Saturday, August 28, 2004

The beginning of last times

This has been a week of attending things for the last time before I move: The opening ceremonies at ACU described earlier and last night the last ACU dinner theater I will see for a while. For the past 30 years, I have been entertained, moved to tears, laughed my head off and thoroughly enjoyed the plays and musicals at ACU. Last night with Barefoot in the Park capped it all. I will never see Adam Hester again without expecting a faux Parisan accent and a Maurice Chevalier throaty laugh. Brandon was 8 when he appeared in his first musical The Music Man at ACU. In the days he was playing, we attended all the rehearsals, all the performances we could---we almost became roadies. It was so much fun! Thank you Adam and Donna for putting up with the Thomas family and for all the wonderful times you gave us. May God bless your ministry as you "change the world" with the "disciplined theatre artists" you have trained.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Mrs. President

In regard to yesterday's post in which Woodrow Wilson had the sufferagists put in jail for marching--isn't it ironic that his wife Edith Wilson practically took over the Presidency when he had a stroke? It would never happen today because of our intrusive media, but she was able to keep her husband's illness a secret for months while she signed papers in his name. My question today is when will we get a real woman president? Talk about a slow march to equality!

Thursday, August 26, 2004


The 33 women were barely alive. They had been grabbed, dragged, beaten choked, and pinched. Their food came in open pails, slop,full of worms. When they went on a hunger strike, they were tied to chairs and feeding tubes were forced down their throats. They and their leader, Alice Paul, had been imprisoned for daring to picket the White House of Woodrow Wilson for the right to vote. When Wilson and his cronies tried to persuade a psychiatrist to declare Paul insane, so that she could be permanently institutionalized, he refused, saying that Paul was strong and brave, and that didn't make her crazy. He said, "Courage in women is often mistaken for insanity." Today is the 84th anniversary of the passage of the 19th amendment giving women the right to vote on August 26, 1920.------I think it almost unbelievable that women have not always had that right. It makes my blood boil to think that my grandmother was "allowed" to work from daylight to dusk, cleaning, cooking, and washing, for her father and 13 siblings---when she was not "pulling cotton" in the fields. And there are women today "who do not have time to vote." Shame on them! The above story was printed in the Rockford, IL city newspaper and is copyrighted.

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

In Allied, I trust

It takes a lot of trust to move. I am trusting people I don't know to pack all my antiques like the fruit salad bowl, the sewing machine, and the door s that came off Sam's grandfather's house. I am trusting someone I don't know to put everything I own in a truck and get it to Nashville safely. And for that I am paying them more than my year's paycheck in 1970. Oh, well that doesn't happpen until December. I will try to practice letting go until then.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

God, family and country

Abilene Christian University opened its 99th academic year yesterday with its usual dramatic blend of religion, patriotism and nostalgia. The occasion is like a family reunion or more like a welcome-to-the-family party. The new freshmen (over 1200) were introduced. They include 22 students from Madagascar whose college costs are being footed by the government because they want their leaders to have moral values. Wouldn't it be nice if others would follow? By the way, according to the Abilene Reporter-News last week, the average cost of a year at ACU now is $23,000plus. --------The board, faculty, retired faculty, and many invited dignitaries were there. Moody Coliseum was full of good will and hugging. The ceremony begins with faculty marching in clothed in their academic regalia. ( I have always wanted one of those little hats.) Following them, is the always thrilling parade of flags carried by students from the 60 nations and 47 states represented this year. Many of the foreign flag-carriers were in native costume., Paul's address on Mars Hill is read every year. This year it was read in Greek by the minister of the Athens Church of Christ. He was here bringing his freshman son. Bob Hunter recounted stories of ACU graduates like Elmer Gray who was the first ACU student to go to the Olympic trials.Then there was the Big Purple Band and the huge chorus rendition of The Battle Hymn of the Republic. which brought chill bumps. Ending is the reading of the preamble to the Constitution and the singing of the national anthem during which a huge flag falls in graceful folds from the ceiling.Quite a morning! As I was leaving, I saw band dirctor Eric hand over his baton to an older gentleman I do not know. As he led, the band played the Wildcat fight song. I am sure that made the man's day! He was beaming. -------Thank you Lord for an institution in this secular world which still pushes moral values, which values those who came before us, and which is not afraid of patriotism. I value my time spent there learning and teaching.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Running away

