Thursday, June 25, 2009

Clean Your Room

I'm just curious. After 16 years of living with a mother who prefers to live like this:
Clean & Uncluttered

Organized & Functional

A Place for Everything and Everything in its Place!

Can a boy possibly have any legitimate reason for telling said mother that his room is clean when it looks like this? Does the command, "Clean your room!" really warrant a detailed explanation? Apparently it does.

I it possible that he just doesn't know what clean looks like? Nah...I didn't think so either. What was he thinking? "Yep, Mom! Cleaned my room! I'm ready to leave town now."


A Grief Observed

C.S. Lewis's true love came to him late in life in the person of Joy Gresham and though they had only been married for 4 years when she lost her battle with cancer, he was deeply and permanently affected. Only the hardest of hearts could not be moved by the thoughts and emotions he conveys in this brief journal. Though its brevity makes for a quick and easy read, it is nevertheless a profound and soul-stirring account of one man's journey of faith through a dark valley.

Feelings, and feelings, and feelings. Let me try thinking instead. From the rational point of view, what new factor had H.'s death introduced into the problem of the universe? What grounds has it given me for doubting all that I believe? I knew already that these things, and worse, happened daily. I would have said that I had taken them into account. I had been warned - I had warned myself - not to reckon on worldly happiness. We were even promised sufferings. They were a part of the program. We were even told, "Blessed are they that mourn," and I accepted it. I've got nothing that I hadn't bargained for. Of course it is different when the thing happens to oneself, not to others, and in reality, not in imagination. Yes; but should it, for a sane man, make quite such a difference as this? No. And it wouldn't for a man whose faith and whose concern for other people's sorrows had been real concern. The case is too plain. If my house has collapsed at one blow, that is because it was a house of cards. The faith which "took these things into account" was not faith but imagination. The taking them into account was not real sympathy. If I had really cared, as I thought I did, about the sorrows of the world, I should not have been so overwhelmed when my own sorrow came. It has been an imaginary faith playing with innocuous concerns labelled "Illness," "Pain," "Death," and "Loneliness." I thought I trusted the rope until it mattered to me whether it would bear me. Now it matters, and I find I didn't.

Lewis doesn't remain in this doubt forever. He eventually comes to terms with Joy's death and his sorrow and he admits:

God has not been trying an experiment on my faith or love in order to find out their quality. He knew it already. It was I who didn't. In this trial, He makes us occupy the dock, the witness box, and the bench all at once He always knew that my temple was a house of cards. His only way of making me realize the fact, was to knock it down.

His return to a place of faith doesn't happen through some earth-shattering, dramatic, conversion-like experience, but rather like the warming of a room or the coming of daylight. When you first notice them, they have already been going on for some time.

A Grief Observed will only consume a mere 2-3 hours of your time and is more than worth that amount. If you haven't already, take the time to read it!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesdays


bello - (Latin) v. - to wage war


antebellum - before the war (used specifically to refer to the War Between the States)

bellicose and belligerent - eager to fight

rebellious - resisting or fighting against authority; defiant

Sentences, please!

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Have a Dream 4

I love to cook. (And I love to eat, but that's beside the point!) I have dreamed for years of publishing a cookbook of my own recipes, complete with fabulous photos. I have participated heavily in the production of 2 cookbooks already (for church and school) and each one contained a disproportionate number of my recipes...not all unique to me, granted. But I am a perpetual experimenter in the kitchen, so I have a fairly large stockpile of original recipes that I could legitimately publish.

Several companies exist whose sole purpose is to publish private cookbooks, making this the least ambitious of my dreams. I simply haven't taken the time to make it happen. As an alternative, I've considered creating a website, which would be easier to do and could be built gradually over time rather than all at once. I facetiously desgined a logo for it a couple years ago when a "friend" at Bible Study made fun of me for bringing Carmelized Pear Butter to accompany the bread I was serving. She also receives credit for the name. I think it fits...what do you think?

You'd buy my cookbook, wouldn't you? Really? Or would you be more inclined to visit a website? Then again, I could just keep incorporating the recipes into my blog, now couldn't I? I think I'll take the easy road on this one...for now anyway.

The fine print:

Why settle for the mediocrity of "Good Things"?

For the "BEST Things" visit TODAY!

Graciously underwritten by the Horne Foundation (oops! Did I just "out" you, Jennifer? So sorry...)

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Beatific Vision

On this mountain Yahweh Almighty will prepare:

a feast of rich food for all peoples,

a banquet of aged wine -

the best of meats and the finest of wines.

On this mountain he will destroy

the shroud that enfolds all peoples,

the sheet that covers all nations;

he will swallow up death forever.

The King Yahweh will wipe away the tears

from all faces;

he will remove the disgrace of his people

from all the earth.

