Thursday, December 09, 2004

What I will miss about Abilene

I am having my computer boxed up and ready to move tomorrow, so this will be my last blog for a while. Thanks for bearing with all the moving laments--this present suffering will be over before long. My brother and I leave next Wed. in my car for Nashville. Please pray for our safety on the road.

There are many things I will miss about Abilene, but here are a few:



Reading the newspaper and knowing at least half of those mentioned in the local news.

Sunsets and sunrises (don't see many of those)


The quiet streets--an asst. police chief once told me that a traffic jam in Abilene was "two cars at a stoplight."

Knowing I had a hand in educating some of the leaders in Abilene.

Sam Thomas Elementary School

Hendrick Hospital and the faith-based care given there.

In fact, all the doctors, dentists, nurses, hairdressers, tailors and other helping people who have served me with grace and skill

My associates at ACU where I taught for 8 years

The Reporter-News which get its licks and often misses the mark, but still serves up a local paper geared to its demographics and the moral values of its readers

The Abilene Public Library with its burgeoning programs and growth under librarian Ricki Brown and the Friends of the Library

Local Friday night football--not that I go to watch, but I love reading about it, watching the bands in parades and seeing the names of the sons and daughters of my friends in the paper

The many churches of all kinds which have loving, caring people

The good-deed doers in Abilene. We have the highest concentration of non-profits in Texas.

Sisneros Buick--earlier Fred Hughes Buick-- where we bought our first Buick over 30 years ago--they actually treated this gray-haired widow as one with some intelligence

The public school system which has recently come through many trials and pains, but is one the right track now with Supt. David Polnick

The local TV news which is often more upbeat than filled with blood and gore

The Public Library book sale where I could buy 4 paperbacks for a dollar.

The Mexican food restaurants, especially El Fenix where the cheese enchiladas are the best I have ever eaten

The three major movie theaters where a customer can always get an extra squirt of butter and can hole up on a Friday afternoon without being bothered by crowds

And last, but certainly not least, Trilogy my spiritual formation group.

But then Nashville has:

Brandon, Sheryl, Maddie, Ella and?

Otter Creek

Bradford Pear trees

More choices for eating and entertainment

The prospect of being trapped at home by snow

The wonderful downtown Public Library and the Frist Art Museum

and other wonders I can't forecast.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Random thoughts on a busy day

Hooray, yes I am thrilled by the third Thomas baby to arrive in June. Brandon and Sheryl have such beautiful, funny, cute, cuddly, intelligent....must I go on?

One of the things we puzzled about yesterday at Trilogy was why most people don't think of righteous living as being evangelistic or missional?

I have two very good friends, one a cousin, who have MS--why is it taking so long for a cure?

There is certainly a long list of people to call when you move--gas, post office, telephone, cable, electricity, water and sewer, doctors, etc. I am tired--I want to BE IN TENNESSEE!!!!!

Wigs have certainly changed since I wore one during the big hair days of the 60's. My friend Gina's is soft, silky, and very natural.

Several times this week I wanted to escape to the movies--When is Neverland coming out?

I love outside Christmas decorations. One house on the corner of my addition has a gigantic snowman. The batchelor who lives next door to me has gone all out with lights lining his driveway, a lighted wreath and outlined bushes. I have absolutely nothing--all is packed or shortly will be. I will make up for it next year!

Monday, December 06, 2004

More last things

Today was really special. The students and teachers at Sam Thomas Elementary and I had a panoramic picture taken in front of the school. Cam Hurst, the principal, arranged the affair. Standing with me were Lauren and Christopher Paul Wertheim, grandchildren of Ronnie and Darla Lorenz and children of Robyn and Paul Wertheim. My cousin, Brittany Tucker, also stood with us. It was a very wonderful time being with 900 children and many of their teachers whom I knew from times past. They are going to frame it and give me a print before I leave. Sam was all over the place as friend Wayne Hennington took the picture (he is a school photographer who loved joking with Sam). Cam said that the principal community was not the same since Sam died--there was no one to keep them close any more. Ann Mayhall, one of the teachers came up and said Sam gave her the first start in the classroom at Bowie. She is an excellent teacher. Sam had a good eye for those who loved children. In fact, at least one other teacher there also taught for Sam--Janie Moore. The school secretary is the daughter of Sam's secretary at Bowie; Nyla Rideout (can't think of her married name) grew up at Minter Lane and was in our Junior class for 3 years. She also teaches there. Diane Cope is an excellent teacher in 2nd grade at Thomas. The librarian Peggy Langford is a good friend and goes to Highland. My cousin's wife, Becky Tucker, teaches P. E. at Thomas. And Cam's wife Joan was a student teacher in Sam's classroom. Dina Longmire taught with me at Dyess. And those are only a few of the connections.

Then I went to Trilogy and the friends gave me a beautiful gift--three ceramic women who are meant to be stood in a circle of friendship. And besides that, we had New Mexico chips (a brand made only in Roswell, McKay's coconut cream pie and a yummy chicken corn chowder which I plan on serving during the holidays in TN.

My last worship committee meeting was a great inspiration as always. Gina Lewis had her new wig and looked marvelous. This committee has been a rich blessing in my life for the last 9 years. I maintained a log of all the songs we used in worship so that we did not sing some too often and so that some were not overlooked. That was a fun job for my librarian mind-set. Very often the Spirit moved in our meetings when just the right song or verse would come to our minds, or when Amy Boone brought a book or a scripture that was perfect for the day to come. Let's see, that means I had the privilege of helping plan 468 Sunday worship times. We have laughed and cried and prayed hard (especially during the women in worship issue).

The theme next Sunday is "75 Years and Counting." I pray the Spirit will pour in extra measure His love and guidance on our band of saints at Highland and on the worship committee.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

I love celebrations!

When you read the Old Testament, you can't get away from celebrations and feast
days, feast weeks and the year of Jubilee. I think Christians don't do enough celebrating--once a week is not enough to celebrate the blessings of God in Christ.

I've been going to a lot of parties and celebrations, and while they are sometimes tough emotionally, I love them. Yesterday a group of friends gave me a little reception in the atrium at Highland in recognition of my leaving. It was truly a wonderful afternoon, seeing not only many friends from Highland, but from around town. My cousins came over from Anson, a childhood friend from Hamlin showed up with her family, and old school friends came to drink punch and reminisce. I taught in 4 AISD schools and all were excellent situations with great principals and teaching budddies. Some of my friends from Austin Elem. School came yesterday, and we had a picture and fun talking about old times. When I think of all the dedicated teachers I associated with, I have to tear up thinking of the influence they have had on the children of Abilene with very little notice and pay. Bless them all.

Then today we REALLY celebrated the 75th anniversay of Highland in Moody Col. at ACU. Hundreds came and sang songs celebrating each decade of the history led by Lynn Anderson and Mike Cope. We even sang "Blue Skies and Rainbows." No, Lynn and Mike didn't lead the songs--they led us through the history.

I was privileged ( among others) to be asked to give a short forecast for the next 25 years of Highland, so I got to be on the stage and look out at all the 700 people at the luncheon. It was a glorious sight. I couldn't sing the traditional "The Lord Bless and Keep You" because of the lump in my throat.

Tonight is the last meeting with my small group which has grown from a small group of friendly strangers to a really tight and loving group over the years. I hate to leave them too.

No ever told me that six months could pass so fast. When I made this decision in July, I never dreamed December would be next week. But so it feels. What a blessing to be a part of such loving people wishing me Godspeed and lovely times in Nashville.

Thank you God, for the lovely band of friends who have been so dedicated, loving and concerned about me over these past 47 years.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Leaving the baby

Today I said goodbye to the NCCIL family and to my baby which I watched from the very first moment such a museum was even mentioned to today when it is known nationally in museums and the circles of children's illustrators. The NCCIL is the only museum of its kind--it exhibits and tours the ORIGINAL art work from children's books which have won the Caldecott Award (the highest award a book can win for its artwork). We have mounted some 30+ exhibits and toured them all over the country from Washington State to New York City and have files of accolades from all venues. And the best part is, we bring thousands of school children every year for tours and art lessons.

The Texas Commission on the Arts was in town this week, met at the NCCIL, and fell all over itself complimenting us. Needless to say I am very proud. But today I had to resign as a Board member and volunteer because Nashville is too far a commute for meetings. They responded by placing me on the Advisory Board--so the ties are still there. They also gave me a very nice reception, a little gift and wonderful compliments.

The NCCIL (National Center for Children's Illustrated Literature)is just part of the growing arts community in downtown Abilene and that community is largely responsible for the revitalization of the downtown area. It has been fun to see it develop from a deserted area to one just beckoning people to come, look, and enjoy. I have loved it.

The arts are so important to the cognitive development of children, and I am glad to have had a part in bringing that to the children of Abilene through the NCCIL. And of course, it fits very well with my great passion for children's books and children's literature. I can't wait to exercise that passion in the beautiful downtown Nashville Public Library where Maddie and Ella go for an excellent storytime. I wonder if they have a Friends of the Library group?

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Undeserving, but appreciative

At the risk of seeming prideful, I will be writing over the next few days about all the nice things people are doing for me as I leave. I write this for Maddie and Ella, but also to keep it in my memory.

