Saturday, December 29, 2007

New Year's Resolutions

I do not do NY's resolutions well. I do pretty well for the first two weeks of the year, and then I slack off until they are all gone from my head. I do think that making goals is important and have served on many committees that perfected goals through many meetings--goals which also bit the wind.

In most cases, fewer are better--perhaps they stick more readily. Anyway, here's one of my resolutions framed by Matthew in 11:29-30 of the Message:

"Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly."

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Tidbits

Blog time has been lost in Christmas preparations and other duties. Here goes for the last 10 days or so:

Brandon's resignation was a much-prayed over, well-thought-out decision. While I know it was necessary and some time in coming, it has made me sad. Fortunately, I had him as my worship leader for three years. That doesn't make going back to Otter any easier for me. I pray and believe the change will be good for him, for Sheryl, and for their future with the Lord. So many, many places to minister in the world outside the halls of the church building!

Yes, the floor was covered in paper; yes, little people were beside themselves in excitement; yes, it happens every year....but this year was so fun! I am paying back Brandon back for his sometimes loud music by giving the girls boom boxes and the opportunity to play their choice of music (but, kindly, I also gave them headphones to use too.) Sam seemed to like his rocket, garage, and huge transport truck filled with little Hot-Wheels-like cars.

This gift-giving time is always special as I remember the Christmases before Sam died and Brandon grew up. We all loved Christmas and all it entailed--the lights, the tree, the shopping, the music, the food, the traveling to see relatives. Now its time to make memories for some more Thomases.

Santa was so good to all of us. I thank him for the symbol he is of love and caring and giving. I thank God for sending Jesus to love, care and give to us.

I hope all my readers had wonderful days and will have a promising New Year.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Texas, My Texas

Although I love Nashville, there are things I miss about Texas. In the film, No Country for Old Men, Tommy Lee Jones has an opening soliloquy that made me very homesick. The language and the rhythm of the speech was so Texas!

I found this poem in a collection by Naomi Shihab Nye called Is This Forever, or What, Poems and Paintings from Texas:

In Texas, every podunk town
has a Dairy Queen,
where old men in Stetsons
or John Deere caps
gather between naps, burgers fat as Bibles
dripping grease in their laps.

They stare at a landscape lit
like an overexposed photo.
Sunlight glints off windshields
till every eye turns inward
to the kinder light of memory.
Their lives tick like combines cooling;
their stories, old ropers
worn thin.

But it's comforting here
where the waitress has hair as big
as her heart, and flirts
as she refills their coffee.
Finally, the black cups cool
and the old men hoist their bellies up
from the booths, crank their frames
out to the parking lot.

And one hand waving
and one foot in the car,
They pause to watch a strange wind brew
as a dust devil scampers up from the field,
grabs their hats and runs.

Beverly Caldwell, a Texas poet from Fort Worth

After my mom died, my dad spent a lot of time at the Dairy Queen, sitting in his Stetson hat drinking coffee and eating burgers. And when we visited, we went there and ate beef fingers with gravy--yum. Nobody makes better gravy than Dairy Queen. I miss it.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

A splendid surrounding

This one is to Brandon and his always friends, former roommates:

When one is truly a part of God (bapized into him, right?), every wind that blows, every feather that flutters,each day the market falls, each time a supervisor fails, each dark moment that comes, you and God are affected--that's right, you are affected together because you are every second surrounded by him and his faithful watchfulness. He is affected by your low spots because you are his child and that how parents feel. He is moved by your sorrow, anxiety and stress; his ears are attentive to your cries for mercy because he is your father. He is holding you in his arms.

Therefore, since you are surrounded by him, you must "throw off everything that hinders and run with perseverance with your eyes fixed on Him. (Hebrews 12:1-2). You must endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. (Hebrews 12:7) Later on that discipline will produce a harvest of righteousness and peace. (Hebrews:12:11) Keep on loving each other as brothers.
Hebrews 13:1) and remember what God told you: "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you."

Judy Thomas's translation says that means you will always be splendidly surrounded, and that you can truly say, "The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid."

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Reading to Maddie's class

Today I read a book to Maddie's class. It was fun and was a "been there, done that" feeling. The children were very good listeners and answered all my questions as I read.

The book was This is the Stable, a nicely illustrated book about the Nativity. After searching two major bookstores, I am disappointed in this year's crop of Christmas books. Patricia McKissack has a new one, but it is too long to read aloud and is a "girl" book about a doll. I didn't even find a new version of Twas the Night before Christmas to add to my collection. Maybe that is a sign that my collection is big enough!.

Friday, December 07, 2007

It's All Finally Done

It has taken me longer to decorate for Christmas this year than ever before. Whew! Maybe it is because I paused too long to look at each decoration and remember the times and events associated with it. Maybe it is because I am slowing down--Nah!

As always, my house looks wonderfully decorated. Lights and glitter do a lot for any venue. As you decorate, look at each item and think about the good times: For example, one year Sam decided he wanted to decorate eggs. Not like Easter, but like Christmas. One has to put 2 tiny holes in the egg, blow out the contents, let the egg dry and then put whatever decorations on or in the half egg one desires like sequins, glitter, felt, etc. Yes, they are very fragile. I have three left out of about a dozen that he did. Another year he made door jinglers (for lack of a better word) out of huge bells, some pieces of rope and bits of holly and ribbon. I have two and Brandon has some, I believe.

There are decorations on my tree from the Netherlands, the Holy Land and Alaska--all gifts of friends and relatives, plus the one I brought back on the plane from the Virgin Islands. I have very few of the original Christmas balls Sam and I started with, but I treasure those tattered and worn ones I have left.

At any rate, all jobs go faster if Christmas music is playing and popcorn is popping. Happy decorating!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

August Rush

I saw a wonderful movie yesterday--August Rush. Anyone who loves music and its power in the earth will enjoy it.

It is full of remarkable moments and beaufitul videography and features the New York Philharmonic summer in the park concert.

The story is about a child music prodigy, an orphan, who believes that the music he hears everywhere will eventually lead him to his parents.

The movie opens as August hears the music around him of the tall grasses, the birds, etc. Later in the movie, he writes a symphony which incorporates all the sounds. He says we can all hear the music; all we have to do is listen.

I feel much way about God--he is all around us: in creation, in the movement of the grass, the sound of birds and animals, even the sounds of the city testify to his presence. All we have to do is look and listen.

Don't miss this one, Deb!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Take time to wait on God

Here from Thomas Kelly is what happens when we take to time to wait and listen for God:

"Life from the Center is a life of unhurried peace and power. It is simple. It is serene. It is amazing. It is triumphant. It is radiant. It takes no time, but it occupies all our time. And it makes our life programs new and overcoming. We need not get frantic. He is at the Helm. And when our little day is done, we lie down quietly in peace, for all is well."

A Testament of Devotion

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Seasons of Love and Time

I love it when everything comes together in a unified whole. Today at Otter, we stressed Ecc. 3 and the season passage with a beautiful choral reading by 2 men and 2 women.

