The World of Lu

Creating a digital heritage while engaging in some quality musings!

Archive for the month “September, 2012”

[Scientology]: Tom, Cruising for Chicks Again?

Now that Tom Cruise is on the loose, another divorce in the books what will this Level 6 and climbing Operating Thetan do?

Maybe track down his favorite personal Sci auditor for a few spins on the E- meter to flush out any lingering or hidden engrams before he goes out cruising for chicks.

Maybe just take a break and bask in his own wonderfulness for awhile as he reflects on the failure of his runaway wife to fully embrace the awe-inspiring life of a Scientology “clear “.

Maybe arrange a few more covert Scientology auditions for a perspective partner… probably not… they didn’t work so well. Read the Vanity Fair expose for the insider Scientology revelations and the sad state of affairs that resulted.

All kidding aside… Tom is in a sad predicament.  He has gone through three wives plus a 3 year live-in stint with Penelope Cruz.

And is there any signficance that the years of birth of his 3 wives are 11 years apart: Mimi Rogers was born in 1956, Nicole Kidman in 1967 and Katie Holmes in 1978.  That would project his future fourth wife being born in 1989 or 23 years old at this time!


How will Tom find his wife if she isn’t 23 years old?  Tom as a young man aspired to be a Catholic priest but after one year of seminary dropped out.  It took Mimi Rogers, Scientologist Supreme to get Tom out of Catholicism and into Scientology in 1990 (L Ron Hubbard Sci-Fi founder of the faith is said to have been radically anti-Catholic in his lifetime).  Ironically that’s the year listed for Tom’s divorce from Mimi.  She was the older woman who took young Tom (born in 1962) under her wing so to speak.

Even though he renounced his Catholic faith he keeps hooking up with women who were Catholic and are led into Scientology by Tom.  His evangelism is never complete as the spell gets broken later into the marriage after kids arrive.  He keeps hoping that the same enchantment that befell him and led him out of his Catholic chains will somehow come upon his lovely wifey victims.  Alas each a painful failure.


Nicole Kidman was able to return to her Catholic roots with a beautiful church approved wedding celebration to Keith Urban in Australia.  It was a spiritual homecoming for her.

After Nicole came Penelope Cruz.  She was so close to marrying Tom and was ready to leave her Catholic roots for Scientology.  No go. Tom tripping over Catholic roots?  This Rome stuff runs pretty deep in the Cruise-meister.

Five years after revealing that she had started to study Scientology, Katie Holmes has officially returned to the Catholic faith, registering as a parishioner at the Church of St. Francis Xavier in New York City.  In her case coming home to Rome may be more like getting into a safe house than a homecoming!  The battle over raising Suri as a Scientologist was a key battleground in the divorce.


Just when Tom is renouncing Catholicism you would have thought he and Mimi had finally found some kind of Scientology Synergy but it was not to be.  They broke up in 1989 and divorced in 1990.

Somehow pure Scientology women do not either fancy him or he is not enamored with them.  Some overlooked engrams? Just ask actress and former Scientologist, Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-born beauty who was allegedly chosen by Shelly Miscavige for Cruise, whom he dated for two months. (Notice that Boniadi is listed as a former Scientologist now!)  She was supposedly one of a number of women audited by Scientology as a potential mate.

So where does Tom cruise from here?  He’s 50 years old.  His Catholicism keeps haunting him and his Scientology keeps failing him.

Unless he doesn’t really care about going through so many mates he will rebound and be searching again. Cruising for chicks as it were.

Ultimately one must ask… what is it that an Operational Thetan really looks for in a relationship or marriage?  Conversion?  Control? An ex-Catholic?  A Clear?

Hmmm… Maybe it’s time for a “Come to Jesus” moment for Tom!

(if you liked this post check out my other post [Scientology]: Mission Impossible )


Interesting “Seeking for Cruise Mates” links,0,3843713.story


Friday Review: “The Deepest Waters”

2012 Carol Award Winner for Best Short Historical Fiction Novel


Let me introduce you to author Dan Walsh.  He’s written 6 very good books (he’s got 3 awards to show for it and the awards cover only his first 3 books! The others will be up for awards later).  Dan is currently working with Garry Smalley on a forthcoming book series.  His forte is historical fiction and he does a lot of good research and makes each era he writes about come alive.  His characters are interesting and accessible and his story lines intriguing.  Often he will catch you off balance with a twist or turn in the story line.

I met Dan and his wife Cindi over 25 years ago when he was a Pastor from Daytona Beach visiting Fairfax, VA.  They had come to learn what they could from the leaders of a young up and coming church.  They were an excellent couple who had true sincere hearts for God and a great love for people.  And a hunger to learn and grow.

 My wife Nora and I had the privilege of connecting up with them a number of times since then.  It was great to get to know them over those years. Yet I was quite surprised when I heard he had retired from pastoring and took up a long desired career in writing historical fiction.  I never knew. How could this be?  How would a former Pastor do writing what would be considered what some called “romantic” novels?

CAROL AWARDS 2010 & 2012

I’m happy to say that Dan has found his 2nd career and has successfully carved out a niche for himself as a talented wordsmith.  He wrote his first book, “Unfinished Gift” in 2009 with Revell Books.  In 2010 Dan won two Carol Awards, one for the best new author and a second for the best short historical fiction novel for his debut work.

