Monday, January 31, 2005

Mea culpa

What was I thinking yesterday when I wrote of Otter's lack of a worship committee?????Who needs a committee when you have Brandon Scott Thomas??? He has a gift for designing services which speak to all and to the topic of the day--just the right words in a song, just the right scripture, etc. Never would I want to intimate that Otter's worship was in need of help, never.

It is, however, beyond the edges of my amazement that a church like Highland with the best minister, the most inovative programs, etc. would not have a trained, charismatic worship leader. There are of course men who lead worship well--but that is a bare minimum of what the worship leader does. He sets the tone, he or she engages, he or she plans carefully, he or she rehearses the team longer than ten minutes before worship, he or she does a thousand more things which work for
a truly momentous time of worship. That is what the worship committee there partially works at doing.

I guess when I wrote yesterday, I was missing the dedicated people on the committee who prayerfully work each Monday to make the next Sunday better--and the Spirit visits the plans more often than not.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Signing up

Today I officially became a member of the Otter Creek Church. It is an interesting process of introspection to check off the ministries I would like to become a part of in a new church.

Do I rely on the things I have done before other places or do I stretch myself a bit to tackle things I have never done before (no, Lord, not the sewing ministry!).

How much do I indicate I am willing to do? Knowing so little about people and their eccentricities makes it hard to decide whether to work with them closely in the Lord's work.

How much can I contribute to the building fund? I still owe money for the As He Leads campaign at Highland.

How much can I tidy myself up and still be credible as I indicate what I am interested in doing? Nope, no tidying up--I need to be the real me.

All in all, it was an exercise in knowing myself and finding that I am a fairly atypical c of c female--not interesting the sewing, showers or luncheons ministies; not interested in the children's or teens ministries (although I believe in them mightly!!!) Really not interested in the women's ministries, except to teach. Finding myself checking serving communion, leading prayer, adding reading scripture and communion thoughts to the checklist--I MISS SERVING ON THE WORSHIP COMMITTEE!!!
There is not one listed.

But the deed is done, and I will see what the Lord turns up.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Reading time

It is so nice to have time to read these days--those of us who have gone down the rabbit hole, visited Mr. McGregor's garden, know Jo and Laurie, and all of John Grisham's lawyers know how bleak our lives would have been without reading and the new worlds it opened. Story is a brief moment of coming together, a shared moment of time when we enter the world of the mind with others who also open the doors of their heart.

Where would we be without those memories conjured up in book I still might be in the small West Texas town where I grew up, were it not for reading and the enlargement of mind it gave me. It is true that reading empowers us beyond what we could ever do, think or dream ourselves.

Now I must go finish my book. By the way, I am so glad Grisham has pushed the Da Vinci Code off #1 on the best-sellers list. I do not think his books will ever become classics, but they are entertaining.

Friday, January 28, 2005

The new is wearing off

Robert Frost once wrote, "Nothing gold can stay...." That is true of houses as well as autumn. I am finding some paint flecking off and tiny cracks in corners, etc. Nothing big, just a reminder that life goes on and so does wear. Yet we are so enamoured by things new and shiny. My new car no longer shines or smells good--it is in great need of a car wash. Somebody said that cars drive better when they are washed. It will not stop raining, sleeting or snowing here long enough to get that done.

At any rate, I am celebrating today the things that do last--friendships, God's love, my family's devotion, the laughter of children, good books and movies, moving scriptural passages, family stories, grandma's recipes, (by the way Maya Angelou has a new cookbook which is accompanied by the story of each recipe--HALLELUJAH, THE WELCOME TABLE, or something similar)fine paintings, good poetry (like Frost and Dickinson)and..........As Susan O'Hanion wrote, the pleasures of these things linger
"like the smell of strawberries or the sound of a home run."

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Simple pleasures

Isn't it ironic that the things that often give you pleasure are the simplest things? Today I am enjoying a new purple thick bath mat which pleasures my feet, a new red sweater which fits well and keeps me warm, two chocolate-covered peanuts (I know my friends are saying--she doesn't like chocolate, which is true--but I do like chocolate-covered peanuts!) Only two because of the blood sugar. And am enjoying that all of Brandon's roommates have now started a blog. I will try not to point out misspelled words, but just enjoy. Isn't there a magazine devoted to simple things? Haven't seen it, but must try.

I am certainly enjoying a new book called THE SIMPLE FAITH OF MR. ROGERS. Not too many people knew until he died that Fred Rogers was ordained by the Presbyterian church for ministering to children using television. And that he did more than we realize. The author is Amy Hollingsworth--Integrity Publishing. I am also reading Grisham's new novel THE BROKER (why read one book when you can read two--or in my case three going now). I have liked the first two chapters.

Have a simply fantastic day!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Send only those who are accomplished

In regard to the DSL fiasco I mentioned yesterday--Brandon has convinced me that I needed the faster avenue. I called the local phone company, and they sent out 2 guys on Monday. They could not get it on my computer for some reason and left saying that a computer man would call me later to "walk me through it." That struck fear in the heart of this novice. He did call, could not get me going and finally said there was something wrong with my computer. By this time I was chewing nails. I didn't have DSL and I could not dial up.