At one point in the service, a group of excellent singers shared "Seasons of Love" from Rent. I had never realized how well the lyrics of this song fit a spiritual context. In introducing the song, Brandon said that the characters in the musical had no hope, had no compass, but we as Christians have our compass--Love-- in capital letters.

Tim expounded on the verses 3-8 by pointing out what a different concept the Biblical people had of time than we do. Theirs revolved around God and his purposes in their lives--our concept revolves around anything but that. That is one reason we do not practice Sabbath and one reason God does not flow through our minutes and days.

In his latest pastoral letter from Renovare Richard Foster writes as he quotes Isaiah 55:8 (My ways are not your ways) "Our ways are the ways of noise and hurry and crowds. Our ways are the ways of climb and push and shove. Our ways are the ways of instant knowledge and instant gratification....God's ways are like the rain and snow that come down disappearing into the earth. No rush. No fanfare. No manipulation. Then when the time is right, up comes the life,'giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater.' (Isa. 55:10). That is God's way."

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tithing Our Time

In his terrific series on time, Tim suggested Sunday that perhaps Christians needed to tithe their time, just like they do their money (you do tithe your money, don't you?).

I have been thinking all week about what that would look like. Taking out times to eat each day that leaves about 8 hours of daylight for the retired one. Let's see, a tithe of that would be about 48 minutes a day. How would I spend that time for God? That is not really much time.

Suggestions to myself:

1. Pick a book or topic and study it (I'm enjoying a study of finding God in unexpected places right now.)
2. Read the Bible--Love reading Psalms!
3. Read an inspirational book--I have a new book by Joan Chittister called Listen with the Heart, Sacred Moments in Everyday Life. It is so good!
4. Enjoy Advent--we will begin celebrating it tonight at Vespers. Beth Richardson has a new devotional book Child of the Light, Walking Through Advent and Christmas that I recommend (put out by the Upper Room Press.) If you do not get their catalog, you are missing some jewels.
5. Pray--when have I ever prayed for 48 minutes straight?
6. Serve others.
7. Spend time in solitude thinking about God and his blessings.
8. Listen to inspirational music--not doing anything else. That way the lyrics come forward.
That is pretty easy to do these days when two of Nashville's stations are playing non-stop Christmas music.

What a delightful 48 minutes those would be.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Still thankful

I am still thankful on this day after Thanksgiving--the meal was wonderful, if I do say so myself--Sheryl brought my favorite green bean casserole and some sweet potatoes. We ate and talked, and talked and then all went to see the new Disney movie Enchanted.

I recommend this movie for the whole family, although there were some scary parts (the old witch turns into a very scary dragon) (by the way, Susan Sarandon is a hoot at the stepmother and witch). The story line is fun--taken from so many fairy tales, it was interesting to sort them out with Maddie and Ella. Sam was transfixed with the action. I don't know how, but we ate popcorn and cokes and candy even though we were full. The Thomas family thinks a movie is not a movie without popcorn, candy and Coke. There were also references in the movie to other things like a King Kong sequence.

Yesterday was my 45th wedding anniversary--doesn't seem possible that it was that long ago. I haven't changed that much! Kennedy died on our first anniversary. I shall never forget the superintendent coming in and saying that school was closing and would not meet the next day because of the tragedy. That was one sad time when TV proved its mettle and helped millions grieve.

No, I am not one of those crazy people who get up at dawn or before and go shopping on Black Friday. You couldn't pay me to do it. Happy bargains to all who do.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Give thanks

I am in the middle of cooking--wanted to get an early start--and wouldn't you know, the electricity went off for about 2 hours! Couldn't even open a can to stir things up....Bah! But it is fun to get out the old recipes that are only used maybe twice a year and do them again. Tomorrow, I am having something new--my sister-in-law Dorothy (Aunt Bae) made what she called "Green Rice". It is a combination of broccoli and rice with a lot of other stuff thrown in. Also fixing Baked Corn--cream-stryle corn with whipped cream and butter (non-caloric, of course). Another borrowed recipe is Hashbrown Casserole from my sister-in-law Vicki. It has become a staple for us every holiday and special event. Rounding out is the turkey (smoked, this year) and dressing (always cornbread!).

We were put in the mood for the holiday yesterday by Maddie's kindergarten Thanksgiving program. She was a beautiful Pilgrim--so grown up!.

I hope all my readers have a wonderful holiday and that you do not get caught in the horrible weather that is coming our way and sure to cause airplane delays. May God bless you and your families. We thank him for blessing our family with good health, beautiful grandchildren, and children who are so wonderful.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Community covers

Otter Creek is unique to other churches which I have attended. Each time some one comes to the front for prayers, they are joined by a huge crowd of friends and others in the community--literally covered up with those who empathize--what a great picture of love!

Today Hailey Hiatt, a young mother who has just found out that she has MS, came forward--I saw many hugs and tears there. We are all praying for her.

Also coming was the Meador family--Craig and Shellie have a niece who has leukemia and who will begin the ordeal of a bone marrow transplant this week . Prentice and Barbara Meador were there along with members of Palmer's family. Again many who do not even know the family came forth and covered them with arms of love.

I believe Palmer's web site is Please add her and Hailey to your lists too.

Thank God for the community that cries and prays together and for the continuing recovery of Allie Nichols who has just endured a mysterious illness and is improving.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Thanksgiving is Coming

Thanksgiving may be my favorite holiday. I love the sentiment; I love the food; I love the gathering of family. What's not to like about turkey and dressing (cornbread, of course), green bean casserole, hash-brown casserole, cranberry sauce and pumpkin and pecan pies?

I remember Turkey Day at my Grandmother (Granny) Tucker's. She had four children and all were there bringing their special dish to the celebration. The kitchen and the extra table set up in the bedroom groaned with all the food. In addition to all the above, we had ham,mashed potatoes, candied yams with marshmallows and cherries, macaroni and cheese, homemade rolls, coconut cream pie, Coke (made with Coca-cola) Salad, tossed green salad, Italian Cream Cake and other things I cannot remember. One of my family's favorites was Fruit Salad with whipped cream.

We laughed and told stories and often watched the Texas and Texas A and M game. What fun! I miss that now that I am often the cook.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Brandon's birthday

Today 38 years ago at about 6:00 am at Hendrick Hospital in Abilene, the little package that Sam and I had waited for so long for arrived. Brandon Scott Thomas! His first name is my maiden name and Sam's brother's name; his middle name comes from Scott Hays, Sam's beloved mentor and principal at Fair Park Elementary School in Abilene. The grandparents were rejoicing (Mine were there) and we called Pasadena to notify Sam's parents as soon as possible. Those were the days of yore when parents did not know the sex of the baby until born--we were delighted to have a boy, and even more delighted to have a child. We had been married seven years, and it seemed that all our friends already had their first one.

