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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

And life continues.....

Today I was to return to work. After my doctor's appointment,  I was to spend a half of a day trying to collect and get back on track. However, after talking to the doctor, and looking at all that has transpired, he highly recommended for me to stay out another week. A bit disappointed, a bit relieved as I am still wrapping my brain on the course of events over the past week.

It's cold here, as it did not reach 50 here today and for us that is cold. With a jacket and my too big knitted hat, I took a walk on our community cushioned track. It measures a little over a 1/2 mile around and was empty of walkers. The wind was kicking up a little and I realized that I should have had a scarf with me too, but we southerners are not always the best prepared for cold weather. I took my hat down and pulled it down so I probably appeared faceless, protecting my face from the elements, as well as narrowing my view to the steps I was taking. I'm sure I was a sight.  But with that limited view, it gave me time just to think, to pray, and to be, with no distractions from the world. An occasional leaf would cross my path to draw me to the foliage around me.

This past week has given me an opportunity to feel the love of those around me and support me, but there is also the sense of a part of it only I can experience. I am not unique in this situation, as anyone who has something occur whose outcome could have been much more serious and could have been where I did not have a second chance. All the support from the world can be there, but it has to come from within - the change that will make a difference.

So now I wait... actively wait.... and actually this is a perfect time for this as Advent season is here. I am trying my best to prepare for the road ahead, to give thoughtfulness and mindfulness to not only what is going on inside with my health, but also in preparing and paving the way for how Advent prepares us for the arrival of the Christ child. New life. Hope. Peace.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Advent Meditation from our Diocese

An Advent medication from our very own bishop, the Right Rev. Scott Benhase, Bishop of Georgia. I share it with you as I found it meaningful in my life. I hope you do too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

And this is what happened

Life takes on unexpected turns as we travel through our life, some we should have known would happen, others blindside us. This past weekend offered a little of both.

Friday's lunch was none other than the leftovers from Thanksgiving - a little of this and that. As we sat together, I felt a little pain in my chest grow, but I though - I'll let this pass - certainly not mention it as to not upset others. And the pain eased off after an hour or so - nothing unbearable, just there. Friday evening, we ate again, and the same thing happened- and it passed. Ok, I am eating too much rich food and my stomach isn't liking it.

Saturday, Mom and I split a cinnamon roll at the coffee shop - and no pain. Ok, good. I was right - rich food was the culprit.

That afternoon, I moved a few pieces of furniture - nothing dramatically heavy and could be slid across the floor mostly.  At some point that afternoon, I started feeling the pain again in my chest, and called my dear friend over and asked her to bring her blood pressure monitor over. Blood pressure fine. Good.
But it nagged me - should I get this checked out or should I not?  Tears started forming in my eyes. What if this was a heart attack? I teetered as to whether to go, and with friends encouragement and support, we decided to go.

So to the ER we go -- saw me lickety split - I mean I never sat down to wait.  Blood pressure fine. EKG fine.  Blood work was the tell tale sign of what had or was happening. The enzymes produced from my heart told the medical team that I was in trouble.... trouble enough that they were sending me by ambulance to another hospital. May I tell you that ambulance ride was something else. Every bump felt like a bumpy railroad crossing.

Reached my destination and wheeled right in. It was then told to me I had had a heart attack and that I would be staying there.  Two residents came in and talked to me and questioned me, examined me from stem to stern (literally - will spare the details - but it must have been a required part of the check off list of "things to do").

I got into the room around 11 and all kinds of flurrying went around that evening - another event was that my sugar levels were high, so that was being a addressed also - needless to say, sleep was kept to a minimum that night. Really folks, do you think a blood pressure cuff is supposed to so tight that your arm feels like it is going to explode? Every 5 minutes? Please.....

More doctors arrived in the morning, including the cardiologist - heart catheterization was in order. I had just one request. Give me some meds so when I go in there I don't give a rip. So when I went in there, he ordered an "I don't give a rip cocktail" - but really and truly, I found an extraordinary amount of peace before he gave it to me. I know prayers were flowing all over the place. I could feel them.

As for the heart cath, the only pain I felt was at the site of the injection in the wrist, which is where they prefer to do this - the novocain they inject to numb the area was the most "painful" part - much like at the dentist.  The rest was painless. One time I felt a flushing of the face, he prepared me for that. Next thing he told me I would feel my heart flutter.  And I did.

The doctor placed in two stents - one artery 100% blocked and the other 80%.

After the procedure was the best part of the day.....I had my family and our deacon and his wife brought communion to me. How is that for Thanksgiving? Anointing with oil among friends and family. Healing physically and spiritually - the best of all worlds. Thanks be to God.

Home again home again jiggedy jig arrived on Monday - and the road to recovery begins - a lifelong commitment to remaining healthy with prayer warriors,  food warriors and exercise warriors to support me.

What do I blame this on? Lots of things. I'll take the majority of the blame - but I also attribute some of the blame to family history as my father and his mother had heart attacks in their 40s.  My maternal father had a stroke at my age. So genetics may play a part in the scheme. Stress is certainly a component of being in the sandwich generation with a full time job to boot. But... lifestyle, exercise, food, etc..I must own that one.

A new regimen of medicines are on my plate which does not cure, but helps to prevent. The rest is up to me. I had a wake up call. Some are not so lucky.

Modern medicine is truly a gift to us, and I offer thanks to the team from Bainbridge to Tallahassee. But the biggest thanks goes to our Creator, the Great Physician and for those who have offered prayers of support and prayers for healing.

I am to rest this week, allowing the heart to rest (though I can walk!), some restrictions next week, and continued road to recovery after that.

And that's the way it was, and is.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

The Rune of Hospitality

Who will I feed? Who will I offer drink? Who will I offer music? Who will I serve?