The Carol Awards are given out each year by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)  to recognize the best Christian fiction published in the previous calendar year.  Dan followed “Unfinished Gift”  with a very successful sequel called “Homecoming.”  This short historical novel was well received gaining a 4 star rating on Amazon with comments like this. 

“Dan Walsh knows how to write a story that grips you and holds on to you until the very end.”

In 2011 he published his 3rd historical novel called “The Deepest Waters.” This month ACFW announced this book as the winner of the ACFW Carol Award for Best Short Historical Fiction.  An amazing start to what appears to be long and prosperous career as an author.

2010 Winner – Debut Author
The Unfinished Gift – Dan Walsh (Revell, Andrea Doering – Editor)

2010 Winner – Short Historical
The Unfinished Gift – Dan Walsh (Revell, Andrea Doering)

2012 Winner – Short Historical
The Deepest Waters – Dan Walsh (Revell)

Dan has been quite prolific after his first three books.  He penned the following:  (stars = Amazon rating)

  • “Remembering Christmas” (Sept 2011, – 4.6 stars),
  • “The Discovery” (April 2012 – 4.7 stars)
  • “The Reunion” (Sept 2012 – 4.8 stars) 

 THE REVIEW OF “The Deepest Waters”

The Story Line – What began as a fairytale honeymoon in 1857 for John and Laura Foster aboard the steamship SS Vandervere becomes a nightmare when a hurricane causes their ship to sink into the murky depths of the Atlantic. Laura finds herself with the other women and children aboard a sailing ship while John and a hundred other men drift on the open sea on anything they could grab as the Vandervere went down. Suspecting her John is gone but still daring to hope for a miracle, Laura must face the possibility of life alone–and meeting her new in-laws without their son if she ever reaches New York”.   
  What you’ll like – Amazon says – Readers will be holding their breath as they sail through this emotional and honest story of hope, faith, and love in the face of uncertainty. Talented author Dan Walsh skillfully tells an epic story through an intimate focus on two lost lovers. Inspired by real events, this moving novel will capture the hearts of all who dive into its pages. 
Here’s some more things I found noteworthy
  • History – Dan does a wonderful job of bringing to life pre-Civil War America for the reader especially New York City and Norfolk.  I really enjoyed his handling of the time period including the side story of the slave, Micah.
  • Inspired by actual events the story is inspired by actual events. The ship of inspiration was the SS Central America (pictured above) which Dan did a lot of research on. This always adds credence and believabililty to a story.
  • The Ship Diagram – Just in case you’re a “Landlubber”, Dan includes the drawing of a ship of that era with descriptions of each section to help you to not feel lost at sea!
  • The Story – Who wouldn’t love to read “Titanic” with a happy ending!  Well done!  Also the note from John with the surprise revelation was a very nice touch adding tension to the story. The story is well paced.  Though it does focus on the romantic side of things, us guys will enjoy the shipwreck descriptions and by the time they are both salvaged we are hooked!  Can’t put the book down after that!!
  • The Characters – Dan does a splendid job of making his characters real, he gets you emotionally invested in them and you’re happy for that.  Writing Micah’s section in a different style reflecting the way he would speak and think was a nice touch.
  • Length – In our hustle and bustle 21st Century rat race we are sometimes looking for something that won’t take us forever to finish.”The Deepest Waters” is a quick read yet doesn’t lose any depth in the story or characters in shorter length of 287 pages in fairly large print.
  • Other Reviews – Doing a Google search of the book reveals more than 7 pages of sites reviewing this book… with nothing but praise for it. 

I am very pleased to introduce you to Dan Walsh and all his wonderful books especially his award winning book, “The Deepest Waters”.

The 9 Songwriter Series

Nathaniel Davis performing 9/22/2012 @ Franklin Performing Arts Center

This past weekend Nora and I headed out to Purcellville, VA, yes Purcellville… which is west of Leesburg and west of Hamilton on Route 7.  What could motivate us to travel one hour from our home in Bristow, VA to Loudoun County, you ask?  Our good friend Nathaniel Davis invited us out to hear him play and sing some of his fine original tunes at an event I had never heard of before.  It was called “The 9 Songwriter Series.”  Our curiosity piqued, how could we resist supporting him?

The 9 Songwriter Series Show at Franklin Performing Arts Center

“The 9 Songwriter Series” is an invention from the mind of Justin Trawick.  Justin gave birth to this idea back in 2008.  He surmised that there was a lot of up and coming songwriting, performing talent out there that should be featured in the fine venues in our area. Only problem was that by themselves they would be helpless to draw enough people (even counting family, friends, neighbors, pets and ex-girlfriends being invited). 

He thought what if I get 9 artists together and have them play 2 songs each and then finish with an encore song from each one of the 9 (27 songs in all!), a 2 hour concert in length and if each artist could get 20-30 of their aforementioned entourages then there could be 180-270 people at one of the shows. Viola!  A big time showcase of sorts!

The idea has caught on so much that Justin’s The 9 Show is being featured all around our area including Annapolis and Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and just recently Los Angeles!  Each concert will pull local songwriters together and showcase their talents.  Cost to the concert-goer would be $10-15.

