Friday, February 29, 2008

The Liberal Media Rules!

My job is so great. Yesterday I was taking a ride on the McCain train and following the "Straight Talk Express." Today I was part of "Change We Can Believe In" where you can Barack the Vote. Apparently I'm a flip-flop-er.

One of the really great things about working in radio is how it allows us to share perspectives from normal, everyday people.

Every once in a while my network will do profile pieces on famous fictional characters. (A few weeks ago they profiled Darth Vader.) This week, a reporter profiled the infamously corrupt evangelist Elmer Gantry. I listened to the piece, wondering how the reporter would address the themes of sin, hypocrisy, faith and redemption. I literally cheered out loud when I heard who he interviewed for the piece - a group of students at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville.

The students ran with the opportunity to share the gospel! Christ's sacrifice and salvation was made known to millions of people through this one little story. I highly recommend you listen to the whole piece.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Mixed Results

John McCain was in town again today. I covered the event. There are some good things about this and some bad things. We'll cover the bad news first.

Bad:
I had to get up way earlier than I'm used to.
I've only had one small cup of coffee.
I had to ride a huge bus with the words "Get on the McCain Train" written on the side.

Good:
A TV reporter told me I have a really cute haircut.
A PR guy fixed me up with that one small cup of coffee. No one else got any.
I had to ride a huge bus with the words "Get on the McCain Train" written on the side.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lessons in Humility

This morning I was sitting at the media table at City Hall, waiting for the council meeting to begin. They always start about 30 minutes late. I always arrive on time.

Another reporter showed up just before the meeting started. She saw me sitting there waiting and asked me if I show up on time every week, even though I know the meetings don't start until later. I replied in the affirmative. Her response was "you are a woman of integrity."

Wow.

I felt really honored by her remarks. I was proud that something as simple as showing up on time (even though I don't need to) reflected on my character. I was feeling pretty good about myself.

Toward the end of the meeting this reporter and I were having a conversation about her news organization. I made a couple of thoughtless, tactless and somewhat hypocritical remarks. I got back to the station and immediately emailed her an apology.

I couldn't help but notice the irony.
How quick I am to take credit for that which should be credited to Christ!
How quick Christ is to remind me of His grace and humble my pride!

'Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.' Proverbs 16:18

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Convertible Thoughts

Driving a convertible changes your perspective on life. Your commute becomes a happy time instead of a chore. Trips to the grocery store are exciting. Sunday afternoons become an opportunity to 'go for a drive.' You see buildings you've never noticed before. You smell wonderful aromas: fresh-cut grass, backyard grills, coffee, Tex-Mex.
Life is mellow, sweet and pleasant.

Driving a convertible reminds me that it really is possible to buy happiness. I've been pondering how easy it is for people to ignore God or to think they simply don't need Him. External luxuries like a convertible prompt me to respond with praise to the Father of heavenly lights from Whom all good things are given. But think of all the people who have external luxuries and praise only themselves. And they are satisfied.

I am reminded of Luke 18:25. Don't look up the verse. Just read what's written below.
***
Luke 18:25
by Karsten Piper

He spread his blanket on the sand,
kneeled and arranged his bowls and tools:
hook, mallet, clamp, chisel, rasp, razor.

His smile glinted in the rongeur's claws,
and upside down in the curette's spoon.
Light shone out of the needle's eye.

"Hoosh," he said, and began plucking hairs,
paring calluses, shearing wool, shaving
to the follicles, cutting to the quick.

He sorted these, trimming skin with skin,
hair with hair, into rows of clay bowls,
and set a large basin to catch each sour drip

as he sliced the hide and used both fists
to yank back the whole stubbled, gray pelt,
as wet and red on its underside as afterbirth.

He piled this heavily away, draping it
in clean linen, and turned to the meat and bone
heaving under sheer, tight membrane.

Sawtooth chewed into femur, rib and shoulder.
Pliers twisted and wrenched away tendons
until everything softened, canted and collapsed--

yet not one sliver dies. Each ribbon and shard
bawls for the horror and hurt of their missing,
wishing for the old braying wholeness.

