Friday, December 29, 2006

Babysitting joy

I got to keep the girls today--what a joy!

The highlight was a new show they put on--it was Away in a Manger tinged with a Sanders'Family Christmas. At one point, Ella was singing Away in a Manger, cradling a baby doll, while Maddie was holding a stuffed star pillow over her head and alternately signing ala June Sanders the words to the song.

I am so glad I am here to experience these times. Thank you, Lord.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Good movie

I saw a very good movie today; Dreamgirls. It brought back some of my growing up music. Based on the Broadway play of the same title, I think it will win many awards come award season.

And Jennifer Hudson!!!How is it that she did not win American Idol? She was on before I started watching the addictive show. Her solo in the middle of Dreamgirls is magnificent and heart-stopping.

I love it when a movie is good. So seldom these days.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Another Christmas come and gone

I hate it when good things come to an end. Why does that always happen? I guess to make room for more good things.

We had a wonderful Christmas although the day was gray, rainy and gloomy, we made up for it in fun.

The gifts (Santa and otherwise) were properly oohed and aahed over, the meal was delicious, and by 4:00 p. m. I was ready to come home and admire my treasures.

The girls and Sam seemed to love the car I gave them--I hope it gives them many hours of pleasure. Christmas without children would not be Christmas. They add so much to the dimension of longing and impatience. Maddie just couldn't wait to open presents on Christmas Eve. She was practically dancing with anticipation. She opened hers very quickly and was disappointed when the opening came to an end. Ella opened hers very deliberately, looking at each item, making it work, etc. Sam just kind of floated through the whole melee playing with paper.

What a day. Loved it. Thank you God for all those fine blessings brought to us by your son and for all the wonderful ones shared by family.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Bikes and skates

Christmases past:

The Christmas I was ten, we spent Christmas Day with my Aunt Jean and Uncle Bud in Abilene. They lived just south of Mrs. Baird's Bread at the top of a little hill.
Not only was the smell of the baking bread wonderful, but the hill provided the perfect place to ride the bike I got that Christmas.

I remember the day well--it was very cold, and I could see my breath as I raced down the hill on my new blue bike. My dad and Uncle Bud were running behind me, shouting, "Pedal, pedal." And then they were shouting"Break, Break." Then I fell the first of many times off my bike. It was exhilarating to know that I was free to ride and roam--about the same feeling when I learned to drive a car.

Another memorable gift was the first pair of skates we each got one Christmas. At that time we were living across from the old Elementary School in Hamlin. The heavy metal skates came with keys, of course--to be used to tighten the skates so they would fit our shoes. We wore the keys around our necks on a cord. There were sidewalks which ran from one corner to the other of our block. Again a perfect place to learn. And I fell many times as we scratched along those broken sidewalks--one had to be very cautious of the cracks where one pour of concrete met another. Stangely enough, many of the kids on the block got skates that year and we raced for hours.

I was trying to tell the girls this week what we got in our stockings--little gifts like quarters, candy canes, oranges and apples and nuts--pecans,walnuts, almonds, Brazilian nuts (but we didn't call them by their proper name), etc. We spent many happy hours on the porch with a hammer breaking open the nuts and eating the luscious meat.

Two more days!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Countdown to Christmas

I kept the girls yesterday--we had a lot of fun playing with the Fisher Price manger scene I had bought several years ago. The girls seem to have a wonderful understanding of all the events of the Holy Night.

I like this poem by Madeleine L'Engle about Advent:

Born Once

Born once.
That's enough.
Jesus was born once,
for us.
That's enough. That's love.
Love is once for all
for all of us.
Jesus will come
He who was once born.
He will come when he will
Love is once for all
For all. That's enough.

from Miracle on 10th Street

Three more days.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Christmases past

One of the things we enjoyed as a family before Sam died was to make candy and deliver the tins to all our friends and neighbors. Sam loved making candy--he made fudge; I made soft peanut candy; and Sam's mother made divinity. Then we stacked them in tins and made our route.

It was also fun to see what Sam brought home the day school was out--he was especially loved by his school community and usually brought home two big boxes full of candy, cakes, small gifts, etc. One year he brought home a beautiful frosted bundt pound cake given him by the PTO president. We decided to save it and carried it to Aunt Ruby's for Christmas lunch. We cut into the cake and discovered that it was made out of cornbread! She was getting back at him for who knows what he did to her. Always up to hijinks that man.

Miss those times.

Only four more days.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Christmas countdown

I love everything Christmas; however, there are some things farther down the list than others.

Wrapping is not my forte--place my packages beside BST and Sheryl's and one can immediately see why. I finished wrapping last night with a big sigh--paper and ribbons and bags seem to cost more this year and are thinner, stringyier (sp) and less usable. However, all of them do make the tree festive.

I had a little car accident yesterday--I hit a Ford F150 truck that I did not see coming around a curve at Pettus Road. It was the same color as the day--grey--but fortunately I did stop at the stop sign and was traveling slowly. I hit his back bumper with my front left. Guess which one had more damage? I discovered that my car is made out of cardboard--He had no damage--just a smudge on the dust. My bumper has a chunk out and all lights are damaged. But I am ok. And the policeman did not see fit to give me a ticket.

Trouble is, I missed Ella's program--the pictures are so cute. Sorry baby, I will catch it next year.

Only 5 more days.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A visit from the Sanders Family

The Sanders family visited Otter Creek again last night. They are staying through Sunday night.

It was so good to see these funny, quirky characters again. As usual, Laura and Brandon stole the show, but everyone else was excellent. The band, directed by Bobbie Colvert was magnificent and the crowd evidently enjoyed the play.

I love seeing my boy act and sing. Whatever the performance, Wylie band half-time shows, speech contests, Sing-Song, Homecoming musicals at ACU, plays at Wylie, Sam and I always attended every performance. We almost knew the lines by heart.

Brandon looked very different sans hair and love spot. It is easy to tell where his hair will be in the next 20 years. The costumes were truly period (World II) costumes. Mama Sanders had on an especially ugly gray dress and hat.

The show is a welcome respite from the stress and fatigue of the season. Hope you readers in the Nashville area can come. Get there early (it starts at 7:00) especially on Sunday night which will probably be the biggest crowd.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A wonderful Tennessee Christmas

I love Christmas in this town! There are so many things to take advantage of.

Sunday night our small group went to Franklin to the end of the Dickens of a Christmas celebration. It ia annual affair when they close off the town square, have booths and people dressed in Victorian period costumes roaming around. There was Fagin, two bobbies (policemen), an old woman in a store window tatting, booths featuring sugar plums (very good) roasted almonds and other delights. A very nice petting zoo attracted the children. I have never seen fluffier sheep...It reminded me a lot of the Art Festival at Perini Ranch in Abilene.

I want to go next year on Saturday so I can take advantage of all the things in the stores and booths.

As the evening ended, everyone on the square was given candles and we strode a couple of blocks to the First Methodist Church for a Town Sing. Beautiful church and lovely music. The music minister had the children present sing Away in a Manger--so sweet.

Wednesday our group is going to YES (Youth Encouragement Services) to help with their Christmas store.

And there are two stations in town who are playing continuous Christmas music. I am SOOOOO in the Christmas mood.

Happy preparations.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Shopping during Advent

We received this prayer at Vespers last night. I think it is worth passing on:

Dear God,

As I look through my gift shopping list, I hold up to you each person listed on it. Slowly, one by one, I ask that the fire of your abundant love burn within each of them. I pray that the gift I find for each person will bring joy into that life.

But, help me to keep a balance this season, Lord. Let me keep my buying in perspective, not to spend more than I need to or can afford. Let me not give in to the pressures of this world and not equate love with money spent. Let me always remember the many, many people who have so much less in material things. Help me to buy wisely, so that my choices will not burden those in other countries who are so deeply affected by this country's economy.

And finally, loving God, help me to find time in the frantic moments of each day to become centered on you. Walking through a store, riding on the bus, hurrying down a street: let each of these times be moments when I can remember your incredible love for me and rejoice in it. Amen

I hope you can make this your prayer too.

p. s. Thanks to all who stopped and helped Brandon and Ella this morning. I am so thankful no one was injured.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


I can't believe it has been almost a week since I blogged. I have been busy putting up Christmas.

The girls were over here Sunday as we pulled out the tree and the ornaments. It was fun to see their sparkling eyes and hear their exclamations as the ornaments were unwrapped.

Someone has said that you know you are getting old when you have lost all your marvels. I don't plan for that to ever happen to me. H. G. Wells said shortly before his death that his soul was no longer moved by the sight of the stars in the sky.

I still marvel at the stars in the sky and the Creator behind them. And I marvel at the wonders wrought during this season of the year.


I can't believe it has been almost a week since I blogged. I have been busy putting up Christmas.

The girls were over here Sunday as we pulled out the tree and the ornaments. It was fun to see their sparkling eyes and hear their exclamations as the ornaments were unwrapped.

Someone has said that you know you are getting old when you have lost all your marvels. I don't plan for that to ever happen to me. H. G. Wells said shortly before his death that his soul was no longer moved by the sight of the stars in the sky.

I still marvel at the stars in the sky and the Creator behind them. And I marvel at the wonders wrought during this season of the year.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas in Hamlin

Hooray--tomorrow is December! I have been thinking recently of a Christmas celebration at home in Hamlin when I was about 12. My mom's relatives had come from Abilene--that rarely happened because we always met in Abilene at my Granny Tucker's house.

My dad and uncles Bud and Tuck were playing 42 (a Texas domino game) in the living room on a card table. The demolished tree was in the background. There wonderful smells coming from the kitchen of turkey and cornbread dressing. There my aunts, grandmother and mom were putting the finishing touches on the meal. Trudy was beating the whipping cream for our traditional fruit salad. Lynette was tearing lettuce for the green salad (lettuce, tomatoes, Miracle Whip--no bags or fancy dressing back then). Jean was stirring the giblet gravy and Mom and Granny were monitoring the rolls and sweet potatoes in the oven.

