Monday, March 30, 2009

The Old Songs--Weeping or Joy?

The poet May Sarton has written that she could not listen to music after age 70 because it made her cry. In Psalm 137 the writer says, "By the rivers of Babylon, we sat and wept when we remembered Zion. There on the poplars we hung our our tormentors demanded songs of joy... and said, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion.'"

On the other hand, Martin Luther wrote "I am quite of the opinion that next to theology, there is no art which can be compared to music; for it alone, after theology, gives us rest and joy...." A. W. Tozer wrote "Every Christian should have lying beside his Bible a copy of some standard hymnbook. He should read out of one and sing out of the other, and he will be surprised and delighted to discover how much they are alike."

I've been thinking about the two comparisons since I experienced this last week:

Murray Sanderson is teaching a class at 3:30 on Wed. afternoon (Isn't that a great time for those who are retired!). The title of the class is "A Vision for Worship." He often begins the class by having us sing a couple of "old songs"--perhaps because most of us remember singing them when we were younger. As we sang "In the Garden" last Wed., I watched the tears trickle out of the closed eyes of our "Miss Eva", an older long-time Otter Creeker. It really moved me and made me think of May Sarton.

On Saturday, I was pushing little Sam in a stroller through Opry Mills, our huge discount mall, trying to navigate him between the thousands of Easter shoppers. He suddenly burst out at the top of his voice singing "Jesus Loves Me." The crowd parted, people smiled and Nonnie cried.

Wonderful experiences both. Thank you God for music and its affect on our hearts.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mending Hearts

Last Tuesday night, 9 members of our book club, The Church Chicks, took the church bus to Mending Hearts in downtown Nashville. Mending Hearts is a place of recovery for addicts of all sorts (alcohol, drugs, sex (prostitutes), etc. See info. at Our out-reach minister has a class there twice a month (life skills, how to step out into the world after recovery, etc.) which several of the women are required to attend. His wife, Jean, is a part of our club; so at her suggestion (Thanks! Jean) we each selected 3-5 books for the community bookshelf and took off.

In introduction, Jean explained what our book club was and its benefits (community, learning, just plain fun, etc.) and then reviewed the books she brought. We are hoping that they will want to begin a book club there. Indeed, one of the listeners said she had been a part of a book club in prison and had loved it. Then the rest of us told about our books, dropping in along the way how important reading is (many of our club are retired teachers) and what one can gain from it.

Jean also had us tell a little bit of our backgrounds too. The retired kindergarten and elementary teachers stressed books for children and reading to children. One spoke about how much she enjoyed books on tape and that they had helped her "read" books she may not have ever picked up. Bernie Arnold broke up the meeting with one of her books Mean Women Grown Up( I think that was the title) when she read a little portion which spoke of how mean and conniving women could be. There several Amens from the audience.

When we left, we arranged our books on their almost empty bookshelves--all they had were a few old books people who don't engage with their recipients like to give away. We purposefully did not take "religious" how-to books. We took mysteries, biographies, historical novels, funny books, books about families. Of course, none of the books were trashy drugstore bodice-ripping novels. Many were books we have read in our book club.

As we said goodby, some of them followed us to the bus thanking us over and over again. It was a great night for us, but a sobering one. It was so sad for us to see the hard lives in their faces and to see how young some of them were. We couldn't help but think about our own daughters and their privileged lives. Thank God for Mending Hearts, Doug Sanders, and others who are stepping out of the church building to touch and change people who would probably never step inside the doors.

It was just a small thing, and didn't take much time, but I highly recommend a time of ministry for one of the groups you may be in, dear reader.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


Fiddler on the Roof opens with an exhuberant rendition of the song "Tradition" in which Teyve is bemoaning all the changes going in his small world. Before the play is over, he has seen his whole life turned upside down by changing traditions.

I have been thinking a lot about traditions since Lee Camp preached a sermon out of Colossians 2 a couple of Sundays ago. My eyes have been particularly focused on 2:8 "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of the world rather than on Christ." The religious fellowship I am a part of is putting a lot of emphasis on traditions in these post-Christian days.
I guess it helps them cope with all the changes around them.

I picture these folks like a dog bound by a rope to a post--never able to go very far, able only to travel in circles, all the while barking and keeping the world at bay--this world seen by those in Europe and Africa as the greatest mission field in the world.

So we keep instrumental music off the agenda on Sunday morning because it is our tradition; we forbid women to read the Bible and lead prayer in the worship service because it is our tradition. Some of us forbid Sunday school, youth ministers, kitchens in churches, multiple cup communion, casual dress when serving communion, etc. because those are our traditions. However, if we were asked and pressed, none could give chapter and verse for most of these traditions. Paul goes on to say in Colossians 2:23 "Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility...but they lack any value...."
(I am omitting harsh treatment of the body as this is not on our lists of traditions--at least, not yet.)