I saw a stranger yestereen;
I put food in the eating place,
drink in the drinking place,
music in the listening place;
and in the sacred names of the Triune God
he blessed me and my house,
my cattle and my dear ones,
and the lark said in her song:
Often, Often, Often,
goes the Christ in a stranger's guise.







Music by Alfred Houkom
I believe this selection of music is sung by the Dale Warland Singers from the December Stillness CD.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Take, eat

She just came to church last Sunday. Sitting at the end of the pew (our pews hold about 4 grown people), she kicked her feet up and down and had that look on her face that looked like she just might have been weaned from a sour pickle. Her aura of grumpiness encircled those around her as she made everyone know she was not happy. It was a baptism Sunday so opportunities to get up and move around to see the baptism allowed for some musical chairs to occur, and by the time the baptism had taken place she ended up in the front pew.

It's not always easy being an eight year old in a church where there are few children. But she returned this week and I saw her outside. Got a bit of a hug from her and asked if we could sit together. She requested we sit in the front pew. Ok (even though I knew it was a place where another usually sat.). So sat we did- and she saw a little boy with one of the bags we have for young children. She eased over to the pew across the aisle to "check out the loot". It was obvious she was content to sit there with a little bit of entertainment of another child. So move across the aisle I went to make sure we kept things to a low roar. It's the teacher in me.

Not to worry, she was a true trooper keeping up with how to find the pages in the hymnal and the Book of Common Prayer soaking in the busyness of finding pages and  reading and singing along at the appropriate times.  Sermon time came and she became enchanted with the color of the stained glass shining in and leaving red shadows on her skin. Fascinated by the light as it showed off its glorious colors as the position of the sun shines softer as the bright summer light fades.

As it was time for communion, we walked to the altar and there was just enough room for the three of us - we were at the end of the rail. All of us received the bread, and as the chalice arrived, the little boy had the bread in his hand, not knowing quite what to do with it. He whispers, "I haven't been baptized." I said, "it's ok for you to have it". The little girl had the wafer and I am not sure what happened after that, but I saw the bread in her hand. I heard the person asked "has she been baptized?" and I said I don't know.

At that point, it didn't matter. They took, they ate, and they were fed. And isn't that really what it is all about?

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Whirlwind trip to big city

Friday, I took a personal day from work - one I seldom take as most of the days I take are taking Mom to doctor or one of us being sick. But I drove to Atlanta early Friday and got to meet my dear son's girlfriend's parents. Delightful to meet and hope it is one of many times we have an opportunity to spend time together. The evening time gave us an opportunity to meet up with my friend Beth and her sister in law and we ate at a local restaurant. What an enjoyable Friday!

Early Saturday, we drove to the cathedral to hear Barbara Brown Taylor speak on the Sabbath. Lots to chew on in terms of our culture and what we have done or not done in terms of observing that sacred time. Needless to say, a bookstore was right there in the cathedral and I succumbed to temptation in a good way. Was modest in my purchases, knowing full well there will be a next time. I will share one of the books I purchased later in another post as I get a grab on what it means to me and how it will impact me spiritually.

On the way home, I could have done without a car accident, but happened it did and fenders took the brunt of the damage. Safe, I am home - not quite sure how I made it home as I was exhausted from the tension of the accident. But made it home I did.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Warms the heart and makes my day

This letter comes from a family whose mother cannot speak English. Her son in middle school writes the letters. I love getting letters from them. They warm my heart. I write back, using Google translate. I put the reply both in the translated Spanish and in English form, just to make sure that the the son can read the English so maybe the Spanish conveys what I mean.

This warms my heart. It's one reason why I teach.

By the way, there were 271 flattened Capri Suns to turn into the school. We receive cash from the company for them.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Fine Dining at a Diner

Every morning, I bring Mom her breakfast, make sure she takes her medicines, and just check on her in general. This morning, she had this face that told me things weren't quite right, like she didn't feel good. I prodded a little bit to see what I could get out of her. Finally, she said. "I just need to get out of the house for a bit."

This evening we are off to a local spot that used to be a Waffle House. Nothing fancy, just getting out.

This afternoon, on Facebook, I saw this video from Youtube on a letter from aging parents to their children. Some of you will skip over it. If you have aging parents, please watch it. It reminds us of who we are and whose we are on many levels.



Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Almost, but not

I came home this afternoon and called Mom (even though we live on the same property), and see how her day went and talked about supper. She kept on and on, like something was on her mind and she was beating around the bush.

She finally got around to it. She was feeling sorry for herself because no one wished her a happy birthday.

Her birthday is in two weeks. She was certain it was September 1.

It will be here soon, Mom.

I love you.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Our School is Filled with Loss of a Teacher - Death Comes Too Soon

Today, our school system lost a teacher in a car accident. It happened on the way to work. I did not know her, but know the people who work with her and know her.  Today, hearts are aching in ways that affect the core of our very being.

We were notified by our superintendent of the loss through email. He is new to our system so we are learning about him as he is us. However, his sincerity and caring came through that letter in a way which offered me comfort in knowing he is our leader.

I had the opportunity to talk to a friend this evening who saw the care and love that was shared that day while the family, students and faculty were in shock. I cannot imagine the numbness and tears that flowed that day. But in all of the tragedy, there were people, suffering through their own grief, offering others solace. Holding each other up to make it through the day, making sure the children's needs were attended to, that the school day could continue, offering comfort and security to children and adults.

We don't know why tragedies occur like this. A mother, teacher, and friend to others was taken away too soon and so suddenly. But God's grace was present today in the love that was offered comfort to the distraught. In school. Acts of kindness, prayers of silence, prayers that were spoken, and prayers which have no words, but are prayers of action. We can try all we want to to set boundaries as to where prayer can and can't occur, but God's presence knows no boundaries and the love flowed today for the school and those who loved Nancy so very much.