Justin Trawick & Nathaniel performing a Trawick original

We arrived at the Franklin Park Performing Arts Center just before the show started at 8 pm.  Entering into the barn-like facility we quickly realized there was something special about this place.  The inside auditorium was state of the art.  Two cameras were used to film the concert and project the live streaming video up on the very large wall screen behind the stage.  The acoustics were excellent and there was not a bad seat in the house which I would say holds at least 200 people.


Franklin Park Performing & Visual Art Center
36441 Blueridge View Lane
Purcellville, VA 20132

Nathaniel started the show with the exuberant “Take Me Away” followed by “Hold On” both off his debut CD “Hold On.”  On the 2nd song Nathaniel was backed up by the lovely Heather Mae on ukulele and vocals. 

 Dave Farah followed Nathaniel with two acoustic numbers including his much requested “I am a Werewolf!” Dave had a nice vocal style and his lyrics were original.

Justin Trawick followed.  Justin is the consummate showman. His dry wit had us laughing out loud even though his first song was supposed to the product of a breakup.    In direct contrast his 2nd song was quite poignant, bringing tears to our eyes.  Justin played what may have been a baby Taylor with a capo giving himself a high timbrel sound which he muffled to producing a nice effect. 

Heather Mae, renown as the woman who wrote and recorded a song a day for one year! Whew, now that is an accomplishment of talent and perseverance.  Sweet voice and personality she had Nathaniel accompany her on both her songs.  One on drums the other on Ukulele.  Her song “Mississippi Man” about a guy from Missouri was a keeper.

Mathews Bryce was an excellent guitar player with a penchant for minor keys. Nathaniel played the Cajon drum on his first song.  In 3/4 time Nathaniel’s accompaniment made the song mesmerizing.

Andy Hawk was memorable for his Cajun swing original that Nathaniel played the trap set on.  I was ready for a surprise accordion player to come out at any moment.

Dan Fisk won me over with his “1,000 Love Songs” original.

Taylor Carson stood out for us the most.  Taylor is a seasoned and natural performer with a unique and pleasing vocal.  His songs were dynamic whether fast or slow and fun to listen to.  His song about his friend’s love for his girlfriend was memorable.  We purchased a compilation CD of his older material which is good but what I heard on stage his upcoming CD is what I’d like to purchase.

Crys Matthews, a lefty lady with a righty guitar played some nifty rhythms accompanied by a slapping technique for a nice percussive layer. A natural storyteller the words flowed poetically to our ears, reminiscent of  Tracy Chapman (Fast Car).

Each performer came back to sing one song.  Nathaniel had the other 8 artists come out to accompany him on a song of his with a sweet chorus.

The evening went by quickly and since the musicians played acoustic instruments the transition from performer to performer was smooth and seamless.  All the songwriters had good voices, played well and there was not a really bad song in the bunch. No cringing took place!  If a singer was not your favorite for one reason or another, no worry, two songs and they were gone swapping places with the next.  Nathaniel was icing on the cake as he accompanied every artist on at least one of their songs.  Of course Nora and I loved seeing him show off his skills, enhancing other people’s performances.  He is such a gifted musician.

The 9! Time to take a bow!

Since we were not 100% sure we would make it we bought our tickets on site.  $12 beforehand, $15 at the door.  Use your credit card if you are low on cash.  You’ll need cash to purchase the artists CD offerings (Crys Matthews was an exception, it looked like she had a credit card attachment on her phone).  Better yet bring lots of cash!

The evening was so enjoyable I found myself checking Facebook to see when the next performance would be in our area.  Nathaniel announced that he had been asked to play in Annapolis the Tuesday after the concert.  I guess they liked him!  But weekdays are not good for us these days.  Next event for “The 9 Songwriter Series” would be Saturday October 6, 6:00 – 8:00 pm at Quattros Goomba Winery in Aldie, VA., south of Leesburg on Route 15.

Just heard that there is a possibility for Nathaniel to be playing that one too!  Count me in then!  


Below is a shot of each artist not shown above. To see more photos of this past “The 9 Songwriter Series” concert, click on this link – Purcellville Franklin Park Performing Arts Center Photos

Heather Mae of The 9 at Purcellville

Dan Fiske of The 9 at Purcellville

Crys Matthews of The 9 at Purcellville

Taylor Carson of The 9 at Purcellville

Dave Farah of The 9 at Purcellville

Andy Hawk of The 9 at Purcellville

Mathews Bryce of The 9 at Purcellville

Nathaniel on drums – The 9 at Purcellville

3 in 5: Road Through Bethany

[Jesus] came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

 Now we had the PROMISE… God had spoken, 3 children in 5 years.  And we had the PRAYER… asking God for supernatural signs to accompany the first child’s adoption.  Now what we needed was the next step in the PLAN which was to find an adoption agency that God had prepared in advance.   Which one would it be?

Nora and I had already gone through a very informative and comprehensive introduction to adoption curriculum called “PACE” (Parents Adopting Children Everywhere)We were well equipped now to make a decision.  Would it be Korean?  Would it be European?  Romanian or even Polish? An US adoption was not out of the question but the wait time could be a bit prohibitive.