Brandon was a bubbly delight all his early years with quirky food tastes like all kids. His favorite breakfast food was instant oatmeal uncooked with sugar. He got plenty of vegetables--we had a little pump that shot them directly into his mouth--no, honey, let's get the spoon in there for us, just a simple shot. He loved his Lincoln Logs and a Fisher Price car garage with lots of Hot Wheels cars. He also loved to roam outside and dig, pick flowers, say hello to his horse, Tiger and breathe the fresh Potosi air.

Probably his favorite Christmas gift of all time was a go-cart in which he terrorized the neighborhood and one utility pole. We put in an above-the-ground pool when he was about 12, and he became a huge "water baby," loving the water to this very day.

I am so sorry that Sam did not live to see the intelligent, kind, spiritual, respected church leader that Brandon has become and to see His children. But, I believe Sam is seeing us and enjoying, if only from a distance.

Thank you, Babe, for 38 years of delight and all the abundant blessings you have given me.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Fall color

How can one not believe in God the creator when viewing the blazing leaves of autumn? Shakespeare writes about "teeming autumn, big with rich increase". Drivers can see this big autumn now in Nashville where the trees just this week have literally burst with color. Absolutely my favorite time of year!

Another writer writes about the "spendthrift gold" of the leaves. My favorites are the bright reds of the oaks and maples. I want a yard full of them. When I left Potosi, I had to leave a red oak which every October lit the whole yard with its changes that seemed to move from inside the tree to the outside leaves. I loved to sit and watch it.

Thanks you God for your creation for us lowly humans whose eyes often miss the glory of your art.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lion for lambs

Doris and I went to see R. Redford's new film Lion for Lambs on Sat. While I have not seen one favorable review for the movie, there were some good things about it.

Robert Redford, for example! It is, knowing his politics, an anti-war film and an anti-Bush film as well. And that Tom Cruise is handsome in a three piece suit.! ( I find it hard to believe that he would take the role of a Congressman supporting the war and aiming for the Presidency) Merle Streep has a small part as a jaded journalist. It was also good to see the actor who played the title role in Antone Fisher (don't know his name). He and his Mexican-American friend who play soldiers caught by the enemy performing a task their commanding officers knew would fail are very good in the film. Of course, as the good guys, they are killed seconds before being rescued. As a retired college prof, it was fun to see Prof. Redford try to persuade one of his students with great potential to join the human race and find something to do besides party.

I do not support this war, but I do feel great empathy and sympathy for those who are called to serve and for their parents and spouses who wait. On this Veteran's Day, I am thinking of all those who have served from the Minutemen on the Concord Bridge to those who survived D-Day, and those who fought another failed war in Korea, and those who braved the steaming jungles and streams of Viet Nam (including my Navy brother who served on a mine-sweeper) and those who got caught in Desert Storm and now Iraq, plus the millions of others who served without going to battle (like my Air Force brother). And I wonder at the same time if I have done enough to serve my country and give back its blessings. As a teacher, I tried.....

Sunday, November 11, 2007


I went to the post office in Nolensville yesterday. The town was lining up the Veteran's Day Parade across the street. It was fun to watch the little vignettes:

The high school band was warming up with the brass showing off as usual. Lots of kids were sitting on flatbed trailers waiting. Boy Scouts in uniform were tucking in shirts. Mothers were fluffing the hair of their little girls in the dance club (or ballet class?). An old man sat in a vintage car labeled D-Day Veteran. The sheriff was there with his paunch and star. Horses patrolled the street--some wearing more silver than Uncle Sam. Beautiful vintage cars were joining the procession--saw one tomato colored 30's Chevy that was really sleek. Insurance salesmen with appropriate signs on their cars were carrying beautiful girls in convertables. Flags were flying in the breeze. Old vets holding little American flags sat on a trailer.. I felt like saying the pledge of allegiance.

It made me a little homesick for those days when we left Brandon off at the gathering place and then took our spot on Pine Street waiting for the Wylie Band to make its appearance in the parade. However, I think that parade was most always the West Texas Fair Parade.

Friday, November 09, 2007


I watched the Osmond Family Reunion on Oprah today. It was fun to remember the brothers' and Marie's songs and to watch old clips of their appearances on the Andy Williams Show--one of my favorite shows.

Interesting too to compare this moral Morman family with those of the Spears' and Hilton's. The father who died this week was held up as the patriarch who taught all the Osmonds values, love, and music. A very refreshing look at what families can be even today. All it takes is a concentrated effort to be parents, and faith in God who is there to help in every trial. As Donnie said, "Of course we all have issues, but love holds us together." I believe all 8 brothers are married to their first wife. One could practically see the love and values oozing out of the family (all 100 plus) on the show.

We had a discussion about the teaching of values in public school this week at my book club meeting. I remember the days when there was actually a CURRICULUM for values education in the school system in which I taught. Guess those days are gone forever in these "politically correct" times.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I can't believe it has been a week since I posted--what a busy week; I guess it can only get worse from here.

One of my college roommates and husband visited last week. They live in Cypress, CA, and I had not seen them in 35 years at least. It was like slipping on an old, comfortable shoe--so fun to see them and talk to them. As they said, they really like to visit--in the old sense of sitting and having conversations. (What a novel thought!). We did that, and we visited Belle Meade mansion and Carnton Plantation. Husband Del is a historian. He and I had so much to talk about. Ruth Copeland Scott and I were struck as we went through the old college yearbooks how much we looked alike back then, and still do in many ways. Our hair is white, some extra pounds have appeared, but we still look good and have all our faculties. One thing I enjoyed about Ruth is that she has a better memory for those days than I do--it was interesting to hear what I was like back then. I guess I really haven't changed much--Ruth said that one point as we were lying in our beds in the dorm room, I said, "I feel I really am too mature for all these rules."

Oh yes, we did get to eat at the Puffy Muffin (a definite Nashville must-do) although Del was a little bit put off by the name. Tortilla soup and frozen salad, yum, yum.

They are coming back through on the way home next week. So glad.

I just finished The Alchemist by Paolo Coehlo. I didn't like it very much--too repetitive. I am anxious to read a really good book--any recommendations?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Lee Camp has been teaching our class this month. I hate to see him go--we change teachers every month.

He has been talking about the Rule of Benedict. It is hard for me to believe that my fellowship is so late in learning about spiritual people and topics that the world has known about for years. I actually had someone ask me last Sunday who Thomas Merton was. I am sorry he has not known him all these years.

Listening was the topic last Sunday and a very important one it is. Silence and solitude allow us to listen to the Spirit who may have been shouting at us for a long time, but we did not have ears to hear.

There are so many things to listen to these days which have no value morally or spiritually. If I see another person with that blue thing hanging on his ear, I think I am going to snatch it off. Think of the things he is missing--the perfect blue sky above, the conversation of his child hanging on his hand, the cries of help from so many around him, etc. I can't imagine filling my ear with music, no matter how grand, all the time. Time is too short and life is too precious. Is this a legitimate concern? Or am I just getting old and crochety?

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Current Stupidity

When I read that one in every twelve students in school in Tennessee go to school hungry, I just had to turn the TV advertisements from fast food places off! All that stuff about supersizing in a culture where children are hungry-- give me a break.

