Thursday, February 26, 2009

an outrageously long plug for The Last Emperor at The High Museum

Carla and crew recently went to view the King Tut exhibit currently on display at the Atlanta Civic Center. The display contains a few actual artifacts from the Kings tomb. Carla commented on the fact that most all the artifacts were elaborate provisions for the afterlife, from food to model boats that mysteriously became life-sized in the other world. Also in the tomb were Shabtis, carvings of people who were to be the Kings servants in the afterlife. According to an article I found through the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, “By the late New Kingdom (ca. 1185 B.C.), a well-equipped tomb had 365 shabti-figures, one for every day of the year, and 36 overseers carrying whips to make sure the work was done. Records indicate that people bought shabtis from temple workshops”. Evidently, whole villages were “given over” to tomb building. “Everyone recognizes the almost superhuman task of constructing the Pyramids, the lives sacrificed in their construction, and the agonizing slavery that made this corner of history so indelible and continuously fascinating. As exotic and elaborate as they are, the fact that they hold the dead also plays a role in casting their timeless spell” ( Even children’s games focused on being favored by the gods and determining ones fate in the afterlife. Tonight, I am going to the High Museum of Art to see an exhibit The Last Emperor: China’s Terracotta Army.
The famed terracotta army was initially discovered in 1974. In recent years, ongoing excavations have revealed that the army stood guard over a vast underground palace of far greater complexity than was previously assumed. The exhibitions will present both iconic and recently discovered examples including warriors from the terracotta army, court officials, acrobats, musicians, terracotta chariot horses, and bronze water birds discovered beside the complex's underground river.
These life-sized terracotta figures populated the underground tomb complex just as they would have been integral to the activities of the First Emperor's actual court. With so many figures on view, visitors will be able to see how each assumes a distinct role. For the soldiers, differences in armor detailing and hair style denote military rank. Some stand while others kneel, frozen in the poses of infantrymen, generals, and archers in action. For the civilian figures, identities are revealed by stature, costume, and stance: the heavy belly of the strongman, the lithe pose of the acrobat, and the small frame of the robed stable boy disclose a carefully orchestrated court life in which each person served a distinct purpose.
Further, all figures are individualized with a distinctive facial appearance. Close to 1,000 figures have been excavated from the tomb, and it is estimated that a total of 7,000 may ultimately be unearthed. No two terracotta figures are identical, testifying to a remarkable feat of organized production. The First Emperor will present the objects within their historical and archaeological contexts and will discuss recent research and excavation. In doing so, the exhibition also presents a reassessment of the First Emperor himself, a crucial figure in Chinese history. It was through his military conquest that what we now know as China was unified in 221 B.C. Equally important to the empire were his governmental and cultural achievements, which include the establishment of a centralized bureaucracy, a unified law code, standardized coinage and script, and the building of the Great Wall. The objects on view in The First Emperor are at once a representation of the military and civilian worlds he created, and a demonstration of his desire to exert equal control over his afterlife.
Talk about a need for a Savior! I am so glad He came! So that this is not the norm and we don't have to go to great lengths to save ourselves. We just need faith.
This was 221 B.C., King Tut lived around 1341 BC – 1323 BC. Before Jesus, before Jesus, before Jesus.
Growing up in the Bible Belt to a Christian family, in my earliest memories of myself, I am dressed in a frilly dress, with frilly socks, patent leather Mary Jane’s, standing in the middle of the aisle, on scratchy red carpet in the Hartwell Pentecostal Holiness Church, arms raised, bent at the elbow swaying them in sync with the pastor’s wife as the church belted out, “When The Roll Is Called Up Yonder”.
I knew I would be there. I didn’t even know what Jesus did for me, didn’t truly know who He was, didn’t understand His Word, had no comprehension of the crucifixion, but I knew I would be there. I had an idea of what heaven looked like and I knew not to be sad when a loved one died because they were "walking streets of gold". I have never really contemplated what life would be like for me, or our society, if we did not have our faith in God and the security of eternity. And according to The Washington Post, and the The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life which interviewed more than 36,000 adults in one of the largest polls of Americans' religious beliefs ever conducted, most Americans do believe. 92% of Americans believe in God. 80% think miracles occur. I have certainly come a long way since my frilly underwear days and now walk daily in both His crucifixion and resurrection, as I am dead to sin and alive in Him. I have even been to other countries that worship idols and are not of the Christian faith, but I have never lived long enough within their culture to fully comprehend any fear, panic, uneasiness, and preparation involved in a life ever after in an undetermined location that might potentially exist. I certainly, fully respect all cultures and love them and embrace them and want to learn from them. I love it that so many other cultures are centered around relationship and experience rather than time oriented as it is in our culture. I love everything about other cultures, their foods, their architecture, their history, everything. I always want to take something from them and make it a part of me so that I don’t become so completely Westernized. But I know that I know, that I know, that I know, that Jesus Christ in the answer to all life’s problems.

