Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hesitant Joy

In these past few days, it has been difficult to feel the abundant joy promised by God. The Bailey/Brown tragedy has been weighing heavily, along with all the other hurts in the world--the war, the starving children everywhere, more and more people I know getting cancer, etc.

But I try to maintain what Anne Lamott calls a" frayed consignment store faith" which in its wan and pale passion manages to bring a new dawn with new insights each day.

Thank you God for the little things you bring each day to help my heart recover.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Grace (Now)

I would ask my readers today to pray for the family of Stephen Bailey, one of Brandon's best friends, who lost a beloved nephew Connor yesterday in a car wreck. His sister Bailey was also injured and is suffering.

As friends not only of Stephen, but of his parents, I have heard stories of these children (Bailey, Connor, and Hutton)for many years. They are from a wonderful family and are exceptionally bright and talented. Bailey is scheduled to come to ACU next year; Connor was in high school; and Hutton middle school. I grieved for them in my sleep last night, and my heart is heavy today for the path before them.

Please Father God grant your grace (now) to all of them.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Grace (Eventually)

I am going back over the book Grace (Eventually)by Ann Lamott. It is a very funny and provocative book about her take on grace. Her title intrigues me and almost seems blasphemous. But today as David Rubio spoke on two stories in Mark 6, I had an epiphany. The woman with the issue of blood and Jairus's daughter both had to wait for grace--but it came eventually. The woman had to wait 12 years, and the daughter had to wait until Christ finished the woman's healing. Both stories have happy endings as grace comes when God awards it.

Aren't we all in our culture where we want and expect instant gratification too impatient to wait for grace? The old saying, "I want patience, and I want it now!" applies. I want grace, and I want it now!

Of course there are examples of instanteous healings, but more about those who waited--the lepers, the blind man at the pool, Peter's mother-in-law, the demoniac. God could have stepped in the instant they began to feel bad, but He didn't. They had to wait like us sometimes, as Lamott says, and while we wait, we "clog, and slog, and scrootch."

Sometimes we don't know when grace comes. Lamott says that she wishes that "delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace's arrival."
Me too. It is more often in hindsight that we see grace.

One thing is sure for me--Grace does come eventually, and God is consistent and constant in His blessing.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Book Trivia

I love trivia and Jeopardy. Here are some epitaphs of famous writers:

"Steel true. Blade straight." Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"Quoth the raven, Nevermore." Edgar Allen Poe

"The final condensation" Dewitt Wallace, founder of Readers' Digest

"Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty, we are free at last."
Martin Luther King

"I had a lover's quarrel with the world." Robert Frost

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Going to the Post Office

About once a week I go to the Post Office in Nolensville, an historic little berg south of me. Nolensville is a town (unlike Brentwood) where women don't step out of their Jags wearing Gucci and carrying Coach. It is a town where people look like me in Land's End shirts and pants and theraputic shoes.There old farm tractors still hold up traffic on the surrounding rural roads. Children can be seen at recess in the schoolyard. The city hall is in a strip mall. The local Sonic is the town meeting place.

But things are changing--is that a Jag at the Post Office?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Just around the corner

Just around the corner from my house, an ancient farmhouse sits forlorn like a lumpy old woman with her slip showing sitting at a bus stop. It is being razed to make way for a new development of condos.

It was a house that saw oilcloth on the table and cornbread browning in the oven. There the addition of running water and an indoor bathroom was cause for great celebration. Model T cars once lined the yard for turkey and dressing on holidays. The wire fence around the yard is lined with daffodils every spring, planted decades ago by a young farmwife wanting to escape the hot kitchen.

The shiny condos that replace it will never see cornbread or oilcloth. They will more than likely have a seldom used "extra" bathroom. The Hondas and Hummers that will sit out front will leave at 6:30 in the morning and return home at 6:30 in the afternoon--too late to plant daffodils.

Some call it progress--I call it travesty--especially if they cut down the forest behind my house.

Monday, May 21, 2007


The delicious early days of summer are finally here. Those days when the morning is cool and airy and the afternoons are bearable leading into evenings when sitting outside is a must in the cool night air.

