Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm almost done!

Hooray, I have wrapped all the gifts and the stocking things.  Today I have time to catch up, make a list of what I lack doing, and maybe even read a book.  It is cold and rainy outside--perfect day to sit by the fire.  I think I will try make hot chocolate.  I forgot to buy Swiss Miss at the store.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Let It Snow

Flakes are dancing their way to the ground on this Sunday.  This will be predictably our first snow which will "stick to the ground".  So Christmas shoppers, stay home and wrap.    I plan to do just that.  Hot chocolate would taste nice too.  I do love this place where the seasons change.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Where did November go?

November was a wonderful month, but first things first--at the end of October, Doris  Colvett and I took a litttle trip to Charleston.  The Smokies were awesome!  And Charleston, that old town first begun in Revoltionary times, is still beautiful.  With its combination of Revolutionary and Civil War history, it is full of things to see.  We stayed at the King's Court Inn (circa 17860) right downtown.  After taking the history tours in a carriage, and on the river, we were full of historical knowledge.  The Gullah tour (history of the African Americans there) added to the aura.  We also visited a working plantation on the edge of Mt. Pleasant.  Our guides on every tour were excellent and seemed to delight in sharing the history of their town.

The best thing about the visit was that we got to see mutual friends Rodney and Pat Spalding in Mt. Pleasant.
Rodney and I grew up together, and Doris and he and Pat shared the Exodus Bay Shore experiement togeter. It was great to see them  Pat is the historian of the Round Church in Charleston, and we went to church there with them on Sunday.  It has a a yard full of historical graves and a beautiful interior.  And yes, it is round.

Thanksgiving was different--I went to Kiki and Kevin's house and got to eat somebody else's food.  It was a perfect day for the kids to play outside on a path through the woods and the adults to stay warm inside, smelling  the dinner cooking.

Sheryl's parents have been here for two weeks, and I have enjoyed them so much!  Although fragile and infirm in many ways, they have still retained their sense of humor.  It was fun to hear stories of Sheryl and Gail growing up. They were over at my house last night for chili and fellowship.

So now its December and the shopping rush is on.  We have agreed to cut down.  I am taking everybody to the Opryland Christmas Celebration on the 22nd and 23rd and am looking forward to that.  I've done the requisite American Doll shopping over the phone and am sticking to Target for other things.  It will be a holly
jolly Christmas.  The weather has changed to cold and with it getting dark at 4:30 each afternoon, the days seem  especially short.

Brandon and Sheryl put up my tree last night, and now I have to decorate it--that's a good chore while watching TV.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Brandon's Birthday

Today is the birthday of my one and only chick Brandon Scott Thomas, born in Hendrick Hospital, Abilene, Texas on this day.  As Bruce Springsteen has said, "We all carry a landscape within us."  At the time of Brandon's birth, we lived in the country on a dead end road--the perfect place to roam and play.  It seems like only yesterday that he was picking flowers from the flower bed and presenting them to me, riding his horse Tiger, motoring around on his go-cart, chasing chickens (and being chased by a rooster), raising a championship pig, and going to Interscholastic League contests as a singer and the drum major of the Wylie High School Band. It was just a leap to Abilene Christian where he continued his love of singing by performing in Summer Stage (a presentation for several summers by the music and theater depts.), acting in the Homecoming Musicals, and traveling all over the country recruiting for ACU in singing groups like Reflections, etc.  Of course we attended every presentation he was in and loved it.

The highlight of his time as ACU was appearing in Sing Song.  Again from  a front seat at every performance we loved him--Sam was so sick, he could hardly sit there, but he willed to be there.  And then Brandon came to Nashville, became a worship leader and the leader of the Zoe Group.  Here again were opportunities for me (now alone after Sam's death) to enjoy his presence, godliness and singing abilities from a front seat.  Now he is a husband and father and excelling at that as with all other things.  Of course, he has his failings, but mothers do not dwell on such things--they simply enjoy their sons.

Happy birthday Brandon, your mom loves you.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Demise of Book Stores

It was shock to get up this morning and find out that Davis Kidd Bookstore is closing.  It is one of my very favorite places in Nashville and one that I often visit--and oh the Lemon Tarragon Soup at the Bistro.
Independent bookstores are having a hard time these days because of Amazon and e-books.  I will admit that I have bought the cheapest book where ever I could find it--helps my budget and salves my guilt about buying another book.

It is such a comfort to enter a store and find clerks who know books, and who don't answer with "Huh?"  And to find good books displayed in a usuable fashion.  For example, most chain bookstores display what are called "grandmother books" at the front of the children's section, so that book buyers never get past them to the really good books.  I am grieving for those untutored buyers who settle for the shiniest, cutest things.

I do hope  the corporate office that is closing the store will relent in the face of all who rise up against the decision. Such a sad day for Nashville.

Sunday, November 07, 2010


I am so glad voting is over.The Tennessee races were the epitomy of got-cha and just plain lying.

Have you ever sung the third verse to America the Beautiful?  It is my hope that those who were elected will remember it and love our country more than self or party and show mercy to the poor, the needy, and the homeless.

"Oh beautiful for heroes proved in liberting strife who more than self their country loved and mercy more than life."

Thursday, October 14, 2010

19 Years

Wow! Time does fly.  Today marks the 19th anniversary of the first day I spent without my "Hon"(my nickname for Sam Thomas, my husband who died from prostate cancer).  I remember waking up, seeing the other side of the bed vacant and aching.  My house was full of Brandon's friends who had spent the night, so jumping into breakfast was necessary.  As the day wore on, I could feel Sam's palpable presence around every corner.  Brandon and I had to plan the ceremony for his funeral and pick out clothes for his body as well as a casket--not fun things to do, believe me.

And of course, thankfully, the phone was ringing every other minute with condolences.  Thankfully one of the friends, I think it was Donjaleigh, was there to answer the phone.  The next few hours were a flood of decisions and duties. All the while, worrying about Brandon and his feelings.

We could have never made it without God's help and the help of our friends.  Thanks for all of you still!  We loved and continue to love Sam.

Last night, we went to Olive Garden, and Ella wanted to know what Poppy (her name for Sam) would order and what he would eat for dessert.  I am so thankful that Brandon has told his children stories about Sam and created the name Poppy for him.  He stays alive in those stories (some of which are humdingers!).

Ronnie Lorenz (he and his wife are long-time friends) called last night and remembered with me.  Thanks , Ronnie and Darla--love you!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


I am leading the devotional each Tuesday at Ladies' Class for the next six weeks.  I am trying to teach and model the spiritual disciplines of silence and meditation in the 5 minutes I am given.
I have them relax in their chairs ("melt into the chair) with everything off their laps, relax their neck, face and shoulders, and put their hands on their thighs. We began the first Tuesday by turning the lights off, playing instrumental "healing" music, and meditating on the word Peace.  Today, we followed up on Josh's Sunday sermon by meditating on the Matt. 5:14 scripture You are the Light of the World (all work is sacred).  Eventually, I will wean them off the music and help them to just sit in silence and listen for the voice of God.  It seems to be going well, and many have said they wish we could do this in church.  We Do Need More Moments of Silence in Church, don't we?

Today I accidently turned into the Brentwood Methodist parking lot.  As I drove through it on the way to Hallmark, the leaves were doing their lovely slow dance from the trees to the ground.  Beautiful!

Friday, October 08, 2010

Marine Band

I went with my small group to see the Marine Band perform at Lipscomb last night.  It was excellent!  And besides that, it was free.

How can anyone avoid tearing up  when the "Stars and Stripes Forever" is played or when an entire audience sings "God Bless America" right after all those who served in the U. S. forces had just stood up?  Very emotional.  I wonder, are we losing that in all our "political" battles?  Does anyone care anymore?  Or do we just feed off of past battles won?

Band music brings back lots of memories--I actually remembered the notes I played in the Hamlin High School Pied Piper Band when we played "Semper Fidelis", while the Marine Band played it.  Sousa marches are my favorites.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Three Musketeers

Haven't blogged in a while--I've just been living life.  Mainly visiting doctors trying to find out what is wrong with my legs.

For the record, after an MRI and a EMG, the finding is that I have diabetic polyradiculo neuropathy which can be helped by neurontin and keeping my diabetes under control (which I carefully do).  But looks like I will walk with a cane for the rest of my life.  But, as Brandon says, the main word is WALK.  And I am very thankful my back shows no problem.  However, the triple whammy of the neuropathy, arthritis, and bad knees still don't make for a graceful standing up and sitting down, getting in and out of a car, etc.  Still I take the diagnosis as positive.

