor. 13: “Love is patient, love is kind …”) and illustrates it with snapshots from the life and ministry of Jesus. Ryken’s reflections are profound, his stories engaging, his quotes well chosen, and his exegesis accessible. Loving the Way Jesus Loves challenges our loveless attitudes and behaviors in light of the Savior who loved us “to the uttermost.”

Why Jesus?: Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality by Ravi Zacharias
I've hear Ravi sharing the truths that this book covers this week on his radio program, Just Thinking. With the mind of an apologist, the heart of a missionary, and the insight of a sage, he is able to divide between truth and falsehood and to teach with grace. I'm looking forward to reading this.

Lost Women of the Bible: Women We Thought We Knew by Carolyn Custis James
I am actually in the middle of this book and finding it to be a challenging and wonderful study. Here's the book description from Amazon: "You know the women of the Bible, but you don't know them like this... It's easy for Christian women---young and old---to get lost between the opportunities and demands of the present and the biblical teachings of the past. They live in a confusing world, caught in the crossfire between church and culture. Although home and family still remain central, more women than ever, by choice or by necessity, are blending home, career, and ministry. They need strong biblical role models to help them meet these challenges. Building on solid scholarship and a determination to wrestle honestly with perplexing questions, author Carolyn Custis James sheds new light on ancient stories that brings the women of the Bible into the twenty-first century. This fresh look at the women in the Bible unearths surprising new insights and a powerful message that will leave readers feeling challenged, encouraged, and deeply valued. Rediscover and be inspired by: * Eve * Sarah * Hagar * Tamar * Hannah * Esther * Mary * and others"

Sweeter Than Birdsong by Rosslyn Elliott
One more that I have on hold and look forward to reading, it was recommended by Kevin Austin who is a modern day abolitionist. It is a novel set in Ohio in 1855 and is about a young woman with a beautiful voice and a man with a passion to rescue slaves through the Underground Railroad.