On the table were the centerpieces of the dessert selections: My grandmother's 3 layer pecan cake with praline frosting and pecan halves in rows all over the cake and my mother's fresh coconut cake (we had earlier broken the coconut with a hammer and saved the coconut milk for the frosting). There were here and there tins of homemade candy: fudge, date loaf, soft peanut candy (a speciality of my mom) and ribbons of hard candy available only this time of year. And of course, the required chocolate and coconut cream pies were there too.

My cousins, brothers and I were running amuck outside playing hide and seek, kick the can and cowboys and Indians. We traded out running inside to check the food.

When the time came, the adults ate at the kitchen table (we had no dining room) and the kids ate at the card table, joyfully plowing over each other for a portion of all the food which also included green beans, mashed potatoes and a ham one of the aunts had brought.

It was a small celebration and one that I didn't appreciated at the time. Now I remember it fondly as a sweet time in a calm 1950's world.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006


Today (Nov. 29) is the birthday of three of the finest authors in children's literature: Louisa May Alcott, Madeleine L'Engle and C. S. Lewis. All were ground-breakers.

Alcott, writing about her family, was one of the first women writers to write realisticly in the age of Elsie Dinsmore and proper Victorian literature. L'Engle wrote in that new genre science fiction with a Christian view. Her Wrinkle in Time was turned down by numerous publishers. C. S. Lewis, author of the Narnia Chronicles, again used the Christian view in fantasy--he surprised his scholarly colleagues with "these little stories."

They were all a great gift to children and adult readers alike. One of my favorite movies is Little Women. L"Engle is my favorite spiritual writer on level with Eugene Peterson. Lewis (who also wrote science fiction Christianly) challenges me every time I pick up one of his books.

Thanks you God for the gift of writing you bestow to entertain, inspire and challenge us.

Monday, November 27, 2006


Tim spoke yesterday of the hope found in the early verses of Rom. 5. After the sermon a man (not a member of Otter) came forward who, as he sat on the front pew, exhibited all the characteristics of a lack of hope; sobbing, shoulders bent, a face painful to look at. I do pray as the week goes on that men at Otter can take hold of him and help him to see the hope he has in Jesus.

Cicero said famously, "Where's there's life, there's hope." ( think Bob Hope used the quotation on occasion too.) I like C. S. Lewis's "Hope is a continual looking forward to the eternal world."

P. O. W.'s have written books about their experiences in the camps and one of the ideas that seems to shine is that those with hope survived; those who gave up did not.

Does hope really " spring eternal in the human breast"? I don't know because I am a great believer in hope and looking forward. I think it was unfortunate that I heard so many sermons on condemnation and hell and the just rewards of sin when I was growing up. There was no room for grace and hope there. Now I have come to believe that a large reason for the cross was to give us hope because of salvation and to make us happy pilgrims blessed by God rather than dour-faced cynics waiting for the ax to fall.

So, "sing on, ye joyful pilgrims while here on earth we stay...."

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Christmas Hymns

The season is upon us. One station here is already playing Christmas tunes all day==and I love it! I never tire of these old tunes.

One of my favorites is Joy To The World with words by Isaac Watts and melody by George F. Handel.

When Watts came along, English churches were still mostly singing the Psalms of David. Watts found that limiting and invented "English hymns." He did not, however, neglect David's psalms. In 1719 he published a unique hymnal in which he translated, interpreted and paraphrased the Psalms through the eyes of New Testament faith. The hymnal was called The Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament. His archrival Thomas Bradbury was critical of the hymns and called them "whims" instead of hymns, and accused Watts of thinking he was King David.

Joy to the World is Watts interpretation of Psalm 98, "Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth.

"Joy is the serious business of heaven." C. S. Lewis

Friday, November 24, 2006


The days before holidays are called "eves", what are the days after called? Someone needs to coin a word.

We had a wonderful day yesterday--great food, fellowship (I lost at cards as usual), and memorable actions of the kids. They are growing so fast, I am mourning the maturing of their babyhood.

I am thankful for so many things--God and his wonderous gift, the seasons of the year, my Tennessee residency, my relative health (I am at least able to walk, talk and think), my family and friends and for these little things which someone invented to make my life easier:

toilet paper
paper towels
plastic storage containers
Ziplock bags
the Swiffer mop
automatic coffee pots,
polyester and all its blends which have rendered ironing passe
etc, etc.

Can you think of anything else?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


On this day 44 years ago, Sam Thomas entered my life permanently--that is to say, we were married in the College Church Chapel on November 22, 1962.

We had 30 wonderful years together before he died--Years that held much laughter, many celebrations, the birth of a son, the changing of jobs, building a house in the country together, and enjoying life in the Son.

On our first anniversary, the superintendent of schools interrupted my class to say that school would be getting out early because of the death of Pres. Kennedy. Needless to say, we didn't do much celebrating of the anniversary that weekend. We were glued to the television set because of the tragedy.

Life contains so much good and bad it is not a wonder that Ecclesiastes found it Vanity, Vanity.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

..."that all of them may be one"...

Have you ever wondered what church will look like?

hip-hop...suit and tie
jeans will do.
Warm brown-
twinkling hazel-cool green-
ocean blue.
Stained glass...storefront.
raised hands,
folded hands, shouts,
quiet meditation.*

*From the Operation Andrew Group promotional brochure, 2006

No comment needed.

Monday, November 20, 2006


What does that mean? It was a word we heard often last night at the Ryman. Of course it means "concerned with establishing unity among churches and religions".

Ecumenical is not a word we hear often in my fellowship.But it is a word worthy of use. Last night at the Ryman, these folks participated in person : a Nazarene minister, the mayor of Nashville, the Otter Creek worship team, Temple Baptist worship team (black), the minister of the 4th Ave. Church of Christ, George Rowe, rising Christian singer, Jason Curry(chaplain of the Fisk University Chapel), and two other black pastors. On tape were an Hispanic minister, a Messianic Jewish rabbi, and a Native American Christian (who surprisingly appeared on the stage in person after his testimony and played Amazing Grace on his Native American flute.)

I was sitting beside a striking black woman dressed to the nines with a lovely turban around her head. She was so unlike me--tall, thin, stylishly clad. As we held hands for the prayer, I was struck by the fact that her hands were not like my smooth teacher hands, but rather were dry, calloused and spoke loudly of hard work.

It was a night of unity when no one cared that drums and keyboards accompanied the singing, when no cared (at least I didn't) as the black men and women in the crowd responded to the minister giving the message with shouts of Yes and Amen and lots of hand clapping. No cared what colors were represented or which of the 25 sponsoring churches were represented on the pew we were sitting on.

It was a great night and Brandon and the Otter Creek worship team helped make it so.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Banned books

I got a letter from a friend which was stamped (she is fond of stamps) "I read banned books."

It took me back to the days when I did a censorship unit in my children's lit class at ACU. I searched the internet to see which books were banned last year. It was surprising that the list has really not changed very much in the six years I have been retired. Judy Blume's Forever is still there as is The Chocolate War and Catcher in the Rye. A somewhat new addition is Pilkey's Captain Underpants series. Harry Potter was not on the list this year.

That was fun unit to teach and an eye-opening one for the students. It is not a happy moment in class when an angry parent waving a book interrupts class and yells that you are teaching obscene books (or that you have obscene books in your library).
Moments such as those help you sort out values and your belief in the right to read.

What banned book have you read lately?

Thursday, November 16, 2006


I am a fan of crossword puzzles. Each morning, after finishing my chores, I grab the paper and try to work the puzzle of the day and check to see what I got wrong on the previous day's puzzle.

I think it keeps my brain waves going, improves my vocabulary, and it just feels good when the word going horizontally fits in with the word going vertically--like an "aha" moment.

I may never use Kyoto in a sentence, but because of today's crossword, I know that it is the Temple city of Japan. And when does one ever get to use "abash" in a sentence? Someday maybe. I don't know how people without a reading background work the puzzles. So many of the clues are literary and historical. I like that.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Happy Birthday, BST

Today is my son's birthday. I celebrate it too because it was one of the four or five or seven happiest days of my life.

Arriving early in the morning, he was, as are all babies, beautiful in new birth--although he was not pink and plump,as his children were, he was truly a wonderful gift from God. "Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming from the father of the heavenly lights." James 1:17. Brandon has been a light in our lives. Always sunny, always laughing and smiling (well, mostly always), he stole our hearts for his pocket very quickly. I still remember Sam's face when he picked him up for the first time--bliss.

I remember the first time I looked in his crib as he slept--I felt such a strong protective urge--I am sure it was similar to a mother bear. And I still have it!
Don't nobody mess with my boy or you'll have to face Miss Judy.

His artifacts still lie in some of my drawers and in boxes in the garage: the little coat my mother made him when he was six, the Lincoln logs, his cowboy gun and holster, one of his blankets, his baseball bat, the silver dollars my uncle gave him when he was born, his graduation tassels...all reminders of good days past. But then here and there are the things of today--his pictures with his children and wife, the Zoe recordings, the huge picture of himself that he gave me in 1996, and my cell phone with his home and office number immediately available. What a joy to be so close to him now! Thank you God for his life and for his presence and for the future you have chosen for him.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Fallen again

Sorry, Texas. I will have to admit that I have fallen in love with Tennessee in the fall. The only word that comes close is gorgeous.

I think fall is past its prime here (there were "flurries" south of here over the weekend.) That does not negate the beauty. There are still enough orange, red and yellow trees lurking among those who have lost their leaves.

The Bradford pear trees get the award for being the most creative in changing colors. Some change from the inside out; some from the outside in; some one branch at a time, etc. I heard someone say on the radio this week that fall was "God's art project." There is one tree on Concord Road on which God took a huge paintbrush, dipped it in burnt sienna and painted only one side of the tree, leaving the other side green. Wow! You, the great Creator, make me, your creation, want to be more creative.

