Saturday, December 31, 2005

Interim Days

The days between Christmas and New Years are days for:

finally reading all the Christmas magazines I bought
staring into the lights on the tree and remembering past Christmases
cashing in gift cards (Davis Kidd and I thank you BST and Sheryl)
finding bargains on Christmas stuff at Target(I found some ornaments that were duplicates of those my mom and dad had on our tree)
enjoying the whole aura of the Christmas season punctuated by the looks and sounds of children who still believe
looking through Christmas cards and wondering how the children of friends can grow up so fast
Reveling in the good life that God has given me at this time of my life.

Thank you Father for the warm circle of family and friends this last day in 2005.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Christmas at Potosi

Christmas at Potosi began the last day of school when Sam came home with boxes of goodie gifts like cakes, candy, cookies, etc.

Because Sam was a little boy at heart, Christmas was a big deal at our house. Stockings filled to the brim, lights outside, wonderfully decorated tree. He got so much fun from choosing the right gift for Brandon. The Christmas Brandon got his go-cart, Sam made him go from place to place suffering through a series of hints, until finally he got to the big gift in the garage.

When we were home, our menu was virtually the same every year. Turkey and Cornbread dressing, green bean casserole, fruit salad, jellied cranberry sauce, and various cakes.

We were sometimes in either Groesbeck, Pasadena or Hamlin for a portion of the holidays, but the best Christmases were in Potosi.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Christmas moments

My computer has had a glitch for the past few days, sorry, but I will continue Christmas thoughts that I want to keep.

Best moments of Christmas:

Watching the girls putting out oats for the reindeer
Seeing Ella's delight at her new baby doll. At church that morning, as the other kids sat around the story teller, Ella chose to sit at the lip of the stage looking at the audience. She had the baby doll in her arms and wore such a beatific smile, I wanted a picture.
Maddie playing with her Mulan doll and changing her clothes four times every 15 minutes.
Watching Brandon wrapping the huge box full of balloons broadcasting that the family was going to Disney after New year's. He looked so much like Sam, it caught my breath.
Seeing Sheryl's delight with her digital tape recorder on which she caught Ella singing Away in a Manger and Tinkle, Tinkle Little Star.

And my delight in being here to help ready Santa, and celebrate the next morning.

Saturday, December 24, 2005


We have had so many good experiences the past few days, it is hard to say which was best: The Otter Christmas Concert, the Rockettes, or driving around Nashville looking at the amazing lights with friends and relatives. All of it was a treat! Thank you God for good memorable times with the people we love.

God is great and worth a thousand Hallelujahs! Ps. 96:4 The Message.

Indeed, ten thousand hallelujahs! If you have not read or heard Amazing Peace, A Christmas Poem by Maya Angelou, please get one. It is only $9.95 and a great stocking stuffer. As always, Angelou brings a lump to my throat as I read. The last verse:

"We, Angels and Mortals, Believers and Nonbelievers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves,
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation:

Peace, my brother.
Peace, my sister.
Peace, my Soul.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Paise Him

The whole earth comes to attention.
Look--God's work of salvation!

Shout your praises to God, everybody!
Let loose and sing! Strike up the band!

Round up an orchestra to play for God,
Add a hundred voice choir.

Feature trumpets and big trombones,
Fill the air with praises to King God.

Psalm 98: 4-7 The Message

That sounds a lot like the Living Nativity Scene I saw last night at the Rockette show. It was gorgeous--the only word I can think of. Beautiful kingly costumes ( I have never seen the three kings dressed so magnificently. Camels, sheep, shepherds, stately processions, gifts, and----a manger in straw surrounded by Mary and Joseph who were also worshipping Him. Praise God for the gift of His Son.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005


Remembering past Christmases as I put final touches on wrapping, etc., I remember the visits to my grandmother's house in Abilene. Granny Tucker was a younger grandmother than I am although she seemed old at the time. I have still not figured out how my parents got our presents (especially the bikes) to her house. The Christmas we all got bikes is a standout Christmas. I still remember my Dad running along side of me as I went down a hill on my new bike.

Those Christmases there were eating holidays!!That is mostly what we did. Granny loved making candy--especially date loaf candy ( which I have never eaten since). A special cake she would only make on Christmas was a four layer (yes-4) Pecan Cake. It had pecans throughout, and a pecan praline frosting that was sumptious and covered with whole pecans. It took a while to eat the huge thing--but we slurped every piece. It was especially good with cold milk. I have never been able to make a 4 layer--but I have done 13x 9's. Not the same , but close. I am mourning the lack of good pecans here. But I will make one before the winter is over--can't do without it.

The table was already covered with food when the aunts and uncles got there bringing
their special dishes. Granny loved making "Coke" salad for the occasion too. I remember one aunt always brought sweet potatoes with cherries. My mother always contributed either her fresh coconut cake (yum) or her date cake and of course, there were many vegetables (my mom's macroni and cheese was to die for).and salads. When we finished, a tablecloth was put over the food (couldn't get it all in the fridge) and we picked on it all afternoon--what a delight.

We cousins spent the time playing hide and seek in Granny's back porch and garage. When the sun went down, warm up of the food would begin (it took a while, no microwaves then)and we would all dive into Supper like we had not eaten in two weeks.

It seemed like paradise--and maybe it was.

Got to go check the recipe box for what I can cook next weekend.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Point of Light

I loved former Pres. Bush's project several years ago--A Thousand Points of Light in which ordinary folks making a difference in the world were rewarded. This past
Friday's Tennessean told the story of a 13-year old girl here in Nashville who deserves the award.

She felt that God was putting in her heart the urge to do something for the homeless. (She volunteers at our Nashville Rescue Center where the homeless go.) She told her parents that this project was all she wanted for Christmas. So she took her savings, held bakesales, etc. and spent $3,000.00 to do this for ten homeless men last week:

They were all taken to Uncle Dave's and given a huge barbeque dinner where she asked them to share their Christmas memories (most had none). Then in a stretch limo, they were driven around Nashville to see Christmas lights starting first at the famous Opryland Hotel. (None of the men had ever seen the lights there.) Arriving back at the center, she gave each man a bag filled with hygenic necessities, sweat shirts, gloves, etc.

The men were enthralled with the lights and the whole experience and the fact that a young girl would do that for them. Such a simple thing--but the photographs of the men looking at the lights were poignant and heart-tugging.

Let us all be hospitable to someone this week following her and the example of Jesus as we try to serve others in this season of "I Want...."

Saturday, December 17, 2005


I was privileged to attend the Point of Grace Winter Wonderland concert Wednesday night. In a previous blog, I reviewed their CD project for the tour--excellent.

The concert was in Christ Church on Old Hickory--holds about 3,000 people. It was packed with chairs in the aisle. The stage was beaufifully decorated with white Christmas trees, a sleigh and cotton snow. Very festive.

The concert itself was God and family based--half of the concert was performed with the Christ Church choir. My favorite moment was when the girls called their children up on stage--all dressed in red flannel pjs. So cute! And then they called all children in the audience from ages 4-10 up to sing a song with them. Surely one of the highlights for those children. The biggest applause of the evening came when POG sang "In the First Light" accapella.

As a side note, I had not been there 30 minutes when a member at Christ Church asked if I was a member and then began telling me about the church. She even left to go get class information, the mission statement, and other print materials. Impressive.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

One year

One year ago today, I became an official resident of Tennessee. It hardly seems possible. 525,600 minutes--how does one measure a year? I have measured it with new adventures, new friends, new church, new grandchild, new beginnings.

It has been a wonderful year--I think my blog attests to that. And again--I am so glad I moved. Of course, I miss my friends and Highland, but one cannot go back there--one can only go forward.

Christmas preparation has stolen my blog moments. Try to do better!

Today was the Christmas program for Maddie and Ella--all the kids were so cute in all their Christmas finery. I will repeat what Beth Williamson said, "There is probably 1/2 million dollars worth of video and digital cameras in this room." It is fun to see Brandon take pictures in abundance like his father did.

Sunday, December 11, 2005


Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia is in a word: superb. As much as I can remember, it is very close to the book in its adaptation. There were so many scenes which were thrilling. The one that gave me chills was when the girls went up to the table to comfort the already dead Aslan. Shades of the Marys! So powerful. The crucifixation/slaughter scene was handled very tastefully, but packed a sharp punch.

Not for very young children, I think. The wolves and ogres are very scary, but Everbody Else must see it. I would like to see it again soon.

Friday, December 09, 2005

To celebrate or not to celebrate

I may ruffle a few feathers with this one--just being honest here,however. I don't understand Christians who don't believe in celebrating Christmas. When most of the world is focused on Christ, why turn away? Oh, I know, we often focus more on presents than giving and on spending than the birth. That is not my point.

When I was in high school, a very strong church family decided that celebrating Christmas was wrong. They gave no presents, had no tree nor any decorations, and went out of their way to tell others how wrong they were to join the world in celebrating a secular holiday. That puzzled me then and still does.

Celebration is just another form of thankfulness. Why are we so afraid of celebration? If the world is joined in celebrating the One we love and follow, must we refuse to do so and appear strange and quirky? And if you reply that the world really does not understand what or who they are celebrating--maybe they need a little tutelage from those of us who are steeped in the meaning of the Incarnation. In their last issue, The Christian Chronicle interviewed a woman who said she was known to walk out of a worship service when they sang Silent Night in December. She felt it should be sung all through the year, and perhaps she is right--we do need to celebrate the birth of Christ more than one time a year. Another interviewee said that she felt that churches who put up trees, sang "Christmas" songs, etc. were participating in the "secularization of the church." Do sound systems, song books, Power Point, and radio and TV programs count in that too?