I got to keep the 3 Musketeers this past weekend--we had a good time--they painted rocks to line a small flower bed and an old sign I had on my fence---but the most memorable  event was  the paint fight that followed.  It was an acrilic washable paint thankfully.  It did not come out of Sam's hair easily, however.  They washed my car (I have the cleanest car in the county) too.  Maddie was a trooper and a very hard worker.  I hope she keeps this trait as she grows up.  Sam just loved the water, and Ella was an expert at cleaning the very dirty tire covers.  It was a great time, but my house is on disaster drill.  Every room calls out for a general cleaning.  It was a great time, however.

I loved the time, and I love them!!!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Books People Ban

I think it is always interesting to know what books people choose to ban.  The titles give me a little insight into them and their philosophy.  However, I also look at some of them and say "Whyyyyy?????"

Banned Books Week runs from September to October 2. Here are some of the titles banned in the past--you can tell which ones are current by the dates given, although several have been censored throughout many years. This is from a feature article in the AARP Bulletin.

Too Political (thought by some to be):

Uncle Tom's Cabin, 1852
A Farewell to Arms, 1929
The Grapes of Wrath 1939 (our book club read this one as our classic this year)
Doctor Zhivago, 1957
Animal Farm, 1945

Too Much Sex:

Madame Bovary, 1856
Tess of the d'Urbervilles, 1891 (easily one of the most boring books I ever tried to read)
Peyton Place, 1956 (And it was badly written too)
Forever, 1975 (Hidden behind many student books at Cooper High School where I was librarian)
The Prince of Tides, 1986 ( a favorite of many baby-boomers)


On the Origin of Species, 1859
The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, 1954   (Whyyy??)
Bless Me, Ultima, 1972  (Now on every college reading list I know)
Harry Potter series, 1997-2009   (Whyyyyy????)

Socially Offensive:  (This category stimies me?  What is it really?)

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, 1791
The Scarlet Letter, 1850  (One of my all-time favorite books to teach)
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Another all-time teachable book)
As I Lay Dying, 1930 (Another book I could never finish--I believe most people who read Faulkner have fallen love with his Southern persona more than with his books.
Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, 1947 (Why????)
The Catcher in the Rye, 1951 (The first book I got in trouble with as a librarian)
Fahrenheit 451, 1953 (A very important book that should be taught in every high school)
To Kill A Mockingbird, 1960 (Whyyy???)
James and the Giant Peach, 1961 (I just don't like Rouald Dahl)
The Color Purple, 1982
Cujo, 1981 ( I don't like Stephen King, either)

Of course not listed in the article and the most often censored book of all time is the Bible. Do you want a copy of it in your school library?

Monday, August 30, 2010


I long ago used up my time ranting about the fact that Nashville has no truly good Mexican food (Tex-Mex food like that found in Abilene, Texas).  This is another rant about the lack of good hamburgers here.    The best burger I ever ate was at Mr. Fry's Cafe in Hamlin, Texas , my hometown.  The buns had been buttered and heated on the greased grill so that the edges were nice and crispy.  The meat was freshly ground, hand-shaped and cooked to medium -well.  It was served open so that I could add as much or as little  mayo, mustard, catsup as I desired. (Don't you hate it when the mayo-m-c drip from the hamburger on your blouse!)  The tomatoes provided were home-grown, thick and wonderful.  The fresh lettuce and onions were crisp.  The cheese was custom fitted for the bun (again, leaky cheese drips are horrible) and the whole creation fit into my two hands without requiring that it be cut in half before I picked it up.  Where are such creations today????  Of course, part of the joy of these burgers was that we high schoolers got to leave campus for lunch and walk with our group the two blocks to Mr. Fry's.  Alas, Mr. Fry's is no longer there--and can't be found in Nashville.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Women's Equality Day

Today is the day that the 19th Amendment was certified giving women the right to vote. It is the 90th anniversary of this history changing amendment. Young women looking back can scarcely believe that there was a time when women could not vote because of their gender.

Tennessee was the final and deciding state for ratifying woman suffrage.  Historian Howard Zinn has written in his book, A People's History of the United States about "the countless small actions of unknown people that lie at the roots of the great moments of history."
On August 18, 1920, it all came down to one lone vote in the Tennessee House.  The youngest member of the House ,Rep. Harry Burn who had voted against ratification in an earlier vote changed his mind.  He had received that morning a telegram from his mother saying, "Hurrah and vote for suffrage."  With his one vote, women were given the right to participate in governing the U. S.

Today I honor those women who stepped out and marched, wheedled, made speeches, and sent telegrams for this right.

I can only hope that women's equality in churches will someday be celebrated, and young women reading church history can scarcely believe that women were denied the use of the gifts God showered upon them by
mind-closed, self-absorbed men.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Coolness reigns!!

It is 82 degees outside at 5:13 p. m. and it seems that fall is on the way!  Thank you , God for relief from the heat wave that summer brought and for restoring the Tennessee I thought I had moved to.

Sheryl shared a photo of Maddie's first day in safety patrol.  So proud of her--made me think of the days I enjoyed in various uniforms:  The bright green uniform of the Hamlin High School Band, the pristine white coat of the CSO (Campus Service Organization at ACU  (no longer an organization there), the brown and beige of  a Kojie NuNu, and others I have probably forgotten.  Being in such organizations brought a sense of belonging and unity to my life at the time, and I enjoyed every minute of the hard work involved.  I hope such good times are in store for Maddie, Ella and Sam as they grow.

Thank you God for your instruction and emphasis on community life both out of and in the church.  You know what we need every hour of the day.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Anniversary

Today is the 12th anniversary of the marriage of Brandon and Sheryl.  How time flies and yet still manages to bring us great moments of joy.  I am so thankful that the marriage is still strong, that the children are healthy and smart, that there have been mostly ups rather than downs, that Sheryl is my daughter-in-law (who could ask for a more understanding, more beautiful and talented one?), that I have managed to be a mostly non-interfering mother-in-law, and that happiness abounds.  Thank you God.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Taps and Reveille

I have been at the bedside of three people whom I watched give their last breath:  my mother in 1976, my husband in 1991 and Dorothy Thompson (Doris Colvett's mom) in 2010.  It is an awsome thing to be in the presence of one who is slipping from this life to another. 

The observer cannot help but wonder just what happens in that instant--is there really a bright light, the sound of angel's wings, Peter welcoming at the gate?  The Bible says virtually nothing about the time.  Stephen fell asleep.  Peter wrote about putting off his tabernacle, Paul said that the time of my departure is at hand.   The only time the word dead is used is with qualification:  the dead in Christ, the dead which die in the Lord.

So it is life's greatest mystery.  We don't talk about it much and go to great lengths to avoid it.  Yet the odds are great:  100 out of 100 die.

I like the account of Winston Churchill's funeral.  There were stately hymns in St. Paul's Cathedral and an impressive liturgy.  When the benediction was said, Churchill had arranged for a bugler high in the dome of St. Paul's to play "Taps", the universal signal that the day is over.  But when that was finished, there was a long pause and a bugler on the other side played "Reveille", the signal of a new day beginning.  And that is exactly what death is for a Christian--Taps and Reveille.

My favorite epitaph is that of Benjamin Franklin which I was privileged to see in Philadelphia:

                                                           The Body of
                                                      B. Franklin, Printer
                                           Like the Cover of an old Book
                                                      It's Contents torn out
                                         And Stript of its Lettering & Gilding
                                                    Lies here, Food for Worms
                                                    For, it will as he believed
                                                         appear once more
                                          In a new and more elegant Edition
                                                         corrected and improved
                                                             By the Author.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Taking the Bible Seriously

Yesterday Jerry Masterson, one of our elders, spoke on treating the Bible seriously. He stated that the Bible we have is, of course, not the original one, but that:

somebody wrote it
somebody copied it
somebody decided its content
somebody gathered it
somebody translated it.

It is historically connected to its time and not ours, it was not written to us, and it cannot be interpreted the same way in all its parts (poetry should be viewed differently than the law books, etc.).  We are free to interpret it to our times, however, we should avoid absolutism, accept the unique authority of the Bible as the earliest and best witness of God .