I am tired of the presidental campaign and all the banal stories journalists have come up with to fill space. It's too long, and too boring. Let's just vote next week and get it over with.

One of the members of my ladies' class was lamenting about how pricey and difficult it is to live in Nashville. And how that folks think that she and her family is strange just because they want to spend the weekend together hiking instead of going to see movies or Hannah Montana. Back to nature, I say--where we can hike, gather around a campfire (love that smell) and roast weiners and marshmallows and not spend much money enjoying it. This world that expects a different expensive thrill every night is just too stupid for my taste!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Our Disposable Society

After having been gone for 4 days, I have just finished plowing through all the mail and newspapers that accumulated.

Well over 3/4 of the mail was junk and disposable. I had the newspapers saved because of the crossword puzzles and the coupons. It was a task to look through it all. I began to imagine how many trees had been sawed down to provide the paper. Christmas already has begun with several catalogs every day. More things to buy and store.

It is true we are in a society that loves being surrounded by its possessions and obsessions. The lust for things equals the lust for sex and maybe even overpowers it. I was reading the parable Jesus told about the man who decided to build bigger barns.....the sentence "This very night your life will be demanded from you" lept from the page. Luke 12:20

And then I saw pictures of the devastation of the Malibu canyons--all that luxury gone in a moment of fire. In his discourse on not worrying about what to eat, drink or wear, Jesus says, ",,,the pagans run after these things..." I know some Christians who run too.

Lord, forgive me of being pagan in my gathering and thinking. I know that you provide all I ever need.

Monday, October 22, 2007

When the Parade passes by

Abilene was just wonderful. It was green; every little ditch had water in it; the trees were blooming and Blowing (I have never missed the wind).

Saw many people I love, ate places I loved to eat, and had good conversations with Ronnie and Darla, my most wonderful friends. What a gift reunion is. Think about Heaven!

It was fun to share the grandkids with everyone--they all performed nicely and really had a good time in our old stomping grounds. It would be exceptionally nice if they and the children of Brandon's roommates could be at ACU together in about 12-14 years.

Attending the Kojie breakfast is always astounding as I see the children of students I knew or taught perform as NUNUs.

As usual, the musical Aida was outstanding. ACU has such a treasure in Donna and Adam Hester--they are master teachers and directors. And Jeanette Lipford as vocal coach--there are just not any better.

Thankfully, the planes were on time, and did their predicted duty. We are all tired, but happy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007


We are all looking forward to spending some time in Abilene this weekend. It is a lot of fun to go home and see those we love, to eat those foods we remember, and to walk the sidewalks where we had so much fun.

I am looking forward to seeing those "kids" from Brandon's graduation class of 1992. I often felt like some of them were mine. I know that life has dealt with most of them gently, and most certainly that they have had their share of life's woes. It will be interesting to see some of them after 15 years. I hope I can recognize them and they me. I have changed too.

The Kojie Homecoming Breakfast will be the first thing on the Homecoming agenda. I will sit with the sponsors and watch the NuNus make silly. I think it is going to be hot there--boo! I am taking fall clothes anyway.

A report when we return.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Genius clusters

I am taking a course at Lipscomb in their Life Long Learning series about the writers who converged on Concord, MA in the 1800's: Alcott, Thoreau, Emerson, Hawthorne, and Fuller. The first class, taught by Dr. Dennis Loyd, was very good and confirmed what I had been reading in Susan Cheever's American Bloomsbury.

What brought all of these writers and other lesser known ones to this little town of less than 3, 000 in that time? I had never heard the term "genius clusters" but that is certainly what it was. I guess you could also called the convergence of Jefferson, Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, Adams,etc. during the Revolutionary years also a genius cluster. Look what they wrought!

Wow, don't we need a genius cluster today to free us from all the messes of contemporary America! And contemporary religion could use a cluster too. Where are they?

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Sixteen Years

I have been without my "Hon" for sixteen years today, and of course am missing him. One never gets used to such a loss, one only endures and goes on.

But he is not gone--I see his charisma in Brandon, his red hair and sweet heart in Maddie, his impish sense of humor in Ella, and the little boy inside him who never grew up in Sam. He still lives in my heart and memory, and besides that, we have a thousand pictures and videos to enjoy.

Thank you God for memory, good times, and the promise of being with you and the ones we love forever.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Zoe Redux III

In his last address to the group, Randy H. said the church needs genuinely deep people who take God seriously. He continued, "the future of the church lies in the hands of deep people, not in the hands of brilliant leaders, wonderful worship leaders and scholarly teachers." Looking deep for him involves looking for God in all things. We must tell the world, "Come along, walk with us as we pay attention to God."

Later, Brian McLaren said that leadership should flow out of rest in God. He also asked what are the major preoccupations of the church today? and What would change if our churches were more concerned with global crises--like rediscovering our God-given role as caretakers of the planet.
He said that we have become religions of bad news rather than good news.

Gary Holloway in his workshop stressed the importance of Sabbath in our lives. He quoted someone who said that to be spiritually healthy, we must "ruthlessly eliminate busyness from our lives."

Later in another workshop, Randy Harris asked "What am I a credible witness for?" Are we credible witnesses for Christ? He listed these things for personal spiritual transformation:

1. Identification of places where God's grace has not caught hold, or which are inconsistent
2. Prayerful selection of those things you are ready to get rid of
3. Cooperation with the Holy Spirit over the long haul
4. Getting help from your community of faith

He said that simplicity was living your life with your goal of becoming a credible witness in the world.

It seems to me that a major emphasis on the spiritual disciplines would benefit us all. It has been 25 years since Richard Foster wrote the book on spiritual disciplines--how many times have we opened it in the last quarter of our lives? However, McLaren said that the disciplines are not ends in themselves. The purpose of discipleship is to out and serve. As we transform inwardly, we can bring about a global transformation.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Zoe Redux II

The workshops for the leadership portion of the Zoe Conference were mostly on some of the spiritual disciplines: Silence, Solitude and Sabbath. Appropriate for those leaders pressed in this world of whirling schedules.

In her class on Silence, Jackie Halstead focused on contemplative, inaging prayer which seemed to be a new idea for some. Her term "the prodigal mind" in prayer (in which our minds go in and out of focus) was a good one.

Finding time to do any spiritual discipline is the big problem. Jackie suggested getting up early, taking 10 minutes of lunchtime with the door closed, and using examen for 20 minutes at night. She also said that we obsessive creatures who try to cram in all the spiritual activities we can into our day, "must find time to manage our compasssion." That seems to be a repetition of Randy's idea that we are not humbled to the idea that everything doesn't count on us.

She also stressed practicing mindfulness--being present in the moment--not looking over the heads of people who talk to us, etc.

There is no doubt about it. Silence is counter cultural. Seems Mr. Jobs comes up everyday with a new way to distribute noise. Some people even fear silence and the self-examination it brings.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Zoe Redux

I have recovered from Zoe fatigue enough to now process some of the wonderful things God gave me and others last weekend.