The Incarnation is too important to miss. It may well be the most caring thing God ever did for His creation outside of the death of His son, and I think it is well worth celebrating any time of the year.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Silent night, holy night

I reviewed several children's books about this old Christmas hymn today at book club.
One book tells the story of the 1914 Christmas truce.It seems that late in December, fighting had slowed, and soldiers began to celebrate their commonality--observing Christmas by singing carols and lighting Tannenbaums along the trenches. As the English line was singing Silent Night, Holy Night, the Germans began to cross the lines to hear this "old familiar Austrian tune." Before the Christmas celebration was over, the boys played soccer in No Man's Land, shared their food with one another and had a joint prayer service honoring their dead whom they buried in the dark frozen ground side by side. Knowing that man had devised tools of war for that conflict that would kill more soldiers (10 million before the war was over), I could not help but think about the bombs the insurgents are using to kill our boys (most of whom were not more than 20 years old (much like their WWI counterparts). God, we sorely need Silent Night, Holy Night once more, please!!!!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

It's time to end it

The 17th soldier from Fort Campbell (just down the road in Kentucky) was killed on Saturday. The 17th in two weeks!

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired,signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, from those who are cold and not clothed. The world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children."
Dwight David Eishenhower

Looking at the situation in New Orleans, and the fact that the Metro School Board is considering cutting millions in the education of its children (including all art, music and P. E. teachers!) this is not a time to be spending 1/2 million dollars on a fortified hummer. We must keep those who are there safe, I agree, but it is time to end it all now. What a gift for Christmas that would be.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Mary's Story

As we hear the story of Christ's birth over and over in this season, I am thinking of Mary, the mother of the Son of God. This is story I wrote several years ago. I want to save it for Maddie, Ella and Sam.

Mary's Story

He cried softly. Mary sighed and raised her head. Smiling, she rocked the Son of God in her arms.

As he began to scream, she thought, "Why did I say 'yes' to that angel? Where is Gabriel now? Where are those shepherds and kings? What am I doing in this smelly, dark place?"

Then as she fed him, Mary reflected, "I am blessed among all women--I am the mother of a baby unlike any other child--one truly come from God, and here he is in my arms: red-faced, squirming, hungry." She asked herself, "How can a mere girl like me guide this God-child?"

Like all mothers, she pondered in her heart what would become of him. She anticipated his growth in mind and body. What would be his first word? When would he walk? Would he be a good student? Will he be tall and handsome? Will he have my eyes and nose? What will others think of him? How would he and Joseph get along? Would he become a carpenter or a rabbi? Her heart catching, she thought, someday, he will leave my house for the last time. She did not know that one dark day his dripping blood would stain her robe as she stood at the cross.

Weary of thinking, Mary bowed her head and whispered, "God has done mighty things for me. Holy is his name." Stroking the hair of Jesus, she yielded herself and her baby to God his father.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Tinkle, tinkle little star

Last night was movie night at the Thomas house. We watched the Wizard of Oz showing on TNT. Maddie wanted to fast forward a certain part--not possible in network land.

We were also entertained with Ella's rendition of "Tinkle, Tinkle" Little Star--on pitch and word for word. Pretty good for age 2 almost 3. I think I have mentioned before that we have Brandon on cassette singing the same song at age 2--intersperced every now and then with the words "let me hold it (microphone)", "let me hold it." Ever the performer, even then.

This morning the church at Otter honored Brandon for his 10 years of service there.
The comments were gratifying for a mother to hear. I am glad I was there.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Three Wishes

Every now and then, networks add programming that is worthwhile for family viewing. Three Wishes, added by NBC this year, is such a program. It is a bright spot on Friday night and is a good show for all the family to sit down, watch and count their blessings.

This week NBC announced they were not buying any more episodes--tantamount to cancelling the program. They had announced earlier last month that the show would be carried. The network cited budget constraints as their reason. Why don't they drop one of the many sleazy shows they carry instead? I don't know.

If you agree that the show is worth saving, please e-mail NBC at : to complain. Maybe we can save this one.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Silly Christmas songs

A local radio station is sponsoring a contest about silly Christmas songs. Some winners from the past include: I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas, Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer, etc.

I like the hippo song. What is your favorite Silly Christmas song?

P. S. I understand there is a whole album featuring Christmas cows.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Babies R Us

I visited Babies R Us today to find Sam an "exersaucer". (No,I had never heard of one either.) There were so many choices!!! from the Ford to Cadillac.

I was struck as I watched the shoppers. They were having so much fun--grandmothers shopping for just the right look in clothing; fathers shopping the sports-themed gear; mothers acting as moderators. This was a store where the holiday spirit reigned. I could have stayed all day, but other errands called.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

The Bears

I was so sorry to read that Stan Berenstain, co-creator with his wife Jan of the Berenstain Bears, died yesterday at 82 of cancer.

Their 200 books over a period of 40 years gave children much enjoyment and parents ammunition for knotty family problems. I particularly liked the BB Go On Vacation, and The BB Mind Their Manners.

Last year they exhibited their life's work at the National Center for Children's Literature in Abilene. It was one of our most successful events. Their son Michael, who has helped them on the newest books, came and gave a delightful gallery talk about the long career of his parents.

Thanks for sharing your gift with children for over 40 years.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Walk the line

I finally got in to see Walk the Line about Johnny Cash. It was a very good movie with a few slow moments; however, I am glad I went. I never thought of Jouquin Phoenix (what kind of name is that?)as a good actor, but he became Johnny Cash before the movie was over. I didn't know that Cash started out with Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis at the beginning of the rock and roll movement. The music and the devotion of Johnny's June Carter (played well by Nashville's Reese Witherspoon) are worth the price of admission.

The movie is also a commentary about the importance of good fathering. Cash's father was a violent drunk who constantly compared him to his older brother who was killed in an accident. Even in adulthood fame, his father could find nothing good to say to him or about Johnny. I am so glad that Brandon and his father had a wonderful relationship. Sam was such an encourager and lover of his son. I am sorry he did not live to see the model Brandon has become and to see the benefits of all those performances we attended.

Thank you God for being our father and for all the good fathers I have known.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Unpacking Christmas

Last year I arrived in Nashville too late to decorate for Christmas. I have spent this day looking for Christmas among all the boxes in the garage AND trying to figure out how to fit what I have into a new house.

Nevertheless, the opening of each box brings priceless memories. I finally have a mantle with a lip on which to hang the sequined balls done by Claranell Murray, a teacher at Bowie in Abilene. She gave us one each year covered painstakingly with sequins with Brandon's school picture highlighted in the middle. On the back were sequins noting the year. She did the first one 31 years ago. They are a beautiful treasure.

I ordered Sam a stocking to add to the others. Naturally it doesn't match, but that's o. k. Our family is big about stocking gifts. We enjoy opening them almost as much as the larger gifts. The package may contain paper clips, but it is still fun to wrap and open it.

Back to the boxes! I think I am going to have help putting up the tree tonight.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Christmas music

I do love Christmas music! I start playing it about Nov. 1 and end after New Year's. Thankfully there is a station here in Nashville which began playing Christmas music on Nov. 22 all day every day until Christmas.

I usually buy at least two new albums every Christmas. My favorite this year is Point of Grace's Winterwonderland. It is short--only 10 songs, but they are all good including a new one Let There Be Light featuring John David Webster. Among my all-time favorites are any of Amy Grant's and any album featuring the Morman Tabernacle Choir.

How about you--what are your favorites?

Saturday, November 26, 2005

The day after

I thought I might take in a movie the day after Thanksgiving. After all, everybody else would be shopping on Black Friday--Wrong!

The line at the movie was out the door and while waiting, I missed showings of two of the movies I wanted to see: Rent and Walk the Line. So I was forced to go to Pride and Prejudice.

P & P will go down as one of my favorite movies of the year. Beautifully videogaphed, great acting, true to the novel, romantic--Wow! I highly recommend it.
I do love good movies.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Thanksgiving, 2005

Over Old Hickory, down Nolensville Road to Nonnie's house we go....A few recollections of yesterday, saved for Maddie, Ella and Sam:

From the sound of the first band in the Macy's Parade, to the last bite of turkey, the day was picture-perfect--family, friends and good food. Sheryl brought green bean casserole, a new sweet potato dish (Yummy!) and a pumpkin cheesecake. Brandon made his orange jello favorite salad. Here there was turkey, regular and smoked, gravy, cornbread dressing (thanks to the Roeders for the hint to cook the celery and onions in the cornbread), fruit salad (apples, oranges and whipped cream in great-grandmother Granny Tucker's 100-year old bowl), hot pineapple casserole (a new dish), cranberry sauce,
hash brown casserole, olives and Sister Schubert rolls (which I forgot to cook). And
there was pumpkin pie with whipped cream, pumpkin cheesecake and coffee with Bailey's for dessert. A new hit for the girls were the Clementine oranges--lots of Vitamin C dispensed!

Maddie and Ella brought suitcases readied for taking naps at Nonnie's for the first time. Sam slept on his blue blanket. After lunch, with pallets on the study floor, and Sam in the bedroom, they bedded down for a Thanksgiving nap. The adults, Kiki and Kyle, Nonnie, Mommy and Daddy played cards.

Reading books, playing with Nonnie's toys and watching the "Muffet" Christmas movie were also part of the day.

It was dark when everyone left--I had to sit in my chair and smile over the day when my best and brightest came to visit.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Christmas movies

Joining the demise of singable Broadway musicals has come the Christmas movie. I don't when it began, I just know I miss them.

One of my favorites is the old "Holiday Inn" movie in which Bing Crosby first sings "White Christmas." Now that is way back--World War II inspired many such movies which some would call cloying today. Where are the movies inspired by the Iraq conflicts? Please, not "Jarhead."

Then there is the warm Christmas scene in "Auntie Mame" which brought us "We Need a Little Christmas." I do like "Meet Me in St. Louis" and Judy Garland's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" in it. As I remember, "Little Women" also had a memorable Christmas scene.

I have grown weary of "It's a Wonderful Life." What is your favorite Christmas scene or movie?

