For the past three weeks, Lon Allison, Executive Director of the Billy Graham Center has been guest speaker at Wheaton Bible.

I first heard Dr. Allison last year and found him a captivating speaker. He talks in an infomal way as if he’s simply chatting with you, he can be funny (not silly) and often breaks into song (Oklahoma! the first week) yet you learn so much from what he says. His perspectives and historical research are fascinating.

This series has been on The Prodigal Son – one sermon that lasted three weeks.  I heard him the first week and today and I’m waiting for sermon #2 to be online.

The first week was about the father.

The second week was about the younger son.

Today was about the older son.

I thought about listing several points of his messages – but then thought – so much better for you to listen yourself – so here’s the link (It will be worth your while.)

And who at church this morning won’t remember the moment that someone’s ringing cellphone echoed throughout the massive auditorium? Dr. Allison paused in his message, his eyes got wide with wonderment and he said, “Every time a cellphone rings, an angel in heaven gets his wings.”


When I was working to complete my list of 500 literary classics (otherwise known as the Carp 500), I often listened to books on tape or CDs, but since I’ve completed the list, I haven’t found all that many books on CDs that I care about.

However, last week as I wandered through the library, I was thunderstruck to find the book Thunderstruck by Erik Larsen. If you aren’t familiar with the book or the author, Mr. Larsen also wrote The Devil in White City about the Chicago’s World Fair. a book that has accumulated a lot of fame and interest and which they’re attempting to get made into a movie but which has never happened. Anyhow,  I actually have the book Thunderstruck in my house, but hadn

‘t gotten around to reading it – though I wanted to. So finding it on CD was exciting – I like listening to books in the car.

The book is two true accounts in one.

1. The story of Doctor Hawley Harvey Crippen, a mousy man who married way over his station (can you marry way over a station?) a vivacious lady who aspired to be a famous opera singer. Larsen takes us through their many moves and Crippens many jobs in the field of homeopathy as he duped people into buying potions that did nothing, but promised a lot.  As Belle (the wife) became more and more caught up in spending Doctor Crippen’s money on fancy dresses and lavish parties, he became less and less enchanted – finally desiring to get rid of her and run off with his young secretary. Being that he was somewhat a doctor – he knew just the method to use to finalize that disappearance.

Right on the edge of America.

2. Meanwhile young Guglielmo Marconi worked tirelessly on perfecting wireless communication. A young Italian, he went to London and made connections there. Step by step he developed technology that enabled him to send signals greater distances. His dream – to send a signal across the Atlantic Ocean. To do so, he needs to build two massive towers.  The first, of course, in Europe and the second in the US.

Right now, I am at the part of the book where he has purchased eight acres of Cape Cod seashore which was then very cheap, but would now cost you millions. He bought it from a man who searched for abandoned shipwrecked boats….

What does the doctor have to do with Marconi?  As Crippen and his girlfriend tried to escape on a transatlantic voyage –  the ship’s captain figured out who they were. No one told the fugitive couple – but what they had for breakfast, how they spent their leisure time, etc. (kind of like the first FaceBook statuses) went out to the whole world (via Marconi’s new invention) as they sailed not to freedom, but to capture.  I would highly recommend this book both for its historical value and its intrigue.

As I am listening to this, I am picturing it – because the memorial to Marconi’s station is now part of the Cape Cod National Seashore – (Incidentally, the crookedness and ragged edges of these pictures are not part of the scenery, nor were they taken on an angle. This is because they were glued onto a scrapbook page.)

Not exactly sure what this is, but because I took the picture, I'm thinking it is probably one of the orginal pieces of the station.
On the fence, in the rain, at the Marconi station. (Kelli was a freshman, Jeff in eighth grade and Cousin Heather in fifth or sixth).
Here's a picture I took of the model of Marconi's station. The day was drizzly and my camera was not doing too well through the glass.


Last Friday night I was enjoying pizza with some friends and we were talking about FaceBook and they asked me why I liked it.

My quick answer was that you don’t use FaceBook to talk to people you see all the time unless you’re commenting on their status or pictures or something – and that although I do check it out a lot, I don’t stay on it for a long time. I explained how it was a news feed – but all the news was about your friends etc. etc.

But Sunday I made a connection that expressed the real reason why I’m a FaceBook fan.

Those of you who have known me, know how much I enjoy working with high school kids.