I am not a summer person. I hate hot weather. I hate to sweat. I hate those high summer air-conditioning bills. I suppose I could refuse to run the air conditioning--but I refuse to be hot in my own house.

Summer takes on a different face when one is retired. I can no longer look forward to weeks without school and the blessed relief of staying home.

Now the long summer days stretch before me to be filled with family and grandchildren. I look forward to accompanying them to the pool and cooking in the back yard. Still a nice thought.

Welcome, summer.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Miss Potter

Doris Colvett and I finally found a good movie yesterday. The critic called it an oddball movie! If he meant that a movie without sex and violence and full of beautiful scenery is oddball, we have come to a pretty pass in our entertainment. Miss Potter is the life story of Beatrix Potter, the creator of Peter Rabbit. Right away, you see why I liked it.

A gorgeous, old-fashioned movie set around 1902, this story of a lonely single woman who upturns the children's book industry single-handedly and falls in love with her publisher is so good!!!I give it 5 stars. Set mostly in the Lake Country and the Isle of Man of England, the scenery is absolutely heavenly. Miss Potter's creation of Peter and subsequent characters is fascinating. The movie has not received much publicity and was showing only at our art theater The Belcourt here in Nashville. I am so sorry the general population will not even have the opportunity to see the movie.

Peter Rabbit is still the best-selling children's book of all time--more copies than even the Bible.

If it comes to your area, support good movies by taking your friends to see it. It is worth the money and time, believe me. I plan to buy the DVD so I can enjoy it again.

Friday, May 18, 2007

The Ascension

Wednesday night at Vespers we talked about the Ascension of Jesus. I don't remember hearing a sermon on that topic, but to read the Acts account and see the beautiful old art depicting the ascension with angels meeting Jesus and the disciples looking at the men in white (wonder why there were two?) was stirring. Jesus was busy those 40 days between the resurrection and the ascension. Luke says in Acts he presented himself alive to the apostles "in many different settings' ( Message) over that time. I have already written about his cooking breakfast on the beach--but as one reads the accounts, many of the appearances have to do with eating and sharing food.

What a sight it must have been to see Him leave and a shock to see two men in white in his place. Wonder if they had wings? Wonder why they were in white? So many questions, but what a grand occasion!

The Message says that after the sighting, they went back to an upper room and agreed that they "were in this for good." The group included the women who had been following Jesus, Mary his mother and Jesus's brothers. I am sure they had no idea what glories were coming next--Just as we,while continuing in prayer as they did ,have no idea either.

Ain't life in Christ grand!

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fun days

I have spent the last two days with Maddie and Ella--Maddie on Tues. and Ella today. What a blast!

Maddie is getting so big that we actually have real conversations now--she is so interested in things creative. And she always has to find something in my drawers to give as a gift to Sheryl. She loves wrapping packages, writing in cards, and sharing her love. Love that!

Ella is so different, but just as much fun. We played restaurant, had a tea party, and played with an old Playschool Village that belonged to Brandon. It has been a long time since someone told me "Pretend that...."

With both girls, we revisited a little history. The cedar chest of Sam's mother (Mow) holds family treasures that I am keeping because I can't bear to get rid of them. One is the ancient hearing aid (acutally a long, hollow hose) that belonged to Sam's great-grandfather. Maddie found Poppy's (Sam's) harmonica and was very taken with it. She wants one for her birthday, but it has to be pink. Don't know if such a harmonica exists. There was also a "juice" harp there. Sheryl had to show us how to play that.

Today Ella and I went through the antique dresser in my foyer. There we found Brandon's baby shoes, his Levi jacket, and his Cub Scout shirt.

There were also three of his blankets and pajamas there. Ella wanted to take one of the blankets home, but she forgot it. The one she liked best was Brandon's favorite--blue with very worn edges. Good memories.

Thanks girls for two good days.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Confessions II

Some time between middle school and high school, someone gave me a copy of Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. It became my favorite book although I did not know anyone who had a horse, nor did I ride one until I became an adult. It was a good story with a sad ending--perfect for a middle school girl.

