Monday, November 30, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook

Outside my window...sunny and 42. A perfect November day.

From the kitchen...I discovered this morning that no matter how low the burner heat is, if you put an egg in the pan, walk away and forget about it, it will burn. A profound discovery, my friends.

Around the house...the tree is trimmed, the mantle is decked and the stockings are hung!

A favorite thing...watching Hal, Luke and MaryKate in church. :-)

I am thinking...that Christmas music is one of the happiest sounds known to mankind.

I am hearing...White Christmas.

I am reading...A Christmas Carol.

I am creating...a story. I am attempting to write a creative short story, which doesn't come easily to me and I've never done it successfully yet. Could take me a while, but I'll share it if I ever finish and am satisfied (doubtful on both counts!).

I am thankful...for the "wood man." Mark comes by a couple times every year and stacks our front porch with cords of cured wood...a source of many hours of pure pleasure!

Plans for my week...Monday: bring Riesa back here after her week at home with Mother. Tuesday: coffee with a friend who is going to give me a musical instrument...I'm not telling what kind of instrument yet, but trust me, you'll be amused! Wednesday: Grant's first basketball game...quartet practice "Gabriel's Message" Thursday: organize next quarter's Sunday School curriculum Friday: more basketball Saturday: work in the garden. Nothing special...just your average mom's week.

A photo/video I am sharing...the room where I hide during the winter:

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Attitude Adjustment

For November my choice of memorization was this little inspirational piece from Miss Helen Keller:

Sometimes, it is true, a sense of isolation enfolds me like a cold mist as I sit alone and wait at life's shut gate. Beyond there is light and music and sweet companionship, but I may not enter. Fate, silent, pitiless, bars the way. Fain would I question his imperious decree for my heart is still undisciplined and passionate. But my tongue will not utter the bitter and futile words which rise to my lips, and they fall back into my heart like unshed tears. Silence sits immense upon my soul. Then comes hope with a smile and whispers, "There is joy in self-forgetfulness!" So, I try to make the light in other's eyes my sun, the music in other's ears my symphony, the smile on other's lips my happiness.

From a woman who could neither hear nor see, those are some profound words.

Friday, November 27, 2009

My Boy, Grant

My emotional and mental resources are running a little low these last few days, so that I can think of nothing clever to write about my eldest son turning 16! What can I say that I haven't said before? He's a great kid. You wanna know more than that? Follow these links!

Or...just click on the label "Grant" at the bottom of this post and you'll see everything I've said about him on the blog!

Here he is with his brother, Eric, and his great-nephew, Julian

With his Pop

With his Mama

Letting Julian help him blow out his candles

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Necessary, The Luxurious, & The Mystical

Reflections from A Thanksgiving Past:

Each year our church holds a service on Thanksgiving morning, which includes hymn-singing, the offering of public thanks and a brief sermon. The sermon from two years ago has stuck with me and has given me occasion for much meditation over the past 24 months. I'll try to pass on the main ideas in hopes that it will be helpful for you as well. Pastor Meyers encouraged us and instructed us to give thanks, by tying our thanksgiving to the Lord's Supper - also called "The Eucharist" - from the Greek word, eucharistos, which means "gratitude" or "thanksgiving". In the Lord's Supper, we give thanks for the bread, the wine and the body & blood of Christ. In these three we see reflections of the KINDS of things for which we should give thanks.

Bread is ordinary...common...necessary. It provides sustenance for our bodies and represents our daily needs - those things for which we often forget to ask or to return thanks...those provisions which we so easily take for granted in everyday life. Yet our Lord taught us to pray for "our daily bread," and the Eucharist teaches us to give thanks for the provision of our daily bread. What is meant by daily bread? Food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, transportation, work, money, along with every necessity for sustaining life. We must remember to give thanks for these ordinary gifts of God which come to us so often by way of others' hands.

Wine is a luxury. It requires wisdom to make...the study and practice of years...the long-term cultivation of vines...diligence, vigilance and the labor of skilled men are all essential for producing good wine. Wine isn't a necessity which provides bodily sustenance, but a luxury which provides gladness of heart and rest. It represents all the abundance that is beyond our daily needs and for our enjoyment. We should remember too that this means for lightening our spirits didn't have to be created in a form that was pleasing to the eye, nose and palate...it could have been inhaled, injected or come through tasteless mush. Instead, God designed the means itself bring us pleasure! In giving thanks for the wine, we should recognize all the luxurious provisions by which He blesses us: easy access to The Word of God, freedom to pray and worship publicly, wise and faithful pastors and elders, medical advancements, technology, music, art, literature, architecture, kind neighbors, just laws, righteous judges, etc. We must remember to give thanks for the abundance of gifts which God bestows on us for our pleasure, enjoyment and peaceful existence.