In Thursday's afternoon worship, Randy Harris spoke on the Secret of the Easy Yoke..."my yoke is easy and my burden light..."

He said we must find new ways to "dance with God." We do that by first laying all our burdens on the table to see what it is that God wants us to pick up. Then leave all the others there. In learning to dance we must:

1. Find rhythm (life rhythm) Like Ecclesiastes said, there is a time to sleep, a time to pray, a time to play, a time to work, etc. When we land on one of those too long or too much, we get out of rhythm. One of the truths Randy spoke was that wherever we find ourselves--God didn't get us there, probably pride got us there. For example, if we can't take off work to play or pray, we are saying we can do it better than anyone else, even God. Our balance depends on our humility, I guess. Don't you know someone who has no concept of rest or Sabbath because everything depends on her/him?

2. Develop new habits (new moves). With practice and repetition, we learn how to pay attention to God.

3. Then we can dance with God, letting Him lead. No matter how unskillful we are at the dance, he, the good leader, can guide us to that place where our burdens are light and the yoke is easy.

Good stuff.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The West Wing

In the past few days, I have spent about 24 hours viewing the last season of West Wing. I didn't get to see any of it because it was switched to Wednesday night.

Oh, how I miss that show--elegant writing, witty conversation, good acting, beautiful pictures of D. C., well-chosen music and Democrats--Wow!

Why did it have to leave so that viewers could watch "My Name is Earl", "Big Brother" and "Two Men and a Boy" ? I will never figure out the American viewing public. Talk about replacing glitz with trash!

Government never was easy on the show, and I guess those who viewed it got an inside look at why things sometimes don't work. And at how those we elect can quickly forget those who elected them to pursue personal gain both in prestige and money. I am really sorry that the government that was forged in our early days has come to the impass it has. I know it is not what was previewed in the Constitution, nor by the planners. I only hope some charismatic, progressive, selfless leader can somehow bring us out of our malaise.

And who is that? Wish I could vote for Jed Bartlett or Matt Santos.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


What is there about us who crave appreciation, and then dismiss it with "Oh, Pshaw. It was nothing"?

William James wrote that the "deepest hunger in humans is the desire for appreciation." I am not talking about the raging ego-centric desire for praise and neither was he. I am talking about the little moments when we let others know we appreciate them and what they are doing. We come across probably hundreds of people in a month to whom we could give a little encouragement, but we don't.

Many of Paul's letters in the Bible begin with encouraging and blessing words. Often in the places we work, we are never noticed except for a mistake or miscue--and then the lambast comes. I'll bet there are readers of this blog who identify.

Tomorrow is Sunday--why not go out of your way to encourage your elders, the praise team, the worship leader, the tech guy (thanks, Phil!) , the class teacher, and even those who make coffee in the gathering room and that man or woman you admire for certain qualities, but have never told them. Life is so short.....

Friday, September 28, 2007

Blessed are the peacemakers

Our class lesson hits the above Beatitude this week. Peace is a wide-ranging subject, and one with which many Christians struggle. By the way, this beatitude is not about peace-keeping; it is about having peace in one's life and helping others to have it too.
Angela Thomas says that before we can become a peacemaker, we must become a peace processor. That is, we spend time thinking about it, reading about it, and praying about it. "To become a woman of peace, you have to drag your dehydrated heart into the presence of God and ask him for his peace." Phil. 4:5-7 says the same thing. In the same verses, The Message defines peace as a "sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good." And when we sense this, that will settle us down and displace worry.

I am not a pessimistic person, but I do struggle with anxiousness. I struggle with wanting to know outcomes before they appear--with impatience. My prayer is, "Lord, I want to know how this comes out, and I want to know it NOW." But Jesus says in John 16:33, "In this world, you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

Now if I could just remember that when the ogre of worry appears.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


Communication is such a difficult fragile thing. It is no wonder that universities offer degrees in it. I guess one could study it forever.

In order for communication to work, each party has to have open ears. The prophets and Paul stressed having open ears to hear what God was saying. In addition, there must also be open minds--minds which permit ideas to filter through; minds which flash at the instant when God connects. Minds which follow the communication with a Yes! Dino Basili has said, "The perfect journey is circular--the journey of departure and the joy of return." The same might be said of a conversation.

Communication breaks down when distrust exists and no hearing occurs. That's when the trouble begins. In the Psalms, David is constantly asking God to listen, even saying often that he is yelling to God. His lament in Psalm 31 is vey poignant ,"my life leaks away, groan by groan; my years fade out in sighs." But of course, God was listening always to him--it was David who had closed ears. Later David says in Psalm 34, "Is anyone crying for help? Yahweh is listening, ready to rescue you." (The Message). And he ends Psalm 56 with these glorious words, "God, you did everything you promised, and I'm thanking you with all my heart. You pulled me from the brink of death, my feet from the cliff-edge of doom. Now I stroll at leisure with God in the sunlit fields of life." (The Message)

We must listen in order to be able to stroll.

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Cup of Your Soul

I have asked the women in my class tomorrow to bring a cup which has special significance to them. I am taking the cup I got at Monticello which has Jefferson's famous quote "I cannot live without books." It is a pretty cup, and of course, my readers know why I like that quote. In addition, Thomas Jefferson has long been one of my favorite presidents. I think his memorial in Washington is one of the most beautiful ones (except Lincoln's). Which of your cups would you bring?

We will be studying the fourth beatitude about hungering and thirsting for righteousness. How long has it been since you hungered and thirsted for anything? This concept is so difficult to grasp in our society that is addicted to "muchness" and "manyness" as one writer put it. I think I will try to find a passage in the recent Cormac McCarthy book called The Road.
It is the story of a father and his son trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic world in which everything has been destroyed.

It should be an interesting morning.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Importance of Art

Yesterday the Later Day Saints at Otter went on a "mini art crawl." We visited the Richland Gallery in Green Hills to see the offerings of current Nashville artists as well at those from other places. Then as we ate, Paula Frisby, one of several professional artists at Otter, showed the technique she uses when beginning a canvas called "laying in".

I was struck not only by the beauty and skill I saw, but also at the effect the art had on us as viewers.
What is it about beautiful things that moves us? I think it is a irrepressible urge to praise God the Creator. The Creator, who at the end of each day of creation, stood back, looked and said, "That's Good!" (Even the on the day he created humankind).

Saturday, September 22, 2007

The Irish Way

The Irish have a way with words. I rather like this:

May those who love us, love us;
And those that refuse to love us,
May God turn their hearts.
If he can't turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles,
So, we'll know them by their limping.

As God's chosen people we are instructed to be holy and compassionate (See Scripture at left).

As we worship him because we are his children, may we emulate him in his grace and compassion.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Go Down, Satan

There are many days in our lives when we wish Satan would just give up and go back to Hell.

