Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jiggidy Jog

"Home again, Home again Jiggidy Jog." These are words from an old nursery rhyme but that's all I remember about it. They sum up how I feel about being home again. The trip was good but "there's no place like home." (Another applicable quote.)

I promised to include a picture of the Outer Banks and I have two. I'm not sure if I can manage to get both of them in but I'll try. I got one to load. This is the Crocodile River. We saw one man fishing in it but saw no crocs. What we noticed was the perfect image of the shore in the water.

Most of the beach houses in Kitty Hawk are three story. All look like they are built of wood with wood shingle roofs. I don't remember ever hearing of the eye of a hurricane hitting these banks. I'm sure they can get flooding and wind. Another fact about them--they are large. Many were for sale. It would be interesting to know what they sell for.
I learned a lot about the Wright brothers flights, too. I have always thought they flew once, but that wasn't true. They had many flights in 1903. The first ones were in gliders. Then they added a motor and managed four in one day. The last flight was an impressive 852 feet in 59 seconds. Sure glad they made it work. Otherwise we would still be driving back from North Carolina. Reid managed to climb in beside Orville but I stayed on the ground. If I'd been able to climb up there (which was iffy), I might still be there. As you can see it's a little high off the ground.

Now you know all I know.
Best get off to the laundry room and wash some of that NC red dirt off our clothes.
By the way----I'm so HAPPY to be home!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Note

Rather than continue to watch the Cowboys implode, I'll add a note here.



The Outer Banks--a series of barrier islands on the Atlantic Seaboard from Norfolk, Virginia to South Carolina.

We were in Kitty Hawk Friday and Saturday--a typical beach town. I will add pictures when we get back home.



Two more nights then we can go back home and sleep in our own bed. Yea!



Other than that, we've had good food, good company and been on the go all the time.



Clouds and grey skies here. Brown trees. Dreary. I'm ready for the blue skies and beautiful NM landscape.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Outer Banks Adventure

A few years ago I read a book--"Beach Music"--can't think of the author. The story took place in Paris and North Carolina and was about a huge southern family. It took me months to read it because I'd read awhile on it then move to another, less intense book. I always went back because the story and the author's characters, his use of descriptions and words drew me in.
The reader became intimately familiar with every character through pages of back story--a no-no in writer's workshops and seminars. But it worked for this author.

In "Beach Music" I read about the Outer Banks. Still don't know what they are but that's where we're heading today. When I get back, I'll let you know what it's all about. Have you been there?

Off to another new adventure!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Musings

Granddaughter is supposed to be taking a nap. Grampy and Dad are in the garage assembling an electric car. Mom is in the kitchen preparing something for Christmas dinner. Granny is upstairs adding to her blog.

We got in to Greensboro, NC early this morning--about midnight fifteen to be exact. It's grey but no snow or rain here. A quiet neighborhood. When the beagles aren't barking or Granddaughter isn't laughing and squealing, even the house is quiet.

A beautifully decorated house (that someone younger did), Santa back in the mix of Christmas and family. What a great way to spend the holiday.

I remember Christmases past that were filled with grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. We lived close enough to have most of the family around. Today Granddaughter's cousins live across the country in New Mexico, up north in Washington and on the west coast in California. Chances are slim that she'll be able to spend many Christmases with them. She will never know what she's missing.

All my aunts and uncles, and of course, my parents and grandparents, are gone, but my girls remember those years when we drove to Memphis, Texas, every Christmas Day and spent a week with their grandparents in Lubbock.

Never to be repeated, but never to be forgotten.

Christmas is all about family. Jesus's birth, His Life, His Death and His Resurrection put us in God's family. Although we can't spend time with our blood relatives here, the day will come when we'll be with them and with the Daddy of us all forever.

Merry Christ-mas!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Good News

A lot has been happening at our church lately.

Since last March we've been looking for a new pulpit minister. After careful consideration by many people, including the entire congregation, a new man has been called. I voted for this man.
I prayed, as did many others, and although the man doesn't have the most powerful vocal delivery, what I saw and heard from him was humility, unconditional love and a deep spirituality. My prayer is that our congregation can ingest those qualities and grow into the image of Christ.