The body and blood of Christ are mystical. Do not panic! By that, I am not positing some bizarre religous or philosophical idea. The breaking of Christ's body and the pouring out of His blood, that is to say, His suffering and death, in some mysterious way are FOR US. His suffering and death redeem us, bring us back to God, transform us. This is indeed a great mystery! In a similar way, which also remains mysterious, our suffering and dying are also for the world. God uses our suffering and death to transform others. You've heard the saying, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church"? It's true. When the people of God give themselves up to be broken and poured out, it brings life and redemption and healing. Remember too that Paul says in Colossians 1, "I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, that is, the church." Because Paul knew his suffering was for the sake of others, he gave thanks for and rejoiced in it. We should do so as well!

Disclaimer: These words are not, by any means, intended as a comprehensive theology of The Eucharist!! They only represent one of many ways that weekly participation in The Supper can transform our way of thinking about life...one simple application among many!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesday

Some words to consider this Thanksgiving:

glut - (v) Latin: gluto to devour - the habit or act of eating too much

satiate, sate, satisfy - (v) - Latin: satis enough - to fill in such a way that desire is lost

surfeit - (v) Middle English surfet to overdo - to indulge or be supplied to excess, especially with food or drink

cloy - (v) Middle English acloien to hamper or harm - to make weary or displeased by overindulgence, especially in something rich or sweet

content - (v) Latin continere to contain - to make happy enough with what one has without desiring more

Happy Eating everyone!!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Sociology of Starbucks 2

Engrossed in my book, I sit comfortably enfolded in the upholstered orange chair, just minding my own business, when a man about my age (a sprite, young fellow...) who has papers, books and a laptop spread out all over his table, gets up and addresses me.

"You gonna be here a couple minutes?" he inquires.

He wasn't the creepy or flirtatious sort, so I answer, "Yes."

"OK," he replies.

End of conversation.

He walks off, presumably to the bathroom, since there's no other place to go within the Starbucks. He doesn't ask me to watch his stuff or anything like that, which strikes me as odd. What could possibly motivate a complete stranger to randomly announce, "Hey, I'm gonna use the toilet. Just wanna make sure you'll still be sitting there reading your book when I return from using the toilet."

I don't know. Is there anything about me that communicates that I'm friendly and actually care? I think not. I tend to be the stand-offish, I-don't-know-you-so-don't-speak-to-me type.

Maybe this really is his lame attempt at a pick-up line.

Maybe he requires and is hoping to get a motherly reminder: "Don't forget to wash your hands when you're finished, Sonny!"

Maybe he's afraid of dying in the bathroom if no one knows he's there.

Maybe he's an undercover cop setting me up to see if I'll steal his goods. Ooooh...

All I know, is that he returns to his seat and never says another word to me...doesn't even thank me for guarding his valuables! Well, well. And they say women are a mystery?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Leisurely Womans Daybook

Outside my window...White, twinkling icicle lights frame my house. The Shaffer boys purchased and hung these as a surprise for me while I was on my "Girls Weekend." I'm becoming quite the old sap, but when I came over the rise and first saw our house, I cried.

From the kitchen...pig candy. Ever had it? It's bacon piled high with brown sugar and baked until carmelized (preferably thick sliced, smoked, with the edges caked with cracked pepper). Absolutely divine!

Around the house...I came home from a weekend with the girls to a house that was CLEANER than I left it...which, in one sense, isn't saying much, since I left it pretty messy and dirty...but in another sense is saying everything, since I left it in the hands of the 3 Shaffer males!

A favorite thing...The Holidays! November through January have traditionally been my happiest times of the year. I love all the hype surrounding Christmas...afterall, it is the origin of our greatest joys, is it not? I find that all the traditions energize me because they support, rather than detract from, the atmosphere of festivity that is perfectly appropriate to rejoicing in the coming of our Deliverer.