What does all this have to say to the post-Christian, postmodern culture in which are living?
I think it causes them to question institutional religion even more heavily. The early church was not about tradition--they didn't have any!! in Acts 2. They were about the love, fellowship and service Paul speaks of in Colossians 3.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

He Knows My Name

"I have a maker.
He formed my heart.
Before even time began,
My life was in his hands." Tommy Walker

He knows my name--He knows how my parents chose my name (I don't). He knows my story back to the third and fourth generation before me. He knows my every thought--both good and bad. He knows when I am lonely and when I have had enough of people. He knows my gifts and guides me to use them. He knows how I value books and the titles of each one I have read.

He knows my future. He knows how I will die. He knows what I will do until that day comes. "My times are in his hands." Ps. 31:15 My name is engraved on the palm of his hands--Is 49:16
I am his workmanship, his poem. Ephesians 2:10.

He is my maker. Thank you God.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


This Spring Break, we are doing a one-on-one program in which each of the three grandchildren get a night and day alone with Nonnie.

So far, it has been a rich experience. Ella (6)was first--her question in the door was "Nonnie, what are we going to do?" My answer: "Whatever you want to do--it's your day." So, we played

Restaurant (Ella wants to be waitress when she grows up); We had a tea party; She colored at the art table by herself; we watched the old Disney movie "So Dear to My Heart" together; we had Toaster Strudels with her initials in frosting on top; got out the Lincoln Logs --and generally had a wonderful time.

Maddie (7) came next--She wanted to do the Lincoln Logs and made a masterful house in no time at all--and then we did House Makeover with the spectators and the demolition. We printed bookmarks with Maddie's own verse and prose on the back (of course this thrilled me); we printed Power Rangers for Sam, and Maddie colored them. Then we did some things for Ella--Big Sister wanted gifts to take home (an indication of Maddie's big heart). We played Go Fish at which I was roundly beaten; Old Maid--beaten again; had a tea party, and Maddie read two books to me(Again Thrill!). She is reading so well at this point in first grade--really into the Junie B. Jones books.

Sam's time will come later in the week. He has already asked for a tea party with cookies.

There is nothing sweeter this side of heaven than drifing off to sleep feeling the light breath of a grandchild on your arm.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Heavy white blossoms and a random daffodil

Despite this week's sleet and snow, spring has come to Middle Tennessee. It seemed to come
"on little cat's feet" almost overnight. One day the trees were bare; the next day full blossoms appeared on the Bradford pear trees, and the tulip trees.

What I most enjoy is the extravagant white blossoms all over town on the pear trees--they are exceptionally heavy this year (I guess because of the rain we have had). It is pleasurable to look out over a patch of trees which have not come out yet showing only the evergreens and see a surprise pear tree there. A similiar experience is to look out over a wide field and see daffodils springing up where it looks like people never lived; daffodils on the side of the road in a ditch;
and by the side of an old abandoned building downtown. It goes to show that civilized people who plant trees and daffodils leave their legacy for many generations to savor.

It is surprises like this that make spring one of the most pleasing seasons of all and one of the glories of God's creation.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

25 Things I Have Done in My Life

Again, for Maddie, Ella and Sam, here are some things I have done in my 71 years of living:

1. Traveled to Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Hawaii
2. Ridden in a helicopter in Hawaii
3. Driven a go-cart
4. Written a book
5. Spoken to the State Convention of The Texas Library Association
6. Played canasta
7. Earned a batchelor's degree in English, a master's degree in Secondary Education, and certifications in Library
Science and School Supervision
8. Received awards in debate, writing. teaching and for furthering literacy and fighting censorship
9. Sung in a huge chorus for a religious event--The Gathering in Nashville
10. Learned to drive in a car with a stick shift
11. Collected movie magazines--Photoplay, Modern Screen, etc.
12. Collected items related to books
13. Donated hundreds of children's books to The Judy Thomas Collection at Abilene Christian University
14. Eaten rattlesnake
15. Met many famous children's book authors and illustrators
16. Attended several Broadway shows--My favorite: Les Miserables
17. Canned fresh vegetables in a hot water bath
18. Picked cotton
19. Was among the first certified elementary school librarians in the Abilene Public School System
20. Taught university classes, both graduate and undergraduate
21. Gone rafting
22. Sledded down a Cloudcroft N. M. hill on a huge tractor tire
23. Supervised the Abilene Public School Library System for a short term (not my favorite job!)
24. Was named "best children's librarian in Texas" by the Texas Library Assn. in 1990
25. Chaired the "Abilene Reads" campaign which invited all Abilenians to read the same book in 2002--part of a nation-wide campaign sponsored by public libraries.

And of course, there are many others things to do in the next few years.

