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.