I am thinking...that I'm glad the Lord has graced me with numerous Christian friends who are gracious, mature and self-sacrificial in their love for me.

I am wearing...One of many new additions to my wardrobe from a weekend shopping at the lake...a modern version of a gray turtleneck sweater and matchstick jeans.

I am hearing...legendary guitar player, Chet Atkins. This gentleman ranks right up there with Doc Watson, Leo Kottke, John Pizzarelli and Andre Segovia, as one of the premier guitarists of all time.

I am reading...still working through "All My Holy Mountain."

I am creating...starting today (a little late) to design our family Christmas card. I haven't sent them for about 3 years now and really hope to make it happen this time. We'll see...

Plans for my week...get back on my diet after a weekend of feasting on every possible delicacy known to womankind! Cook for Thanksgiving: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, sweet potatoes, and cranberry salad...hopefully for the pleasure of good friends who have taken us in for the day. Decorate the house for Christmas!!

A photo/video I am sharing...an image from Christmas past:

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesday

Root:

bibo, bibere, bibi, bibitum - Latin (v) to drink

Derivatives:

imbibe - to drink in

winebibber - one who drinks wine, usually to excess

Because you always wanted to know:

1898 - At the Universal and Colonial Exhibition in Lyon in 1894, the entrance to the Michelin stand is decorated with two columns of tires piled high, prompting Édouard Michelin to remark "Give it some arms and legs and it would look like a man!" Soon afterwards, André Michelin conceives a character based on a sketch by the illustrator O'Galop, alias Marius Rossillon. His motto is "Nunc est Bibendum" a Latin verse from the poet Horace which means "Now is the time to drink!" and so in 1898 the "Michelin Man" was born in a series of posters which rapidly became famous and as familiar as the jovial character the French still call "Bibendum."

Bibendum's career as a public figure began in June when he starred as a cardboard cut-out, on the Michelin stand at the Paris Motor Show in the Tuileries Gardens, an imposing silhouette strategically placed to impress visitors. At his feet a phonograph broadcast a series of spoken messages, popular songs and operatic airs, interspersed with slogans vaunting the merits of Michelin tires. Visitors were hugely taken with the image of the cup of nails and shards of glass with which Bibendum quenched his inexhaustible thirst, the embodiment of a tire "gulping down obstacles", to the extent that for a while the rubber man was known as the "road drunkard."

At first the nail drinker had a variety of nicknames but had not been christened officially. This came about by a chance. A month later, that July competitor Léon Théry saw André Michelin driving up in his Panhard-Lavasseur to attend the Paris - Amsterdam - Paris race, and exclaimed "Hey, here comes Bibendum!" Michelin was so amused that he decided on the spot to appropriate the name for his publicity mascot.

Delighted by his mascot's growing popularity, André Michelin decided he would take the process a stage further at the Paris Cycle Show at the Champ de Mars that December. Bibendum would of course be present, but instead of using a phonograph, his voice would be produced by a fairground barker. He appointed one of his recent recruits, a young man called Patsy, to scout for the necessary talent, someone with the stentorian tones appropriate to such an imposing figure as the rubber man. Unaccustomed to head-hunting missions of this kind, Patsy's first idea was to stand around the Paris markets listening to the salesmen selling their wares. "Perfect Elocution" the boss had told him "Keen repartee.. Wit without vulgarity" A tall order indeed. After a days searching he still had nothing to show for his efforts.

Young Patsy was not one to be easily discouraged however and on reflection, he decided his best chance of finding the man he wanted lay in doing the rounds of cabarets currently flourishing following the success of Rodolphe Salis's Chat Noir cabaret. Night after night he combed the streets of Montmartre and the Latin quarter until one evening he found himself at the Cabaret du Ciel at 53 Boulevard de Clichy, watching an act by two comedians disguised as preachers. Just what he was looking for!

And thus it was that a comedian-preacher was hired to lend his voice to Bibendum from 2pm to 5pm every day. The impersonation went so well that the massive crowd that gathered to watch and listen began to obstruct the view of the neighbouring stand - A rival tire company!

Since his conception in 1898, Bibendum has undergone many changes, he has lost a number of rubber rings, stopped smoking his cigar, changed his glasses, become less frightening, he has become fatter and then slimmer.

There is no end of poses and situations that he has been in. He is very much alive and well and is still one of the most recognisable and venerable advertising symbol in the world.