Praying for the repose of the soul of Nancy. Praying for her family, her students, both present and past, and for her coworkers and friends who have lost someone who made a difference in the world. She will be dearly missed She has entered into the Church Triumphant and light will perpetually shine upon her.

I offer this music that offers me peace and comfort. May those who are mourning the loss of Nancy feel comfort in these beautiful words to beautiful music.



Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Episcopal Church Welcomes You

A few weeks back, our family packed and headed to the mountains. We were in a place close to an Episcopal church, and the rector was a friend from college (actually met at an All State High School Choral Festival as we were in the Sight Reading Chorus - yeah, nerdom and geekdom, but oh so cool at the same time).

We had the same piano professor, majored in music therapy, and headed on and even shared working at a state hospital together for 6 months together. Anyway, throughout the years and paths have crossed and meandered, but no matter what, when we get together, we pick up where we left off like we have never been apart.

The little historic church in which my friend is rector, is in the heart of a small North Georgia foothills town. So on Sunday of our vacation we visited the church. A little older than the church we are members, it's architecture has a similar feel but it is Greek in style, and is the oldest structure in its diocese. The pews are straightback and were built when we humans were smaller in stature. Interestingly, it remains open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I haven't seen that too much lately, but then again, I don't get around that much checking to see if church doors are open.

It's not often we have an opportunity to attend another church in our tradition, and it's interesting to see what happens - how do folks treat the newcomer? how is worship the same and different?

It's always nice to hear a good sermon given without notes - not sure how one can do it, but she did and did it well.

During the exchange of the peace, the folks sitting behind us made sure they recognized we were newcomers, asking us if we were visiting or new to the area. A quick hello and welcome to the church - just enough that we knew we were welcomed there.

The Eucharist was chanted and with the priest's clear pure voice, with her excellent pitch and certainty, made it worshipful in its beauty. Your musical training has served you well in your ministry as a priest.

As we left, the friendliness of the congregation was heart warming. It was just enough to think, yes, I would attend here, but not overwhelming. Interestingly, I met a complete stranger who actually knew some folks at our home congregation and also had studied music under the same professor as me, during different years (Twilight Zone music please).

Most importantly, we enjoyed the service and felt the warmth and love of a congregation.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Everything Possible

I found this post over at Tiding of Comfort and Joy. It's a lullaby for children of all ages. Thank you for sharing this RevSharon.

This is Roy Bailey singing "Everything Possible"
Words and music by Fred Small, who pastors a Unitarian Universalist church



 Everything Possible

We've cleared off the table, leftovers saved
Washed the dishes and put them away
I've told you a story and tucked you in tight
At the end of your knockabout day

As the moon sets her sails to carry you to sleep
Over the midnight sea
I will sing you a song no one sang to me
May it keep you good company 

Chorus:
Well, you can be anybody you want to be
You can love whomever you will
You can travel any country where your heart leads
And know that I will love you still 
You can live by yourself
You can gather friends around
You can choose one special one
And the only measure of your words and your deeds 
Will be the love you leave behind when you're done

There are girls who grow up strong and bold
There are boys quiet and kind
Some race on ahead, some follow behind
Some go in their own way and time

Some women love women
Some men love men
Some raise children, some never do
You can dream all the days never reaching the end of everything  possible for you.

Don't be rattled by names, by taunts, by games
But seek out spirits true
If you give your friends the best part of yourself
They'll give the same back to you 
(chorus, repeating last two lines for the finish)

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Liberated

I can see just a teeny bit of residual color here. I can't believe my hair is all white on top. Perhaps I should call myself a towhead. Of course you can see the comparison picture.
I feel liberated. I know my white hair makes me look older. I don't feel older because of it.  So there.

Until/If I change my mind, white on top it is.



Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Summer Project Complete - Salt with some pepper

For the entire summer, I have been working on a project I have been wanting to do for quite some time. But it involved NOT doing something - and everytime I got the gumption to give it a try, it didn't seem to be the right timing. Well, it worked out and I began the journey.

I stopped coloring my hair. The haircut today got it all. I know what my hair looks like now - my hairdresser journeyed along with me and worked to make sure it wasn't too stark a contrast by layering and performing her magic on my hair. She knows I am not one to fuss with my hair so it had to be low maintenance.

It was venturing into unknown territory for a while. I didn't really know what it was going to look like.
So now it is what it is. And I think I like it. White on top - salt and pepper on the sides. I would take a picture tonight, but I think I will wait until daylight.

Eucharist as Revolution

Hat tip to the sidebar at leave it lay where Jesus flang it (what a blog title!)


Any act that provides the Bread of Heaven and the Cup of Salvation for all - and anyone who comes to the table - will always cause at least a stir.When one who has been excluded is the one who presides at that Eucharist, or when the one who has been excluded invites absolutely everyone to the Table to be fed, well, it becomes, in and of itself, the revolutionary act which Jesus intended it to be.

Elizabeth Kaeton, "Telling Secrets" Blog

Monday, August 2, 2010

School

Today was the first day of teacher planning for the school year. Always filled with anticipation and hope and excitement. I'm 54 years old and I'm still in school - and still learning.

 I walk to sign in....

I see the person in uniform...

My name gets called....

I was afraid of that.

Two pieces of paper served to me.

Sigh... what a way to start the school year.

I'm still learning, right?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Returning Home

Yesterday was our return to home from the mountains.  Six hours in the car is a bit long  - and for my Mom, it was especially long. It was not an easy trip home, with several hitches along the way.  It took its toll on both of us. It was something beyond the control of either of us. Words in the prayer below that speak to me are distress, dignity, peace, willingness to accept help.
 
