26 November 2008

Over the river(s)...

Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise
Give thanks to Him, bless His name.
For the LORD is good;
His lovingkindness is everlasting
And His faithfulness to all generations.
Psalm 100:4-5

We're heading east.
Road trip!
Cracker Barrel.
Steak and Shake.
License plate game.
Alphabet game.
"We'll get there when we get there!"

We are abundantly blessed. How do you number that? (hmmm... maybe we should try...)

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

On prayer

In the morning, while it was still very dark, he got up and went out to a deserted place, and there he prayed.
- Mark 1:35

Prayer is an attitude toward life that sees everything as ultimately sacred, everything as potentially life-changing, everything as revelatory of life’s meaning. It is our link between dailiness and eternity.
- Joan Chittister

(from Sojourners Verse and Voice, November 25, 2008)

25 November 2008


The more time I spend in the Word, the more I am in awe of how it has been woven together, of the connectiveness between Old and New, of beginning and end and everything in between.

This graphic shows that. And I stare at it in wonder.

For the scientific explanation (and there is one!), click here.

(thanks to The Point for the reference)

24 November 2008

ESL Thanksgiving

I will give thanks to You, O Lord, among the peoples;
I will sing praises to You among the nations.
For Your lovingkindness is great to the heavens
And Your truth to the clouds.
Psalm 57:9-10

Absolutely and without hesitation, one of the most delightful things I do in the week is participate in the English as a Second Language (ESL) ministry at my church. Once a week, folks originally from points all around the globe, from Africa and Asia and North America and South America (no Europeans right now...) gather, here in the middle of the United States, in our basement classrooms to learn English, and hopefully, make friends and hear the good news of the Gospel while they are doing it. And each week, I'm willing to wager that the staff is more blessed than the students!

Tonight was no exception, as we welcomed the nations through our door again, this time to celebrate the distinctly American holiday tradition of Thanksgiving. We served a traditional Thanksgiving meal, turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberries, and apple pie. We had to explain the food to some. How do you explain what a cranberry tastes like? Tart, but in sauce, sweet... We learned that dressing, or stuffing, does not even translate in Chinese or in Spanish. Definitely distinctly American- "bread that goes inside the bird." :-)

What pleasure, to be part of the many cultures and tongues, enjoying one another! What joy, to serve the nations that God has brought to our own neighborhood!
Enjoy some photos of our gathering!

Sunday morning

Sunday Morning

Eyes open
Warm bed
Cold floor
Quiet house
Coffee brewed
Word pursued
Prayers lifted
Comfort received

Breakfast baked
Clothes ironed
Hair styled
Books gathered
Passengers collected
Pew selected
Family seated
Comfort received

Praises lifted
Harmony blends
Confession uttered
Grace covers
Voices singing
Word ringing
Peace, Be Still
Comfort received

Familiar faces
Bespeckled hugs
Tears flowing
Laughter ringing
Thoughts pursued
Word anew
Press on
Comfort received

23 November 2008

New every morning

The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3:22-23

(photo credit: Sunrise at Bantam Lake, Litchfield, CT, by Patricia Wilcox)

(I may have used this verse and I may have used this photo before. I can't remember. But, it's my blog and I can do that! :-) This is what speaks to me this morning! Blessed Sabbath to you and yours.)

21 November 2008

Why Walk When You Can Fly

So as part of the Alison Krauss mix last week, and as part of the Emmylou Harris mix this week, Pandora shuffled up this little gem of a song by Mary Chapin Carpenter that I really enjoy...

In this world there's a whole lot of trouble, baby
In this world there's a whole lot of pain
In this world there's a whole lot of trouble
But a whole lot of ground to gain
Why take when you could be giving, why watch as the world goes by
It's a hard enough life to be living, why walk when you can fly

In this world there's a whole lot of sorrow
In this world there's a whole lot of shame
In this world there's a whole lot of sorrow
And a whole lotta ground to gain
When you spend your whole life wishing, wanting and wondering why
It's a long enough life to be living, why walk when you can fly

In this world there's a whole lot of cold
In this world there's a whole lot of blame
In this world you've a soul for a compass
And a heart for a pair of wings
There's a star on the far horizon, rising bright in an azure sky
For the rest of the time that you're given, why walk when you can fly

Pandora Radio

During the summer a friend introduced me to Pandora Radio and I've been enjoying it ever since. Pandora is the result product of the Music Genome Project, where musicians and technology guys figured out the "genetic code" of music, and matched up like with like. The practical application is that I can type in an artist I like, and Pandora comes up with a "radio station" for me. Lately in the evenings, I've been in an Emmylou Harris, Alison Krauss, James Taylor kind of mood, and my wish is Pandora's command. Tomorrow is cleaning day around here- and I have a feeling that it will be more of a U2, Feist, and Paul Simon kin of day. Pandora will even mix it up for you. I love it!

