Monday, January 29, 2007

Settling In

Just a note to let everyone know that the moving went pretty well. A HUGE “Thank you!” to everyone that came and helped out. We had quite a lot of people from our church help us load and unload boxes, furniture, and everything else. We also got my in-laws moved into their house the same day. Whew! Talk about a crazy day!! We still have a little to do as far as painting and such in our new house, but we’re FINALLY in!! :) Woo-hoo!!

Since we’re still trying to get our Internet set up, it may be a few days before Sarah can blog again (I’m posting this at work). But I know she is wanting to blog all about our “moving” experiences.

Until next time….

Thursday, January 18, 2007


We’re moving!! Yeah!! Late last year, Sarah and I decided that it would be good to buy a different house with a little more room to grow. After some looking, we found the house of our dreams in Franklin County. It’s a very large house out in the country with a little over an acre of land. After going back and forth between our realtor, the selling bank (it was a foreclosure), and the bank’s realtor SEVERAL times and a few hiccups along the way, we’ll finally be closing on the house tomorrow (Friday) afternoon. During the waiting period, God also provided an unexpected buyer for our house and we’ll close next week. Praise the Lord!

Next week will be very crazy since we have a lot of work to do on the house. We’ll be painting, taking up the old carpet in the entry level and upstairs, and replacing a toilet and shower. I’ll have my first foray into installing hardwood floors in the entry level hallway and master bedroom. My brother-in-law, Lee, will be putting in some tile in the upstairs bathroom as well. There are some other things that need to be done, mainly in the basement, but we’ll work on those things a little at a time as they aren’t that important. Oh, we’re aiming to have all this done by Wednesday! Then on Thursday is the big moving day!! Talk about a busy week!

Carlos seems pretty excited about going to a new house. He keeps asking if he’ll have new toys at his new house. I’m not sure that he understands that he’ll have everything the same, just a different house. (Same toys, same brother, same Mama & Papa) Jeremiah is pretty oblivious as always. Hopefully the move won’t be too traumatic for him.

Monday, January 15, 2007

In Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

(This is a transcript of Dr. MLK, Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech given at the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963. It's a little lengthy but well worth the read.)

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we've come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we've come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the "unalienable Rights" of "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds."

But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by a sign stating: "For Whites Only." We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until "justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream."

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest -- quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends.

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of "interposition" and "nullification" -- one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers. I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; "and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together."

This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

And this will be the day -- this will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with new meaning:

My country 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.

Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim's pride,

From every mountainside, let freedom ring!

And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual:

Free at last! Free at last!

Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

I've been tagged

I just discovered that I’ve been tagged by Madison( in some sort of weird game/ritual/thing. So here goes.

The rule for this tagging thing is that whenever a person is tagged (henceforth named the Taggee), said Taggee must write a blog listing six (6) weird things about himself (or herself). Additionally, Taggee must also include these rules (not necessarily using these words) in the weird blog. At the end, Taggee must then choose six(6) people to tag, upon which time Taggee becomes Tagger and the whole mess starts over again. Got that? Okay, so here goes with my six (6) things.

1. I don’t know why that, whenever numbers are written, the actual number is then placed in parenthesis. Like six (6). If you can’t read the word “six” (6), you obviously cannot read the rest of the blog. But perhaps there is some consolation in knowing that,whatever all those funny looking shapes are, hey, they mentioned the number six (6)!

2. As mentioned in my previous blog, I have a very eclectic taste in music. I like country, some opera, some “adult contemporary,”some Christian. Although, I must say that I’m getting quite tired of Spirit FM. They play the same stuff over and over and hardly any of it is good – musically or otherwise. Maybe the station should be called Fluff FM. Anyway.

3. I was born in Tennessee (weird, huh?), spent a little time traveling around the southeast United States (well, I mainly rode – couldn’t really drive at the time), spent some time in England, Scotland, andGermany (only a couple of months in Germany), went to college in Florida, lived for little awhile in Texas and Wyoming, and now reside in the great state of Virginia.

4. During the early stages of my illustrious career as a human, I was able to put both feet behind my neck. And then I would just bum around. I haven’t been able to do that for awhile, although I do on occasion manage to stick my foot in my mouth. (And just where did THAT phrase come from anyway?!?)

5. It took the same amount of time to get my Master’s degree as it did to get my Bachelor’s.

6. Trains fascinate me. Not sure if I can really explain why, they just do. Something about these huge machines running along two steel lines that are exactly 4 ft, 8.5 inches apart, pulling all kinds of stuff is just intriguing.