At church Sunday morning all the children brought blankets to the front of the sanctuary. The blankets will be given to needy families. They stayed and sang with the congregation. And sang they did. Being in a church with no musical instruments I've noticed young people singing more than when I attended churches with pianos, bands and organs. These same kids were in a Christmas program before church the week before. With the help of the praise team humming in the background, they sounded like pros.

We had a Christmas program last night. A choir, a family sharing from the scriptures and several young and old people signing a beautiful four part carol. What looked like months of practice by the man, his wife and their young daughter, Brooke, turned out, they said, to be quickly put together and unrehearsed. The mom would speak and ask the daughter questions--the same with the father. Every answer the child gave was perfect. Although they didn't rehearse these scenes, it was evident they have taught their daughter well. At her young age she knows the reason for Christmas.

After church we went to our son's house for our Christmas with them. Their four year old knows the answer to "What is the good news?" Pierce's answer: "Jesus is the son of God!"

Pierce and Brooke have it right. They have been taught the real reason we celebrate this holiday. Thank you parents for bringing up your kids in the Truth. I pray that our new minister will help us older ones grow in that Truth, too.

Friday, December 19, 2008

The Christmas Sweater


"The Christmas Sweater" by Glenn Beck.


We attended an encore presentation last night of a simulcast from the night before. A small orchestra and fantastic singer backed up Glenn's monologue as he told the moving story of a gift he received from him mother when he was twelve.


I'm reading the book now. The book goes into more detail, of course, but the performance was excellent. Glenn is a natural actor, and because he lived the story, his depiction of the events brought the audience into his world.


For me, the moral of this story is to enjoy every day--to love every person in my life with abandon, and to be grateful. At twelve we think we have forever ahead of us, but the truth is we don't, and the people around us don't either.


I've said it before--life is too short to waste it being angry and hating someone--even ourselves. As Glenn was told, no one is in charge of your happiness except you. Many times we have to learn this the hard way when it seems easier to lay blame on others or look to someone else to fulfill our lives.
,

If you're looking for an extra gift for someone or yourself, this book is an excellent choice.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Random Thoughts


After a long, hot summer, winter is welcome. Low clouds, snow, cold days when staying indoors is preferable to bundling up in heavy coats and hats to brave the wind. But, as I said, winter is still a welcome change.


I love the seasons--all of them: spring, summer, fall and winter. Each is distinctive. Each has positive and negative elements. Like all situations, good or bad, the seasons change.


All situations change. We may be ecstatically happy or deeply despairing--neither remains that way forever. Like the change of seasons, knowing change will come gives us hope.


It's good to remember that no one is in charge of our happiness except us.

Life isn't fair but it's still good, and life is too short to hate anyone.


Just some random thoughts for a grey winter day.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Looking Back

I love the early morning after a good night's sleep. Some of my best memories are of the years we lived in Amarillo before air conditioning.


My bed was beside a window, which was always open at night during the summer. With the open window on the adjacent wall, I had a wonderful cross breeze. If you know Amarillo in the 40s and 50s, the wind always blew and the evenings cooled down. I'd awaken in the morning to the aroma of honeysuckle coming through those windows; the rustle of elm leaves in the trees and the robin's song.


Now I awaken to practically no sounds, but mornings are still sweet.


Tomorrow I have two tests. Today is clear liquids only. Yesterday was 8 glasses of water. I know the ulcer isn't gone and won't be until I can deal with life better. Or until some things in life change.


We can't go back, but I must say I long for those days when life was simple. No concerns that some criminal would come in through my open window. My parents had everything under control. The morning breeze cooled my room; the birds sang their songs and I had years and years ahead of me. Thoughts like this let me know I'm getting closer to the end of my life. Don't old people look back? Is it only the young who give no thought to yesterday but reach toward the tomorrows? If we only knew what tomorrow would bring. . .


Mornings do this to me.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Tagged

I'm not sure what this Tagging is all about, but someone tagged me and it looks like that means I have to share seven random things about myself. When I'm finished, I will tag some people so look at the end and see if you're one of those.