Last night at the elders' meeting at Highland, the elders affirmed, blessed and thanked me for my service at Highland. After my pastor and friend Mike reviewed my years at Highland and my connection with the Copes, he opened it up to others to say what they wanted to. It was very gratifying and thrilling really to hear what they said. Some talked about my widowhood experiences and the way in which I dealt with that, some talked about my teaching at ACU and at Highland, one spoke of my work with the community with the NCCIL, one dear soul lauded me for the way I had reared Brandon, one said I had taught him the meaning of worship, one spoke of how much I had influenced his wife. The laugh of the night came when Jerry Strader talked about my work on the women's issue committee, and Mike said, "Judy was entirely neutral the whole time, right?" Jerry just said--"This is one strong woman!" After that they all lay hands on me and sent me out. What a wonderful experience.Ronnie Lorenz walked me back to my car, and I was speaking to him about how
undeserving I was of all the comments. Ronnie said, "I don't think you realize how much people think of you and how much you have influenced this church." Then I had to cry the buckets I had been holding in.

Then early this morning I attended a city council meeting as a member of the strategic planning committee for the Abilene Public Library. The committee report was presented today. As the session ended, Mayor Archibald said he understood that one member of the committee was moving, and he had me stand. He continued to thank me for my community service and said he understood it would take five people to replace me. Which, of course, is nonsense--nevertheless, it was nice, and I appreciate it.

All of this to say, I am undeserving--I just enjoy using the gifts God gave me--and I give Him all the credit for anything I have accomplished along the way.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Tom Brokaw

As Mike has done today, I too must write about Tom Brokaw retiring. I was a mere babe of 28 when I first began watching him. My day is not complete unless I watch the Nightly News as I began to do with Huntley and Brinkley. The NBC version has always seemed to me to be less biased and more journalistic than Dan Rather.

I am sure I will keep watching Brian Williams, although I do not feel the connection with him yet. I do admire Brokaw for leaving at his height to "give others their day." A somewhat selfless statement, I think. He is the epitome of small town boy made good, and he often beamed values even when they were not spoken on the air. His expression at the end of particularly difficult stories spoke volumes.

I will miss you, Tom.

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Joy to the world

Can there be a more magnificent sound than the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing Joy to the World?

This 300-year-old carol was Isaac Watts'interpretation of Psalm 98--"Shout joyfully to the Lord all the earth." An innovator in the field of church music, Watts has been called the inventor of the English hymn.

As I listened to the tape in my car tonight, the phrase "he rules the world with truth and grace...." popped out and grabbed me. If we could only let go of the notion that WE rule the world, what a better place it would be!

Monday, November 29, 2004

Moving on

I am getting to the point in looking at things in closets and trying to decide whether to move them to Nashville that I just want to throw all of it away. So my first New Year's resolution is to clean out closets every January and weed, weed, weed (in librarian's terminology).

I don't know what has happened to me--I was known in the AISD as the world champion weeder of libraries. It did not bother me to throw an old book in the trash, especially one that said, "When we go to the moon...." or one with racist illustrations or one that was falling apart and had not been checked out in 10 years.

But here I am with closets full of memorabilia, pictures, cassette tapes, old records ( I don't even have a record player!) unread magazines, and just plain old trash. REPEAT AFTER ME, I WILL NOT BUILD BIGGER BARNS, I WILL NOT BUILD BIGGER BARNS, I WILL NOT BUILD BIGGER BARNS.

Sunday, November 28, 2004


Today is the first Sunday of Advent. When the ancestors in my fellowship decided to rid most religious traditions from their practice of Christianity, they sometimes shot themselves in the foot. Such a time came when they forsook the celebration of the Christian or liturgical year which begins today with Advent.

Advent comes from the Latin word for arrival or coming and is a period of preparation for the birth of Jesus. It always begins four Sundays before Christmas.
It is a period of waiting in joyful hope in which the participant is given scriptures to read which not only look forward to the birth of Jesus, but which are about the importance of that birth and how it changed the world. It is a time in which we can rid ourselves of the hurry and anxiety of the season and slow down to meditate on the gift of God.

For example, tomorrow's readings include Is. 4: 2-6 in which Isaiah envisions a time of peace brought by the coming Jesus. And Mt. 8:5-11 in which a Roman centurion risks all to come to Jesus for the sake of his servant. Tuesday's verses are Is. 11:1-10, a beautiful and glorious prophecy about the coming of Jesus and Luke 10:21-24 as Jesus tells the disciples how blessed they are for seeing what they see as they watch him.

How about it? Could we slow down enough to spend 20 minutes every day until Christmas thinking about other things than presents, food and decorations?

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Christmas with the Kranks

While 3/4ths of Abilene was in Dallas watching the Abilene High game (they lost by 5 points unfortunately--kept up with the #1 team in the nation and scared the pants off of them), I went to see the new movie Christmas with the Kranks. It is taken from John Grisham's book Skipping Christmas which I read and enjoyed.

The movie underscored to me just how manic many people are about Christmas. The Kranks are ostracized by their neighbors when they decide to skip Christmas and take a cruise instead because their daughter is in Peru in the Peace Corps and is not coming home for Christmas. So they do not put up outside decorations, have their usual Christmas Eve party, nor buy a tree from the Boy Scouts.

When daughter changes her mind at the last minute and calls from Miami, the neighbors help the Kranks decorate and get ready for the party, and Luther Krank (the Grinch of the movie) does something very nice for his neighbors across the street whom he doesn't like very much. The movie is a little slow in areas, but the last half of the movie is fun and has the appropriate poignant Christmas message necessary in movies of the season.

Father, we so need to drop our self-indulgent bent for the next 5 weeks and remember just why you sent your son and what his entering our world brought to us in terms of your gift of love.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Divine Presence

Jeanenne Nichols had introduced me this year to Joan Chittister, a Catholic writer from whom the following statement comes:

We pray
to see life as it is,
to understand it and to
make it better that it was.

We pray so that reality
can break into our souls
and give us back our
awareness of the
Divine Presence in life.

Can the divine presence really be a reality in our lives? Obviously writers like Martin Luther, C. S. Lewis, and Chittister believe it can. May we find it often as we approach December.

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Give thanks

Even though the Pilgrims buried more people than they built houses for, they still found a reason for Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is one of the more fun holidays in a school setting--there is no demon lurking behind the corn stalk, and no pagan holiday trappings to avoid. Kids love to dress like pilgrims and Native Americans and to share the holiday at school. At the schools where I was librarian, I always got invited to their thanksgiving feast where they actually ate sweet potatoes, popcorn,nuts, chicken and cranberry sauce. It was a treat.

I am thankful for many things this season--thankful that God is giving me a new adventure in Nashville, that Brandon, Sheryl, Maddie and Ella are all healthy, fun, and Jesus loving, that I am warmed, fed, and comfortable. I am sharing the holiday for the first time in a long time with my brothers--one lives here and the other is coming from Kansas. We always have a good time. I am taking hashbrown casserole (Sorry, Brandon; we will have one Christmas) and the Brandon fruit salad--apples, mandarin oranges, bananas, lots of whipped cream and pecans.

Dear readers, have a wonderful holiday and be safe.

Lord, we thank you for all we have, all you are and all the blessings you have given us in the past and will give us in the future.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Big names

Two big names in the world of children's literature died this week. Give me your indulgence while I talk about them.

Nancy Larrick died last week at the age of 93. She made history with the publication of an article "The All-White World of Chiidren's Books" in 1965. She analyzed more than 5,000 children's books published from 1962-1964 and found that only about 6% of them included an African-American child in either the text or the pictures. Coming at the height of the Civil Rights movement, editors and publishers
were then influenced to begin publishing books with authors and illustrators of color. She virtually changed the world of children's literature.

Trina Schart Hyman died too young this week of cancer. A Caldecott medalist for St. George and the Dragon, the paintings she did were beautiful. I have never seen a greater rendition of a dragon than in her winning book. My students can probably remember my going on and on about her. I am so sorry we were never able to get her at the NCCIL.

Thank you Lord for skilled, courageous people who change our world.

Monday, November 22, 2004

A day to remember

Had Sam lived, today would have been my 42nd wedding anniversary. We had 29 good years together laughing, traveling, playing and teaching--all things we both loved. And of course, the best thing to come out of it was Brandon Scott Thomas, the love of our lives.

We celebrated our first anniversary on the day Kennedy was shot. What a day to remember. I was teaching English at Eula High School when the superintendent came in and said that school was cancelled for the next two days because of the death. My class and I just stared at each other for a long while and finally we let out a large collective sigh and filed out of the room. We couldn't wait to get home to the television news. It was certainly a weekend when television news came into its own--we all watched every minute of the coverage with tears and real thoughts about what was happening to our world. It was the most unimaginable thing to have this young vigorous popular president gone in a moment AND FOR IT TO HAPPEN IN TEXAS! And to watch the young courageous widow say good-bye was so sad.

And then 28 years later, I had to say good-by to my wonderful "Hon" and begin a new phase of my life. I am not the same person I was 13 years ago--Brandon says I look better (Thanks Babe!); I know I am a stronger, deeper follower of Christ; I know that I have changed many of the theological ideas and beliefs I had, and that
"is a good thing."

Thank you Lord for the years I had with Sam and those years which followed without him. You are my strength and light.

Sunday, November 21, 2004

Christmas music

As I mentioned earlier, I love Christmas music and begin to listen to early. It is my custom to buy at least one new cd a season. However, I have not found one this year that really strikes me--anyone out there know one?

One of my favorites is 2 years old I think--Avalon's Joy. "Jesus, Born on This Night" and "Good News" are just outstanding. And another favorite is God Came Near by Max Lucado and company (including Brandon Scott Thomas). The segment where Jesus enters the carpenter shop to say goodby always gets me. What a wonderful gift Max has for touching the humanity in all of us.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Hallelujah! March On!

I think it was Mother Teresa who said, "Thank you God for all the things I do not have." My tune today is, "Thank you God for the things I no longer have." Looking over a garage full of "sale items" gives one a new definition of materialism. Tables full of things I no longer want or need bring to mind the man who built bigger barns.