A prayer from the St. Hilda Community:

God whose body is all creation,
may we come to know you in all the earth
and feel you in our blood;
so will no part of us, or the world,
be lost to your transforming grace.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

The Queen

Doris Colvett and I went to see The Queen yesterday. I highly recommend it--it is informative, entertaining and shows Helen Mirren as the wonderful actress she is. I expect she will receive at least an Oscar nomination for it. The movie was not kind to the royal family--I would be interested to know their reaction to it. The queen came off as one more caring and interested in dogs and stags than the fact that Diana had just died. Charles was portrayed as rather wimpy. Phillip's portrayal by James Cromwell (another good job) was surprising--he was shown as much more agressive than I had believed. At one point Charles says that the British public has a much different picture of Diana than the one the royal family saw. I would like the real story of all that association.

I remembered the events of that weekend very vividly--that was the weekend I had come down with a terrible pain in my stomach and was waiting for a colonoscopy the next Monday which would show that I had a cancerous growth in the colon. So I watched the TV events all weekend from the bed.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Four best days

As a corollary to "the good old days discussion", Sandy Collins asked, "What were the four best days of your life?"

I have been thinking about that all week. My four are:

My wedding day to Sam Thomas 44 years ago at the College Church Chapel in Abilene, Texas. I did not really know until later what a catch I had made.

The day of Brandon's birth, November 15, 1969. Every mother knows what I am talking about. (more about him next week on his birthday)

April 14, 1989 when I was named by the Texas Library Assn. the outstanding children's librarian of the year in Texas. TLA was in Houston that year. The Abilene superintendent of schools had Sam and Brandon flow in for the ceremonies as a surprise--what fun to be recognized by one's peers and family for a lifetime of work!

The wedding day of Brandon and Sheryl. I already knew what a treasure she is and to know that Brandon would spend his life with her made me so blubberly happy. Sam and I had prayed for Sheryl, and He blessed us.

I will have to add a fifth day: The birth of Madeline Gail Thomas five years ago. The births of Ella and Sam were special too, but I have run out of days. What a joy to be a grandmother to such beautiful children.

Thanks you God for these days and others when your blessing poured out like honey on my head.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

The good old days

Ecc. 7:10 says, "Do not say, 'Why were the old days better than these?' For it is not wise to ask such questions.

Nevertheless on Sunday we discussed the "good old days". What were they for you?

I think for me some of them were probably those days in the early 70's when we were settling into a new house in the country with a new little red-haired boy. Sam was a new principal and I was the librarian at Madison Middle School. We had all sorts of new challenges and happiness. I would say, however, that each minute I live since 1997 when I had cancer is good and treasured for its moments.

In these political and war-weary days, we must say with the person who prayed this prayer: "Lord, forgive us for our narrowness of vision which sees only the clouds and misses the rainbow.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

A prayer for my son

This is for Brandon, who like Alexander, has had a very good, very bad day:

The hands of the Father uphold you,
The hands of the Saviour enfold you,
The hands of the Spirit surround you,
And the blessing of God Almighty,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit
Uphold you evermore.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Books reading or to read

Our book club is reading The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls this month. It has what may be the best first line of the year: "I was sitting in a taxi, wondering if I had overdressed for the party, when I looked out the window and saw my Mom rooting through the dumpster."

The book is about a very dysfunctional family and brings to mind some relatives in my past. I am really liking it.

In class yesterday, a member recommended Thomas Friedman's The Earth is Flat. Anyone out there read it?

Reading continues to be my most favorite thing to do when I am not playing with the kids. My wish list at Amazon is always full.

Saturday, November 04, 2006


I am so glad that the American Association of Pediatrics recently announced that children get as much or more from unstructured play as from organized activities.
Some organized activities are o. k., but today's children are too tightly structured in their daily activities. Even school recess is almost gone.

As I watch Sam play peekaboo, Ella play with her baby dolls, and Maddie color or draw, I see the efficacy and timelessness of play. Maddie has recently asked me knock knock jokes, showed me some basic magic tricks, and wondered if I know how to play Go Fish. She is picking up on some of those games and rituals that have been around for a long time. She may be soon asking for a ball and jacks. Thankfully her princess phase has not overshawdowed her learning old games that every generation passes on.

How about you? Have you forgotten how to play amid all those structured things you HAVE to do? Want to play some jacks?

Friday, November 03, 2006

Geography lesson

I got to keep the girls last night while Sheryl and Sam ran an errand. I have a lighted globe in my living room and Maddie wanted to look at it. The conversation went something like this:

Where do we live? Tennessee, as I point to the state.
Where is Daddy tonight? Texas (at ACU judging Film Fest)
Where do MeMaw and PawPaw live? Arkansas
Where does Rainey (Bailey) live? Texas
Where do Aunt Gail and Uncle Chris live? Minnesota
Where do Ahbaba and Nannie live? Texas
What is that? Africa
What is that? Russia

Nonnie, I have to go potty. When I come back, show me where God lives.

Hmmm...Where is Melanie Brown (Children's Minister) when you need her?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

A full week

Where has the week gone? Here it is Thursday and I haven't blogged since last Friday!

Trunk or treat last Sunday was a wonderful time of congregational community. To see those little kids dressed and acting as their character gave me hope for the imagination of the future generation. And of course, the Thomases were deserving of the first prize for costumes thanks to the master of all costumes Sheryl.

Then the Lion King on Tuesday night. There are not words to describe the thrill I got watching Maddie's face as the animals came down the theater aisle. I couldn't see Ella, but Maddie's little face was struck with wonder. What a joy to be here and be able to take them to things like that! The show (I had seen it at Bass Hall in Ft. Worth two years ago) was better here--maybe because I had children seated near me. The girls were perfect through the whole thing. What a gift from God Julie Taymore (the show's designer) has. I can't imagine how she came up the idea of animal puppets. The performers were excellent--my favorite was Zazu, but Rafiki was a close second. If you have any pennies in a bank somewhere--don't miss seeing this when it comes to your town.

Last night at Vespers at Otter, we celebrated All Saints' Day by remembering some Otter Creek saints of the past. Sandy did a wonderful tribute to the Ruckers and Phil Wilson's prayer listed many others, including his grandparents. One of the stations gave me the opportunity to remember the saints in my life. We were to write the name of a saint on a piece of paper, put it on the communion table and then have communion with them (Communion with the saints). I wrote theese names: Bess Walton and John Elkins. Both are departed saints from Minter Lane in Abilene. Had the paper been larger I would have written Laura Smith, Dama Hambleton, Rosalee Hughes, and Jewell Hunter (Also from Minter) and Sam Thomas, my mother Pauline Brandon, and my grandmother Lizzie Belle Tucker and so many others.
It was a wonderful exercise in memory and love. Remember it next year for your church.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith...." Hebrews 12:1

Friday, October 27, 2006

More characters

Two Bible presentations I forgot yesterday that were really cute:

four children each dressed in one color of the rainbow. Green and red were not represented "because they were at the North Pole helping Santa."

David Rubio's children: two came dressed from chin to ankle in large towels. The baby girl's job was to touch their feet in syncopation. Some of the clues were: They are found on almost every page of the Bible. We seldom read them. Bible scholars always read them. As she touched the feet, David made a musical sound in the microphone. Guess? Footnotes! Funny!

Parade of Bible characters is one of those special times when the whole church community can feel bonded in something fun. I hope your church has such times.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Parade of animals and characters in the Bible

Teresa of Avila prayed, "From silly devotions and from sour-faced saints, good Lord, deliver us."

There were no sour-faced saints at Otter last night as our children dressed up like animals or characters from the Bible and paraded in front of us to guess who they were. They gave three clues to their costume.

Of course with children, one never knows what will happen--as the tiny ones alternately posed and then tried to crawl off the stage, we were chuckling at the efforts of their parents to corral them.

Maddie, Ella and Sam were Moses (Sam in a wicker basket), the Egyptian princess who was his second mother (Maddie) and Ella (his first mom) Sam[s white, white skin glowed (he was clad only in a diaper) as he waved to the audience. One group portrayed the creation with little boy (barely walking) who had fig leaves pasted to his diaper (he was hilarious). Two sisters portrayed Zaccheus and a tree. The taller older sister had a green paper wig which looked like long leaves and the younger sister was sitting on the older sister's shoulders. A large group was the 12 spies accompanied by James Bond music--10 of the spies had on black and 2 had on white. One of Lee Camp's sons came on carrying a saw with an "E" pasted on it. The prize for the most creative, I think, should go to the Crisman's--One daugher carried a large picture of Dan Quale (sp.?) and the other was wearing a cardboard poster with crackers pasted on--Quail and manner in the desert!

It was fun and informative and showed the creative side of Otter.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Gorgeous fall day

What a beautiful day today--bright and full of sun, around 58 degrees, so fallish. It brought to mind that poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

God's World

O world, I cannot hold thee close enough!
Thy winds, thy wide grey skies!
Thy mists that roll and rise!
Thy woods, this autumn day, that ache and sag
and all but cry with colour!
...Lord I do fear
Thou'st made the world too beautiful this year.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The joys of libraries

I visited the book sale of the Brentwood Library today. And got 15 books for $8.50--nwo that's a bargain.

This sale is how I feed my mystery at night habit--I will have enough now to last me until the next sale. And of course I donate the books I am finished with to Good Wiil, take them off my income tax and benefit others that way.

The Brentwood Library is a lovely little building set behind 10 red oaks just off Concord Road near me. The trees were a sight to see today--some all red, some yellow and red, and some red, yellow and red. I love red oaks and libraries!

One never sees people coming out of a library frowning (except children who wanted just one more book). As I browsed in my treasures today sitting outside the library door, I observed those who came out. All were carrying bags full of books and smiling.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

More words

I have a little essay on words rolling around in my head...but it is not finished yet. Just some random thoughts about words:

Ecclesiastes 5 has two passages about words--One about religion vs. 2 and one about the meaningless of words v. 7. As for meaningless, our abject devotion to consumerism has fostered misuse of words. For example:

Brownies without consequences--not true ever

A full l% discount--now isn't that special?