"I run in the paths of your commands, for you have set my heart free." Ps. 119:32--------After hearing a lesson about Jonah, I sat and thought about what I routinely run from: 1. Things I don't do well or don't know how to do 2. Things which require lots of walking and energy (exercising and shopping) 3. sales parties (tupperware, jewelry, make-up, vitamins, Magic Chef) 4. heat and sweat 5. Projects which require my asking people for money 6. long-winded conversations on the telephone (unless the call is from Nashville) 7. spoiled, misbehaving children 8. long un-productive committee meetings 9. Being in charge Lord, help me to run in your paths freely and joyously

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Sleeping cold

My husband's father was an alcoholic most of Sam's life. He began drinking heavily when Sam was a baby and finally kicked the awful disease when Sam was in his 30's. One Christmas Eve, Sam and his brother and sister set out to find their father after months of not hearing from or about him. They visited all his favorite haunts: the bars, the port, the railroad yard where the homeless lived, various underpasses and eventually found him in one of Houston's large parks. He was sleeping on a bench under a newspaper in freezing weather. He was dead drunk, almost naked (he had only his underware and socks on), and had not bathed or eaten for many days. Needless to say, their father was very glad to see them!-----One of my favorite memories of my Granny Tucker's old house in Anson is going to sleep on a frosty night in her huge bed. She had warmed the sheets with an iron (the old fashioned kind one warms on a fire), and I crawled in under a very heavy thick quilt. It was heaven. I have always enjoyed what I call "sleeping cold"--having the air outside crisp and cool while I lie bundled up and warm in a blanketed bed. -----Obviously "sleeping cold" meant something else to Sam's father--the absence of a bed, of any kind of warmth, and of any feeling that he was loved and cared for.----Father, bless those children and adults who have to really sleep cold tonight. Send someone in your name to warm and care for them. Give me opportunities to participate in that ministry.

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Writers, Musicians, Artists

I enjoy being in the company of writers, artists, musicians, and theater folk. They speak a different language. Their very breaths are creative and stirring. God's gifts leak out of their mouths and fingertips. Although I find them somewhat intimidating, I love absorbing their thoughts and creations. Thanks to my friends Jack Boyd, Jack and Jill Maxwell, Darryl Tippens, Vickie Smith, Zoe Music, Clarissa Cox, Adam and Donna Hester, John Ott for many hours of pleasure, profound thought, and inspiration. "Celebrate what you want to see more of." Thomas J. Peters

Friday, August 20, 2004

Shine in me

Lord, you are the sunrise of my day. You are the gentle dusk of my night. You are the light in my dark closets exposing the shadows lurking there. You are the candle on my table reminding me of your Spirit and of your hope. You are the rainbow shining colors on my weeping head. O, father, help me to be one of your shining stars lifting the darkness of closed hearts and minds. Help me to the warmth of your light and the peace of your touch this day.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

My times are in your hands

"You are my God. My times are in your hands." Psalm 31:14-15 Perhaps it is because 9 people have died in car wrecks around Abilene the past 5 days or I am sensing my failure to count each day important---this poem by Jane Kenyon really struck me: " I got out of bed on two strong legs. It might have been otherwise. I ate cereal, sweet milk, ripe, flawless, peach. It might have been otherwise. I took the dog uphill to the birch wood-------All morning I did the work I love. At noon, I lay down with my mate. It might have been otherwise. We ate dinner together at a table with silver candlesticks. It might have been otherwise. I slept in a bed with paintings on the walls, and planned another day just like this day. But one day, I know, it will be otherwise"----------As someone wise has said,"Now is a gift from God. That is why it is called the present."--------Father forgive us for the silly frittering away of the days you have given. Help us to appreciate ,as Jane Kenyon did , walk, work, rest, food, companionship and beauty-----all gifts from you today. Poem is from Receiving the Day, Christian Practices for Opening the Gift of Time by Dorothy C. Bass. Copyright 2000, John Wiley.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