As a high schooler, I became a library aide and plunged into checking out as many books as I could carry. The high school library was not large, nor particularly well-stocked, as I have said. So my reading was not broad, nor deep. This is where I read all the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books. I remember reading some semi-religious books by Thomas B. Costain and Lust for Life by Irving Stone. Any "good" literature or classic lit was the province of textbooks--I never read, for example, the Iliad or any Greek lit, nor really any world literature--the school texts contained very little. We read Shakespeare, Chaucer, and essays, poetry, etc. We were never assigned extra books outside the text as is done today. My knowledge of great literature was sadly lacking when I went to college.

Paperbacks were not ubiquitous until much later, but I did begin buying some for college assignments and adding them to my library. My budget was very tight, so I could not afford many. I would take them to work to read at the switchboard where I worked at Foremost Dairies. It didn't take me long to tire of long Victorian novels and Greek epics, so I went on to other reading, mostly mysteries of the Agatha Christie variety. I never liked reading romance fiction. My tastes turned to history and biography as I took some of the history courses for my minor in history.

After graduating, one of my first jobs (after Levelland where I taught reading) was Eula High School as the English teacher of all grades. It seems the new English teacher immediately became the librarian, so that is where I first practiced library science. Sadly the library was very small--almost book closet size. The superintendent had a penchant for buying books from traveling salesmen--mostly remainders. These were usually black and white science books no self-respecting kid would read. Donated National Geographics, Readers Digests and Life Magazines lined the shelves. What a mess!! And I had very little expertise to deal with it. ( I need to write another blog about my life in libraries).

About that time, ACU was offering library science classes being brought to the campus from North Texas State University, and I began to take those. I soon became a certified school librarian with a "vast" knowledge of good books and a sad realization of about all the books I had missed.

Through the years, I have collected many good children's books, biographies, poetry collections, and a good array of religious and inspirational books by great writers.

It has been fun and rewarding, and I don't see myself coming out of this addiction any time soon. I do hope you three will love reading and share my love for books.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Confessions of a Bookaholic

This is for Maddie, Ella and Sam.

Dear Sweeties,

This is the story of how Nonnie became a bookaholic:

There were no books in our home (except a Bible) when I was a toddler.
Poverty precluded books. I do remember our getting a box of hand-me-downs from a friend of my Granny Tucker (your great-great grandmother). In that box was a book about bears through the seasons. I do not remember its title, but I treasured it until it fell apart.

When I began school, there was no school library in my elementary school in Hamlin. I do not remember being read to by any teacher. There was an occasion I remember when a first grader came and read to our third grade class. His name was Ted Wright, and he was obviously very gifted. He skipped several grades, and we graduated from high school together. My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Smith, had a few books in her classroom--most were old readers and other cast-offs. We could read them in the classroom, but were not allowed to take them home. Mrs. Griggs, my sixth-grade art teacher once took a trip to New Orleans. When she came home, her mouth was full of tales about beignets, thick coffee and Oysters Rockefeller. She read us Frances Parkinson Keyes' Dinner at Antoines. I can't imagine a sixth grade class listening to it today, but it was a very special time for a book-starved student like me.

In the days between elementary and middle school, my brothers and I would save our pennies and go to town to buy comic books for 25 cents each. My favorites were the Classic Illustrated comics which took a classic book like Treasure Island and illustrated the story with comics.
Superman, Wonder Woman, and Archie and Veronica were favorites too.
After we had accumulated several comic books, we could take them to town and trade them by giving 2 used books for 1 free used book.

My mom loved reading, and when she got a few pennies ahead, she would buy magazines like Redbook and Ladies' Home Journal. That was before Redbook became so salacious. Redbook always had a novel
in each issue, and I remember reading that avidly. Our town had no public library, so that was really my only link to fictional reading.