Pain bloodies evening and morning,
stabbing day after day from even the first cuts,
like the slow light of far stars.

Eyeballs and heart float alone in the last bowl,
dark and defenseless, quavering when he leans down
and they recognize in his eyes how little is left.

"Easy now, Camel," he says and lifts me
in his fingertips, one quivering strand at a time,
through the eye of the needle.


Friday, February 22, 2008

Rending my garments

My hard drive failed at 10:04 this morning. It's now 2:59 and my computer is still not functional. I haven't even started on my story. My deadline is in 2 1/2 hours.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

A-Z: B is for Bostini


I'm finally back on track with my Baking Challenge. It's been a long time since I started with Apple Pie Cupcakes. I want to challenge myself on the variety and difficulty of the desserts I make. So for my 'B' dessert, I made Bostinis. They're a take on the classic Boston Cream Pie, but much more difficult. Oh, and the recipe is appalling. It's a good thing you're only eating a small portion because no part of this is good for you. All the elements turned out well, but it made way more than the stated 8 servings. I had a lot of leftover chiffon cake and quite a bit of custard. If you care to recreate Bostinis on your own, I provide you with the recipe. You may faint after reading it. There's enough cream and eggs in it to start your own dairy.

Bostinis
Custard:
3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 Tbl cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1/2 cup + 1 Tbl sugar

Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl, blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it (this prevents the eggs from cooking when you add the hot cream). Whisk all the egg mixture back into the cream. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into small custard cups or dessert dishes. Chill until ready to assemble.
Chiffon Cake:
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup superfine (caster) sugar
1 1/3 tsp baking powder
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3-4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 Tbl grated orange zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325. Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray. You may also use custard cups or small molds. Sift the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the whites into the cake batter. Pour the batter into the pan or molds. Bake 25 minutes, until the cake bounces back when lightly pressed. Do not overbake. Place pans on wire rack to cool completely. Remove cake from pans, cover to keep moist until ready to assemble.
Chocolate Glaze:
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate
2 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 stick unsalted butter

Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter into a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir until melted and smooth. Keep warm until ready to assemble.
To assemble:
Cut cake into rounds the same size as the custard cups. Place a round of cake flat side up on top of the custard in each dish. Pour warm chocolate glaze on top. Serve immediately.

As you can see in the photo, I used champagne flutes to serve the Bostinis. It was the perfect serving size, but makes it a little more difficult to assemble.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

We Like the Moon!

There's a full lunar eclipse tonight. If you live in this area, you should be able to view the entire eclipse. It starts around 7:45pm and will be totally eclipsed by 9pm. The entire event will be over by about 11:10pm.



By the way, this will be the last total lunar eclipse until 2010.

Just a little reminder from your friendly neighborhood reporter.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If you had eyes like golden crowns
and diamonds in your fingertips
you'd waste it.


If shining wisdom passed your lips
and traveled to the ears of God
you'd waste it.



So I hate that you're overrated,
most revered and celebrated
because you're wasted.



And every time you close a door
and nothing opens in its place
you've wasted.


And when you speak the words you know
to those who know the words themselves
you've wasted.



Such a classic waste of cool!
So afraid to break the rules
in all the wrong places.


~Brandi Carlile

Monday, February 18, 2008

Supporting the right candidate

Former President George Bush endorsed John McCain this morning. I covered the event. So in the spirit of the day, I would like to offer my own endorsement.
Today I announce my support of bareMinerals make-up.

I believe bareMinerals is the right choice for all those who uphold the values and ideals of make-up. There are some who will say bareMinerals is too costly. Others say it can't get the job done. But I'm here to tell you that bareMinerals is competent, qualified and affordable enough to be the cosmetic of choice in make-up bags across America.

I have known bareMinerals for some time now and I believe in the integrity and honesty of this candidate. I ask you to join me in my support.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

He answers the phone. But he doesn't actually talk.