Just two seconds ago I used Google, which now suggests words for you as you type them in, to find a statistic on Bible sales and saw where searches containing the words, “The Holy Bible” yield about 8 million results, yet words containing “The Holiday” a Queen Latifah movie contain 28 million results. The search is far from scientific, but oddly support my argument. This may be less scientific than my Google search but an Emory professor, Dr. Luke Johnson estimates the Bible to have been printed over 5 billion times. It is further estimated that there are approximately 4 Bibles in every American household, suggesting that Bible publishers sell twenty-five million copies a year, according to The New Yorker.

Don Piper wrote a New York Times Bestseller describing his experience when he died in a car crash and was risen from the dead. He says, “It’s a place. It’s not a myth. It’s not a concept. It’s a real place”. The sources are endless. From the paintings we have seen of Akiane, to books from people who have had encounters in heaven, the message is out there and spreads easily. There is more “tangible” proof of heaven than ever before. Ancient Egyptians and Chinese could not turn on Oprah for a one hour interview with a man describing the afterlife and his encounter. They had no Bible, no Sunday Sermon, no Joel Osteen, no New York Times Best Sellers, no Zu Zu’s petals. They had simple word of mouth and vague sketches, yet they spent their entire life planning for this unknown.

We, being partakers of Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit, are fully aware of our eternity. We are comforted by the Holy Spirit, rest in His peace and through faith and encounters with God, know that we are going to heaven when we die. We stand daily in our Mary Jane’s singing of gold and jewels and life everlasting. So why then is our preparation for the afterlife as futile as the Egyptians and the Ancient Chinese? Why do we spend 99.9% of our life, not preparing for heaven? We are given glimpses of heaven in His Word and we have been given specific instructions on how to get there. Yet our obsession with materialism and accumulating "things" on this earth is no different than an obsession with carving a boat now to put in your casket so that you can island hop in Heaven. How many times have we heard, “you can’t take it with you”? What does Christ say about heaven and who inherits it? The meek, the poor in spirit. He even gives us a picture, of a rich man and a camel and the eye of a needle. I am not saying sell everything you have and give it to the poor, Jesus does, but this is not my argument. Neither is my argument that you should not have nice things. My argument is what is most important here on earth is often avoided and so much time is spent on accumulation of material wealth and possessions and so little on relationship with others, relationship with God and trusting in Him to provide. We often don’t even give Him a chance to prove Himself or show up in our lives. Being grounded in both our knowledge and reality of heaven, we should live a life diligently preparing for the afterlife, not by carving boats, or soldiers, but grafting ourselves into each other, and allowing Christ to graft us unto Him. Knowing that for relationship we were created and creation keeps growing through intimacy. You won’t need your Prada shoes for the streets of gold in Heaven and you can experience heaven here on earth when you have intimacy with those around you and the greatest Savior of all. The only thing I want to take with me is you!

Romans 11:17-24 If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in." Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Guess what?

You'd never guess it. Not in a million years. No, I am not pregnant. That's what Laura says every time after she asks me this question. And somehow the "guess what" is always exciting, but never quite as exciting as her being pregnant. So, sorry to disappoint, but...I am in a book! Well, kinda sorta in a book. My dear friend Sherri Lewis is a published author. We first met at church. She had announced to the congregation that she was writing and considering leaving her job as a DOCTOR to become a full time writer as that was her heart. She mentioned that she was writing a new book about a missionary who has been in Mozambique and is transitioning into life back in America and needed help. I was surprised. There are a lot of countries out there. And so many in Africa alone, the fact that she picked Moz and there I was standing there, and I had been there just months prior was more than just a quirk of fate. Not knowing her, I went up to her and offered to help her in any way that I could. I didn't feel like I could help her much with missionary life, but would certainly be able to describe climate, terrain and cultural aspects. A few days later, she came over and now I have a new best friend. This woman is amazing. She is so beautiful, so smart, so passionate, so wise and so much more. She gave me her book My Soul Cries Out and I read it in its entirety the following day. She writes about life and love and faith and friendship. I loved reading about these woman and their coming together and caring for one another and their tight bonds of friendship. I wanted friends like these, who know how to have a good time and are there for you through thick and thin. And guess what? I've got it! Sherri and her best friend Yvette have allowed me into the club and I am blessed beyond measure. But going back to my original "Guess What?" and this book. The book is almost finished and she emailed me a copy, I have only read the first chapter, but this missionary character is the main character of the book! And it makes me cry as I read it because she was really listening during our interview and she pulled from my stories and my heart and this character is ME! She has an Afro, but she is ME! I would totally have an Afro if my hair would do that. I am touched and honored and blessed and excited! Buy her books! They are great. And be on the look out for Selling My Soul.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Papa's Poem