Yahweh has spoken.

Isaiah 25:6-8

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Waters of Baptism

Here a people of godly race are born of heaven;

The Spirit gives them life in the fertile waters.

The Church-Mother in these waves bears her children -

The virginal fruit she conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Hope for the kingdom of heaven, you who are reborn in this spring!

For those who are born but once have no share in the life of blessedness.

Here is to be found the source of life, which washes the whole universe,

Which gushed from the wound of Christ.

Sinner, plunge into the fountain to wash away your sin.

The water receives the old man, and in his place makes the new man rise.

You wish to become innocent? Cleanse yourself in this bath.

Your burden may be Adam’s sin or your own.

There is no difference between those who are reborn;

Let none be afraid of the number or the weight of their sins:

Those who are born of this stream will be made holy.

This poem is attributed to Sixtus III from the 5th century.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

I Have a Dream 3

Scarlet & Finery

That would be the name of my other dream. Has a nice little ring to it, don't you think? This storefront gift shop would sell one-of-a-kind handmade treasures. Like Tracy's jewelry, Becky's cards, Denise's calligraphy, Ami's costumes, Rachel's cakes, Hannah's knitting...and all other sorts of unique creations! Every item would be crafted by myself or someone I know personally...nothing ordered from abroad or produced for mass consumption.

The opening of the front door would activate an old-fashioned bell and each customer's senses would be instantly engaged. Soothing music, the smell of cinnamon & coffee, every wall, table, nook and cranny - full of color and texture - a feast for the eyes and imagination!

I can see it now: beaded wine bottle covers, wine glass markers, aprons, curtains, afghans, photographs, refinished furniture, paintings, tablecloths, Christmas ornaments, candles, pottery, stationery, purses, needlework, scarves, get the idea! Home decor and accessories that are the stuff of beauty and luxury! This is not a place that would attract many male customers...except those rare few who know how to gift their wives. But it would be a favorite stop for bridal or baby showers, for a friend's birthday, for that hard-to-buy-for Mother-in-law, or for that small personal indulgence.

Are you with me? Sorry guys. This one wasn't for you...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesdays

I love words...for a host of reasons. If you've followed my blog from the beginning, then you've been subjected to my fascination with words already and it should come as no great surprise that I have decided to dedicate all Wednesday posts to words! So, here we go!


acer - (Latin) adj: sharp or fierce


acerbic and acrimonious - harsh in temper, tone or words

acrid - sharp to the taste or smell; pungent; caustic

exacerbate - to make worse; to irritate; to make bitter

OK, boys and girls, can you use one of these in a sentence? Send me your examples!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Easily Amused?

After Grant read and memorized the Missouri Driver's Guide, he, in typical male fashion, left the book in the family room...for me to pick up and discard. You know, those 3 feet he'd have to walk all the way to the kitchen garbage, can really take it out of a young stud athlete.

A few days ago, I decided that before I threw it away, I would look up a couple "rules" that I was unsure about. Well, let me tell you, I got a lot more than I bargained for!! How so, you ask? I found a couple hours worth of entertainment in this little 120-page booklet, which is chock full of profound, life-altering statements too good not to share.

If you wear glasses or contact lenses, you may need them for the vision test. Ya think? Only if you want to PASS it!!

If you are unable to meet the vision standards as required, you may be denied a license. MAY be? Well that explains a lot of the idiocy on the road!! Some of those people who couldn't see properly were granted a license anyway!

Throughout the driving test, the examiner will subtract points for any driving errors you make. If you lose more than 30 points, you will fail the test. You will also fail the test if you hit a pedestrian. Picky, picky, picky!!!

STOP SIGN - A stop sign is red with white letters and has 8 sides. Not to mention it has the word STOP plastered across the front of it!!! Let's see...I better slow down and count the sides on this red thing...I wonder if it has 6 or 8 sides because maybe it isn't really a stop sign!!

When making a left turn, avoid cutting the corner so sharply that you run into someone approaching from the left. Awww....bunch o' killjoys!

Do not park in an intersection.

The best way to control your speed, is to know how fast you are going. Oh...NOW you tell me!

If many vehicles are passing you in the right lane of a multi-lane roadway, you are probably going slower than the rest of the traffic. Probably?

Vehicles moving in the same direction and lane, and at the same speed cannot hit one another. Rocket science...

Never stand in the roadway.

Trucks are not large cars.

On residential streets, especially those with parked cars, travel at or below the speed limit. But on non-residential streets, or residential streets without parked cars, feel free to ignore the posted limits?

The bicycle is generally a slower moving vehicle and this may require you to slow down. And if it is not slower moving than your vehicle, you generally might need a new car.

Never cause an accident on purpose. If you did it on purpose, wouldn't that make it NOT an accident? Or am I confused??