1. When I was about 12 years old, my friends and I decided to climb to the roof of our one story (high-ceilinged) school house and jump off. I was the first to try it. I hung on to the edge of the roof and dropped. Fortunately the ground was wet but it hurt, and no one else would follow.



2. I was Spanish queen in the ninth grade. (Chosen by the students from two Spanish classes.)



3. A favorite playground for a friend and myself was a cemetery about a mile from our neighborhood. We'd make a lunch, walk the mile across a field and spend the day. We didn't play around the graves. This cemetery has a mill and a bridge to a small island that is surrounded by water. We pass it on I-40 when we go through Amarillo. Back then it was near Highway 66.



4. In first grade I would fill pages of my tablet with what looked like longhand and tell my classmates that I knew how to write. Since they couldn't read longhand, they believed me.



5. I always believed in God and knew He was watching me, but I thought He was watching to catch me doing something bad. I had to pray before I went to sleep just to clear the record every day. I don't know when I finally realized Jesus had already cleared that record for me.



6. Since everyone popular in ninth grade was in a choir, I tried out. I had to audition singing "America." Awful! But everyone got into choir even if they couldn't sing, which I couldn't. I was in 2nd period--the worst singers. We were only allowed to sing in a program once. I was an alto and still can't read music. I can't imagine what they poor teacher went through every day at 2nd period.



7. I've para sailed and don't have to do that again. For about a year five years ago I wanted to hang-glide off the Sandias. Thank God, I got over that!



These are the people I'm tagging and hope you'll join in:
Jim
DeAnn
Monica
Michelle

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Good Movies

We've been to the cinema the last two days.

Yesterday we saw "Australia," which is billed as the new "Gone With the Wind." GWTW it isn't but it is a good film. Although it's long, I don't know what they could cut out. Everything was needed. Kidman was excellent, as was Jackman, but the person who stole the show was the little mixed-race boy. And I don't even know his name. He's one of those kids you want to take home with you.

Today we went downtown and saw "The Boy in the Stripped Pyjamas." I just finished reading the book and found it well written and so moving. If I hadn't read it, I think I would have enjoyed the movie more. The problem I had was the way I had seen the story in my mind, and the film didn't fit it exactly. Still, it's a story that needs to be told, and I recommend it.

Lots of good films coming this December. Now to find the time to go see some of them.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Starting Today


I like to plan ahead, to know what's going to happen so I can order my schedule and be prepared. I don't think that will ever completely change, but something happened today that is telling me to live a slightly different way.


Many years ago I attended a Bible study in Oklahoma. At the end of the year the teacher suggested we ask God to give us a word for the new year--something especially from Him to us. I did and was surprised when I got something. At the end of that year I looked back and could see what that word meant.


I had another new year's activity that lasted about seven years. A friend and I got together around the beginning of every year and wrote out our goals for the year. Then we went to a movie. After the first year of doing this, we would read last year's goals and determine if we'd met them or not. One year, before going to the movie, we released several balloons with positive sayings attached to them. We hoped these sayings would reach someone in need as well as their being positive thoughts for our own futures. She lives in Georgia now and we talk on the phone but we've given up the goal setting.


I've still done the Word from God for about 20 years now and have always been surprised by what those words have meant to my life. Lately I've begun asking again. Nothing seemed to come until today. What I heard really put me at rest, which is what I need the most right now.


"You may be tired of making goals. Take a break from that whole process. Be like the earth--it keeps turning around, and there's no destination point. the moment is all that matters."


That's what I've been missing--living in the moment. I'm starting today.


Sunday, December 7, 2008

Wouldn't You Know?

Well, wouldn't you know? As soon as I wrote about making hard choices, I have a hard decision to make. The funny thing about this is that even though I remember the young Muslin girl who chose to follow Jesus, I don't know how to do what I need to do.

Confused? Well, so am I.

I know one thing for sure. If it is God who talked to me about remembering this girl when I have a hard choice to make, then He will show me how to make it. I have a little wooden plaque that reads: The will of God will never lead you where the grace of God cannot keep you.

That says it all.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Hard Choices


We had a wonderful experience last night.


