Saturday, July 31, 2004

Revising layers

"I love revising, but I don't think of it as rewriting. I see it as layering. I keep adding layers to my book, each time concentrating on a different area such as characters, plot, description, etc." Ben Mikaelsen Thinking of revision again and reading Mikaelsen's quote--it struck me that perhaps this is the way God "revises" me---working on one layer at a time. Yesterday there was this layer of "I have so many importnant things to do!" Then I woke up sick as a dog (what a strange expression). My day was spent in the recliner, sitting very still, drinking Sprite and eating crackers. All those important things went on without me, and by 4:00 I was feeling well enough to read some pages in a good book.-----Thank you Lord for attacking my layer of self-importance and self-imposed busyness. Help me to know that I am second and you are first.

Friday, July 30, 2004


"I love revisions. Where else in life can spilled milk be transformed into ice cream? Katherine Paterson-----Of course, this fine young adult author was talking about revising writing--but extreme makeovers are the rage these days--in one way or another, we would all like to have do-overs in many areas of our lives.-----David asks for do-overs so many times in the Psalms, a lesser God would have grown weary. But his God just kept showing unfailing love.-----And those Israelites--those chosen ones who worked hard at scarring and slashing their relationship with God, but He gave them many second chances-----We see Peter's transformation into "ice cream" from "spilled milk" at Pentecost. After his costly denials of the Lord, Peter's soul needed an extreme makeover. His reconfiguration is glowingly obvious as he pours out the Spirit he has just received saying, "There is no longer room for doubt--God made him Master and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed on a cross."-----O, Lord, where can we look but to you for forgiveness and revision?

Thursday, July 29, 2004

A bundle of words

A visit with a cousin last week yielded some unexpected treasures.  Her mother, my aunt by marriage, recently died and left a trunk with family memorabilia.-----She brought pictures of my grandfather Brandon and greatgrandparents.  They all died before I was born, and I had never seen pictures of any of them.  I also found out what my Grandfather Brandon's first name was:  Joseph.-----My parents never told many family stories, nor did they keep things.One of my recent goals has been to try and persuade anyone who would listen how significant family stories are.  Our stories are important because we are the only ones who can tell them.  We must not continue to "hold our bundle of words in immense silence," says young adult author Paula Fox in her autobiography.  I agree with her and with Ma Goad in The Grapes of Wrath who said, "How will our children know who they are, if they don't know where they came from?"-----So, Maddie and Ella, BST and Sheryl, this "bundle of words" called a blog is for you to keep and to pass on to future generations.-----"You got me when I was an unformed youth, God and taught me everything I know.  Now I'm telling the world your wonders; I'll keep at it until I'm old and gray"  Psalm 71 (The Message)

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Fine Words

A publisher once complained to Beatrix Potter about her use of the word "soporific" in her book The Tale of Flopsy Bunny.  She refused to remove it saying, "Children like a fine word occasionally". -----What are some of the fine words you enjoy hearing and using?  Here are some of mine:  cherish, nurture, purple, sacramental, Hallelujah, illuminate, passion, gossamer, journey, velvet, paprika (I don't use that one often!), glorify, idyllic....   Dear Lord, you are my place of quiet retreat; I wait for your Word to renew me.  Psalm 119 (The Message)


Tuesday, July 27, 2004

My adopted children

Kyle and Ryan have written about college days spent at the Thomas house in Potosi.  Thanks to them for the kind words--truth is, we were so greatly blessed by all the men and women who came that we could hardly stand it.  I feel sure if Sam had not died before they graduated, he would have been blue and very depressed by their leaving.-----They came and ate, courted future spouses and ate, played hide and seek in the barn and ate, frolicked in the hot tub and ate, caroled up and down the road and ate, made crazy videos and ate---They "grew up" to be an English professor, a church administrator,business consultants,  accountants, a school principal, an estate manager, worship leaders, a doctor, businessmen and women, teachers, lawyers, missionaries, a graphic designer, a youth minister, a journalist, preachers, salesmen, a physical therapist, wonderful husbands and wives and parents.-----I am as proud of them as I would be if they were my very own (and they were). -----Dear Lord, bless them all wherever they are today.