Text Credit Oliver Darmon - One Hundred Years of Michelin Man - Published October 1997

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

ADHD Overdose?

Catholic author, John Rosemund, was once a willing and active participant in what he now calls the ADHD Establishment. He readily and frequently dispensed the diagnosis of ADHD and its standard medications at the behest of parents and teachers, but now considers himself "reformed and repentant" regarding his former opinions.

In his book, The Diseasing of America's Children, Rosemund attempts to enlighten and empower parents by taking on the Establishment, exposing what he believes are myths which have led to excessive diagnosis and overmedication. He argues that no definitive biological basis has been discovered that would qualify ADHD [or its sister diagnoses of ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), EOBD (early onset biploar disorder), or PDD (pervasive developmental disorder)], as disease, yet they are given the status of disease. All diagnoses are purely symptomatic and the list of "symptoms" easily applies to a large segment of the population, particularly most boys under age 10 and nearly every toddler regardless of gender! Yet, this list remains the primary justification for medicating an extreme number of increasingly younger children.

Rosemund's arguments are detailed and convincing, citing numerous studies but, not surprisingly, I was on his side before I read it, so I wasn't exactly a hard-sell! In my admittedly limited experience as mother and teacher, I have seen wonders worked in "diagnosed" children by the simple application of clearly enforced boundaries, gracious discipline and high expectations. In the author's wider realm of experience, the removal of ADHD-inducing behaviors (regular TV and video game-playing) has also had profound effects on many children, in reducing or eliminating "symptoms."

He advocates significant environmental and philosophical shifts in parenting and education that will "cure" the "disease" in a vast majority of cases, and he provides substantial anecdotal evidence to corroborate his claims.

Mr. Rosemund addresses the issues intelligently, but not without considerable, and potentially misplaced, dogmatism, so if you choose to read the book, be prepared! He treats his recommendations for parents as absolute values when they might simply represent some of several effective, reasonable solutions. His traditional, no-nonsense approach to parenting might produce a desired behavioral result, but may not be the most Biblical approach and should therefore be modified accordingly.

Having said that, I still think this book should be required reading for every teacher and for parents of any child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, ODD, EOBD or PDD, as an alternative approach to medications whose long-term effects have yet to be determined.

Check it out.

Follow Me

And I will make you....? No, this is not a gospel invitation. But it is an invitation to click on that new link to the left...no, no...your other left...the one that says "FOLLOW" and you can publicly declare your allegiance to ME! Sweet, huh?

Just a little suggestion while I'm working on my next post.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 18

Outside my window...the weather matches my mood. The pundits are predicting rain for most of the week.

From the kitchen...I'm anxious to try this variation on Rice Krispy Treats, as recommended by my friend, Annie.

Around the house...the garden needs to be cut to the ground for the winter. It's SUCH a mess!! I started the task this weekend and planned to finish this week, but with rain forecast through Wednesday, it just might have to wait! Oh, well.

I am thinking...that whoever invented Double Chocolate Coffee Oatmeal Breakfast Stout is a genius.

I am wearing...my favorite fall shoes: a pair of black suede slides with 4" heels. Comfy in spite of their height.

I am hearing...Red Molly, of course. I am addicted to their most recent album, Love & Other Tragedies. ;-) These gals are really talented. I would travel a good distance to see them live. They cover old bluegrass, rag, big band, obscure singer-songwriters and country standards, in addition to writing their own stuff. Each of them plays more than one instrument and they create all their own arrangements to fit their voices. My faves on this album include Honey on My Grave, Make Me Lonely Again, May I Suggest and Sentimental Gentleman. Most of their YouTube videos are not of professional quality, but I'm gonna share this one anyway. Even though the sound is poor, it showcases their tight harmonies.

I am reading...the 5th in the Binding of the Blade series...fantasy novels written by a teacher at my sons' school.

I am thankful...for my eldest son, Grant, who turned 16 yesterday. More to come on him later this week (but don't tell HIM that!).

Plans for my week...the whole week is geared toward getting ready for my annual trip to the lake with 8 girlfriends from church. Such a refreshing and relaxing time!

A photo/video I am sharing...Grant 5 years ago. He ASKED for a suit for his birthday. You know that made this momma happy!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Sociology of Starbucks 1

The local Starbucks, it turns out, is a veritable playground for the latent anthropologist in all of us. Who needs a degree and an office with the famed psychiatrist's couch? You want to acquaint yourself with the mysteries of human nature? Just hang out at your neighborhood coffee joint for a spell.