I think the following quote by Fydor Dostoevsky can apply to both religion and advertising:

"Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Words, words, words

If you have been following Phil's and Brandon's blogs, you have seen words, words, words. Inflammatory words like liberal, conservative, progressive, political, etc.
As I was being trained for debate in high school, my coach told us never to use such words because they can never be successfully defined and because they are inflammatory. In using them, the debater loses the message he/she is wishing to push.

I would much rather have seen those bloggers who wrote debating the practice of sabbath (which was the majority of Winner's message on Saturday morn.) Commands to observe sabbath far outweigh commands to be baptized and to sing (not play). Our perfunctory observance of quietness and silence before God betrays our inmost being.
We would rather be discussing liberalism, etc. Zoe in its desire for renewal always offers alternative thinking and options to those who attend its conferences. Renewal can come in so many different ways. May the thrust for seeing the poor and for bringing those trapped in same-sex attraction out of the pit continue as we search for better ways to be Christ in this world.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Schermerhorn Heaven

God is in heaven and we are on earth as Ecclesiastes says, but heaven was very close to earth last night at the Schermerhorn Symphony Hall in Nashville.

A sold-out crowd of believers were lifted beyond the ceiling of that beautiful building as choirs, soloists, groups (including the Zoe Group!) and instrumentalists sang and played religious music.

Featuring every thing from handbells to harmonica, from an American Idol winner to the Nashville First Baptist Choir, the program was very diverse. Zoe sang three songs--two with accompaniment and one by themselves. I was so proud to see them up there with world-class singers in a room designed to best the most famous opera houses of Europe.

Even better, the largest choir was black--so the audience attending to see them and all the others was not segregated. I could not help but wonder as I drove home why we cannot drop all these relatively minor distinctions and really become one body.

One of my favorites of the evening was Buddy Green and his harmonica--he played a lovely, haunting entry to O Thou Fount of Every Blessing.

All in all, it was a rousing success. Thanks to Nan and Doug Smith, I got to sit in a loge box just a stone's throw away from the stage--they are wonderful, generous

Saturday, October 14, 2006


I have been a widow now for 15 yesrs--those years went so fast--none of them passed that I did not miss Sam and his influence in my life. In widowhood, I miss, of course, the warm body next to mine and the conversation in our daily lives. Also other things: the gap in Sam's front teeth, which little Sam seems to have inherited
(see current picture on Brandon's blog), Sundays with him at church, listening to his off-key singing and his Amen after prayer, his expertise at fixing anything broken--no handyman could have done better, Sam's wisdom in many things--education, religion, friendships, etc., his love of laughter and pranks, the famous "Sam Thomas stories" which still linger in Abilene, and his patience with his wife who was so different from him, and his loving fatherhood with our little red-haired son who was so dear to us.

I think Sam Thomas would have been the "worst" grandfather ever--spoiling, loving, playing with, telling stories to, and meeting every desire of his precious ones.

Thanks you God for the 33 years we had together in your service.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More Zoe

I know those of you who couldn't come to Zoe may be tiring of hearing about it--but couldn't resis one more.

It was refreshing to hear Lauren Winner--a young articulate boomer of the emergent generation speak--she is educated, articulate, and winning. I loved hearing her speak about observing sabbath in this busy world. That has been one of my interests for some time. Her book Mudhouse Sabbath also spends time on the subject--I highly recommend it. She did not advocate total withdrawal each Saturday,but advocated it as a time of stepping aside when possible from consumerism, entertainment, and the other beckoning temptations of our day. A quote from Mudhouse: "For Christians, Sabbath has an added dimension--it commemorates not only God's resting from Creation, but also God's Resurrection." And what a celebration that should be!

In Mudhouse Sabbath Winner goes on the write about other Jewish traditions which would enrich the Christian life like hospitality, fasting, candle-lighting, eating kosher food, etc.

Father, help me to spend my time wisely for you.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Zoe Musings

Well, the Zoe Conference is over for another year. It was wonderful in so many ways.

It was good see fellow bloggers like Drew and Matt and meet several of you who say you spend time reading this. Thanks for your interest and your good wishes.

The best thing Sam and I ever did is our son. Permit me a moment to contemplate on this gift God gave us almost 37 years ago. To watch him at Zoe and at Otter is the most fulfilling thing of my life outside of being in Christ. Brandon has a charismatic persona that just reaches out to those who are wanting to worship with him. And he was in his element Friday and Saturday nights at Zoe. The Spirit helped him lift us up before the throne higher than ever. And he is also such a model to those who want to lead their churches in the ways he introduces the music, leads prayers, reads scripture, and shows his joyful spirit as he sings. I have seen too many "song leaders" lead singing with hang-dog faces in my life time--it is wonderful to see Brandon show those teeth that I helped pay for as he leads us.

Thank you God for your gift of my son who regularly leads me to your Son.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Tim said last Sunday morning that we are betting our lives on the fact that the story about Christ is true.

One of my favorite passages is Hebrews 11--especially from verse 32 to the end where all kinds of stories pop up. Stories of torture, chains and dungeons. Stories about those who were sawed in two, who wandered the earth in animal skins, etc. Peterson says they made their way "as best they could on the cruel edges of the world."

These stories are still happening today--we just don't hear many of them or choose not to hear them.

Father, give me the faith of these ancestors so that I may serve you on the cruel edges of the world.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Is Life Random?

We were in Ecclesiastes 3 yesterday which begins with that magnificent cyclical poem There is a time... and the question for the morning was Is Life Random? Was the author of Ecclisiastes Calvinist before there was a Calvin?

After much discussion and a look at Ps. 3l:15 "our times are in God's hands" and Jeremiah 29:11 "God knows the plans he has for us". most of the group agreed that every event is a part of God's plan--there is a purpose for our birth, our death, and everything in between. Where free will intervenes is anybody's guess and another topic for discussion, as is the place of predestintion. I am loving teaching Ecclesiastes--it is challenging!

As we approach the end of the chapter in vs. 18 and on, the writer scares Christians by seeming to negate the idea of an afterlife. We all die like the dogs and then we turn back to dust. My question with this will be, if Ecclesiastes is inspired and a part of the canon, why did not the "Inspirer" drop a hint to this wisest man in the world about Jesus and the resurrection? Earlier in the book, vs. 11 says he has "Put eternity in our hearts"--is that a reference to heaven?

Somebody help me, please.

Saturday, September 30, 2006


I have never been able to see "horsies" and "duckies" in clouds from below them. However, as I flew back to Nashville last weekend, I rode above the clouds and saw these magnificent sights:

A small snow child bent in concentration over her marshmellow houses

A light puffy carpet of clouds connected by wispy gauze on which I could imagine God stepping out of his throne to survey his universe below

gigantic of pieces of ice floating on a sea of navy blue

I don't know that Wilbur and Orville knew what their creation would become, but I do know that they too would marvel at the sights above the clouds.

Thursday, September 28, 2006


Returning to a place after 50 years is a bittersweet experience. One notices the decline of the buildings, roads and street signs and the valiant attempt of the merchants to "spruce up Main Street" for Homecoming.

The high school from which I graduated burned sometime in the 80's, so we bore no attachment to the new school ( which, by the way, was the nicest building in town).

As I met and talked with my classmates (we have all morphed into gray-haired seniors with lined faces--all except my friend Joye), it was interesting to note that some traits do not disappear with time. Generally those who were leaders in our class still appear to be so. Those who were quiet and in the background were the same at the reunion. It was nice to see one who had the hardest time growing up (single mother of unknown ethnicity, rough home life, etc.) became the only one in the class with a terminal degree--in math no less. I would like to have know what they thought of me at age 68.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


I attended my 50 high school reunion in Hamlin, Texas last weekend. Homecoming reunions in small Texas towns are always wonderfully the same, but unique. First of all, all the men wear hats. The policemen directing traffic in the Homecoming Parade stop and talk to those on the float. People line the parade route in lawn chairs and children hover waiting for treats.

At homecoming, there are certain requisites: the barbeque before the big game in the high school cafeteria with chocolate cake and cafeteria peaches. Then the game where everyone is dressed in school colors (green and white, Hamlin Pied Pipers) even dogs. Since when has it become a thing to bring your small lap dog to a football game? I saw at least 4. The marching band blessedly interrupted the dull game. I noticed that twirlers are out of the picture--now they twirl guns and carry flags. I miss the sequined twirler. Of course the king and queen are crowned and the Coming Home King and Queen are presented. I endured all four quarters of the game chatting with my friend Paige Baize and other classmates.

Our party after the game was rife with cokes, dips and sandwiches and catching-up. There were so many pictures of children and grandchildren, I couldn't get around to seeing them all. We had 42 in our graduating class; 12 have died. Of the remaining 30, 24 showed up. I think that is a phenomenal number. There were two others living in Hamlin that didn't show.

On Saturday we were loaded on a cotton trailer and became part of the parade. There were about 8 floats mostly about God and country, all manner of decorated bicycles and wagons. The Homecoming Royalty rode in the back of a pick-up truck on lawn chairs. As we rode, we threw green and white beads (shades of Mardi Gras) to the dancing children.

A steak dinner rounded out the weekend. What a joy to see friends and trade stories.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ann Richards

I was sorry to hear yesterday of the death of Ann Richards--another in the long line of truly unique Texas governors.

She was a Democrat with verve and brass and grit--all highly valued qualities in Texas and in my book. I will never forget the picture of her on the cover of Texas Monthly in her perfectly-coiffed gray hair sitting on a motorcycle. She told things like they were without fear of offending anyone--no wimpy limp-wristed politician she. I will miss her.

The weather here has been absolutely gorgeous--60's in the morning and high 70's in the p. m. I do hope fall is actually here to stay.

I will be off for a few days on a journey down memory lane.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Bless me Daddy, for I have sinned

In the Beth Moore series in which I am now a discussion leader, we talked yesterday about addressing God as Abba Father which really means, I am told, "Daddy".

There were mixed reactions. Most admitted that they had used that term; but all admitted some reluctance to do it. Our vision of God and of our own earthly fathers hinders us at times from a very personal relationship with the sovereign God.