My Polish mother was none too keen on a foreign adoption.  Even a Polish adoptee didn’t assuage her fears.  “They give you the sick and the problem children they don’t want,”  I’d hear her say in her Zsa Zsa Gabor accented English (Gabor was Hungarian but my mom and Zsa Zsa shared accents… and class and beauty and puffy blonde hair, too!)  However we were not deterred!

After some discussion and prayer we decided to investigate Korean adoptions.  We had heard some very positive things about Holt International Children’s Services during the PACE course.  If I remember correctly it was August when we decided to drive north to pay Holt a visit in Keystone state of Pennsylvania. Holt does not have any main offices in Virginia or Maryland.

Everything we experienced there was positive.  The wait time would not be as long as a domestic adoption.  So we came home upbeat thinking that this might be God’s plan.  Heck, Nora started dreaming about a Korean child within a few days!

Sometimes dreams are prophetic and sometimes dreams are the subconscious processing stuff and sometimes it’s the pizza with too many exotic toppings!  Turned out it wasn’t the first reason!  Soon a discovery would come that would change all our plans!

Manassas Baptist Church

Our friends Frank and Liz had been pursuing adoption at the same time as we were.  Seems they were one step ahead of us!

One day Liz called Nora with some very exciting news…  a National Christian Adoption agency was opening up a new office in Northern Virginia . She and Frank had gotten on the brand new waiting list and there was a meeting happening next week!

Bethany Christian Services, a national adoption organization were already in Virginia with an existing office in Richmond.  However they wanted to expand to Northern Virgina and their first information meeting was going to held at Manassas Baptist Church.

Little did we know that rather than us finding the adoption agency God was bringing the adoption to us and to our friends the Ecelbargers.  Bethany Christian Services came on the scene at just the right time. We didn’t need to be told twice, we were signed up and on our way!

Frank and Liz would be called first.  They’re adoption process started that fall and in less than a year they would bringing home a beautiful son, Nathan.  We would be called a little later.  Together Nathan and our son Anthony would be the Bethany Boys!

An another unexpected blessing would be our Bethany case worker, Pat Gibson, a wonderful lady from our church who would be the one to guide through the process. She would carry out our interviews and home study, introduce us to the foster parents and then present us with our wonderful son, Anthony.  As you can see, Pat was a very special person in our lives.

Interestingly enough, some years later I would officiate at her son, John’s wedding.  He would marry the young lady, Jeannine who when Anthony was 3 years old would rent a room from us at our townhouse on Buffie Court.  She would become a precious part of our family life with a friendship that endures till this day.

Our God moves in marvelous and sometimes mysterious ways.  As they say, there are no coincidences in the kingdom!

Friday Review: “Paradise War” Song of Albion Trilogy

This past week I wandered into LifeWay Bookstore in Springfield, VA eager to purchase a last-minute birthday gift for a co-worker whose office was nearby.  As I wandered the aisles looking for a book to buy him my eyes alighted on a set of hardback books, a trilogy written by Stephen Lawhead called Song of Albion

Almost didn’t recognize them as they sported new cover illustrations. Over the years I had wanted to buy another set of these books in hardback but had only seen paperback editions (and I wasn’t too eager to roll the dice on an Amazon used book order).  Immediately my mind filled with delightful memories from the time when I first purchased the hardback edition of Book 1, “The Paradise War”.

New Hardback release caught my eye at the Christian Bookstore

My original copy of “The Paradise War” is well-worn.  Once I read it I was so enthralled and captivated by the story that I became the Song of Albion evangel.  First I told our renter (at the time) and still close friend, Jeannine Donato Gibson.  She snatched the copy from me and quickly devoured the book.  She asked if she could loan the book out. Soon after it was making its rounds from one reader to another, with each one as delighted as the last. 

But my most lasting memory of the book involved my children.  Once I finally got my copy back I decided to do something I had never done before… I decided to read this full-length novel out loud to my two older boys.  I had read other books, kids books, shorter books to them but this was not a children’s book. 

“The Paradise War” was published in June of 1991 and is 464 pages in length. I probably read it to them either in 1992 or 93 which would have made Tony 7 or 8 years old and Chip 6 or 7.

I asked them recently if they remembered me reading the book and what they recalled.   Tony said he remembered and that he “really liked it”. He said, “I remember sitting in the living room of the beach house having you read it to us for hours”.  Chip said, “Yeah I remember it. They traveled into a parallel universe, right? And things got crazy…”  Pretty good for right off the top of their heads!


“It all began with the aurochs.”

From the dreamy spires of Oxford, Lewis Gillies drives north dragged there by his roommate Simon to seek a mythical creature in a misty glen in Scotland. Expecting little more than a weekend diversion, Lewis is shocked when Simon disappears into a cairn they were investigating.  He soon finds himself transported to a mystical place where two worlds meet, in what the Celts call the time-between-times and into the heart of a battle between good and evil.

“The ancient Celts admitted no separation between this world and the Otherworld: the two were delicately interwoven, each dependent on the other. “The Paradise War” crosses the thin places between this world and that, as Lewis Gillies comes face-to-face with an ancient mystery–and a cosmic catastrophe in the making,” one reviewer writes.