Monday, March 09, 2009

25 Things I Have Never Done

As I write my 986th blog, I want to repeat that the main reason I began Musings was for my grandchildren. I want them to know what kind of woman I was and what I was thinking on many subjects when I am gone. I am making hard copies of these blogs so they will have them. In the interest of their knowing me better here are 25 things I have never done:

1. Traveled to Europe
2. Learned to swim
3. Shot a gun
4. Begun a business
5. Worn boots
6. Earned a doctorate
7. Hiked a very tall mountain
8. Jumped on a trampoline
9. Played bridge
10. Ridden in a sailboat
11. Met a U. S. President
12. Learned a foreign language well enough to communicate
13. Learned to ski
14. Found a wine I really like
15. Created a work of art (painting, sculpture, song)
16. Played a recognizable melody on the piano
17 .Met either of my grandfathers
18. Eaten sushi
19. Driven a luxury car (Lexus, Caddie, etc.)
20. Cooked liver
21. Watched or read pornography
22. Eaten lamb or rabbit
23. Watched a live car race
24. Gone to the Macy's Thanksgiving or the Rose Bowl parades
25. Spotted a celebrity in Hollywood or Nashville

Friday, March 06, 2009


I am about six months behind reading my Texas Monthly magazines. The July issue's main lead was "The Top Fifty BBQ joints in Texas." For those of us who love bbq brisket--this article brought out the taste buds.

Warning: the following descriptions of brisket will cause you to jump in the car and drive to find the nearest good brisket (very few places exist in Nashville, unfortunately); here are some of the descripions of the meat the committee found:"swoon-inducing", "perfectly balanced bite of meat, fat, smoke and fire", "flavorful and savory", "delectable hickory-smoked","served in a broth of beef juices and spicy sauce","tender, salty, fall-off-the bone succulent", "perfectly crispy, yet moist", "the fat melted and the tender slices could be cut with the fork edge", "the marbled edges were as soft as warm butter", " a char that crunches slightly", etc. This is definitely not pulled pork.

There were also odes to white bread, potato salad, slaw and peach cobbler. By the way, they selected as the best Snow's BBQ in Lexington, Texas. Harold's in Abilene was highly rated, as well. It is almost blasphemous to say this, but I really do not like Harold's--too dry and the sauce is too sweet. Joe Allen's is not even mentioned. I think Joe's ex-wife's BBQ place has pushed his aside.

Hey, let's take a road trip to Texas!

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Justice Songs--Tokens

It is not often that one gets to sing "There is a Fountain" with Vince Gill. The audience at the Tokens program Tuesday night did just that, and it was beautiful.

The program centered around justice and featured gospel songs (by Odessa Settles--who shared a fanastic "Were You There?"), songs set in coal country ("You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive" haunting.) sung by Sonya Isaacs and a rousing ending featuring "Blowing in the Wind" by Buddy Green and "If I Had a Hammer" with audience participation. I felt like marching when it was over.

A funny and very pointed feature of the program was the Radio Players in a skit set in a Mexican restaurant about what life would be like if the "English Only" bill had passed. How would one order in a Mexican restaurant if not allowed to speak Spanish? Burrito would be a "tiny donkey wrap", etc.

In addition, Lee Camp interviewed Will Campbell, an author from Mt. Juliet. He wrote Brother to a Dragonfly. The "grass and class" portion featured the Horeb Mt. Boys playing Bach.

Very enjoyable evening. The next one is in June as part of the Christian Scholars Conference at Lipscomb. I hope I can take my friends Jim and Jeannenne Nichols who will be here for the conference.

Thanks Lee and all who supported the program, especially Blue Coast Burrito (tiny donkey).

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Good Day!

In the late 40's and 50's, when I was in elementary school, I would walk home for lunch--there were no school cafeterias then. And we just lived about 4 blocks from the Hamlin Elementary School.

As I walked in the door at home, I would hear a very familiar voice on the radio--Paul Harvey. He was our guest for years at 12:00 each day telling his inspirational stories, giving succinct summaries of the daily news, and letting us know that we were all in this America thing together. And each broadcast ended: "This is Paul Harvey--Good Day!" I didn't feel right if I missed this program--something was missing from my day. And as I grew, I continued listening. Just the other day, here in Nashville, I heard him, and that was almost 60 years later!

Paul Harvey died on Sunday at the age of 90. I had met him in person once before when he dedicated a building in a town near Abilene. (It was the Douglas McArthur building in Brownwood on the campus of Howard Payne University. He was quite patriotic and inspirational. I loved hearing his series called "The Rest of the
Story" which took history's unusual twists and made them into moving stories. He was a storyteller deluxe--perhaps that is why I liked him so much. One could also tell that he had a christian background and that he loved his wife Angel mightly. One thing for sure, there will never be another like him. I shall miss him and his crisp delivery and thought-provoking scenarios.