Saturday, December 24, 2016

When The Word Became Flesh...

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it."
~John 1:1-5

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Monday, December 12, 2016

"The Blog's Not Dead--It's Surely Alive!"

While it's likely a blessing that every potentially blog-worthy thought that jogs across my brain doesn't miraculously become a post, it seems as though I have written a dozen or so ramblings in my head that simply never made it to the keyboard.  As is true for most of us, life is full.  Full of basketball games, hosting friends, grocery shopping, and reading books.  And, then there's that pesky need for sleep.  Or the gift of a few free moments to "just be".  

I have missed writing, in this form.  I enjoy it.  Thanks to that sweet friend who spurs me on to "tabulate".  Thus, in the New Year, I want to get back to doing just that.  It's not just a resolution.  Those are so easily broken--like pie-crust promises.  I encourage my students to write on a weekly basis, at least, and so, I will do the same.  

Consider yourself warned.  Whee...and Squee!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Thanksgiving Prayer

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have
done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole
creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life,
and for the mystery of love.

We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for
the loving care which surrounds us on every side.

We thank you for setting us at tasks which demand our best
efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments which satisfy
and delight us.

We thank you also for those disappointments and failures
that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone.

Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the
truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast
obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying,
through which he overcame death; and for his rising to life
again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom.

Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know him and
make him known; and through him, at all times and in all
places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.

--Book of Common Prayer

For Your Funny Bone

When turkey’s on the table laid,
And good things I may scan,
I’m thankful that I wasn’t made
A vegetarian.

-Edgar A. Guest

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Where The Streets Have No Name

We're still building and burning down love
Burning down love.
And when I go there
I go there with you
(It's all I can do).

Eternal God, in whose perfect kingdom no sword is drawn but the sword of righteousness, no strength known but the strength of love:  So mightily spread abroad your Spirit, that all peoples may be gathered under the banner of the Prince of Peace, as children of one Father; to whom be dominion and glory, now and for ever.  
~Book of Common Prayer

Monday, September 5, 2016

Take Note

As you have likely gathered from reading this little blog o’mine, even on a semi-regular basis, I am rather old-school about some things.  My favorite Philosopher says I’m nearly “counter-cultural”!  That sounds like far too hip a term to describe my person, but the closer I get to the half-century mark, the more I’m likely to adopt that tagline.  Whatever the appropriate descriptor may be, things such as opening doors for ladies (young and seasoned alike), family dinners, and checking out books (the kind which allow you the tactile delight of turning actual pages) from your local public library fall into that category.  And, then, there’s the priceless pleasure of a hand-written note.  Both the writing of and receiving of such.  <Insert dramatic pause for effect--and a happy sigh>.

As a little girl, I loved checking the mail.  I still do.  I don’t skip to the mailbox now.  Usually. Remember what it was like to pull open the door of your aluminum box and find some little gem addressed to you?  If I didn’t recognize the address, I would try to decipher who it was by the handwriting on the envelope.  Beautifully-written cursive from an Aunt--who is left-handed.  Nana’s lovely looped letters.  Fast-forward to college days when you could peer into your little post office box (#90), and see through the side slots if there was anything in there. The best days were those when you couldn’t even see in the box because it was packed full--usually around a birthday or another Hallmark holiday!  The unexpected note from a best friend--or a card from your crush, be still my beating heart.  Or one of those little “Pass It On” cards, available in the campus bookstore, that just made your day.  

There’s just something about a hand-written note.  Some One has taken the time to purchase a card/notecard, sat down to write a little something (or a big something), and sent it to you. A few sentences that say “I was just thinking of you”.  “Thanking God for this in your life”. Or “just because.”

Thank you notes are not a fixture of the past, my friends.  Nor are they superfluous.  In a society that is seemingly downward spiraling into a morass of snark, animosity, and narcissistic self-absorption, a simple expression of gratitude is a saving grace. For a gift, a thought, a dinner, what have you.   Please don’t get me wrong--courtesies and kindnesses are not extended in order that the giver will receive some kind of dopamine rush for “doing good”--or in hopes of receiving some public acknowledgment of appreciation.  However, acknowledging the kindness of another brings yet another blessing.  