So glad the garage sale is over; the tables are down and everything is tidy in my garage. A wonderful moment today came when I called the Salvation Army to come get what was left. Thanks to God, a truck came this afternoon, loaded the leftovers and took them all away. The men who came couldn't have been nicer, loading things quickly, saying the money used at the thrift house helped the homeless and then they left saying, "God bless you."

Having known a family helped by the organization this year, I can do nothing but sing the praises of the Army and wish them more marching time and God's blessing on them. I highly recommend support of their endeavors and pray for their continued concern for people we sweep into the gutters.

Fun days with friends

The last few days have been enjoyable ones with friends. Morgan and Pat Phillips (long-time friends dating back to Brandon's babyhood) and I traveled to Graham Thursday to research one of Sam's relatives in an old Primitive Baptist cemetery out in the country--The Medlan Cemetary. It is serendipitious that both Pat and Sam have relatives buried in the same place. The cemetery is well-kept and in a beautiful place surrounded by trees. It reminded me of Groesbeck.

Today Kaye, Jeanenne and I took a last road trip to Fort Worth. We love going to Camp Bowie and visiting the Logos Bookstore there--the owner knows her merchandise--she actually reads and always has something new to recommend. Love it!
Then we paid our favorite shopping place a visit--The University South Shopping Center. Ate at the Blue Mesa Grill--very different Mexican food with a wonderful smoked mesquite salsa on the table with sweet potato chips and tortilla chips. We had gauacamole (eat your heart out, Mike Cope) made at the table --it was all great. Of course we had to make Chicos and Pottery Barn too. We didn't have time for Barnes and Noble.

Tonight Ronnie and Darla Lorenz helped me get ready for the great garage sale tomorrow. Darla has retracted her statement that "you really don't have much to sell." It is amazing what breeds in quiet, dark closets. Ronnie reminded me tonight how great it is to have a man around--he organized the garage by moving all the boxes, set up tables, actually swept the garage! and generally did things I could not do. Darla organized the tables and helped price. I can't wait until tomorrow is over.

Friendship is one of the best inventions of God.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Triumphal procession, scented purpose

"But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him." II Cor. 2:14

How often do you picture yourself in a triumphal procession spreading the aroma of God? This scripture has really spoken to me this week. I like the idea of being in a triumphal procession with God as the drum-major. I like the idea that we are marching with a scented purpose--not a dogmatic, agressive smelly one. What a worthy endeavor--marching in step in Christ with the purpose of showing others God.

Father, help my aroma to be one that you approve and enjoy smelling.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Anna Quindlen, Loud and Clear

One of my favorite columnists is Anna Quindlen. Following are some quotes from one of her recent books Loud and Clear:

"The death of the book is highly exaggerated. In 1999, 84%!! of Americans responded Yes to the question, Do you happen to be reading any books or novels. In 1963, only 50% and in 1952 18%."

"The most curious people are those who have shelves full of stero equipment and not a single book in the house, and the only thing their children see them read is Car and Driver at the Quick Lube." Judy Thomas's take on this that most parents who complain that their children must read the classics are those who read only People or Entertainment Weekly.

"Well-written stories with interesting characters manage to find an audience."
My question, can you find one of these on the best seller lists today?

"The Best American Short Stories sold just as well as Dilbert Gives You the Business in 2000."

"In 50 years, few of us will remember who survived (Vanadu), but they will remember "Harry" (and standing in line in costume at midnight to buy the latest copy.)"

Guess you can see why I like her--may her tribe increase.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

A living legend

Last night the AISD librarians gave me a going away party. It was fun and very humbling.

At least four of the group said I influenced them to go to library school. Others still remembered taking my children's lit class and then going to library school because of it.

The notes they wrote me made me cry. I guess I am a living legend--and I am glad--to be living, that is.

Thank you Lord for kind people who forget the stupid things I do and still love and admire me. Help me to be an influence in Nashville on those I meet.

Monday, November 15, 2004

A child is born

35 years ago last night, Sam and I were fighting football traffic around Shotwell rushing to get to the hospital in time for Brandon Scott's birth. He waited a while and was born at 6:34 a.m. on November 15 at Hendrick Hospital. He weighed seven lbs. and nine oz. and was 20 1/2 inches long with little fluffs of reddish brown hair around his head. Our long-awaited son (we had been married seven years) stared at us with beautiful blue eyes (I think most babies have blue eyes). My doctor was an Abilene legend Dr. Ray Buzbee.

My parents had beaten us to the hospital the night before and happily waited all night for the birth. I remember holding my Dad's hand during contractions. He was their first grandchild and became greatly loved by his Paw-Paw and Granny.

His name has an interesting origin. Sam's father was Adelbert Brann Thomas. His brother was Adelbert Brandon (His mother didn't like the Brann) Thomas. My maiden name was Brandon. Brandon was a natural for the first name. For his middle name, we chose Scott after Scott Hays, Sam's beloved principal who was dreadfully ill with cancer. So we had Brandon Scott Thomas. I think Sam's parents were disappointed that we did not name him Sam; however there were already three Sams in the family.

Down the hall, awaiting birth was Kaye Novak Price. Her daughter Hainey was born on November 16 at Hendricks. Hainey and Brandon became great friends later.

Apollo 12 was on its way to the moon on Nov. 15th. Sam and Judy Thomas felt like God had given us the moon and the stars too. No little boy was more greatly anticipated and loved. Thankfully, I was able to be a stay-at-home mother for at least four years, while he learned to talk, walk, play with friends, eat honey sandwiches with Paul Phillips and love church.

At age one, he began to hum little songs he made up (Much like Ella today) and he loved falling off the couch into Daddy's arms. He loved the story he called "Little Miss Riding Hood" and could say nursery rhymes at an early age. We have a tape of him singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star at age 2. The love of music came very early.

He loved running and playing with his dog Snoopy, craved dry oatmeal with sugar and Fruit Loops. His early birthday cakes were made and decorated by his dad--he learned early to love celebrations! Christmas was the most fun; we soon found out that he was allergic to real trees and quickly went to artificial. Teasured ornaments today are those we bought during his pre-school years.

When I went back to work, he stayed with a succession of baby-sitters including Maudie Bramhill and Flossie Stovall. At age 6, Sam took him to Bowie Elementary where he was principal for the year with his best kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Baxter.
I think he reminded some of the children several times that he was the son of the principal. One day he came home and told me that "Mr. Thomas" visited his class that day.

I am sure this is more than my readers ever wanted to know about Brandon, but I just can't help it. He has grown into an amazing man of God of whom I am inordinately proud. I wish Sam could see him now.

Happy Birthday, Babe. I love you!

Sunday, November 14, 2004

The Lorenz family

Warning: over the next few weeks there will be several "end times" blogs which will help me prepare to leave this place I have lived for 47 years.

For some reason this weekend, I have been thinking about and grieving over leaving my friends Ronnie and Darla Lorenz.

My very thoughts have been: "I will never again have friends who have loved me so dearly and taken care of me so completely."

Ronnie and Darla were babies when we met them (in their 20's) at the Minter Lane Church. We helped grow that church together as we grew in friendship. We weathered new youth ministers, slow growth of the church and the marriage crisis of close friends. Eventually, because of the youth progrom, they left for Highland.

But a new link was forged when Sam persuaded Darla to become his secretary at Bowie Elementary School. Despite her early protest, it proved to be a partnership made in heaven. She was still his secretary at Austin Elementary School when he died.

Ronnie and Darla saw me through Sam's death and the aftermath with loving hearts, although they were grieving terribly too. Ronnie quickly became Brandon's surrogate father. They took Sam's place at Brandon's Senior Dinner and graduation at ACU. We got through what could have been a huge problem with Brandon later ( a problem which ultimately remade BST into the man of God he is today). Then I got cancer in 1997, and again, they were there. Darla was with me when I had to call Brandon and tell him I had cancer. After the hospital at Darla's insistence, I spent several days in their home.

I have watched Ronnie grow from a young man to full maturity as an elder at Highland--highly respected by the church and all over Abilene as a man of ethics and compassion. Darla has become not only an excellent school secretary, but she is also a spiritual leader in her school.

Darla always checks up on me at least every other day. And if she does not hear from me, she has been known to send out a posse. One day she even left school to check on me when I didn't show up at a meeting I had forgotten.

We sit together in church holding hands during prayer and often eat lunch together on Sunday--which is the lonliest day of the week for me otherwise (Bless those widows you see sitting alone in church and take them in). We attended the West Texas Fair and its parade for years, parking Sam's pickup so we could all sit together in folding chairs and watch. We played in New Braunfels several summers and ate our weight there in the downstairs kitchen at The Other Place. We celebrated birthdays, Christmas, and snow. Their girls treated Brandon as their brother and saw him through Sam's death, braces and girl friends.

They are my shadows and my dearest friends. Thank you Lord for them and bless them with long life to serve you.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

The fruitful season

When my brothers and I were young, most of what we got in our stockings was fruit, nuts and candy. I guess that is why I go way overboard stuffing stockings now.

It is the season for Clementine oranges--wonderful round delights--easy to peel, no seeds and luscious. If you haven't tried them, break open your wallet and buy a box. Here they are 3.99 a box for about 20 oranges( on sale). Not a bad deal for a healthy snack.

On Nov. 1, Christmas cds go in the player and Christmas tapes go in the car to be enjoyed until Dec. 26. And even then some of the George Winston cds can go through January.

I guess you could say the Thomases are Christmas people--love the season, the weather, the stores, the music, the decorations, the gifts, etc.