Of course, the rub is in the interpretation.  This sermon would have heretical years ago, but was a refreshing breath of air Sunday.  Thanks, Jerry.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Reading the Bible

Here's a geat quote by Eugene Peterson about the Bible:  "You can't reduce this book to what you can handle; you can't domesticate this book to what you are comfortable with.  You can't make it your toy poodle, trained to respond to you commands."

If you haven't read Peterson's book Eat This Book about the Bible, I highly recommend it.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Purple Musings about Reading the Bible

I love purple, hence the change.  Wish I knew how to decorate further.  I have seen blogs with flowers, vines, etc.  But am still a novice.

Our teacher Sunday morning said that Christians must read the Bible today with new eyes--how would that play out in my fellowship which is often hidebound and closeminded?  Did he mean there are actually new things there to see?  Did he mean that God is actually adding new ideas to the Bible?  Did he mean we should actually read the Bible with contemporary eyes as did Eugene Peterson?  Did he mean the Spirit would help us in our myopia?  Did he mean there are new contexts we should see?  Or that the Bible changes meaning in different eras? Hmmmm....

Which do you prefer The Message, KJV or New International?  Any of those preferences might change how one would answer the above questions.  Oh, I know there are other versions--these are the ones I am more familiar with.  The Cotton Patch Bible never caught on with me.

Friday, July 30, 2010

2000th blog

Today marks the 2000th time I have sat down to share my thoughts with anyone who will read them.  Back to the main purpose of Musings:  So that my grandchildren will know more about me as they grow up and can assimilate what I have written.

 That first blog on May 27, 2004 concerned a night of good sleep after several nights of not sleeping because of the pain in my leg.    Well, not much has changed--still having trouble sleeping because of the pain in my legs.  Wonder when I am going to do something about those knees?  Although the pain I am now having is from a different cause--it still affords me the opportunity to be up at 11:30, 2:00, 4:00, 5:30, 6:30 and finally out of bed at 7:30.  Who said growing old was fun!!!!

Not to have this blog totally negative, my life in Nashville is wonderful and I love it.  EXCEPT for the heat wave we are suffering now--I might as well be in Texas--my toes are generally in the house these days.

I am trying to read Gone with the Wind again--it is the summer book for our club. I am on chapter 17; maybe if I read three chapters a day, I can finish it next year. Wow is it long!  However, I have not gotten the feeling I often do with long books that it needed lots of editing.  Mitchell tells her story well, keeps the reader moving and inserts pertinent history very well..  I am enjoying it.  I am longing for a REALLY GOOD book to round out the summer.  Haven't found one yet.

Nothing profound today.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Life's Lessons

41.  Don't audit life.  Show up and make the most of it now.

42.  Get rid  of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

43.  All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.

44.  Envy is a waste of time.  You already have all you need.

45.  The best is yet to come.

46.  No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, and show up.

47.  Take a deep breath.  It calms the mind.

48.  If you don't ask, you don't get.

49.  Yield.

50.  Life isn't tied with a bow, but it's still a gift.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Still More Life Lessons

31.  However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

32.  Your job won't take care of you when you are sick.  Your friends will.  Stay in touch.

33.  Believe in miracles.

34.  God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn't do.

35.  Whatever doesn't kill you really does make you stronger.

36.  Growing old beats the alternative--dying young.

37.  Your children only get one childhood.  Make it memorable.

38.  Read the Psalms.  They cover every human emotion.

39.  Get outside every day.  Miracles are waiting everywhere.

40.  If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else's, we would grab ours back.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Life Lessons

More food for thought:

21.  Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie.  Don't save it for a special occasion.  Today is special.

22.  Over prepare, then go with the flow.

23.  Be eccentric now.  Don't wait for old age to wer purple.

24.  The most important sex organ is the brain.

25.  No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

26.  Frame every so-called disaster with these words:  "In five years, will this matter?"

27.  Always choose life.

28.  Forgive everyone, everything.

29.  What other people think of you is none of your business.

30.  Time heals almost evrything.  Give time, time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Life Lessons

More life lessons from Regina Brett:

11.  Make peace with your past so it won't screw up the present.

12.  It's OK to let your children see you cry.

13.  Don't compare your life with others'.  You have no idea what their journey is all about.

14.  If a relationship is a secret, you shouldn't be in it.

15.  Everything can change in the blink of an eye.  But don't worry, God never blinks.

16.  Life is too short for long pity parties.  Get busy living, or get busy dying.

17.  You can get through anything if you stay put in today.

18.  A writer writes.  if you want to be a writer, write.

19. It's never too late to have a happy childhood.  But the second one is up to you and no one else.

20.  When it comes to going after what you love in life, don't take no for an answer.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Lessons in Life

Regina Brett, a columnist at the Beacon Journal in Akron Ohio wrote these  during a time she was being treated for breast cancer.  We will take them 10 at a time, so my faithful readers can muse on them:

1.  Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

2.  When in doubt, just take the next small step.

3.  Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

 4.  Don't take yourself so seriously.  No one else does.

5.  Pay off your credit cards every month.

6.  You don't have to win every argument.  Agree to disagree.

7.  Cry with someone.  It's more healing than crying alone.

8.  It's OK to get angry with God.  He can take it.

9.  Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.

10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.

I agree with all except # 10.  I can live without chocolate.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

For Your Thoughts

Here are a few quotes for the week:

We catch grace like a man filling up his cup under a waterfall.  Annie Dillard

A critic once asked Eudora Welty to explain the symbolism of a marble cake in one of her stories.  She replied, 'It's a recipe that's been in my family for sometime."

That brought to my mind the one by Robert Frost  when someone asked him about the "miles to go before I sleep" line in Stopping By Woods".  He said, "It just means I want to get the hell home."

No Christian excapes a taste of the wilderness on the way to the promised land.  Evelyn Underhill

My mother always used to say, "The older you get, the better you get.  Unless you're a banana."  Betty White

Television is the only electrical appliance that is most useful when it's turned off.  Fred Rogers (Mr. Rogers)

When you pray, you walk to God; but when you sing, you run to God.  An anonymous Dominican sister

There is nothing more frightening than an active ignorance.  Goethe

Never mistake endurance for hospitality.  Anon.

If at first you don't succeed, welcome to the group.  Anon.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Zoe Evening

The moon hung in the ebony sky  like a half-eaten sugar cookie last Thursday night.  The temperature was 80 with a slight breeze.  It was a perfect night for the Zoe concert in the Lipscomb Amphitheater.

Listening  to those men and women is a feast for the soul's hunger for God.  They have been together for 13 years and can anticipate  each other's every nuance, tone, and lilt as they sing.  God's praise just pours out so naturally and ebulliently.  Nothing is forced or "performed".

Thank you Zoe!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Slowing in Prayer

Here is a wonderful prayer by Michael Schut that ends the slowing discussion well:

Creator God, you come to us in the stillness of this hour.  Speak to us the words our lives need to hear.  Grant us stillness, turn us from frantic striving, calm our drivenness.  Help us to discern your presence through all of life and in all that you have made.  Give us ears to hear, eyes to see and hearts to know your grace.  Slow us Lord.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Rewards of Slowing

1.  Spiritual strength will come if we wait upon the Lord. (As the song says)

2.  A deeper relationship with God.

3.  Freedom from the responsibility for everything--you don't have to hold things so tightly--God is in charge!

4.  You become more present to the moment and to the people you love.

5.  You have time for reflection, deep thinking.   Richard Foster said, "We don't need more intelligent people in the world; we need more reflective people."

6.  You begin to notice things around you--creation, the smell of spring, bird song, blue sky.  Noticing these gifts engenders gratitiude to God for all He has given.

The process of slowing is not easy or fast.  We are in the words of II Cor. 3:18 being transformed into his likeness--we are people in the making.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hurry sickness remedies

Here are some short-term remedies for hurry sickness:

1.  Drive in the slow lane on the highway; say a prayer for everyone who passes you.

2.  Join the longest line at the grocery store, or, better yet, give up your spot to the mother with the three crying babies behind you.