Okay, that’s six (6). Now for those poor souls who shall be tagged. And remember, if you are tagged and don’t answer the tag, you shall forever be under the guise of Taggee. And nobody wants that. The last chap who did that – well, let’s not go there. Not pretty to say the least. To the following bloggers, I, the newly esteemed Tagger, now confer upon you the title“Taggee.” Go henceforth, blog and tag.

Mark, Jr.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Another Post Already!

I guess you could say I have a very eclectic taste in music. For example, last month I blogged about one of my favorite musical groups, the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. The past few days I’ve been listening to another of my favorite musicians, Josh Groban. His style of music could fall into what I like to call “contemporary operatic pop.” What I like about Groban’s music is the simplicity, yet richness of his style and voice. Some of my favorite songs that he does is You Raise Me Up (Selah did this song too, albeit not nearly as good, in my opinion), To Where You Are, and When You Say You Love Me.

There’s one song though that has really stuck out to me recently, “Remember When It Rained,” not just because it is a beautifully orchestrated piece, but because of the spiritual application that can be made behind the lyrics. I don’t know what the author’s original intent was, but in reading the lyrics you can’t help but put them in the context of our relationship with God. Our prayer should always be that our minds are constantly washed clean from anything that keeps our focus away from God. Our unceasing tears of hope (second verse) come in eager anticipation of when we are united eternally with our Savior. These tears don’t make us look good, but rather bring even more attention to the one for whom we cry. If you can, click the link and watch the music video of this song. Here are the lyrics:

Wash away the thoughts inside
That keep my mind away from you.
No more love and no more pride
And thoughts are all I have to do.

Oh Remember when it rained.
Felt the ground and looked up high
And called your name.
Oh Remember when it rained.
In the darkness I remain.

Tears of hope run down my skin.
Tears for you that will not dry.
They magnify the one within
And let the outside slowly die.

Oh Remember when it rained.
I felt the ground and looked up high
And called your name.
Oh Remember when it rained.
In the water I remain
Running down (7x)

Monday, January 8, 2007

Just stuff

It’s been awhile since I updated, but that’s because not a whole lot has been happening (at least, nothing that I can talk about just yet). Since I don’t have anything original to give my adoring fans (you are out there, right? Hello? [crickets chirping] Anyone?), here’s some fun stuff. I’m a big fan of Christian satire and allegory, mainly because it does so well at pointing out some inconsistencies and quite often silliness of what often passes for Christianity. And I must confess, that for me, it hits a little too close too home very often. So first, here’s a “news” article from the great Wittenburg Door, the self-proclaimed “world’s pretty much only religious satire magazine.” Then an inspirational poem to mull over.


Washington D.C. (January 6, 2007) -- In a controversy that eerily mirrors the recent dispute over a congressman's use of the Koran, several Christian representatives have asked to be sworn in on the best-seller, The Purpose Driven Life.

"We were asked to use the most meaningful text in our life," said Rep. John T. "And, as far as I can see, my Pastor preaches more from Rick Warren than the Bible."

McGruder and Rep. James R. Newhell of Wheaton (R-Ill) both petitioned Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi to be allowed to use the famous evangelical guidebook in the swearing in ceremony at the Capitol.

Reactions from other Congressman and public figures were mixed.

"I see no reason not to allow others to use their own books -- as long as ALLAH AKBAR!" shouted Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn). Rep. Ellison, who is a Muslim, had requested to use the Koran for his swearing in ceremony and is, apparently, the inspiration for the requests from Representatives McGruder and Newhell.

Well-known talk show host Dennis Prager was among those who roundly condemned Rep. Ellison's request. Prager, who is Jewish, was also opposed to the use of The Purpose Driven Life.

"I don't understand why a Christian wouldn't use the Bible, especially an evangelical," Prager asked rhetorically. "Do they think they've used up all the material there?"

Other evangelicals welcome the change.

"This open-mindedness is truly godly," said Lincoln Bradford, pastor and noted praise-song author. "I hope eventually they'll use more personally inspiring items - worship music CDs, Ron Dicianni paintings, the "Foot Prints in the Sand" poem. This country and the modern church were founded on a Christian's right to have a personalized relationship with God - regardless of what's in the Bible.”

And now the poem

One night I had a wondrous dream,
One set of footprints there was seen,
The footprints of my precious Lord,
But mine were not along the shore.

But then some strange prints appeared,
And I asked the Lord, "What have we here?"
Those prints are large and round and neat,
"But Lord, they are too big for feet."

"My child," He said in somber tones,
"For miles I carried you along.
I challenged you to walk in faith,
But you refused and made me wait."

"You disobeyed, you would not grow,
The walk of faith, you would not know,
So I got tired, I got fed up,
And there I dropped you on your butt."

"Because in life, there comes a time,
When one must fight, and one must climb,
When one must rise and take a stand,
Or leave their butt prints in the sand." (author unknown)