Cairn on mainland, Orkney Islands

Lawhead is best when he writes in the first person.  The Paradise War” has us viewing both worlds through the eyes of young Lewis.  The Otherworld is overwhelming to sight and senses and Lewis shares his amazement with us in detail.  As he searches for Simon he finds himself being drawn into this world more and more.  We soon realize that he is brought into this world to be a significant participant and not just a casual explorer.  As opposed to Narnia’s invading children turned kings and queens, Lewis comes in as a nobody who not only must join into the Celtic life of this ancient world but must fight to even survive.  He will return a time or two to our world to share his experience only to be pulled back in. 

In this book, the first of the trilogy we experience Lewis’ transformation from young American in Oxford to Lew, the mighty warrior.  The intensity and frustration and awe are experienced first hand.  We see through his eyes.  Lawhead handles this perspective with skill and excellence… one does not want to put the book down. We sense his transformation is for a purpose and there will be a test at the end.  A grand battle climaxes “The Paradise War” as Lew struggles against time to release the mythical, magically powerful Song of Albion.

At the end of this book you will celebrate the grand victory…  you will be satisfied yet  you will be hungry for more… We all cried, “Where is the second book?”  after finishing “The Paradise War.”  Back then we had to wait up to a year. You however have no such problem. You can go right to the next book “The Silver Hand”.  The second book does not disappoint and carries on the excitement.  However be advised the 2nd book changes, we are no longer looking from the perspective of Lew.  Another character will lead the way through this book.

The grand finale is found in “The Endless Knot”. The final book is a tougher read.   We must detour through a land as desolate as Dante’s inferno.  Through death, destruction and devastating circumstances Lew must battle.  He must overcome the darkness itself  to rescue his true love.  

Books of the Trilogy – original covers

Throughout the books Lawhead weaves Celtic myth, prophecy and symbolism, all in the context of a monotheistic faith.  In Lew’s character we are shown salvific love and strength and purpose.  Finally good and evil are clearly defined.  Lawhead has us rejoicing in what is good and right! He does not disappoint.

 Having read this book out loud to Tony and Chip I was thrilled to find that offered “The Paradise War” in unabridged audio book.  As a Gold Member I had a couple of credits in hand and quickly used one to purchase a copy.  Can’t wait to download it to my Kindle Fire.  Going to be fun to have someone read it to me!

Craddock Terry Getaway

This weekend was special for Nora, Sasha and myself.  We all traveled down to Lynchburg together.  Sasha was going to stay overnight with her best friend, Jessica who had just started her freshman year at Liberty University.  Nora and I were planning to visit with Chip and Noura who were coincidently going to have their kick-off Saturday evening “Life Group at the Lutyks”.  Dinner would be served as a prelude… of course.  We planned to contribute a homemade pie to the festivities.   This would surely be a grand time for all! 

Before going down one minor detail remained to be taken care of…. we needed a place to stay on Saturday night.  Yours truly, frugal Freddie, had earned 27,000 points from Choice Hotels and was ready to place us for free in the Sleep Inn!?! 

Then I remembered that on our last two trips to Lynchburg we stayed at a frugal Chris hotel and then a Nora upgrade attempt hotel and we had been very disappointed to say the least.  So I decided to search to see what I could see.  I scrolled through a number of hotels including the Frugal Chris, the Frugal Freddie and the Nora Upgrade-Kaputt hotels after which I saw the words “Craddock Terry Hotel.” 

I stared at the name blankly convinced it should mean something to me when all of a sudden I remembered that this was the hotel that Nora had really,  really wanted to stay at.  After seeing that it had a rating of 4.7 out of 5 Stars – OUTSTANDING! and that we had already eaten at the adjacent Shoemaker’s Restaurant on a previous visit to town I clicked on the link to see what the accommodations looked like.  Suffice it to say I was impressed.  I signed us up for the least expensive, expensive room! The description of the rooms did not differ from one price to the other but only said…


Nora, no doubt, was quite pleased to hear we were not “slumming it” this time!  If they would have let me use my 27,000 Choice Hotel points that would have just about done the trick (fat chance!) seeing as 16,000 would have gotten us into the not too decrepid, actually quite nice, Sleep Inn.

Little did I know but The Craddock Terry Hotel is listed as one of a select number of hotels at!  It’s website described the place in glowing terms…

Today a name inextricably connected with the finest in luxury accommodations and hospitality, Craddock Terry was once associated with shoes. The Craddock Terry Shoe Company was, in fact, the first shoe company south of the Mason-Dixon Line and the fifth largest in the world. Built on the edge of the James River in 1901, the factory immediately became the backbone of the city’s commercial success. In recent years, it was converted into a luxury boutique hotel occupying the original building and the historic tobacco warehouse next door. Original architectural details such as brick walls, high ceilings, and large windows with views of downtown, the river, and the Blue Ridge Mountains complement the stylish modern décor, appropriately accented with shoes.

This picture does not do the room justice, it is fabulous and plush and big… and quite romantic!

When we arrived we found out why the price was less… we were relegated to a floor…. below! Elevator down, please! (Oh no!  What have I done I said to myself!)  However we discovered that though we didn’t have a direct view of the James River we were on the same floor as the restaurant and patio level… very nice!

There is a very large and beautiful shower along with elegant wash basin. Plus two fluffy white bathrobes!

On the bed we found an old wooden shoebox with a card informing us of our complimentary continental breakfast.  Just fill out the card, it said, put it outside your room and in the morning your shoebox will be filled with breakfast goodies.  And it was! Yum!