As I sit here alone on the Starbucks patio drinking my bold black coffee, I become engaged by the human scenery. An elderly man, whose disheveled appearance and sun-weathered skin shout "VAGRANT!", rummages through his timeworn backpack and pulls out a chess board, which he promptly sets up in the traditional 2-player manner. He commences to play against himself...you know, in the now-familiar Disney-Pixar-fashion. Hey. I can say this for him. He won.

Think about it. What could possibly prompt a rational human being to play against himself in a game which relies on stealth and intellectual one-up-manship? Is it possible to gain strategic advantage against "real" opponents by artificially creating scenarios in which you invent both the problem and the solution? It's a legitimate question, is it not? Does he ever challenge an "other" to a game of chess, and if so, how does he handle losing? Or has this simply become part of his compulsory daily routine?

All I know is...after this gentleman soundly defeats his invisible alter-ego - looking quite satisfied with himself for having done so - he very methodically replaces the game in his seemingly very well-organized backpack (a vagrant with OCD? doesn't get much more fascinating than that!), then proceeds to extract another delightful surprise...a pharmaceutical vial labeled "E-Coli" from which he nonchalantly takes a couple swigs before returning it to its assigned pocket in the bag. I'm serious. I suppose the rigors of a nomadic lifestyle demand extreme measures...? How - and from whom - does one actually acquire a vial of E-Coli? Maybe it's readily available at my friendly neighborhood Walgreens and I just don't know it!

After he finishes what appears to be a grooming routine, including finger-brushing his white locks and beard, he slings his life's possessions onto his back, hops on his bicycle and heads out. Next stop...St. Charles? Kansas City? Denver? Does he actually have a destination? Is he hiding/running from his past? Or is he merely adventurous of heart? Is he loved by anyone? Does he like this lifestyle or does he feel trapped in it? Does he ever interact with other human beings along his way?

I don't know where he's bound or why, but I know I've been privileged to observe a few intriguing moments of his life, which leads me to contemplate the variety and complexity of the human spirit as well as The Mind of The Maker.

And all I wanted was a cup of coffee.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

What's That Stench? Part None

Just to let those of you who are waiting with bated breath for the final installments of this series (both of you...), I have not been defeated once again by my short attention span, but I am grappling with - in a way I didn't anticipate - what to say and what I really BELIEVE about repentance and forgiveness. I know what I have always SAID I believe, but putting it into words for others to read forces me to examine my own heart and life to see if I live it. Ugh. Bear with me. I hope to win the battle and finish the series!

It Quite O'ercrows My Spirit

Helpful quotes from Lewis's book, The Problem of Pain:

All arguments in justification of suffering provoke bitter resentment against the author. You would like to know how I behave when I am experiencing pain, not writing books about it. You need not guess, for I will tell you; I am a great coward. When I think of pain - of anxiety that gnaws like fire and loneliness that spreads out like a desert, and the heartbreaking routine of monotonous misery, or again of dull aches that blacken our whole landscape or sudden nauseating pains that knock a man's heart out at one blow, of pains that seem already intolerable and then are suddenly increased, it 'quite o'ercrows my spirit'. If I knew any way of escape I would crawl through sewers to find it. But what is the good of telling you about my feelings? You know them already: they are the same as yours. I am not arguing that pain is not painful. Pain hurts. That is what the word means. I am only trying to show that the old Christian doctrine of being made 'perfect through suffering' is not incredible. To prove it palatable is beyond my design.

My own experience is something like this. I am progressing along the path of life in my ordinary contentedly fallen and godless condition, absorbed in a merry meeting with my friends for the morrow or a bit of work that tickles my vanity today, a holiday or a new book, when suddenly a stab of abdominal pain that threatens serious disease, or a headline in the newspapers that threatens us all with destruction, sends this whole pack of cards tumbling down. At first I am overwhelmed, and all my little happinesses look like broken toys. Then, slowly and reluctantly, bit by bit, I try to bring myself into the frame of mind that I should be in at all times. I remind myself that all these toys were never intended to possess my heart, that my true good is in another world and my only real treasure is Christ. And perhaps, by God's grace, I succeed, and for a day or two become a creature consciously dependent on God and drawing its strength from the right sources. But the moment the threat is withdrawn, my whole nature leaps back to the toys: I am even anxious, God forgive me, to banish from my mind the only thing that supported me under the threat because it is now associated with the misery of those few days. Thus the terrible necessity of tribulation is only too clear. God has had me for but forty-eight hours and then only by dint of taking everything else away from me. Let Him but sheathe that sword for a moment and I behave like a puppy when the hated bath is over - I shake myself as dry as I can and race off to reacquire my comfortable dirtiness, if not in the nearest manure heap, at least in the nearest flower bed. And that is why tribulation cannot cease until God either sees us remade or sees that our remaking is now hopeless.