Father, we celebrate your Son every day of our lives. Thank you for opening our eyes to the fact that it o. k. to celebrate his birth with the rest of the world on Christmas Day.

Friday, November 12, 2004

The Polar Express

I went to see The Polar Express today. I think I was the only one there without children.

Turning a beloved short picture book into a full-length film is a gamble. But most of the film rang my bell--It was So Chris Van Allsberg. The animators need to work on their characters' eyes some more and some of the movements were jerky, but children don't notice that. The train is magnificent! And the scene at the center of the city at the North Pole when Santa leaves gave me goosebumps--it was magic. The ending of the book was handled very well in the film making me misty as I always am when I read the book aloud. The addition of a ghostly hobo and slap-stick engineers stuck a jarring note--I did not like that at all; the rocking elves after Santa left was another useless addition. I liked the character development of the children on the train (not in the book). Tom Hanks was also very good as the conductor. All in all, it is a keeper and will be one of the stellar repeats of the season from year to year. I can't wait to buy a copy of the DVD.

Toys R Us is across the street from the theater, and I felt pulled to go and shop for Maddie and Ella. I was bad, but not as bad as I usually am. I am excited about Christmas in Nashville.

Thank you Lord for teaching to us to give gifts to those we love and to give ourselves to You.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

The Wray family clan

Yesterday I had my last appointment with Dr. T. James Wray who practices with his brother John Wray. These two gentle giants (tall) have a huge following in Abilene. Their father was a chiropracter and an elder at Highland. Their brother David is head of a department in the Biblical Studies Dept. at ACU and is hands-down one of the best teachers I have ever had. He is even taller.

Over the past 20 years James has steered me through cancer, arthritis, high blood pressure, and a host of other ailments. Thank you James for your gentle spirit, soft laugh, and sharp skills.

David's daugher Wendy was a huge part of Brandon's life as they grew up. An accomplished pianist, she accompanied him often, and they performed together frequently. She is now one of the ministers at a church in Dallas. Her husband Jon is the worship minister there.

The Wray brothers had the good sense to marry very strong, very intelligent women who have contributed much to Highland and the Abilene community.

So thanks to the Wray clan for letting your light shine in many venues for the sake of others.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Revolution and the retired ones

I attended the retired teachers' dinner sponsored by AISD today. It was good to see all those folks--never seen so many gray hairs in one place except at a rural Church of Christ.

The entertainment was a group of students from Abilene High and Cooper High--the group had about 15 violins, a bass guitar and 2 drum sets. They were magnificent! Watching the retired teachers around me reminded me that people don't know how to respond to performances. Some had very sour looks on their faces; some talked to their neighbor; some got up to hunt coffee. This is true of many adult audiences when students perform. A little smile goes a long way to a performer and an engaged listener is a joy. To give the teachers credit, they did give the group two standing ovations which were highly deserved.

Thanks to the kids and their teacher for a well-spent lunch!

Tuesday, November 09, 2004

The Learning Commons

I have spent the last three days visiting ACU's library as part of the visiting committee. Great things are being planned for that facility. Before the Centennial in 06, they plan to implement a "learning commons" which will feature at least 14 new public access computers, a writing consultant, and a coffee shop for those students who want to come into the library and write and finish a product before they leave. Larger schools like Trinity and TCU have similar affairs and are raving about them.

It is nice to be on the cutting edge of something instead of lurking behind and griping about change. The new librarian hired last year from Purdue has been a glavanizing force in league with the provost Dwayne Van Rheenan. What a pair--ACU is so fortunate to have them.

Collaborative learning will be emphasized. As Marc Hamilton put it in a meeting, the 20 page print paper is here to stay, but many professors are asking students to do more visual alternatives with pictures, audio, video, theater components. And that jives so well with what I have been hearing about postmodern students. They crave such assignments. How exciting to watch a new generation!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Telling stories

"The disciples came up and asked (Jesus), "Why do you tell stories?" He replied, "You've been given insight into God's kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn't been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understandings flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That's why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight." Matt. 13:10-13 The Message

This morning, Mike told the story of the Bible from Creation--Genesis to Revelation 22; closing with "Come, Lord Jesus. And he did it by telling stories--those stories we all learned as we came up through Bible school--the stories we got star stickers on a chart for knowing; the stories that brought us to read the real thing in the Bible. We wondered if it were really a whale that swallowed Jonah and found that it was a "great fish." We wondered if David really danced naked in the streets, and sure enough....They were stories that nudged us toward receptive insight...stories that led us into the deeper life of the Spirit as Jesus described the woman with perfume in Mark 14 who "did what she could when she could."

Thank you Lord for stories. May we never denigrate their importance.

Saturday, November 06, 2004

God's Poiema

"For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Eph. 2:10

"...God says to us in Ephesians that "we are his workmanship"--his work of art.
Another translation: We are his poiema--his very own handwritten Shakespearen sonnet. You're made in the image of the God who can take disjointed words and make beautiful lyrics out of your life...." Joy Sawyer, The Art of the Soul.

Isn't it nice to know that we are a poem written by God for the good of others?
Do we live up to the Creator's goal in making us? I so want my poem to be a classic like Emily Dickinson's, and not a Shel Silverstein poem. I want my poem to mean something to those I love and to those I serve. I want my poem to be included in the unabridged version of "The Great Cloud of Witnesses" when I am gone.

Father, help me to live my poem to your expectations and show me grace when I fail.

Friday, November 05, 2004

The future

Charles H. Duell, commissioner of the U. S. Patents Office announced in 1899,
"Everything that can be invented, has been invented."

I am glad he was very wrong. I had cataract surgery this week--the doctor cut into my eye, emulsified the cataract, and put in a new lens. It only required local anesthesia and one day of not bending over or picking up anything heavy. The next day I was driving, attending a luncheon, and watching television as usual with better eyesight which should get even better as the week goes on. I don't think they did that in 1900!

Futurists have a hard time, particularly if people live to see what they predicted really didn't happen. There are those who always despair about the future, seeing dire things happening--Christians should be among the most optimistic people living because of Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today and forever. Martin Luther wrote, "Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace. It is so sure and certain that a person could stake his (her) life on it a thousand times."

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Bloom where you are planted

"Religion and art spring from the same root and are close kin." Willa Cather

Paul Zelinksy said today that his job as a children's book illustrator is to make the words of the story bloom. I like that metaphor. Pick up any children's picture book, choose a word and see just how the illustrator has made it bloom in the picture on the page.

It strikes me that as a Christian, it is my job to make the words of Christ bloom on this earth. The blooms open not in extraordinary ways--but in the very simple, ordinary hours when we pat someone on the back, encourage a child, take food to a home of illness, make a short phone call, or pen a warm note. The words "cup of cold water" bloom in us and spread his light (to mix metaphors).

"Why, anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side." Mark 9:41 (The Message)

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Speaking the lingo

Acts 17 is a very interesting chapter to read every now and then when we tire of the "talking-head" culture in which we live.

Paul is visiting Athens; he sees a city full of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers who like to shoot the breeze on virtually every wind of intellectual discourse. Joy Sawyer says in her book The Art of the Soul: Meditations for the Creative Spirit "The same people today would hang out at the local Starbucks, sipping lattes and arguing over the validity of deconstructionism and postmodernism."

As Paul continues to talk all over the city about the resurrection, these learned Athenians ask him to speak to them. He seizes the opportunity by using the Athenians' own philosophy, poetry, religion and basic logic in order to help them understand God. He actually compliments them on their own interest in religion, treating them respectfully. And then he proceeds to tell them about "The Unknown God."

Some sneered; some said they wanted to hear more; and several believed, including a woman Demaris. (I wonder if she was one of the Athenian philosophers?)
At any rate, Paul did not shirk talking to people who were "of the culture." How often do we do that? Maybe it would not hurt us to bone up a little bit on deconstructionism, postmodernism, and the emerging church--we might save a few more of our young adults and those who are dallying with other forms of religion.

Father, help us to be more like Paul and less like the folks in Laodicea.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Pray for the creators

We are opening a new exhibit tomorrow at the NCCIL ( with the new work of Paul Zelinsky. His Rapunzel in medieval dress won him a Caldecott in l998.

I have been asked to lead a prayer for the luncheon honoring him on Thursday. In thinking about that, I tried to picture a world without artists, musicians, writers, actors, or poets. I don't think I would like to live in that world.

The following quote is from Jeff Berryman at the Zoe Conference several years ago: "If you want changes in Hollywood, in the mass culture, and in the lives of your children and grandchildren, do this simple but hard thing, and my intuition tells me things may just change. Do this. Go to the artists in your churches, the poets, the actors, the musicians, the designers, the painters, the potters, and the screenwriters.

Go to them, wherever their lives are at, and hold them. Tell them to pray and work. Tell them to write. Tell them to unfold their poetry to God and to ask the Holy Spirit to be present in the work. Tell them to dream films, and to envision plays, and to dance with the gift that God gave them. Tell them that you will pray for them, and then do it.

Accept their oddities, forgive them when they sin, and extend to them the safety and freedom to do their work. My faith is that God will bless them and care for them. One other thing, tell them that nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus."

Father, thank you for all those who create beauty and cause us to think. Bless them all tonight.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Reader's choice

For several years, I have ranted in every forum possible about the Accelerated Reader program which is now taken over the schools in Abilene. In that program, students are allowed to choose only the books that are listed in the program (all are identified by certain colored dots). The program covers only fiction--that means the 3rd graders who used to dash to the dinosaur books can no longer do that.

