Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Piddlin' and organizin'

I really like the time between Christmas and New Year's--its a time for clearing out, cleaning out, organizing, filling a bag for Goodwill, filling a bag for garbage, thinking and rethinking about what to throw and what to keep. I just finished organizing my bathroom cabinet and threw out a large bag of "I don't need that stuff." Gives one a good feeling, almost a feeling of power.

Have you heard about the movement to "keep only 100 things"? Things besides built-in home devices, that is. Could you do it? I could not--don't think I could even do 1,000 things. However, I am working on letting some things go. I can only imagine the picture of Brandon and Sheryl walking in after I am gone and trying to figure out what to do with what's left.

I have labeled and taken pictures of those things which are antique and handed-down, in case they want to keep them. If I could only find the pictures now. :(

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Moments of Grace

For about the two weeks, I have been the recipient of many moments of grace. Last Wednesday night, coming back from baby-sitting, I ran over a huge pallet in the road at about 12:30 p. m.The setting was very dark and very cold. Fortunately, a y oung couple turned around after they had passed me, and came and sat with me until Brandon could come. I got to know AAA very well for the next few days. After being towed home that Wed. night, I had them tow me to WalMart for new tires. Walmart could not help me because the rims of the tires were also ruined, so AAA towed me back home. Then the next day, they towed me to Nolensville Collison where I finally got the car fixed and back to me on Christmas Eve. All along, AAA drivers, Walmart (which amazingly did not charge for taking off the tires and putting the damaged ones back on) and Marcel at the repair shop, as well as the Hertz people who not only delivered a car to me, but also took me home after I returned it, so many nice people!!!

And Christmas--we couldn't have asked for a better holiday--lots of fun with the kids (how often are you as excited about anything as they are about Santa?) lots of good food at BST and Sheryl's and lots of nice gifts made the holiday very special. My very favorite gift is a huge picture of the family holding hands running along the beach. Another favorite gift is a brightly-colored funky cup from NYC with a big red apple, the Crystler Bldg, the Brooklyn Bridge, and the Statue of Liberty on it.. I want to go back to the big city some day. Brandon and I spent two Christmases there after Sam died.

And now with many good memories and an empty bank account, I look forward to a new year. I hope all who read this blog will prosper, pray, and grow in joy in 2009.

Monday, December 15, 2008

On An Evening in December

On a recent evening in December (Saturday) Mommie and Daddy had to work quite late (2:20 a.m.) and so the 3 munchkins came to spend the night with Nonnie.

After watching Charlie Brown's Christmas, Rudolf, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and various other cartoons, we settled down to bed which quite an adventure. It was Sam's turn to sleep in my bed, but Ella was complaining because she thought she should--so Sam invited her to join us and said he would not feel squished. Queen-Maddie-Who-Doesn't-Like to Be-Touched-While-Sleeping got the pallet on the floor.

I don't think I slept more than 5 minutes at a time, as Ella (a flailer) turned over and over--I was afraid she would fall off, and Sam just burrowed down into his pillow, but he woke up at 1:30 saying he was thirsty, and then again at 5:30 done for the night. All in all it was fun--it is so sweet to watch them all sleeping and peaceful. I came to think that Sam has the profile of my father as I watched him. Beautiful, beautiful children all!!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Isaac Watts

McMurry University's professor Cook( in Abilene, Texas) was a renowned scholar of Isaac Watts. I got to hear her speak of him one time and was amazed at how much this man, born in the 1600's had influenced church music.

He grew up in a Non-comformist home and early had a penchant for verse which drove his parents crazy. Once when he was being punished for using it too much, he said, "O father, do some pity take and I will no more verses make." His verse-making stood him good stead as he wrote almost 750 hymns. Many of them, my fellowship would recognize, although most of them were in the Methodist Hymnal. "Alas, and Did My Savior Bleed", "Come Ye That Love the Lord", "O God Our Help in Ages Past", "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross" and "Joy to the World" are a few of his creations. He led the way in Christian worship for "original songs of experience"--tradition then was to use only the Psalms and poetry of the Bible for hymns as John Calvin suggested. So he led the way for a whole new wave of poetry and new writers in hymnody.

Because "Joy to the World" is one of my favorite Christmas hymns, I always think of him when I sing" and heaven and nature sing, and heaven and nature sing..."

Thank you Isaac Watts for worship with your beautiful words.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Christmas in Song

I love the fact that at least two Nashville radio stations are playing Christmas songs all day--when I turn on the radio, it's like God is giving me a sweet gift. Personally, I have a rather large collection of Christmas CDs, and I begin playing them in my car in early November. I try to buy one a year--my new one this year is Amy Grant's The Christmas Collection. I was somewhat disappointed in this one because it seems to be a rerun of all of her others (which I own and play).

However, not all entertainers can do Christmas--when my alarm came on this week, Bruce Springsteen was singing "Santa Claus is Coming to Town." Please!!! Not good.

We also began singing Christmas hymns in worship today. I love them all, but some are hard to sing. I've been trying to come up with which one is my favorite--I think it has to be "Joy to the
World." How about you?

Friday, December 05, 2008

Christmas Nostalgia

Shakespeare wrote about the "rembrance of things past."-- but The Teacher warns, "Do not say 'why were the old days better than these?' For it wise not to ask such questions." Ecc. 7:10. Florence King writes, "True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories." This all sounds a little negative, to say the least.

Yet, I believe that nostalgia (more than commerce and greed) is what fuels Christmas. After watching several hours of Hallmark Christmas shows, I firmly agree. From those early days when Clement Moore wrote about the jolly man in the red suit smoking a pipe, humans have found wave upon wave of ways to celebrate this season.
Our memories of Christmases with relatives, of our first bike or doll under the tree, of those showy desserts that always show up only on Christmas tables, of the pictures in our minds of huge snowflakes falling all around brightly decorated house simply beg us to remember those good days. So, I am all for nostalgia and for the remembrances it fosters and for the joy it engenders. Hail to my "ephemeral composition" and Humbug to those who
would pour cold water on the celebration.

The recession could be the cold water--but Dollar Stores help ease the pain. And we all know, when we stop to shopping long enough to think, that just seeing joy in children's faces is enough reason to buy that much-desired toy.
I don't know how my parents afforded some of the things we got for Christmas, but I do remember the thrill of getting the bike and the doll. Yes, things are much more expensive now than they were 60 years ago; however, the law of averages might prove otherwise. As our income has increased so has the price of our toys. After trolling the aisles of
Toys R Us and barely escaping injury from crowded carts filled to the brim with toys of all kinds, I know there are many boys and girls who are going to have a merry Christmas. (Of course, I know there are many who won't, but have you contributed to the Angel Trees, and to Y.E.S. and the myraid forms of help to those who are needy?. I have.)

It is such an unusual way to celebrate the coming of our Savior, yet one remembers that He was the greatest Gift of all, and that he never failed to give something (even cold water) to those He touched.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Marble and Mud

Nathaniel Hawthorne once said, "Life is made up of marble and mud." The events of the past few days attest to that adage.

Musing about the sudden death of Prentice Meador and the empathetic feelings I have for Barbara brought back memories of those painful early widowhood days. Days when I was getting used to the absence of my love for 30 years, the empty chair at the table, the empty space on the right side of the bed, the lifeless clothing hanging in the closet, the empty pew beside me on Sunday morning, the grieving child, and days when I wondered what life would bring next. Fortunately those feelings subsided, and life became golden again (although with spaces still missing). And mud became marble.