3.  Eat more slowly savoring every bite.

4.  Schedule small solitudes:  early in the morning, at noon, late at night.

5.  Say no to all extra activities for a month--even if they are good.

6.  Clean out all clutter--give yourself room to breathe.

7.  Unplug all electronics for an hour or day.  Bask in the silence.

8.  Declare a fast from honking your car horn.

9.  Begin to notice the small things in nature--athe wildflower, the blue sky, the constellations at night.

10. Unclench your fists and relax your neck and shoulders periodically.

11. Go through a whole day without your watch. 

12. Deliberately choose waiting when you can; spend the time with God.

The rewards of slowing tomorrow.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hurry Sickness--Remedies

Did you decide you had hurry sickness?  I guess we all have some.  Here are some remedies I am going to suggest tomorrow:
1.  Intentionality--You must decide to do as Ezra did in Ezra 7:10.  My version says he devoted himself to the study and observance of the Law.  Another verson says, "he set his mind". So you must set your mind to

2. Follow the example of Jesus.  He often withdrew to a lonely place or to a moountain or to a boat to pray and think about God.  It sounds like he chose solitude which is also a spiritural discipline.  No, you don't have to become a hermit or a monastic.  It just means you take time to turn aside, look at your life and follow his example.  His ministry only lasted three years, yet he says in John 17:4 "I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do."  You might choose to eat lunch alone and seek a respite, or you could get up early before everyone else, or go into and lock the bathroom door for a while to "cool down" from the hurry of the day.

3.  It helps me to practice Examen.  At night as you lie down, review the day.  Ask what moment of the day was most grateful?  At what moment was I least grateful?  Or you could couch it this way, when did I feel most alive today or when did I feel the life draining out of me today.  Pledge to rid you life of the life-diminishing things and to seek more the life-enhancing moments tomorrow. 

4.  You can also seek longer times of solitude--create a sabbath day in your week.

5.  You must learn the practice of saying no.  There is and will always be the tyranny of the urgent and the unimportant.  Yes is a very seductive word--It means somebody wants you, and wants you to do something you do well.  After all, we are assisting in repairing the world (oops, there's that delusion of grandeur--God has already created the world and can run it without you).

6.  And of course, you cannot do it, that is, unhurry your life without prayer.

7.  You should seek accountability in the process.  Tell someone you can trust what you are attempting to do and ask them to keep you on the right path.

Yes, this all takes perseverance, and it often may seem like a waste of valuable time; that's because we are so programmed to stay busy doing rather than being. And doing often seems more holy.  Have you ever thought that the devil uses good things to tempt us away from God?

Tomorrow some smaller, more immediate ways to eliminate hurry.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Hurry Sickness

Some of the symptoms of hurry sickness, as promised yesterday: (these are from several authors; I am sure you could add to them)

1.  You are haunted by the fear there are just not enough hours in a day to do what needs to be done.  You have a constant sense of strain and burden.
2.  You subsist on fast food. (The American contribution to world cuisine is fast food--food which can be held and eaten from one hand while you are doing something else.  And we get no real pleasure from it.!
3.  You buy anything which promises to help you read, talk, sell or drive faster.
4.  You are always searching for the shortest line--in the grocery store, dept. store or the fastest lane on the highway.
5.  You have a time-organizer the sice of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and you also carry a Blackberry.
6.  You take great pride in multi-tasking and being available 24/7.
7.  Your life is full of unfinished tasks--unopened mail and e-mail, unread books, unreturned calls, unfolded clothing in the dryer
8. You may not be feverish, but your days are full of feverish and frenzied activities.
9.  Your are addicted to filling up every kind of space--time, closets, cabinets,
10. You have delusions of grandeur--nobody can do it as well or as fast as you can.
11. You honk your car horn at every opportunity.
12. You eat your meals in 10 minutes while you do something else.
13. You are always late.
14. You don't have tme to cultivate new relationships.
15. You rely on TV for news, because it takes too long to read the newspaper.

If very many of these fit you, my friend, you are sick.  Possible remedies tomorrow.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


I am teaching Bible Class Sunday morning on the topic "Slowing".  It is a spiritual discipline in which one deliberately develops patience by putting oneself in positions of waiting.  The main idea is to slow down life to a place where a closer relatinship to God can be developed.  We are using John Ortberg's book The Life You've Always Wanted in our classes this semester, stressing the importance of spiritual disciplines.

John Ortberg asked a friend, "What must I do to be spiritually healthy?"  The friend replied,
"YOU MUST RUTHLESSLY ELIMINATE HURRY FROM YOUR LIFE." Ortberg goes on to explain that many Americans today are suffering from "hurry sickness"--that is, the constant attempts to add more and more things and to attend more and more events in our lives in a shorter amount of time.  It is true that our culture overstresses doing rather than being.  With the advent of multi-tasking and being available 24/7, we have gone into overdrive.  I think those two things are inventions of the devil.

Among the risks of "hurry sickness" besides high blood pressure is the sabotaging of our closeness to God.
We just don't have time because we are too busy working, going to the mall, watching TV, checking our Blackberry and cell phone, answering e-mails, contributing to Facebook and Twitter (we talk to those friends far more than we talk to God!).

Some of the symptoms of "hurry sickness" tomorrow.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Reading at Wayne Reed

I read today to the pre-school children at the Wayne Reed Christian Child Care Center (CCCC).  These children  who live in the toughest part of town and whose parents both work were so well-behaved, sweet and responsive, I just had to hug them all.  They all insisted on helping me out of a very low chair and inviting me back.  It was a great experience!

I do miss reading to children--something I did nearly every day of my professional life as a public-school librarian.  Maddie and Ella have told me that their librarian never reads to them--what a shame.  Children treated to a visit to the library ought to hear a good book before they leave as part of their experience.  Yes, of course their teachers read to them (especially at Grandbery Elem.) yet, I am hearing from teachers who say they have no time to read anymore because of all the emphasis on testing.  Yes, their parents read to them--but sometimes they are not hearing the best of books there. I think it is part of a librarian's job to point both children and their teachers to the best of books available--there is so much junk out there, that a professional is sometimes needed to point the way.

Read on, kids!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Sam is 5

We spend yesterday morning celebrating Sam's birthday--it is actually the 6th, but the party had to be yesterday.  About 9 little boys and girls came to go up in a rocket (the trampoline), plant the flag on the moon after going down the slip and slide, and play games in the pool.  It was extremely hot--so glad the activities had to do with water.  The kids also made "moon mud" (somewhat like play dough), threw rockets as far as they could, and enjoyed cake and ice cream.  They took home the moon mud, a pool toy, and a moon pie.

Sheryl is very good at planning theme parties and this one proved to be one of the best.  Sam was beaming.  I can't believe he is already 5 years old.  Happy birthday, Sam.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


NIMBY (not in my backyard) seems to be the operative word in Nashville these days.  This week a campaign to stop the building of a mosque in Wilson Pike succeeded.  The Tent City homeless, searching for a place to put up their tents since the flood destroyed their site, were loaned (only for two weeks, as I understand it) a site on personal land by Lee and Kelly Beaman.  Residents and churches nearby immediately howled protests.  As I looked at the picture of the land, I did not really see any residents nor businesses nearby, but nevertheless.....

Let's see, what would Jesus do for these folks?  I don't know what he would do about the mosque, but for the homeless there are many passages about taking care of them.  The Otter Creek Outreach Minister, Doug Sanders, has been instrumental in trying to find a place for the homeless.  There is a plan in the works with several cooperating churches and businessmen to find a more permanent place for those who wish to go there.  Surely those in the Hickory Hollow area (not too far from me) can wait with Christian patience for that plan to develop.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mrs. Stark

I taught in elementary schools for almost 25 years and worked with many magical teachers, but outshining them is Ella's first-grade teacher Mrs. Stark.  Dedicated, compassionate, loving, and yes--magical--Mrs. Stark had the knack of making each student sure that that student was her favorite.  She nicknamed Ella--Ella Enchanted--and winked and squeezed her everyday. 

There were the usual first-grade experiences like field trip to the farm, the symphony and theater,  incubating chicks, field day, art projects and history lessons.  I loved that she had each student choose an historical figure,  research in the library and on computer on that person and do an oral presentation as well as a written essay.  The presentation was accompanied by dressing the way the person would have dressed.  Ella chose Sacajawea and did a wonderful job with both the speech, essay and costume.

She stressed the value of friendship and moral values and was always, always smiling.What a wonderful year for Ella.

Brandon has a video on his blog showing Ella singing Pray for Me at the end of their program last night.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

To lament or not

David Rubio preached on Psalm 19 Sunday: "  How long O Lord, how long?..."  Then we spent time in our small group discussing why we are so reluctant to broach the topic.  Kerry transitioned into it with a video on You Tube about an evangelical church in Hungary dancing in the town square on Easter Sunday--we are also reluctant to show extreme praise.