May He see us remade!

And...May we believe that the sufferings of this present life are not worthy to be compared to the glory which will be revealed in us one day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesday

Root:

gravis, grav, griev - Latin (adj) - heavy, serious, weighty

Derivatives:

gravity (adj) - seriousness; weightiness; importance

gravitate (v) - to pull by force or weight

aggravate (v) - to make more serious or heavy

grave (adj) - of a serious nature (the burial "grave" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "grafan," not this Latin root...FYI)

grief (n) - heaviness of spirit

grievance (adj) - a weighty hardship, complaint or injustice

Now, ya'll don't let Joanie win it unchallenged this week! At least give her some competition. Or are ya'll tired of playing this game? Sentences, please...or other derivatives (there ARE more!).

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Mom...Please Don't

So get this. This afternoon I show up at school to pick up my darling son, Eric - you know, his school isn't exactly on the way to anywhere, so I had to go out of my way to get him - and I'm promptly greeted with, "Oh, thank you, Mother Dear, for loving me enough to drive all this way to pick me up!" Yeah right. Try this:

ERIC: Hey, Mom. Can you maybe not wear that hat when you come to school to pick me up? Or could you take it off when you're in the parking lot?

ME: (long, uncomfortable silence followed by) Are you...serious? I didn't even get out of the CAR!

ERIC: I know. It's just...uh...it just kinda looks like an engineer's hat and my friends might think you're weird.

ME: Are you embarrassed by my hat?

ERIC: Well...yeah...sort of.

ME: Wow...here I was walking around all day thinking I looked young and hip and stylish. Instead, I look silly enough to embarrass my son whose friends might catch a glimpse OF MY HEAD through the windshield and think he has a weird mom. Wow.

I know. We're supposed to take pride in humiliating our children, right? But it's not like I have a fashionista teenage daughter who can advise me on "What NOT to wear." I could be way out of the loop here and not even realize it! IDK. This is what his friends would have seen:

I know. I know. Crazy. Embarrassing. Weird. Humiliating. Here's the whole outfit:

Please tell me I don't need to feel ashamed about the hundreds of people who passed me today and did a double-take. I thought they were admiring "the look" when instead they could have been thinking what my son was thinking..."What was SHE thinking?" "Too old to pull that one off." "What planet is SHE from?" "Get a life, Lady."

The child apologized later in case he had offended, hurt or bothered me by his remarks. Sorry? Hmph. He's just looking for an invitation to the dinner table tonight. I know how they work, these kids.

At least now I know what to wear to his first wrestling match...

Leisurely Riesa's Daybook

Outside my window...this gives a whole new meaning to those signs on our street which say "Neighborhood Watch."

Around the house...It is highly imperative that my calculator and clock remain "in sync" at all times. OCD? What's that?

A favorite thing...I am is exceedingly fond of my walker. If you inadvertently touch it, I might inadvertently "cut your fat head off."

I am thinking...that Lori is my good sweet girl.

I am wearing...my favorite vest, which Lori confiscates when I'm not looking so that I can't wear it every single day until forever.

I am hearing...Episode # 3 of "I Love Lucy"...for the 95th time in a week. Hey...funny is funny, ya know?!

I am reading...my Bible. Almost every night I climb in bed and "read" a while before turning out my lights.

I am creating...a book full of uncipherable data, which the workers at my "school" believe are the coded observations of a government spy.

I am thankful for...Mother-Grandma-Shirley.

Plans for my week..."she's not be bossy anybody anymore!"

A photo/video I'm sharing...me with my friend, Debbie, at the Whitaker Music Festival.