Marble days abound in December--I can't go into any store (even the grocery store) without wonderful memories and excitement for the days to come with Maddie, Ella and Sam anticipating Santa. I have finally finished decoraating my house with many, many, many, many things collected over the past 47 years. Phew! I do love those lights on the tree and the stories behind some of the decorations. There are two white angels on my end table that Sam brought to our marriage--still intact (though with one glued wing)--and my favorite from him--a band of musicians made out of paper and colored pipe cleaners. I believe he bought them in the 50's. And a new decoration for the tree: Snowflake wooden frames holding the school pictures of Maddie, Ella and Sam. What joy!

Thank you God for the marble and mud of this life.

Friday, November 28, 2008

November, 2008 Memories

There are many Novembers I remember, especially the one of my marriage in 1962. But this month's memories are very special:

Maddie's Thanksgiving Program: There is something very patriotic in seeing the 3rd generation don Pilgrim costumes and singing "America the Beautiful." I remember doing that and reading a poem in my second grade program.

The Thomas Thanksgiving Production: When the children spend the night last Monday, they performed their own Thanksgiving program. A big box with a round hole on each side and two large kitchen spoons (oars) became the Mayflower. Pilgrim Ella rowed . Every now and then, she would put her hand to her forehead looking for land and eventually she said, "Land ho!" Indian Sam, in a paper vest decorated with pictographs and a feather head dress, sat in the box and said, "We come for food." Pilgrim Maddie wrote, produced, and narrated wearing a fringed vest made at school. One of my fondest memories!!!

Maddie's lost tooth: this is a big step in the growth process, and it looks like several of the bottom teeth will follow quickly. Of course, Sheryl and Brandon made this event a big one with glitter and cash.

Decorating the tree: The children also helped me decorate my Christmas tree. Flinging red, green and gold beads everywhere, hanging 3 ornaments on one branch often. Looking at the ornaments half-way up the tree, I could tell that they were getting taller. When we had hung the last ornament, they stepped back and said, "Nonnie, isn't this the most beautiful tree ever?" And it is.

Friday, November 21, 2008


"Knotted with love, the quilts sing on." Teresa Paloma Acosta

One of my favorite topics back when I was speaking to teachers in various genres was quilts and books about quilts. I still have in my file many bibliographies and units that I picked up through those years.

While rummaging in my study closet, I suddenly realized how long some of the quilts hanging there had belonged to me. One red, white and blue one was made by Claranell Murray, one of the teachers at Bowie Elementary during the Bicentennial Celebration. She and her students pieced and quilted a full-sized quilt with their names embroidered on it and gave it to Sam.

One quilt is pieces cut out by my grandmother which Sam had a local woman quilt and then he gave it to me on my birthday--a treasure. It covered our bed for many years.

There are two quilts done by Sam's grandmother which are tattered and soiled, but nevertheless treasured.

Then there is one hanging that is a mystery--it is a piece done by Sam's great-grandmother. Not a quilt, but some sort of bedcover which is "embroidered" large dots on a white background--I do not know the name of the type of art it represents--it is probably over 100 years old.

When one considers that many of the aging quilts in our society are now being cut up for purses, coats, decorative items, etc., I believe a wake-up call is in order.

There is nothing quite like sitting or lying under a family heirloom made by the hands of long-ago relatives and feeling the tiny stitiches that took hours to sew, marveling at the infinite tiny pieces those women took the time to cut out and piece together. These quilts have a smell like no other--odors embedded in the quilt: the fried bacon, smoke from the fireplace, and closet mustiness, the smell of old flour sacks and cloth gathered from dresses and work-clothes, heavy with rough fibers. And all of this covered with a smooth cotton batting which was often flour sack as well.

Just looking at the quilts is like seeing a human art form filled with love and skill. And the quilts, because of the material from which they are taken, often tell stories. One woman remarked, " My whole life is bound up in that quilt." I am sure my grandmother were she still alive, could tell me what the gray striped patch came from as well as the checkered cotton square in the middle of the quilt.

I hope my grandchildren preserve the quilts in my closet and that they appreciate the history and the love that went into them.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter is Here

Even though we are barely into fall, winter is visiting Nashville this week. I am definitely a fall and winter person.

I love: sitting cozily under a quilt before the fireplace reading a good long book.
the stillness and quietness of a crisp winter night.
rosy-cheeked children rushing in from the cold air peeling coats and mittens.
snow and the beauty and hush it brings to the world.
it when winter's extremes bring a slower pace to life.
the comfort food of winter--hot chocolate, soup, cornbread, etc.
the holidays of winter.

I don't love: being cold.
too many gray days in a row.
nights in which darkness begins at 4:30 p. m.

Thank you God for the diversity and beauty you have given us in your creation.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Happy Birthday

Our first meeting was less than auspicious. He was hairless, scrawny, red and screaming. I was tired and tearful.
If the rule of first impressions applied, we would have been only fleeting acquaintances. But he was my new son, and I had take him home.

Things improved, and life with Brandon Scott Thomas became 24/7 joy for his mom and dad. For the last three decades, love has grown beyond any boundary. Neither of us is perfect, but we have been mightly blessed by God in our journey together. I thank God daily for Brandon's ebullient, charismatic personality and for his tender heart and touch.

Thank you, God for all the gifts you have given my son. They have charmed and blessed all who know him. I pray that the rest of his life will be filled to overflowing with love for You, love for his family, and love for others.

Happy Birthday yesterday, Babe--and thank you for the journey.

Love, Mom

Thursday, November 13, 2008


Whew! This has been the busiest week I have had in a long time. My suitcases from this past weekend are still out, I haven't read the paper in three days, and the dishwasher needs emptying so I can have utensils to eat my yummy Sheryl soup with. I don't like that kind of pace--reminds me of life before "retirement".

Our book club discussed To Kill A Mockingbird today--it was our choice of a "classic" this year. It is a book that gets better each time one reads it--Harper was so spot on (I hate that term) with her southern culture, and so wonderful at character development. I must watch the film when things slow down.

I am feeling very virtuous--began Christmas shopping this afternoon--a full five weeks before I usually do. I am aiming for a sane, slower advance to the holiday with packages wrapped soon after they are bought leaving time to watch Christmas specials on TV, enjoy the music and watch all those other people who are dashing around like headless chickens. We shall see.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Hello, Texas

Brandon and I took a hurried trip to Texas Friday and Saturday for a family wedding.We enjoyed seeing relatives and being part of the occasion. I enjoyed hearing "Texan" again AND eating wonderful Mexican food at Pappacito's. I do not understand why some of the mexican food places here cannot find the same sauces used in Texas. The enchiladas (cheese) were luscious and the chips and salsa were very crisp and just a little bit tangy--just the way I like it! Good memories.

It was good too for Brandon and me to have the time together--it has been a long time since we had so much talk time. I am very proud of BST--he has grown up to be a good man, pure of heart, soft-hearted, and loving. Thank you God and thank you all our friends who helped us bring him up.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.

I don't think there is a more hopeful word than opportunity. And that, dear friends, is what we have for the next four years--opportunities to change the motion of this country;opportunities to change the attitude of this country toward immigrants and toward the countries who used to be our allies which we have successfully run off; opportunities to work together to make our country stronger, healthier, more focused on sharing than greed; opportunities to herald bipartisan cooperation and truly make the Congress work; opportunities for the Great Society that LBJ envisioned in which we all are truly equal; and the opportunity to once again lead the world to peace. Can it be done? I pray that it will be.

I believe our next great adventure should be implementing term limits in the Congress.

I have been off line for the last seven days--computer trouble--felt like I lost my left leg!

