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!