For the Aged
Look with mercy, O God our Father,
on all whose increasing years bring them weakness, distress, or isolation.
Provide for them homes of dignity and peace;
give them understanding helpers,
and the willingness to accept help;
and, as their strength diminishes,
increase their faith and their assurance of your love.
This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.
Book of Common Prayer
 
It took me today to recollect myself, so I can only imagine how Mom feels.  Then, as I was going to sleep, Mom fell, and called me to help her to get up. Last night I couldn't do it by myself. I woke up my husband to help me. Then it took me until after 2 to get to sleep. Sometimes this is really hard, but I wouldn't have it any other way. The part that is really hard is that it goes day in and day out and sometimes I don't think I am doing a very good job. The wonderful part is that I feel as I am returning to her all the love she has given me and continues to give me
 
Some days are really tough.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

Our family has gone to a lakeside home in the mountains. We usually go to the beach, but decided to make it the mountains when we were uncertain whether the oil spill was going to affect the place we had rented. And going to the beach with water loving dogs would not have made for happy puppies, so we opted for the mountain area of Georgia to rest and refresh.

We were hoping for cooler weather - and, of course, it has turned out to be a heat wave along the eastern United States, with our northeast Georgia mountain area no exception. But, we are enjoying the view of the lake and the beautiful trees. And finding that straight roads with no curves do not exist here. Makes for interesting driving.

The children (including adult children) left early to hike at a gorge and to travel down a sliding rock which lands into a nice pool. Fortunately, they were able to hike. Unfortunately, they were unable to slide the rock into the water because of heavy rains.

I have trained my children well that while on vacation, we have quiet time after lunch. They did not disappoint.





Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Hymn - Abide with Me and Schubert's Sanctus

Nice Sunday Hymn and Schubert's Sanctus - 2 beautiful selections. So very peaceful.


What brings peace to you?

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Hymn

I share this beautiful hymn with you - the tune will be familiar to many of you, but I don't believe it is a tune in our hymnal. It speaks of peace, hope, freedom, and dreams. Follow the words as they are singing and enjoy the beauty of their voices. (Please note: stop the video at the end of the song before the long applause)





This is my song, Oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for lands afar and mine.
This is my home, the country where my heart is;
Here are my hopes, my dreams, my sacred shrine.
But other hearts in other lands are beating,
With hopes and dreams as true and high as mine.

My country’s skies are bluer than the ocean,
And sunlight beams on cloverleaf and pine.
But other lands have sunlight too and clover,
And skies are everywhere as blue as mine.
Oh hear my song, oh God of all the nations,
A song of peace for their land and for mine.

May truth and freedom come to every nation;
may peace abound where strife has raged so long;
that each may seek to love and build together,
a world united, righting every wrong;
a world united in its love for freedom,
proclaiming peace together in one song.


Words: Lloyd Stone, Georgia Harkness
Music: Finlandia - J. Sibelius

Friday, July 2, 2010

Friday Five - What I Want in a church

I haven't done the Revgals Friday Five for awhile, but this is a great way to get back into it. Thanks Sally!

Her inspiration is this address from the Eunice Attwood, Vice President of the British Methodist Church.

I want to be part of a church that is prayer-filled -
A church that is resourced and sustained by the Bible,
A church that can offer hope even in a credit crunch,
A church that can live well with difference and diversity.

I want to be part of a church that welcomes the wealthy, those who have power and influence -
A church that knows how to party and celebrate life,
A church that acknowledges death and speaks boldly of resurrection,
A church that doesn’t pretend to have all the answers but encourages all the questions.

I want to be part of a church that throws parties for prostitutes -
A church that welcomes those who seek asylum,
A church that longs and yearns for justice,
A church that listens to those no-one else wants to listen to.

I want to be part of a church that believes in transformation not preservation -
A church where all who are lost can be found,
A church where people can discover friendship,
A church where every person takes responsibility in sharing the good news.

I want to be part of a church whose hope is placed securely and confidently in the transforming love of God -
A church that engages faith in its communities,
A church that makes and nurtures disciples of Jesus.

A church where the story of God’s love is at the centre.
I want to be part of a church that offers outrageous grace, reckless generosity, transforming love and engaging faith.
This is God’s story Transforming Love: Engaging Faith.

My prayer is that by the power of the Spirit of God at work amongst us, it will increasingly be our story.


Here are my five:
  1. I want a church that practices hospitality well. One which the congregation knows how to make a seeker who walks in the door feel like they have come home. That means we have to know how to do that for different people in different ways.
  2. I want a church whose members try to look at the bigger picture of why we have certain activities and understand that community building is important, and sometimes we attend things even if we don't want to go. If we don't go, what are we saying and what example are we to others?
  3.  I want a church who is willing to go out of their comfort zone for the good of the community, both the community of the church itself and the community in which we live.
  4. I want a church with diversity - age diversity, color, socio economic status, people with special needs, the unlovable, the wounded, and diversity in family makeup.
  5. I want a church community who not only believes in Jesus on Sundays, but lives it throughout the week.
When I say this, I include me in these - I am guilty of not living up to the standards of what I THINK we should be doing.
More importantly, I am curious as to what You want in a church.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Unadulterated from Joan Chittister - Throw Open the Door

 
Throw Open the Door
Learning to open the heart requires first that we open our lives.

The home of whites that has never had a person of color at the supper table is a home that has missed an opportunity to grow. People of color who have never trusted a white have missed a chance to confirm the humanity of the human race. The man that has never worked with a woman as a peer, better yet as an executive, has deprived himself of the revelation of the other half of the world. The comfortable contemplative who has never served soup at a soup kitchen, or eaten lunch in the kitchen with the cook, or clerked in a thrift shop, or spent time in inner-city programs lives in an insulated bubble. The world they know cannot possibly give them the answers they seek. The adult who has never asked a child a question about life and really listened to the answer is doomed to go through life out of touch and essentially unlearned.

