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.