19 November 2008

Wordful Wednesday- Creativity

I was away from the house yesterday afternoon for a while, at a meeting, driving kids. Even so, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on in my absence- several calls from home, AND a photo record of sorts.

I arrived home to find that, after completing, ahem- most, of her schoolwork, my youngest went to work creating this mask.

Cool, I told her.
Why a mask?
Oh, I saw a mask in a book and I haven't made one in a while.

Good enough for me.

My mask-maker- she's one creative girl. Give that girl a box of crayons, a few pipe cleaners and a roll of tape, and watch out. (Adhesives are key. Tape and glue are coveted in this house. If I really want to keep them, I hide them from creative girl!)

On my camera there were photos of the mask being created and photos of the mask complete, but flat. It takes on much more character upright and worn properly.

There was also a photo of a shoe stepping on the mask. Hmmm... perhaps NOT a photo of domestic tranquility. Photo evidence. But that, perhaps is better left for another Wordful Wednesday.

Thanks to 7ClownCircus- be sure to visit and check out what else is Wordful this Wednesday!

16 November 2008

The Lord's Day

O Lord My Lord,
this is thy day,
the heavenly ordinance of rest,
the open door of worship,
the record of Jesus' resurrection,
the seal of the sabbath to come,
the day when saints militant and triumphant unite in endless song.

I bless thee for the throne of grace,
that here free favour reigns;
that open access to it is through the blood of Jesus;
that the veil is torn aside and I can enter the holiest and find thee ready to hear,
waiting to be gracious,
inviting me to pour out my needs,
encouragaging my desires,
promising to give more than I ask or think.

But while I bless thee, shame and confusion are mine:
I remember my past misuse of sacred things,
my irreverent worship,
my base ingratitude,
my cold, dull praise.

Sprinkle all my past sabbaths with the cleansing blood of Jesus,
and my this day witness deep improvement in me.
Give me rich abundance
the blessings the Lord's Day was designed to impart;
May my heart be fast bound against worldly thoughts or cares;
Flood my mind with peace beyond understanding;
may my meditations be sweet,
my acts of worship life, liberty, joy,
my drink the streams that flow from thy throne,
my food the precious Word,
my defense the shield of faith,
and may my heart be more knit to Jesus.

from The Valley of Vision, ed. by Arthur Bennett
(with apologies, as it is evidently impossible to add idents in HTML. At least impossible for me! We lose the flow of the format, but still, the content is rich.)

13 November 2008

Writer's Workshop- Haiku

Over at Mama's Losin' It, Kat hosts Thursday's Writer's Workshop.
One of today's five prompts-

Write a haiku about what you see out the window.

Looking out the dining room window to the backyard:

Skeleton branches,
Dry leaves barely hanging on,
Fall turns to winter.

Looking out a dining room window to the side yard:

Evergreen pine branch,
Soggy leaves on muddy ground,
Thorns and orange berries.

This was such a fun assignment! My younger girls are working on poetry this week, also- writing a definition poem, a limerick, an example of hyperbole, and a diamante. Poetry prompts us to think and express ourselves in a new and different way. Try it!

12 November 2008

Wordful Wednesday- Wandering Son

If it's Wednesday it's time for Wordful Wednesday, that weekly photo carnival hosted by SevenClownCircus.

My contribution this week- this photo of my family at Hubbard Glacier in the waters of Alaska this summer, my husband, my four girls, and my... WAIT! Everyone EXCEPT my son! And hence, a Wordful Wednesday story...

True to the blog title, many in my family are prone to wander. On this day, my family was headed to one of the observation decks to go outside to, well, glacier watch. (you just never know when glaciers will get exciting. They can break, calf, at any moment, you know...) I went to fetch youngest daughter from an activity and left the others headed topside. (hmmm... that might be submarine, not cruise-line, lingo...)
So while I'm away, our son hops on the elevator and no one else joins him. Did he jump off? No. Did my husband stop him? No. Did my husband shout words of advice like, "Stay on the elevator!" No. In fact, the family witness gives testimony that he actually waved as the elevator doors closed and said "Goodbye." And then, my only son was gone.