For those of you who were exhausted or depressed by the lack of humor in the last post, I present this sacrificial offering. Watch all the way to the end. You won't be disappointed.


Total Depravity: Embrace It

If you're here on the QQ looking for something funny to lighten your day...well today is not the day for you. This will be a serious and even weighty topic. But I encourage you to stick around and read it anyway.

A couple of weeks ago, my pastor preached a sermon on Calvinism. I'm not here to dissect his thoughts and points. I bring it up because his sermon challenged me to examine why I believe what I believe. I hope that you regularly take the time to do so yourself. No matter where you stand on theology or belief in God, take some time to test your own heart and ask yourself if what you believe is true. I pray if you're reading this and you don't know what you believe, that God would reveal His truth to you and call you into a relationship with Jesus Christ. And if you think that sounds crazy, I challenge you to keep reading the rest of this post. You ain't seen crazy yet. ;)

I came across this breakdown of the concept of Total Depravity. I think it's one of the most accessible explanations I've come across. I'm including it here and hope you'll take the time to read it.

The Westminster confession states the doctrine of total depravity in these terms: "Man, by his fall into a state of sin, hath wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation; so as a natural man, being altogether averse from that good, and dead in sin, is not able, by his own strength, to convert himself, or to prepare himself thereunto" (Chap. IX, sect. iii).
Every element of that statement is crucial. Note exactly what kind of inability is described here. It is not an inability to do good things. It is an inability for "any spiritual good accompanying salvation." In other words, sinners have no ability to do spiritual good that merits God's favor or forgiveness. They are completely antagonistic to real righteousness. They are hopelessly in thrall to sin. They cannot save themselves or even make themselves fit for God's salvation. They have no appetite for spiritual truth, no ability to understand it. Therefore, they cannot possibly believe the truth or appropriate salvation for themselves by any means.
In John 8:44, Jesus told the Pharisees, "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father." Their desires were corrupt, and it was a corruption that emanated from the nucleus of their very nature. Jesus said they were like the devil. He went on to say, "[The Devil] does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father of lies."
The implication is, You are in the same boat. He was telling those Pharisees, in effect, It is your nature to be evil. There is no way you could do otherwise. There is no way you can make yourself other than what you are. "Can the Ethiopian change his skin Or the leopard his spots? Then you also can do good who are accustomed to doing evil" (Jeremiah 13:23).
At this point, some readers will ask, "If this is so—if we are sinful by nature, totally unable to be any other way—how can a just God hold us responsible for that? It wouldn't be fair to command a paraplegic to run a marathon and then punish him because he was unable, would it?
But our inability isn't the inability of a paraplegic; it is an inability of the will. Our inability does not arise from a lack of physical, rational, or cognitive faculties. It arises from a wrong moral inclination—a will that is firmly set against the truth and has no inclination to will otherwise.
All our faculties—our minds, emotions, and wills—work just fine. That is, we can think and act and choose freely according to whatever our own desires and motives are. But that is precisely the problem: our desires and motives are the very thing sin has corrupted. Our desires are defective. So the will itself is therefore bent against righteousness. Our corruption is therefore a willful depravity. It is a moral defect, not the kind of inability that keeps a paraplegic from running a race.
Depravity inclines the will of a fallen sinner to love sin, so that God's righteousness becomes morally repugnant. The sinner is left unable to love Him, unable to choose obedience to His law. It is a moral defect, and therefore the sinner himself is morally culpable.
But isn't the human will free? In one sense it is, but in the sense normally meant by people who tend to make the most liberal use the expression "free will," the will is not free. It's in bondage to sin.
Our will is free to choose according to our desires, but it is not free to determine those desires. The will is free in the sense that our choices are not forced upon us or compelled by external pressure. But our will is not "free" in the sense of being sovereign over our moral nature. We cannot by an act of will change our character for the better. That is the whole point of Jeremiah 13:23: The sinner has exactly as much ability to turn his own heart to do good as a cheetah has to will his spots away.
In other words, depravity corrupts our heart and perverts all our appetites. It so inclines our nature that we love sin. Evil desires therefore govern the choices we make. Since we make those choices freely and with great delight, we are guilty for them.
So our inability is no excuse for our sinfulness. It is precisely the opposite. It is the very reason we are condemned. Sin flows from the very core of our souls. The heart of who we are is evil. We are "by nature children of wrath" (Ephesians 2:3). That is why we do evil things. Jesus said, "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man" (Mark 7:21-23).
In other words, we are not sinners because we sin; we sin because we are sinners. We were born sinful, and all our acts of sin proceed from that.