Father, thank you for your son--the reason for all the gifts and warm feelings.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005


43 years ago today I married Sam Thomas, a tall, gangling auburn-haired teacher from Pasadena, Texas. I was 24, and he was 29. His family had long given up his marrying anyone. But fortunately, we were introduced by mutual friends,and after a rocky beginning, made it to the altar. My long-time friend Rodney Spaulding performed the ceremony at the University Church chapel in Abilene.

Our rehearsal dinner was rather unorthodox--Sam's family hosted a traditional Thanksgiving dinner at the home of friends in Abilene, Raborn and Velma Powell. That way the families really got to know each other over turkey and pumpkin pie.

The next day was beautiful. Over 300 friends watched as Sam and I exchanged vows which we wrote to each other. Neither of us knew much about married life--we were green and idealistic, but gradually worked through the eccentricities of each other and began to enjoy it. We moved into a new apartment near ACU and with one car and began to live the lives of teachers--lots of time planning, programs almost every night ( I was teaching in Eula nearby and had duties selling concessions at the basketball games twice a week), and church at Minter Lane on the weekend.

The 29 years we spent together before his death were full of fun, laughter, tears, ups and downs--but were very blessed by God. Thank you God for Sam Thomas and our married time together.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Baby sitting

I got to baby-sit for a whole day with the girls while Brandon, Sheryl and Sam are gone to Texas.

Is there anything quite as delightful as the giggles of little girls playing hide and seek while they wait to be found? I took a very large "bag of tricks" to the house to make the day move along. By 10:00 am we had colored in all the coloring books, played with Flown (kind of a new Play-Doh), they had painted my fingernails, and finished the bag of tricks including the "fruities."

Fortunately Sheryl and Kinsey Wilson came over to play about that time, and we made the day successfully.

I do love being in Nashville!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Just say no to guilt

Word was on Tuesday morning when our study of the semester was complete that several women (including many young mothers) were feeling guilty because of their inability to live up to the challenges in Elizabeth George's A Woman After God's Own Heart.

I believe guilt is highly overrated as a Christian virtue. It takes prisoners of all ages and backgrounds. It grinds down those on the cusp of spiritual growth. It wearies those who still believe that "doing" is better than "being." Of course, there are behaviors and attitudes worthy of guilt--outrageous sins and omissions which should not characterize God's children.

However, to suffer depression of spirit because one cannot "do" enough (how much is enough?) is an egregious negation of the price Christ paid for our salvation.

Women often have a more sensitive approach to "serving" God, and they pass this down to their children.

Young mothers, you are to be hailed, not condemned for your vitally important roles as mothers and caregivers--there are days in which you barely manage to survive, muchless "serve" God by ministering to the sick or attending church. There is NOTHING more important and worthy than rearing your children and giving them a heart for God.

"Impress (these commandments) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up."
Deut. 8:7

"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

"Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him." Romans 12: 1
The Message

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Happy Birthday, Babe

36 years ago today, Nov. 15, 1969, a baby boy came to stay at our house and changed our lives forever. After being married for 7 years, we were more than ready for a baby. He looked much like Baby Sam, but was a little less laid back. He had the red hair of Maddie, but it gradually faded to a softer red. He had the exuberant personality of Ella which never faded.

Sam and I were both exorbitantly proud parents--faithful to attend every function at school, church, ball park and stadium. Brandon Scott Thomas was bright, so we didn't have to nag much about grades or accomplishments. He had very good moral friends, so we didn't have to worry about bad escapades (at least he didn't get caught). When we recorded his singing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star at age 2, we did not know he would grow into his gift for song and worship. When we let him audition for a place in the ACU musical Music Man at age eight, we didn't know he would spend his life producing recordings, Christmas and Easter musicals. When he decided to major in communication, we did not know that his gifts for communicating would greatly outweigh his education. When we took him to church everytime the doors were open, we did not know that he would be such a wonderful man of God and a passionate lover of Jesus. When we gave him his first little red "sports" car, we did not know that he would eventually be driving a white van with three children's car seats attached. As we watched him associate with girls and date virtually every pretty girl in ACU, we did not know that he would eventually find the perfect mate, a beautiful woman who also loves God, parents perfectly, and sings as well--Sheryl Rathbun.

You may have figured out that I am still extraordinarily proud of my son. I love his passion for God and music. I love his exuberance, enthusiasm, panache, and charisma. Yes, I love his hair "do," I love the way he loves his wife and children. I love his care and concern for his friends and family. I love the way he lives--to the hilt in everything he does.

Thank you Babe for being my son this birthday.

Monday, November 14, 2005

The glory of friends

WE had a wonderful weekend with our friends the Lorenzes. We showed off Nashville in all its fall beauty to them with great times of food and discussion in between.
They loved playing with the kids and we loved just being with them. We did get in a trip to the Opyrland Hotel and the Country Music Hall of Fame too with a tour of downtown Nashville.

The Lorenzes are the kind of houseguests who leave the rooms they used in better shape than when they came. Neatniks! My favorite kind of people. What a joy to be with friends who know what you are going to say before it comes out of your mouth and with whom we can practice what we call "memory by committee." There will never any other friends who have done so much for us, who love us so unqualifiedly, and who bless us so much. Thanks to Robyn and Paul and Brooke and Brady for sending them here.


I received an e-mail today from my freshman roommate at ACU Lawana Benningfield Willhelm. What a long time ago 1957 feels. I was a different person then and the world was a different, more noble, less complex place. At least in Abilene, Texas.
We had a lot of fun in Chambers Hall with Miss Ditto. One of the best memories is the lingerie style show in the big hall after curfew. In those days, I think it was ll:00 p.m. We were all much smaller women then!

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

It's a Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood

Driving around Nashville this morning: huge lawns covered in a carpet of gold, orange, red and yellow leaves--beautiful! My car was peppered by falling leaves--like being hit by yellow, brown, ruby and orange raindrops. Otter Creek Chruch being guarded by twin maples, one yellow, one red--gorgeous. Paint splatters on the hills in all the aforementioned colors. The Bradford pear trees on Old Hickory Blvd. turning themselves inside out from green to red.


Our friends, Ronnie and Darla Lorenz are coming to visit Thursday. I just hope the leaves will remain on the trees until they come. One can't describe them--words are not adequate, you just need to see the panorama of beauty created by God.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Relating to God and his words

We are spending time in my Sunday class talking about relating more closely to the words and stories in the Bible. Last week we did a bit of imagination as we read one of the stories of the gospels. This week is lectio divina (spiritual reading) and next week will be the importance of study (Foster actually calls it a discipline).

What I have tried to stress is the difference between just reading the words with getting deeply into the words and ideas so that they can bond our relationship with God. William of St. Therry said that the difference between attentive reading and mere reading is the same in warm friendship and a passing acquaintance.

Yes, I know Chris (Fajita) Re: his blog about knowing God outside the Word--there are many ways to know God outside the word. I think I agree with Calvin who said that it is in the Word where God is truly and vividly descibed to us.

Madeline L'Engle has a wonderful story in her book The Rock That is Higher; Story as Truth which will illustrate:

After dinner at house parties which L'Engle attended, people would ofen give recitations, sing songs or otherwise entertain the other guests. One year a famous actor was among the guests. When it came his time to perform, he recited the 23rd Psalm. His rendition was magnificent and there was much applause. At the end of the evening, someone noticed a little old great aunt dozing in the corner. She was deaf as a post and had missed most of what was going on, but she was urged to get up and recite something. In those days people used to memorize a lot of poetry! So she stood up and in her old, quivery voice, she started, "The Lord is my shepherd....and went on to the end of the psalm. When she finished, there were tears in many eyes. Later one of the guests approached the famous actor. "You recited that psalm absolutely superbly. It was incomparable. So why were we so moved by the little old lady?" The actor replied, "I know the psalm. She knows the shepherd."

Thursday, November 03, 2005

All Saints Day

Where did this week go????

Last night at Vespers, we celebrated All Saints Day which was actually Tuesday--a day to celebrate and honor that great cloud of witnesses who came before us in the faith.

I have been thinking about it all day and about the great cloud of witnesses who came before me,who upheld the name of Jesus and didn't throw in the towel and give up.

How can I not honor: Paul, Peter and John, Mary, Phoebe, St. Benedict, Martin Luther, John Wesley and Susanna, his wonderful mother, Alexander Campbell, St. Scholastica, Teresa of Avila, Mother Teresa, L. O. Sanderson, Fanny Crosby, Anne Hutchinson, Laura Smith, Evelyn Underhill, Corrie ten Boom, Billy Sunday, John Newton, Barton W. Stone, Lottie Bonner, Maude Fletcher, W. L. Fletcher Jr., John Elkins, Amber Yadon, William Samuel Herndon, Pauline Brandon, Lizzie Belle Herndon Tucker, Sam Thomas and hundreds of others who paved the way for me.

No they were not all members of the Church of Christ, they were not all learned scholars, some had agendas, some fell flat on their faces, but got up, some were wrong about many things--but they did not quit. They kept pushing Jesus and His Way on those surrounding them.

Thank you God for this great crowd. I still hear their voices urging me on.

Monday, October 31, 2005

The season

I have been too busy celebrating Halloween to blog--so fun to watch Maddie and Ella react to the holiday. They made Halloween cards for me this weekend. I used them to decorate my car for Trunk or Treat.

Trunk or Treat was a blow-out event! So many cars, so many kids. What fun. There were toddlers dressed as pumpkins, many spider men, and 4 year old princesses. Pretending is so good for the brain.

So sad to read Stephanie's blog (a link at Brandon's blog) to find out about Kyle Lake. A young man who was just beginning to lead the church to new heights. I just can't figure this kind of thing out.

Friday, October 28, 2005

True or false?

So Libby has been indicted for lying. Sounds like his boss (Cheney) needs to step up and bail him out by telling the truth.

I am so tired!!!!! of wondering who is telling the truth in Washington on a lot of topics. All those proverbs about lying and telling the truth need to be read aloud on a loud speaker at the Mall in Washington--might sink in--or not.