To keep or not to keep

I have decided to start packing for Tennessee by emptying my book cases--simple enough task, one would think--just put a book in a box. For a bibliophile like me, the task is not so simple.-----Which book to keep? Which book to give to the Public Library book sale? Which book to give to the ACU juvenile collection? Which book to keep to read to Maddie and Ella? Why did I buy this book? Will I ever read it?-----This book was my first gift book from Sam (An Anthology of Famous American Short Stories) This one our Trilogy group read and loved. This one I just wanted because of its leather binding and the way it feels in my hand.-----I can't get rid of the Jan Karon books; I might read them again. What about the John Grishams and the Sue Grafton mysteries? I love them too. -----Will I ever use my children's literature reference books again? Will I ever teach Tomie dePaola again? What to do with all the young adult novels? Will I ever teach that again? Yes, I know I have 20 books on spiritual formation--but I need them; I might want to read them again.------You see my dilemma-----After one week of looking at the shelves, I hve packed 1/2 box. Oh, well, I have 'till December--O, the Christmas books--I must keep them....

Monday, August 16, 2004

What do you say?

A young ACU student was killed in a car wreck this weekend. Although I did not know her, she was the roommate of a friend-----What do you say? The pain of death and loss is so severe, there are no words--only empathy. There are no heroic deeds to be done--warm hugs suffice. -----Elizabeth Kubler-Ross says in her latest book Life Lessons "When we face the worst that can happen in any situation, we grow" and we begin to realize that "love is all that matters." She continues, "When circumstances are at their worst, we can find our best and we can live life profoundly."----I pray that Cheryl's family and friends will find comfort in the knowledge of their love for her and in the hope of seeing her again in heaven where all the whys will be answered and all the hurt will be healed.

Sunday, August 15, 2004


"And by faith, he still speaks, even though he is dead." Hebrews 11:4 This morning, Mike remembered his mentally and physically challenged daughter Megan as his training partner when he was preparing for marathons. He would push her stroller, she would make him sing her favorite song"I'm in the Lord's Army" and she would clap as they rolled off the miles. Megan has been gone for around ten years, yet her sweet, challenging life has been an inspiration to thousands of people who have heard Mike and Diane Cope speak of her. She would have been 20 years old this month. May it be so for all of us after our death--that people will smile, nod and remember our deeds, our conversations, our songs, and our lives.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

You can go home again

The writer Thomas Wolfe wrote eloquently You Can't Go Home Again. It certainly has some truth; however, the places you have been and the people you knew are hard to leave--they keep hanging on like shreds of cloth on barbed wire fences. -----I go home again when I see the old antique Singer sewing machine on my porch. My mother used it to make all our clothes until she began working in a clothing store, and we could afford to buy them. I go home again when I open a drawer and find my dad's old hammer, stained, chipped and dirty. He used it to build closests in my room in the old unfinished house we bought when I was in the fourth grade. I go home again when I see the beaded bag from the 20's handing on my mirror in the bedroom. I don't know why I never asked my mother why she had it or where and when she carried it. I go home again when Iopen the cabinet and see the heavy white beaded bowl we always used on Christmas for fruit salad. We should go home again in memory beause home and its people shaped who we are------Thank you God for all the sweet memories of home and the promise of an even better home to come.

Friday, August 13, 2004

We will not keep silent

I have to share one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever read about worship--a prayer by Walter Brueggeman in his book Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth. We are people who must sing you, for the sake of our very lives. You are a God who must be sung by us, for the sake of your majesty and honor.------And so, we thank you, for lyrics that push us past our reasons, for melodies that break open our givens, for cadences that locate us home, beyond all our safe places, for tones and tunes that open our lives beyond control and our futures beyond despair------We thank you for the long parade of mothers and fathers who have sung you deep and true; We thank you for the good company of artists, poets, musicians, cantors, and instruments that sing for us and with us, toward you. We are witnesses to your mercy and splendor; we will not keep silent...ever again. Amen. Copyright 2003 Augsburg Fortress.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

To veg or not to veg

I went to the farmer's market Saturday. I bought real tomatoes, canteloupes, red onions and a package of shelled blackeyed peas. I ate all of it that night with hot cornbred swimming in butter (Obviously, I am not on the SouthBeach diet). What a feast! I think I am slowly becoming a vegetarian. Not much fish in West Texas except fried, tired! of chicken; I hate the lumps in ground beef, ham is too salty-----Oh, yes, I forgot--there is Joe Allen's garlic steak---byebye veggies.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Favorite Read Alouds