I shall now descend from my soap box.  I’m short--it’s not a very long way down.

To send a letter is a good way to go somewhere without moving anything but your heart.  ~Phyllis Theroux

I have a file folder, nay a box, of sweet notes, hand-crafted cards, post-its, etc, which I call my “Serendipity” file.  Some of them date back twenty years.  Yes, I am the one who saves such things.  Shocking, I know.  They simply make me smile.  And remind me of folks I might not have thought about in a while; but, for whatever reason or season, will always remain in my heart’s neighborhood.  Yes, a few of these exist in digital format (see the similarly-titled Folder in my Gmail) and those words are appreciated.  Even in this electronic, instantaneous age, the fact that someone would take the time to put gracious words into a post and send them along is appreciated.  They contain no “text-speak” or “U” or “Thanx”.  They contain real words--in their fullness!  And, we can all identify with the outward smile (or the inward grin) that occurs when we see certain names pop up in our Inbox.  

Yet, as one of my sweet friends recently shared with me upon receiving a hand-written note in her mailbox, our hearts do a “pitter-patter” kind of thing when we retrieve our mail, sort through the sales circulars and bills, and find a “happy” in the stack.  It’s a double-edged blessing, I think.  The writer, having expressed their thoughts and stuck a stamp on them, is hopeful that the note will make its way to the intended in a timely manner.  It’s like a one-person surprise party.  You know you sent it--and Whee!  Then, the recipient has their day blessed because they know that somewhere, someone has been thinking especially of them. Perhaps the words written are more timely than one could ever know.  For whatever reason. Or they’re just fun and WAHOO!

During our brief stint in the frozen North (Central Pennsylvania), we worshiped at a church that had “mailboxes” for each church family.  You could return a Tupperware dish, a sweatshirt left behind from a play date, a book borrowed, or what have you.  It was also a great way to send notes to one another.  Yet another instance where it was fun to “check your box”.  It created a sense of community, I think.  And cultivated gratitude. A crop that never goes bad.

Be it “old-school” or “counter-cultural” or an attempt to preserve civilization as we know it, just write it down.  Appreciate someone.  Make them laugh.  Surprise the hoo-ha out of them.  

For as my very favorite bear once said, 
“Sometimes it’s the smallest things take up the most room in your heart.”

Monday, July 25, 2016

What Do You Know?

Taking a break from the intense crime thrillers of P.D. James, I recently picked up a copy of Philip Gulley’s Front Porch Tales at the library.  Gulley is a Quaker pastor and writer who hails from Danville, Indiana.  Once newsletter snippets written for his congregation, Front Porch Tales are personal reflections of compelling characters, real folks, from his growing up years.  Gulley is a delightful yarn spinner, I think, and reading his stuff is a breath of fresh air in a toxic world--along the lines of Jan Karon and my beloved Mitford.

His childhood “career” as a newspaper boy provided much fodder for his writings.  He speaks of interesting people along his route.  His clientele was small in number; thus, he learned their “peculiarities” and preferences.  There was Mr. Willard who wanted his paper placed under a brick on the front porch chair, so it wouldn’t blow away.  Miss Towells wanted Philip to ring her doorbell and hand her the paper, proper-like.  And, yes, there was that elderly (and unnamed) gentleman who answered the door wearing women’s dresses. Gulley says, “Small towns aren’t always the bastions of conformity we think they are.”

He tells of the Blake family, one of the poorest families on his route; yet, they were exceedingly generous with a tip for their paper boy.  Apparently, Philip came to learn that Mr. and Mrs. Blake earned their wages in tip-bearing vocations.  Thus, their sensitivity to the worker.  And his increased appreciation for the working class.  

Gulley could have secured more customers; thus, fattening his bank account and perfecting his paper-tossing techniques as he would have had no time to learn the particularities of his clients--or to execute their newspaper norms.  But, he preferred to climb off his bike, ring the bell, and know the people on his route.  

The closing words of his Paper Route reflection sunk deeply into my heart:

“...knowing people beats knowing about them.”

How about that?