"A malicious man disguises himself with his lips, but in his heart he harbors deceit. Though his speech is charming, do not believe him" Proverbs 26:24-25

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Christmas is coming

All the signs are here--Christmas will be celebrated again this year. Even as Halloween fades, Santa appears. From now until January 2, we will all have fun and spend money.

As I viewed the pictures on Brandon's blog today, I thought what a fun time for kids!
And for adults who are watching the kids and their various reactions to this season. It was always my favorite time to read to kids. There are some good ones out there that aren't gory, but scary.

Maddie gets very excited about celebrating most anything. Last night she was wiggling and giggling and couldn't wait to get on stage. She told her daddy that she loved standing on the stage. She and Ella are so much fun to watch. I am soooo glad I am here. Baby Sam will dress up next year, I am sure.

Thank you God for the excitement of children over little things. May we view the things you have given us with such excitement.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Parade of Bible characters

Our parade of Bible characters passed before the congegation tonight. Characters ranged from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil to Moses and the burning bush.
Maddie was in a trio of little girls who were spiritual gifts--each wearing one of those huge gift bags with tissue coming out of the top. Ella, unfortunately, is sick tonight. I love it when the church lets children know that they are a part of the community of believers and are valued and loved. Highland often has the "little singers" come forward and take part in the worship. There is a children's musical there too every year. What a big deal! I know it is work for the parents and children's minister, but glory to God for their willingness to let the children come to us.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Soup and Solitude

The aroma of homemade soup spread itself around my house yesterday as I made the first batch of the season. It was one of those let's see what I can find to put in this without going to the store kind of vegetable soup. Luscious, if I do say so myself!

Brandon's description of the stations at his praise team retreat made me want to participate. The noisy room was a good idea. My topic last Sunday was silence and solitude. I read somewhere that we are bombarded by as many as 3,000 advertising message a day. How does one get around that? What is the most obnoxious noise in your life? Someone in the class said the beeping sounds machines make as they are backing up. My contribution was loud TV commercials with raucous music.

How does one get around that? Only intentionally. The intentional twist of the wrist as one turns off the TV and radio (both at home and in the car), the purposeful setting up of a place away from the main area of the house where one can be quiet. Nancy Hutchinson said that John Wesley's mother (Susanna, I think) had a special chair where she sat and pulled her apron over her head. When her many children saw her there, they knew she was not to be disturbed!

Richard Foster suggests taking "little solitudes" like getting up before anyone else and spending quiet time in the kitchen with your cup of coffee, or finding a park for your lunch. I have another friend who sets up shop in a rural cemetery when he needs quiet time. My friend David Wray (who lives outside of Abilene) does not turn on the radio on his way to ACU. Instead, he uses that time to pray and meditate. That is not always possible in heavy traffic, however. Alexander Campbell had a very special study built outside his home (octagonal shape) with shelves for all his books and room for only one person, him. We build bonus rooms, theater rooms, wine cellars, and glass porches on our homes--why not build a place of solitude?

What do you do to turn off the noisy world?

Monday, October 24, 2005

Pumpkin Time

Pumpkins are appearing in yards and porches around Nashville. Pumpkin patches are lying in front of many churches.

Pumpkins are beautiful vegetables which have been around for centuries. Shakespeare mentioned the "pumpion" in The Merry Wives of Windsor. And then there are Washington Irving's Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Peter, Peter Pumpkin Eater and Cinderella. 90% water, the orange balls have been touted as cures for freckles and snake bite. The Native Americans cut them into strips, dried them and then wove them into mats. The early colonists cut off the tops, scraped out the seeds, filled them with spices, milk and honey and cooked them in the ashes creating the first pumpkin pies. I wonder who came up with that idea? Today, Libby's Pumpkin Pie in a can will present a delightful version with whipped cream on top, of course.

They are a part of the beauty of autumn, and I thank God the creator for this orange touch in the landscape.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The drugstore cherry coke

What could be better than a drugstore cherry coke? Certainly not the sweet syrupy stuff in bottles now.

Reynolds Drug Store in my hometown served the best cherry cokes--as I remember them they had a slight bite. They were served in a glass which said Coke on it. You had to pull your straw out of a long glass cylinder. Sitting on the vinyl seats sipping a cherry coke was the best experience of the 50's. I will say that a Coke float comes a close second to being best.

Reynolds which was next door to where my mother worked always had several defining smells: at the front where the cosmetics were sold there was the wonderful perfume smell. As one walked to the back where the prescriptions were picked up, the smell began to be medicinal. The Reynolds had several antique shelves of medicines closeted behind glass doors which always made the medicines more mysterious and unusual.

At the front of the store were the magazine racks and the racks which held comic books (remember them?). These were the days before magazine covers were x rated. I always enjoyed seeing all the different titles from venues I never entered. The men's magazines were mostly about hunting and fishing not naked women. The women's magazines were mostly about keeping the home, not about how to satisfy one's partner. And then there were those about travel, home design, etc. One section I always frequented were the movie magazines--I always managed to buy at least one a month after I finished my coke. More about that collection later. Thanks Mr. and Mrs. Reynolds for the pleasure you gave a small town girl.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Marking a day

My mom died of melanoma 29 years ago today. I still miss her--her smile, the way she loved Brandon, and all the things she taught me. Some of the things that stuck are: The place to be on Sunday and Wed. night is in church.
Cleanliness IS next to godliness. Nothing makes a family happier than being in a clean house with warm food on the table.
Reading and education are important.
Serving others graciously doesn't mean an act that might be written about in a newspaper, but a jello salad or a casserole to a needy family would do just fine.

I am sorry I did not get her long slender fingers and curly hair, but I will settle for these important lessons.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Book club

Our Otter Creek book club had its first meeting today--it was fun! We shared our thoughts on Philip Gulley's Home to Harmony. It got 5 stars all around. It is similar to the Mitford books, but I think better in many ways. For one thing, there are laugh- out-loud stories and characters in the book like Dale, the elder, who knew just enough Scripture to be annoying, but not enough to bring transformation, and or Bob, Sr. who created and led the Live Free or Die Sunday School class who left the church when the preacher called his hand on wanting everything his way. The minister later said, "...I recognized Bob's departure for what it was--a gift from the Lord." We know the people of the Harmony Friends Meeting tha Sam Gardner pastors--they live in our town and go to our church too.

The chapter called Roger and Tiffany recalls the Thanksgiving Sam and his parents spent with his brother and girlfriend. Seems Tiffany was a vegan. Sam's mother was worried that Roger had joined a cult. When the visitors discover that Thanksgiving dinner is to be macaroni without the cheese, small wormy apples(pestucide free) a plate of lettuce, a bowl of kiwi fruit and a glass of herbal tea, there is a quick trip to the store for a turkey breast, potatoes, cranberries and a 2 liter bottle of RC cola. Mom sits down with Tiffany and reads from Acts 10 "And Peter became hungry...." They all rose and ate, even Tiffany.

There are seven other Harmony novels I can't wait to tackle. What fun!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Sam A. Thomas Elementary School

Sam A. Thomas Elementary School was dedicated on this day in 1992. It was a fine Sunday afternoon with many, many friends attending. Sam's sister Dorothy was there. Ronnie Lorenz and I spoke. Brandon sang, and we were all terrifically proud.

Sam, however, would have been embarrassed. He never wanted to be the center of attention, and he could have given you the names of twenty other people who deserved the honor more than he. Nevertheless, his family was proud that his career in education and his life with children was honored in that way.

Keep up the good work Thomas Texans!

Monday, October 17, 2005

What to do with doubt

I know several young men right now who are in the throes of doubt. It is not a pleasant place to be. Resting in God is so safe and comfortable, that when one slips out of it--not a happy place.

What can be said to these fine young men with young families? By the way, they are still holding on to a semblance by coming to church, which I think is a pretty courageous thing to do for the sake of their children. I don't know what to say to them except God is still watching and waiting with his arms wide open and his heart full of forgiveness. I did say to one yesterday that if one expects all questions to be answered, he is expecting something that will never happen. At age 67, I have at least learned that. Yet this whole situation tears at my heart--in prayer for them wholeheartedly.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

A Saturday in Tennessee

We made it to Hilmont Camp--the retreat was fine--very nice ladies from the Tusculum church here. The trees are beginning to turn out in the hinterland. As in the Abilene area, it all starts with the sumac tree. Every early fall we drove out a stretch of land between Abilene and San Angelo to see the trees. The sumacs were beautiful. I can't imagine what the next few days will bring. It has been cool--40's at night and 70's in the daytime.

I was so tired, I went to bed at 8:00 last night. It felt really good. We ate lunch at Mere Bulles this morning and enjoyed the gorgeous weather. As always something strange happened to Brandon. A waiter dropped a glass, and a shard of glass hit BST in the forehead and it began to bleed. Of course, the girls were alarmed, but in the end it was harmless.

Thank you God for good times together on your day. We praise and love you and your son.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Rest in Him, but don't get comfortable

Thanks to everyone for the sweet comments on yesterday's blog. Love you all--even bloggers I don't know.

Headed tomorrow for Hillmont Camp to speak to a ladies' retreat. Their theme is Rest In Him. My reply is Rest in Him, but don't get comfortable. I am looking forward to it. My friend Margie Roeder is taking part of her Saturday to navigate the way--I have a great penchant for getting lost. Pray that my words to them will be inspired by God.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Samuel Alexander Thomas 1933-1992

On a warm October evening 14 years ago, my husband Sam Thomas died of prostate cancer. After a valiant effort, trips to M. D. Anderson, doses of experimental drugs and much pain, he went home to his beloved father.

That Sunday had been one of watching and waiting. Many friends had come by to check his progress, the halls of 5th floor Hendrick Hospital were lined with college students and friends, some in prayer vigil. Sam's room was full of those who loved him. His sister Dorothy, his mother, Brandon, Ronnie and Darla Lorenz, Sally Gary, Shellie Braddock, me and others.