O. K., let's follow up yesterday with some real titles. A list serve I read has had librarians listing titles they heard at home and titles they read to their children. Ranging from Wind in the Willows to The Little Mermaid---it has been a fun month.-----As I have said before I think, there were no books in our home while I was growing up because of finances; however, even in school, there was no teacher who read that I can remember until the 6th grade. An art teacher, Mrs. Griggs made a trip to New Orleans, picked up a book called Dinner at Antoines (adult fiction) and read it to us that semester embellishing it with art, music and tales about all the places she ate while she was there. It is not surprising that the same group chose to go New Orleans on their senior trip and to eat at Antoines. Even today, I would like to go back.-----I have many favorites to read aloud. Lily's Purple Plastic Purse, Journey and Tuesday are sure-fire, as is anything by Patricia Polacco. Any other teachers out there who collect books and movies about teachers?------But for me, the perfect book is always coming, to be published next month which why I haunt the children's section of book stores.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Gift of literacy

"As parents, there can be no greater gift to give our children than a literate household to grow up in." Educator Nancy Atwell ------ There are several things about education today that make me want to chew nails. One such example is when a teacher tells me, "Oh, I don't have time to read to my students any more; I have to spend all my time teaching The Test." Even worse is when parents say, " I'm too busy to read to my child. After all, he/she gets that in school. He/she knows phonics. He/she has the Leapfrog reading programs. He/she watches Sesame Street and Reading Rainbow. Isn't that enough?" NO! NO! NO! ------There is no more educationally important thing a parents can do for their children than read aloud to them. Besides the obvious gift of language and literature and the knowledge of the way books and print work, we must not forget the gift of time and closeness we are giving the child in our lap.-----Oh, my. This was a three hour lecture in my children's literature class. -----There are over 3,000 children's book published every year. Where do parents find good books to read?-----Go to the public or school library and ask the children's librarian for titles. They should know good ones for all ages. If not, they need to resign. 2. Go to a good bookstore with a large children's collection; sit down and read dozens until you find one you like. 3. Check out this most wonderful site for good books to read and buy: -----Father, help us to order our days so that there will be time for our children and for you.

Monday, August 09, 2004

New Beginnings

We blessed our children who are about to enter kindergarten yesterday--a wonderful community event pointing to the importance of every member. Girls wore their pinkest dresses; boys had shirts hanging out of dress pants. As the elders laid hands on the heads and shoulders of the children to bless them, parents stood, tears streaming, thinking"Where did the time go? I am not ready for this." Fact is, we were all a little blubberly. 22 new students about to be introduced to cafeteria food, ringing bells, and sitting still for periods of time much longer than at home Father, bless our children as they begin to put their toes out into the academic world. May they all find a friendly teacher and loving adults who will guide them gently..

Sunday, August 08, 2004

Breakfast on the beach

One of my favorite Bible stories is in John 21:1-14 about Jesus cooking breakfast for the disciples. I have imagined myself sitting around the campfire on the beach in the cool, early morning watching this risen Son of God turning the fish slowly on the fire. Here is the man I thought was gone, along with all my dreams... .He sits breaking the bread, readying the wine and offering a feast to us feeble followers.------I have to remind myself on those days when the sunrise brings trouble, worries, and doubts that Jesus still waits on the beach calling," Come have breakfast,"--- the coals are glowing, the fish is cooking and the feast is prepared.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

A good name

"A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold." Proverbs 22:1 Can you believe the crazy names being given to children by celebrities? Apple (Gwyneth Paltrow) Puma (Erykah Badu) Pilot Inspektor (Jason Lee) Jermajesty (Jermaine Jackson) Hud and Speck (John Mellencamp). What are they thinking? I can see their first grade teacher now putting their name plate on their desks and shaking her head. . I am so glad Brandon, Sheryl, Madeline, and Ella have civilized names. For a brief moment we threatened to name Brandon after an ancestor of his grandmother-- Iron Andrews-- so that he would forever be Brandon Iron Thomas. But we relented and went for my maiden name and the name of a beloved friend --Brandon Scott--. I think he is proud of his name and more importantly, his name is esteemed because he is a good man blessed by God with spiritual gifts which he shares with others. Thank you God for the good name of my son.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Arise, O Sleeper!

