Tuesday, January 30, 2007


The Sunday Tennessean reported in a long article that some parents are choosing "unschooling" for their children. That is, schooling which has no plan, but in which the child chooses what he/she wants to study and studies that until they are tired and want to go to another subject. One mother was quoted as saying that in the "real" world learning to write a check and to change the oil in a car were just as important as math, history and reading. Unschooling has no curriculum, no time requirements, no textbooks. Ironically, "unschooled" is a perfect description of the process.

Another 15 year-old-boy who said he wanted to be a chef or a rock star remarked all he wanted to do now was read what he wanted to. (Don't we all?) He reported that he had to spend several weeks "deschooling" after withdrawing from public school. Even chefs and rock stars have bosses who require them to be on time and to finish assigned tasks whether the employee likes the task or not.

The parents have probably forgotten that the world in which they live was created by those who came before who had received "traditional" schooling. I am so tired of people who do not give thought to anything but the here and now and me and mine. The here and now is not all there is to life--the future will come at a pace that will shock and amaze them.

Yes, some public schools have problems which can hardly be allieviated by fleeing parents and students. There are certain things that mature adults have to do that don't necessarily "pique their curiosity". Pity our future in the hands of unschooled adults.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Ephesians 2:10

I was struck as I worked through Beth Moore this week by her discussion of good works from Ephesians 2:10. One of my favorite passages: We are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do."

In the first place, thinking of ourselves as God's workmanship is awe-inspiring. Someone said today that workmanship could be translated "work of art" or God's masterpiece. What a boost of self-esteem.

And our whole purpose in creation is to do good works--not the self-obsessed "works salvation" I heard about while growing up, but rather the good works which God prepared specifically for me to do.

Of course, the question is what exactly are those good works? Which flashes back to discussions of spiritual gifts. What are mine?? I believe we are urged by the Holy Spirit in the direction of those good works using the gifts given by God. I truly believe mine lie in teaching and writing and am striving mightly to use those gifts for good works, all the while thinking, " Is what I am spending my life doing
"for the common good" (the purpose of sprititual gifts)? Lots of deep thinking here and I must rest in the knowledge that the Spirit's urging is constantly leading me in the right direction.

Praise God for his grace and our discovery that "works salvation" was a myth.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Old friends

I talked yesterday to an old friend from high school days (50 years ago!). It is a blessing how things and people never seem to change their basic make-up. This friend was warm, friendly, fun and quite a talker in high school. She now knows just about everything about our class 50 years later, even children and grandchildren and some of their names. I wish my memory was as good as hers. It was a joy to talk.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Taste and see

Ever since Vespers on Wednesday night, I have been thinking about how sense-deprived the worship was in my fellowship as I was growing up. The theme at Vespers was
"The sense of taste." Matt Hearn did a wonderful job of turning our thinking to that topic, and of making us hungry.

Neither was our worship physical in any way. In my early years in our fellowship, we did sit down after standing (but we only stood up for singing). We did not rise for the reading of the Bible.

We did bow our heads for prayer( a very few knelt--mostly old men). There were no prayer rails on our pews--we didn't even know what they were.

We did partake of communion every Sunday--but it was profane to even get close to thinking that the bread Became Christ's body and the wine his blood. And oh, yes the "wine" was always Welch's grape juice and the bread was always a flat, tasteless cracker.

There were no candles even though "light" is heavily featured as a metaphor in the Bible.

There was no incense. Rather than spices, our church smelled of well-oiled pews and floors and musty songbooks and Bibles.

The only "art" in the auditorium was the "painting" over the baptistry. Rarely was it art in any of the churches in our fellowship. There were certainly no crosses nor icons.

So worship and its surroundings were very plain, unadorned and sense-deprived.

However, things are looking up in some of the churches in our fellowship. We do now stand for the reading of the sacred Word. We clap and move to praise songs. And in churches which have Vespers and Taize services, one sees candles. On Power Point, all kinds of "real" art and icons can be shown.