I started teaching high school kids back in Des Plaines when I was only a few years older than my students — and it continued up to the time we moved here. I still display the plaque in my office that three senior boys bought and presented to me on our last Sunday in Racine.

I laughed with those kids. (The same said three boys would ALWAYS answer any question about their favorite verse with Proverbs 21:9.)

I cried with them. (I remember the day two of the girls went with me to visit a friend who was in the hospital with a serious, but undiagnosed disease.)

I remember the day one won a national award and when another trusted Christ as Savior. I watched them play ball, act in school plays and show pigs at the county fair.

And although I’ve been in contact with many of these kids – others are now popping up on FaceBook.

Last Sunday I heard from one more – one I haven’t heard from for a couple decades. How enjoyable to once again be back in touch with this girl who at one time was part of our daily lives.

And that’s the reason why I like FaceBook.

Oh, yeah – that and WordTwist.


1. The movie Emma that they’re showing on Sunday nights on Masterpiece Theater is very enjoyable so far. Of course, I’m a Jane Austen fan (she came from the same area of England as my grandfather) and I’ve read all her books. If you missed it on TV – you can watch the first segment online.  Second part will be this coming Sunday.

2. In the last four years I’ve learned to do a lot of things I never thought I’d know how to do, but I think the sump pumps are going to do me in. The one works but ends with a thump so loud, the entire house shakes. The other one is temperamental, makes strange noises and needs to have the hose attached and unattached according to whim. I live in constant fear that something’s going to happen – I remember all too well the night we stayed up until dawn, emptying the tank with the shop vac – and saved our basement from the second biggest rainfall in U.S. history.

3. We’ve had good driving weather the past couple weeks – that’s great. The weather can be as cold as it wants to be as long as the roads are clear.

4. Moms and toddlers argue an average of 20 times an hour.  (So they say?????????)

5. Tomorrow I get to do some intense-focused writing on the word “respect” and how to teach kids respect for God.

6. Quote for the day – Stress cannot exist in the presence of pies. (David Mamet)

7. Random picture – Lake Louise, Banff, Canada. Because my mom’s name is Louise, my dad always said he wanted to take her to Lake Louise – considered one of the most beautiful lakes in the world. Alas, they didn’t get there – but I had heard so much about it from my parents, Ken and I decided to make the trip with out kids. We walked part of the way around the lake – and don’t let this peaceful picture full you –  the lake entrance patio was packed with people. And I remember everything was so expensive, we ended up ordering in a pizza to our motel room because even the groceries at the grocery store were sky-high. The pizza seemed the cheapest way to go for two adults and two young teens.


Anyone who knows me well, knows about the lemon meringue pie on annual meeting night.

I have no idea where I got the idea – but I know that I was doing it early in our pastoring life because I remember the question/answer session at the very first church where we candidated.  One of the men asked me what my role would be as a pastor’s wife.

“I’m the one who has the lemon meringue pie waiting after the annual meeting,” I answered.

And that’s what I did. All through the years. I never missed.

Several years ago, I blogged about the pie and Allison who is now the pastor’s wife at Northside (where Ken pastored for many, many years and where our kids grew up), read the post.

“Hmmmm,” she thought (ok, maybe I’m putting words into her mouth 🙂 ). “Jason likes lemon meringue pie. Maybe I should continue the tradition.”

So although, the pastor has changed, the tradition lives on.  And how cool is that!

Here is the pie (I copied it from her FaceBook page) all ready and waiting for Jason after tonight’s meeting.


So, I’m doing this E-book thing. No, not like an electronic e-book, but Bible books that start with E.

At the beginning of the year one of our executive directors at work did this 1000 challenge. He’s planning on running 1,000 miles, memorizing 1,000 verses and reading 1,000 chapters of the Bible.  He was planning to go back to the verses he already knows and learn the verse before and after them so he gets the verse in a clearer context – which is cool. But the one I decided to do myself is the 1000 Bible chapters. (I’m not even thinking about the running challenge.)

I made my own rules.

1. I could read the books in any order I wanted.

2. I could not go on to the next chapter until I had at least an over all idea of what the first chapter meant.

3. I would write down what I gleaned from each chapter in my super, cool notebook my daughter bought me for Christmas.

I started with Ecclesiastes and then went to Esther. Both fairly easy reads although I did have some new verses pop out at me that I hadn’t noticed before.  I had taught both books rather extensively to high school kids, so I was familiar with them.  Then, realizing that I had read two E books, I headed over to Ezekiel.