Now the good news and the reality of being on a cruise ship is that there's not far to wander and you certainly won't starve. Once back in our room to hear messages, we had periodic posts from wandering son, the likes of "Hi, this is your abandonned son. I'm on the Lido Deck at the Taco Bar..." and "Hi, again, this is your abandonned son. I'm in the restaurant with a slice of pizza." Apparently glacier watching wasn't high on his priorities.

We did eventually find said son, in less than an hour, and we did marvel at the wonder of the glacier. And we did get that family photo, my husband, my four girls, and my son...

Don't forget to head over to SevenClownCircus to enjoy more Wordful Wednesday contributions.

11 November 2008

A Book MeMe

Inspired by Palm Tree Pundit...

* Grab the nearest book.*
* Open it to page 56.*
* Find the fifth sentence.*
* Post the text of the sentence on your blog with these instructions.*
Don’t dig for your favorite book, the cool book, or the intellectual one: pick the CLOSEST.

Across from me, on the coffee table, is The Adventures of Tom Sawyer-

"This comes of playing hooky and doing everything a feller's told not to do."

Tom and Huck. :-)
Love our reading list this year!

On Veteran's Day

This column by Tom Purcell appeared in our local op/ed section today, and I find that it sums up exactly why we commemorate Veteran's Day.

Even in Hurricane, Sentinels Lovingly Guard Tomb of the Unknowns

Hurricane Isabel struck Wash­ington, D.C., hard that night. It was Sept. 18, 2003. I lived in Alex­andria, Va., at the time. I rode out the storm read­ing a book and enjoying a glass of wine.

At Arlington National Ceme­tery, a few miles away, the sentinels at the Tomb of the Unknowns were having an entirely differ­ent experience.

The Tomb of the Unknowns was established in 1921. Three of its chambers contain the remains of unknown soldiers from World War I, World War II and Korea. (A fourth had held the remains of an unknown soldier from the Vi­etnam War until DNA technology determined his identity.)

Only the finest soldiers are se­lected to guard the tomb. The sentinels are specially trained soldiers of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (“The Old Guard”). They watch over the tomb 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As each solitary guard paces be­fore the tomb, his movements are precise, his dress impeccable.

Each guard’s dedication is made clear by the Sentinel’s Creed:
My dedication to this sacred duty is total and wholehearted.
In the responsibility bestowed on me, never will I falter.
And with dignity and persever­ance, my standard will remain perfection.
Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my abil­ity.
It is he who commands the re­spect I protect.
His bravery that made us so proud.
Surrounded by well-meaning crowds by day, alone in the thoughtful peace of night, this soldier will in honored glory rest under my eternal vigilance.

By guarding the tomb with eternal vigilance, the sentinel validates the words of the sol­dier’s prayer: “It is the soldier who has given us our freedoms. It’s the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It’s the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It’s the soldier, not the campus or­ganizer, who has given us the freedom to object. It’s the sol­dier, not the lawyer, who has given us the right to a fair trial.”

Which brings us back to Hurri­cane Isabel. For the first time in the tomb’s history, in prepara­tion of a potentially dangerous storm, the commanding officers established a contingency plan.

The sentinels were free to withdraw to safer positions un­der the Memorial Amphitheater arches or inside the trophy room should conditions become life­threatening — positions from which they still could maintain their mission watching over the tomb. None would leave.

But as Hurricane Isabel struck — 24 trees would be up­rooted across the cemetery and three headstones would be crushed — each sentinel took turns standing his ground.

There really was no other op­tion. How could a sentinel retreat to safer ground in the midst of a dinky hurricane when so many others gave so much more?

We’ve just come through a wrenching political season. Some folks are jubilant at the re­sults, whereas others are de­flated and even worried. But de­spite the disagreement over policies and politics, I’m confi­dent that America will do the right thing over the long haul.

Honor, sacrifice and duty are still alive and well. If you don’t believe me, pay a visit to Arling­ton National Cemetery and stop by the Tomb of the Unknowns. It is one place where American sacrifice, duty and honor are on full display 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

■ Contact the writer: http://www.TomPurcell.com

10 November 2008

Hope is the thing

"Hope" is the thing
with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune
without the words –
And never stops at all.