Days when we feel especially broken and inadequate
Days when prayers only reach the ceiling (we think)
Days when we are miserably, acutely aware of our humanity
Days when those that have been feigning support give up on us
Days when nothing seems to go right
Days when we know that we allowed Satan to bamboozle us and we regret it
Days when we feel like crawling into a hole and staying there in a fetal position
Days when we just don't know what to do

And these are the days that delight Satan and give him even more room to torment us. But we need to remember Paul's words, "Nothing (See Scripture at the left) can separate us from the love of God. Hear that?

Thank you God for loving us, no matter what and for still saying we are your children.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

God's Treasure

Last night as I served communion, I was asked to say "Your are God's treasure." So true. Ginger complained that my use of "hunk of dirt" was not consistent with my message on the former blog--I must corral my use of hyperbole--but even that usage is marvelous.

We are made of dust, says the Bible several times. I love James Weldon Johnson's picture of a "Mammy" bending down in the river making a child in his poem "The Creation". But you see, even though we are made of dust and all of our parts together would not cost over $3.00, we are wonderously made to fit into God's world and to fit with each other. Just a surface study of anatomy is enough to convince most of us that God intended us to be very special.

We are His Treasure and He is our artistic, scientific, imaginative Creator.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Negative Self Talk

When I am in a group of women, I am always struck with how much negative self-talk occurs. Where does that come from?

The topics can range from physical looks to intelligence to daily life activities; the conclusions being that the person speaking does not measure up to others in any or all of these aspects.

The book we are studying in ladies class says over and over that God believes we are all beautiful and valuable. Yet it doesn't appear to sink in, even to believing, practicing Christians.

Why can't woman generally see themselves as formed by God and paid for with the blood of his Son? Why do we feel that we must put ourselves down? Pride is certainly a slippery sin, but I believe we owe it to our Creator to thank him for this hunk of dirt He made and is making, and to see it as a gargantuan opportunity to serve him in thankfulness and praise. After all, he formed us in the womb, and we are his Children. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" I John 3:1

May it's because we hesitate to encourage one another and to build each other up ( I think that is in the Bible). Me, I am going to practice self-esteem on me and my loved ones and friends until God says, "Come home."

Sunday, September 16, 2007

New Thoughts

David Fleer preached at Otter today with a new take on the tale of the prodigal son. I love it when someone opens my mind to a new idea about a story I have heard explained hundreds of times! He said the story indicates that the prodigal did not actually repent--just says he came to his senses in my version. I have always heard that explained as repentence, but actually he just was looking at his options and chose the best one. He did return to his father, but does that indicate repentance? I must do another study of repentance--is it required for God to welcome us? Hear, believe, repent, and be baptized was the mantra I grew up with. Does that hold true with this story? I don't know--like I said, I like new ideas and slants....makes me think. The other two parables in that chapter have the word repent in them, but this does not. Does God's grace require repentance before it can be granted or does it cover us "no matter what?" Otherwise what does
"unmerited favor" mean? Whew! I am just thankful that God allows questions.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Summer is gone

Summer is gone; good riddance! The days I love in Tennessee are back: 70's temp., bright sunshine, slight breeze, leaves turning. Yea.

Nashville has a new mayor; but the national race drags on. By the time it comes to vote, we will have all given up from boredom. There is no one I want to vote for now, and I doubt that anyone will come on the scene by Nov.

Ella is a wonderful sister. She said yesterday, " Sam is so cute! Everything he does is cute.!" What a love.

For a good free site to trade some of your books you don't want to keep, try Bookins. com.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Church Chicks' Book Club

Our first meeting of the book club was today. It was so delightful. It is such a joy to be around people who like to read and who can talk intelligently about books.

Our slate for this reading year is exciting and includes several genres. That's another good thing about book clubs--one never gets stuck reading the same old thing. In the almost three years we have been together, we have read 17 books of various kinds--and always include at least one classic every year. This year's is Pride and Prejudice.

If you, dear reader, are not in a book club, I highly recommend the experience!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Where have all the women gone?

Today is a good day--it is raining and has been raining since yesterday afternoon--thank you, Lord!

We met for the first time today for Ladies Bible Class for this semester --We will be studying Living Your Life as a Beautiful Offering by Angela Thomas who lives just down the road in Knoxville.

At a leaders' meeting last week we were discussing the apparent drop in interest for this class. In a church where there is a rather large pool of women who do not have to work outside the home, there seem to be fewer and fewer attending.

Despite all the best efforts of the planning committe to have a truly interactive and relevant class, fewer women signed up. And even fewer stay the course to the end of the semester. Free child-care is provided, so that is no problem.

Are our lives too busy to study and and live a closer walk with God? Do we already know everything we need to know? I know a church that is declining which once thought that. I would really like to know why. I realize culture has changed many of our commitments, but one can only spend so much time watching TV, cell-phoning and I-Poding. Hmmmm.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Wrinkle in Time

Madeleine L'Engle's most honored children's book (won the Newbery Award) was also her most censored. Wrinkle in Time was rejected 26 times before being published.

It ranks #12 on the the list of the "50 most banned Books." The book went through several rounds of publishers before Farrar, Giroux ageed to publish it. It has sold over 6 million copies, and is now one of the most popular of the older Newberys. Censorship came because of the inclusion of witches--Remember Mrs. Who, Mrs. Whatsit, and Mrs. Which? It was in her own words "a different book" than most written for children in that it was science fiction which featured evil as a big disembodied brain called "It." But it also had sprititual themes which adult censors failed to recognize.

A great mind is stilled and with God.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

So sorry to hear of the death of Madeleine L'Engle, the celebrated children's author of Wrinkle in Time.

I appreciated and knew her as the author of spiritual books which lifted my spirit and challenged my thinking. I probably have more quotes from her in my journals than any other person. My spiritual formation group in Abilene shared many an hour meditating over her writings. Her book Walking on Water is my favorite. I shall miss her wisdom.

She died at age 89 day before yesterday. She had a stroke several years from which she never recovered.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Eating with the Family

Last Sunday we had a closer community setting than usual for the Lord's Supper.The church was asked to leave their seats and join small groups in participating all over the sanctuary.

Tim set the scene wonderfully; the praise team provided scene-enhancing music, and elders served the communion.

It was a rich time in which we actually got to look into each other's eyes, rather than at the back of heads. A time in which we could touch and hug each other as family. A time when we could breathe in the aroma of a family participating rather than just regimentally passing the elements down the pews.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


You know you are a grandparent when:

3 little munchkins (a redhead, a honey blonde, and strawberry blond )ring the doorbell to your heart and come in to stay.

You keep Juicy Juice in the fridge.

You make certain there is always sugarfree gum in your purse.

You buy things like frozen Chicken Nuggets ( which you would never touch) because the kids like them.

You save the little packets of sauce from Chick-Fil-A because the kids like to dip their CN in them.

You have a basket of toys in your closet even though your son is 37.

You are always on the look-out for Christmas stocking stuffers.

You buy holiday decorations that children would like (the current talking tree at Hallmark which plays the Adams Family theme.)

