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.