It is an historic time and one I am glad I lived to see it. The interviews of those who participated in the Civil Rights marches have been poignant and inspiring. I loved Pres. Obama's tale about the 106 year old woman.

Perhaps one of the things which we will see come out of this is an articulate and motivating President.

Monday, October 27, 2008

High School Musical 3

Applying the word "nostalgic" to a contemporary movie is like the kiss of death to the movie. Many movie critics are calling the HSM series nostalgic. Yet #3 made 42 million dollars this weekend and is destined to make more money than most of the Disney movies. So much for the "kiss of death" and the poor earnings of "G" rated movies. More, more, I say.

Brandon, Sam, Ella, and I went to the opening on Friday night in Cool Springs. Maddie was also there as part of birthday party celebration for Sydney Williamson. The movie was crawling with 7-9 year old girls. And, by the way, with much older (college age) girls who had Zac Ephron's picture on their T-shirts. I would have worn one, but I don't have one. ( I do think he is one of handsomest of the new crop of young men starring today--those Paul Newman eyes!)
At any rate, the night was like a happening--much clapping, oooh's and aaah's, and lots of joyful movement as the dance numbers progressed. (Sam was showing his moves throughout.)

Because the budget for this one was much bigger than those of the first two, the production numbers were huge and quite well-done, I thought. After watching "Troy" dance, there was no doubt why he has been chosen to star in the coming remake of Footloose. As most critics have noted, the story is slight, but very appealing. Some have said these shows are "what everyone wishes high school could have been."

Absolutely clean in dialogue, clinches, and dances, this movie is a first-rate family film. Of course, one has to get to used to the idea that any character can break out in song at any moment. As a devotee of movie musicals from my teens, it did not bother me. I'll have to admit I am sorry to see these stars go--they are all off to college or other theatrical efforts. I shall miss them and their happy jaunts through high school life.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Early Voting

Early voting is a blessing for folks like me who cannot stand in line very long. At the Edmondson Library, I got it and out in less than 15 minutes.

Another blessing of early voting is that you get it over with early and don't have to stew until Nov. 4. If you did not see Colin Powell's interview by Tom Brokaw on Meet the Press concerning his endorsement of Obama, go to Phil Wilson's blog--about two days ago he carried the transcript. I like Powell and admire him ( he did lose a little luster in the Iraq War debacle). His measured, reasoned, thoughtful statements why he. a Republican, will be voting for Obama struck a chord with me. He put into words all the ideas that had been floating around in my head for months.

As one who grew up in the "yellow dog Democrat" era in Texas, I have voted Republican twice--both for Bush--and look where that got me. He was a good governor (although he beat my vote for Ann Richards). I do think he has gotten abysmally bad counsel these eight years and will probably go down as one of our least effective presidents. I personally think he is probably a nice man who personifies the "way over your head" syndrome. I know he will be very glad to be rid of all the ridicule (which I think is so unAmerican and unChristian), the negative press, and the load of the presidency. Who would want that anyway????
Perhaps Obama and McCain are both masochists in desiring the office. Whoever wins, I will wish him Godspeed and good
advisors. Obama has already named some of those from whom he will seek advice. As far as I know, McCain has not.

At any rate, I can hardly wait until November 4th!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Blessing Gracie Rae

Gracie's shower was a blessing to her and to those attended yesterday. I love Otter's tradition of a short devo and blessing before diving into the food and gifts. It is a very special time for the mom and dad. I am also glad that dads can attend baby showers now--Kevin got the full benefit of the love that flowed in the room.

Ella, Sam and Maddie were good helpers yesterday, arranging the gifts and then "helping" Kiki pull the paper off the surprises. It was good for them to see and hear the blessings too.

As Gracie enters the world surrounded with love, I couldn't help but think about all those babies born yesterday who did not have that foundation--who entered poverty and sadness in a way Gracie will never know. And I thought of these lines by Marion Wright Edelman:

"Weary child of the night and of the streets,
afraid and abused and in need of safe haven and home
to rest and to nest.
God is love, and you are God's beloved.

Child of poverty unburdened by the chains of things
and greed that imprison the have-to-muches,
God came in your disguise to save us all.
God is love and you are God's beloved."

And I pray for them, as I pray for Gracie Rae and Maddie, Ella, and Sam in the words of Edelman:

O, God, help them to feel love and appreciation for all your gifts of life.
Grant each of them a passion for peace and for justice.
Give them kindness for those who are weak and needy and sad and afraid.
Grant them courage to stand up for right and to struggle against wrong.
Help our children to sing their own songs
and to hear and join in the songs of others...

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Reaching the next generation

Scot McKnight spoke at the Zoe Conference earlier this month about this new generation (20's and 30's) of "ironic believers". He said among other things:

1. They do not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture.
2. They do not frame the gospel the way we frame it--does the gospel speak to AIDS, Darfur, etc. For them going to heaven is not enough
3. Some of us believe that if science and the Bible conflict, throw out science. They believe throw out the Bible--make it myth.
4. They have been badly burned by the lack of integrity of Christians, and really question authority.
5. Beause of pluralism and multiculturalism, there is an increasing acceptance of other religions--they are not interested in how many missionaries we send out and how many baptisms we have. (Side note: our ironic faith--we
think we have truth, yet we do not promolgate it.)
6. Increasing suspicion of our OT understanding of God.
7. On the treatiment of homosexuality--why ostracize this group and not the greedy?
8. They suspect our use of language--all language has limitations.
9. They question the credibility of the church.

What we do? He said "Young people will believe our faith if they can see it alive. They are never persuaded by intellectual apologetics."

We must:
1. Try to bring some credibility to our lives in Christ.
2. Look to God and be truly different--especially about money and things. He cited Shane Claiborne and those like him who are bringing Christ to that culture--he "embodies the message that what we own doesn't matter, the kingdom is what matters."
3. Look to God and seek wisdom. He asked the same question Rhonda Lowry asked our women recently, "Where are the wise?"
4. Be better at relationships--God is relational. Making rules is easier, but relationships are harder and slower.

That's a lot to digest, but I thought it was a good take on post-modernism.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Choices, Choices

I went to the dentist this week. As always at the end of the session,I was offered goodies to take home:
toothbrush--yellow, blue, orange?
toothbrush head--large, small; soft, very soft?
floss--mint, cinnamon, apple?

I remember, growing up in a small town with one large grocery story--Piggly Wiggly--when the choices were:
Colgate or Crest (no whiteners, flavors, cavity fighters, etc.)
toothbrush--white with either a hard or soft head
floss--only one kind with no flavor.

Times have changed and complicated our lives. Simplicity is no longer viable when hundreds of choices are available with every product. Standing before any aisle in Publix or Kroger is daunting. This story concerns an ob-gyn who volunteers each summer in Nigeria delivering babies and treating patients who walk days to get to her. She says each time she returns home, "I don't go into supermarkets for a week or two after I get back. I made that mistake the first time, and when I got to the cereal aisle, I looked at all those shelves full of boxes, and I started to cry. I had to leave the store."

Greed, gluttony, wants, needs, necessities, options, alternatives plague us each day. And we become what we decide. Perhaps the story of the man who wanted to build bigger barns would be appropriate here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Stuff and more Stuff

I got eleven catalogs in the mail yesterday--argh! I am learning to throw most of them away without looking inside--no temptation that way. I guess the season of buying and spending is upon us.

Considering what Rhonda Lowry tried to teach us about simplicity this week, I shall be trying very hard not to add to to my stuff. Simplicity is not only an action, she said. It is an attitude of the heart--ant that is why is so hard.....