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Tale As Old As Time

Belle.  She is my favorite Disney Princess.  She far outranks Cinderella, Ariel, Mulan, or Rapunzel.  And, yes, whenever I indulge in one of those online quizzes that ask me about my Disney Princess alter ego, I get Belle.  Shocking.  She loves to read.  She’s a bit quirky--but in an endearing way.  And, she looks adorable in her starched white apron.  She also shows herself to be stubborn, persistent, but yet adaptable.  Let’s not taint things with a psychological analysis of the Kidnapper Syndrome--let me just enjoy my talking candlesticks and dancing plates, okay? Oui.

So, Mini-Hooper recently informed me that a live action remake of Beauty and the Beast will open in March 2017.  And, frankly, the teaser brings a tear to my eye and chill-bumps to my arms.  Those opening notes bring back wonderful memories of my favorite Disney classic, bar none.  I don’t know what it was about Belle, Gaston, Eric, and Mrs. Potts; but, they are burned on my brain.  And imprinted on my heart.

When asked to envision my “dream home”, I can’t help but picture the exquisite library that is bequeathed to Belle by the Beast.  On my mental bucket list is the opportunity to glide across multi-story, antiqued wooden shelves on a flying ladder, of sorts.  Yes, some people want to ride Verruckt, I just want to zoom across wooden scaffolds of leather-bound books.   Twirly cobalt blue dress not included but preferred.

The “Be Our Guest” sequence is an animated masterpiece, full of showmanship (or is it show-fork-ship) and whimsy.  Lumiere is the Maurice Chevalier of emcees and Cogsworth, the best of high-brow butlers.  And, then there’s Mrs. Potts and Chip.  Happy place. Sigh. "Do I have still have to sleep in the cupboard?".

Perhaps, it’s because Belle looks beyond the brusque exterior and sees something more.  She sees a tenderness, long suppressed by a world that judges what is on the inside by what they see on the outside.  Indeed, Eric (Beast) is cursed for such a judgment, as we learn in the opening narration.

Belle isn’t perfect.  She is sometimes obstinate, impulsive, and frankly goes nosing around where she doesn’t belong.  I may have been one of the few who felt that Beast’s outrage at her invasion of his private space, “the forbidden fruit” one might say, was justified.  But, her heart is true and she loves deeply.  

And, in case you were wondering, unlike Gaston, I don't use antlers in all of my decorating.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Sunday Evenin' Hymn Sing: O God, Our Help in Ages Past

O God, Our Help In Ages Past

O God, our help in ages past,
our hope for years to come,
our shelter from the stormy blast,
and our eternal home:

Under the shadow of thy throne,
thy saints have dwelt secure;
sufficient is thine arm alone,
and our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood,
or earth received her frame,
from everlasting thou art God,
to endless years the same.

A thousand ages in thy sight
are like an evening gone;
short as the watch that ends the night
before the rising sun.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
bears all its sons away;
they fly, forgotten, as a dream
dies at the opening day.

O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guide while troubles last,
and our eternal home! 

~Isaac Watts (1719)

Bold Print:  Mine

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Stuff I've Been Reading

FYI...for a bibliophile, the most excellent conversation starter in the history of the free world is, "What are you reading these days?".  Just be prepared for the avalanche of information and effusive delight brought about by discussing (or perhaps a dramatic monologue experience!) such things.  So, here's a little list of "stuff I've been reading" lately.  Get ready, steady, GO.

Gracy Olmstead (my new favoritest blogger):  Your Friends Are Not An App

An excerpt~

"While we should not neglect the goods that technology can provide, we should not embrace them without a thought to the possible consequences, either. With each stage of technological development, we’re encouraged to separate ourselves more from the physical space we inhabit. We’re encouraged to live in a virtual reality in which we can distance ourselves from both the blessings and curses of real presence. Yet technology is at its best when it facilitates instead of replaces physical interaction." ~

Charlene Notgrass (Homeschooling Veteran/Curriculum Queen): Unplanned Summer Days

An excerpt~

"Childhood was a quiet and peaceful time, uncluttered by one expensive, time-consuming, and stress-filled activity after another..."

BOOKS (Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge or Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge)
Eclectic is this summer's theme.  Or perhaps, serendipity.  Either way, it works!

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