I should probably save this for a special occasion, like Father's Day or Dad's birthday. But this for certain needs to be published, and somewhere more prominent than my little blog. Dr. Melton, retired professor at Emmanuel College once told me a story about my father. He actually told me this story every time he saw me and he would chuckle every time. So cute. He said Dad came to class one day with a snake. A homework project had been assigned, perhaps to write a speech or give a presentation. Young Carl, perhaps distracted by other things, forgot to do his homework. But being the clever lad that he was and is, he found a snake on the way to class and used it to stand before his teacher and make up clever, unique, some true, and some questionable, facts about the snake. He held his audience captive and received an A on the project. Dr. Melton confessed that he could not give him a bad grade, but knew for sure that Carl had not planned ahead and was really, really good at wingin' it. I can't say that I am as good as he, at wingin' it, but I have certainly been there many times. I don't know for sure, but I think this poem was Dad's "snake". It was December 2000 and he had no idea what to get Mom for Christmas. I am certain a very, very good present followed. But this is what she got. An illustated version of a poem, written just for her. He's good. Very good.

When I was young, I dreamed of slaying dragons, and of treasure.

But I was young and dragons and the world were big,

so the dragons flew overhead and asked,

"Where's the treasure?"

When I was a prince and you were my princess, I dreamed of slaying dragons, and of treasure.

But someone had to guard the castle and take out the trash.

So the dragons dropped rocks with notes tied to them that said,

"Where's the treasure?" and "Don't forget to take out the trash."

When I was a king and you were my queen, I dreamed of slaying dragons and of treasure.

But we had a kingdom to run and the dragons came on Saturday morning

and sat on the lawnmower and said things like,

"Where's the treasure?" and "This thing's out of gas."

and "You call this a kingdom?"

And the gray dragons came and stole the years and put wrinkles in my mirror

and took my sword (or maybe I forgot where I put it).

And they would come right up and whisper in my good ear,

"Where's the treasure?"

But now I am the dragon and on Saturday mornings I chase the maidens

through feathered mountains and I gnaw their bones and steal

their kisses until they yell,

"Nona, make Papa stop."

And like all dragons, I know where the treasure is. - CSD

3 Pieces of My Heart


Puffin, aka, Natty, aka, Shuggar Lips, aka The Moose, aka The Baby is have his ONE BIRTHDAY on March 7th. Prepare for close-ups of soft pink skin, chubby red cheeks, big blue eyes, and pretty pink lips.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Online Silliness!