What is it with us?  Is our tribe so ingrown with Victorian rationalism that we just don't like for anything to show in our faces and bodies as we worship?  We also got into the topic of "dancing before the Lord" and liturgical dance.  We have had a few examples of this in special programs at Otter, thanks to Brandon's inclusion--but most think it very strange and uncomfortable.

As for myself, I just can't see me dancing before the Lord--I don't want to dance before anybody--but is beautiful to watch when done well.  One of my favorite things about the Zoe conferences is Teresa's
deaf interpretations.

Maybe the youth who follow us can do better.  God does not care (I think) how we express worship--but it is enriching to others to see full-blown praise of Him.

Speaking of lamenting:  How long O Lord will it continue to rain in Nashville?  Turn it off, please!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Affirmation and Nourishment

Nashville is full of volunteers these days.  Luci Shaw once said, "As Christians we give nourishment of all kinds to each other...we provide sustenance, whether it be money, or soup, or kind words.  Producing nourishment is a part of community."  Christians are filling the streets and homes of those who lost everything in the flood and providing them with all kinds of nourishment.  When he covered the story for CNN, Anderson Cooper said that he had been all over the world, withnessed all kinds of catastrophic happenings, but had never seen anything like what was happening in Nashville.  The paper is filled with stories of people helping--some with big trucks full of needed equipment, some with trunks filled with sandwiches and water, one lone guy riding down a street on his bike giving out masks, etc.

This is where one sees the face and the hands and feet of God. It doesn't take heroic measures--just bread, mayo, cheese and love.

Do all the good you can
   in all the places you can
at all the times you can
   to all the people you can,
as long as you can.

John Wesley

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink

Yes, the devastation here is horrible--there are no words to describe it.  We are all safe and without loss--but thousands of others are not.  Please add a word of prayer for them.  We have lost 10 people here in Nashville; most drowned.  Yesterday an older couple was found in the Green Hills area--they had driven through high water, and decided to get out of the car and were swept away.  Some teenagers thought it would be great fun to tie inner tubes together and raft down Mill Creek.  They (3) died.  Some who refused to leave their homes have been found dead.

Of course, the tales of heroism abound.  Creatively, Otter Creek has opened its nursery for those who are helping others to leave their children during the day.  We have begun a day-care program as well.  Our building leaked a little in the gym area, but other wise is o. k.  We do have a creek behind the church, but it is now going down.  The Red Cross has done a terrific job opening centers and getting people food and water.  Lipscomb opened its Allen Arena as a place for people to spend the night.  They have had over 200 people (capacity) each night since this began.  Otter had scheduled a big breakfast to kick off a building campaign on Sat. morning, but the power went out and it was cancelled.  We took all the food (for 400 people) over to Lipscomb for the folks there.  And such things are happening all over town.

As for water, one of our purifying plants is under water and the other one is being sandbagged today.  They are asking us to conserve--to use only one-half of the water we would normally use.  One of the saddest pictures yesterday was of a house surrounded by water burning to the ground--electrical fire.  The woman who lived there had left in the nick of time.  Private boats are patrolling all over town down streets looking for those who might need help.  There have been over 1,000 water rescues.  Sadly our new symphony buidling downtown has been hard hit--they said that water just came through the floor.  Their wonderful 2 million organ was destroyed.

I guess one good thing to come out of all will be the work provided to those who can repair and rebuild.  When my brother was in a flood in Abilene several years ago, federal and state help was slow to come--and look at New Orleans--I do hope they help us faster.

Thanks for your calls.  If you have it, donate money to the Red Cross.  They need it.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Frank Admission

O.K., I don't mind admitting I watch and really like Glee--the Fox program about a high school teacher who begins and  nurtures a school show choir. Many in the choir are those tossed aside by the high school culture, racially and otherwise--one guy is in a wheelchair, one girl is Jewish, another is Asian, etc. Along the way he is harrassed by the cheerleader sponsor of an award winning cheer squad named the Cheerios. 

Although the program is not Christian as some would view that, the writers do manage to get in some core values.  Last night's program was probably the best I have seen.  There was a message to the whole student body via the song "I Am Beautiful" saying that no matter what we look like--boy, girl, red, black, fat, thin, handicapped, athlete, blond or red-head, we all have value, and we are all beautiful.  It was sung by an overweight black girl who had been struggling to fit in by losing weight.  I don't know of a more important message for adolescents who hear messages every day about what it right and perfect and beautiful from their peers and the media.

The program is pure fantasy and could never happen in a real high school, but I enjoy it.  Kristen Chenoweth was guest last night.  Brandon was telling me that she is a strong believer, which of course not easy in her

Friday, April 23, 2010

For the Children

Otter Creek is winding up a building campaign designed to bring our Kindergarten (now at the old building)
to our new location and to provide more classrooms for children and adults.  Our child population has grown 31% since we moved into our new building.

Stirring and emotional videos have been made about the effect of Otter and its teachers on the children of the past (many of whom now attend and bring their own children).  It is good to see results of good teaching and living come out in our children, and I am glad that is being emphasized.  The past is important in shaping tomorrow.

All too often parents do not realize the effect that godly teachers and their own daily habits have on children. Surrounded by a loving church family can make a lot of difference in the lives of tomorrow's Christians.  Our children and grandchildren will not follow the exact same path as we have (they may find different ways of doing things like we did) but those deep springs of core values will be there for them to draw on.

So, praise to all of you who use your time to prepare for teaching our children and to show them what Jesus would do  and who hang in there year after year.  I do appreciate you!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

The Human Side of Jesus

I don't often stop and look at the human side of Jesus.  I remember when Max Lucado said in one of his books that Jesus blew his nose and that stopped me dead in my tracks--never had thought about that.

Someone has said..."he came among us frying fish, telling stories, weeping over deaths, drawing in the dirt, spitting and making mud..."  I would add to that  cursing an unproductive fig tree, making wine for a feast, walking in sandals on a dusty road, working with wood, and riding on the back of a donkey.  He picked flowers, noticed birds, broke bread, drank wine, sat in the living room of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, called little children to him and washed the feet of his friends.

He spoke to and shared time with the poor, the disenfranchised, the homeless, housewives, and women who later supported him out of their means.

Somehow it helps my faith to look at these mundane actions and to know that my Christ valued them.  As I live out my life on the same planet where Jesus walked, I pray that I too will value each day, each action, each circumstance as Jesus did.  Kathleen Norris wrote, "There is transforming power hiding in the simplest things."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tokens and all things green

Tokens is one of Nashville's somewhat unknown treasures, although interest is picking up.   Modeled after Garrison Keillor's show, Tokens is a combination of music, mostly blue-grass, theology, humor, and old-time vaudeville.  Lee Camp, a theology professor from Lipscomb University is the creator and show host.  There is a several piece band led by Jeff Taylor.  And there are always feature singers and musicians.

Last night Amy Grant and Odessa Settles were featured along with the somewhat regular Buddy Green--the harmonica virtuoso.  The topic of the show was Back to Green and emphasized the importance of proper use of God's creation.

I loved Settles' rendition of "His Eye is on the Sparrow".  Amy sang several unfamiliar songs, but one was a Joni Mitchell hit --- I am not sure of the title "Put Up a Parking Lot" ? 

Also regularly on the show, Lee interviews authors of books.  The two guys last night  I had never hard of:  one wrote a book called Revolution in a Bottle, and the other had done a documentary called "Killowatt Ours".  Very interesting though.

The whole thing is a feel good hour with excellent music and thought-provoking ideas. It's a fun way to take a spoonful of theology.

One of the regular features of the show is "Class and Grass" in which the band mixes a classical piece with blue-grass added.  Last night was Haydyn's  The Creation, from which "The Spacious Firmament on High is taken"  I really enjoy seeing what they can do.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Easter Sunday

We had a wonderful day together at worship and my house.  Fellowship was very good, although I missed going to Otter Creek for their celebration.

The Fellowship minister Mike  proclaimed agressively that people who do not believe in the resurrection are just playing at Christianity and are not truly Christian.  How can people claim to be Christian and deny i the inspiration of the Bible, the virgin birth, and the resurrection?  I don't know--maybe they just like the trappings of the church and the peaceful atmosphere.  At any rate, our whole Christian culture is becoming more and more like the Laodician church in Revelation--luke-warm, tepid, univerasalist and more and more unwilling to say that the only way to God is through Jesus Christ His Son.  Mercy, mercy, I pity them for sitting in luke-warm bathwater when the Spirit calls us to a more glorious worship.  And I thank God for His promise that death is not the last word.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Troubled Again

For the last few weeks that old problem of the way women are treated  in my fellowship has been bothering me.