Our community recently had a garage sale, and I had Sheryl come and get down some stuff from the top shelf in my closet which I cannot reach to add to it. It was stuff I had not only not used in the last four years, but I had really forgotten.
So it was not very hard to get rid of.

If I write about simplicity some the next few days, forgive me--I'm just trying to change that attitude. Now I have to go to a used book sale (I am taking more to donate than I will buy--these are just those mystery novels I read at night, so no trouble giving them away--don't ask me to give away the book I recently bought, however.)

Monday, October 13, 2008

This is One of Those Days

This is one of those days one does not forget. Seventeen years ago late in the night, I became a widow as my husband Sam Thomas died of prostate cancer at Hendrick Hospital in Abilene.
It had been a long day--many visitors lining the halls and coming into the room, Sam slipping farther and farther from us, funny Sam Thomas stories filling the room. As we all took turns holding his hand, students from ACU were praying fervently down the hall. He took his last breath a little after midnight, but we stayed for a while and just gazed at him--seeing the lines of pain diminish and visualizing him entering heaven.

Of course, this is and always will be a sad day; but, it is one that has been assuaged by the passage of time. We still miss him--almost everyday I wish he could have known his grandchildren and Sheryl. He would have been such an indulgent grandfather and so fun for Maddie, Ella and Sam to play with because he never really grew up. He died with that little-boy puckish spirit still intact.

God was so good to have given him to us as a model and guide in Christian living and in having the joy of life present every day. Thank you God for the 30 years we had together and for the son you gave us to enjoy and love.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Church--ever restoring and reforming

Just finished a course on the documents of the Stone-Campbell Movement at Lipscomb. It is totally amazing how many of the current practices of my fellowship date back to those early writings and the thoughts of Alexander Campbell and Thomas Campbell. And how many we no longer follow because those writings were written for their time, and we must live in ours. For example, unpaid ministers....neither Campbell was fond of paying men and women to preach the gospel. Nor was A. Campbell fond of attaching music to the words of hymns. He preferred, and indeed did in his hymnals, print only the words to be sung to popular tunes of the day. He believed that the music and wrestling with harmony and rhythm might detract from the words.

Both believed in the unity of the church above all else, and actually believed that it could happen, if all would follow the Scripture. Trouble is, there were and are different interpretations of the Scripture which led to and lead to today many divisions.

I wonder what contemporary writings will those church history students of the future read to see how things developed? Is there anything being written which will change the course of our history as a fellowship????

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Media Saturation

Well, the debate last night proved that some people do not translate on TV. Just as Nixon did in the past with the medium, McCain probably lost the election last night--he was nervous, awkward, abrupt, sometimes tongue-tied, and seemed not to know where the camera was. Besides going over his time often! He has a warm, emotive voice--but seeing him just gave me the creeps. He seemed to have no confidence at all, even though he had begged for the format used last night. (and his use of "that one" was disheartening). My take on it, as a Senior Citizen, is that he simply forgot Obama's name, as we are prone to do in the heat of battle. It was not meant as racist, nor was it dismissive, as the press would have you think. Just wish the press would show a little common sense and shut up about some things.

While Obama seemed calm, dignified, confident and straightforward, McCain was peevish, priggish and (my word) "slumpy." Too bad--it was his time to show that he had plans for the future--real plans apart from the Bush Adm.... I predict he will drop even farther in the polls.

Did you notice how nice the stage looked last night and how beautifully the Curb Center and the bell tower were draped? Probably not, but Brandon's company did all that--and it looked really good. (See Brandon's blog for pictures). Musick and Nashville got a lot of press this week--so glad.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Hear, O Israel

In Nehemiah 8:2, the scribe Ezra brings out the Book of the Law before the assembly made up of men and women and all who were able to understand. He reads it aloud from daybreak until noon and everyone present listens attentively.
Indeed, many of them weep as they listen to the words of the Law (8:9).

Saturday afternoon at the Zoe Conference, attendees listened to Revelation as led by Mike Cope, Randy Harris and Larry Mudd. The Zoe Group interspersed hymns among the reading and emoting. It was an unusual and moving experience. How often do we listen to long readings of the Bible?

It struck me later that this was the way the early Christians heard the Word. Paul's letters were read to the churches. The Torah was read in the synagogue and everyone listened. Before the printing press, the Word was read by priests to the congregation, because very few laity could read, even if they had a Bible. Then along came Gutenberg, Wycliffe and Martin Luther.

It is almost mind-boggling to think about the development of the printed Word we have today. Ten years ago, Brandon gave me a book A History of Reading by Alberto Manguel in which a chapter called Beginnings details the training and history of scribes. In the Beginning, The Story of The King James Bible and How It Changed a Nation , a Language and a Culture by Alister McGrath is also fascinating as it details how dangerous it was to translate the Bible into a common tongue. Eugene Peterson's Eat This Book looks at translations in a chapter called "God's Secretaries". All very interesting.

But suppose you had never heard the Word, never read a commentary, never read a translation--what would it be like?
What pictures would you conjure up as the "raw" word was read? What new understandings and flashes of insight would come to you?

It is hard for us in our print saturated society to even imagine. But I got a taste of it on Saturday and enjoyed it. Thanks, Mike, Randy and Larry.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Small Things

I didn't want to go Monday night.

I was tired and had company coming which meant cleaning, washing, and cooking.

Otter's Latter Day Saints were serving dinner at the Hospital Hospitality House near the Centennial and Baptist hospitals. HHH is an inexpensive facility where people who have long-term patients in the hospitals can stay--It is nice, clean, secure lodging at $20 per night with arrangements for those who can not afford to pay. Truly a gift from God for those who need it.

So, I pushed myself and went taking my Pumpkin Dessert.

Upon arriving, those already there exclaimed to me: "there is a young couple outside who are thinking about moving to Abilene." I was their appointed dinner partner. Volunteers like us supply food, a listening ear and compassion.

The couple, in their early 30's, had deep lines of exhaustion in their faces. Their new son
(2 1/2 weeks old) had been born with breathing and eating problems. The parents were walking across the parking lot every three hours to feed him. Their other 4 children were being cared for by friends and relatives.

From McMinnville, the couple seemed not only needy physically and emotionally, but also financially. When I asked what Otter could do for them, their only requests were prayers and money for gas to get home. I gave them Doug Sander's name and told them where Otter was.

Tuesday morning as I left Ladies' class, they were coming into the church. Doug later e-mailed that we assisted them with gas money. Mission accomplished.

I was somewhat surprised to learn that they had plans to move to Abilene in January to begin college degrees at ACU in computer science and agribusiness. Needing a new beginning and having relatives who had attended ACU, they thought Abilene was a good choice. I don't think they know yet how expensive a proposition that is.

I couldn't help but think them somewhat naive, although ambitious. How can a family of seven which doesn't have 2 pennies to rub together make it at ACU?

But then I had to remember a girl from a poor family in Hamlin, Texas who scrambled for scholarships, worked a year after high school graduation and worked 5 hours every day all through school at ACU who made it. Not only did I make it with a BA, but also a Masters and two additional certfications. God blesses the naively ambitious.

I was very glad I obeyed the nudge in my mind from the Spirit to go and serve.

They were small things--the cake, the time and the question, "what can we do for you?".

Mother Teresa said that we don't have to do great things, only "small things with great love."

I haven't told this story to toot my own horn by any means--just a little reminder that small things can often turn out to be great things when blessed by God.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Water of Grace

I am still pondering the symbol of grace as wave after wave--see my blog with that title. Many of the songs we sang Sunday spoke of grace with all its descriptives: healing grace, saving grace, bold grace, amazing grace, etc.

