June 24, 2008

Weekend Fun

Well, we are back from our whirlwind trip to Pennsylvania for my brother's wedding. We had a great time, and the wedding was beautiful. We are so happy to have Carly in our family! Here are some pictures from the weekend (I apologize for the crooked ones - I can't seem to work the picture edit features!):

These are most of my existing relatives

My sister and me

Carly getting her hair done

My with my little brother Nathan (I know, he's not very little anymore)

June 17, 2008

A Happy Post

So after the rather solemn post of earlier this week I thought a light-hearted post was in order. After all, this is an exciting week for the Smith family. On Saturday June 21, my brother Andrew is getting married!!! We are so excited for Andrew and his fiancee Carly. They are great for each other, and we are so happy to have Carly as part of the family. The only downside is she will change her last name from Denniston to Smith. As far as last names go, I consider that a downgrade...

But we are excited to have Carly in the family nonetheless. 

Look for more photos of the wedding to come next week!

June 15, 2008

Father's Day and Loss and Sin and Restoration

In recent months, Lindon and I had developed a Sunday morning ritual which entailed watching at least part of "Meet the Press" and "Fox News Sunday." Given the unique events in this year's presidential campaign, we enjoyed both of these shows for the perspectives they offered. In particular, I enjoyed watching "Meet the Press" because I felt like Tim Russert interviewed people in a way that revealed the guest's true character. Regardless of who the person was, Russert asked probing - but fair - questions to get to the heart of the issues at hand. As a journalist, I couldn't get enough of Russert's questions.

Like so many others, I was stunned Friday to learn of Russert's sudden death at age 58. His death seemed to stop the presses, as every major news organization covered the world's reaction to his passing. I believe America has lost one of the greatest journalists in modern history. Russert saw his role on "Meet the Press" as asking American leaders the questions Americans themselves were asking. He didn't use cheap tricks or manipulative tactics; he simply prepared well and asked great questions.

This morning Lindon and I watched "Meet the Press" one more time to watch Russert's colleagues pay tribute to him. His moderator's chair stood empty as Tom Brokaw led a panel of contributors to celebrate the life and legacy of Tim Russert.

The show was a moving, even for people like me who did not know much about Russert. Guest after guest recalled his loyalty to friends, his devotion to Christianity (particularly Catholicism) and his passion for his role as a father and son. I was struck time and again by how Russert was just the guy from Buffalo, NY who never forgot where he came from. He loved his father and was so proud of his son (who just graduated from Boston College). The show ended with a clip which had been filmed the day Russert died. In it he wished his father, Big Russ, a happy Father's Day, and told his son Luke, "I am proud to be your dad." This was the point when Lindon and I completely lost it and began crying uncontrollably.

All weekend I thought about how Russert's death seems so tragic. A man who loved life and his family dies on Father's Day weekend, just weeks after his only child finishes college. A man who was passionate about democracy and the political process dies during a historic election season. A man of character and integrity goes while so many who could never measure up stick around. My heart aches for his widow, son, father, and the rest of his family.

But I've realized my sadness is not just for the Russert family. It flows to a greater sadness that the world is not as it ought to be. I am sad Russert died, but I am also sad that people die of heart attacks because we are not supposed to die of heart attacks. Our bodies break down because every aspect of our existence is permeated by sin. And while I write this I remember a family member diagnosed last week with breast cancer, and more loved ones come to mind who are dealing with all kinds of ills. So my grief is for one family, but also for man's fallen condition. Our prognosis is not good.

And yet, and yet. I am sad, but I cannot despair. Because just as my grief for one family points to a greater sadness for the reality of sin, so the reality of sin points to the greater reality of a Savior. We do have hope. Our hope is not that we can be better, try harder, and save our own hides; it's that we can never escape sin, so Christ became sin for us. And one day, every tear will be wiped away as what was lost is restored more fully than we can imagine.

My weekend musings (which undoubtedly have spilled into the coming week) bring me round to an old hymn (surprise, surprise) which I think sums up my feelings pretty well. This is that for which I hope. Here are the last two verses to "Ten Thousand by Ten Thousand," written by Henry Allford:

3. O then what raptured greetings
On Canaan’s happy shore;
What knitting severed friendship
Up where partings are no more!
Then eyes with joy shall sparkle,
That brimmed with tears of late;
Orphans no longer fatherless,
Nor widows desolate.

4. Bring near Thy great salvation,
Thou Lamb for sinners slain;
Fill up the roll of Thine elect,
Then take Thy power, and reign;
Appear, Desire of nations,
Thine exiles long for home;
Shoe in the heaven Thy promised sign;
Thou Prince and Savior, come.

June 10, 2008

My new favorite blog

So, as many of you know, I love to cook. I also love to eat. And I am always looking for new, fun recipes.

Enter the Food Blogga.

This blog is run by Susan the Food Blogga (from Rhode Island, hence the phonetic spelling), and her entries includes photos, tips, and, yes, recipes for amazing dishes. Already she has taught me how to clean, prepare, and eat an artichoke. And now I am reading about how to pick fresh apricots and how to make strawberry rhubarb calzones. Amazing! I love the food factoids, stories, and tips. They make me happy.

Chances are I will not make every recipe featured on the website. But it's nice to know that I have another resource besides by beloved cookbooks and treasured cooking magazines.
And it's always nice to have another resource for honing my fledgling cooking skills.

Does anyone else have a favorite go-to website for cooking ideas and tips? If so, I would love to hear about it.