I was sitting in my chair doing nothing today when I began to think about words of action like AVAST!, BESTIR! or my grandmother's MAKE HASTE! My mother's favorite was "JUDITH ANN BRANDON, COME HERE THIS MINUTE!" The word of the church WORK! Then I remembered the simple word of Jesus-- GO. What words drove you to action while you were growing up?

Thursday, August 05, 2004

School days

Multiplying crayolas and soldierly glue bottles line shelves in Target, WalMart and Office Depot. Cute little pencil sharpeners and Disney-themed notebooks lie in the bins. Even dictionaries and thesauruses await the shopping basket. I am a sucker for colored paper clips, bright post-it notes, heart stickers and yellow legal pads even when I don't need them. All this reminds me of how much I miss being in a school environment. There is nothing so thrilling as a new notebook, a good pen, and a blank white page anticipating new information or a new idea. Lord, help me to be a daily student of your word and your actions.

Wednesday, August 04, 2004


"See, I have chosen Bezalel...and I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship to make artistic designs for work in gold, in silver and in bronze....Exodus 31:2-4 (NASB) Potosi United Methodist Church is celebrating its 125th anniversary this week. The gothic wooden building in which it now meets was built in 1906 and has the wooden pews, wooden floors and stained glass of that era. I have a painting of the church on my guest bedroom wall.-----I think of it sometimes as I sit in Highland's dark cavern floored with burnt orange carpeting. And again as I remember the Hamlin church building with its shotgun auditorium flanked by classrooms like mini-cereal boxes.The old historic two-story church there was torn down in favor of ugly modernity----But wait! I am moving to a church in Nashville which is planning a new building. Perhaps there will be room for craftsmanship and artistic designs there and a sense of the aesthetic-----Perhaps there will be a Bezalel there.

Tuesday, August 03, 2004


My, My! It's already August! Moving to Tennessee is getting closer, and I was thinking Sunday night about the things I will not miss about Abilene: sandstorms-----local TV news-----construction on the highway-----too little rain-----hot summer nights-----sports mania-----red-neck-anti-everything letters to the editor-----an overabundance of country music radio stations----limited shopping opportunities (especially bookstores!)-----O,God, you are my home. May I live fully in you each day!

Monday, August 02, 2004

What have you taught lately?

I was troubled yesterday when I couldn't think of some contemporary women as role models for girls. So I went online for the Gallup poll of the most admired women of 2003. The top three were Hillary Clinton, Oprah Winfrey, Laura Bush. Following were Condolezza Rice, Barbara Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Queen Elizabeth II, Madeleine Albright, Nancy Reagan and Elizabeth Dole. Interesting that all but one have political connections. Are they the role models we want for our little girls? While I do admire some on the list, it has struck me that we must be coming up with a better list for our growing children.-----Parents, who are you talking about? Preachers, Bible School teachers, youth ministers, how often do you teach about worthy women of God? Or do you leave that study to the Ladies Bible Class while your daughters study highlights of the journeys of Paul? How often have you taught about Mary in December? Or Esther during the political season? Or Lydia and Priscilla when you talk about church planting? Or Phoebe when you teach about service? How many times have you talked about your wonderful elders without mentioning their wives and other godly women in your church? How many times have you highlighted the women in Romans 16 in your teaching?-----I truly believe that those of us who teach will someday be held accountable for teaching our girls that the church and religion have only a male face. Oh, Lord, help us to value and honor the roles of men and women of God. And help us to introduce them to our girls and boys in winning and provocative stories.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Role models

"Television is an invention whereby you can be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn't have in your house." David Frost----- Am I the only one who cheered when Slim Fast fired Whoopi Goldberg for her obscene remarks about Pres. Bush? Entertainers have way too much exposure in television and in our lives these days. I have threatened to quit watching the Today show because it seems every segment is about the clothing of Paris Hilton, or the latest husband of Britany Spears, or a new report on the trial of Michael Jackson.----- Are there any role models out there in that world? Then why do we bother to let our children watch and hear them? I can't help but worry about my Maddie when she grows out of her "princess" stage with Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty and comes face to face with the Olsen twins or their counterparts.-----O Lord, help us to be role models and to tell our children stories of great and real role models like Helen Keller, Eleanor Roosevelt, Marian Anderson, Mother Teresa, Esther, Mary and Lydia. And, oh yes, help us punch the off button more often.