As I have been thinking about this, I have gone to two of my favorite books : Kathleen Norris's
Amazing Grace, A Vocabulary of Faith and Max Lucado's In the Grip of Grace.

There are still many Christians around who "seem intent on putting the vastness of God into small boxes of their own devising," says Norris. Their vocabularies are full of words like heresy, damnation, evil, wickedness, hell-fire, lostness. Very scary words.

In Romans, Paul is not about those words,. His statement sums it up in Romans 5:8: "But God shows his great love for us in this way: Christ died for us while we were still sinners." Lucado goes on to tell the story of David and Mephibosheth in II Samuel. After David had fought the battle that made him king, he scorned the tradition of exterminating the heirs of the former king Saul. Instead, he took Saul's grandson and Jonathan's son into his home and invited him to his table. As God invites us always sinful sons and daughters to his table.

David writes in Ps. 103: 8-1: " (God) is slow in anger, abounding in love.... as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us."

This is not a passive love where God just sits waiting for us to call; instead he pursues us as David writes in Ps. 139: 9-10: ...if I settle on the far side of the sea (again the water metaphor), even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." The next few verses speak of times when we go into darkness to hide, God pursues us and shines his light through our darkness.

Lucado responds: "Vagabonds and ragamuffins all, he saw us before we were born. And He loves what he sees. Flooded with emotion. Overcome by pride, the Starmaker turns to us one by one, and says, 'You are my child. I love you dearly. "

"Can anything separate us from the love of God?" Romans 8:35. God's resounding reply as he placed Himself in the womb of a young Jewish girl, is "No, I am the way back from everywhere you may go."

What a promise!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Paul Newman

It's time to get serious. I guess one knows when aging comes because your favorite movie stars start dying. But Paul Newman!!!!! Still handsome at 80--and married 50 years to his lovely wife. A life full of accolades and tears with the death of his son from drugs. He gave millions away in his son's name for the benefit of others. My favorite quote: When asked if he had ever cheated on his wife Joanne, he said, "I have steak at home, why should I go looking for hamburger?" He and his wife lived a very circumspect life far away from Hollywood in Connecticut.

I used to have a poster of him in my office, when I had one. Those eyes and that smile--mmmm. Brad Pitt doesn't even come close. I loved him in Butch Cassidy and The Sting and many others. I shall miss watching him.

Sam and Other Happenings of the Day

Yesterday I sat with Sam briefly before he went to school. Sam is a story teller like his Poppy--he was full of his experience with the first fire drill at the school. I heard about it in detail. He was quite impressed with the whole thing. They watched an "Arthur" movie about fire and fire drills, then marched out one by one to the playground and waited silently until the all clear bell sounded. Brings back memories of corraling 5th and 6th graders at Dyess across from the school in an 80-mile an hour wind praying for that bell to blow.

Again, the weather is Chamber of Commerce perfect and there are some leaves flying--I don't know if they have let go because it's fall or because of the lack of rain.

In a restaurant I watched a black family do what all good families do as they eat--teach the children manners (there was a two-year-old boy and a younger girl--so precious.) and converse. Both the mother and father had flash cards to play with the boy-- counting cards with various animals and insects on them. I complimented them as I left, and the mother said that they had gotten the cards at a meeting for the parents of autistic children (they have another son who is stricken), but the two year old was just eating up the learning with them. I said a little prayer for those who are researching autism as I left.

Then Doris and I want to see Richard Gere that afternoon--Nights at Rodanthe. The reviews have been mediocre. We enjoyed it--guess we are suckers for romance movies. This one harked back to the old Cary Grant--Deborah Karr flicks. The photography was beautiful of Cape Hatterus and the ocean. Reviews called it treacly, and it was , but we liked it. Diane Lane is beautiful at 48 and of course Richard is beautiful at any age. (now 50, I think).

Then the evening ended with the debate. I thought the oft-described as "eloquent" Obama was slightly off his game and missed several opportunities to jibe McCain. McCain impressed with his tales of world travels, meetings with heads of state, and his general knowledge of foreign diplomacy. I think he won this one. Both were somewhat tongue-tied when it came to what they would do with the financial crisis. That does not bode well. But it was fun to watch them together for the first time and to compare.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Freedom from Fear

In these topsy-turvy days of failed economic programs, no gas, little faith in government, and general maliase, I found this prayer/meditation by Walter Brueggemann helpful:

Salvation Oracles
There is a long list of threats around us:
falling markets,
others unlike us in all their variety,
the list goes on and we know it well.
And in the midst of threat of every kind,
you appear among us in your full power,
in your full fidelity,
in your amazing compassion.
You speak among us the one word that could matter:
"Do not fear."
And we in our several fearfulnesses, are jarred by your utterance.
On a good day, we know that your sovereign word is true.
So give us good days by your rule,
free enough to rejoice,
open enough to change,
trusting enough to move out of new obedience
grace enough to be forgiven and then to forgive.
We live by your word. Speak it to us through the night,
that we may have many good days through your gift.
Isaiah 43:1-5
From Prayers for a Privileged People

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Transformation and Not Information

Rhonda Lowry is teaching our current "ladies" Bible class on Tuesday morning. She is rocking our world with new thoughts, insights and challenges.

The first two sessions were on reading the Word. She quoted Ellen Davis, an Old Testament scholar, "The greatest scandal in the North American church is our shallow reading of scripture." Addressed to those of us who believe we have generally deeply studied the scripture more than most folks--the statement was a challenge. Then Rhonda took us to the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4 and proceeded to show us how we have endowed that story with things that are not there. We have read it mostly for information and not for transformation. A deep reading of scripture should bring transformation. Some of the questions my community has failed to ask as we read are what is it really saying there on the paper? and then what is it saying to me? and what am I going to do about it?

The mind-set that we can read and get the biblical perspective by ourselves without the help of The Holy Spirit is so wrong and so comes out of our rational, modern, background. This is a linear, scientific approach which says that all things can be proven. (Remember proof texts?) We believe that the words will speak to us if we have enough commentaries to tell what they mean, or if we listen to learned men enough explain it to us. We seek to grasp the text, instead of it grasping us. This is "front porch" studying--eventually we have to leave the porch and go into the house. Reading deeply is our responsibility and ours alone. God speaks to us with each word--the words are not sterile--but should and can be fresh with new eyes.

This approach means that "scripture study is an art form". It says different things to different people and different things to us at different times depending on what the Holy Spirit is wanting us to see. We are to receive rather than achieve. Oh yes, it is so comforting to have everything figured out--but that is not what God intended us to do with his thunderously emotive and challenging words.

Rhonda also said and I agree so much that ministers need to have an astonishing experience in scripture before they speak.

Haven't you ever had the experience of seeing new insights in a passage that you had missed despite numerous readings? There is something thrilling about that adventure--Neurons in our brain connect and synapses pop when new meanings appear "out of nowhere" birthed by our deep study and the aid of the Comforter.

Our old mantra of "the Bible says what it means and means what it says" or the phrase "the silence of the scripture" seem somehow dead when one reads the Bible as a LIVING word rather than a constitution or text book.

With the help of the Holy Spirit, we can learn to read the Bible for what it really says and inclucate the insights we gain into our transforming.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wave after wave

I enjoyed the Fellowship Bible experience yesterday. There were so many things that were good: The worship was excellent and reverent with new and familiar hymns. The penny-whistle player was very good, especially in his trio with two children playing violin in a beautiful Irish tune. (Imagine having children to help lead worship!)