From Day 1, the whole concept of Webkinz has bothered me. I am not sure why I even have an opinion on the matter. But the sheer commercial-ness and total racket that it has become concerns me deeply. Racket you say? Yes, racket. "A systematised element of organized crime". Webkinz creators are stealing money from millions of children all over the US and I fear Europe and Canada too. They manufacture these poor stuffed animals with which are never played, only to have tags ripped violently from their ears as they are tossed to the ground, stuffed in the bottom of toy boxes, and placed in basements all over the world. These coveted tags become the key to a childhood addiction to the internet; a colorful world of games, to earn monies, to buy goods to keep the online character alive and satisfied with materialism. It is sick and twisted. Children spend hundreds of dollars accumulating a variety of animals that all consume their time, keep them obsessed with the computer and away from the sunny outdoors and much needed physical activity and family interaction.
Tonight, my own flesh and blood called me with excited chatter and sweet words of concern for me. My heart was delighted to hear their precious voices as they described to me their weekend getaway cabin in the mountains where they were staying with their family. I assumed they were calling because my absence was so apparent and they yearned to hear my sweet voice. They were giddy with excitement of their new surroundings, but were quick to reveal the true meaning of the phone call. There is no internet in the cabin in the mountains. The panic in their girly high pitched voices was sincere. Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and it means for a very special treat for all Webkinz members. It's only once a year. You only have 24 hours to sign in. It is coveted by the World of Webkinz elite. So now, I will awaken first thing in the morning, to coffee with cream, soft scrambled eggs with Ezekiel bread toasted and won't be reading the New York Times online, but signing on to Webkinz World to make sure Catherine and Emma Grace get the most coveted Valentine's Day Webkinz Virtual Gift. I signed on earlier to make sure I properly jotted down their user names and passwords. They have trivia games and puzzle games galore. Catherine, I earned you 35 KinzCash! And Bubbles, the dolphin was hungry so I gave him some milk and cookies and bought the oh-so-cute Adirondack chairs for his beach house. Oh, and I totally rock at Bamboo Break.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

another race...maybe

So I am thinking about doing this one. It's about 3 weeks after the ING. And it's in the woods and it's 13.1 miles. This is good and bad. Bad because it is gravel and trees and hills and streams and more. Good because you have an excuse to walk. Walking is totally allowed when climbing up steep hills and crossing rivers and all that. It just depends on how steep. The Subaru dealership near my house is a sponsor and is offering free numbers if you test drive a Subie. So, to save $50 and not feel so bad if I don't do the race, the Volvo and I may go test drive a Subaru this weekend.

Third Day

Monday, February 9, 2009


So this entry may be very premature, but part of this blog is for journaling, writing, describing, evaluating and sharing what is on my mind and heart. Today it is Madagascar. It is no surprise that the minute I set foot in Africa, I fell in love and didn't want to come home (Zimbabwe, 1999). I can't describe how it feels other than just this huge peace and comfort that I just don't feel anywhere else. I had never felt it before and I don't feel it now. I don't know what it means or what exactly I am supposed to do about it. My feelings were just confirmed when I went back to Africa in 2007. The peace came back, the joy overflowed, the creativity opened up and I felt "home". I felt awakened, alive, life had new meaning and yet nothing made sense. But the smile on my face never really went away and I cried when I left. And that is the only way I know to describe my love affair with another continent. But I returned to the US and have been going about my daily routine and it could not be more arduous, empty and void. The cycle of getting up, putting on a suit, working at my desk, getting a check, paying my mortgage, two weeks later, getting another check, paying utilites, and repeat just does not excite me. I want to be doing something that I love, I want my money to be spent wisely and with a great purpose. I am bored here. I am blessed. I love my country. I love my family. I love my thousand threat count sheets. But I am bored. So, an opportunity has arisen. One of the students who attended Iris Mission School in 2008 has a desire to establish a Baby House in Madagascar and is in need of a team. I have been in touch with both Caroline and Iris and have expressed my interest to go. Nothing is certain and a great deal will have to take place for it to all happen. But my current plan would be to serve out my final 22 months to become vested (Dec 1, 2010) with the State of Georgia and in that time, sell my house and car and make preparations to go. The Baby House would be just outside the city. Today, I am considering trying to go over the summer to see what it is like...
Hey, they have a Ritz, so it can't be all bad. And yes, I would carry a pet lemur around my neck for sure.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Pricey Dogs, Shorebirds & Cemetery Jumpin'

The weekend didn't end with Jazz. Saturday morning we went to the Dog Show. I had no idea this existed and discovered it on when looking for something to do with a 10 year old. It is evidently a big deal. There were thousands of dogs and these people are serious. We could barely find parking, and there were so many RV's and campers and out-of-state tags. I have never seen so many dogs in one place and so many varieties of breeds! We all had fun watching the dogs perform and seeing so many of them! Gracie loves dogs and thinks the Chinese Crested is the ugliest dog in the world. We saw two of them. One was wearing a rhinestone studded t-shirt. It was also funny to see how owners and dogs resemble one another.

We then went to the Capitol for a private tour. Gracie seemed to enjoy it much more than I thought she would. There is a museum on the 4th floor showcasing Georgia history, native plants and animals, Georgia grown products and such. She liked the display of coastal Georgia with the white egret and other Georgia shorebirds, I like that one too.