“When someone comes to the gate,” the Rule of Benedict instructs, “say ‘Benedicite.’” Say, in other words “Thanks be to God” that someone has come to add to our awareness of the world, to show us another way to think and be and live beyond our own small slice of the universe.

Openness is the door through which wisdom travels and contemplation begins. It is the pinnacle from which we learn that the world is much bigger, much broader than ourselves, that there is truth out there that is different from our own. The voice of God within us is not the only voice of God.

Openness is not gentility in the social arena. It is not polite listening to people with whom we inherently disagree. It is not political or civil or “nice.” It is not even simple hospitality. It is the munificent abandonment of the mind to new ideas, to new possibilities. Without an essential posture of openness, contemplation is not possible. God comes in every voice, behind every face, in every memory, deep in every struggle. To close off any of them is to close off the possibility of becoming new again ourselves.

–from Illuminated Life by Joan Chittister (Orbis)

Monday, June 28, 2010

Book #21 - Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. FoxFantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl does not disappoint this Dahl fan. A short chapter book about Mr. Fox and his family, three farmers in pursuit of his thievery of their poultry, this is similar to Beatrix Potter's Adventures of Peter Rabbit.

Of course Mr. Fox attempts to outfox the farmers and is quite successful in his antics. True to Dahl's style, his stories delight both young and old alike. It's a perfect book for a young child to begin in reading chapter books, as the chapters are short, and the interest is high!

I read this book while putting up peas earlier Saturday afternoon. A perfect combination!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Where are all the lonely people?

I've been thinking a LOT about our little church lately.  I've been worried. I realize it is summer, and folks are away on vacation and have this and that to do. But we have also had some folks move from our little church community, as they have gotten jobs away from our town. And we anticipate another move by a family who will be retiring and moving to be close to family. We've had this happen before, knowing that our culture and society is so highly mobile today. People don't just stay in the same place any more. And businesses and companies don't lend themselves to loyalty to their employees and vice versa.

But I'm missing more than that --- the others who are not there. The ones with children, the ones who don't know there might be a place for them in our little community. I'm missing those who have hurts we can't see  and those we can see. I want someone to come sit beside me in church.

Our little church doesn't have the big programs with a multi staffed group of folks to take on the responsibility to organize events and coordinate programs. Our little church doesn't have someone we pay to work on the church grounds to make it look beautiful. Our custodial staff are the members of the congregation who rotate and devote a bit of their time to keep the place looking tidy. Our little church works a little differently, in a good way, not necessarily better, but still in a different way.

We aren't as invisible in our little church. My little church knows my flaws, yet still loves me. It knows when I am not there. It has seen me through thick and thin, it has raised my children by my side. And my children are for the better, as they know they have been loved and nurtured in ways that only a church family can provide.

I am missing people like me.... and those NOT like me. Those who are lonely, those who are seekers, those who have a longing to know God and to have Jesus in their heart, their mind, and their soul. I'm looking for you, are you there?






I am one of those lonely people, waiting for you.
Will you join me to break bread and drink from the silver cup?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

In the Good Ol' Summertime

Auntie Knickers posted on her blog about things she liked and disliked about summer. It was part of Revgalblogpal's Friday Five series. But what caught my attention the most was the video at the end, which she said her father used to sing to her. I have a soft spot in my heart for the songs I know which I believe are treasures that are slowly disappearing from our repertoire.

Before you get to the video, I will share with you what I like and dislike about summer.

1. I love the long days. My body and mind feel better during this time of year. I dislike mosquitoes.

2. I enjoy the freedom and flexibility of the summertime schedule. Teachers have the luxury of this to recharge their batteries as once school begins, it's like being on a hamster wheel.  I dislike the fact that our summer is so rudely interrupted by school starting in early August. What happened to the day after Labor day?

3. Listening to the crickets and cicadas - music to my ears. I dislike that our houses are sealed up so much that we don't get to hear them unless we go out into the heat, which also brings the mosquitos.

4. Watermelon.  I dislike the gnats, ants, and other insects who delight in being a nuisance during this time of year.

5. Vacation time with family and getting to enjoy them in the good old summertime... and for your listening pleasure....





(if you are viewing this on Facebook, you will need to click on "view original post" to see the video, if you are so inclined.)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Book #20 - French by Heart

My friend has a daughter whose family is over in France for a three year job stint through her husband's company. What an adventure this must be for them! Well, I am sure there are days that it does not seem to be an adventure, with the challenges of a different language and culture.  So many memories are being created for them and their extended family as they come and visit them while they are there.

French By Heart: An American Family's Adventures in La Belle FranceI happened upon a delightful blog Wonders Never Cease ( a friend had recommended it, and rightly so), and as I got to reading it, I noticed a book to the side French By Heart: An American Family's Adventures in La Belle France, and when I went to check it out, I notice they had lived in the same area as my friend's daughter. And, of course, it was the same company which had offices over there. Well, it piqued my interest to peer into what life was like over there from another perspective, as I have kept up with the other family as well.

Delightfully written, her experiences of living in France are similar to what I have heard, with the cultural and language challenges, along with having young children. It was a written documentary of their life in Clermont-Ferrand, France, approximately 4 hours away from Paris. Full of humor, with a here and there of frustrations on the vicissitudes of life, Ramsey's family eventually returns to the US in one piece, with treasured memories of friendships and experiences.

I look forward to sharing this with my dear friend, and French by Heart will head over to Clermont-Ferrand, France to share. Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing your experiences and allowing us to peer into a life of a family who travels to another country and ALMOST becomes French.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Hymn - Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Our entrance hymn today at St. John's was "Come thou fount of every blessing, a popular hymn composed in the 18th century by the Methodist pastor and hymnist Robert Robinson (tune by Nettleton).