The atmosphere of the hotel breaths “creativity”. A shoebox by which you order and receive your continental breakfast is seen as you first enter your room.

For those of you wondering how much the Ritz cost us in case you might like to follow suit… well, it was $159 plus the tax and extras they always add (though Expedia claims to have a room for $139!).  Our credit card was not charged until we checked out!

Chip and Noura’s Life Group was a rousing success.  Sasha and Jessica had a fun and adventurous evening topping it off with chicken chili they made from the ingredients we brought from home.  And we all drove down to Brookneal, VA to attend Staunton River Community Church where Chip and Noura lead the worship ministry.   Afterwards it was off to the Ledo’s in Lynchburg for some delicious pizza!

So we give this excursion an A+ with the crowning glory of the Craddock Terry Hotel stay!   Starting to save up the nickels and dimes for our next visit. 

On the left, Shoemaker’s Grille. On the right, The Craddock Terry Hotel

And if you’re ever in Lynchburg and you’re not looking for a Frugal Freddie hotel this is definitely the one for you!

Poland WWII: Zygmunt & Batalion Parasol

Humory dopisują – żołnierze batalionu „Parasol” przy nasłuchu radiowym. „Szprotka” (Władysław Holender), „Graf” (Zygmunt Lutyk), „Niesz” (Stanisław Nowiński), „Ryś” (Zbigniew Chmaj).

I found this picture on the web.  The first time I’ve ever seen it.  The photo has a picture of my dad, Zygmunt (Sigmund after he came to the United States). He is known as Grandpa Sig to my kids though they never met him.  He died six months before his 5oth birthday and a number of years before Nora and I got married.

This photo was taken in Warsaw most likely in 1944 before the Uprising began.  The four young men are all a part of the Parasol Battalion of the Polish Underground.  Parasol means Umbrella in Polish.  They were named so because the Battalion was to join the Polish 1st Independent Parachute Brigade in free Poland when the country was won back.

Batalion Parasol logo

The caption below the photo says,

Humory dopisują – żołnierze batalionu „Parasol” przy nasłuchu radiowym. „Szprotka” (Władysław Holender), „Graf” (Zygmunt Lutyk), „Niesz” (Stanisław Nowiński), „Ryś” (Zbigniew Chmaj).

My attempt at translation shows it to say

Humor [codename] writes – soldiers of the “Parasol” Battalion listening at the radio. “Szprotka” (Sprat? = small herring] (Władysław Holender), “Graf” [Count] (Zygmunt Lutyk) , “Niesz” [No matter what?] (Stanisław Nowiński), “Rys” [Sketch] (Zbigniew Chmaj).

Zygmunt, my dad, is seen 2nd from the left in the back.

I look forward to writing more about this era of Lutyk Lore as I have time.  Much to say about Batalion Parasol, my dad, his younger sister Janina Lutyk [codename: Scarlett], known on one blog as the “Heroine of the Warsaw Uprising”.  She received three 3 medals of valor and her husband Jerzy Mirski [codename: Zapadko or Ratchet in English] who was the last leader of Batalion Parasol during the Uprising and received a medal of valor.

Friday Review: “Building Up One Another”

Thinking about starting up a small group?  Got one going and wondering what your next topic to focus on will be?  Got some young leaders you want to disciple concerning the practical outworking of Church life?  Got a college Bible Study you’re sponsoring and need fresh material? Look no further!  I have just what you need.

Each Friday I hope to review a book, or movie or other media, some old and some new.  Todays’ review is of  book that was released in 1973.  That’s almost 40 years ago.  It’s called “Building Up One Another” by Gene A Getz.  

The book’s a classic.  How do I know?  Well you can get a brand new copy online at various sites.  At  Christian Books in paperback for $9.99, at Amazon for $10.39 and at Barnes and Noble as a Nook Book for $10.52 (as of 8/15/2012).

The original cover

The original that I have still in my possession was put out by Victor Books did not have the Group Study Guide.  It cost $2.25 back in 1980!  I believe that someone actually posted the book in entirety on their site after this edition went out of print.  It’s for free so you might want to google it.

The beauty in this book is its simplicity and brevity.  The original sans study guide was a mere 120 pages (with big print!) but it is rich in practical application, good Church theology and continues to be relevant in today’s society where people ask “Do I need to belong or even go to a Church to be a Christian?”

As the title says this book is all about the “one anothers”.  The New Testament is filled with exhortations to “server one another”, “love one another”, “forgive one another”, be kind to one another” etc..  In all there are 58 “one anothers” in the epistles.

I remember going through this book the very first time.  My wife Nora and myself were part of a newly started Church and a non-negotiable foundation stone of it was everyone’s participation in a small group.  We called them “home groups”.  The justification?  The “one anothers”!  You could not live out Christianity in a vacuum.  So the small groups were meant to facilitate relationships.

A slogan that was prominent back then was “The Church is not a series of meetings but it’s relationships!”  The first time I heard that was from Larry Tomczak, a man with a vision for what was termed “New Testament Christianity”.  Years ago we thought the American Church had become too “institutionalized” and needed to be brought back to its New Testament roots especially in the area of relationships.

We saw that sections of scripture like Acts 2:42 and Acts 2:46 were alive with fellowship, praying together, sharing meals and meeting from house to house.  All about relationships and community.