Tuesday afternoon another man came, spent about 10 minutes, and DSL is now working perfectly. Turns out he knew more than the others who were trying to help me--If you want it done right, send someone who knows how to do it. Are you noticing a great cloud of ignorance in employees these days? Reminds me of the time I went into a Christian bookstore in Abilene and asked where the books by Henri Nouwen were. The clerk said, "How do you spell that?"

Thank you for those who do know what they are doing--may their tribe increase. For other info about this problem, see Brandon's blog today. My friends Joe Sharp and Terri Bawcom (both dentists) would shudder to read it.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

From the lips of babes....

I have been off for several days babysitting and straightening out a fiasco with DSL....

The babysitting went well, because there were two of us. Kim (Kiki), Sheryl's cousin and I collaborated. I don't know how single parents manage--expecially when their children are toddlers. It takes two or more. Saturday night as I was putting the girls down, I finished the book (the girls are both loving the old Rachel Fields'
Prayer for a Child. Maddie can "read" every word, and Ella often stops to sit and look and muse.) As I tried to lay Ella down, she began crying profusely and saying,
"I pay, I pay, I pay." It took me a while to figure out DUH that she was saying, "I pray, I pray, I pray." So we prayed, and she went right to sleep.

Thank you God for children who want to pray and the adults who teach them to love it.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Sleep tight

Yesterday was one of those days widows dread: the "service engine soon" light came on in my NEW Buick, and there was no hot water when time came to take a shower--Thinking something was wrong with my car and hot water heater did not allow sleep to come easily, nor rest to be sweet. Turns out I had to have a new fuel injector (under warrenty) and the breaker switch on the hw heater had flipped. Why do I lose my cool over such easily fixed situations? My father was a great worrier; I guess it is in the genes. So I am thinking about Proverbs 3:24 tonight at I go to bed: "When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet."

While I waited at the dealership from 7:30 to 11:30, I had time to read several magazines. The January 17 issue of Time has an excellent feature about happiness.
My interest in journaling perked up when I read that psychologist Sonya Lyubonursky had found in a study that those who conscientiously counted their blessings at least once a week in a "gratitude journal" significantly increased their overall satisfaction with life over a period of only six weeks. Robert Emmons also found that improved physical health, rising energy levels, relief from pain and fatigue came as added bonuses.

I am grateful tonight for a repaired car and hot water heater. Nighty-Night

Thursday, January 20, 2005

The inauguration

I love days like this when our country shows off its unique system of government. Days when freedom shines out of the TV and almost overwhelms us--days when Washington D. C. shows it beautiful face to the world.

The speech was good, I thought--especially the line, "We cannot send the message of freedom while carrying the baggage of bigotry." Or something to that effect; I was having to listen to it on the radio while driving.It irritates me that country music and rock filled the air ways, and I had to search high and low for a station that was carrying the speech--One would think they could give up Marty Stuart for 17 minutes when it only happens once every four years. Finally found the National Public Radio Station. Thank you.

I thought Laura Bush looked expecially beautiful today. And Lynn Cheney's blue coat was nice.

God bless America, and help us to diminish the partisan politics in this term, so the senators and representatives can do what we sent them up there to do.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Artful happenings

The heaviness over the Highland situation is slowly melting away--thank you Lord for continual blessings.

Some ladies at Otter took me for my first visit to the Frist (art museum) today.
It is one classy place. There is a children's interactive area which is first rate, and the building itself it to die for. I loved it! Perhaps the NCCIL can exhibit there some day. They do not have a permanent collection, but do only traveling exhibits and those that they mount themselves.

The one I saw today was an original curated by them--an exhibition of clothing made by Manuel for the entertainers here in Nashville--fabulous. Brought back old memories of watching the Porter Waggoner (sp?) Show every Saturday night. The docent was one of the best I have ever watched.

As Henry James once said, there is no substitute for the force and beauty of art (whether it is clothing or Renoir).

Today made me homesick for the NCCIL. Aren't we all glad that Kevin Henkes won the Caldecott? GO KEVIN!!!! And the book is black and white. Interesting.

Have I mentioned that I hate the how early the dark comes here at night? Often by 4:30, one can tell that night is coming. Makes me want to go to bed at 6:00. Church at 7:00 seems like midnight. I guess I will get used to it. With that, I am going to bed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Thank you, God

In keeping with one of my new resolutions, I must thank God for his blessings on the Highland kids--all of whom seem to be improving and recovering. But we must continue to pray for their emotional health--it is not easy to witness the death of a friend at that tender age. And I do hope the Bourlands feel the thousands of prayers which are being lifted up for them. May God be holding them in his hands as they weep and tell Brody goodbye tomorrow.