An even more egregious feature of the program is that after students have read the book, they must take a test (most questions are phrased so that the student can answer with a short answer of one or two words--in other words, fill-in-the blank questions which are the lowest form of learning.) The questions are on a computer dedicated to the program. If the student cannot pass the test, he or she must reread the book and take it over. Points are given for scores on tests and in some schools, points earn special favors or gifts. A trip to McDonald's in a limosine comes to mind. Other little gifts are like those in Cracker Jacks. Teachers have been know to grab books out children's hands saying, "You can't check that out; its not on the accelerated reader list." In some schools, teachers are checked by the principal to see if their students have enough reader points. If not, they are called on the carpet. In a school district down the road, the program is tied to students' reading scores on their report card.

How would you as an adult like to have to take a test after every book you read?
What if your salary depended on it? What if you really loved non-fiction books about dinosaurs, dogs, Texas history, knighthood? And in this program,you had to go to the public library on the sly to check them out.

What a travesty of teaching the enjoyment of reading, of teaching students reader's choice! Not counting the fact that students are learning that competition is everything, even in reading. And to be the best with the most points gets you the most acclaim.

To make the love of reading a lifetime skill, children need to find books that they can't put down--books that they take to bed with a flashlight because they can't bear to stop reading what may be the best book they ever read. Accelerated
Reader turns off all the flashlights with its requirements and its dumbing down tests.

Maybe Nashville never heard of Accelerated Reader...

Sunday, October 31, 2004

A sound in the heart

"Among the many Chinese and Japanese ideographs for our word 'idea' is one that combines the character for sound and the character for heart. The heart being the seat of intelligence as well as that of emotion. Thus an idea is something that makes a sound in the heart." Katharine Paterson

In this divisive political season, I hope that whoever wins can come up some new ideas that make sounds in the heart like Kennedy's Peace Corps or H. W. Bush's Points of Light--ideas that grab the heart and make us better people.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


I really like this Eve Merriam poem from It Doesn't Have to Rhyme:
Morning is
a new sheet of paper
for you to write on.

Whatever you want to say,
all day
until night
folds it up
and files it away.

The bright words and the dark words are gone
until dawn
and a new day
to write on.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Diamonds and toads

One of the Grimm fairy tales is about two princesses. One of them was loving and giving and whenever she spoke pearls and diamonds fell from her lips. The other was selfish and nasty. When she spoke, out came toads, snakes, and lizards. Some of the political ads we are getting seem very close to the latter princess. I just do not know how people can say on national TV or local, in this case, things that even the most unread voter knows are absolutely false. The Republicans are trying to unseat our long-time Congressman Stenholm--a very faithful, devout Lutheran by tying him to abortion and same-sex marriage. I expect to see toads, snakes and lizards soon to appear on the opponent's lips.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

generation gap

"There is no remembrance of men of old, and even those who are yet to come will not be remembered by those who follow." Ecc. 1:11

In my class last night, we were sharing conversion experiences. One of the women (Georgia Matthews) shared that she gave her life to God at one of the first Billy Graham Crusades in Florida. I shared that he was one of my spiritual heroes.
Then a young university student asked, "Who is Billy Graham?"

I guess that is an example of how far the "emerging" young people of today are from the religious arena in which I grew up. She has probably never heard of Batsell Barrett Baxter either.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Finding your song

I am moved that my granddaughters love music and sing often. Ella has made up this song that she sings almost every day which no one can figure out. It always has the same catchy tune and is sung in some Middle Eastern dialect (or is she speaking in tongues?). One night while they were here, Maddie woke Brandon and Sheryl in the middle of the night singing a song. Her pallet was right next to their bed.

Tom Ehrich in his On A Journey column wrote: "I know how music clutches your soul, and then grows with you and you with it, until your life becomes a CD of melodies: some fresh, some stale, some haunting, some soothing, and some needing another verse. I know the elation that music can bring, but even more the sadness, the mellow and often bereft awareness of deep longings, an inner hand eager to strum a tune and be released, an inner voice straining to sing love close and the blues away. It takes time to find your song. We all have one, I believe. A skill, a voice, a word, an ear to listen, a heart to love, a story to share. It might be a skill we set out to achieve. More likely, life and God and we will compose a song that surprises us, that contains a truth we hadn't planned on knowing."

My song is about to take a decided turn to country Western. I am excited about this new verse in my song and am anxious to see how the melody turns out.

Thank you God for the gift of music and the promise it brings as we endeavor to praise you.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

A genealogy of food

Our book club (Minter Lane, now in its 21st year) just finished Consuming Passions; a Food-Obsessed Life. I would recommend it--funny, full of good recipes and a look at Southern culture. I quote from two sections: "...My family lives on in their recipes. I bring Mimi's chocolate cake to potlucks, and Aunt Tempe's majestic coconut layer cake to holiday parties. I make Aunt Blanche's pancakes on Sunday mornings. The aunts, living and dead, left me with a legacy of food." " In our family, a meal at Mama's house is a lesson in genealogy. Each dish has a pedigree, going back many generations. Whether it's genes or environment, I couldn't escape stories--or recipes--if I tried."

I thought about those sentences as I fixed Orange Salad Supreme for Brandon this week for probably the 50th time. It came from a favorite aunt Dorothy who got it from a relative of her husband [don't know who]. He has learned to fix it at home and perhaps his girls will carry it to their homes as they marry. And that is the way family history develops.

Lord, thank you for all the good cooks in my heritage--I honor them as they honored you in hundreds of potlucks, food to the bereaved,and dishes for those who were ill.

Monday, October 25, 2004


Cheerios on the floor, "Fruities" in the pantry and sippee cups on the cabinet. As you can tell, I have been entertaining my 2 gorgeous, gifted and talented, humorous and fun--just-to-watch grandchildren. Oh yes, Brandon and Sheryl came too. They were here from last Tuesday until 8:00 today--a nice long visit, but still not enough. That is why I am moving to Nashville.

The week was one of visits with old friends, wonderful honors for Brandon, and my heart filled with pride at it all. When Royce read to the alumni all the things Brandon did while in school, I wondered how he found time to go to class and graduate magna. Of course, he continues his wild ride now in real life. It tires me out to observe. Needless to say, it was quite a homecoming!

Now I really have to get down to the nitty gritty and pack some more books, really clean the house for an upcoming open house next Sunday (please pray for that--the time is drawing nigh when I need to sell this house), and get many other odds and ends accomplished. I wish I could have gotten on that plane to Nashville and had all this behind me.

A long list of "last-times" will come this month--can't say that I am looking forward to them, but they must come. I have to keep telling myself that Nashville will be worth it.

Thanks to all of you I saw at Homecoming who said you are reading my blog--I can't imagine why--but thanks.

God give us the strength to accomplish all the days you have planned out for us and to do it giving you all the glory and our best service in your name.

Monday, October 18, 2004

The mystery of eternal optimism

I really had fun with the Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) today. What a neat way to spend a Monday a month. I enjoyed their enthusiasm, their questions, and their breakfast buffet. It is so much fun to read to an audience and have them enjoy it.And I always enjoy indoctrinating a new roup And I always enjoy indoctrinating a new group about the pleasures of reading aloud. Thanks MOPS for the morning--it made my day.

When I leave a group like MOPS, I have great hopes for the future of our weary world--fifty young women with one or two or more babies taking time to come and hear about being better mothers and time for communal sharing with others in the same boat. Their crafts activity for the month is to ship boxes of materials to children all over the world through Franklin Graham's Samaritan Purse project--I don't know what is in the boxes (maybe socks, toothpaste, a toy, an envelope with $5, etc.), but I wish they could also send their hopes for peace and love to the children as well. If the mothers of the world ran the world, I believe we would have far less strife and fighting--you see, we don't wish to see our babies hurt, suffering or starving.

"Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness." James 3:18

Sunday, October 17, 2004

The times, they are a-changin'

Women served communion from the aisles today at Highland. The roof did not collapse; the floor didn't fall into a sulfurous chasm; we were not struck by lightening. As far as I know, no one walked out.

I never thought I would live long enough to see women participating in worship by reading scripture, singing on the praise team, leading the congregation to prayer in Oasis, and serving communion. But at age 66 I have, in the bravest and best-eldered church anywhere around. Praise God!

"Let everything that has breath praise the Lord." Ps. 150:6
"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Gal. 3:28

Friday, October 15, 2004

Bequest of Wings

I'm working on a presentation for MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) next Monday and ran across these good sayings about books and reading:

"We Americans love ice cream. And the way we love ice cream is the way we should love reading. Passionate involvement, willingness to try all flavors, eating it in all seasons, with a pint always in the freezer." Norma Fox Mazer

He ate and drank the precious Words--
His spirit grew robust--
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was Dust--

He danced along the dingy Days
And this Bequest of Wings
Was but a Book--What Liberty
A loosened spirit brings--

Emily Dickinson

"A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say."
Italo Calvino

Good reading today!

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Soul Feast

"I pray that out of his glorious riches, he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith." Eph. 3:16, l7a

Mike is preaching a series on Spiritual Formation for 4 Sundays. It has been the goal of my spiritual formation group Trilogy to grow up as much as possible in our inner beings. Spiritual formation never ends--the process continues for a life-time as we dig valleys of trust and as God provides eye-popping times of glorious discoveries and guides us on the way to growth.

I have many books about spiritual formation, but my favorite is Marjorie Thompson's Soul Feast--An Invitation to the Christian Spiritual Life. It is a "dialogue concerning how we nurture and sustain spiritual vitality in contemporary life." Her goal with the book is that all of us can say, "My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods, with singing lips, my mouth will praise you." Ps. 63:5

As she writes about the spiritual disciplines which bring us to formation, the pages are lined with quotes from saints and religious leaders, with appropriate scripture and suggestions of other books and guides on the topics discussed. The appendix is a group study guide for each chapter and ends with a long annotated bibliography.(Librarians love annotated bibliographies).