The teaching was stimulating and full of new insights. It was based on John 15 and the word Abide contained in those verses. Actually, the word is Remain in my version--I circled the word--it appears 9 times in verses 1-8. Power Point featured only the word "Abide" on two huge screens--it sat there and sank in as Jeff taught. His major point was that God wants us "to become" by abiding in Him--not in "doing", not in actions, not in only good works. It spoke to my soul--especially the teacher's comparison of life to surfing: If one misses a wave, or crashes and burns, there is always another wave--wave after wave of God's grace catches us and allows us to try again.

Then there was communion. I liked the way it was done. Served by both men and women, the bread and the wine were passed at the same time, with communicants being told to hold each one until all were served. With the large crowd, it took a while, so I sat there for several minutes holding the host bread and cup looking at it and feeling it--the roughness of the bread, the sparkling lights glowing in the wine. Then the minister said a few deep words about each element as we all ate the bread together and then drank the wine together. There was no hurry, no rushing the communion trays down the row, no gobbling the elements in a quick flick of the wrist--just abiding in his love and our communion.

So, the experience was good--not even counting getting to sit and worship with Brandon and Sheryl.

Thank you God for your waves of grace and love this day.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

No Gas

There is no gas in Nashville today--as of late last night, 85% of all Nashville and surrounding area stations were empty. That is because the gas pipeline that supplies our gasoline ends at Nashville and because of Hurricane Ike, the pipeline is down to a tiny drip of gas.

It is interesting to observe what has happened--when stations had gasoline, cars lined up, even blocking major highways in the quest to fill up. Tempers flared as some oafs cut in line or filled up 10 gasoline cans after topping off their car.

Today the traffic is way down on Nashville streets; people are actually walking down the sidewalks. Brandon and Sheryl took the kids on a "jog" from their house to Nipper's Corner (with a stroller for Sam if he tired). There are lots of bikes on the road. It is, by the way, an absolutely wonderful day here. Although cloudy, the temp is high sixties with a slight breeze.

This is an occasion to thank God for all our easy blessings that we so take for granted and to use those original blessings--our bodies. Thank you God for gasoline and my car which allow me to come and go as I desire.

Friday, September 19, 2008

New Every Morning

Occasionally, the grandchildren will ask me, "Nonnie, why can't you run?" And I have to think about when I quit running.

As a child, I was fairly active (I have two younger brothers and had to keep up with them). I ran, I rode bikes, I dug caves, I played "kick the can", I walked stilts, and generally lived the life of a young girl of the 40's and 50's. When I went to school, we played Red Rover on the playground, played jacks in the corners of the porches, and swung the swings so high we felt we could reach the sky. (My knees still bear the scars of bike accidents and falls from the swings).

However, later in school, I began to hate organized P. E., times in the gym with volleyball and basketball, and running laps on the track. I was already more sedentary, loving to read and study instead of flailing and jumping. So I guess that it is where it really began. But when I was a young mother, I could have run a 9.3 to keep Brandon out of danger--so there was still hope.

After having cancer, I have since been afflicted with one of the lesser-know side-effects of chemo--an affliction with the legs which disallows running, and brings very slow walking. My legs seem to become sticks of wood as I walk and stand, so it is not really fun to do either for a long period of time. And that, readers, is why I can't run with my grand-children.

Now the question, when did my body take on the look of a female DoughBoy? I flee that one. And wake each morning with the happy idea that God's mercy and blessings are new every morning--that's enough for me.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Texas and other things

Everytime I read my Texas Monthly, I miss Texas. I miss the vastness, the country-friendliness of the people, the big cowboy hats, the big hair, the spread of the blue sky, the diversity of the state (from forest to desert), the Friday night lights, the small-town newspapers, the church pot-lucks, the gorgeous scenery just down the road from everywhere, the state high-way system, the goofiness of the Texas Legislature and governor (Tennessee comes in second here), the
frontier mentality that almost anything is possible, the ranches and cows down every country lane, the bluebonnets and firewheels, the blooming crepe myrtles in Abilene, the West Texas Fair, the strong UT enthusiasm, (that's University of TEXAS), cosmopolitan Dallas, friendly Fort Worth, the sense that there is still a frontier to be forged, and that important things can be done in our lifetime, the Texas emphasis on wind energy, the good schools that still make things happen with all kinds of students, schools where few riots, guns, and violence appear, (especially in West Texas), and the Texas go-for-broke attitude toward problems.

However, the current state in my life is Tennessee which is where my son and his family live, and I would not give that up for another stay in Texas. Too precious!

Yea and hallelujah! Otter finally has a new worship minister. It only been 9 months since Brandon months. One could have a baby in that time! Murray Sanderson and his family are moving here in October. A very good choice.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Good Book

Our book club, The Church Chicks, just finished Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett. We all loved it, and it elicited so much discussion yesterday. Set in the Middle Ages, it is the story of Tom the Builder, whose dream is to build a cathedral and Philip, a monk who hires Tom and encourages him through many trials. It is a long book, but it is a page turner full of twists and turns worth of Follett. It is not for the squeamish with so many historical details about how the people lived--definitely not your Hollywood version. I am so glad I live in a cleaner time and am not sleeping on the floor in straw teeming with lice, vermin, and rats. There are some sex scenes--not too obscene, but maybe a bit much for those used to reading Christian fiction. He has a sequel World Without End which we will probably read next summer.

I teamed it with the John Newbery book this year: Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village. A beautiful books of 19 monologues for middle school reader's theater. Written by Laura Amy Schlitz, a librarian who wrote it for use in her school which was doing a school-wide project on the Middle Ages. I love it when good books come together.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Done with her

I was impressed that McCain chose Palin for his VP. She seemed to have all the credentials and fell into the place of a political maverick. Then, as it will these days, all "hell" broke loose as
"investigative" (reporters looking for a Pulitzer) journalists began digging all sorts of trash up about her and her family.

I admire Obama's comment on the pregnancy of her daughter--that it was family business--and had no place in the campaign.

Then on a library list-serve, Jim Elliott reported from a New York Times story which said that when she was mayor of that small town 8,000 pop., she inquired of the town librarian what it would take to get some books taken off the library shelves that some townspeople objected to because of the language. The librarian was aghast and fought it tooth and toenail. Palin fired her( for "not giving the mayor her full support"), but recanted when many of the townspeople objected. Palin said about inquiries to the librarian, "They were rhetorical." Banning books as mayor???? Will she then, working with Homeland Security, work to ban books on a national scale? O. K. That does it for me.

Monday, September 01, 2008


I could count on one hand the most wonderful vacations I have had. It's not that I don't like to travel, it is just that I have not had much opportunity to do it.

The first was about 25 years ago when Sam and I climbed into a mini-van with his nephew Sam and wife Jan, Brandon and cousin Josh and took a long road trip to Las Vegas. Stopping at the Grand Canyon, Painted Desert, etc.........What beautiful country!

When Brandon was entertaining on the cruise lines, my sister-in-law and I joined him for one of the cruises to the Virgin Islands. So many wonderful memories.

Then when Maddie was two, Brandon, Sheryl and I took her to Maui for several days of soaking in the lovely surroundings--no words to express the beauty and fun.

And this weekend a very different and shorter vacation as The Thomas family and I went to Atlanta to the American Girl Store. The excitement of the girls was unmatched with any I had seen previously--and the store--well, you would just have to and see it. We returned to Nashville with two members of the family, Elizabeth and Samantha and loads of new memories to file away.

As far as I know, my parents never left the state of Texas in their lifetime, except for the time my dad traveled to Kansas and South Dakota to work; they never traveled much because of finances. Sam and I took them up to East Texas to Dad's old home-place and then we took them to Big Bend. I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunities to visit other places and cultures. I just wish I had done more when Sam was alive. If you are able, and have a living spouse, don't wait until later to take trips and have fun together--do it now.