Acts 2:42
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

Acts 2:46
Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart,

So we met at the Benny & Sheree’s home (the founding pastor and his wife) in those early days of the Church and opened up this book each week to study, discuss, pray and learn how to apply the truths found there and in the Bible.

The book’s layout made it easy.  12 chapters (from the original)

1 Members of One Another    7
2 Devoted to One Another   20
3 Honor One Another   29
4 Be of the Same Mind with One Another 36
5 Accept One Another   43
6 Admonish One Another   51
7 Greet One Another   60
8 Serve One Another    68
9  Bear One Another’s Burdens 78
10 Bearing with One Another     91
11 Submit to One Another      99
12 Encourage One Another   110

You quickly learn that you can’t obey these commands in a vacuum.  And wandering from church to church you could do some of these.  Not going at all negated 95% of the realities that the book pointed us to, that God intended us to experience. 

These commands are not just legalistic exhortations to perform robotic duties.  God’s blessing of joy, peace and love flow from the “one anothers” done in grace and faith.

I would have to say that the small group, the early focus on relationships and this little book spoiled me for a rich Church life.  For many, many years the fruit of this foundation of “one anothers” laid in my life abounded.  It became the DNA of this young Church and to this day 40 years later it is still bearing fruit. 

After that we held our own small groups.  Through them relationships were established that survive the test of time.  Even if you have not seen a person from your group for years the moment you meet up a special joy and kinship rises up within.

Few churches I have attended and been a member of since have had such a committment to the “one anothers”.  But I know it can happen again though.  That’s because its God’s Word and His plan for His Church!

So do your group a favor and pick up this book. You might want to start it off as a personal devotional if it’s not time for your group to do it.  You will benefit greatly.  And others will be blessed as you “Build Up One Another!”

The Chronicles of Narnia: Never Has the Magic Been So Real (Radio Theatre)

I’ve been looking forward to doing a review of this marvelous CD series ever since I started The World of Lu blog. 

A number of years ago I had the privilege of carpooling into Washington DC from Ashburn, VA with my friend Jeremy Hall, a Network Engineer who happened to be blind from birth.  Obviously I did all the driving… not that Jeremy didn’t volunteer every now and then offering to ease my load! 

I had bought the Narnia series some time before that, purchasing the books on CD one at a time.  I was very pleased with them and so I thought I would test them out on Jeremy.  I say test because Jeremy had a very developed sense of hearing.  Yes, most blind people do but Jeremy was special.  You see, he was somewhat of a virtuoso piano player/vocalist and had quite the sensitive ear to sounds.   So the series got a rigorous review.

Each day I would pick Jeremy up and each day we would take the 40 minute drive in and 40 minute drive back, most days popping the CD both ways.  I was thrilled with the presentation but Jeremy was even more delighted. 

These CDs were true Radio Theatre.  This was no sales ploy.  Each character had their own actor reading the lines.  When horses ran by there was the sound of galloping.  When rowing or sailing were involved the lapping of the waves against the oars and boats resounded through the speakers.  There was the wind. There was the chirping of birds. The sound of stairs being walked up.  Doors closing. And there was the sound of music, beautiful music throughout that complemented a marvelous narrator.

For Jeremy this was cinema at its finest. Everything but the visuals.  Not just everything, but more.  These CDs were not video soundtracks playing.  These were meant to fill in all the blanks that a missing cinema would cause.

Needless to say the CDs produced some of the most memorable and enjoyable drives in the midst of rush hour traffic imaginable.  Both of us could heartily recommend the entire set which you can purchase individually or in one set.

The price alone makes this an incredible purchase, 7 books on 19 CDs and all under $30! (as of 9/12/2012 on Amazon where it receives a 4.8 out of 5 star rating)

The Chronicles of Narnia CD Collection is presented by Focus on the Family and it includes The Magician’s Nephew; The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; The Horse and His Boy; Prince Caspian; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader; The Silver Chair; and The Last Battle.

Additional features not mentioned above include:

  1. Douglas Gresham, stepson of CS Lewis narrates the introduction of each book, sharing family insights and facts and impressions of CS.
  2. Paul Scofield does a fabulous job of narrating each book.
  3. The audio books are abridged.  However they are based on audio versions of the excellent BBC television presentations.  The recordings are brought to life in London by a cast of more than 100 actors.
  4. The series is a 1999 Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner

Other than some grumping over the abridged version presentation there is one other slight complaint.  That involves the voice of Aslan.  I agree that the stylistic approach to the voice is a slight bit irritating but passable.  Personally I don’t think it is even worth taking a tenth off an otherwise 5 star rating! 

Children and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy the CDs.  Take them on trips and listen in the car together.  Smaller children might have more difficulty in that context. Just depends on attention span.  I know some people like video over audio but overall the CDs are a marvelous effort and success and a great compliment to the books.