I am currently reading a wonderful book The Rock That is Higher by Madeleine L'Engle. It is one of her older books published in 1993, but reissued in 2002. The whole book is about story and its relation to all portions of our lives. She has to be one of my all-time favorite writers. I really don't care for her adult fiction, but the children's and religious work are magnificent. She is now in quite fragile health and will probably not write any more--what a loss.

The sun has come out today--but it is still 24 degrees for the high. Brrrr

Monday, January 17, 2005

We are the body of Christ

As I heard about the automobile accident in which our Highland teens were involved, I couldn't help but think of Paul's writing about the body in I. Cor. 12--especially vs. 26: "if one part suffers, every part suffers with it...." As the news began to unfold, my stomach knotted, and I began to pray with tearful intensity.
At first I heard that Chris Cope was among the most greviously injured--he was injured, but will be fine, I think. And I couldn't help but think what Mike and Diane were going through emotionally. And to know that a carload of kids were behind the vehicle which flipped and watched the whole thing----.

I am so woefully sorry about Brody Bourland, the 11-year-old who died at the scene. Someone once said that when we choose to be parents, we choose to forever have our hearts walking outside our bodies. Lord, bless the Bourland family as they cope with this terrible loss. And be with the other families of the physically and emotionally injured; bless them to heal quickly thanking you for prolonged life and blessings. Please bless my friends Mike and Diane and help Chris's lungs to heal perfectly.

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Right at home

I am watching it snow outside my window--second time in four weeks. Nashville actually has four seasons and I am enjoying it. The snow is a little fine to stick, but it is a marvelous sight watching the snowflakes dance on their way to the ground.

Yesterday was fun spending time with Ryan and Sarah Williamson and their two children, Sidney and Jack. Sarah is a trip, and always makes me laugh with her sunny personality, and Ryan is just a big bear--so much fun to hug. Sidney and the girls enjoy playing together, and Jack just roams about as the only boy--next year he can play with Sam.

There have been two serendipities--yesterday at the bank where I was cashing an Abilene check, the teller asked if I knew where Hamlin, Texas was--seems her parents graduated from there. The teller is the daugher of Judy Fitzgerald and Jaylon Fincannon who of course I knew--they are my brother Mike's age.

Today at Otter the speakers were Charles and Darlene Coulston, Otter's missionaries to Kenya. These folks were at Minter Lane about 30 years ago as college students--they haven't changed much and are still doing good work in the mission field working with street children in Kenya. I believe they were in the Mark program while at Minter. It is indeed a small world in God's kingdom--one must always be on her best behavior.

I haven't had a chance to talk about the Otter Christmas show. It was truly a special production with laughs and great music. Brandon outdid himself as Pastor Oglethorpe. His drama teacher Sally Gary would have been proud of him. He has come a long way since playing Charlie Brown and Ralph Herdman.

I think I crossed a threshold today--I actually felt a part of the Otter community, and found two things to volunteer for. Leaving Highland is very difficult.

One of the elders read Psalm 20: 4-8 as a blessing to Charles and Darlene today and it seemed so appropriate for our lives this week--asking God to bless our endeavors and expecting success. All too often we ask God's blessing and then go blissfully on our way never looking back to account for the answer. I have resolved to quit doing that. I want to notice each blessing of God every day no matter how small and stop and thank Him for it. Right now my blessings are 4 and 2 and minus 6 months old. I think Sam Thomas would probably have been the proudest grandfather in the world--as we often prayed for Brandon's future life, who could have forecast wonderful Sheryl and the girls? God is in the business of overblessing and overanswering our every need. There is no God like Jehovah!

Saturday, January 15, 2005

She's baack!

Thanks to Brandon and Ryan Williamson, I am now back at the computer in Nashville!!!!And although there are hills and "hollers" between me and those who will read this, I trust it will get through o. k.

Four weeks ago today, the moving van deposited all my earthly possessions at my new house in Antioch. Talk about stress!! I can see why moving is listed among the most stressful occurences in life.

Thanks to several from Otter Creek who brought food and stayed to help unpack boxes(and most important--get my bed ready for sleep that night), I actually survived that day and those which followed. There have been many wonderful experiences in the last four weeks which I will share in the days to come, but of course the best is being so close to Brandon, Sheryl and the girls. Some days when I get up, I can hardly believe it. The week of Christmas, I got up Thursday and sat at my kitchen card table (I am getting a new dining table which will be delivered in February)and watched it snow between me and the forest behind my house--talk about beauty! Thank you God for the things of beauty you have created for us to enjoy.

Needless to say, I am missing all my friends and Highland, but telephones work here and provide the needed blessings when I start thinking of them. We have even had a Trilogy conference via the telephone. In a book that Darla Lorenz sent me, it says that friends are an earthly "seek-peek" of heaven. A mere short distance between us makes no difference--we are still joined in Him.

God, I am so thankful for the many ways you have worked in the last four weeks to make this move smooth and bring me close to my family. Please bless those I left behind with thankfulness for your blessings each passing hour.