We have been studying the Last Supper in Luke, and as I looked at it, I remembered John Mark Hicks" good book on the subject called Come to the Table, Reimagining the Lord's Supper.  In it he says, that the only table in the church that women are not allowed to serve is the Lord's table---the context of the statement was that Jesus was being a servant at the Last Supper and was modeling servanthood.  Despite DaVinci, I know there were women there--who else got the food ready, swept the room, and cleaned up? ( There were women all over the end of Luke following Jesus everywhere, even to the tomb, why should they not follow him to a Passover celebration?) And if one examines Acts 2:42 and following, the Lord's supper was celebrated in homes (probably everyday) with women again heavily involved.  So?

In his blog this week on why young adults are leaving the church in droves, Mike Cope quotes one young adult as saying the church is sexist.  "I don't believe Jesus was sexist."  The student then goes on to compare the church to a "boys club for adults."  I have said for a long time that our daughters and their daughters will leave our little masculine fellowship and not come back--just sayin'......

Monday, March 29, 2010


Thank you, Father Creator, for the daffodils, the Bradford Pear trees, the tulip poplars, the forsythia bushes, and the almost bursting forth redbuds.  You really know how to create a feast for the eyes and heart.  Your finite creatures praise your eye for color, design, and fragrance.

No words can adequately describe the beauty of the earth and the beauty of your last creations praising your Son.  Blessings on this Holy Week and on those who will find Jesus through the story of His resurrection.  This week makes up for all the rancor, violence, abuse, and sorrow of the past few months.  We take a breath and ponder your loving kindness.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Wimpy Kid

We went to see Wimpy Kid, and Sheryl and I were wondering--what makes a certain book a phenomenom
while others languish on the shelf?  I know the cartoons attract the kids and the slightly naughty words perhaps, but it is truly junior high speak (maybe that's the draw).  Who knows?  Wish I could write one!

And junior high/middle school--never want to revisit it either as a teacher or a student!  Bless all those long-suffering teachers who love it.

Some good kid's movies coming up, at least the previews were interesting:  A new take on The Karate Kid and Ramona and Beezus.  I had read that Beverly Cleary said she would NEVER allow her books to be made into movies.  Guess the money got too good. 

I think it is a bummer that some of the recent movies are going 3D.  I have not been that impressed with the technology this time around.  Guess I have been around too long.  I think it is just a ploy to make more money, as if....

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Feast

My book club recently shared lunch and discussion with Josh Graves, the author of our book for the month THE FEAST, HOW TO SERVE JESUS IN A FAMISHED WORLD.  Here Josh writes about risk, service, community and the spiritual disciplines.  He states in the preface, "I've become passionate about the project of connecting the world of Scripture with today's world.  This book is written out of my struggle to live in the world of Scripture."

THE FEAST is both an uplifting and challenging read.  Josh told us that one reason he wrote the book was to bring the 18-19-years olds he was teaching out of their spiritual malaise and doubt.  However, the book fits all those who need a fresh view of what it really means to follow Jesus.

Early in the book, Josh quotes Eugene Peterson's take on God's command to John in Rev. 10:9-10 to "Eat this book!"  Indeed, Josh writes, "Digesting the teachings of Scripture is one way Christians can actually embody the good news of God in our chaotic world."

My favorite chapter is "Food and Water" in which he says that the sacraments of Holy Communion and baptism are central to the Christian life because they remind us of who we already are, and they are moments when the spiritual and the physical mesh in unusual and holy ways.

Josh Ross ends the THE FEAST  with a thought-provoking study guide.

We enjoyed the book and our time with Josh G.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Quotes I enjoy

I am a quote collector--I have about 8 journals full of them.  Some of them relate to writing; some to reading; others are inspirational.  I use them mostly as pick-me-ups for me and in making speeches.  It's a good faith-building hobby too.  Here are some I was reading this week:

"You only live once--but it you work it right, once is enough."  Joe E. Lewis

"No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit."  Helen Keller

"At the heart of God's will is a mystery, and by the art we create to express that mystery, we stir the spirit of worship from age to age, generation to generation in sound and image for his glory."  Chuck Fromm

"I will open my mouth in stories."  Ps. 78:2  The Message

"Why do you tell stories?  He create readiness, to nudge people toward receptive insight... Matt.13:10-17

"...taking time and going slow nourishes."  Mr. Rogers

"The potential for the sacred is everywhere."  Darryl Tippens

"Start where you are and deepen what you already have."  Thomas Merton

"Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. "  Elizabeth Stone

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Odds and Ends

I am really missing the Olympics.  When else can one turn on the TV and find inspiring quality programming?  I miss the stories, the beautiful scenery, the tense races, the ice skating, Bob Costas' commentary and the vision of America's athletes striving to do their best.

It is finally getting warm here, although I have been told by the natives not to get my hopes up.

Some of us at Otter are being saturated with Luke these days.  We hear him from the pulpit in outstanding sermons, in class on Sunday mornings after we have done our own digging through the week, and in a Wed. afternoon class as we look at the ideas of the Sunday sermon. I must say he is sticking with me.

American Idol, what can I say?  The judges chose the contestants, yet they constantly upbraid them and say they are not living up to their potential???? I am getting a little tired of Randy's sighs and Simon's caustic forecasts of doom.  I really don't believe the girls chosen are as good as former years' selections.  It is fun to watch, however.

Another show I am liking this year is The Good Wife with Julianne Margulis.  After growing weary of Law and Order, this is a pleasant change with a woman lawyer as the main character--the story is as they say
"stripped from the headlines" as she struggles with going back to work after her husband is jailed for wrongdoing in the district attorney's office (and shown to be playing around with various prostitutes).  Does sound all too familiar, doesn't it?  There seems to be more of that lately.

After hearing that Rick Perry will be on the ballot for Texas governor again, I just had to sit and think that we need to be training noble and intelligent public servants in our colleges and high schools.  Randy Lowry said recently in a meeting at Lipscomb that the president of a very prestigious Ivy League university told him that his  Ivy League university was  doing well at training students academically, but the thing lacking in their curriculum was character.  Character--what an old fashioned term!

Then to see the Christian Chronicle report that for the first time, our Christian universities now have more  students who do not attend the Church of Christ than those who do, hummm.  Conjecture is that the Church of Christ base is dwindling because some of our churches are dwindling or dying and because parents do not see the need for Christian education.  I am pleased that those outside our fellowship are finding the universities challenging and ready for today's world.  However, we can't forget the importance of character and moral living.

Next year I will celebrate my 50th year graduation anniversary from Abilene Christian University.  Attending that school has been a total blessing in my life,and I believe in the life of my son.  More about this later.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

March madness

I am living in a state where today one can buy houses for $100,000 less than they cost to build.  And where one sees a beautiful Jaguar parked in the lawn by a major road with a for sale sign in the window.  Where respected members of the community ( a preacher, musician and another brother) were recently indicted for swindling friends and families in a ponzi scheme and then delaring themselves not citizens of Tennessee, but of an independent nation which they have formed.  Where the state government is struggling to balance a failing budget and proposing to cut in places like schools, mental health, aid to the elderly and indigent, etc.

And where it snowed on March 1st!

Perhaps one day we will get back to the days when we didn't feel we had to have all the money in the world or live in the biggest houses in the world, and getting to know the difference in glut and happiness.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


About two weeks ago, I got up planning  a good day with company coming and found that I could not walk
without a great deal of pain in my "good" right leg.  The pain affected all the muscles from groin to ankle.  Beause arthritis is getting the best of my body, one would think it the cause--but no.  After X-rays at the offices of 2 doctors, my knee was found to have good cartilege although there was arthritis under the knee cap. 

Using the cane has brought some relief, and the pain has gotten better with time, but no one seems to know the cause of my affliction.  I am going off my cholesterol medicine for a while to see if it is the culprit.  I start therapy on the leg next Tuesday to see if that will help. 

Meanwhile the difference in my gait is making my arthritic left knee more painful than usual and my feet are really hurting as well.  What a bummer.  This is cramping my lifestyle!

I have a new appreciation for folks who don't walk well--for one thing, balancing the cane while trying to pick up something or while  going  up the stairs is a trial.  And it takes me twice as long to do anything.  I cannot stand more than 10 minutes in the kitchen to cook nor  can I walk briskly beside others (not that I walked briskly in the past).