From the "Your God is too Small" movement in the 60's to the older pictures of God as a white-haired bearded old man on a glittering throne in heaven, we have all had various pictures of God in our minds.One woman who still remembered the "hell fire and brimstone" messages of her youth asked how could you address such a vengeful God as Daddy?

I think I am maturing in my vision of God--I do like to give Him some shape as I talk to Him, but he no longer has a beard and white hair--He is more amorphus now.
In fact, I like praying to a lighted candle, as I think that typifies Him more than any shape--warm, strong, shining. A LIGHT IN THE DARKNESS.

What is your vision of God today?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


This past weekend was a surfeit (I have always wanted to use that word) of riches:
Selah on Friday night, the musical Big River at the Boiler Room Theater on Saturday and the Glory Bugles on Sunday night.

We were very pleasantly surprised at the Big River production--some excellent actors. The theater does amazing things with its tiny stage. The singers were almost as good as the ones in the ACU production when Brandon was one of "The Boys".
I love the music in this play--it was a very special night.

What can one say about the Glory Bugles? If you have ever enjoyed Smoke on the Mountain or the Sanders Family Christmas; if you enjoy satire and irony at the expense of all you have loved and obeyed in the past; if you like Garrison Kellor's stuff, then you would love the Glory Bugles. What a fun-filled evening! Knowing that half the team belonged to Bernie Arnold made the event even more special. And the Wayne Reed Center benefitted too. Loved it.

Thank you God for the talented artists you have given us to enjoy. May we always think to glorify you for all your gifts to us.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Bless the Broken Road

I attended my first Selah concert last night at Christ Presbyerian. It was as wonderful as I knew it would be. Good to see the group face to face. I have rhapsodized about them in this space before. Love their music! I did miss Nichole---the sister of Tood who has been called to a ministry in Georgia (with her husband) and who is concentrating on solo work now. I miss her smoky alto.

Selah has a new album: Bless the Broken Road; the Duets Album. It is excellent--the opener is a keeper! Melodie Crittenden ( who sings it on the album) was there last night. I didn't know she was the first to record Broken Road. Of course, Rascal Flatts made it a big hit recently. It plays well here. Other singers on the album include Nichole Nordeman, BarlowGirl, Nicole C. Mullen, Kim Hill (she was there last night and rocked!), Jill Phillips, and Cynthia Clawson.

Go buy it; you won't be sorry.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Eat it now, wear it later

I must brag just a bit--I have lost some weight. My doctor was ecstatic and I am proud.

However, I must admit to being addicted to the Starbuck's Strawberry Thing (Thanks Brandon!). I can't pass a store without stopping and getting one. I am sure there several hundred calories there. And unfortunately there will soon be a Starbucks near me on Nolensville Rd.

Got to work on that self-control----not my best trait.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Poetry, where art thou?

Sandy Collins and I are using some poetry in our class on Ecclesiastes--what else would you expect from two retired English teachers? I did a couple of Matthew Arnold, THE speech from Macbeth, and others on Sunday. I will include Frost;s Out, Out on the Sunday coming up. It is tough to hear. But applicable.

Where has poetry gone in our culture? When did it quit being something every one read? Sandy said that its decline probably began with Ezra Pound and some of T. S.
Eliot in which a dictionary and concordance are needed to understand. Some say its demise began with free verse and Walt Whitman. I think it began with the decline of the age of print and literacy. Yes, this is another thing I blame on television, cell phones, I Pods, and other electronics. People don't read newspapers, much less poetry.

Kennedy used Frost at his inauguration and Clinton use Angelou--but that is the last national recognition of a poet I remember. Can you name the poet laurate of the U. S. or of your state? I can't.

For those of you who do read poetry, who is your favorite poet? Whitman, Frost, Millay, Dickinson, L'Engle, Jane Kenyon, and May Sarton are mine.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Book Tag

Phil has book-tagged me, so here are my answers:

1. One book that changed my life: The Blessing by Gary Smalley

2. One book you have read more than once: Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle

3. One book you would want on a desert island: the two thick biographies of Harry
Truman and Charles Dickens I have been trying to read for years

4. One book that made you laugh: Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies--I love that book!

5. One book that made you cry: Night by Elie Wiesel

6. One book you wish had been written: a book about my ancestors

7. One book you wish had never been written: Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler

8. One book you are currently reading: The Bible Jesus Read by Philip Yancey

9. One book you have been wanting to read: Too many to list

10. Booktag four other people( five are too many): Clarissa Cox and Julie Danley,
Craig Fisher, Stephen Bailey

The rest of the questions added by me to the list

11. One book you would like to see made into a movie--the life story of
Diedrick Bonhoffer or any of the Jan Karon Mitford series

12. One children's book you always recommend: Goodnight Moon or Where the Wild
Things Are

13. One young adult book you always recommend: The Giver by Lois Lowry

Thursday, August 31, 2006

What do we do with affluence?

I live next to one of the wealthies counties in the U. S.--Williamson County, TN. This is where the median family income is $90,087. There are an estimated 5,964 families who make in excess of $200,000 a year.

What does that mean for me as I sit patiently waiting for the $2.00 per month cost-of-living increase given each year by the Texas Teacher Retirement System?I guess it means that I know a lot more wealthy people than I used to. It means that I am amazed everyday by the monstrous houses being built in Williamson County. It means that the Nashville area is booming as everyone wants to get in on the high economy--more businesses, restaurants, etc.

There are, however, an estimated 6,891 people living at the poverty level and the homeless level is extremely high, as well.

It woould follow that church contributions are at a very high level (don't think so)and that these rich folks are more than eager to help those who are not (don't think so). I do pray that the growing affluence in this area will spread out to help those who are not as fortunate. This is the essence of Christianity.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Nostalga is a strange thing--it sneaks up on you when you least expect it. I was in Starbucks this morning and noticed a poster showing a girl sitting between her grandparents. The caption was something like Pull out the hide a bed and put on another pot of coffee.

After seeing that and remembering all the times of visitation with various people, I have been depressed all afternoon.

I miss visiting my grandparent Granny Tucker whose house always smelled slightly of mothballs and good food. I miss visiting:

Aunt Ruby who always put on the grandest feast ever and entertained us royally.

New Braunfels with all sorts of friends and relatives--I miss stepping into the cold water to float around the bend, hit the rapids and survive to float again. And the food we cooked and brought there--cold oven pound cake, vegetables from the garden, homemade burgers, unhealthy snacks of all kinds; singing hymns late at night in the screened porch; watching Sam and the other men play horseshoes and 42; yakking with the women as we sat on the green bank and watched the kids swing off "the rope" and paddle in the shallow water.

sitting around tables in the fellowship center at Minter Lane and having "Sanging and Sandwich" nights in which we got out the old brown hymnals full of Stamps Baxter hymns and let go

Oh, well nostalga is bittersweet and I am glad I have those times to remember.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Playing Catch Up

Because of reading restrictions etc. I am behind in several things:

For Phil, my review of Phil Keaggy:

I loved every minute of his concert--After all, I matured in the 50's and 60's. He is so talented and humble. I was amazed at his ability to do several things at once with his guitar and accompaning technology. It was hard to tell if he and his friends were really playing tunes or just jamming. They looked like they were having lots of fun. "Here Comes the Sun" was my favorite of the evening. Can't wait until next year.

Sandy Collins and I are teaching a class on Ecclesiastes this fall, beginning Sept. 3. If anyone out there knows of some good resources for the class, let me know by replying here or to my e-mail We have found some good things, but my mode of operation is to find everything I can possibly find on a subject I am teaching. It is going to be enlightening for us and the class. I have least learned to spell Ecclesiastes.

My son's adventures at the theatre this weekend were hysterical to say the least. I don't know of any other person who can get himself in so many ambarrassing situations and come out of them laughing. I will say, he is more like his father than his mother! My Sam would still be laughing.

I saw World Trade Center yesterday. I can't say I enjoyed it--but is was striking to see the circumstances in film. So wrenching, and so still unbelievable. That is another day I will never forget along with the deaths of JFK, Bobby K., MLK, and man walking on the moon. Nicholas Cage does a good job and the young Hispanic actor an even better one. Lest we forget...

Regarding Brandon's blog of the past few days, It is so heart-warming for me to watch BST and Sheryl model and teach sharing and caring for the poor to the girls. I am glad the girls are getting to see that not everyone has a playroom full of toys and a nice cool house with all the needed amenities. We are all too blase about the wonderful blessings we have.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

The Eyes Have It

I have spent the last few days recovering from cataract surgery on my right eye.

Everything went well and improvement should come soon. I needed no anesthesia, so it was somewhat disconcerting to be able to see the surgeon working on my other eye and to hear a machine nearby doing something.

The day of the surgery I was told not to focus too intently (in other words, don't read). I don't know how I would cope with blindness--reading is too much a part of my day. I found myself wandering about wondering what to do.

Thanks to all who sent prayers and offers of food.

God is good.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Colonial days

Back in the days when I was a high school teacher, I loved teaching early American literature. In that I could also teach early Colonial history. I have been reading a book that I missed when it came out: Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death--it is fine! I recommend it, especially to overwrought TV fanatics.

At any rate, in one of the first chapters, he writes about the literacy rate of early Americans. He says that between 1640 and 1700, the literacy rate for men in Mass. and Conn. was somewhere between 89 and 95%, "quite probably the highest concentration of literate males to be found anywhere in the world at that time." (Women's was 62%--they didn't go to school) I think of this every time I hear some athletes interviewed on television (or rappers). Where has literacy gone? He also said that in the very first days of colonization, each minister was given 10 pounds with which to start a religious library. How many of your churches have one?

The Bay Psalm Book (which every household had) was printed in 1640 and is highly regarded as our country's first best-seller. The best-sellers today are mysteries and political rantings.

Schooling for colonial young was consider a moral duty and an intellectual imperative. Reading was not regarded as an elitist activity, but was spread out into all classes.

Thomas Paine's Common Sense sold more than half a million copies. A book today with our population would have to sell 24 million copies to do as well.

I will add that today we consider being able to read the label on a soup can as literacy. Can many of our students read Thomas Paine?