A few minutes after midnight on October 13 after being a coma for several hours, he sighed and left. Sam was beloved by students, parents, administrators,and the school board in Abilene's educational community. He had made his mark at ACU's education dept. which often sent students to observe him. After his death, a new school in the district was named after him. Each school where he had served as principal planted a tree in his honor.

He had literally helped build Minter Lane Church of Christ where he served as a teacher, deacon and elder. His funeral was in the building which still holds the nails he hammered. The building was much too small for the crowd.

Sam was famous for his compassion, wisdom, and excellent teaching. He thought he wanted to be a minister when he came to ACU in 1951. However, after watching his niece's and nephew's teachers and Mrs. Gilbreth at the ACU Campus School, he changed his mind, stayed an extra year at ACU, and earned a degree in Elementary Education.

His first job was 5th grade in Port Arthur, Texas where he stayed for five years. After deciding to work on his masters, he returned to Abilene and began work at Fair Park Elementary (now closed) under his wonderful friend and mentor Scott Hays (Brandon's namesake). Later he was appointed principal at Bowie Elementary. He was principal at Austin Elementary when he died. He loved his job so much that toward the end, we would put his wheelchair in the truck, he would drive to Austin. There the sweet custodian would unload the wheelchair, sit Sam in it and push him to his desk where he would stay until 4:40. (He never left before the majority of his teachers were gone.)

Those who knew him are full of "Sam Thomas stories." We are still hearing some today we never heard before. Sam loved jokes and pranks. He would often put plastic snakes or bugs in the back of his teachers' boxes. But, of course, there would always be a piece of candy and an encouraging note there on Monday morning. He kept up with the birthdays of everyone he ever knew. When he died, I got a letter from a Port Arthur student who said he had received his birthday card earlier in the year.

Samuel Alexander Thomas was a wonderful husband and father. He and Brandon had a very special relationship (Brandon's 13th year was a little difficult) which has spurred BST to be the sweet father he is today.

I miss Sam today as I have missed him for the last 5,000 plus days. Hi, Hon, say hello to God for me.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The kingdom

One of the groups at the Zoe Conference tried to define kingdom. I know, the Bible says, "The kingdom of God is within you." We all know the kingdom that Jesus spoke of it is not political. I am from the generation that was told the kingdom was the church and therefore we could not pray the Lord's prayer because "the kingdom has already come." Talk about a misinterpretation. Yet, we could not define kingdom in the group I was in. Is it the Manifestation of Jesus within which causes you to do what he has comminssioned you to do?

Personally I am with Tony Campolo who has written The Kingdom of God is a Party.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Groggy and Full

What does one say about a time so full of information, fellowship, worship, and praise? Actually, I think orgy would be a good description. The Zoe Conference was just that.

While some did not like the new format, others did. I think it depended on what group you wound up in. Personally, I would have liked more of the speakers in the tracks and less of the group. My groups often deteriorated into "my church" doings instead of the personal reflection called for.

Outstanding moments:

Donna Hester's presentation of women in Matt. l
All of the praise sessions
Jeff Walling's Matthew
Zoe Group singing He Was There
Having Maddie lean over to me and say while Sheryl was singing "Living Prayer"
"Mommy is a good singer!"
Watching Ella direct Zoe as they practiced.

And happenings at the Thomas Inn:

The hot water heater did its job superbly
We all got places on time
Everybody said they slept well (Even Hainey whose mattress pump wouldn't work. She used her own trained breath to blow it up)
Kaye and I had a few good hours shopping, talking and fellowshipping before the crowd
got here

Phew! I am tired, but it is a good kind of tired.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Having fun

Kaye and I had a great time today hanging out at David Kidd one of my very favorite places (I HATE that they are moving to the mall--I don't like mall parking, etc.) But I guess I will continue to go anyway.

Just got a call from Abilene and will have one more guest this weekend--making five of us sleeping, and showering in my little house--it will be fun and like a dorm slumber party. Julie Danley is joining Kaye, Hainey, Sally Gary and me. Pray for the hot water heater--it has not been tested to this point yet.

Hello, Nashville

Yesterday, my friend Kaye and I were privileged to have a tour of Nashville led by Linda Giddens. Linda is so vivacious and full of Nashville history and facts. We really got a good well-rounded look at the city with lots of history (which both Kaye and I love) thrown in. Our favorite story was about AnAlisha ? Hayes Cheatham, etc. (she was married 4 times) a strong Nashville woman who gave land, money and her home and the name to Belmont University.

What joy, Linda. Thanks, thanks, thanks. Kaye and and I are having more fun than monkeys on a banana tree.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


I prefer autumn to fall as the designation for this beautiful season because the word itself sings.

I am a fall and winter person. The pumpkins are appearing everywhere now--bright, golden globes. And orange has taken over the grocery stores. Kroger had a whole, long shelf full of Halloween candy dressed in orange. Gourds and stalks decorated Fresh Market this morning, and I actually found some Honeycrisp apples there--haven't partaken yet, but I hear it on great authority they are Washington's best.

I finally got out all my Halloween stuff last night and enjoyed seeing what I had.
I think schoolteachers have more seasonal decorations than most people--but is so much fun to put it out year after year and to add new things too. I always look for the Oreo cookies with orange filling to put in my glass pumpkin cookie jar. And for the pumpkin and candy corn candies to put in the candy jar (Why are they so good?).

I am looking forward to the turning of the leaves so I can be a true leaf-peeper. I don't have to go to New England, all I have to do is to drive through the Cane Ridge community around the corner.

Happy autumn! And thank you God for your fingertips drenched in color as you made this season.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Looking forward

My blogging will be somewhat sporadic for a while because of Zoe week. My friend and spiritual companion Kaye Price Hawkins is coming day afer tomorrow and staying all week. What a fun time we will have!!! I am so glad cool weather is forecast and that Tennessee can show off its beauty.

Of course we will attend the conference later in the week gathering in all the truly inspirational moments and serendipities that come along. Conferences mean so much more when one has someone of like mind to share with. It will be wonderful to see all our other loved ones too.

Thank you father for happy days and days to look forward to--for the priceless treasure of worshipping you 24/7.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Sing a New Song

Mike's blog today reminds us of the joys of the songs we remember singing as we grew up and matured. Tears came to my eyes as I remembered all those songs suggested by others--While the song leader may have been awful and off-key most of the time, the strong altos and basses made up for his inadequacies; the times spend in those old buildings with wooden floors made the vibrancy of the songs even better. Carpet did not absorb the sound. I can get homesick even remembering the old song board where the number of the songs were posted. The simplicity and blending of a cappella singing just can't be bested by a guitar and a drum and a surround sound system.

But that said, I would never want to give up a good sound system, a wonderful praise team like Otter's, and the messages of the new songs we sing. As we sang Let Us Be You for the first time Sunday morning, I thought of all the churches who will blessed by this song in the future. Of course, it is by two of Otter's gifted ones, Clarissa Cox and Michael Lusk. (and is on Zoe's new recording!)

Thank you Father for the gifted musicians who have helped us praise you for hundreds of years. Help us to encourage those we know and to thank you and give you all the praise.

Monday, September 26, 2005

She's "a-lyric" to it

Man to a caregiver in a rest home: Don't put that water on my wife; she's a-lyric to it."

I began water therapy again today; and I do believe I am a-lyric to water. That shouldn't be surprising, living in West Texas all my life. I do not know how to swim--after taking several sessions of lessons over the years, I still get this chill as I step into water over my ankles. I am very buoyant and tend to float up quickly. At any rate, here I am again conquering my fears trying to strengthen my knees and calves.


Our small group put together boxes to send to four Otter soldiers in Iraq. It felt good to do this small thing for them. I must pray more fervantly that they return quickly and in good health.


So thankful to God that Rita mostly behaved herself in Texas. And Texas performed admirably in the wake of the looming disaster. The mayor of Galveston was certainly a contrast to the trash-mouth mayor of New Orleans.


Otter's furniture ministry to the evacuees of New Orleans is going well--so much furniture donated, that they actually had to cut off taking any more. One of the families moved in last week with every stick of furniture and items necessary to set up housekeeping (even down to Saran Wrap) donated by Otter.


A group which went from Otter to Picayune(sp) recently got to report about the muck, mud and magic there being wrought by many, many churches working together to help.


Thank you God for the blessings of another weekend with you and my family. There are great adventures afoot for Otter (see Brandon's blog). I pray Father that you are in the middle of all the adventures.

Friday, September 23, 2005

The coast

I lived all my life in West Texas where a three-inch rain was a cause for celebration. My teen years in the 50's saw a drought unlike any other--we had to bring water into Hamlin by truck.

So I have enjoyed very much getting to know the coast and water through Sam and his relatives who have lived down there since the 40's. Sam taught in Port Arthur which is supposed (now) to get a direct hit. Praying for them.

On my senior trip in Hamlin, we went to New Orleans and had a great time that only small town West TExas kids can have. We ate oysters Rockefeller at Antione's (I thought it tasted a little like green vomit would taste), toured several mansions and hung out in the French Quarter (with chaperones, of course). I loved it. I ate red snapper and shrimp for the first time there.

As a young teacher at a school near Abilene, I took the graduating class ( I was Senior Sponsor)to Galveston for their trip. We had a great time there too--stayed at the Jack Tar, ate lots of sea food and toured the Bishop's Palace (one of the few historic places left by the 1900 hurricane). I do hope there is a Galveston after this weekend.

Lord, please bless those who are in danger's way.

Thursday, September 22, 2005


I am sure everyone is wondering, as I am, what have we done to unleash these storms? Is global warming catching up with us? Have our spendthrift, profligate lifestyles come home to rest? Should we have listened more carefully to the "tree-huggers"?

I do hope it slows down and is not the monster forecast. The previous hurricane in 1900 was truly a disaster. Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson tells the story and has wonderful pictures of the remains of Galveston. It was again a failure of the populace to listen.