While reading up a little about the history of the hymn, I discovered that Charles Ives, an American composer, had taken this hymn and placed it in a string quartet. As I went hunting for it on Youtube, I found this lovely video of the String Quartet. Clearly one can hear the tune woven throughout his composition. So I share with you also this to enjoy:

To thine own self be true......

We didn't do a whole lot of celebrating on Father's Day. Dad didn't really want it that way. He was much more likely to just be glad for us to be together than for us to go get a card or a Father's Day gift. And, the ties and the other gifts cannot be remembered, for they were more self imposed obligatory gifts than ones that Dad expected or needed or really wanted.

I now understand what Dad meant. For when Mother's Day comes around, I want the presence of my children surrounding me with their love. I know as they have families, it might not always work out on the day, but the day really doesn't matter does it? Father's and Mother's Day can be any time.

My dad is no longer with us - he passed away 7 years ago in his sleep. What a blessing, I think, but I also think Dad hid his pains and symptoms that he knew one day would take his life away. Heart trouble, though not a diagnosis of death, was surely the culprit.

However, my dad left me many gifts, some I use, and some I treasure today.
  •  Dad had some of the corniest jokes - I heard them a million times it seems and as  a teenager I was always embarrassed by them when friends were around. But teenagers are like that.
  • We ALWAYS sat at the table to eat our meals. And... Walter Cronkite was in the background. Now some folks think - turn the tv off, but that is the way we talked about current events in our home. And Dad always had an opinion about them, but he also explained what was going on.
  • Yankee food. I didn't know it at the time, because our meals were our meals, but Boston Baked Beans, with the brown bread out of the can, and weiners were a weekly meal at our house. It wasn't until my late teens that I had southern cornbread (not Jiffy mix).  We also had creamed chipped beef on toast (I think that is a "Yankee meal"). 
  • Dad had a few quotes he would share with us... "to thine own self be true", "don't take any wooden nickels",  "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself (FDR), and others that I can't remember at the moment!
  • Dad was a depression child - born in 1929, hard times were a part of growing up. Money was something he thought of as "it comes, it goes" so he wasn't much of a saver. His phiiosophy was "I didn't have it growing up, I can't take it with me, so let's enjoy what we have now and worry about tomorrow when it comes."  If he had a windfall of money (like when he won a small amount with the lottery) - he took us all on a vacation. Could he have squirreled it away? Sure, but we would have never had a memory of that. The vacation, though, is a highlight that my children remember.
  • When it came to fashion, my father loved BRIGHT and FLASHY - no conservative outfits for him. He wanted to make a statement with a crazy tie, plaid pants with a striped shirt. Yep, that was my dad.
Best of all, he left me with a gift of thinking for myself, to always question, to be a life long learner, and to be compassionate to those less fortunate. He taught we an awareness to not always assume that things were not always what they seemed at face value, that there could be a story behind it that we don't know about by looking or seeing what we saw.

I hope that the gifts my father gave me are ones that I can live up to and pass on to my children, and to others. My gift to him, even today, is to be thankful to who he was and how he shaped me to be who I am today.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Gallavanting with Mom

Yesterday was filled with going to and fro with Mom. She is on a Nicholas Sparks reading kick, so if any of you want to read his book in this town, you might find the library's supply of his books a little low. She is the type of reader when she finds an author that suits her liking, we have a run on them. Problem is I can't keep up with what she has read and not read. But yesterday, we went to the library, so she did get a few more books - Debbie Macomber books keep her quite happy too.

The morning started off with her 3 month check up at the doctor, plus follow up post hospital stay, which she does not remember (is that a blessing? For her, yes). It was a good appointment, with his encouragement for her to move around more. She was adamant she WAS moving around a lot in the house by getting up and going to the bathroom. True.

Library visit, as mentioned above, and then to get her haircut. She has found the MAN to cut her hair, who makes her feel like a queen, and if it makes her feel that good, then it is worth the money she spends, though I think it is on the pricey side. And, they are good to her and treat her like royalty. When I get to be her age, I want to be treated like that too. (I hope my children hear that?).

Decisions decisions as to where to get a bite to eat lunch, so we went to the country club (where my husband is golf pro) and ate our sandwich and had a gorgeous view of the golf course. We sat and watched the grass grow.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Evelyn Underhill

Today the Episcopal Church observes Evelyn Underhill on their calendar. I haven't read any of her books, but I did find some quotes from her that I like. As I was looking for an image for her, I found this wonderful icon, created by Suzanne Schleck, whose work was displayed on the Episcopal Church and Visual Arts.


Underhill lived from 1875-1941 and was a prolific writer. Initially an agnostic, she became attracted to Catholocism, and eventually became involved in the Anglican tradition.
She contended that contemplative prayer was not strictly for nuns and monks, but for any person who desired to practice it. She was a spiritual director and leader of many workshops.

Here are some of her quotes from various writings:

God is always coming to you in the Sacrament of the Present Moment. Meet and receive Him there with gratitude in that sacrament.

God is much in the difficult home problems as in the times of quiet and prayer.

Try to arrange things so that you can have a reasonable bit of quiet every day.
 

For more information about Evelyn Underhill go here:

(permission given to use image by Suzanne Schleck.) 

Monday, June 14, 2010

Book #19 Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A NovelExtremely Loud and Incredibly Close: A Novel- by Jonathan Safran. I'm counting this book, though I did not finish it til the end. I read 2/3 of the way through and found it wasn't the book for me. I tried to like this book. There were aspects I did like about this book, which centered around a nine year old boy whose father was killed in the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center.  Just wasn't my cup of tea.