Chapter 2 tomorrow.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Eat, Drink, Think III

One of my favorite books on the topic of The Lord's Supper is Come to the Table by John Mark Hicks. The subtitle is "Revisioning the Lord's Supper." I like it because I agree with it--but it also helped me think through several troublesome issues. As mentioned yesterday, instead of a funeral-like atmosphere, we should have celebration around the Supper. "The church should revision the supper as a table rather than an altar." And "the church should revision the supper as a family event, including children." I have always thought that children should be invited to the table where they can grow spiritually--it is an opportunity for teaching them about God's love.

Hicks also said a table rather an altar mentality would solve the problem of who serves at the table. Who cares who passes food around a table? Those who do not believe that there women at the initiation of the Lord's Supper are sadly mistaken--who prepared the food? Who brought the food to the table? Who picked up the used dishes? Women of course. As someone has remarked The Lord's Supper is the only table around which we do not allow women to serve. An altar mentality carries with it the idea of authority and priesthood, etc.
A table does not.

Above all, Hicks says that the Lord's Supper must be a communal event transcending all cultural, ethnic and gender boundaries which is full of hope,grace and joy.

William Willamon's book Sunday Dinner says virtually the same thing. It ends with the plea of John 6: 34 "Lord give us this bread always." And that is the way I will end these sessions of thought.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Eat, Drink, Think II

In regard to the frequency of observance of The Lord's Supper, there is no direct command in the New Testament. Acts 20:7 states that when they met on the first day of the week to break bread, Paul preached. My fellowship has taken that as an example to be followed. I. Cor. 11:25 says that as often as you drink, do it in memory of Christ. Acts 2:46 states that the new Christians were day by day breaking bread. Henry Nouwen has written that he partakes every day to keep his mind attuned to Christ. Constantine once ruled that it should be observed on important holidays like Christmas and Easter. Other churches have chosen to partake once a month, once a quarter, etc. I am thankful for our weekly observance which sets the pace for the rest of the week. And no, it never becomes rote or boring for me. Maybe for others, but more on that later.

Some aberrations have taken place through the years with us and other churches:

Some felt that since one cup was used in the initiation, we should use only one cup today. Knowledge about germs and disease changed that. However, there are still some who are doing it that, and we call them "one-cuppers".

Some have believed that not partaking can lead to loss of salvation and go to great lengths to have the elements with them on Sunday wherever they are. I had a friend in high school who carried a kit with a small vial of juice and a cracker in his pickup. Churches often make it a practice to take the Supper to those are in the hospital and rest homes or who are shut-ins, so they will not miss it. Before Sunday night church gradually disappeared in favor of small group meetings, the Supper was always offered to those who had been "providentally hindered" (whatever that meant?) from attending Sunday morning church.

Some feel it necessary for the priest or someone else to bless the elements before they are passed. because the KJV says, Jesus took the bread and blessed it, etc. A better translation reads, Jesus took the bread and after a blessing, He broke it. NASB Seems that he was blessing God for His gifts instead of blessing the bread.

How about transubstantion in which the bread and wine supernaturally become the real body and blood of Christ? Christ's Jewish friends around that table did not think any such thing. The Jews abhorred the eating of human flesh and drinking of blood. And those who sat with him were very familiar with the metaphors, similies and parables of Jesus and they knew that he was speaking figuratively.

The KJV of Matt. 26:27 says to "Drink ye all of it." And because of this many have taken great pains to drain every drop of the juice from the container and even dry it out before passing it on. A better translation would be "Drink ye--all-- of it. In other words, everyone should drink it.

Some churches refuse communion to those not identified with their fellowship thus practicing "closed communion". At Otter Creek, we welcome anyone to partake--the Lord's Supper is not an act of identification with a church, but rather an act of identification with Christ.

II Cor. 11:28 says we should examine ourselves lest we eat and drink unworthily.
Some have taken that to mean that since they consider themselves too sinful, they should not partake. A better reading of the passage shows the word "Unworthily" is an adverb which describes how we partake--unthinkingly, ritualisticly, etc.

Another wrong-headed celebration is one which is more like a funeral rite rather than a celebration. When the early Christians partook of it, Christ has arisen and many of them had seen him. They had nothing to mourn, but rather celebrated his sacrifice and their salvation.

