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.