You send cards for Every holiday with cash inside for use at Target's 1$ bins.

You maintain a stock of crayons, water-colors, washable markers, drawing pads and coloring books on a small table in the kitchen.

You have children's games on your list of computer "Favorites."

You have returned to displaying children's art work on the fridge.

You don't have room for all the photos you would like to display.

You have a copy of the High School Musical Tour CD in the armoire along with The Twelve Dancing Princesses, Curious George, Annie and others .

You keep the ingredients for a tea party in your pantry including sugar cubes, along with Half and Half in the fridge.

You know exactly where the Polly Pockets displays are in Wal Mart and Target.

You keep a stock of inexpensive cards available for the kids to sign and send to parents, friends.

You buy three new pairs of pajamas for each season (Summer/Winter) because the kids like to change into them when they visit.

You save all the mints you get at restaurants and stash them in your purse for the kids to find.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


In regard to Jane Austen, mentioned last week, is anyone still reading her books? Someone once said that a classic is a book that is still in print. Others have said that a classic is a book which is still in print after 50 years. How many classics have you read lately? I confess, I have not read many. Our book club tries to read at least one a year.

I confess I have not read a fiction book lately that I REALLY liked. Modern fiction just does not move me--too dark, too dreary. Maybe I will go back to the classics.

Monday, September 03, 2007


This week is a significant anniversary for me. It has been ten years since I was diagnosed with stage three colon cancer, endured surgery where I lost much of my colon, survived several months of chemotherapy and was declared in remission.

I thank God for these ten years in which I saw my son married to a beautiful (inside and out) woman, Sheryl, said hello to three grandchildren Maddie, Ella, and Sam, made the big move to Tennessee and began retirement. Whew!

Thanks for the good wishes, and God's open heart to the fervent prayers of righteous people.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

The three musketeers

I got to baby-sit Maddie, Ella and Sam for a while Friday night. What a treat! Was I tired at the end!!!!!!!! It was like having a hive of busy bees invade.

But I got to hear from Maddie about a friend of hers seeing Brandon's picture in a "magadazine" (ACU Today). I watched Sam absolutely refuse to play with anything girly (does that start in the womb?) And Ella loved playing my waitress in a restaurant complete with books to read while I waited for the food. It was so much fun.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Jane Austen

I saw Becoming Jane last week and really enjoyed it. In a holiday weekend in which there are absolutely no movies to see, I wish I had waited until this weekend. While it may be considered by some to be a chick flick, it was a good historical look at the era in which Jane and other women fought to become published writers. Working women of any ilk were considered second-class--women who wrote, almost perverse. Of course, Austen went on to write some of the great books in English literature.

Thank goodness that landscape has changed.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Phil Keaggy

We spent almost two hours with Phil last night enjoying his expertise--what guitarist!!!! And the girl fiddler he had with him was amazing. Plus the two other guys who made up Glass Harp. Wow. I love Phil as long as he plays "Here comes the Sun"--it was his second solo last night. Phil and Glass Harp were together in the heydays of folk music, and there were still left-over vibes of it last night. It sounded very familiar. I was surprised by the young folks in the crowd who seemed to enjoy it all.

The last half was mostly electronic and loud, but experimental and creative--almost like a jam session. I love to watch when musicians are having fun together, and they obviously were.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Andrew Lloyd Webber

I just finished watching the Andrew Lloyd Webber Royal Hall Celebration --a performance of music from all his shows featuring performers like Glenn Close, Sarah Brightman, Donnie Osmond, The BoyZone (really like them!), Antonio Banderas, Michael Ball and others. What a good cd! It is the kind of thing I suspect one can only find on Netflex--I never saw it an any video store.

Check it out for a good two hours of fabulous music.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pause and think

As a followup to yesterday's blog, here is a bit of John Donne:

Since I am coming to that holy room,
Where, with thy choir of saints for evermore
I shall be made thy music; as I come
I tune the instrument here at the door,
And what I must do then, think now before.

Monday, August 27, 2007


Why did God ask us to sing in Ephesians 5:19? Why did he construct our vocal cords, throat and cheek cavities so that we could sing? What is there about it that He likes? I suppose he could have made us incapable of singing in the creation of our bodies. Couldn't he have made us so that all of us had beautiful voices?

I ponder these questions in worship as I look and see congregants, people who have purposely come to worship, Not sing. Why do they Not? Is it a form of rebellion? Is it because "I just don't feel like it?" Is it because they "don't sing well?" Is it because it makes them uncomfortable to express emotion? I just don't know. It is a puzzlement.

Music entered the scene early with God's people. Philo tells us that Moses was educated in all the learning of Egypt, including its music. The Egyptians considered music to be sacred. Their musicians were priests. Moses must have seen that. In Exodus 15:1, he sings a victory song to the Lord which is quickly followed by the victory song of Miriam in Exodus 15:21. And of course, there are all those Psalms to be reckoned with. David was the real impetus of music in worship. In I Chronicles 14:15, he appointed some Levites as singers--their
repertoire was the Psalms.

The earliest surviving example of Christian music is a hymn of praise to the Trinity found in that wonderful garbage dump in the ancient Egyptian town of Oxyrhynchus. It is in Greek, and dates to the end of the third century. So its all been around for a very long time, and God's people have been singing for a very long time. The Puritans would allow not other hymns in their worship except the Psalms when the music got to America.

Now here we sit in the 21st century with a vast history of beautiful Christian hymns and exciting and worshipful contemporary hymns with out mouths closed.
Go figure.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Reading Today

A recent poll conducted by the Associated Press showed that one in every four Americans did not read a single book last year. Of those who did read, women and seniors led the pack. Religious works and popular fiction were the top choices.

Those who did read books, read only four. People from the South typically read more and those who did not attend any kind of religious services read nearly twice as many as those who attended frequently. I guess they did most of their reading on Sunday morning!

I usually have four books started and have certainly read more than one in the past year--so far 24.

What are my readers reading today?

Friday, August 24, 2007

Praying for rain

Michael W. Smith sent out a press release today that Nashville should pray for rain--We are about 15 inches under normal. Everything is brown and dying--even my weeds are not growing. It was rather a bold step in this secular society.

As I type this, thunder is rumbling in the distance and drops of rain are falling on the sidewalk. Somebody must have listened!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Bits and pieces

When water comes out of the tap lukewarm, it is too hot in Nashville. I am so tired of this hot weather. Where, oh , where is fall?

Finished up the Spiritual Reading class last night--I think most of us agree that Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book was our favorite book of the summer. Hope to do the class again next summer. I have to begin to look for three more good books appropriate to the subject and the readers.

Our Later Day Saints group went to Adams, TN today to take in the Bell Witch legend. Reminded me of Roswell.

I am working at the consignment sale in a few minutes--I do hope it goes well. The young women who have organized it deserve some sort of award for their diligence, organization and persistence. Last night, they were working and having fun as very busy bees. Blessings on them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Remember music?

