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."