Perhaps this book would help you in your growth. Are there others anyone wants to share?

Lord, "the unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple. I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands." Ps. 119:130-131

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


Thirteen years ago today, late in the night before dawn, my husband Sam Thomas died from prostate cancer. We are still feeling his loss.

My relationship with his mother, whom we called Mow, was an uneasy one. However, recently I was in a writing workshop where the teacher prompted us to write a letter to someone we had been avoiding. This is the result:

Dear Mow,

He came out huge--10 lbs.--screaming and bloody in the middle of the bed at home. The doctor wrapped him in a tattered cup towel. Being the last of three children and a "mistake" at that, the occasion of his birth was not an auspicious one. The family didn't gather to ooh and ahh. Only you and your mother saw him at first.

But he grew up to be your favorite, and the one who took you in when no one else would have you because of your prickly personality.

Mow, this a thank you letter for Sam whom we both loved and cherished and lost too soon.

Thank you for scratching and clawing out a life for Sam and his siblings when your husband sank into years of alcoholic stupor. Thank you for teaching him funny songs and games to pass the days of his deprived and desperate childhood. He later sang the songs to Brandon under very different circumstances. Thank you for knowing when to leave him with his Aunt Ruby and Uncle Ralph where he learned the hard lessons parents would normally teach---the work ethic, honesty and integrity. Samuel Alexander Thomas became a fine Christian man respected and loved by all who knew him--he was indeed a legend among his peers. Thank you for my Sam.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Friday Night Lights

I recommend this movie--I was pleasantly surprised by the treatment of the subject and the lack of caricatures. Of course, I guess it is of more interest to those who live in the area portrayed--Shotwell Stadium is there, the Cougars are there in their blue uniforms. Having grown up in the football culture (2 brothers who played) of West Texas, the film was nostalgic for me. As a former teacher at Cooper High School, I never thought I would cheer for the Permian Panthers, but I found myself doing that.

Billy Bob Thornton did a good job on Coach Gaines. I never thought I would hear "My goodness gracious" coming from Thornton's lips. I was sorrowful when one of the main characters "Booby" felt his life was over when he could play no more football. That is not uncommon in this culture--and I feel like screaming when I hear it. Bob Trelease says that if fathers would spend more time reading to their sons than throwing balls, fewer boys would wind up in special classes as nonreaders.
As I hear my friends who teach at ACU speak of their athletes who cannot compose a short sentence or read a paragraph, I weep.

Sometimes the adoration of sports eclipses that of you, oh Father. Please forgive us of our silliness.

Monday, October 11, 2004


"They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads...."

Out of the blue, one of my college roommates called and said she was in town and wanted to come by. I have not seen her in 35 years--what a joy to see her again.
And I must say that we have both held up quite well. Vivian Davis Moore and her husband Jim and his singing partner are employed by the Mehtodist Church to give retreats, youth meetings, etc. They sing, play and talk of their faith. Jim and his partner (Tom, I think) began as "Dust and Ashes." I don't know if they retain that name or not. They live in Washington amid all that beauty. I may never see her again, but we will sing together in heaven in even greater beauty.

Thanks you Lord for the prospect of our heavenly reunion with you, Jesus, the angels and all our loved ones who have gone before.

Sunday, October 10, 2004


"He covers the sky with clouds; he supplies the earth with rain and makes the grass grow on the hills." Psalm 147:8

Abilene is big sky country--for the last two days the sky has been bright blue decorated with beautiful clouds of all kinds--colors ranging from the purest white to kitten gray. They have been fluffy, wispy, heavy, ringed in sunlight, dripping drops of rain. They have moved all over the sky with bright blue showing between them. I absolutely do not know how anyone can believe that there is no God when viewing scenes like I have described. Only He could have created this majesty.

Thank you God for the lessons we see in your lovely creation.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

Once upon a time

Yesterday, as a heavy fog was burning off, I looked outside and saw a setting for a fairy tale. The aura outside was bright, but still hazy, giving the scene an ethereal feel. It felt as if I could walk right into a magic woods and see things I have never seen before like Sleeping Beauty or Alice. It truly was a once-upon-a-time feeling.

Thom Lemmons has called the phrase "once upon a time" an incarnation. Just think of the delicious feeling you got as a child when you heard those words. Wouldn't it be nice if adults could have those feelings every now and then? Unfortunately our acceptance of awe and astonishment usually stops about fourth grade. I had the same feeling as I sat in Woodmont Hills at the Zoe Conference listening to 1,200 worship leaders, praise team members and others who loved worship give praise to God. It was a touch of eternity--a true incarnation of our love to the Father.

Father help me to take that incarnation to services tomorrow and offer it up
to you.

Friday, October 08, 2004

The glow

'Tis the season when my part of the globe glows with yellow, orange and red. One of the things I miss about our house at Potosi is the red oak tree in the front yard. It began changing colors down in the middle of the tree and then spread outward in the flashiest display of color anywhere. I live in a fairly new addition, so there are not many trees here.

My October decorations are out; oreo cookies with orange centers are in the cookie jar; apples are in the fruit bowl; pumpkins and candy corn are in the candy bowl. October issues of Southern Living and County Living sit in the magazine rack. For a fun seasonal treat, mix l pgk of candy pumpkins or candy corn, l pkg. black and orange M and M's and l can of lightly salted cocktail peanuts. Yummy!

May the unsettling work of the Holy Spirit bless and fill your fall days and bring you peace.

Thursday, October 07, 2004


One of the wonderful things that came out of the Zoe Conference was that we all got to meet other bloggers who have taken the time to read our blog and comment on them. I did not get to meet all of you, but thanks to all who came up and said hello--this is a special relationship created by the Lord and technology.

A special person who came up was Cynthia Fletcher, the niece of one of my long-time friends from Hamlin. She is sending the blog on to her father in CA. Thanks Cynthia--I have admired the whole Fletcher family for so long. Marylyn and I survived high school together and ACU. Maude and W. L. Sr. were role models long before I knew what that was. I still remember the loving timber of their voices and the acts of kindness to me. A God-gifted family for sure!

Thank you Lord for friends near and afar; for the pleasure of sharing ideas with like-minded people; and for your gifts of love and patience with all of us.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004


Just go back from the Zoe Conference and visitin' in Nashville--surely one of the prettiest places I've ever seen. The conference was a smash hit--the major speaker Brian McClaren open eyes to new venues and asked challenging questions of the great servants who were there. Over 105 worship leaders attended their session--10 years ago the designation hardly existed. It was well-done and moved my heart with compassion for ministers who struggle without any encouragement week after week and who long for communication the conference provides only once a year. Is there some very rich man or woman out there who can fund a retreat for the tired and discouraged? I visualize a retreat place like Laity Lodge where they can come together in beauty and heal for a week or more. Good counselors, good food and good companionship should be available too. More about the conference later. Natually I came home with Maddie's cold she had already passed on to Sheryl and Brandon--she shares freely!

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Amazement and wonder

"People were overwhelmed with amazement." Mark 7:37

Max Lucado has said,"The most valuable thing a Christian has is the edge of amazement on which he(she)stands." How long has it been since you felt amazement at the Son of God? or at the wonders of God? Or has the miracle become the mundane for you?

Read the gospel of Mark. Amazement is mentioned at least 12 times there. In Acts the people continue to be utterly amazed...amazed and have wonder and amazement at what had happened. One of my favorite preachers, Mike Lewis, once said "Without a sense of wonder, our routines will kill us." My spiritual formation group is reading Receiving the Day; Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time by Dorothy Bass. I read today, "Amazement and festivity are hard to come by in a society that sets its sight intently on productivity."

As we were leaving our rooms for dinner, the women at the Highland women's retreat were wooed away from our trek to eat by a gorgeous double rainbow above our heads. What a reminder of God's promise!

Life should not be just a quest for productivity, but a celebration of life, love and wonder. Stop, Look, and be amazed today!

Monday, September 27, 2004

What would you save?

Eudora Welty's mother rushed into her burning house to save her collection of the works of Charles Dickens. Her neighbors thought her crazy. I empathize. And I got to thinking what would I rush in to save? Oh, there are the given things: videos and photograph albums of the family, the baby book, a family Bible, cherished pictures on the wall, the Zoe CDs and folios, the memory book made by Brandon and Sheryl and presented to me on Christmas, 2000,the three books of illustrated poems and scriptures given me by Bess Walton, my journals of quotations, and the wedding albums, etc.

Aside from those, what book would I rush in to save? I have so many favorites it is hard to say--maybe the short story book Sam gave me, the antique geography book used by Sam's dad in school, my mother's school text of Romeo and Juliet, my out-of-print copy of The Harvester, or Sam's old book about William Greenhill. But what "regular" book? I guess it would have to be Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies--surely one of my favorite books of all time.

What would you save?

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Duchess Anna Amalia Library

On September 3, 2004 the Duchess Anna Amalia Library in Weimar Germany was destroyed by fire. So what? The library was established in 1761 in the Green Castle of Anna Amalia. Among the works destroyed were a collection of 18th century musical works and the renowned book collection of the first librarian Daniel Schurzfleisch, who brought them to the castle on 35 horse-drawn carts in 1722. Johann Goethe served as supervisor of the collection for over 30 years.

Other treasures destroyed were 10,000 original editions of Shakespeare. 50,000 classics were irreparably damaged, but some 6,000 works, including a 1543 Bible belonging to Martin Luther, were saved by a chain of people who rushed into the burning building and sloshed through sooty water....The staff was in tears when firemen prevented them from continuing as the roof threatened to cave in.