One of our grandchildren, Mason, was baptized. His dad did the honors. Although that was wonderful, even more exciting was the baptism of a young woman from Afghanistan. She had come to this country with her family when she was very young. Her family is Muslim. Her grandmother prays five times a day. And this young lady, after four hard years (she didn't say what had happened during those years), decided to give her life to Christ. The preacher asked her if she was sure. Her answer, "It's time."


She can't go to Afghanistan again or she will be killed. She is probably cut off from her family.


How easy for us to make our spiritual decisions. How hard for some.

Do we have any hard choices to make?

The next time I think I have a hard one, I'll remember this young lady and her courage.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Thanks for the Memories.....


It's been awhile since I've had time to do anything on the computer. The past few days went by so fast--much too fast when you're surrounded by people you love.

Both my daughters and their families came the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. The star of the show was fourteen month old Amiyah, of course. Reid's son, Joe, and his family were in town, too, so we got to see them and their two year old, Jaiden. Love those little girls!

We had dinner for 16 at our house Thursday. Ate and watched football--a typical Thanksgiving for my family. I don't think Reid's family is as sports conscious as mine always was. But I've converted him, and he likes to watch as much as the rest of us.

Everyone was gone by nine-thirty yesterday morning. We dragged around all day cleaning the house, doing laundry and putting the house back the way it was. Quiet. Empty except for the two of us. We sent as much of the food as possible home with everyone, so there's not much of that left either.

I remember the years we spent driving from Amarillo (Lubbock, Plainview and El Paso) to my grandparent's home in Memphis, Texas, on Christmas Eve. Family in every nook and cranny of their house. I never thought about how empty the house must have seemed after we all left after Christmas. Maybe Mamaw was glad to get her house back in order, but maybe it seemed too quiet.

Good memories. Bittersweet--just like these past few days. We'll look at the pictures and remember the precious granddaughter and great granddaughter, and wish we could be with them every day to see them grow and change.

Better go before I start bawling.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Thank Him Anyway

With family here and more coming, the next few days will be busy ones. We'll have about 17 here for dinner.

If all our plans materialize, this holiday will be the first we've spent with my two girls and their families since we got married. The last time I was with both of them was at Christmas in 1997, the first holiday after my husband's death. I couldn't face the holiday alone and got up a family outing to Disneyland. We had a great time, but when I got back home, I still had to grieve.

I learned from that experience that you can't force or escape certain experiences that are bound to happen. Last Christmas I tried to force a family holiday. It didn't materialize and became one of the saddest holidays in my memory. I didn't try to force this holiday reunion. A few weeks ago it began to fall into place.

If all goes as planned, and sometimes plans fall apart, I'll thank God.
If it falls apart--well, I hope I have the good sense to thank God then, too.

I hope your holiday is filled with whatever floats your boat--and there are no leaks to sink it. Even if there are, I hope you'll still be thankful.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

God, Family, and Good Health

After ten days of detoxing/sinusitis/coughing/sneezing/blowing---you name it, I finally feel like a human again.

I woke up this morning and decided I'm tired of being sick, tired of feeling puny and tired of looking like it. I washed my hair (I have washed my hair before this), dressed and am ready to greet the family for the holiday.

One of Reid's sons, Joe, his wife Jenny and their daughter Jaiden will fly in from North Carolina on Sunday. Both my daughters, Jo Lynn and Sherri, Sherri's husband John, two grandsons, Cory and Taylor and great granddaughter Amiyah will come Wednesday. While they are all here, we'll be able to get with Dave, Lorraine, Mason, Jade, Reagan, Pierce and Thatcher--the son and his family who live here. What a fun time is ahead!

God, family and good health. That's what life is all about. And this Thanksgiving those are the things I'm thankful for.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

God's Answer

A couple of days ago I wrote a blog and in it, I said I had asked God for His opinion about a subject. Yesterday afternoon I received an email from a friend who gets daily emails from www.heartlight.org. Many times she forwards them to me. I think she must have read my blog and that's why she sent this one.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Jeers of the Cruel Condemners

Some of the people there spit at Jesus. They covered Jesus' eyes and hit him with their fists. They said, "Be a prophet and tell us who hit you!" Then the guards led Jesus away and beat him. -- Mark 14:65 (ERV)

KEY THOUGHT: I never cease to be amazed at the thoughtless cruelty that human beings can inflict on each other. No wonder that we human beings needed a Savior who would bear our insults, our violence, our injustice, and our humiliation.