Written by Phil Johnson

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Ridiculous

A few weeks ago I blogged about the fact that my credit card was compromised. The card company closed my account and issued a new account. They promised to mail me a new card and said it would arrive in a few days.

Well a couple weeks ago I received the new card. It was in an open, unsealed envelope. Needless to say, I was immediately concerned about the security of my new account. I knew it was probably just an accident that the envelope was unsealed. But anyone could have looked inside and written down the number on my new card.

So I called the credit card company and asked them to close the account. They told me they didn't want to lose my business. They asked me if they could issue a new card and UPS it directly to my office. I agreed.

The UPS package arrived at my office this week. The envelope was half-way torn open.
I give up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

More Premonitions

I ran some errands last night. I needed a new pair of black heels for work. I also needed a new bra. Normally I would shop for these items at a department store or a specialty store. But I was in a hurry and somewhat broke, so I went to Target. While I was browsing through the lingerie section, carrying an assortment of bras, I thought "I sure hope I don't run into anyone I know."

You see what's coming next, don't ya?

Sure enough, I turned the corner and there was a girl I am slightly acquainted with.
At least it wasn't a guy.
I pretended I didn't see her and kept on walking.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Friday Night Car Wash

Funny things happen in the big city. For instance, imagine that you're having dinner with friends. After dinner, you all decide to go around the corner to the Dessert Gallery and have some cake (and eat it, too). Then imagine that you and all your friends are leaving, and you turn the corner to go to your car and you find out it has been sitting under a geyser of water for quite some time.

video

I apologize for the sideways video. I don't know how to turn it.
And yes, this really did happen to us.
And yes, my roommate's car was reeaaallly clean afterward.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Thoughts

Driving a convertible is a lot of fun.
Suffering from allergies is not.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Going Topless

Me in my little shiny, red topless number.

Isn't it cute? (That's for Tom.)

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Laurie Johnson is calling

I got a real ego boost today. A friend of mine works in the Texas Medical Center as a public information officer. For those of you not familiar with the lingo, that means her job is to make sure the right information about the organization is distributed to the public. A big part of her job is dealing with the media and responding to requests for information, interviews etc.

Every so often all the PIOs in the Texas Medical Center get together and perform disaster preparedness drills. They make up different emergency scenarios and then go through the response steps.

They had one of those drills this week. They were responding to a mock emergency and part of the scenario (I kid you not) was "Reporter Laurie Johnson is calling, asking for information and an update on this emergency. What are you going to tell her?"

That's right. I was used as an example in the TMC disaster preparedness drill. Of all the reporters in the city, they picked me.
I have arrived.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Going for the Gold

That guy with the incredible muscles is Raj Bhavsar. He's from Houston and is competing to make it into the summer Olympics. I met him and two other candidates for the U.S. Men's Olympic Gymnastics Team today. I also met legendary Gymnastics Coach Bela Karolyi.

I love my job.

I walked into the gym and saw the guys practicing on the parallel bars, the pommel horse and the still rings.
With their shirts off.
Note to self: Memorize scriptures about dealing with lust.

These guys are seriously in shape.
And about as tall as I am.
There's always a catch.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Today is the day!

I'm getting my Mini Cooper today! Heading off to San Antonio in about an hour to pick it up. I dyed my hair red in honor of the occasion.

Okay, really I just dyed my hair red because I felt like it. It would be kinda weird if I dyed my hair red to match my car. I mean, if you've done that it's cool and all. Weird, but whatever.

So...yeah.