If your hood suddenly flies open, pull your vehicle off the road. Happens all the time...really. It's more common than you might think.

If your car stalls on the railroad tracks and a train is approaching, unfasten your seat belt, get out of your vehicle, and off the tracks. Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!! But please make sure, by all means, that you unfasten your seat belt before you get out.

When you are convicted of a traffic violation while your vehicle was in motion, the department receives notice and adds points to your driving record. This isn't like a football or basketball game - you don't want these points. No...I didn't mistakenly color my commentary green!

In a longer vehicle, you will need a larger gap to cross the road than you would in a car. Common Sense 101?

BICYCLE - A vehicle having two tandem wheels, propelled soley by human power, upon which any person may ride (except scooters and similar devices). As if anyone who didn't already know what a bicycle was, would understand the words TANDEM and PROPELLED!!

This, ladies and gentlemen, is our government at its lunatic best!! Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed bringing it to you. :-)

Monday, June 15, 2009

2 Cars, 3 Drivers

There's a relatively new driver in our home. Grant turned 15 way back in November, but was less-than-anxious to get his license. What?! He's a BOY!! Aren't they typically chomping at the bit to go on their very birthday so they can get started? I don't know...chalk it up to an obsession with football and basketball....and...uh...homework? He did. "I'm too busy." Whatever. After a couple months, I began to worry that some essential portion of his brain was malfunctioning...perhaps missing altogether!

So what does a mother do when she discovers that yet another portion of her male child's brain is out-of-order? Like any good diplomat, she strikes a deal with the boy. Well...OK...I actually imposed a demand in such a way that he thought we were making a deal. Clever, I know. He must be qualified to drive on his own the day he turns 16, which means...he must acquire his permit by May 15, and accumulate the required # of practice hours. Period.

The first time he told me he was ready to take his test, I, being the prescient Mother I am, asked a simple and rather obvious question: "Have you read the Driver's Handbook?" He admitted omitting certain insignificant and boring parts. "Oh! So, you read the parts you determined were relative to you??!! I don't think so, Buster. You WILL be asked some obscure question on that test, trust me. READ THE WHOLE BOOK COVER TO COVER, then come see me." As any dutiful 15-year-old son would, he objected, "But, Mom, EVERYONE takes the test twice and..." (he throws in as a bonus!!) they'll let you take it twice IN ONE DAY, so if I don't pass the first time..." The look in my eye shut the boy up.

But just in case he misinterpreted the eye, I invoked my high-pitched, surely-you-jest voice: "You will not take the test twice!! I am not paying for you to take the test twice...and don't even offer to pay for it will read the whole book, you will memorize the whole book and you will pass the test THE FIRST TIME!!" His "OK" was accompanied by those distinctly sad, slumped shoulders of a dejected teenage boy who - God only knows why - has been given the toughest, most-insensitive, least-gracious mom in the wide world.

The boy read the book. The boy memorized the book. The boy took the test before May 15...barely. The boy passed the test...the FIRST time...with a perfect score. Those shoulders were definitely not slumped as he exited that license office. Oh yeah, he was pretty proud of himself! Not sure he ever said, "Thanks for being so hard on me, Mom," but I'm sure that in all the excitement of being behind the wheel, he just forgot.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Have a Dream 2

So here's my next dream, and probably one of my longest-standing:

This dream could happen in this house, or any old 1.5 to 2-story house with character and charm. This particular one appeals to me because of its location in downtown Kirkwood and because of its size. It also happens to be next door to my favorite steak joint: Citizen Kanes.

I would convert this house into a book store! Most of the books would be used and the shop would have that distinctive and glorious smell of musty old paper.

Wood floors...well-appointed furnishings...a cozy atmosphere...and a smiling face would be standard fare.

A children's reading room would be a necessity, as well as a weekly story-hour for the little ones. No pop culture books in here...only the timeless stories with which every child should be familiar.

A smoking room would also be know, a place for the seminary students and old men to recline in leather chairs and light their cigars while feasting on some deep-dish theology or history. I envision this as a gathering room...for book discussions - maybe even some hearty debate - accompanied by dark beer, port or scotch.

A tea and coffee room for the ladies would be nice too. A light, airy, French country decor where a mom can get away for an hour and lose herself in Jane Eyre after a long day's work with the children.

Other than that, wall after wall after wall after wall of beautiful floor-to-ceiling shelving full of worthwhile literature, history, philosophy and theology. A veritable paradise...