In our aforementioned Vespers service last week, one of the stations was a table of fruit and cheese and crackers for good communal sharing--and wine in the partaking of communion.We have also experimented with the dipping of bread into wine for partaking.

Thankfully, we are beginning to realize that the worship of God is a wholistic experience encompassing the mind, the body, and the senses.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Rucker funeral

I am so glad I chose to attend Ruth's funeral today. I learned a lot about Ruth and John and their family, about the Otter Creek Kindergarten, and watched four women (strong women like Ruth) conduct the service. Bernie Arnold sang as Ruth had asked her to do many years ago. Pat Ward detailed Ruth's association with OC Kindergarten telling several good stories. Sandy Collins did a wonderful eulogy (again with wonderful warm stories, and Carolyn Maddox told about her family's long time friendship with the Ruckers.

One of Carolyn's stories was about the time Ruth broke the "pants in worship (for women) code. Remember those days when only men could wear pants to church? Even if it was 10 degrees below and the wind was blowing! So glad those days are past.

Otter has been especially blessed to have several strong women who have smoothed the path to the 21st century. Ruth Rucker was one of them.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Freedom Writers

I went to the movie Freedom Writers this weekend and enjoyed it--all teachers and parents should see it. Watch out for the bad language--ghetto kids do not normally say "O, my goodness gracious."

Those of who have been teachers know it would have taken longer in real life than in the movie to turn rebellious, potty-mouthed street kids into compassionate, responsible, heart-stopping readers and writers--but the message is still there: It can be done. The movie is based on a true story.

This movie should be invigorating for sales of Anne Frank and Durango Street by Bonham. The teacher in the movie used both books to great affect in the movie. They are both good books, and I am sure are still being used by teachers strong in the building of humanity's best traits. The students in the movie had never heard of the Holocaust. Their eyes were opened by the Diary of Anne Frank. They were so moved that they raised money to bring the woman who hid Frank to their school for a day of sharing.

The teacher fought administrative no's, collegial envy, and an unsupportive husband to bring her charges around. There were so many scenes in the movie when I wanted to say "Amen!" And, unlike real life sometimes, the happy ending of the story made my heart swell at the idea that a good teacher can change eternity. As Christa McAuliff said, "I touch the future. I teach."

The students actually had the journals they wrote published in a book called The Freedom Writers' Diary.

Go see it, but don't take the young ones.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Sam's Birthday

Today would have been my husband's 74th birthday had he lived. He was born on a Friday the 13th of January in 1933. We would have celebrated it with a meal out with friends or family--so typical of our celebrations when he was alive. He shared the same day with the son of Kaye Price Hawkins (Shane) and we often celebrated together. Another little twist, Kaye's daughter (Hainey) and Brandon were born one day apart at the same hospital in Abilene. And again, we often celebrated those days together--mostly at Steak and Ale in Abilene.

If he had lived, I wonder:

Would he have been gray or bald? Many of the Thomas men did bald early. But Sam showed no sign of it when he died.

Would we have moved to Nashville? Probably--I don't think he could have stood that many miles between him and his grandchildren and son.

Would he have taken to retirement? I think so, because he was always what we called a "piddler"--he could always find something he enjoyed doing, especially outside.

Would he have enjoyed getting older? Yes, his mind was always young. However, if aging brought poor health, he would have hated that. He was always very active physically.

Would we have traveled much if he had lived? Yes, I think so, because he loved traveling--and with all the Civil War history around here, he would have been so interested in visiting every battlefield and old plantation home.

What would his hobbies have been in retirement? I don't know--he always had so many interests--from collecting fossils to growing vegetables, from family history to researching cataclysmic events. One of the lessons he enjoyed teaching was on the volcano Krakatoa.