As our culture has bought into hip hop and other junk music, I have found myself wondering where has music gone? Where are the singable songs, the memorable lyrics, the tunes that enliven our days? I have to turn to Michael Buble to even remember some of them.???????

And those Broadway musicals that open our eyes to great music like Les Miz, Phantom of the Opera, Fiddler, and others? Where are they????

Or even the Oscar-winning songs from movies--the ones that have won in recent years have already been forgotten--never to be used in weddings, or on romantic summer nights.????

Noting the quote on the left of this page....I want to go home and hear my version of good music again.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Emotion of Music

Regarding my comments yesterday about "Nearer Still Nearer" and the emotion I feel in singing it--here is Shakespeare:

The man that hath no music in himself,
Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils;
The motion of his spirit are dull as night
and his affections dark as Erebus:
Let no such man be trusted.

Perhaps we need to pipe in some Beethoven over the fields of Iraq--maybe that would help.

I am so thankful my grandchildren are growing up in a household where music is heard everyday and appreciated greatly. I do hope they are singers; I don't know how they could miss genetically. It is fun to hear Ella make up her own words and music, and to hear Maddie pick out songs on the piano. I haven't seen any evidence from Sam yet, but I know he will soon be singing his rite of passage song "Twinkle, Twinkle Little
Star"--which was the first one the girls picked up. When he is sleepy, he does hum some unknown tunes.

Thanks you God for music, writers, and singers, and players, and the music of the spheres that surround us.

Monday, August 20, 2007

New Songs

We sang three new Zoe songs yesterday. I think that all three will become classics. My favorite was "O, The Blood". But the others were wonderful too. Intersperced with O, The Blood was Nearer, Still Nearer.

That song always causes an emotional rush and tears--I don't know why. Lelia Morris, the author wrote over 1,500 hymns, but preferred to be known as a simple housewife. In fact, she composed most of her songs in her head over the sewing machine.

O, God shelter me safe in your haven of rest.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

High School Musical 2

We had a lot of fun last night watching the long awaited HS Musical 2. The girls had eaten up all the millions of commercials run by the Disney Channel and were very excited about seeing it. Parents and I hoped that Disney did not give in to the culture and make the movie too adult in content.

We were all pleased by the movie. Time's review today used that no-no Hollywood word "chaste", but gave it a rave review anyway. It seems to me if Hollywood would just cut out the nastiness, potty language and wierd sex then they might have a huge success for their movies, too. A recent Time article lamented the demise of the romantic movie and the fact that attendance is dropping for those. Well, who wants to see Harry marry Frank? Or a woman get Knocked Up on the first date? Not me--I'll take the chaste Disney version any time as I remember the days of Casablanca, Dr. Zhivago, You've Got Mail, Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and whoever.

Long live "chasteness" and good clean fun.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

The Last Word

The last word in the class I taught recently was a prayer for children. I thought that would be a fine way to end, since school was beginning soon. I used a prayer often found in the Children's Defense Fund material by Ina Hughes. Here's a sampling--it is rather long:

We pray for children
who bring us sticky kisses and fistfuls of dandelions,
who hug us in a hurry and forget their lunch money.

We pray for children
who never get dessert,
who have no safe blanket to drag behind them,
who watch their parents watch them die,
who can't find any bread to steal,
who don't have any rooms to clean up,
whose pictures aren't on anybody's dresser,
and whose monsters are real.

You can find the complete prayer by googling Ina Hughes. There are several versions available. The line that really gets me except for the death one is those who don't have pictures on anybody's dresser. Wow!

And that dear readers is my bibliography on "Glimpsing God in Children's Literature." Of course, there are many others, but there was just not enough time to cover them all.

We must keep praying for children as they go through the school day--they are our hope and future. Pray for the teachers too--they are so important to the lives we live now and in the future.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

One World

The last book I featured was Mem Fox's Whoever You Are, illustrated by Leslie Staub.

This beautifully illustrated picture book shows very graphically and poetically that God made us one all over the world. The recurring refrain is "whoever you are, wherever you are, all over the world." The pages that were especially pointed to me were the ones that said, "joys are the same, love is the same, pain is the same, blood is the same...." Several pictures contain Muslim children including a double-page spread of a Muslim school.

Each page is framed with gold, embedded with colored jewels. I suppose the going word is multiculturalism, but the content is something we all need to learn.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Inspiration from great lives

I believe that inspiration, courage, and determination comes from reading about great people who had those qualities. That is why I included biographies in my presentation "Glimpsing God in Children's Literature." There are many excellent books out there, but I chose one that had a special connection to Nashville, Wilma Unlimited, How Wilma Rudolph Became the World's Fastest Woman by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by David Diaz. Wilma grew up in Clarksville, TN just down the road and attended Tennessee State University. Of course, she became famous because of her three gold medals won in the 1960 Olympics, but she also overcame poverty, race, gender bias and polio to do so. The book shows her taking her brace off and walking down the aisle of her church one Sunday morning "when the singing seemed to burst through the walls into the trees."

When Marian Sang by Pam Munoz Ryan, illustrated by Brian Selznick is about Marian Anderson who grew up poor in Philadelphia and singing contralto in the church choir. There were no black women singing opera in those days, but she overcame and with the help of Eleanor

Roosevelt became so well known that she achieved her dream.

This book is so beautiful, I can hardly describe it. Lyrics from old hymns are found throughout.

Another book connected with Nashville is Goin' Someplace Special by Patricia McKissick, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. It is a memoir of McKissick's childhood days with her grandmother in the segregated South. Her "someplace special" is the Nashville Public Library which opened its doors to everyone in the early 50's without regard to race. (Bless those brave trustees) Throughout the book, 'Trisha Ann is reminded by

adults who help her get to that place that she "is somebody--a human being--no better and no worse than anyone else in the world."

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Give Me Grace

This short "daybook of prayers" by Cynthia Rylant is charmingly illustrated by Rylant in vibrant folk paintings. I have given many copies of it for baby showers (along with Goodnight, Moon).

Here is Wednesday's: Wednesday make me
full of light.
Guide my heart both
day and night.
Give me gladness,
Give my grace.
Shine your love
upon my face.

Friday, August 10, 2007

I Am Your Child, God

This beautiful collection of prayers, collected by Marion Wright Edelman and illustrated by Brian Collier contains prayers for younger children, for older children, those for struggle and strength, for special occasions and traditional prayers. Edelman says in the preface that the prayers are "for children who need stronger inner anchors and spiritual grounding in our world in which ties to family, community and the sacred are becoming increasingly frayed."

It seems to me that several of the prayers in the younger children's section would be good for parents and children to learn in the time at night when prayers draw them together. Here is one:
"Thank you, Lord
Forgive me, Lord
Help me, Lord
Save me, Lord."

Edelman states that "these prayers are just a beginning of what I hope will become a lifelong conversation between children and God."

The traditional prayers containing several selections from the Psalms (praying through the psalms) The Lord's Prayer, and Assisi's Prayer For Peace.

Again, anothere beautiful book for children with a glimpse of God.