Book #18 - The Double Comfort Safari Club

The Double Comfort Safari Club (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency)The Double Comfort Safari Club (No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency) oooh how I like The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency books. I'm not sure why because nothing really surprising happens, but I love the way the characters talk to each other. And I always feel like I am right there with them while the story is being told. I believe I have read all of the Detective Agency books - I read another one last week which I will post soon. They are a pleasure to read.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

What we sang at church today

We all know the story prompt "What we did on summer vacation" - well, this is "What we sang in church today". Many of you know we are in small church, but in that church are some folks with big hearts and voices. Today we sang as the entrance hymn "Praise my soul, the King of Heaven", which is one of my favorites, the the Episcopal church has a lovely accompaniment and descant to go along with the hymn singing. And I think our little church did quite well with it today.

However, we are not St. Paul's Cathedral in London - and this video is of the same hymn sung (albeit a different descant). We did not sing it at the same tempo as this one is sung more slowly, but for those of you who have sung in a cathedral understand that hymns usually are sung more slowly due to the nature of the large space, and to allow the sound to travel throughout the physical space.

However, without further comment, I share with you this video for your listening pleasure.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Book #17 The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: 100th Anniversary Edition (Books of Wonder) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum was a free Kindle download and also on the top 100 chapter books (I would link to the original list, but School Library Journal has redesigned their website and I cannot locate it now) for children. It's one of my goals this summer to read a few more of these books so I can try and flesh out the books from children literature that are popular that I somehow missed the first time around (in my childhood). Of course some of the books on the list were not around while I was growing up, but I guess you could say I'm still growing up since I continue to enjoy children's literature. This was a quick read and one can certainly see the similarities to the movie  which I grew up watching yearly (no DVDs and VHS to watch it over and over again). Of course it was a long time before I could watch it in its entirety since that Wicked Witch was way too scary and I had to leave the room whenever she came into the picture.

It was also interesting to see the differences in the story and the movie as the movie did leave some of the story line out, but isn't that the case with all movies? Oh yeah, there were no ruby slippers, only silver. I always loved the ruby ones in the movie and still dream one day of having a pair. Wonder what it will take to get a pair? Hopefully not a tornado!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Holy Boredom

The last couple of days I have felt restless and bored. Yesterday, I could say it bordered on stir-crazy, but that is probably stretching it. The week of the beach is over, a little lull in the action (thank you), so yesterday I will consider it a day where I felt boredom settling into my system.

That is not necessarily something I consider useless - boredom, that is - as I try to look upon it as a time where our weary bodies can find refreshment of reorganizing, finding opportunities both within ourselves to regroup.

When this happens, I occasionally think - things are too quiet - what bomb is going to lower down upon me. But, if I can, I am going to allow this time of feeling bored be a time of rejuventation, of taking care of simple tasks which "have to wait until there is more time". And while those simple tasks (and believe me, if I think it is a big task, I will run away and hide) are being completed, perhaps I can find a time to find in it the sacred mystery of finding the holy in the ordinary.

So with that, I think I will take a small task, complete it (oh for a "P" on the MBTI can be so challenging) and move on, finding boredom as a good time, a thankful time, and a time to fill with the quotidian aspects of life. Amen.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Book #16 Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand: A NovelMajor Pettigrew's Last Stand: A Novel by Helen Simonson was one of my beach reads. Pettigrew, a retired British major and widower, lives in a small town in England. He meets a widowed woman, Mrs. Ali, originally from Pakistani descent and a relationship develops. Of course this causes a stir in their small community. In addition, Pettigrew's brother passes away, and the brothers have each inherited a valuable gun, both of which are part of a pair. Tension develops as to who actually inherits the gun of the deceased brother along with what to do with the gun becomes part of the plot, and it thickens quite well.

Very enjoyable read!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Book #15 A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle

A Wrinkle in TimeA Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle is a book on the top 100 chapter books chosen by blog readers as the best. This particular book was ranked #2, so since I am a fan of her adult books, I knew this was long overdue on my "to be read" list.

Glad I read it - written in the 60s, there was the definite feeling of "good vs. evil" and the fear of the concerns of the day with communism.

This has no reflection on the quality or value of this book, however, I am not a fan of this genre of traveling to different planets, dimensions, that sort of thing. It has a little science fiction and fantasy, so that had some impact on what I thought of the book. Don't get me wrong. L'Engle is definitely and excellent writer, as I have read many of her adult books and cherished them.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Book #14 - Listening Below the Noise

Listening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of SilenceListening Below the Noise: The Transformative Power of Silence was a book I had started before going to the beach. It was on my Kindle, so I didn't intentionally bring it. But I intentionally finished it while I had a good bit of time.

Leclaire's account of her experience throughout the years of her intentionally chosen days of silence allowed me to view her time spent in the real world, her home, with her family, while choosing times where she would be silent. Two Mondays out of the month, she decided to make those her silent days - not so much that her world was silent, but she chose to be silent in her world.

It's not an easy experience - she comes up against her family who does not understand her choice to do this. Frustration that others have during this time are all a part of her experience. However, her choice last throughout the years, even during the times she comes to the conclusion that she is going to stop, she plows through it with keeping the silence, even though she really sees no reason to continue.

The author also shares times where silence can be abusive, as those who have not chosen silence, but when others choose silence and isolation for them. Examples include those who have been placed in solitary confinement, those who choose silence as a form to abuse others close to them.

However, the majority of her book addresses the importance of having time in one's life to experience silence at some level. At the end she shares ways of going about the silence in our noise filled world.

How do you make quiet time or periods of silence for yourself?

Week at the Beach

I return from a week at the beach feeling some refreshment and renewal. It offered me a time to rest, read, contemplate, and bask in the beauty of the waves, wind, rain, and heat. And... humidity.

Our place was an older home, which seems to feel right to me. There is the element of nostalgia of a time where simplicity seemed to be a part of what going to the beach offered. Slowing down to a pace where nothing was on the agenda -- there was no "what are we going to do today?"  Ah. . . bliss.

So... what did we do?