Monday, July 26, 2004


There are things that I never yearn for, nor do I wish to participate in:     Chocolate-----Swimming-----Piercings( I was 40 years old before I had my ears pierced!)-----the sports page of the newspaper-----Trendy clothes-----TV sit coms or comedies-----German food-----R-rated movies (Unless they star Denzel Washington) -----Most of contemporary fiction (best-sellers)-----Michael Moore's propaganda and "documentaries"-----Queer Eye for the Straight Guy-----"Spiritual terrrorists" (term coined by BST)-----Any contemporary music ( rock, pop, or poop)-----Gossip or hearsay( what a strange word)-----"politics" within academics, society  or church-----rushed, harried days and nights in which God appears only incidentally-----Dear Lord, please help me everyday  to sort my priorities with you in prayer.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

Hard to resist

There are some things that are hard for me to resist:    A   tiny  freckle-faced boy wearing a ball cap selling Krispy Kreme donuts at Wal-Mart-----A John Grisham novel-----Magazine Christmas issues-----Strasburg dresses for Maddie and Ella-----A Mike Cope sermon-----The first peach of summer-----Homemade ice cream-----Sheryl's grilled veggies----Zoe Worship singing anywhere anytime-----Scented candles-----New earrings-----The children's section of any bookstore-----hot buttered popcorn at the movie----reading a book on a rainy day-----the sound of my son's voice, talking or singing-----Thank you for the pleasures of this wonderful life you have created.

Saturday, July 24, 2004

Red Meat and gin

An interviewer once asked Julia Childs, the great gourmet cook, "To what do you attribute your longevity?"  She replied, "Red meat and gin."  It was a comforting answer in this world of South Beach diets and carb counters.  I attribute many of the joys of my childhood to the "comfort food" now so reviled and condemned.       Since my blogger will not allow paragraphs, long dashes will indicate where paragraphs should be.-----I remember waking up in my bedroom off the kitchen to the smell of homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast.  Because my mother was the cook and I was the helper, I stirred many batches of vanilla pudding to be mixed with bananas and wafers or to be used in coconut cream pies in which we first baked the crust, covered it with coconut, poured in the pudding and slavered that with meringue (what a hard word to spell!) and sprinkled coconut on top of that before it was cooked in the oven.----Sundays after church always brought a falling-apart, gravy-covered pot roast surrounded by potatoes and carrots served with tomato and lettuce salad mixed with Miracle Whip (no fancy dressings or mayo for us).----Holidays brought groaning tables filled with chicken and dressing, giblet gravy, my grandmother's Coke Salad (a congealed salad containing CocoCola), fresh coconut cake (I got to break the coconut, pour out the milk, and peel off the tough skin), creamed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and pecan pralines.-----When Sam and I married, we melded his upbringing on the coast and with mine and added fried catfish, shrimp (sometimes), red beans and rice and mahogany cake to our menu.-----Brandon would write that a special meal is not special unless it contains orange delight salad, hash brown casserole and fresh corn cut off the cob. -----Ecc. 9:  Seize life!  Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart.  Oh, yes,--God takes pleasure in your pleasure....Each day is God's gift.  (The Message)

Friday, July 23, 2004

Launching toy boats

Joyce Maynard compares nurturing children to launching toy boats:  "We lower them gently, run along the bank aways...even get them unstuck a time or two...Then they'll be off, toward some distant and unknown destination, while we stand on the shore waving and cheering and watching them go."     In talking recently with some long-time friends, we found ourselves saying, "Where has the time gone?"   Remember  when birthdays meant a homemade birthday cake, matching tablecloth, napkins and plates and an afternoon at Cobb Park?   Remember when summer was long, hot days broken by a short weekend in the cold Comal River in New Braunfels where our kids collected beer cans off the bottom of the river for pocket change?  Remember when our kids played on the stage at Minter Lane after services, climbing up and jumping off, climbing up and jumping off, climbing up and jumping off?  Remember  when Labor Day meant a cook-out at Abilene State Park where fireflies lit the trees after dark and our kids tramped in and out of the small stream near by?  But now these children are off to their destinations of worship leader, physical therapist, mothers and fathers.  And we are standing on the bank waving, cheering and watching them go.   Oh, Lord, help us to count our remaining days and give them to you as we have given you our children.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