Friday, August 29, 2008

The Orator

Last night was the first time I have heard Obama speak at length. And I must say: Wow. Excellent writing and excellent delivery. There were enough personal references to humanize him, enough stories of real people to show his heart, enough attributions to others on whose shoulders he stands, and just the right tone of confidence to salve any thoughts of ambiguity. No, he may not have enough experience, but who did you say Ronald Reagan was? He was an actor for goodness sake.

Pity the poor Republicans who now have to follow him and on a holiday too when no one will be watching. The staffer who chose the date must be waiting for his pink slip.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Leave it to the Women

I think both Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton hit home runs the last two nights. While men just drone the same old cliches, these women came up with some emotion to light the fires of voters.

I loved Clinton's reference to Harriet Tubman's wonderful quote to "keep going" and Obama's reference to the night her husband drove her and their new daughter home from the hospital--so humanizing and personable.

So, I say, let's vote for the ticket of Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton--it couldn't be any worse than the choices we have now. And at least it would be exciting and truly a change.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Harry T. Burn

Today is the day that Harry T. Burn voted in the Tennessee Legislature to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote. It seemed as if the motion would fail when several votes ended up tied. However, Burn received a letter from his mother asking him to vote for it, and like "any good boy, obeyed his mother." Burn had previously voted against and was wearing the red rose symbolizing anti-suffragists as he voted. Burn was called a "mamma's boy" and was actually chased out of the Legislative Hall by the anti-suffragists.

The proclamation was signed into law by Bainbridge Colby on August 26, 1920. For all the years since the Constitution was ratified, women were not allowed to vote in this country which promised freedom and equality for everyone. We can scarcely imagine such treatment today.

Thank you, Tennessean Harry T. Burn. Now the question is: "For whom do I vote?"

Monday, August 25, 2008


I just got word from Scott Owings that we will be continuing Vespers at Otter on Wednesday nights. Scott left Otter recently to take a new job, and Vespers seemed hanging in the balance. But, praise the Lord, Scott has agreed to lead it again with the help of others.

Vespers is a very special program in the middle of the week where worries and anxieties slide off in the midst of the reading of scriptures, the singing of a Psalm, a short message, soothing music and glorious graphics and stations with art, crafts, and meditations. I am in charge of writing meditations on one of the three scriptures chosen for each night--the scriptures are chosen as part of the church calendar created by other denominations. We celebrate the divisions of the church calendar as well. We will begin with Common Time leading up to Advent.

I am so ready for it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Son of a gun

The news this week has been full of people with guns breaking into houses, robbing banks, shooting former employers, and other craziness.

Then yesterday, another shooting at a high school--in Knoxville in the school cafeteria. One student dead, another bullied and bedeviled student in jail.

I don't know what the answer is--maybe tougher laws or banning guns altogether except for those people who like to go out and shoot tiny animals in the forest.

I am from Texas and grew up with a cap gun and holster strapped to my waist as I played cowboys and Indians with my brothers--but I have never owned a real gun, nor do I intend to.
Texans (at least those I know in West Texas) rarely use guns on a dark street to kill a rival gang member or in other nefarious deeds. Those shotguns in the pickup windows were used to kill
predators of the furry variety.

It is time for the silly comments like "people, not guns kill people." And "you can't take away my constitutional rights to bear arms"--generally said by people who have no wish to go to Iraq, to stop. And it is time for everyone to look soberly at the bloodbath going on in our country of the brave and the free.

I just don't understand the ranting about freedoms when children are dying.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Obama's pay grade

I am still musing about Obama's flippant answer to the abortion question last weekend: That's above my pay grade.

Is this flippancy the real Obama? Where was his always carefully nuanced answer to a question he surely knew would come up? Or were he and his handlers so dumb as to not think it would come up?

It is a puzzlement.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Swing Vote

This current movie is good viewing before our November election. A very jaded look at all the behind the scenes contortions of political campaigns, the film was actually better than I thought it would be. The premise is that the Presidental election comes down to the vote of one man--a red-neck, beer-guzzling, sorry single parent played by Kevin Costner.

I am always uncomfortable with the depiction of parents being raised by their children--saw too much of that in my tenure as a teacher. Costner's daughter is, of course, bright, sunny and very into politics. It is actually she who cast the vote, but a voting machine glitch prevented the vote from culminating--and thus her father, whose name she forged in front of a sleeping voting judge, gets the chance to vote again. The bulk of the film shows the degree to which candidates and their handlers will go to affect the process.

With our current election headed toward being razor-close, it does give one pause for thought.
Set in the dying town of Texico, New Mexico (been through there), the movie is a good look at
our election process which is now on life-support.

My favorite "political" movie is Primary Colors--what is yours?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Today is Brandon and Sheryl's tenth wedding anniversary. Thinking about it has surfaced many happy memories:

I remember when I first realized she might be the one--when I saw then together at the old house at Otter Creek one Sunday night.

Getting to know Sheryl and her sweet personality and many gifts--singing, creating, mothering, and being my son's true helpmate who has stood with him through several trying circumstances

Knowing that she truly loves and honors Brandon, as the one I always prayed for as his wife

The day they told me that Maddie was on her way--what joy! And then Ella , and then Sam!! Joy after joy after joy.

Our trip to Maui together when Maddie was two. What other couple would take their mother on a trip to Hawaii????

Watching them parenting my grandchildren in many ways better than I was--ways that often seem almost magical.

And just the fulfilling joy of watching their family together--playing chase, cooking together, laughing, hugging, and worshipping God.

May their days be forever happy, blessed and may their marriage grow stronger every day.

Love, Mom

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

1st Day of School

From all accounts the first day of school was a huge success. The girls looked so cute, and so grown in their uniforms and backpacks.

Maddie was thrilled to have her own calendar of events to keep in a folder, and Ella was looking forward to the treats the students get for earning stars. Maddie is looking forward to going to the gym today (so unlike her grandmother!!!).

We celebrated at Toyoma last night--the kids ate fried rice and teriyaki chicken as if they were starving. And I know that they will not fight sleep either--some of the real benefits of a scheduled day at school.

Thank you God bright, curious, ready-to-learn grandchildren.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Yesterday was an especially good day at Otter.

First those children going in to first grade were given a very nice children's Bible. Then
since school was beginning on Monday, the children's minister called all the children of the congregation (I wish there was a warmer word for the assembly) who would attend school from pre-school to college up to the stage. Sitting on the front seat as I do, watching that was astounding. It looked like a flow of lava coming down the aisles. I believe there must have been at least 200 on the stage. (We do have a population of over 400 children!) Parents and teachers were also asked to stand in the audience; it seemed like most of us were standing.
After a sweet blessing, we sang "The Lord Bless You and Keep You." I did miss seeing my grandchildren up there.

Following, Nan Smith came forward and asked for a prayer for the new minister search, and Tim said she should go ahead and lead the prayer. It may have been the first time a woman has lead a prayer in the Sunday assembly--good move! Tim's "Regospeling" series is probably the strongest and most convicting of his tenure at Otter. What a way to go out!

I could see why education is such a big deal in our lives--and why so many of us build our days and hours around school.

Happy school days everybody! Pray for the teachers and administrators.

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Things I like about the Olympics:

Bob Costas--he is so good!
The backstories on the athletes
Watching Pres. Bush cheer Michael on last night to our first gold medal. I am so glad our president decided to attend--it makes him and us more human.
Broadening my sport knowledge (that wouldn't take much)
The views of China offered--such an exotic country
Even the commercials seem better.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


The word "printables" was not even in my vocabulary until my grandchildren discovered the art of printing pictures off the Internet. They think that my printer is the greatest thing since ice cream, and we go through a lot of ink and paper each time they come.