1. Ate pineapple sandwiches on white bread. Yeah, I know. But it brought back memories.
2. Completed a puzzle on a porch - with no air conditioning. Did I mention there was a breeze and the sound and sight of the ocean?
3. Sat outside in the evening and watched a four year old blow bubbles.
4. Took an outside shower where I could see all, but no one could see all of me (I hope!)
5. Read and completed several books.
6. Bought shrimp by the side of the road, came home, boiled and ate it. Devoured it.
7. Took naps. Daily.
8. Pirated wifi a few times, it was hit and miss.
9. Took turns praying from 100 Graces: Mealtime Blessings at mealtime.
10. ate a conch cake...  yum.
11. Saw a Portuguese man of war. It's about the size of my hand or smaller.  Didn't know what it was until I posted it on Facebook to inquire of its identity. 

It was a good week and it's good to be home.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Heading out

Heading to a place which should offer some time to retreat from the world a bit. Hoping the salt air will offer refreshment, space, and a change of view. Sand between the toes with a cool drink and book in hand.

See you on the backside.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Last Day of School

It was the last day of school for students today - 2 more for teachers for this school year.  It's been a mixed bag for this year for me - I have had some delightful students and students who were a challenge. My caseload was near to the limit and we assessed more children than we EVER have before in one year. I have been involved with unbloggable situations that I don't like and will never understand.

I know I say this every year, but the paperwork.... is the bane of my existence. I really do love my job, but the paperwork has been mind boggling. I have done lots of shuffling, and duplicating, and really really wish I was more organized. 

Six furlough days took a bite out of our paycheck. Thankful to have a job, but it's been a definite adjustment to us!

In addition there was the health issues of Mom. Last week was VERY difficult as I was not sure which direction we were going. This week, she is better, and it looks as though we will get a little R and R beginning this weekend.

Thursday will be the final day for teachers. Plans for the summer include time with family, some time at the beach, reading, and regrouping.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Pentecost Sunday

The Great Fifty Days has now culminated and we celebrate the birthday of the Church - church communities who observe this feast will see LOTS of red today, whether by what we wear to the celebratory decorations that adorn the church.


"Come Down, O Love Divine" (hymn tune "Down Ampney" by Ralph Vaughn Williams), is the featured hymn in this video. And as if the hymn was not beautiful enough in and of itself, images of the Holy Spirit are featured throughout the hymn.  About half way through the video, the hymn ends and the "credits' begin, as the images are all credited at to their origin, accompanied by piano, with the hymn "Be Still, My Soul".




What hymns did you sing today or what music did you hear that spoke to you? What images did you see today that brought the Holy Spirit into you? Where did you celebrate and worship today?

cross posted at Revgalblogpals

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Reprieve?

Yesterday was one of those Alexander days - terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  It reeked of yuck. The morning was filled with home health care visitors - the nurse, the home health care aide to assist Mom in showering. Another urine specimen travels to the lab at the hospital. Mom doesn't want to eat, doesn't want to drink. Nada, nothing. C'mon Mom, I am going to read you the riot act. Get better. Now.

We had to make a decision about Mom's dog. Though she had a sweet dog of Callie, I started calling her mad dog. Other than Mom and me, she would nip bite anyone who entered into Mom's place. Not good when you have folks coming in and out to care for Mom, especially those who are terrified of animals. Mom was no longer actually caring for the dog - I was. And.... she had made a mess of the carpet... in ways I won't go into details. Bottom line was we had to do something with her. So yesterday we did.

Later in the afternoon, we took the trip up about 70 miles to return her to the place where we got her originally. We had been told that if we needed to return her at any time, we could. So after several conversations,  we took her "home" to where her roots were. Bittersweet. Had to be done.

Thankfully I had a friend go with me as I was feeling very blue and anxious. More anxious than I have been in some time. In fact, a feeling I have not had in some time. Anxiety that pervades my very being. Memories from some time ago when the anxiety attacks were such that I was going to seek medical help. I was scared of that feeling - no one can see that pain or anxiousness when it is bottled up inside until it overflows into tears. Tears of catharsis - which allows the anxiety to flow and drain.

We arrived home after picking up dear sweet 12 year old and ate supper. I was literally exhausted in all respects. I checked on Mom several times to take care of this and that, and trying to get her to drink. Frustration.

So this morning, I awaken at a little after 6 and peek into her door to check on her. She is sitting on the side of the bed. I walk in to check on her. She is talking. She is actually having a conversation. She told me she drank the smoothie we got her yesterday in the middle of the night. Her leg pain is gone. She feels better. BETTER.

Went over a little later. She is actually sitting in her chair reading.  Today, I am hopeful she tells me "I'm hungry". That will be music to my ears.

I am hoping this is a turn around in the pain she has been having. If it is a brief reprieve, I am thankful.

It's been a long several weeks. Painful on many levels. All I can hope is that the pain is past and we can continue the journey with outstretched hands.......

Friday, May 21, 2010

Some semblance of normal???

My mom is still not well. She complains of pain in her legs - seems to be worse at night, but also is bothering her this morning. Not sure at this point exactly what is causing this, but know it is bothering her. Last night she had me come over several times to be with her. Pray we will know why the legs are bothering her so much and that some relief will be given. I want that for her.

I am weary and tired. I am dealing with a pulled muscle in my back so that does not help matters much.

If  you are the praying type, please offer prayers for us to feel strength and the ability to work through this tough time. Pray we get some relief for Mom.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Weeping.....

Hat tip to Metanoia - especially meaningful as caring for a mother who is frail and seems to be slipping away.

Crying out loud and weeping
are great resources.

A nursing mother, all she does

is wait to hear her child.


Just a little beginning-whimper

and she's there.


Cry out.

Do not be stolid and silent with your pain.

Lament,

and let the milk of loving

flow into you.


The hard rain and the wind

are ways the cloud has

to take care of us.


-- Rumi,
A Year with Rumi (May 5)