One more tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Eat, Drink, Think

This is my 700th post since Musings began May 31, 2004. Who knew I had that many words in me?

My tribe calls our weekly celebration The Lord's Supper or Communion. Never, Eucharist (too Catholic, too denominational). We observe it during worship on Sunday morning . We are very big (read= obsessive) on restoring the New Testament primitive church. Someone asked me about it last week, and I began running it through my mind with these questions:

1. After that first supper, how long did it take for the symbolic observance to take hold in the new Christian's minds?

2. And in observing it, what were their elements (no, we never call them sacraments)? Fermented wine and unleavened bread as used by Christ in its institution?

3. Did the early Christians observe it only in worshp as we do, or was it part of a community meal as seems to be the case in Acts 2?

4. Did they use intinction (dipping the bread into the wine) or take each element separately?

5. As the years passed, were the elements filtered by custom into grape juice and crackers. When exactly did that begin?

6. When were the portions of the elements reduced to a tiny sip and a small piece of cracker (always broken off)?

More tomorrow.

Friday, May 04, 2007

More About Books

Here are some more quotes about books. If you have a good one, send it along.

"Books are delightful society. If you go into a room and finding it full of books--even without taking them from the shelves they seem to speak to you, to bid you welcome. " William Gladstone

"Is there any excitement comparable to opening a fresh parcel of books?" William Targ

"Books are the carriers of civilization. Without them, history is silent, literature dumb, science
crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill." Barbara Tuchman

"Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore!" Henry Ward Beecher

"Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing." Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird

"The failure to read good books both enfeebles the vision and strenghens our most fatal tendency--the belief that here and now is all there is." Allan Bloom

"I cannot live without books." Thomas Jefferson in a letter to John Adams

"You can never be too thin, too rich or have too many books." Carter Burden

" I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library." Jorge Luis Borges

"A classic is a book everyone is assumed to have read and often think they have." Alan Bennett

"The covers of this book are too far apart." Ambrose Bierce

"One of the greatest gifts adults can give--to their offspring and to their society--is to read to children. " Carl Sagan

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Books, books, books

Here are a few of my favorite quotes about books:

" A classic is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say." Italio Calvino

"Just the knowledge that a good book is waiting one as the end of a long day makes that day happier." Kathleen Norris

"There is a space in everyone's bookshelves for books one has outgrown but cannot give away.
They hold one's youth between their leaves, like flowers pressed on a half-forgotten summer's day." Marion C. Garretty

"When I get a little money, I buy books; and if there is any left, I buy food and clothes." Erasmus

"Never lend books, for no one ever returns them; the only books I have in my library are books that other people have lent to me."Anatole France

"A home without books is like a room without windows....A little library,growing every year,
is an honorable part of a man's (woman's) history. It is a man's (woman's) duty to have books.
A library is not a luxury, but one of the necessities of life." Henry Ward Beecher

"When we are collecting books, we are collecting happiness." Vincent Starrett

News item: 70-year-old Eleanor Barry of Long Island was a long-time collector of books, magazines, and newspapers. Police were summoned to her house in December, 1977, when neighbors reported they had not seen her for several weeks. When they entered her house, they found it full of floor to ceiling books. They had to use an axe to break down her bedroom
door because a collapsed stack of heavy books blocked it. Faint cries for help led them to an enormous stack of heavy books which had fallen onto the bed and trapped her there. They were with some effort able to rescue her from the pile of books, but unfortunately she died on the way to the hospital, killed by her book collection." (What a way to go--JAT)

"Never read a book through merely because you have begun it." John Witherspoon

"The man (woman) who does not read good books has no advantage over the man (woman) who can't read them. " Mark Twain

"Every man (woman) who knows how to read has it in his (her) power to magnify himself (herself), to multiply the ways in which he (she) exists, to make his (her) life full, significant, and interesting." Aldous Huxley

" A book must be an ice-axe to break the seas frozen in our souls."Franz Kafka

Quotes from A Passion for Books by Terry W. Glaspey