Dream BIG...that's what they say!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

I Have a Dream

Actually, I have a lot of dreams...grandiose visions of things I'd love to do in this life. Some would bring a sense of great accomplishment, some would leave behind a great benefit for Christ's church, while others would be for the sheer delight of doing them. Unfortunately, this little thing called "life" has a way of standing betweeen me and the fulfillment of these dreams. The Christian Reality of here and now requires that I live a life of service that tends to fill up my time. I'm gonna share those dreams anyway because I do hold out hope that an eternity in the new heavens and new earth, might allow me the opportunity to fulfill some of them!!
I regularly pass this building, which I have dreamt of buying and renovating! It's a mere $625,000...I mean really! That's a steal for property in Sunset Hills...and the building is marked as an Historical Landmark, which means there should be funds available for renovation...which I imagine would take a mere $2-3,000,000!! The bones of the building are awesome! And, looking in the broken windows, the entryway, at least, retains a great deal of character!

My imagination goes wild! I can see it fulfilling a number of purposes. My first choice (I think) would be to open a classical grammar school, even though that brings with it number of very difficult tasks and some serious long-term labor. Of course, my hope would be that it would also provide long-term benefits for Christendom!

I can also see it being transformed into a Christian Literary Institute. Imagine this place beautified inside and out (stone, marble, woodwork, English garden). People come to stay for a couple weeks at a time to complete studies in classic literature from a Christian worldview...Austen, Hugo, Tolkien, Lewis, Twain, etc.

Or what about a bed and breakfast with wine tastings and mystery dinners? The nature of this building lends itself to all sorts of possibilities. I can even see it as a home...a LARGE home whose occupants must extend hospitality to all sorts of people in need.

So there you have it...dream #1. Buy, renovate and share this glorious building!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

For Want of Wit: 6

So. We're sitting at a Christian school auction, my husband and I, with a table full of friends from church. The auctioneer announces that they are now auctioning off a puppy. His helpers bring this teeny-tiny, darling Cockapoo out for everyone to "Oooh" and "Ahhh" over. And they do. Suckers.

Let me tell you, there was a royal bidding battle such as I've never witnessed over that li'l thing! At least 3 spoiled ladies were determined he was gonna be all theirs. One of them finally won out and secured herself a bundle of trouble for a mere $1200! auctioneers often do...he announces a SPECIAL SURPRISE!!! Little Mr. Puppy has a wittle brudder who also needs a home. Awwww....! So, which of these ladies will win out this time, we wonder.

Hey! Just for fun (and since everyone at our table is ribbing me about sending Winston away), let's get in on the beginning of the bidding war. Ha ha ha! Won't that be funny?! So...the bidding starts at $400. As my husband raises his card, the table bursts out in hearty laughter. And we laughed and laughed and laughed until we realized that NO ONE else was gonna bid on this puppy!!! The spoiled little ladies were offended at not getting the first one and wanted nothing to do with this little guy. WE WERE THE ONLY BIDDER ON THAT DOG!!!

And for a mere $400, we took him home with us. Oi-vay.

I tried to envision how thoroughly overjoyed my boys would be and how fully they would forgive me for getting rid of Winston. Maybe this is my way out of that pit, I deluded myself.

This time we settle on a name together: Simon James Alexander Ragsdale III. (thanks for that, Sandra Boynton!) We call him Simon, for short. Isn't he adorable?

I lasted 18 months this time around. And then...I did it again. Yep. I gave this dog away too. The smell...the dirt...the way he looooved and followed me around...the vet appointments...the shots...the allergies...the training...THE ABSOLUTE LACK OF HELP FROM ANY MALE SHAFFERS!!!...all led to this poor, sweet little puppy being sent away.

Will I ever learn?


Monday, June 1, 2009

For Want of Wit: 5

So, get this. I'm not a dog person.
I imagine that by now the great majority of you already know that. But do you know WHY I don't like them? Do the words dirty, demanding and dependent mean anything to you? (and smelly, but that doesn't fit with my nicely alliterated list, now does it?)

However...being the loving, gracious wife and mother than I am (ahem...), I once agreed to allow the Shaffer Dad to acquire a dog for our son, Eric, for his birthday. Not just any dog, mind you. But a very expensive, non-shedding Wheaten Terrier...from New York. My husband had to fly there to get him, then drive him all the way back to St. Louis.

We named him Winston...after Winston Churchill, of course. Isn't he sooo stinkin' cute?

And filthy...and smelly...and stubborn. And MUCH larger than he is supposed to be! And he looooves ME, of course.

Or at least he did love me...until he was 6 months old and I couldn't take it anymore and I sent him away. heard correctly. My darling husband drove him back to New York to place him in a suitable home. He had to get the official Wheaten haircut before we returned him...he's still kinda cute, isn't he?

By the way, did you catch the full impact of what I just said? I SENT MY SON'S DOG AWAY!! The morning Steve loaded him in the car and headed back to NY was one of the worst mornings of my life. I am eternally indebted to my children and perpetually digging myself out of a pit of guilt. What was I thinking?