Monday, November 9, 2009

One Voice

Upon hearing a friend of mine claim to read books to find things with which he agrees, not disagrees, I was mildly taken aback. This is a concept completely foreign to me. I have since attempted to adopt that practice, but with little success.

According to my mother, I have been disposed to argue from a fairly early age. My natural bent is to listen with an intent to disagree. Playing devil's advocate is my hardwired default mode. Experiences of being misled in the past also taught me to be guarded, skeptical and untrusting. This combination doesn't make me the most docile person to live with or to lead, but hopefully it keeps me from being easily duped. (?) Hopefully...

Recently, I have twice referred favorably to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's, Life Together, a book about "communal life...as the 'roses and lilies' of the Christian life." It contains a great deal of advice, encouragement and instruction with which I heartily agree. But...(you knew that was coming, didn't you?), being who I am, I can't resist the urge to argue against one of his assertions with which I heartily DISagree.

He very boldly and unequivocally proclaims, "the singing of the congregation is essentially singing in unison. The purity of unison singing, unaffected by alien motives of musical techniques, the clarity, unspoiled by the attempt to give musical art an autonomy of its own apart from the words, the simplicity and frugality, the humaneness and warmth of this way of singing is the essence of all congregational singing. It becomes a question of a congregation's power of spiritual discernment whether it adopts proper unison singing. Unison singing, difficult as it is, is less of a musical than a spiritual matter."

I suggest that the "alien motives of musical technique" - otherwise known as HARMONY - by its very name decries Bonhoeffer's argument. Granted, if harmonizing is done primarily as a performance or to draw attention to oneself, it can detract from the experience of lifting "one voice" in praise to God, but that can be equally true of a showy or overpowering voice singing melody along with everyone else, can it not?

I also suggest that perhaps singing in harmony requires an even more unified spirit than singing in unison, and might more profoundly represent the reality of a Christian community. The significance of unity is lost in "sameness," while the beauty of unity is manifest when we recognize how thoroughly diverse the members of the congregation are (including vocal intonation!), and yet see and hear them functioning harmoniously...in concert with one another.

The Biblical "body" metaphor supports this idea. The hand is not the eye, but each aids the full and efficient function of the other precisely because they are not the same! Each member needs the other to be complete.

Can anyone (other than Bonhoeffer...) deny that when multiple voices join and cooperate to blend into a harmonious unified whole, the sound is infinitely more glorious than the "frugality" of unison singing? Nor do I believe that this blending in any way detracts from the single-minded oneness of heart and purpose which "one voice" is intended to express.

So I say, Mr. Bonhoeffer, bring on the harmony! Give me a full-bodied, multi-tonal congregation whose members work to blend their voices into a glorious manifestation of our unity in Christ.

NOTE: For all you members of the Tuesday morning men's book study, who, either against or in concert with your own will, have become avid readers of my blog, I recommend you refrain from fronting these ideas tomorrow. Your fellow members will call you out for espousing my thoughts as your own. :-)

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Generation Y

Everybody knows of the Baby Boomer Generation and the more recent Generation X, right? Well...one cartoonist has dubbed the current generation of young people as "Generation Y." Here's why:

This image cracked me up (no pun intended)...and has stuck with me since I first saw it. I found it so fitting that I have a playlist on my i-Pod titled "Generation Y." It's music to which my teenage boys have introduced me and to which I actually enjoy listening!

I will occasionally share some of their music with you, so you too can be enlightened by Generation Y! DISCLAIMER: anytime I recommend a particular SONG, it doesn't indicate a whole-hearted endorsement of that particular artist, his lifestyle or his philosophy of life.

Here's the first of many to come: Jack Johnson singing Banana Pancakes

video

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wordsmith Wednesdays

I've waited a long time to give a nod to that "other" classical language from which many of our English words are derived: Greek! So here you are...

Root:

pathos - Greek, n. - suffering, feeling, disease

Derivatives:

antipathy (antipathetic, antipathetical) - a feeling against someone or something; dislike

apathy (apathetic) - lack of feeling or interest

empathy (empathetic, empathize, empathetically) - the ability to enter into and understand another's feelings.

pathological (pathology, pathologist, pathological) - related to suffering or disease

sympathize (sympathy, sympathetic) - to have the same feelings

Ya'll haven't given me sentences for a while...can I get a little cooperation here? C'mon...humor me.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

For Want of Wit: 7

In my zeal to be clever, I made this card at the last minute last week to accompany some homemade soup for a sick friend...