I would be happy if every American could read a soup can label, but I wish we would stretch a little higher like our forefathers and foremothers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Old friends

We were so thrilled to have Sally Gary visit this weekend. She has been a part of our family since a certain red-haired boy at Wylie stepped into her classroom and asked, "Are you the teacher who directs the one act play?"

Sally is ministering to the church with a very contemporary ministry so needed in churches these days--You can hear her at the Zoe Conference in October for which you must register now--it is filling up.

Maddie and Ella and Sam love "Aunt Sally" too. She usually brings them gifts having to do with pigs (it has a BST Connection), but this time she brought them two games: Ants in the Pants and those monkeys one has to hook togehter. Remember those?

Sally had not made the Puffy Muffin, so we did that for breakfast yesterday. Ella came with Daddy since Maddie is now in school on Mondays. It was a Daddy Date which Brandon is committed to every now and then with each child (Sam is a little young yet, but he will be included too). I think it is a wonderful tradition and shows the child that Dad thinks you are special and worthy of time.

Sheryl and I attended a baby shower for Sara Williamson this weekend. With her usual panache, Sheryl wowed the crowd by decorating the tables. (This was a sit-down brunch for about 30 people) 3 large tables. Taking her cue from the shower invitations, she decorated (that is, covered different boxes with white paper and painted the same designs as were on the invitation on the boxes, and then stacked and filled them with flowers). She also made napkin rings for everyone in matching colors using wrapping paper cores and delightful ribbons. What a master!!!

And then we had Celebration Sunday last night--a true blast in more ways than one.
I realized as we sang "Listen to Our Hearts" that it is one of my all time favorite Zoe songs.

It was certainly a fun weekend for all of us.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Movies I really liked

After yesterday's post, Drew Battistelli asked for suggestions of movies I really like. I recently saw "You've Got Mail" again. I had forgotten how much I liked that one. Probably because some of it is set in bookstores.

Although "The Devil Wears Prade" is not billed as a funny movie, it was; and I really like it too. Meryle Streep is an amazing actress.

However, these may be both be considered "chick movies"? The truth is, there seem to be longer and longer spells between movies I like and movies I don't. Where are all those good writers out there?

We were treated last night to a reader's theater presentation about the life of Diedrich Bonhoffer called The Cost and written by Jonathan Wade. It was very good. Why has a movie not been made about his life--what a story! Oh, I know, he was a Lutheran pastor.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Talladega Nights

Several years ago, Brandon traveled all summer with an ACU recruiting group (Reflections?). The group was booked into Tuscaloosa, AL for an appearance. I decided to go see him and get in a short visit with Gene and Ruth Ann Stallings. (Their daughter Martha Kate was in the group). I flew in; we had a lovely dinner, and then the kids decided to go to a movie. They talked me into going with them ( I don't need much persuasion to go to a movie). We saw "Dumb and Dumber" which truly was the dumbest movie I had seen up to that point.

Monday I saw one that rivaled it: Talladega Nights with Will Ferrell. On the advice of several I talked to who thought it was "the funniest movie they had ever seen", I decided to go for a pick-me-up to the afternoon movie. Besides being crass and crude, this movie is as dumb as Dumb and Dumber. (But then, cars chasing each other around a circle at high speeds is also dumb and dumber IMHO).

There is a generation gap here, I guess. I like my humor a little more subtle. There was a flash of my kind of humor as the French driver was pictured reading Camus's The Stranger in the midst of the race.

The movie is rated PG-13, but should be "R". There were middle schoolers there who probably learned some new language (or not).

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

It's Back....

One day down and 179 to go. School started yesterday for 250,000 kids in the Metro area. The smell of crayons, floor polish, and cafeteria food revisits the memory of those of us who have left the building, but not the profession. (One never retires from being a teacher!) It was a big day for the kindergarten set and the seniors and their folks. Some schools had "boo-hoo breakfasts" for the parents after they had dropped their chick off in the classroom. I remember the day Brandon rode off to kindergarten with Sam in his blue truck where Mrs. Baxter had charge of the red-haired boy we so loved. He kept her days interesting, and she was masterful in her care of him, so all had a good year at Bowie Elementary School in Abilene, Texas. I think I was still at Madison Middle School at that time pushing books to reluctant adolescents. Good years! Congratulations to all children who began school yesterday. May you have teachers who love you, who love to teach, and who are competent in all areas. (It never hurts to wish.)

I know fall is not far behind. Two sets of geese in perfect "V's" flew honkingly south over my house yesterday.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Sunday, Sunday

Taking the trash out yesterday,I stepped out the door into a perfect William Faulkner morning-
the humidity was so drippy I felt wet; the atmosphere was foggy, cicadas were singing, all I needed was moss hanging from my crepe myrtle! I loved is so nice to be a Southerner.

We had the pleasure of attending Maddie and Ella's dance recital later in the afternoon at New Song Church in Cool Springs. I was very impressed by my first look at this church--It is obviously a church that celebrates God's gift of the arts--there were even wire sculptures on our tables. Imagine, art in a church....It was Celebrate Seniors Day at the church and I was one of the honored guests, even though nobody there knew me. Waited on hand and foot by the church's youth group (my waitress was named Judea) we were served drinks and food and later received a red rose. And of course, the dance recital was dedicated to us (the dance teacher is a member there). Intersperced with recital offerings, several of the young people sang and played songs that my generation enjoyed (mostly swing and other songs from WWII). Afterward, older couples were invited to dance on the cleared floor to those old tunes. We all felt throoughly welcomed. How long has it been since you honored the Seniors at your church?

The recital was wonderful; Maddie and Ella were cute sprites dancing to Over the Rainbow, etc.

And a fine time was had by all.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Belmont Mansion

I had the opportunity to tour Belmont Mansion this week. The home of Joseph and Adelicia Acklen, it is on the Belmont University Campus. Built in the style of an Italian villa, the mansion is opulent. It had its own water tower, zoo, greenhouse, bowling alley and billiard room plus a grand salon where the elite of the country dined in splendor. Adelicia who was once thought to be the richest woman in America, had an inordinate love of statuary, and her decorator followed the grand Victorian tradition of more is better.

Nevertheless, it is always fun to see how the other half lived. After visiting these mansions, I sometimes want to sing with Tevye "If I Were A Rich (Wo)Man."

Why couldn't my ancestors have been rich Southern landowners instead of poor sharecroppers? Oh, Well, I guess we would not have had as much fun as richies as we did rising above our hard scrabble existence.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

The Quest for Immortality

I spent the day yesterday at an Elderhostel here in Nashville. First we went to the Egyptian exhibit at the Frist. Certainly worth attending!!! For one whose knowledge of Egyptian philosophy and religious thought comes from interchanges between Yul Brynner and Charlton Heston, I was astonished at the intricate philosophy of the afterlife they concocted. Like Christians. they believed we will all live forever; however they believed both the body and the soul will live forever--their intricate construction of the Pyramids, mummification and worship of Gods who could help them achieve immortality stem from this belief.

For those of you with children, the Frist has docents prepared especially for guiding children through the exhibit. And audio guides for children are available. Children are also allowed to touch some of the displays. There is a good family guide at the door.

The Frist is a Nashville treasure. I learned yesterday that Nashville had no city art museum (except a very small one at Cheekwood) until five years ago when the Frist was opened. Nashville has grown up into its place as an art center very recently.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Thy Word

The Barna group recently polled churched folks (those who had any relationship with a church) and found that only 16% of them read the Bible daily. One-half of them said they never or rarely read the Book.

Not surprisinglyl, they also found that there was little difference in the rate of divorces and addictions between churched people and the general population.

What do you do in your spare time?

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Be Still

I was crusing around Hollywood Video trying to find a movie decent enough to watch (a monumental task!) when I found this new video:

Be Still and Know That I Am God by Richard Foster and others. Based on Psalm 46:10, it is about succeeding at contemplative prayer and the importance of silence in our noisy world. Featuring Richard, Dallas Willard, Beth Moore, Max Lucado and others, the video is very well done. It would be good for personal study, small groups, and classes studying spiritual formation. I enjoyed it very much. I hope they do others on the various aspects of spiritual formation.

It can be purchased from the Foster group Renovare online at for $13.99 plus tax and handling. Or maybe your local video store has it.

Now this a good use of technology!

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Veggie donors from generation to generation

This one is for Maddie, Ella, and Sam:

Your daddy's predilection for growing vegetables and giving them away carries on a tradition in the Thomas family dating back over 75 years. Your great-great grandfather Samuel Alexander Thomas lived in "the bottom" in Groesbeck, Texas on land that once was part of a river and land which would grow anything. He grew a huge garden every year fertilized by the droppings of his prize chickens (of whom he often boasted). "Back" ( the name his grandchildren gave him) would take bags of vegetables to town and deliver them to all who made his list. His visits often began with the house of his preacher.

Later, Back's sons Adelbert Brann and Ralph Tennyson Thomas did the same thing. A. B. loved giving away figs off his trees in Pasadena, Tx. He himself once "put up" 100 jars of fig preserves in one year. Ralph who also lived in Groesbeck, grew huge gardens until the day he died (although his wife Ruby did most of the tending). Ralph's job was going to town and giving the vegetables away--again stopping first at the home of the church of Christ preacher. Ralph and Ruby had two freezers and a large storeroom full of homegrown vegetables every summer....Brandon can wax eloquently about eating fresh corn there many times.

Then your grandfather Poppy had a huge garden out in front of our house where he grew things like peas, canteloupe, squash,onions, asparagus, green beans, blackberries, a kind of fruit called the Jerusalem melon, okra and fruit trees. Teachers at Poppy's school would often find bags of vegetables in their mail boxes on Monday morning.
And our freezer was full and running over in the summer.

How I do miss those days when I shop at the grocery and find scrawny squash and hard tomatoes that taste like cardboard.

Who knows? Perhaps someday you will grow gardens too and carry on the tradition.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Crepe Myrtles

I do love summer crepe myrtles--I am enjoying them this summer--especially the watermelon-colored blooms. I like red, too. Don't like white as much, but guess what color the landscaper planted at my house? Yep, white.