Whoa … I slowed down quite a bit. Just about every chapter required equal reading from a commentary so it’s been slow going.

So, when I got to chapter 20, I decided to take a break and went back to Ezra.

Oh, you gotta love Ezra. If there was ever  book that proves that there’s nothing new under the sun. This is it.

1. The whole disorganization thing. When the families were getting ready to go back to Jerusalem, they needed their papers. (Think birth certificates, etc.) But there were some families who searched and searched, but couldn’t find them. (You ever lose an important paper?)  These papers were so important that these men were not allowed to take part in the priesthood as they were originally supposed to do.

2. The whole building permit thing. Many people did not want the temple rebuilt and one of the ways they tried to stop it was by asking for a building permit. Letters and memos went back and forth between the kings and the officials and Ezra’s construction crew. Much of Ezra is a replication of these memos/letters.  While all this was happening, the Jews kept building, but finally King Artaxerxes’ letter got to them and the work had to stop until Darius became king. (Anyone ever been on a building committee and get delayed because you didn’t have the right forms?)

3. The whole counselor thing. OK, I knew this was serious business and I understand the importance of Ezra’s mission, but when the enemies were having a difficult time getting work to stop – they sent in counselors to frustrate the people. I had to smile.  Back then? Counselors to mess things up?  Can’t you imagine the scribbled messages on rocks around town?  “Are you tired of being a religious fanatic?” “Do you want freedom from dusty days in the sun?”  “For only 10 shekels, we will get to the bottom of your problem.”

(Just an interesting sidenote – Esther takes place around chapters 6-8 of Exra.)

I don’t know. Just something so human, so contemporary about it all.

I’m glad Ezra perservered.

Back to Ezekiel.


This post actually begins 12 or 13 years ago. Not sure exactly how many.

I was in Nashville for the EPA Convention. I roomed with Karen and we had an exceptionally cool corner room, glassed on two sides – overlooking one of the busiest downtown intersections. During the day we learned about publishing and at night we sat on the windowsill and discussed our upbringings as PKs – and waited for our husbands to call. Nate would call from home, but Ken was in Kansas City with Don Scharbert attending a church technology conference during the day – and at night, searching out the best Kansas City steak place within a 100-mile radius. Sometimes when Ken called, they would’ve just come from “the greatest steak ever” or sometimes they were still on their way to “the greatest steak”.  And one night, they were lost the entire 30 minutes I talked to them. Ken would start a sentence and then stop and say, “No, Donald – not THAT way!” They had me laughing so hard, I was crying.

But the steak place that made the biggest impression on Ken was Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse.

“I’ve got to take you there sometime,” Ken told me.

Well, about two years later at Christmas, we saw our opportunity. We had enough Hampton Inn Points to stay for a night in the city – and the Hampton Inn was connected to a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. Perfect. We had had a hard fall and this seemed like a good break. We could enjoy dinner and look at the Christmas lights. We made the reservations and everything was planned.

And then I got strep throat.

So much for that little getaway.

“I’ve got to take you to a Ruth’s Chris Steak House,” Ken said. “We’ll get there. I promise.”

But months went by and then years went by and …

Alas, we didn’t get there.

Then, within this past year, a new Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse opened close to work. I said I wanted to go sometime and Jenny said she’d go with me. We literally planned to go about six or seven times and stuff just kept happening. I began to think I was destined to never get there.

Once again we planned to go – yesterday. Then we heard there was freezing rain still we decided to risk it.

Now, let me say right here – Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse is not cheap. Yet there are dozens and dozens of reviews on the web proclaiming it is the best steak ever and that everyone has to go to Ruth’s Chris at least once in their life time.

And if you order the steak – well, that’s ALL you get except for a loaf of bread. So Jenny and I both ordered the petite filet and asparagus (which is $9.00 extra). Then our server told us that we would have enough asparagus for two servings, so she suggested we order another side in place of one of the asparagus orders. She suggested the au gratin potatoes.

The seared steak is seasoned only with salt and pepper. (The good taste, our server claimed, comes from the high quality of beef.)  The steaks are then topped with butter and served on plates that are heated to 500 degrees – so it’s good NOT to touch them. The butter on the hot plates makes the steaks sizzle as they are placed in front of you.

Yes, the steak was excellent.

As were the asparagus and the au gratin potatoes.

I savored every bite.