God, please bless my friends, relatives and others in the path of Rita.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Reading the word

When I was growing up in the church, the Bible was seldom read in the worship service except by the preacher when introducing his sermon or the communion leader when he was admonishing all to be "worthy" to partake.

Thankfully, that is changing. It is a pet peeve of mine to hear the word of God read poorly. In these days of new translations easier to read and of "planned" worship services (as opposed to the song leader planning from the front seat 5 minutes before worship) there is no excuse for stumbling through the verses selected.
So this is for the man or the woman (who slowly, ever so slowly is being asked) who read:

1. Read Nehemiah 8 in which Ezra brings the Law before the assembly made of men, women and all who could understand. He reads it aloud (not with his mouth tucked into his chin). All the people could see him as he read, and as he opened the Law,
THE ASSEMBLY STOOD UP. Ezra led a bit of praise before the reading in which the people responded by lifting their hands and bowing down with their faces to the ground. As the Law was read, the Levites stood nearby to "make clear and give the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read." As they listened to the words of the Law, the people wept. How long has it been since you wept at a reading? Or lifted your hands in praise?
2. Read the assigned scripture over and over until it comes naturally--it may help to read before a mirror--to check on how wide you are opening your mouth and to avoid mumbling.

3. As the scripture comes more easily, the reader can glance up at the listeners occasionally and can also give certain words in the scripture more emphasis and emotion. Avoid at all costs, being theatrical in the reading--don't shout, wave your arms, or mince around the mic.

4. Be sure and give the scripture reference before you begin and if time allows explain anything that may be hard to understand (a la the Levites). DO NOT PONTIFICATE nor adopt the rolling rhythm of an old time preacher.

5. If you wish, ask the audience to stand in reverence at the beginning, and at the end, you could add
"May God bless the reading of his word in our hearts today."

Read Nehemiah 8:1-12.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Encouragement to the ministers

One of the many things missing in our churches today is encouragement. Why is it so hard to pat others on the back, to write notes saying thank you and power to you, to take the church ministers out to lunch or coffee and tell them right on?

We have encouragement cards at Highland and Otter--sitting right in front of each pew; yet few are filled out and even fewer of those are to the ministers. I would hate to see someone quit because they were discouraged, and I did nothing about it.
The ministers at Otter and Highland are the best in the world as far as I am concerned. I'd hate to see where we would be without them--maybe locked back in the 50's where youth meetings were parties after church on Sunday night with no mention of spirituality, where children's ministry was unheard of, youth ministry a dream, and praise ministry so far down the road we couldn't see it beyond the hand of the man "leading" singing.

I have often opened a card of encouragement and found tears in my eyes because of the time someone took to do and get it mailed. And a new fervor for my work flouished with pats on the back and well wishes from parents.

I am going to stop right now and go write a card.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Use of time

Mike's blog is asking how parents deal with the use of time for their children's activities. Let children make all the choices? Just say No to everything? Tough question--especially for parents with more than one child.

As I remember, we pretty well let Brandon choose what he wanted to do within reason.
I remember the family in the newspaper recently who didn't have supper until 9:00 on certain weekday evenings because they didn't want their children to miss out on taking fencing. (Now that is a life-time skill).I am sure the teachers of their children enjoyed waking them up during class so they could teach them math, English and other life-time skills.

Brandon gravitated toward activities for which I believe God gifted him--music, theater, speech, leadership in school government. Gamely, in order to fit into the Wylie culture of cowboys and jocks, he signed up to be a football trainer (I think that is what it was called.) And he even ran track for a couple of years. Those things were not his passion. Nor did they prepare him for his life as a musician, church production supervisor (Easter and Christmas plays) and a life as pastor to his worship teams and Zoe.

Extracurricular activities are important indications of what the child's future may
be. It is hard to forecast how the child may be gifted when the child is taking lessons in everything from pottery to fencing, and playing on all sports teams But my philosophy is that it doesn't hurt to try a lot of things before you find one in which you can succeed.

I do cry when I see a family overbooked and stressed out by activities to the neglect of more important and significant things.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

More about candies

After the post yesterday I remembered going to the grocery store in downtown Hamlin and buying peanuts in a little box which promised a penny, dime or a nickle inside for the lucky customer. I never found one that I remember, as I have never found a lucky Coke lid. The only thing I ever won was a sewing machine at the West Texas Fair. It was probably the one thing I had absolutely no interest in owning. However, Sam did find uses for it in his creative projects.

Giveaways those days were much less sophisticated than today. I remember the merchants in Hamlin deciding to offer a sum of money to be given to the lucky ticket each Saturday at noon. One had to be present to win. We never won. This, of course, brought people downtown on Saturdays. From the looks of Hamlin these days, they need another lottery. It appeared to be a ghost town with only the bank looking prosperous the last time I was there.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Old Fashioned Candies

I received my catalog from the Vermont Country Store yesterday. The subtitle is "Purveyors of the Practical and Hard To Find". Near the end of the catalog was a section on candies available which brought back memories. Perhaps it was because our folks couldn't afford much, but anytime Mom came back from the store with candy was a special time. My favorite was the chocolate covered creme drops in assorted flavors (sold in this catalog). As are Charms, (remember them)Clark and Zagnut bars, and Mallo cups. Haven't seen any of them lately, have you?

The catalog also has Evening in Paris cologne and Tangee lipstick. Fun to roam through.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

When can we go to lunch?

Back to studying use of time again and ran across this story from the Internet:

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said, "How about going to lunch in half an hour?

She would gasp and stammer, "I can't. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday. I had a late breakfast. It looks like rain." And my personal favorite: "It's Monday."

She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Go to lunch with somebody you love tomorrow.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Stand in awe of God's Yes

I have been studying Psalm 128 today, getting ready for a presentation next month. I love it. Here is your boost for the day (from Peterson's Message)

All you who fear God, how blessed you are!
How happily you walk on his smooth straight road!
You worked hard and deserve all you've got coming.
Enjoy the blessing! Revel in the goodness!
Your wife will bear children as a vine bears grapes,
your household lush as a vineyard,
the children around your table
as fresh and promising as young olive shoots.
Stand in awe of God's Yes.
Oh, how he blesses the one who fears God!
Enjoy the good life...every day of your life.
And enjoy your grandchildren.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

The Maddie question

No takers on the Maddie question--I can't help but wonder what made her ask the question--was it because the place was so beautiful with lots of "religious pictures" (icons) around? Was it because it was such a contrast from the warm, but bland Otter auditorium? Don't know, and she could probably not tell me now.

I do know that our senses lead our hearts to worship when there is something to sense. If there is nothing to sense, we have to work harder to conjure up awe, mystery, and hallelujahs. Is that why the early Christians could not resist drawing on the caves in which they met?

Monday, September 12, 2005

Where is he now?

On Saturday at the Greek Festival, we ducked into the church--a gorgeous Greek Orthodox sanctuary bright with color and icons. Maddie (age 4) came up to me and said, "Nonnie, Jesus lives here. Where is he now?"

How would you have replied?

Sunday, September 11, 2005


Tim preached the strongest sermon I have ever heard on marriage today. I think it will go down as a watershed sermon at Otter. He proposed among other things that he will never again marry a believer and an unbeliever. He stated that every marriage at Otter was the business of the congregation and that we must all pledge to help those who are in trouble. Amen! Thanks, Tim

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The Brothers Grimm

I wasted $5.25 yesterday and went to see The Brothers Grimm. A children's lit teacher couldn't pass that up.

It was the biggest mish-mosh I have ever seen. Not only did it denigrate the Brothers, but it will give a bad name to their tales, as well. Actually, the story of the brothers is really very interesting without having to make something up. (In the film, they are making a living ghostbusting.)

I think the writer must have been high on meth because he tried to incorporate every tale he could think of into the already burdened script. Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty, Hansel and Gretel, etc. The writers and editor have borrowed scenes from recent movies shamelessly (Ghostbusters, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, etc.). They should have paid more attention to the editing.

I'll stick with Jack Zipes' biography thank you.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The beat goes on

Helping efforts and rescue stories abound==they all make me weep. I was talking to a man who works at the buick place in Franklin today--he had just come back from Biloxi with his church group (Fellowship Bible in Franklin). and was full of stories. Seems that Fema is missing in Biloxi too. The Fellowship group was visiting to help a little Baptist church which had only ten people left and no building. There were a lot of donations sitting on the foundation and debris of the church, but nothing organized. That is what they did first. His group had a hard time finding what to do in the city until they began to partner with the local sheriff who pointed them to three areas in the city that needed help. They immediately went and began clearing streets of debris and bringing food and water to the people who were there. He testified to God's grace working full time there. And I was able to say God bless you! Not a common scene three weeks ago at Franklin Buick.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Thanks for the past eight years

Eight years ago this week I was diagnosed with level C colon cancer. The cancer had spread outside the colon to the abdominal area. This required surgery and weeks of chemotherapy. Thanks to God and medicine, I survived and have had the last 8 years to celebrate:

the marriage of my son Brandon to a wonderful woman, Sheryl,
the birth of my first grandchild, Maddie and the subsequent births of Ella and Sam,
a trip to Hawaii with Brandon, Sheryl, and Maddie,
4 additional years of teaching before retirement,
and a move to Nashville to be closer to dear family.

Although I believe the experience aged me prematurely and I continue to live with the side effects of chemo, I am enjoying my additional years of lfe.

Praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord, O my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live. Ps. 146:1-2

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Working together for good

Is it too early to begin pondering what good can come out of the Katrina tragedy?

Here are some things I have been thinking about:

1. We all appreciate our ordered, blessed lives so much more.

2. Millions of people who never thought of the poor before are now down in the trenches working for them and their benefit.