Can't brag about cooler TN temperatures any more--hot, hot, hot.


I have been enjoying some Thomas tomatoes--yum--homemade nachos with Tostito chips, slice fresh tomatoes and green peppers covered with cheese-yum.


Is it a fact of life that things you want to go to always occur on the same day? Or does it just happen to me?

Have a lovely hot day!

Monday, July 31, 2006


Several days ago I received a thank-you letter from Dele Wilcher. It was a form letter sent out to the 97 summer volunteers at the Wayne Reed Center. It was funny and charming just like Dele. Through the letter, she underlined words which applied to me. And at the end, she added a postscript which contained one of the nicest things anyone has ever said about me, "Everytime you open your mouth (no matter the setting)I learn something and am challenged." What a wonderful compliment and encouragement!!

Max Lucado wrote, "Set a word of love heart-deep in a person's life, nurture it with a smile and prayer and watch what happens."

"Let's see how inventive we can be in encooraging love and helping out...spurring each other on...." Heb. 10:25

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Small Gifts II

A P. S. to yesterday's post: Here is where those small gifts are found--I Peter 4:10-11

Each one should use whatever gift he/she has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, he/she should do it as one speaking the very words of God. If anyone serves, he/she should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ." What a passage!!!!

So, whatever "little job" we choose to do, it can be an avenue for praising God. Let's hear it for those who administer grace God's grace to us.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Small Gifts

I am in a class on Sunday morning studying spiritual gifts. We have taken inventories and discovered according to them what our 3 main gifts are (mine were teaching, knowledge, and hospitality--surprise, surprise!)

What do small gifts have to do with Ephesians 4:11 and I Cor. 12? Why did Paul not mention attendance checkers
those who write encouragement cards
communion cup fillers
funeral food cooks
nursery attendants
baby rockers
technology folks
bathroom cleaners.

I suppose all these could be shoehorned in somewhere in the categories mentioned, but why is it we term them small gifts? I would hate to see a nursery without attendants and rockers. Where would we be without those little cups filled? We might have to go back to one cup--ugh.

Martin Luther King once said, "If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as Michelangelo painted or Beethoven composed or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, 'Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.'"

Thanks to all those intricate parts of the body who perform small services that receive no notice or thanks. I appreciate you!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Amy at Cracker Barrel

It is hard to resist buying something at Cracker Barrel--candy, holiday items, etc.
I picked up a jewel this week in Franklin.

Amy Grant's Hymns for the Journey sold exclusively at CB is a jewel. I enjoyed it--especially "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and "Sweet Will of God". The album has a bluegrass feel--not surprising since Amy's husband Vince Gill arranged most of the hymns.

Note--many of the hymns here are on some of her earlier albums Legacy and Rock of Ages.

At only $11.99, it would make a good stocking stuffer. Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

It's back!!!!

Opryland Hotel began putting up its Christmas lights today (they have over a million to string.

It is probably already too late to start a Christmas fund at the bank. Boy, does it ever come around quickly.

It is not too late to begin making your lists, BST, Sheryl, Maddie, Ella and Sam. I
am working on mine.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

What time is dinner?

Most of us who grew up in the 50's usually sat down to dinner (we called it supper) with our families. With the inception of crazy schedules and fast food, that rarely happens anymore.

In reading an article in Time Magazine, I found that there many pluses gained from that time-honored ritual. Sitting down together at meals promotes balance and variety in kid's diets; a family builds its identity and culture in that legends and stories are passed down, jokes rendered, and eventually a wider world than the family is examined through the lens of the family values. In addition, younger kids pick up a vocabulary and a sense of how conversation is structured. They hear how a problem is solved, learn to listen to other people's concerns and to respect their tastes.

William Doherty who has written a book called The Intentional Family: Simple Rituals to Strengthen Family Ties, says there is a contemporary style of parenting that is
overdulgent which treats children as customers who need to be pleased. Parents are willing to let dinner be an individual improvisation where there is no routine, no rules, the TV stays on, everyone eats what they want in this food court mentatlity.
Doherty writes about camp counselors who tell of kids arriving with lists of food they won't eat and who require basic instruction on how to share a meal. Even universtities are offering courses now in how to handle a business lunch.

Oprah had a family on recently who never ate together--dinner often consisted of stopping at 4 fast food places on the way home from work. The family kitchen did not have the most elemental requirements. And the family often spent over $100 for dinner each night of the week eating out.

I remember coming home for lunch during school. I believe there was no school cafeteria--so I walked the 5 blocks home and listened to Paul Harvey on the radio as my mother finished preparing lunch, and then we all sat down. My mother cooked much more than I ever did--I do remember that. Hamlin had no fast food restaurants then; I don't think they have one now besides Dairy Queen. It was really a treat for us to order hamburgers and french fries for a family meal.

But as Doherty wrote, family meals together defined our culture--especially those big family dinners on holidays. I want to remember more about them later.

What time is supper?

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Nature or nurture?

Because I had only one child, it has been an education to see how different Maddie, Ella and Sam are. Sometimes it as if they have come from different families. Maddie is soul-sensitive; Ella is tender, but aggressive; Sam just sits and watches what is going on around him. Who knows what he will be like--his "boyishness" is showing up early, however.

Watching Sheryl and Brandon nurture these different personalities is enlightening.
I wonder where did they learn how to handle each of them differently without showing favoritism? While the red in each child's hair may be from nature, the character is certainly from nurture. I watch Sheryl teach each child how to love and care for others (friends, baby dolls, Sam, etc.) and know that the girls will grow up with a great heart for God who loves and nourishes us to the infinite degree. Watching Brandon juggle attention to each one equally is heart-warming. He is a very giving and watchful father, as is the God he worships.

I till take nurture over nature any day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Jesus Loves Me

I love it when Maddie and Ella sing Jesus Loves Me. This song has become a part of the canon of beloved Christian hymns.

Karl Barth, the noted theologian and speaker, was once asked if he could summarize his life's work in a few words. He thought a minute and replied, "Jesus Loves Me, this I know; for the Bible tells me so."

The hymn did not catch on in Sunday Schools until Willam Bradbury wrote the melody and added the refrain, "Yes, Jesus loves me, Yes, Jesus loves me," in 1862. Bradbury was an accomplished musician and friend to many song writers including Fanny Crosby. He most liked composing hymns for children's Sunday schools.

A comfort to adults and children alike!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Books, books, books

I finally broke down and bought another book case. There was only one possible wall in my bedroom for it, and that's behind a door, but it sits there as evidence to my addiction to spiritual reading.

For a librarian, there is disquiet in seeing book shelves crammed, stacked and running over--so much nicer to see the books with space to breathe and arranged so that one can read all the spines.

It still gives me pleasure 45 years after being certified as a librarian to put books in order ( now only by author). I am not obsessive enough to put them in Dewey order anymore.

As I went through and moved the books, I was saddened by the number of books I own that I have not read--will there be enough time to do it? I hope so--some of them are very good.

Is this similar to the man who built bigger barns? I hope not, because I have a list of books to buy soon.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The young are securing their hearts

I was fortunate enough last Wednesday night (Camp Night at Otter) to sit in front of the 4th grade girls cabin. Hearing them sing their camp worship songs in sweet harmony and with enthusiasm warmed my heart.

A speaker at Celebration last night noted the statistics say that most American women on average live to the age of 74 and men to 70. That means I have only six more years (or maybe only 24 hours, who knows?). At any rate, I am buoyed up by my observations of men and women at Otter who are 40 or less, but who have an unflappable passion for God and worship. As I watch them on the worship team, hear them teach in class (Yes, you Brad and Marty), and observe them with their children, I rejoice that the church I have known all my life is in good hands for quite a while down the road.

Speaking of the church I have known, the sermon by Tim yesterday on "Who is Otter Creek?" was stupendous, magnificent, and almost unheard of. I have never in all my 56 years heard a sermon which was up front about the church I attend really believes, where those beliefs came from and the mistakes we made along the way. Thanks to the elders who asked him to preach this series.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Meryle Streep

As you know if you have been reading a while, I am a big movie fan. Some friends and I enjoyed "The Devil Wears Prada" yesterday.

Meryle Streep must be one of our finest actors today. She was excellent in this moveie as the devil boss. The movie was not a hilarious comedy as the trailer would make you think. It is actually a movie with a point. This look at high fashion and fast-track jobs has this point: Don't let money and greed take the place of your dreams.

Full of glorious fashions, beautiful women and places (Paris at night--wow!--)and with the support of that enjoyable actor Stanley Tucci, the film gets my 5 star rating. Young children would not enjoy it; adults will.

Friday, July 14, 2006


In the book I mentioned yesterday, Jennie spends one whole chapter on how much fun families can have with words. The particular word is Madagascar. And she writes about thrilled her emergent reader was she found the word on a map in the atlas.

Are there words your family plays with? My husband's sister had a playful spirit, and she enjoyed making up words and singing little songs with funny words, especially to her favorite nephew. Jennie says, "...words like hallelujah, jiffy, Ebenezer Scrooge and wingdingdilly feel good on the tongue and sound nice to the ear." Just the other day, Maddie was talking about onomatopoeia words--words where the sounds reflect the sense like whizz, crackle, pop and zoom.

What are some words you have fun with in your family? Have you visited Jabberwock?


In the book I mentioned yesterday, Jennie spends one whole chapter on how much fun families can have with words. The particular word is Madagascar. And she writes about thrilled her emergent reader was she found the word on a map in the atlas.

Are there words your family plays with? My husband's sister had a playful spirit, and she enjoyed making up words and singing little songs with funny words, especially to her favorite nephew. Jennie says, "...words like hallelujah, jiffy, Ebenezer Scrooge and wingdingdilly feel good on the tongue and sound nice to the ear." Just the other day, Maddie was talking about onomatopoeia words--words where the sounds reflect the sense like whizz, crackle, pop and zoom.

What are some words you have fun with in your family? Have you visited Jabberwock?