As they spent the night last night, we watched some of the Olympics--we all enjoyed the spectacle and the parade. The kids especially enjoyed the drum sequence and seeing the little Chinese kids. We wanted to see the fireworks, but they were on too late.

Sam discovered an old ice bag in one of my drawers and was fascinated with it--what is this, what is it for? When I explained that when one had a headache or a bodyache of some sort, it would be filled with ice and placed on the sore spot. Sam had a "headache" for the remainder of his time here. I think he even slept with it.

Maddie and I did printables of Hannah, and the High School Musical Gang. Ella and I played restaurant--she loves taking the order, bringing the "food" and conversing with her tables.

So glad the Olympics has started. Now something good to watch each night. I like the swimming, diving....and I will watch one of our Tennesse girls compete in woman's basketball.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Woof! Woof!

As Phil Wilson notes in his blog, these are the dog-days of summer--those days which are hot and draining and which seem to lack any motivation for action. Those days which we would readily wish away if we could. Like him, I find very little to write about on my blog and very little happening in my brain.

However, many schools begin this time of year (why, why not wait until after Labor Day and be a little cooler???).

There are so many memories retired school teachers have this time of year--students, particular schools, and smells. Yes, smells.

Remember the smell of a new box of crayons? Or the smell of the pencil-sharpener "catcher" when you took it off to empty it? Or the smell of the school when you walked in on the first day--mostly soap, Pledge and wax. That smell when all the sweat, blood and tears of the former year are gone and the clean shiny halls promise a new, better tomorrow.

For a librarian, it was the smell of new books--all stacked in boxes and waiting to be put on the shelves for readers to enjoy. I do miss these new beginnings that come every year.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Batman and Other Dark Imaginings

Doris and I saw the Batman movie yesterday.

And unlike Phil Wilson, I do not think it the best film of the year, nor do I think it was good in any way--in fact, I did not like it at all. Having said that, I will say that I am glad I saw it.

I have not seen any film yet worthy of Oscar this year, and the prospect as seen from the previews yesterday does not seem good. Why must everything be so loud, so violent, so gross????? Am I showing my age here?

The dark elements in the film yesterday bother me much as the Camus books do. I simply cannot believe (in what some would say my naievte) that God would have any truck with loving us or saving us if we were indeed so horribly without hope and vision as shown. It takes just 5 chapters in Genesis to progress from Eden to Gen. 6:5 "The Lord saw how great man's wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time."
God did choose to destroy that generation.

We, however, are the products of a "do-over", and we have a God who was willing to die to give us hope not only in the beyond, but in this world, as well. I know he promised not destroy the world again....and I see hope in that. I know that are more than 8 people in this world who have a faith-based view, and who are doing their best to improve the world. Yes, there are dark forces in this world; there will always be, but Jesus himself has overcome the world as he reminds the disciples in John 16:33 to "take heart."

I will always choose the heart over darkness, the good over the evil, the hope over hopelessness. Hollywood's writers and producers are simply walking down the long hallway of trying to deduce what we are all about. I give thanks that there are still some of us around to point the way out of the hall into sunlight.`

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Opening Minds

Our Wednesday night class is enjoying sharing thoughts on The Shack. We covered chapters 8 and 9 last night, which in my opinion are the meat of the book--they are also the hardest to digest. I pride myself in having an open mind, but my legalist background often gets in the way of enjoying the Holy Spirit. One of the ideas that came to my mind while rereading those chapters was--I don't think we have even touched the hem of the garment in realizing the implications of the Fall in the garden. To think that to choose independence (as Young says it) would change the course of human and religious history for the lifetime of the earth is mind-boggling. Young's depiction of the Holy Spirit as a "a garden keeper" is interesting too, I think.
Doris Colvett is doing a masterful job of leading the conversations.

One thing the book does do is open the reader's mind to the overwhelming love of God for his creation. If we could only accept that with trust and faith.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Mamma Mia

We had lots of fun Friday watching Mamma Mia. As Doris Colvett says, "It is High School Musical for older ladies."

Watching Merle Streep dance, sing, and clown was marvelous. She can honestly do most anything in a movie, I think. And her voice is not bad either.

Of couse, the music of ABBA was a blast too. Everything worked together--the music, the acting, singing, dancing (the company was excellent) and the Greek locale to make this a wonderful summer escape.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Farmer's Market

If there is anything more fun than going to the Farmer's Market in Franklin, I haven't done it yet.

The whole thing is a sweet adventure: Driving down Franklin Road lushly-lined with trees, wild flowers and shrubs (wishing I had been in Tennessee long enough to own one of the older houses fronting Franklin); walking into the Market and seeing the first booth (Frisky Berry) selling cafe lattes; then browsing among the wonderful fruit, vegetables, homemade soaps, honey, fresh meat, eggs and milk, and baked goods of all kinds. So many colors abound: the beautiful soft purple of the eggplant, the various reds of the Pink Lady and Heirloom tomatoes, the golden cantelopes, and green corn--plus the gorgeous fresh flowers for sale (some of the biggest sunflowers I have ever seen--and I am from Texas); and people watching--some with leashed dogs, sun hats, bib overalls, and city ladies dressed too formally. The bluegrass band adds sound as the hubbub grows with the crowd. Then taking my treasures home, cooking the fresh squash (y ellow fingerlings with a green end) and virtuously eating them with salted tomatoes. Yum, yum. Fresh peaches for dessert too. What a morning! Wish Sam could be here to share it with me--on the other hand, if he were here, we would probably among the fruit and vegetable sellers. I prefer to be a customer.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

65 years of Reading

Monday night I spoke to a large group of women at Otter as part of a gathering on hobbies. I tried to tell them my reading history and how much the hobby of reading has meant in my life. Readers of
this blog already know some of this. It was, however, interesting to trace back to early days in my life to consider how I came to have such passion for books.

There were no books in our home as I was growing up...it was more important to provide food for the family in the midst of the Great Depression. The first time I remember having a book occurred when a book showed up in a hand-me-down box from friends of my grandmother. The book was
Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. It is still in print. A rather sad tale about the treatment of horses in the horse-and-carriage Victorian days, the book (as most classics do) still bears reading. That book whetted my appetite for more.

In elementary schools in the 40's in Hamlin, Texas , there were no libraries--just corner-of-the-room shelves filled with cast-off home readers and whatever teachers could scrounge up. So I had no experience with books there. Nor did our small town have a public library.

In my first encounter with an adult book, as a 6th grader I listened to my art teacher, Mrs. Griggs read Francis Parkinson Keyes' Dinner at Antoines'. She had just taken a trip to New Oreleans and shared that adventure with us land-locked uncultured West Texas students via pictures and that book. One could not get away with it today, but we all loved it--perhaps mainly because we didn't have to draw still-lifes while she read. Later on our Senior Trip in high school, we went to New Orleans, and several of us who had heard that book in 6th grade went to Antoines' and had the famous Oysters Rockefeller described by Keyes.

Our middle-school and high-schools were together in the same building, so imagine my delight and amazement when I encountered there a huge room filled with books called a library. There was only one problem--these were closed stacks--that is, the books were behind closed doors and one had to ask at a window for book desired. Never having had any experience with books, I didn't know what to ask for. I quickly wrangled a job as library helper and thus had access to any book I desired. And by the way, in my first job as librarian at a small school, I had the privilege of getting rid of the closed stacks there.