So ends the painful saga of the past two weeks.  I'll write when things change which I hope will be soon!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Jenny Bizallion

My heart is breaking today for the Ross and Bizallion families because of Jenny's death. 

How do we explain this?  Why does this happen to families like them?  We don't know, and I do not understand.    All I know is that God is crying too and that he holds them all in his arms.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A New year

I know, it's February--after all, it is my birthday.  In fact, my 72nd birthday--seems unbelievable--my 50th was only yesterday.

The kids took me to Cantina Laredo last night for some real Mexican food--Yum!  We had a good time.  Gifts were fun too (I always have fun with gifts whether giving or getting).  Maddie gave me a Jackson Pollock-type painting she had done herself with a tie-dye technique and a card she had bought with her own money which highlighted some of the cursive writing she is learning.  Ella made me a red bowl because she knew I like red. and a funky elephant paper weight.  She also included a dollar bill in her card for me to use as a tip the next time I eat out!  And along the way, they and Sam gave me some earrings which I had requested.  Brandon and Sheryl gave me a lovely green bowl, some beautiful napkins which matched and a
candle lush with Italian Orange fragrance.A very special gift was the flowers Sheryl arranged and gave me--I love all of these expressions of love for me.  Makes a body feel good!

I am so thankful for the life I lead here in Nashville  with friends and family--Coming from a 3lb baby born at home on a snowy Feb. night to 72 years here has been a long journey.  I am increasingly aware of the brevity of life and the importance of celebrating the days we live.  Thank you God for your love and mercy and for bringing me this far.

Friday, February 12, 2010

The Cafeteria Line

One of  positive things about the recent snows  was getting to watch the birds at the bird feeder. (I know, some of you are sayiing, get a life).  One can do worse than sitting quietly watching some of God's creations.
Funny thing was, they  all seemed to line up like people at Furr's Cafeteria--waiting in line patiently for their little seed.

There were beautiful red, fat cardinals and their mates (female birds less showy--wonder why God did that?)
The pigeons came in droves, bluejays and woodpeckers with red heads, starlings, and others I do not know.

One daredevil seemed to hang off the feeder by one foot, others flew in for a nosedive to get one, and still others just took what fell on the ground.  They reminded me of people I have watched.

Thank you God for all parts of your creation.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Words Again

These days we are drowning in words of information:  Google, Wikipedia, E-Help, and other web sites all supply us with more than we really wanted to know.

However, in my opinion, good writing is in decline.  Who knows the name of the  Pulitzer or Nobel novel anymore?  Can you give the name of one good modern poet or even the name of the Poet Laureate of your state? Even children's literature has declined  to themes dealing with bathroom habits and dressing fancily.  Thanks to rap and hip hop, the lyrics to songs are no longer intelligible or singable.

In an article about the decline of good sportswriting, Gary Cartwright wrote, "The world of perspiring arts has lost its voice and maybe its soul." (Texas Monthly, June, 2009).  He goes on to describe some of the current columns as "an inch deep and a mile wide." (my aside--perhaps the same could be said of many of the sermons preached in churches on Sunday morning.) We are blessed at Otter Creek to have a much different kind of preaching.

We are so sated by information and poor writing, that we have quit looking for and valuing really good writing, profitable for the mind and soul.  I wonder what will be in the anthologies of world and American literature 20 years from now.  There doesn't seem much literature out there worth anthologizing.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Words about holy things

Jane Fahey wrote, "Words are such fragile instruments for bearing the weight of the holy."  Yet words are all we have for hearing what God wants us to know.  In saying this, I am not in any way discounting inspired writers like Philip Yancey, N. T. Wright, and Eugene Peterson.  They too are messengers  as they help me interpret and apply what I read.

Yet, it seems to me that words in religious settings often have their shallowest meanings and purposes.  Picture this greeting at the church door:  "How are you?"  "Fine, how are you?"  Often said as each person is  striding forward into worship.  Compare this with Paul's greetings in various books:  "Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."  How long has it been since you wished someone grace and peace?  Maybe the Spirit needs to help us expand our vocabulary.  Warmer and more personal--yes.  I have a friend who asks me, "How is it with your spirit today?"  As a member of the "greeting team" at Otter, I struggle with what to say to each person who passes me.  Maybe just

Grace and peace.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Words aptly spoken (Warning: Includes A Rant!)

"A word aptly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver." Prov. 25:12 
"When your words came, I ate them:  they were my joy and my heart's delight." Jer. 15:16

I have always been interested in words and their ability to stir people--to open our eyes or move our hearts.  A good arrangement of words in poetry, prose, a sermon or a speech is one of my greatest joys.

In these days of expanding modes of communication, our public distrust of words is growing.  We question the accuracy of a story, the innuendo of a comment, the honesty of politicians and TV preachers.  We doubt statistics and scientific reports.  We hang onto the words of leaders, only to discount them later as hyperbole or bias.  Words have it hard in today's society.

There some words I can do without.  I think that Nashville would be improved 100% if all talk radio shows  were delclared illegal and taken off the airways. I still cannot believe some of the things I have inadvertantly heard as I zipped by those stations.  Most I can't or don't want to repeat.  These men and women appeal to our basest instincts, to our fears and prejudices and often wind up leading our thoughts to hellacious places.

Yes, I do believe in the first amendment and readily admit that all speech does not have to agree with my little ideas; however, down with talk radio!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Worry is a wasted emotion

I come from a long line of worriers.  Granny Tucker worried a lot about the weather--she would hover between the TV and the window when a storm came up.  I never noticed her worrying about her income ( which was social security and very minimal).  My mother worried about daily things--food, shelter, and money--for good reason.  Our family income was quite low.  However, I do not remember going hungry or naked.  My mother taught me how to bite my nails.

I have spent my life trying to avoid worrying, often failing at the task.  Here is the admonition of Jesus  on the problem in  Matthew 6:25 and following: ...  (live) a life of God-worship.  It follows that you don't fuss about what's on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion.  There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body.  Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God.  And you count far more to him than birds.  Has anyone by fussing in front of a mirror every gotten taller by so much as an inch?  All this time and money wasted on fashion--do you think it makes that much difference?  Instead of looking at fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers.  They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it?  The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.  If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers--most of which are never even seen--don't you think he'll atend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you?  What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving.  People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works.  Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions.  Don't worry about missing out.  You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met..  The Message

Here are some old adages I keep alongside the Matthew verses:

Whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger.
However good or bad the situation, it will change.
Always choose laughter over tears, life over worry, optimism over pessimism.
Don't worry, be happy. That is easier said than done, but  why waste your life in paralysis when you can spend it dancing?
"Trust in the Lord with all your heart.  Acknowledge him in all your ways and He will make your paths straight." Proverbs 3:6

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Cedar Chest Treasures

My grandmother had a cedar chest in her bedroom.  Although I was never allowed to go through it, I do know that it held her "nice things".

There was the fancy lingerie (the only thing I ever saw her use was a pretty pink bed jacket and nightgown while she was in her last days in the hospital).  There were the bras with lace, and the colored panties and slips (she felt that all one needed was black and white lingerie).  For the younger generation, slips were opaque items women wore under their dresses and skirts.

There were the pretty handkerchiefs bordered in lace, decorated with embroidery.  Again to the younger generation, these precursed Kleenix.  Every self-respecting woman had at least one in her purse, pocket or bosom.

In the middle were the quilt scraps she had pieced earlier in her life.  She had planned to do a quilt for each grandchild, but never got around to it.  Sam took the ones I got when she died and had a quilt made for me one Christmas.  I treasure it because of her and because he knew how much I would like the gift.

Resting in the bottom of the cedar chest were the fancy pillowcases.  Some were edged in lace,  and Granny's crochet work .  Some she embroidered.  A few of them were yellowed with edge when we emptied the chest.

When she died at 88 of congestive heart failure, my aunts emptied the chese and divided its contents among Granny's children to rest in other chests or boxes lined with paper and mothballs.   My mom had died earlier,
so Aunt Jean saw to it that I got some quilt scraps and handkerchiefs.