The cause is thought to be faulty wiring. Government officials called the fire a "national culture catastrophe and a great loss for world heritage." It is certainly a loss for world scholars as well.

I suppose it would be equal to our Library of Congress burning down....perish the thought!

Saturday, September 25, 2004


As a self-proclaimed bibliophile, I enjoy stories about others. Have you ever heard of Abdul Kassem Ismael (AD.938-995) who was Grand Vizier of Persia? He never left home without his personal library.

On his many travels as a statesman, he was always accompanied by a train of 400 camels just for his library of 117,000 volumes. They were trained to walk in alphabetical order so tht each camel-driver-librarian could retrieve any book quickly. Each camel carried about 300 books. The camel train was nearly a mile long. Wouldn't the people at an oasis hate to see them coming....

Friday, September 24, 2004

Daily Bread

"The Israelites ate manna forty years...until they reached the border of Canaan. Ex. 16:35

It didn't take long for the Israelites to begin to complain. It took them about 45 days. "(In Egypt)...we sat around pots of meat and ate all the food we wanted." Exodus 16:3. So God sent manna and quail which they ate for the next 40 years.

Can you imagine eating the same thing for 14,600 days (40 years)? They knew that God was taking them to a land flowing with milk and honey and they began to complain to the One who had brought them out of SLAVERY. Contemporary Christians would not stand for it either. We demand more variety in our food and in our church life. I think we would begin to complain sooner--like the next day.

I was stricken last night as I opened the one bag of groceries I had just bought at United ($60 for ONE bag). I glanced over at the evening news and saw a man crying in Haiti which surely must be the most miserable place on earth right now. The poorest land in the continent devasted by the hurricane, no food, bodies in the streets, 1000 people still missing......

Father, give us today our daily bread and help us to be truly thankful for it! Bless the people of Haiti and those who are helping them--brush the tears from their eyes and give them food, rest, and a sense of your love.

Thursday, September 23, 2004


Icon: an image, a representation, an enduring symbol.

At Minter Lane in the fellowship building, we had a wonderful artwork by Talmage Minter showing a large oval bread with one piece cut out symbolizing the community supper. Though somewhat controversial, putting it in the fellowship building was better than putting it in the sanctuary. Because you see, our fellowship does not believe in icons or symbols.

In Exodus 16 God commands Aaron to take a portion of manna and place it before the Lord to be kept for generations to come. Aaron put it "in front of the Testimony" (v. 34) that it might be kept. Again the Israelites were reminded of the daily blessing of God.

When Minter Lane remodeled the sanctuary several years later, a beautiful blue cross was hung above the baptistery. As the cross was pulled up on the piano wire, shadows of two other crosses appeared behind it. It seemed to those watching that God was saying, "This is right; I like it." What a moment! I will never forget it.

As I look around at Highland every Sunday, I see our cross hung with purple, I see a cross sitting on the communion table, pictures by Jack and Jill Maxwell on the walls,and pictures drawn by children adorn the back walls. I am glad we are finally getting the message that icons are ok as long as we don't worship them--in fact, they are badly needed in this visual generation.

I highly recommend Henri Nouwen's Behold the Beauty of the Lord;
Praying with Icons. It helped finally liberate my rational mind and brought me to a new way of walking more closely with God.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

What is it?

"When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another "What is it?" For they did not know what it was. Exodus 16:15 ----------Just as the Israelites did not know what manna was, we often do not know what the daily blessings of God are in our lives. When something comes that seems too hard, we raise our hands, look up into heaven and ask, "What is this?" -------------Yet, as the day develops and we look back in the evening with Examen, we can often see that what God sent was really a blessing in disguise. And we give the blessings names: perhaps it was an eye-opening reminder of our finitude, or a flash of sweetness from a child, or a stirring moment when we absolutely knew the Spirit intervened in a situation, or a turn of event which brings us comfort as we remember it in retrospect------All reminders of God's care for us every minute of the day. I know this blog looks strange--I don't know what is happening. Forgive the format and read the words. Father, thank you for blessing us even when we do not know it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

One day at a time

" hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand on me." Psalm 139:5
In a thought-provoking sermon called "Bread of Angels", Barbara Brown Taylor examines the phenomenon of manna and its effect in the lives of the Israelites. She compared manna to the the grits of the South--"fine, flaky things that are absolutely no good left over."
Manna was a reminder to the tribe that they were living one day at a time by the providence of God. I need such a reminder in my life. I have been working the last few months on believing more fully that God is with me now, today, everyday, everywhere, and in everything (Psalm 139).
The benefits are mind-boggling and comforting. Taylor says that if you are willing to look at everything that comes to you as coming from God, there will be no end to manna in your life. Father, that is what I desire--to be so hemmed in, to be so completely caught up in living each day with you that I feel the overwhelming covering of your love " the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God." Exodus 16:12

Monday, September 20, 2004

Laity Lodge

"I lift up my eyes to the hills ----where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord.....He will not let your foot slip....he watches over you...The Lord is your shade at your right hand...The Lord will keep you from all harm---he will watch over your life....both now and forevermore. Psalm 121 I was fortunate to attend a weekend retreat at Laity Lodge near Leakey---A most beautiful place surrounded by rock hills, the Frio River and beautiful vegetation. What a glorious place! My sister-in-law and her husband lived in many towns around it, but eventually wound up in Pasadena, Texas. Had I the choice, I would never leave the hill country. God always seems nearer in such a setting, and one is certainly convinced of His creative abilities there too. Our stay was relaxing, refreshing, and intellectually stimulating. Fred Aquino outdid himself. There were old friends there I hadn't seen since ACU days. Thanks to the Howard E. Butt family who spent much of their fortune creating the Lodge and the HEB Encampment. And to God who filled my cup to overflowing this weekend.

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Teacher Movies

I collect movies about teachers. I used to show some in my classes and workshop. Movies have a way of bringing home lessons to this visual generation that even a wonderfully written classroom lecture cannot match. I don't have a copy of these, but several years back there were some good ones: Blackboard Jungle, Up the Down Staircase, and Dangerous Minds. My favorite is Mr. Holland's Opus. Although it almost sinks in the middle, the movie has a wonderful ending. Dead Poet's Society comes in a close second--I guess it would be a favorite of anyone who has had a charismatic English teacher. I also enjoyed Music of the Heart which is based on a true story. Julia Robert's The Mona Lisa Smile was a flop for me and at the box office. Goodby Mr. Chips was entertaining and enchanting. Have I forgotten one?

Friday, September 17, 2004

Children's Movies

Children's movies did not exist when I began going to movies--in those days, we called them cartoons , and they were much shorter. Tom and Jerry, The Roadrunner, Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd lightened many a Saturday afternoon. Children today have their plates full of movies designated just for them, but they can also be enjoyed by adults. My favorite? The Lion King--majestic, good music, funny, good moral--all the requirements. Close second--Beauty and The Beast (or as my Maddie would say "BeautyundBeast). I thoroughly enjoyed both Shrek movies, although I suspect they are a lot like some "children's books" I know--more for adults than children. Mary Poppins, Cinderella, The Little Mermaid all fun.

Thursday, September 16, 2004


There is nothing more relaxing than sitting in a darkened, cool movie theater eating popcorn and watching excellent actors put meat on well-written plot. Time does not exist. It is much the same experience as reading a great novel you cannot put down. --------------The Postman Always Rings Twice rang my bell in my early teens. The black and white version ( there was a later color remake) made the dark plot even darker. I would have to rate To Kill A Mockingbird as my favorite movie drama (one of the few outstanding books made into an outstanding motion picture.) ---------- Others I enjoyed include The Way We Were (Robert Redford!) Chariots of Fire , Little Women, Antone Fisher, The Sting, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (both Redford and Newman!). I used to have a poster of Robert Redford in my office as Madison Middle School. Wonder what ever happened to that???

Wednesday, September 15, 2004


The first epic I remember seeing was Gone with the Wind in the Paramount Theater in Abilene. Getting out of a movie way past midnight was really cool. I also remember driving with friends to Fort Worth to see the new Cinescope epic How the West Was Won. Is the definition of an epic any movie that lasts over 3 hours?

My favorite would have to be Dr. Zhivago. It is one of the most beautifully cinemagraphed (is there such a word?) movies ever made. All that snow! And the history, and the love story! Wow!

A very close second would Lord of the Rings and Stars Wars, although they have a quite different slant. Harry Potter might be included, but his are not long enough.

I even enjoyed The Alamo. An earlier epic I enjoyed was Exodus. That's when I first fell in love with Paul Newman. Sam understood.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Let's all go to the movies--Musicals

It has been a very disappointing summer as far as movie offerings go. I can think of only two I really enjoyed--King Arthur and Troy. I recently got so hungry for a movie, I went to see The Princess Diaries, Part II. It was actually not too bad--at least it had Julie Andrews.

I don't know that the fall is going to be much better, except for the forthcoming biography of Lewis Carroll. So I began thinking about all of my favorite movies. If lists of favorites bore you, come back in a week. It has been fun remembering and evaluating.

My favorite musical (which are all but dead these days): I think a tie for first would be Evita and Fiddler on the Roof. However, I never met a musical I didn't like--even Yentle (sp.?). My favorite Broadway musical has not come to the movies yet--Les Miserables. But I must not despair about the fall; I understand Phantom of the Opera is coming. Do you think Hollywood will ever do Aida?

P.S. How could I not write about in the My Fair Lady, The Music Man, The Sound of Music, West Side Story, Singing in the Rain and......