Hearing God: The Plumb Line

Behold, the Lord was standing by a vertical wall with a plumb line in His hand.
As young Christian it didn’t take me too long to run into the concept of “The Plumb Line” around church circles.  People would say that the Word of God is like a plumb line for your life.  Line your life up with the Bible and it will be a plumb line to keep focused on what is upright and true.  Measure what you do and say against the plumb line.  The plumb line?  hmmm… Now what’s that?
A quick look at Mirriam-Webster online dictionary shows you that the definition is “a line (as of cord) that has at one end a weight (as a plumb bob) and is used especially to determine verticality. OK, line (check), weight (check) and verticality! OK, what’s vericality?  And what’s it got to do with my new life in Christ?
The Mirriam – Webster site asks “What made you want to look up plumb line”?  Good question, what indeed!?!
Everyone on the site listed, “Bible Study” or Amos 7:7-9!  Looks like no one was checking on how to determine vericality… or even perpendicularity! (smile!)  They were all checking out the plumb line and what it is with respect to their Christian faith!
Building construction is the main area you’ll find people referring to using a plumb or plumb line.  A  plumb line is a straight line, that is perfectly vertical.  Builders need it so when they build they can be completely sure that nothing is leaning to one side or another. If walls are not vertical, the force of gravity will eventually deform them and may even lead to collapse of the building.
 The traditional tool for finding a plumb line is called a plumb bob.  It’s incredibly simple and pretty cool looking at the same time!  The plumb bob is a pointed weight attached to a string. Check out the pictures in this post.
It insures that things stay perpendicular or at a right angle to perfect horizontal.   By holding the plumb bob next to a wall, you can tell if the wall is vertical or not.
It’s easy to see why the picture of a plumb line would be an excellent reference to the Word of God. The plumb line represents the right and true straight line that all “straightness” or “rightness” is measured against. Such a cool concept has two reference verses, both in the Books of OT Minor Prophets.  One is found in the book of Amos, chapter 7 and the other is in the book of Zechariah, chapter 4.

Amos 7:7-9
Then he showed me another vision. I saw the Lord standing beside a wall that had been built using a plumb line. He was using a plumb line to see if it was still straight. 8And the Lord said to me, “Amos, what do you see?” 9 I answered, “A plumb line.”

And the Lord replied, “I will test my people with this plumb line.

In Amos we see the prophet describing God as the building inspector and he is examining the wall that has been constructed using the plumb line to see “if it is still straight”.  Then He says to Amos, now that I’m finished with this wall I’m going to check my people and see how they measure up to my straight line!

Zechariah 4:9-10
“The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house, and his hands will finish it. Then you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—these are the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth.

Again God speaks of building, this time of laying a foundation.  Gladness fills the hearts of people when they see the plumb line in the hands of the builder, Zerubbabel.  God is looking for those who want what they to do to line up with what God is seeking!

When we seek to know the will of God, to hear from God we must ask ourselves what can help us keep in line with truth and what will help us test the veracity of what we hear.  It is important to guard ourselves as best we can from falling into subjectivism or just being led by our “feelings”.  I submit that the plumb line for our hearing from God is the Word of God. Put what you hear to the test. People who walk around saying, God told me this and God wants me to do that must bring all that they think they hear to God’s Word and measure it against the plumb line, God’s standard, the Bible.
Take for instance a young couple saying that they believe God wants them to live together before marriage to confirm their compatibility or the family who pretends that they don’t really rent a room on their tax return when actually they do or the Christian who puts together political ads that mislead, misrepresent or downright lie about an opponent because they rationalize that it’s OK because it is against a pro-choice anti-pro-life candidate.
On issues of marriage do we look to God’s Word for a definition or do we follow the popular media or succumb to emotional presentations or dubious “scientific” explanations?
I understand that in our society saying “The Bible says” is akin to admitting that you are a bag of fries short of a happy meal.  Or that your brain is on hold and you’re saying “don’t confuse me with the facts!”  I am convinced and confident that the Word of God stands and is to be our standard.  I believe there is a way to understand and present the Word of God in a logical fashion without sacrificing our minds.
However hearing from God and understanding God’s will requires us to commit ourselves to a plumb line; to a standard that is unwavering and true. Only then can we be sure that we are building on a solid foundation and that the house under construction will not collapse from the eventual pull of gravity.
In this way we  can keep ourselves from straying from what is right and true.  We check all things via the plumb line of God’s Word.
John 5:39-40
[ Witness of the Scripture ] 39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
It is important to remember not to let the plumb line become the end in itself.  The plumb bob is the tool and we can become very excellent building inspectors… of our own dwellings and the buildings of others. The Pharisees were great building inspectors.  Many years ago I took such pride in being right that I missed the point.  I had what you would call a “Be Right” spirit! 
The purpose of a wall that is being measured by a plumb line is not straightness. That is not the end of it!  The plumb line confirms the strength and veracity of the wall or bridge or house or deck so it can accomplish the purpose for which it was built!
We must be careful to not stop at the inspection but always look past to see the Architect and Author of Life.  It is easy to look at the Bible and be filled with wonder at the amazing owner’s manual and become experts at wielding the plumb line.  King David spoke often in the Book of Psalms of delighting in the law of the Lord, how perfect and lovely it is.  A whole psalm, Ps 119 is dedicated to praising and rejoicing in God’s law.
But it is good to remember that David was said to be a “man after God’s own heart”. Though he loved the Law, his heart delighted and pursued after the Law-Giver.  So like David let us grow in knowing Him who is the Grand Architect and Lover of our Souls.  And let us be committed to His Word as the plumb line for all we say and do.

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