3. God's hand can be seen in the hands of millions of helping volunteers.

4. TV networks have found that news can supplant the tabloid coverage and survive.

5. Not one word the past few days about Michael Jackson.

6. Thousands of the poor now have a second chance to build a life.

7. Many of the less savory places in New Orleans are forever gone.

8. Churches here in Nashville are working together in an unprecedented effort to help.

9. Those involved in governmental affairs have seen first hand how their cuts and bickering affect real people.

l0. My taxes and federal monies are pouring into helping PEOPLE, not killing them.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005


"The best that any lieerature can teach us is humanity; but it can teach us only if we are willing to learn. It works, but only if constantly reinforced, refreshed and renewed. It will never work if we judge it a luxury instead of a necessity. "
Lloyd Alexander

We are all learning humanity and seeking to be more humane these past two weeks. However, the literature in newspapers and on TV is not helping with the negative reporting. What we need to hear is more stories about the twin 40ish sisters who made it to Nashville after hanging on to each other's arm through dirty water to a highway overpass where they slept for 2 nights until rescued. They kept saying to each other, "Don't let go, don't let go."

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Thanks for Sunday respite

Didn't God know what he was doing when he designated the seventh day as the day of rest? We all need a little rest from the disaster, a little rest from CNN, a little rest from guilt and sorrow.

And we must use that rest to become people of thankfulness--for our own homes, jobs, and security. For our cars, food, and water. For those who love us and take care of us. God, help us to never take these things for granted.

And even more importantly, to never take you for granted.

Saturday, September 03, 2005


I am so thankful to God for the turnaround today in New Orleans--buses are leaving for other parts, a general has come to corral the troops and get downtown whipped into shape, churches are rallying to help in enormous numbers, and hundreds are still being rescued by helicopters.

I guess that one thing that we proved this week is that the huge bureaucracy we have created does not turn on a dime. Not fair to blame George Bush, we created the problem before he got there. It is really bad that he has had to deal with two unprecedented disasters on his watch. In his visit to the area yesterday, he was very compassionate and did not hesitate to be critical of the govt. response. I know some heads will roll when this is all over.

With the heat of N. O., I don't know how long I could have survived without dying of a heat stroke. I am still asking God to rain blessings there.

Friday, September 02, 2005


I am thinking the Rime of the Ancient Mariner "Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink." Such a horrendous time--so much good and so much bad being done. I don't believe Homeland Security is working, do you? But we can never be ready for an experience of this magnitude. As we watched yesterday, it was all I could do to contain myself from loading my car with food and water and trying to get there. And I kept wishing for someone (God, George Burns, Morgan Freeman, Yoda--anybody) to come on the Scantron at the SuperDome (impossible I know) and say--Hey, somebody is in charge, calm down, we are coming. Thankfully, things are better today. I do believe the CNN commentators exaberated the situation with their caustic political comments.
But I do appreciate their comprehensive coverage.

Thankfully,Sheryl is ok. and doing well. She should eventually have no more trouble with this problem which has plagued her in one way or another since early childhood.

I am sure sales of water have jumped this week--I am planning to get some ahead for my closet. Until everything is gone, one does not know what is most important. I know God is watching the situation, crying with us, and blessing us in so many ways to get through it.Thanks to Texas, Detroit and others who are taking in those evacuated. My eyes have been opened again to what is truly important in our lives.
Thank you God for your grace, your promises, for your blessings.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

To grow or not to grow

I have been doing some study in the area of personal growth in Christ and came across these resources: From The Cloud of Knowing, 1375: "For God beholds with his merciful eyes not what you are, not what you have been--but what you would be." I John 2:2 "Dear friends, now we are children of God. And what we will be has not yet been made known."

Sounds like there is room for growth among people who once thought they had everything right--a besetting problem in my fellowship. If you have everything right there is not need to grow, right? No need to learn more, right? No need to pray for further spiritual formation, right? No need to read spiritual books, and prayers of the saints, right?

The two quotations make room for growth in God and that is good news for people like me who hunger and thirst for growth. Please pray for me as I try to persuade my class on Sunday to hunger and thirst too.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

House of prayer

In regard to the Baptist folks mentioned in a previous blog, I have been wondering what kind of prayer I could pray for them? That they see the error of their ways?
(not likely when their overseeing body has not seen its mistakes) That God bring a visitation from a God-filled body in Topeka who can counsel them? (Not likely, I think Topeka is ashamed of them) Is there a church there which can show them the way of love? (Do we do that?) That the Southern Baptist group will remove the preacher? (He seems to be catalyst). I am just praying that the harm they did in Tennessee will be soon forgotten.

Wouldn't it be nice if "my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations."
Isaiah 56:7

Monday, August 29, 2005

The Tempest Is Raging

"Master, the tempest is raging'--we don't sing the song much any more, but we cry out for the "peace, be still" phrase. I am praying this morning for the folks in the eye of Katrina and for those who will help them. Especially praying that the Superdome doesn't collapse. What a terror-filled day and night for them.

Having lived far away from water most of my life, I really can't imagine its ferocity when coupled with wind. One of the family stories in Sam's family is about a hurricane--one of the worst, can't remember which one. It seems that one of the family was in the hospital in Houston, M. D., I think (Sam's cousin). The family in Groesbeck got a call that he had taken a turn for the worse, so they decided against all common sense to drive into Houston, into the hurricane, to be with him. Their description of that drive always raised my hair as I listened. Give me land, lots of land between me and the water!

Father, please bless those of your children who are in harm's way today.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

They have no shame.

Things just get worse and worse for those who are in the tribe of "Christians."
First Pat Roberson with his outlandish pronouncement. Then this:

Two local men who died in the conflict in Iraq were buried yesterday. Attending their funerals and loudly protesting was a group from the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas. The church preaches that casualities in Iraq are God's way of punishing America for being dominated by homosexuals.Holding signs that said things like "God hates America" and "God blew up the troops", the group was virtually silenced by hundreds of townspeople blowing horns and shouting them down. The granddaughter of the church preacher said, "They are fighting for a fag country....
what's heroic in that?" Whether agreeing with their political agenda or not, any thinking person can surely see that funerals are not places to protest--in the faces of grieving mothers and fathers. They have no sense or shame. And they certainly have no concept of the love spoken of by Christ.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Nashville pluses

One of the pluses about living in Nashville is getting to hear Donald Miller and Phil Keagy in one week! I was not familiar at all with Phil Keagy, but now I know that he is one of the most accomplished guitarists in Nashville. He has been compared to Jimi Hendrix. He is not country western or classical, but has his own unique songs, some secular, some spiritual. To think that someone missing a finger on his left hand could play like he does is amazing. He was converted by his sister after all the indulgences of the 60's, and while he was playing in a rock band. He is now this gentle spirit full of love for Jesus. He played us a song he had written in honor of his sister. So sweet. I think his next project needs to be a book about his life.

Thanks Phil for a wonderful evening.

Friday, August 26, 2005

The desert ammas

At Sacred Heart Monastery in the arts and crafts room are banners honoring the desert ammas. It always amazes me how little I know about women on whose shoulders I stand. These were spiritual women who went out into the desert to begin monasteries in the 4th and 5th centuries in order to be counter-cultural and serve God. They are known for their wisdom, visions and writings. Many were mystics.
Some of their names were Monica, Hildegard, Clair, and Mechtild.

A mystic who came along later I do know something about is Teresa of Avila. She founded 17 monasteries for women, got in trouble both with the church and the political machine of the era, wrote a fantistic treatise on prayer called Interior Castle. One of my favorite stories about her occurred when she was criticized for the voluptious way she devoured meals. She replied, "When praying, pray! When eating partridge, eat partridge!"

I wonder, are there any mystics today? I think we are in sore need of them.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sacred Heart Monastery

After spending a weekend with the sisters at Sacred Heart Monastery in Cullinan, Ala., I have a few comments:

It is hard not to envy their surroundings and pace of life. What a place to live every day! Not only are their gardens and lake beautiful, but the chapel is gorgeous too. When we ever learn that beauty brings us closer to God?

The Benedictine sisters there are pledged to a life of service through their vows.
Are we not too? Oh, you say, but we have to live life too--so do they. Some of them go out into the town to teach school, practice law, nurse and other vocations.
Of course others are cloistered to serve the Sacred Heart community and those people who visit there. How serious are we about our vows? Do we listen to God's call or strangely go deaf at his voice in our ears?

Does the voice of God speak to them differently because they are nuns? Or do I just choose to respond differently? And to get to the nitty-gritty, do I have an ear for my calling?

Of course the sisters give up so much for their vows of service and cloister--they don't have the freedom I have, the grandchildren I have, the money I have, the opportunities in the community I have. But the promise of being cared for all your life sounds pretty good to me. The monastery has a retirement home attached where they can go at the end of life. Those in the infirmary (also at the monastery) are cared for as in any good hospital and are visited every day by colleagues. They don't have to worry about current fashions (not that I am!). All meals are furnished.Daily prayers are required and growth is highly recommended. They have a library, wide porches for sitting and rocking, and a guaranteed support group.

Our group was welcomed warmly and genuinely. We got some services planned, got to know each other better and ate Blue Bell together. Who can ask for anything more out of a weekend?

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Donald Miller

Donald Miller was a delight. Who would have thought that such profound statements could come out of the mouth of a chunky boyish postmodern?

Beginning with the idea that Christians have been sold a bill of goods by the free-market product-oriented world and ending with a very powerful illustration from Romeo and Juliet that Christ's blood has put us in him to stay, the evening flew by.

I especially enjoyed his comments on our propensity to seek answers with books, speeches, etc. which contain numbered steps--5 steps to love, 7 steps to salvation, 8 tips on raising children and our constant asking of "how" questions instead of "why"

His major point and one that demands exclamation points was that Christian spirituality is a relationship--a being and not a doing. He said that Christian spirituality is more in the realm of poetry than science--it can't be proven and quantified; it is a mystery. Salvation rests on a relationship rather than a list of ideas.

Amen, and amen!!!!!!

Thursday, August 18, 2005

It's That Time Again

I got my first Christmas catalog yesterday. I love Christmas, but not in August. Bah! Humbug!