Monday, September 13, 2004

Let's All Go to the Movies

The old Ferguson theater in Hamlin, Texas where I grew up was the only theater in town and probably sat about 200 people. I was a teenager before I realized that its balcony was only for the "non-white" population. It did have a cry room, I remember. Once a month the movie schedule would be placed in all the grocery sacks at Piggly-Wiggly. We would circle all the movies we wanted to see and hang it on the wall above the kitchen table. Our family went often during the week(because prices were cheaper then). My brothers and I always went to the Saturday morning show featuring Hollywood cowboys like Roy Roges and Gene Autry.---------One of the only handicapped persons I knew in Hamlin was the pop-corn man, Mr. Andress ,who was blind. His popcorn machine was not inside the movie, but rather across the street from it(I don't know why). The smell of popcorn permeated downtown Hamlin about 6 :15 every evening before the movie began. Kids often stood and watched the old man pour oil and popcorn in his machine. We counted the seconds before the kernels popped. (There was not much to do in Hamlin). Mr. Andress's niece was there with him to count change--I thought that was a cool job. He always stuck his thumb just inside the lip of the popcorn sack so that he did not overfill the sack and have popcorn littering the sidewalk. In his dark glasses and big smile, he seemed happy greeting all the movie-goers and supplying their movie munchies. I admired his stoic ability to serve the public. Mr. Andress wasa fixture in my childhood and in Hamlin for many years until television forced the closing of the old theater. A bank now stands on its site. What a tragedy! That's all for now, I have to go pop some popcorn.

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Zoe Music

..."they would have swallowed us alive...."Psalm 124:3

I have had two experiences this week which testify to the good pervasive influence of the Zoe Worship recordings in our fellowship. At a women's retreat planning session yesterday, one of the participants talked about a difficult situation recently in which God gave her Psalm 124 "If the Lord had not been on our side..." After she was finished, someone in the crowd immediately and extemporaneously began Had It Not Been the Lord.

And this morning in talking about the missional nature of our salvation, we just had to sing A New Anointing. Five years ago, those songs were not in our worship repertoire. Thank you Zoe for enriching our worship experiences!

Saturday, September 11, 2004

A Value of Examen

As I ask myself each night what made me the saddest or when did I feel life draining out of me today, I can begin to discern a pattern of desolation in my life, and I can begin to take steps to change that pattern. When I examine my fears and begin to realize the resources God offers me, there can be no huge dread of the future and the unknown. I can, in effect, transition from cowering to stepping out boldly in God's hands----wars, disease, death, things I "should have" done, have no power over me. I am empowered by God's love and can say "Yes" to whatever comes. I can say with the lyrics of "Who Am I"---------"I am Yours Whom shall I fear Whom shall I fear 'Cause I am Yours I am Yours."

Friday, September 10, 2004

Examen III

It is so much easier to lead an unexamined life and surrender to busyness, materialism, and other ways of hiding. However, the reader of Psalm 139 knows there is no way to hide from God and His blessings: "You hem me in--behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me" (Vs5); "Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?" (Vs7); "All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be." (Vs.16)-------We can only say when we look back at each day and see how God has bumped into us "Search me, O God and know my heart; test and know my anxious thoughts....(Vs.23) "and lead me in the way everlasting." (Vs24)

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Examen II

When a family chooses to share examen(explained in a previous post)at the supper table, all participants gain insight. Children become more comfortable sharing their fears and expectations. They can also see the stuggles of adulthood as their parents share. From moments of sharing, it is only a very easy step to prayer to God in thanksgiving for the good things and a prayer for help with the sad or bad things. God becomes one with our experiences.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


Someone famous once said, "The unexamined life is not worth living." Those who begin the process of life examination will reap many rewards.-------Examen is an ages-old process recommended by St. Ignatius in The Spiritual Exercises. It is a very simple, but faith-building exercise. In the book Sleeping with Bread: Holding What Gives You Life, Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn explain the process: Sit quietly (either by yourself, with a partner, or with a small group). Light a candle to symbolize God's presence. Then ask yourself two questions (with an approprate interlude between the questions): For what moment today am I most grateful? For what moment today am I least grateful? Another way of asking is "When was I the happiest today? When was I the saddest today? --------The Linns say, "examen makes us aware of moments that at first we might easily pass by as insignificant; moments that ultimately can give direction to our lives." You can use examen every night (Most Valuable) or at the end of the week or month.--------God constantly reveals himself to us in various ways; the examen process helps us to see Him more clearly.

Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Which ones do you remember?

Back to story, a recent statistic I read pointed out that over 75% of children entering kindergarten do not know nursery rhymes. These little ditties should be a part of every child's repertoire and should be a part of their life story. My favorite line from all the rhymes I know is "One misty moisty morning"--a perfect description of such a day which we rarely have around here. One of the first nursery rhymes Brandon learned was "Wee Willie Winkie" and he also loved "The Queen of Tarts"-----I think we have him on a tape saying that one.-------Surely one of the travesties of modern times was the idea someone got to turn the nursery rhymes into Christian messages in The Christian Mother Goose. In that one, "Doctor Foster Went to Gloucester" reads like this: " Dr. Foster went to Gloucester in a shower of rain; He went to teach. He went to preach God's word and make it plain." It doesn't quite have the same appeal does it? So much for plucking Mother Goose's feathers--I hope the people reading this are reading nursery rhymes to your children. Do you have favorites?

Monday, September 06, 2004

A story, a story

I have spent a large portion of my life reading stories to children.Today I spoke to a class at ACU and tried to convince the students that they are part of a story. We all live in narrative, a story-----which has a beginning and an end, has a plot, and has characters. Each day of our life is a chapter in our story. Frederick Bueckner has written that it is good to look back at our stories because it is there that we can see the hand of God in our life.----- Stories have always been important in all cultures. Early peoples told stories to explain natural phenomenon which we now understand because of scientific investigations.They told stories about the sun, the moon and the stars; about why fish needed water; and why there was a rainbow in the sky. One of the most magical phrases in English is "Once upon a time...." I love stories and hope to continue reading and sharing them. Dear Father, thank you for the stories you have given us about your love and care--help us to turn to them for comfort and the replenishment of our faith.

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Skewing God

Mike taught us this morning about the pervasive old song sung by Israel over hundreds of years found in Psalm 145: "The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love." It is also found in Exodus and in at least six other places. How then, did we wind up in the 50's and 60's with the skewed vision of God described so well by Tom Ehrich: "The cagey, hard-to-please God of legalism is a human fabication. No more real is the prickly God who fusses about our solemn assemblies . Or the hair-splitting God who monitors our puncutation and prefers certain translations. He continues, Scripture tells an entirely different story. Scripture tells of a passionate God who loves first, who treasures honesty and eagerness in return, who changes constantly in a quest for oneness with humanity. Scripture tells of a God whose sabbath matters less than healing, who rushes to greet returning exiles, prodigals and sinners."------I guess the answer to that is that we never studied the Old Testament in my formative days.....I will take Ehrich's God anytime.

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Aunt Ruby P. S.

One of the things I forgot to say about Aunt Ruby and which I want to preserve for Maddie and Ella was that during WWII she and her sister Ida moved to San Marcos where they folded parachutes for the Air Force at the San Marcos Air Field. She was not "Rosie the Riviter", but had a very important job on which lives depended. 3 million women went to work in defense plants around the country--never again to return to the old model of cooking, cleaning and washing "homemakers." Looking at Ruby's old scrapbook about those days, I was reminded about how many ways Americans supported that war effort. I remember my mother putting up the sugar bowl saying sugar was rationed, and that we would now drink our drinks without it. Even now, I cannot drink tea or coffee with sugar. We collected "tin foil" and turned it into the collection center. I don't know what it was used for. Tires were at a premium and were kept on cars long after they should have been replaced. Movies glorifying war played at every theater; in fact, some of them are still playing.What a difference 60 years make! Dear Father, thank you for the sacrifices of our relatives and friends during the tough times from which we are so far removed.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Aunt Ruby

An era has ended in our family. The woman who took care of everyone is gone. In the late 30's and 40's, she took in three little waifs whose father was an alcholic and whose mother could not make a home for them. They were my husband and his brother and sister. She fed them, teased them, took them to school and church and inculcated those heavy things that parents are supposed to teach their children--the value of hard work, education and loving God. She was the only remaining charter member of her dwindling church and there fixed many meals for the bereaved, for those who were ill, and those who were down on their luck. She never missed a service until she became ill and could not go--and she expected anyone in her house--visiting or otherwise to go too.------- She had a great sense of humor and play which she passed on to her nephews and nieces. One Sunday morning after Ruby had gotten ready for church (hose, heels, hat, gloves, etc.) my Sam picked her up and took her kicking and screaming and dropped her in the horse trough full of dirty water. Dripping and muttering, she chased him around the block, throwing rocks and corn cobs at him. He was just getting back at her because of some trick she had played on him.-------Later, she took in three other nephews after their parents divorced and saw them through middle school, high school and college. And she did all this while she held down a full-time job at the telephone office and took care of her little farm on the side. She was one strong woman, I celebrate her and mourn her loss.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Go down, death

Death, I am really tired of you--wish you would just leave us alone--or even let us live our our lives until a respectable old age. Now you have gone and taken another good man Gwynneth Curtis--a young man still full of missionary zeal and plans for God's church to enter the lives of others. Why must the good die young? Why? Why? We are waiting for that answer. But even now we know that Gwy is much better off with the Father he loved so much and his beautiful voice is joining the angels around the throne today. Bless his family and the grandchildren who will never know him. Bless the fruits of his labors in Europe. Those of us who knew him thank you God for his example, his wide grin, and his love of the Lord.