Thursday, July 13, 2006

New material

Whether I have spoken on a subject one time or hundreds, before I present it again, I research books and the internet for additional material--new statistics, new stories, etc.

In doing that for my talk on reading aloud, I came across a new book by Jennie Nash
Raising a Reader: a Mother's Tale of Desperation and Delight. It is delightful and a good look for parents at expecting each child in the family to be just alike, plus expecting your children to love your passions. She also has several good bibliographies at the end like, "Books to Read Aloud on a Rainy Day by Firelight." I liked her list of "Picture Book Authors You Can Always Count On": Cynthia Rylant (one of my all- time favorites), Maurice Sendak (I would limit his selections to Where the Wild Things Are and Chicken Soup with Rice), Robert McCloskey ( a beautiful painter as well), Rosemary Wells, and Richard Scarry (the last is a surprise--some critics place Scarry in the pot with Disney) However in our household, we found him endlessly charming and interesting.

Jennie also had a good website: that you might want to check out.
There is an excerpt from the book there.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Reading aloud

I had the privilege of speaking to some parents and teachers at Wayne Reed Christian Child Care Center last night on the subject of reading aloud to your children.

We had a good time and I found them very receptive. These are mothers who work full-time jobs (many are single), have several children and who are always continually stressed by finances. I say mothers, because of course, the audience contained no men.

Jim Trelease has a lot to say about men who have no interest in this subject. He says one can go to any public library in a city and find lots of mothers and children, but very, very few fathers and children. As far as I am concerned, role modeling is what it is all about. When children perceive that throwing the ball in the backyard and watching sports eternally on TV are more important to Dads than reading books or going to the library or exchanging a literate conversation, then the likely return will be boys who don't like to read. In fact, if you were to check the rolls of most special education classrooms, boys would outnumber the girls 2-1.

I am thankful that my son reads to his children virtually every night and that his conversation with them is often seasoned with things about books and reading and learning and his lavish praise covers them as they are learning letters, sounds and words.

Dads of the world, unite--let's read.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Things never change

In reading a little book about Cane Ridge(The Cane Ridge Bicentennial Sampler) I found that one of its early ministers, Robert W. Finley, got into trouble in the late 1700's (before he got to Cane Ridge) for introducing and using the hymns of Isaac Watts in worship. Other congregations were dividing over their use instead of singing the Psalms.

In that period of revival, many were writing hymns in colloquial language using the New Testament rather than the Psalms. The most prolific writers were Charles Wesley and Isaac Watts.

It seems that the Church of England in those days had a law that nothing but metrical Psalms from the King James Version of the Bible could be sung congretationally in their buildings. Many other churches also had this tradition, including the Puritans, who brought it to America. Martin Luther and his followers were the first to challenge this by introducing secular folk tunes. John Calvin, however opposed this and wrote, "Psalms alone should be sung in church, because they are the inspired Word of God and are therefore untainted by human error."

Evangelicals in the church of England (George Whitefield in particular) felt bound to keep the letter of the law, but avoided its spirit by using the new songs in their large open-air revival meetings. ( From Steve Turner's wonderful book Amazing Grace)

We are indebted to Isaac Watts for such hymns as "When I Survey the Wonderous Cross,"
"I'm Not Ashamed to Own My Lord," "Joy to the World," "We're Marching to Zion," and
"Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed."

I heard last night about a woman who sits in Sunday morning services at Otter Creek and mourns that we are bound for hell because of some of the music we use and the clapping and the hand-raising. Things never change.

I believe that some of the hymns and songs we are using today will stay and bless us as long as have those of Isaac Watts.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Losing and gaining

A young woman came forward today to confess that she was angry at God, had stopped growing spiritually. had just lost a baby, and needed help. After comforting by Tim, she sat down right next to me (perched on my usual front seat)and I got to hold her hand during the prayer. Now, that wouldn't that have been the perfect time for a woman (Steve Adam's wife who was also standing there) to pray for the respondent--but no, the elder whose job of the day was to receive those who came forward led the prayer on her behalf. Steve Adams is a wonderful elder and a very sweet man, but what does a man know about how devastating a miscarriage is to a young prospective mother--How deep-seated the feelings of failure, how disappointed one can be in God, and what seems like little hope for the future. I ask you, wouldn't that have been a perfect time for a sweet, older woman who has seen the span of time and the manifold blessings of God to lead the prayer?
But, no. We don't allow women to lead any prayer on Sunday morning.

Oh, well, I gave her my card with my phone number and told her I had been in her very situation over 30 years ago.

Thank you God for my son Brandon and the blessing he has been to me.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Mopping up

A few more tidbits about my Elderhostel trip:

Traveling through Kentucky we saw a huge sign that said:


I don't know what a used cow is and I don't want to know.

While listening to a radio station in Lexington on a Sunday morning, a preacher kept talking about those aboriginals in Australia. Wonder what kind of originals they are?

A speaker we heard said, "After your death, you will be remembered more for your passion than your personality." And I expect that is correct. I shall always be remembered as a book person and library lady. And that is not too bad.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

John Philip Sousa Marches

Nashville did itself proud last night--the fireworks and the symphony orchestra were wonderful. Billed as the third largest firework display in the world, the works were choreographed with music by the symphony--a double pleasure for the eyes and ears!

The orchestra played mostly Sousa marches as the fireworks displayed designs upon designs (as I have never seen before) and color upon color.

John Philip Sousa is to marches what Beethoven is to symphonies. Simply the best.
Of course his Stars and Strips Forever which is our national march and which always is the finale stirs us patriotically. But others such as the El Capitan, Semper Fidelis, Washington Post and King Cotton Marches were played and certainly evoked memories of anyone who has ever played in a marching band. It was magnificent!!!
And we only watched it on TV--what must it have been for those thousands down in the Riverfront Theater.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

I'm with Walt

I'm with Walt Whitman:

I love America. I love its beauty, its vastness, its diversity, its history, its system of free public education.

I am not one to often wish for the "good old days," but today I am remembering the America of my childhood and before when:

our jaws dropped in awe at the mention of Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin
we were taught respect for the flag and our country
America welcomed people of every nation to share in our wealth and security
Ellis Island was not a historic monument to visit, but was the doorway to
freedom for millions.


we prayed for our country, not cursed it
God Bless American was not an epithet, but a true longing of the heart
people remembered and gave homage to those who fought for our freedom, rather than marched against them
people saluted the flag, not burned it
America's government was a model of decency and order rather than a quarreling gathering of pork-barrel politicians on the take
when people gathered on the 4th of July to watch patriotic parades, hear rousing
speeches, and eat hot dogs in most every little burg in the U. S.

the pledge of allegiance was not fodder for lawsuits, but was something we couldn't wait to teach our children along with the alphabet and numbers
we respected our president and the dignity of his office rather than made fun of him and it
our left hand automatically went to our heart at the playing of the Star Spangled Banner and the passing of the flag.

Yes, we have had our failures, made mistakes, and conducted ourselves shamefully at times. But as Walt Whitman wrote, "The United States themselves are essentially the greatest poem."

America! America! God shed his grace on thee and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. Katharine Lee Bates

Monday, July 03, 2006

Cane Ridge, KY

After the Elderhostel ended, Pat and Morgan and I took a little side trip up to Cane Ridge, KY, the birthplace of the Stone-Campbell movement. There, a log cabin built in 1791, is surrounded by a golden limestone superstructure built to protect the log cabin in 1957. It is considered by the Disciples of Christ as their birthplace and is a shrine to Barton W. Stone who led the Cane Ridge Revival in 1801 which attracted 20,000-30,000 worshippers.

Stone and 4 other Presbyterian ministers in 1804 wrote the Last Will and Testament of the Springfield Presbytery to form a movement devoted to unity and a move to
dissolve "into the church universal." Although 2 of the ministers became Shakers, and 2 went back to the Presbyterian church, Stone eventually hooked up with Alexander Campbell and his followers. This group split into the Disciples of Christ and the non-instrumental Church of Christ around 1906.

Sitting in the cool breeze, one could almost hear those thousands of worshippers singing and shouting as they discovered freedom in Christ and the movement of the Holy Spirit, despite diversity in thought. Sure wish such another Awakening would happen in these times when our branch of the split has become again afraid of diversity and the movement of the Holy Spirit. We could use the fresh breath of Barton W. Stone.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Pleasant Hill--a Shaker community

The Elderhostel also featured a visit to the restored Shaker village of Pleasant Hill, near Harrodsburg, KY. Settled in 1825 by a group calling themselves The United Society of Believers in Christ's Second Appearing, the village is indeed on a beautiful pleasant hill. This group believed that Christ had already come the second time, and that they had the duty of creating the kingdom of heaven on earth. Led by their visionary and prophetess Ann Lee, the group had all things in common, practiced celebacy and openly confessed sin in their meetings. Given the name Shakers because of their dances which were designed to shake off sin, the group met ridicule. However, they led the state in scientific farming, experimenting with livestock breeding and improving agricultural inplements. They sold brooms, preserves, garden seeds and herbs all over the country and made a name for themselves. There were almost 500 residents at Pleasant Hill in its heyday, but the last resident died in 1923. After the industrialization which followed the Civil War, the Shakeers could not compete and the community began to fail. The settlement fell into disrepair; but in 1961, a group of private citizens raised money to restore the village to its 19th century appearance.

It was interesting to me that a few of the Shakers came to Kentucky as missionaries during the Cane Bridge Awakening and converted some of the leaders of that movement right under the nose of Barton W. Stone. The Shakers believed in immersion, they believed the people were the body of Christ, the church, so they called their place of worship the meeting place. Men and women were kept strictly. Most buildings had separated entrances and stairs for men and women. They were not allowed to eat or work together lest they fall into temptation.

The Shakers composed 26,000 songs to be sung while they danced. Their most famous song is Simple Gifts, used by Aaron Copeland in his work Applachian Spring.

It was a pleasure to sit in the simple settings and listen to the birds, take deep breaths of fresh air and imagine the serenity of the Shaker life.