I'll be off the next three days. I am going with a group from Otter to the Sacred Heart Monastery in Ohio. We will be planning emergent services for Wednesday nights next fall. I am really looking forward to it. My experience at the Pecos Benedictine Monastery in Pecos, N. M. was a delight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

More Blue

Blue Like Jazz is full of little nuggets like:

"Nothing is going to change in the Congo until you and I figure out what is wrong with the person in the mirror."

"The magical proposition of the gospel, once free from the clasps of fairy tale, is very adult to me, vry gritty like something from Hemingway or Steinbeck....
Christian spirituality was not a children's story. It wasn't neat or cute. It was mystical and odd and clean....There was wonder in it and enchantment."

"There is something quite beautiful about the Grand Canyon at night. There is something beautiful about a billion stars held steady by a God who knows what He is doing. (They hang there, the stars, like notes on a page of music, free- form verse, silent mysteries swirling in the blue like jazz.)"

"The most difficult lie I have ever contended with is this: Life is a story about me....There is no addiction so powerful as self-addiction."

"And may the master pour on the love so IT fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you." I. Thess. 3:12 The Message

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Blue like jazz

I finally finished reading Blue like Jazz by Donald Miller. The book was so hard to get into, I almost gave up. The first part of the book read like adolescent pap which needed a lot of editing, but he pulled it out in the last few chapters with statements like these:

"Too much of our time is spend trying to chart God on a grid, and too little is spent allowing our hearts to feel awe. By reducing Christian spirituality to formula, we deprive our hearts of wonder."

"There are things you cannot understand, and you must learn to live with this. Not only must you learn to live with this, you must learn to enjoy it."

"Wonder is that feeling we get when we let go of our silly answers, our mapped out rules that we want God to follow. I don't think there is any better worship than wonder."

His chapter on Community is worth the price of the book. And his contrast of the time he lived with a hippie community in the mountains and the Christian community he was sometime a part of was funny, sad, poignant, and eye-opening.

I am looking forward to hearing him next Monday evening. Wish you all could come.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

A touch of Abilene

The north wind brought me a touch of Abilene this weekend. Jerri and Roland Orr came to a family wedding here, and I got to spend some time with them. It is often hard to realize how much a part of your life people have become until you leave them.

Roland is an elder at Highland, Jerri is retired from the Abilene School District. They have been friends since I placed membership at Highland 14 years ago. They are members of my small group there, plus being just good friends to pal around with. My "group" of friends in Abilene were somewhat younger than I, all married and all linked in some way with AISD. They allowed this widow to tag along with them on trips, events, meetings, etc. I miss that. Often widows get overlooked socially because they don't have an escort and the numbers don't come out right. My friends didn't let this matter. Because they were younger, they challenged me to do things I might otherwise think I am too old to do. I miss that. There was always a place at church to sit beside them--I even persuaded some of them to move closer to the front. I miss that. They consistently thought about me when things came up and always invited me to go. I miss that. I was always included in dinners, luncheons, holdiay celebrations. I miss that.

Thanks to them and my group for many wonderful memories and for good friendships this side of heaven. Sooo glad to see Ro and Jerri and to know that miles do not negate long-time friendships.

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Time stands still

There are days when time marches on and days when time stands still. The Aida situation at ACU is such a time. I was so elated when the school decided to do the wonderful musicial because of its call to diversity--and now in an ironic turn of events, the play has been cancelled because of folks who have not crawled out of their color-centric lair long enough to see that ACU has moved on in the last 40 years.

To say that the theater dept. at ACU would even consider "black-face" is ludicrous. The musical for Homecoming is the big event for the department in that thousands of alumni attend as well as hundreds from local communities--it is always an opportunity to present ACU's finest face. I concur with Mike Cope--there is not a prejudiced bone in Adam Hester's body--he personifies Christ in his life and inculcates Him into the students in his department. I am sorry this has happened--it casts a shadow on him and the dept. which is certainly one of the most outstanding in the nation.

Read Mike Cope's blog for more detail.

I am praying for Adam and Donna his wife; I know they must be grieving as am I.

Thursday, August 11, 2005


I got spend time with my friend Martha yesterday--it was so sweet. She is a one-of-a-kind completely open wonderfully Christian woman. She and her husband Keith (also sweet) labor at 10th and Broad in Wichita Falls, Texas. Martha's parents live here and go to Otter Creek. I can't really explain the bond that Martha and I have, but I do know it is very special. She can cheer me up like no other person and is very aggressive about looking after and caring for me. Keith and Martha lost a child to miscarriage recently and I had to tear up as Martha talked about her children: l here on earth (2 years old) 1 in heaven and 1 in her womb to be born this winter.

Thank You God for friends like Martha who truly know you and shed your light where ever they go.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005


It shocked me when I heard that Peter Jennings did not finish high school nor go to college--this icon of news journalism. It struck me that we cannot fathom the potential of the human soul.

Marion Wright Edelman, one of my heroes, and president of the Children's Defense Fund has written a book that all teachers, parents and those who work with children should have. Guide My Feet, Prayers and Meditations on Loving and Working for Children inspires me everytime I pick it up. Here's one quotation for today:
"In every child who is born under no matter what circumstances and no matter what parents, the potential of the human race is born again, and in him/her too , once more, and each of us, our terrific responsibility toward human life: toward the utmost idea of goodness, the horror of terrorism, and of God." James Agee

Monday, August 08, 2005

The things we teach in school

Taking off on Craig Fisher's post about school beginning and the value of teachers, I am posting the sermon, um, lecture I always gave to my students on the last day of children's literature class. Most of the students in the class were headed toward teaching.

We teach math so students can function in the real world and creative thinking so they can function in a world to come with things not yet thought of.

We teach four-year-olds who have never seen an indoor bathroom how to hit, how to flush, and to put the lid down.

We teach the 16-year-old girl, who is pregnant and unmarried, the skills she will need to survive as a single parent, and we provide day care for her child when it is born so she can stay in school and succeed.

We provide counseling and non-judgemental guidance for the students who have AIDS.

We bring kids together in teams, whether they be debate teams, football teams or ag judging teams, and we teach them the art of give and take and loyalty and cooperation which will ultimately be used in marriages, in court rooms and in churches.

We know that every child who comes to us is at risk whether he or she is 4 or 18. We teach them that school is a safe place where they can come from 8-4 every day: Where adults are warm and caring, where laughter is pure and clean, where videos and dvds are not rated X and books and magazines do not have obscene pictures. School is often the best place some kids have.

We teach autistic David the pleasure of communicating in sentences over four words long.

We teach music with its mystical power to enrich the lives of children who know more about video games than Beethoven and more about super heroes than Mozart.

The things we teach in school include practical things like the alphabet, the multiplication tables and grammar, but also include things like : keep your fingers out of your food; one match will destroy a forest; and just say no to strangers and drugs. We teach safety like the third grade teacher who took her class to Safety City last year, who lost control of her own little car, ran over a telephone pole and had to miss several days of school.

We teach creative writing so students can learn that their own words count,and that this is an avenue of exploration and imagination which is theirs at the drop of a pen anywhere, any time, any place. With this gift, thay can always say this is my story, my life, my truth.

We provide gifted and talented classes and laureate classes for students like middle-schooler Jason who has spent much of his school life living in a car on the streets of Abilene. He knows his life can change because he is being taught the skills to make it happen.

We teachers on all levels teach truth, understanding and knowledge in a thousand ways everyday in planned and unplanned lessons and conversations, in the way we talk, and the way we treat students and the way we persuade them to interact with each other.

We have put snags in the rivers of children passing by and over the years have redirected their lives.

We celebrate small victories and marvel at changes--we cry when we see children
who come to school in shorts on 20 degree weather days, when a boy comes back to school the next day after his brother dies from a drug overdose, when children come to us with bruises and cuts, when a 6th grade boy leaves the campus in handcuffs because has threatened the life of his teacher.

We teach social studies so we can come to know ourselves and to know each other and to value the worth of every human being.

We teach the lives of great men who confronted povery and won like Abraham Lincoln and Colin Powell.

We teach the lives of great women like Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks who courageously fought the unjust society in which they lived.

We teach physical education and the enjoyment of the human body to children who spend more hours in front of a TV set than they do playing outside.

We teach with joy and optimism everyday so that our children will learn joy and optimism in this often fatalistic world. Teachers are often the only sentries we have against hopelessness.

We teach with energy and enthusiasm and enormous respect for the learner, the science, the literature, and the math that we love so much.

We tell and read stories to students who are falling apart because we believe with Barry Lopez that one should never underestimate the power of a story of repair a spirit.

We teach very carefully the essential elements, cooperative learning, shared reading, and whole language. We get kids ready for TEKS and a thousand other tests.

We dig trenches, climb mountains, and in between we try to help our students know that we are all human, tha it is ok to cry, and ok to dream and that each of us has a special gift and a special place in this world to serve.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Their dreams fell through

From a poem by one of the homeless men (Thomas) at Room at the Inn:

Homeless people are just like me and you
The only difference is that
their dreams fell through.

I have reread Henri Nouwen's The Return of the Prodigal Son: A Story of Homecoming. In it Nouwen recounts his experience with Rembrandt's painting depicting this story of homelessness. At the time he first saw the painting, Nouwen was suffering from a persistent feeling that he needed to do something else than teach theology at Harvard. He was, in a sense, looking for a home. Ultimately, he joined the L'Arch Daybreak community as a pastor to the retarded and handicapped.

In the book, he says that one of the great mysteries of our faith is that God chose us and will not let us go. From all eternity we are hidden in the shadow of his hands and engraved on his palm (Isaiah 49).Before any human being touches us, God forms and textures us and knits us together in our mother's womb. Psalm 139. He loves us with a "first" love, an unconditional, unlimited love.

And because of this love, God is "looking into the distance for me, trying to find me, and longing to bring me home." Nouwen concludes the chapter by writing, "(God's)
love is the love that always welcomes home and always wants to celebrate." Even when "all our dreams have fallen through," and we stand before him destitute and empty.