- Emily Dickinson
(poetry credit to Sojourners Verse and Voice; art credit to Geninne's Art Blog)

08 November 2008

National Home School Volleyball Tournament

If you have any doubt that home educated students can participate in activities equivalent to those offered in a traditional school setting, here is example #1 for today- the National Home School Volleyball Tournament. This is not backyard volleyball as you remember it from a lazy summer picnic. These are varsity level athletes from around the United States, and they give us spectators an exciting weekend of volleyball. We're particularly excited that our team is competing for the championship in the Gold bracket today!
Go Warriors!

(photo credit from the NHSVBT 2007 archives)

05 November 2008

... while the sun shines

If it's Wednesday, it's time to visit SevenClownCircus again! This week's Wordful Wednesday shows a shot of my kids, taken last week on our outing to find pumpkins. An outing that almost turned much more expensive than I planned.

It's a fall tradition for me and my kids to head to the local farm stand and enjoy the traditions of fall and buy a few pumpkins. We've been doing it since my oldest two were toddlers. (except Hawaii... not many pumpkin farms in Hawaii...) For the last few years, we've journeyed a short ways from home, but time got away from us this year, and it was practically the end of pumpkin season before we journeyed mere minutes to a nearby pumpkin patch.

On October weekends, I guess this small family owned farm has a lot going on, tractor rides and pumpkin painting and all that. But on this Wednesday afternoon, it was just me and my kids, and a small group of preschoolers. We wandered around the barn, a lady asked us if we needed help, and I told her no. We kept wandering. We meandered outside. We tramped through corn stalks, formerly known as a maze, but now pretty much trampled and thin. We hopped over a few bales of hay. We climbed over an old tractor. And then we went back to the barn to pick out our pumpkins.

We strolled back into the barn and the lady looks at us and asks, "Were you in the playground?" "Playground?," I asked. Apparently we had crossed over into the entertainment zone and now owed $5 each. $5 times 6 people. ouch. The pumpkin budget is diminishing quickly.

I dug out the checkbook and got ready to write, when suddenly, the lady had mercy on us.
"Well, I'll let it go this time, but next time you'll have to pay,"she told me, sternly.
"I understand, and thank you so much," I told her gratefully, when I was really thinking, "There will be no next time, but lets buy some pumpkins and get out of here!"
We bought 4 nice pumpkins, both because I didn't want to completely stiff her and because that's why we were there in the first place, and such was the adventure until next year.

Make hay while the sun shines!
And have a great Wordful Wednesday!

My Country, My President

As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, we are not enemies but friends. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
Barak Obama, Victory Speech, Chicago, IL, November 4, 2008

I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president. And I call on all Americans, as I have often in this campaign, to not despair of our present difficulties, but to believe, always, in the promise and greatness of America, because nothing is inevitable here.
John McCain, Concession Speech, Phoenix, AZ, November 4, 2008

04 November 2008

Bipartisan offenders

Last night, among the five telemarketing calls we received, the only one to leave a message was Lee Terry, US Representative for the 2nd District of Nebraska, who told me, (I am NOT making this up...) "I was just calling seniors in the District tonight to talk about Social Security..."

Seniors? Social security? Sure, the grays are coming out, but SENIOR?

A few minutes ago, a few folks, in their "Vote November 4th" t-shirts, toting Obama signs, looking quite perky and ready to sway the 'hood, parked in front of my house, stood on my freshly repaved sidewalk, looked at their sheaf of papers, looked at my door, and then... split to walk in different directions.

Don'tcha want to talk to ME? Tell ME to vote? Tell ME about change we can believe in?

But, that's ok. I already voted. We're off to seek free donuts and coffee...

I Hear America Singing!

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics , each one singing as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else...

-Walt Whitman, "I Hear America Singing," from Leaves of Grass, 1855
(Art credit: Jolly Flatboatmen in Port, George Caleb Bingham, 1857, Saint Louis Art Museum permanent collection)

03 November 2008

"because we've never had a savior on Capitol Hill"

"We don't live for politics. We don't base our confidence about the future on whoever gets elected." John Piper, on Election 2008

I recently heard this song by Derek Webb in concert. It's, perhaps, a little bit more cynical than I really am. I do believe that it's important to vote. I do believe that it's important to be informed and know what your stand on the issues are, and I do believe that it is important to vote those prinicples.

But, I do agree with Piper and with Webb, no elected official is going to be the solution to all of our problems. I'm holding onto the promise of eternity for that.

Here's the lyrics in case you don't catch them and you really want to know...