Did I mention I was in a hurry? I sewed the card shut.

STUPID.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Leisurely Woman's Daybook 17

Outside my window...I failed to close the window shades last night, so my immediate view upon awakening this morning was a glorious red sunrise! What better way to start the day?

From the kitchen...a potful of cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg is boiling on the stove. For me it's the sentimental smell of feasting and celebration...and the holidays. It's also a labor-unintensive and non-caloric way to enjoy the aroma of home-baked goods!

Around the house...disinfecting the place now that I THINK we're finished with the flu.

A favorite thing...Mr. Clean. No, it's not JUST his bald head that attracted me, it's his smell! Seriously, it's my favorite cleaning agent. No pungent after-odor, just a refreshing, clean, windows-open kind of fresh. It's the simple things in life that bring me joy. :-)

I am wearing...my pink Cardinals ballcap. I used to scoff at PINK Cardinals-wear, until I found this hat for $4.99! Now...I kinda like it. Though I'd NEVER wear it to a GAME. THAT would be inexcusable.

I am hearing...Nancy Griffith. She's one of my old favorites. I love this version of Love at the Five & Dime. If you can, take the time to listen to the story she tells at the beginning. Any of you remember Woolworth stores? I remember many Saturdays spent in the Woolworth store in Chicago...and she's exactly right about the smell of the place and the elevator doors. Good memories...

I am reading...well, I finished reading The Problem of Pain last night. I can't say that I understood much of what Lewis was talking about, except in 3-4 of the 10 chapters. I either didn't follow and understand his train of thought, or if I DID understand it, I disagreed with him on several points! I did, however, appreciate the 2 chapters entitled "Human Pain." Here's an excerpt where he talks about the origin and purpose of our pain:

Now the proper good of a creature is to surrender itself to its Creator. In the world as we now know it, the problem is how to recover this self-surrender. We are not merely imperfect creatures who must be improved: we are rebels who must lay down our arms. To render back the will which we have so long claimed for our own, is in itself, a grievous pain. To surrender a self-will inflamed and swollen with years of usurpation is a kind of death.

God whispers to us in our pleasures, but shouts in our pain. No doubt Pain as God's megaphone is a terrible instrument; it may lead to final and unrepented rebellion. But it gives the only opportunity the man can have for amendment. It removes the veil; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul. While what we call "our own life" remains agreeable, we will not surrender it to Him. He thinks that our modest prosperity and the happiness of our children are not enough to make us blessed: that all this must fall from us in the end, and that if we have not learned to know Him we will be wretched. And therefore He troubles us, warning us in advance of an insufficiency that one day we will have to discover. The life to ourselves and our families stands between us and our recognition of our need; He makes life less sweet to us.

He will have us even though we have shown that we prefer everything else to Him. The creature's illusion of self-sufficiency must, for the creature's sake, be shattered. This illusion may be at its strongest in some very honest, kindly, and temperate people, and on such people, therefore, misfortune must fall. The dangers of apparent self-sufficiency explain why our Lord regards the vices of the feckless and dissipated so much more leniently than the vices that lead to worldly success. Prostitutes are in no danger of finding their present life so satisfactory that they cannot turn to God: the proud, the avaricious, the self-righteous, are in that danger.

If pain sometimes shatters the creature's false self-sufficiency, yet in supreme "Trial" or "Sacrifice" it teaches him the sufficiency which really ought to be his - the strength which God confers upon him through his subjected will, and this is one of the many senses in which he that loses his soul shall find it.

I am creating...a couple months ago, Riesa indicated that she wanted to bring this poster of pictures from her room at "home" (Grandma's house) to "Lori/Riesa's house" (as she calls it). Her room is darling, so I couldn't bring myself to mount it "as is." Yesterday, I FINALLY fixed it up! Now I'm motivated to finish a couple other picture collages for her as well!

I am thinking...that the Lord wants me to learn to be longsuffering with the weaknesses of others, as He is with mine.

I am thankful for...soft tissues. Seriously.

Plans for my week...I know I've said this before, but making an appointment with the orthopaedist has suddenly rocketed to the top of my priority list. Coolfire Thursday. Reformation Celebration Friday.

A photo/video I am sharing...Riesa hanging out in the front yard with us on Halloween.