We then took a last minute detour before going home and drove into Oakland Cemetery. They describe themselves best, "Less than a mile from the heart of downtown Atlanta, a hidden treasure, a secret sanctuary, welcomes you. This garden cemetery, founded in 1850, is the final resting place of many of Atlanta's settlers, builders, and most noted citizens like Bobby Jones, Margaret Mitchell, and Maynard Jackson. It is also a showplace of sculpture and architecture, and a botanical preserve with ancient oaks and magnolias. Here in this peaceful place the full scope of the city's rich and fascinating history unfolds before you.

From a hilltop in Oakland Cemetery, General John B. Hood watched the Battle of Atlanta, and nearby lie soldiers from both sides who died in it. From that point you will have one of the best views of Atlanta's growing skyline, and you will begin to understand the people who came together to make Atlanta what it is today.

Spend an hour or a day exploring Oakland on your own or with a knowledgeable tour guide. Come learn about the men and women who laid the foundation for today's Atlanta. Pass through the gates of Oakland and you will discover Atlanta's history, from the beginning

I thought Mom and Dad would enjoy the historical part of it and Gracie would enjoy being outside. The sun was just setting and the lighting was perfect and Gracie was just energetic enough to get these...

Sunday, February 1, 2009


These are not exactly for you...they are more for me. I am placing them here so I will know where to find them when I need them. They come from the wisdom of Mama Deane and her reading everything she can get her hands on and then sharing the good stuff.

John Adams said that happiness comes not from fame and fortune "and all such things", but from "an habitual contempt of them."

I agree with A.W Tozer who also said, "Humble yourself and cease to care what men think. A meek man is not a human mouse afflicted with a sense of his own inferiority. Rather, he has stopped being fooled about himself. He knows well that the world will never see him as God sees him and he has stopped caring. He has obtained a place of soul rest. The old struggle to defend himself is over."

I agree with A.W. Tozer who said: "Spell this out in capital letters: THE Holy Spirit IS A PERSON. He is not enthusiasm. He is not courage. He is not energy. He is not the personification of all good qualities, like Jack Frost is the personification of cold weather. Actually, the Holy Spirit is not the personification of anything...... He has individuality. He is one being and not another. He has will and intelligence. He has hearing. He has knowledge and sympathy and ability to love and see and think. He can hear, speak, desire, grieve and rejoice. He is a Person."

And I threw in one of my Tozer favorites too..."We need never shout across the spaces to an absent God. He is nearer than our own soul, closer than our most secret thoughts".

Jazz and Chocolate

Mom, Dad and Emma Grace came to visit for the weekend. I picked up Emma Grace in Alpharetta and we had dinner in Buckhead at Anis Bistro ( "Tucked away in a sleepy side street in the heart of Buckhead, Anis Bistro is located in a converted house that has been renovated to look and feel like one of the many charming restaurants you're likely to find in the Provence region in the south of France". We had Orangina in little red wine glasses and Emma Grace liked getting a new set of silverware with every course. We met Mom and Dad downtown and went to Atlanta Symphony Hall to hear Wynton Marsalis. We then went to Dailey's downtown for dessert ( We each got our own dessert and shared among the table. Emma Grace had the BLACK AND WHITE CAKE, a three layer chocolate cake layered with whipped cream and chocolate mousse filling, wrapped with a semi-sweet chocolate shell. Papa had the PARIS BREST, a pastry shell filled with bananas, homemade whipped cream, vanilla custard, hot fudge, and nuts; topped with more whipped cream, hot fudge, and nuts. Nona had the CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING, served warm with vanilla ice cream. I had the CHOCOLATE CHARLOTTE, a Fudge brownie shell filled with a dark chocolate mousse and topped with homemade whipped cream. Nona was the only one who could clean finish hers. The others came home with us to be consumed the next night while in our jammies with tall glasses of milk. But it wasn't all about the chocolate, the jazz was amazing, mind-blowing actually. They played songs composed by members of the ensemble. The fact that you can hear music like that in your mind, put it on paper, for multiple instruments and then have the talent to play it is astounding. Jazz is a whole realm of music that in itself is simply all over the place, but comes together in beautiful holy chaos and you always hear something different each time. It is incredibly multi-faceted obviously and the art of jazz just blows me away. The chocolate was pretty amazing though and the Orangina and our French Mediterranean experience all made for a fantastic Friday night. And of course, I could not have picked a better dinner companion than Emma Grace.