Although I do have some special things put away, I try not to save things like Granny did (I am so glad she did!).  If I buy a pretty candle, I burn it.  If I have a nice sheet set, I use it in my guest room.  If I have a special set of dishes, I use them on special occasions.  Because, you know what? TODAY is special, and I celebrate it.!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

January 13

Samuel Alexander Thomas would have been 77 years old today.  Sadly, he died at the age of 58.  Sam was born in a small central Texas town, Groesbeck at home on Friday the 13th.  Such a perfect day for him to be born!  He was the baby of the family with 2 older siblings--Dorothy Mae and A. B. Jr. (called Chow).  Chow's full name was Adelbert Brandon Thomas, while his father's name was Adelbert Brann.  Both siblings are gone now.  Chow died in 1990 of acute alcoholism and Dorothy died after Sam of stomach cancer.

While both his siblings were eccentric, Sam was well-rounded, possessed of great common sense, educated, full of fun and loved by everyone who knew him.  They came from a very disfunctional home which affected them all, but Sam seemed to overcome all the obstacles to become successful in career, marriage, fatherhood and Christianity.  Alcoholism ruined family life, but  Sam generally found a way to have fun.  The family heritage was Baptist, but Sam told me one time that when he could, he would go to the church with the best food.  He knew what was important.

 While in high school, one of his friends invited him to the local Church of Christ in Pasadena.  The people and the atmosphere appealed to Sam.  He became a member and started his Christian life at a run.  The elders took him aside and tried to persuade him to go to Abilene Christian and fulfill his dream of  training for the preaching ministry.  Because of things at home, he knew the finances would be impossible.  However, each elder at the Pasadena church believed in him so much (he often had this effect on people) they each pledged to send him $5.00 or more a month.  So, with an old cardboard suitcase containing one threadbare suit and a couple of pants and shirts and $25.00 in his pocket, he climbed on the bus, rode hundreds of miles to a place he had never been and enrolled in Abilene Christian College.  With grants, loans,  and working every hour he was not in school, he graduated in 1956 with a degree in Bible.

As a senior set to graduate in 1955, he visited the campus school at ACU with a friend who was majoring in education.  Watching Mrs. Gilbreath, a master teacher, work with her 4th graders, Sam began to think about changing his major.  He had visited that previous summer the private school his niece and nephew attended and was drawn to teaching elementary children. Mrs. Gilbreath counseled him, and before the semester was over, Sam decided to stay at ACU another year and get certified to teach elementary school.  In doing so, his ministry to thousands of children and adults was assured.  His first job was in Port Arthur, Texas where he stayed for eight years, excelling in the classroom.  He then decided to come back to ACU and work on his master's in elementary school administration.  He stayed in Abilene until his death serving at Fair Park Elementary and Austin Elementary as a 5th or 6th grade teacher.  Later he served his internship  in school administration at Valley View Elem.  and was appointed principal at Bowie Elementary.  There for thirteen years, the Bowie community was up in arms when he was transfered to Austin Elem. to be principal in an administration shake-up.  He was there until the first day of August, 1991.  That morning he got up, but collapsed in the bathroom and couldn't go on the first day of school  (for teachers and administators)for the first time in 40 years.  Besides the love and respect of every student who had him and every teacher who worked for him, he didn't accumulate many awards.  He was named Principal of the Year by by the district Principals Assn. and was honored with a life-time membership in the State PTA.  He often said that his rewards came from seeing successful students.  For many years, he sent every student he ever taught a birthday card.  His death of prostate cancer in October, 1991,  brought an outpouring from those he touched over the years.

In 1992, one of the new elementary schools built in Abilene was named after him.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New Year's Resolutions

In his inimitable way, Yogi Berra once said, "It's tough to make predictions, especially about the future." New Year's Resolutions are really predictors about the future of the "resoluter".

As a school teacher, September was really more about resolutions and new beginnings for me than January.  In retirement, I do make them in January, and I do break them in January.  It think it is interesting to look back at the end of a year to see what was resolved, and to try to figure out why most of them were failures.

Mine generally tend to be pretty much the same:  To read the Bible more, to set aside a time each day to read a book and the newspaper, to read my Time magazine the week it comes (I'm now working on August, 2009), to rid the house of clutter, to use the credit card less, etc., etc.

Goals are important, however; and thus, I will continue making those resolutions and challenging myself in other ways to live life fully.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Music III

I do not have one favorite hymn.  There are a few that are "unfavorites":  Beyond the Azure Blue, I Come to the Garden Alone, and most Stamps-Baxter (which have very little praise and are often sung for the fun of rolling parts).  I do love Amazing Grace, Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, In Christ Alone, Sacred Head, and Breath of Heaven. I can tolerate most of the "old" songs (except When the Roll is Called up Yonder) like I Love to Tell the Story, Blest Be the Tie, etc.

I'll have to add that I am very interested in the history of church music, particularly that of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.  I enjoy hearing the back stories of hymns thanks to folks like Jerry Rushford.  Here are some titles of book on this subject:  ABIDE WITH ME: A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY THROUGH GREAT BRITISH HYMNS by John Parker, THEN SINGS MY SOUL by Robert Morgan, A SONG IS BORN by Robert J. Taylor (this one is a little too preachy), and AMAZING GRACE by Steve Turner.

Among my favorite verses from hymns is this one from The Love of God:

vs. 3   this verse is said to have been written by a Jewish rabbi (Meir Isaac Neboria) in 1096:

"Could we with ink the ocean fill,
   and were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
   and every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above
   would drain the ocean  day,
Nor could the scroll contain the whole
   Tho' stretched from sky to sky.

Currently my favorite hymns are the contemporary praise songs adapted by The Zoe Group and particularly those sung by the director and his wife.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Music II

During high school days, I was enthralled by "Love Is a Many Splendored Thing" .  I loved the Beach Boys and Fats Domino's "Blueberry Hill".  Abba came a little later.

In our small town, we had no record store; so I saved my money for visits to Abilene where there was large really cool store across from what is now the Post Office.

Hamlin, Texas never heard of classical music (except for an occasional band concert piece).  I did have a friend who admired Mario Lanza and his operatic renditions.  As a freshman in college, a senior took it upon herself to educate me and introduced me to "Pictures at an Exhibition."  I later enjoyed and still do Aaron Copland's music.  So culture came much later as I attended college and got to hear a real orchestra and see live opera. 

I am a great fan of Broadway musicals, and I mourn their passing. (Really, aside from Wicked what on Broadway now is worth listening to?) The recent Mama Mia was a real treasure because of the songs of Abba.

And now?  I must confess that I find very little contemporary music worth my time, although Bono is still bringing it on.  Living in Nashville, I remember the days at home at lunch listening to the Light Crust Doughboys playing "real" country music---now beginning to appreciate some that is playing currently.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Josh's sermon on Sunday got me thinking about my favorite music.  Muisic is a very important part of my persona. 

I remember watching faithfully a TV show called (I think) The Hit Parade which was about the most popular
(best selling?) song of the week.  I had to watch it at the home of friends since we did not have a TV.
My first intro to playing an instrument was the recorders we used to play in elementary music class--remember those?  I saw one at Toys R Us yesterday. Later I joined my high school band playing the bassoon (really more an orchestra instrument, but it was the only school instrument available--couldn't afford to purchase any instrument).  Of course I was a part of the jr. high and high school choirs--the music teachers were always glad to see us Church of Christ members come because we could read music and hear blends.

The first thing I bought with my own money (earned at the variety store at 121/2 cents an hour) was a portable record player.  It had a green and gray cardboard case, stood on its own wire stand and played only 45's--those little round things with a hole in the center.  The first 45 I bought was Bill Haley's "Rock around the Clock."

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Bored? Me?

Why do some people seem perpetually bored? "I have nothing to do," is not a part of my speech.

Beginning in the house, everywhere I look is a project:

Bedroom:  Clean out the closet for Goodwill, straighten the dresser drawers so I can find matching socks, dust the "reading" knick-knacks, air the pillows, check under the bed for give-aways or throw-aways, wash, starch, and iron the doilies and white pillow covers, straighten the toy basket, dust the book shelves, pulling off those that can be traded or given away.

Living room:  dust blinds (all over house actually), cull videos I don't want, toss out unread magazines, plump sofa pillows, redecorate the coffee table and mantle.

Kitchen:  clean oven, wax the floor, cull and rearrange the pantry, straighten all cupboard shelves, watching for unused items for Goodwill, clean out fridge and freezer, clean stove top, clear cabinet top.

Office:  Clean out all files (three filing cabinets) of items I have not used in the past two years, clean the closet, go through those book shelves, dust and cull, straighten and get rid of unused CD's.  Dust everything!

Garage:  Don't get me started!

Flower beds and yard:  Forget that.