She will

*Readers, please excuse the absence of paragraphs--my blogger is haywire.  It is drinving this English teacher crazy!!!!   Years ago, I cut the following piece out of a Reader's Digest, date unknown:     A friend introduced me to his daugher, a smartly-dressed woman with the manner of a professional person.  I learned she was a Roman Catholic nun on vacation from her position as an educational administrator.  We agreed that her life-style as a nun was vastly different from what it would have been in the early days.  "Sister," I said in half jest, "who knows what changes are yet to come.  Why, some future pope may decide to allow nuns to marry!"  "Perhaps,"  came the reply, "Perhaps she will."

Wednesday, July 21, 2004

Brothers in the Lord

In a discouraging search for houses in Nashville, I finally realized I would have to borrow money to accomplish the deed.  During this time, I was carried around by 2 PROS--Jerry Jennings and Steve Speake , both brothers in the Lord and dear men who recognized how boggled my mind was by all the talk of interest, home equity loans, loans with arms?etc.  They took my hand and brought me through the situation to a solution I had never dreamed of--a new house I could afford in Nashville among rolling hills and gorgeous tree-lined drives . Thank you Lord for the body of Christ .

Tuesday, July 20, 2004

We press on

The poet Wendell Berry writes of a time "when despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be...."  Charles Revson, the owner of Revlon said, "In our factory, we make lipstick.  In our advertising we sell hope  ."     Those of us who follow Christ don't have to buy hope--it's free for the taking--free for those who believe in his unfailing  love.  How do we combat the despair that grows as we watch TV and read the newspaper?  In the words of the Selah song "In Jesus' name , we press on."  We know who is in charge and we press on.  Emily Dickinson's startling picture of hope:     "Hope is the thing with feathers--that perches on the soul--and sings the tune without words--and never stops--at all--"                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

Monday, July 19, 2004

The power of affirmation

"Pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones".  Prov.16:24    My blogger is acting very strangely.  I will try to persevere--I don't know what format I will have when done....Leo Buscaglia once wrote, "Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment or the smallest act of caring--all of which have the potential to turn a life around."     I have recently received from dear friends letters of affirmation which certainly buoyed my spirits.  They were so kind with words about my life and blogging .  I do appreciate them so much.  While we may not know it, we do live by encouragement and need it as much as breath.  I am resolving today to try go give as much away as I can.    Dear Lord, help me to be as gracious as Jesus who affirmed so many as he walked on this earth.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

Sweetness of learning

I enjoy teaching because I like to learn.  Research, study and reading are always satisfying--even better when the lesson topic is spiritual formation.  To go to the library and check out 16 books, spread them out on the dining table and begin to research feeds my soul. 
There is an old Yiddish custom:
When young children completed a page of study, the teacher dropped a dot of honey on the bottom of the page.  The children were encouraged to dip their finger in the honey and taste the sweetness of learning. 
For an excellent children's book on the sweetness of learning, go to the library and check out  Patricia Polacco's The Bee Tree.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              

Saturday, July 17, 2004


In 1957 Theodor Seuss Geisel took 225 new reader vocabulary words, rhymed them, and turned out Cat in the Hat. Ella Goodman says this little volume of absurdity "worked like a karate chop on the weary little world of Dick, Jane, and Spot." Not only that, Dr. Seuss was suddenly famous. He didn't have an easy time getting there. His first book And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was submitted to 27 different publishers before it was printed. (Maybe if he had shortened the title....)

Our newspaper just finished running a book about Orville and Wilbur Wright who tried and failed many times before they got it right. Thomas Edison delivered light to a dark, soot-covered society when he tried a thousand times and finally succeeded with the electric light.

What would we do without men and women who took risks and persevered despite all obstacles?