What would he have done with the internet? I believe he would have loved it and used it to its utmost capabilities. He got in on the earliest use of computers in Abilene schools and was so caught up and amazed by the wonders of them.

What would he have thought about the changes in the church he loves? He would have clung to his conservative frame of mind until he could be showed a broader way by someone he respected. He revered David Lipscomb, Barton W. Stone and the early leaders of the church...and respected their courage in the Restoration Movement.

I do wish he could have known Sheryl, Maddie, Ella and Sam--what joys they would have been to him. And to see his son become a respected worship leader and pioneer in the church he loved would have been heaven to him

Friday, January 12, 2007

Workiing on ladies' retreat

I hve been working on some material for the ladies'retreat I am leading in Abilene Feb 23-24 on Telling Your Story. It is fun to look back at all that material again and to find new nuggets to use.

It was not fun to find that I have lost my copy of Ann Lamott's Traveling Mercies which I use extensively and have all marked up and highlighted, etc. Why, oh why do I lose things? It is becoming the bain of my life. I went to Borders today and, of course, they do not have a copy--guess I will just have to Amazon it and wait a few days for it to come. Boo!!!!

Anyone else my age find that losing things is recurrent at our age?

Monday, January 08, 2007

Fun weekend

Ella's birthday was a blast. It was fun to see the kids stuff their bears, put a heart inside (after kissing it), and then naming their bear for the birth certificate.

Ella looked so cute in her pink boots. I think she liked the baby doll too. We all went to see Charlotte's Web after the party--it was fun and done well. Since there was a narrator, some of E. B. White's excellent writing got into the movie. I did miss Paul Rand as Templeton--he was the best.

Finally rounding up Christmas decorations. I had to go buy another box today--what came out will not all go back in. Why is that? Did the decorations multiply while I was not looking? Virgin birth on the Christmas Tree?

Also got my yearly newsletter out in time to say Happy New Year. One resolution is to buy cards in November and have them addressed before December.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Baby dolls

Today is Ella's birthday. Ella's personality makes me smile--she is warm, loving, sometimes very aggressive and extremely funny! I think she is beautiful and looks the most like Sheryl. In fact, Sheryl has pictures of her at the same age, and the resemblance is eerie. What delightful girl God made in you Ella--please keep the winsome personality and sense of humor--I won't be around to see you as an adult, but I know you will be a God follower and an entertainment to all.

Ella asked me for a baby doll for her birthday, so today I took off for Toys r Us.
I discovered there are dolls for every occasion--dolls who sneeze, wet (Remember when there was only Betsy Wetsy?), giggle, talk, pray, magnetically hold the passy, even go to the potty (No, I did not get that one). The one I got does a few things--but most surprisingly of all, there with it was a box with 5 changes of clothes. There is nothing the girls enjoy more than taking off and putting clothes on their dolls. I think she will like this one. Her party is Saturday.

Thank you God for your gift of precious Ella. She is a blessing to all of us.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

New Year's Day

We had a good start to the New Year. The family was orginally scheduled to come to my house, but considering what a late New Year's Eve they all had, I took the food to them: Ben Barnes' Blackeye Pea Soup, turnip greens, cornbread, and apple pie with Blue Bell Ice Cream. I thought it was feast myself. The soup dates back to a second grade teacher at Austin Elem. Debbie Vines 1985. It is one of my favorite soup recipes...still thanking you, Debbie.

I spent the day cutting out paper dolls for Ella, playing Maddie's new video game with her, and clowning around with Sam--can't beat that! We ended the day by watching Elf--how funny it is and profound at the same time. Oh, yes, we also put puzzles together. One that I got for Maddie for Christmas which was rated for 5-7 year olds took Brandon and me a long time to finish! Puzzles are a long time tradition for the Thomases. We used to have a card table set up in our living room holding the current puzzle. (That was before Brandon). Sam loved to decoupage the puzzle when we were done. Some were very nice--works of art.

Happy, happy new year everybody!