We must tell our children and grandchildren the stories about these and other people like Wilma Rudolph who won 3 gold medals in the Olympics after having polio. Our children and grandchildren face a world plagued with war, the AIDs epidemic, rampant hunger and homelessness. May they take the risks we failed to take and persevere more fervantly than we have.

"Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see." John W. Whitehead

Friday, July 16, 2004


Last week amid the talk about moving and financing that move, I panicked thinking that if I did make the move, I would have to join the dreaded ranks of the frugal. Frugal is one of those words NOT on my favorite word list. It is on the same pile as prudent, submissive, and orthodox. I much prefer generous, risk-taker, equal and open-minded.

I guess that pretty well tells you more about me than I really wanted you to know.

Father, thank you for accepting me as I am and for covering me with your grace.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

Bread for everyone

"...poetry, like bread, is for everyone" Martin Espoda

Poetry has always delighted, challenged and moved me. I loved reading it in elementary school when poems came only in huge rebound green books with 300 pages and no pictures. I remember having to memorize In Flanders Field in the fourth grade and then having to say it in front of the class. That scared me so, I am not fond of memorization to this day.

I love poetry for its distillation of thought. I love remembering the last lines of Frost's Snowy Day "and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep." I enjoy recalling the voice of my favorite English professor Dr. James Culp reciting lines from T. S. Eliot's J. Alfred Prufrock, "I grow old, I grow old....I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled." And I love drinking in snatches of Emily Dickinson's
"I'll tell you how the sun arose--a Ribbon at a time--The Steeples swam in Amethyst...." (Surely one of the most beautiful lines in American poetry!)

I am so glad that my grandchildren have beautiful picture books of poetry and books of silly poetry by Shel Silverstein and Jack Prelutsky. I hope they come to love beautiful words like I do.

Thank you Lord for the poets and artists among us who help us to see the beauty you created in different ways.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Fly Away

Observations from sitting in an airport for several hours last week:

The demise of reading is greatly exaggerated. Most of the passengers were reading something (maybe not Tolstoy)and the gift shop bookstore was doing a brisk business.

Most young women jiggling through the airport have forgotten what bras are for.

Older men should not wear shorts--especially with dress shoes and black socks.

I -Pods and cell phones have taken not only the hearts of the nation, but the ears as well. (Aside--why must those talking on cell phones scream at the top of their voices?)

Blessings to the young mother I saw pushing a double stroller with screaming children and pulling a large black bag.

Kindnesses were shown to the young soldier just returned from Iraq in the Traam: "Glad you got back in one piece." "Be careful over there." "God bless you!"

Thank you Lord for a safe trip.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Back again in Tennessee

Over 100 years ago, my ancestor Herndon family left their namesake village of Herndon, VA to migrate to Tennessee. They stayed only a little while--hearing of better farming opportunities, they posted the sign "Gone to Texas" and left to move to West Texas. That baffles me. In the next few months, I will be hanging the "Gone to Tennessee" sign on my door and will be moving to a place with water, green things, four seasons, and my children and grandchildren in Nashville.

If the blogs which follow these next four months have a slightly wistful, sad touch, you will understand. It is hard to leave friends, church, Mike Cope, my house and a community I have called home for over 40 years--but I am on a forward tilt to Nashville.

Thank you Lord for filling my life with wonderful friends and a progressive church--help me to carry my memories to another place of love and beauty.

Monday, July 12, 2004

We are all His Children

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! I John 3:1

In regard to Mike Cope's recent blog on women in worship ( to which he got 100 responses--looks like people want to talk about that!), I have to go on record to say:

I am delighted and blessed to be part of a body which has decided women can serve in worship and elsewhere. I respect and admire our elders and staff who had the courage to study the topic (separately and with all the congregation) and the determination to follow through on what the several-year study concluded. All too often such studies are relegated to the bottom of a file cabinet drawer.

The study was arduous and broad-based, covering both sides of the issue adequately. Not all agreed with the conclusions. However, I think we have all been amazed with how easily women have slipped in without any fanfare or spotlights and how they now continue to do what they have always done--serve the church gracefully and humbly.

Gal. 3:28. Thank you Lord.