TODAY'S PRAYER: O loving Father, my stomach turns at the inhumanity and senseless violence that permeates the world in which I find myself. Forgive us.. forgive me ... forgive our propensity for returning violence for violence and our willingness to inflict violence even when there is no rational need to do so. Redeem our time and our world through the powerful reminder of your Son, who bore our sins and carried our sorrows while under the most inhuman and violent abuse. In Jesus' name I pray. Amen.

This is answer enough for me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sleep


I haven't heard anything from God about yesterday's post, so let's move on to something lighter.

Sleep.


As a person who has had trouble sleeping in the past, I do not believe we can do without it.

Studies show that sleep is as important to our health as diet and exercise. We need between 71/2 and 8 hours of sleep every night. The dreams we have work out our subconscious thoughts, categorize them and sluff off the least important. Keeps us from going crazy.


A recent study at the University of Chicago School of Medicine restricted the sleep of young, healthy test subjects to four hours for six consecutive nights. At the end of that time, tests showed that each of the subjects was already in a pre-diabetic state. Lack of sleep caused a drop in levels of leptin, a hormone that tells our brains when we aren't hungry. (When the students were allowed to sleep normally, their health was reversed)


In our society we believe the lie that our true worth is in what we produce. Because of that belief we quit "wasting time" sleeping. Then the wheels come off and we slog on physically and emotionally as if through molasses. Also, the person will be fat and sick. Does that sound like something we want?


Being sleep-deprived is awful. I speak from experience. On the days after not sleeping at all or much the night before, I could hardly function. No writing. No talking coherently. Just sit and eat. Grumpy, mood swings, "hell on wheels" is a good description of the chronically sleep-deprived. On top of the risk factor for diabetes, obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and stoke can be linked to sleep deprivation.


I've heard that Einstein only slept four hours a night and was a genius. I don't know that for a fact since he isn't here to tell us. After someone in a minister's family died, his young daughter was so worried that someone else in her family would die that she couldn't sleep. She went into her big brother's room and he told her, "You can sleep because God stays awake." God doesn't sleep but he wants us to so He can do within us what we can't do for ourselves.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How Does God See This?

We watched a Barbara Walters special the other night and I've been thinking about it since then. I know many people who read this will not agree with the subject, but what I have to say isn't about what is right or what is wrong.

I'll begin by saying that I know what the Bible says about homosexuality. Once that's out of the way, I want to go on to something deeper.

Barbara interviewed the "pregnant man" and his/her wife, who is lesbian. If you haven't heard about him/her, this man was born a girl. He never felt like a girl and always wanted to be a boy. In adulthood he fell in love with a woman and decided to become a man. He had his breasts removed and started taking testosterone. He looks like a man. Since he still had his reproductive organs, he stopped taking testosterone and was impregnated with sperm and became pregnant. This couple now has a baby girl. He didn't start back on the testosterone and now is pregnant again. He is one of about 35 men who have had babies. The others (from what the show said) just didn't become public like he has.

My dilemma about this isn't whether he is right or wrong, or whether their lifestyle is right or wrong. They have received horrible, ugly, hate-filled letters, emails and phone calls. I want to know exactly how God sees this? I believe God loves these people. Don't give me that old thing that God loves the sinner and hates the sin. That doesn't cut it. Those are just words. The most scathing language on record from the lips of Jesus was not directed at adulterers, homosexuals or others whose sexual behavior he regarded as ethically wrong. It was against self-righteous religionists. Those people then and religious people today, are some of the most intolerant people on the globe. Bigotry and hatred are evil. Fanaticism in the name of the Christian religion is both malevolent and dangerous.

So, how does God see all this? He certainly has forever been aware of it. These two people were so happy and their baby seems normal. Her family has opened their arms to them, but his has not. They have nothing to do with him. Is that right?

I haven't told you what I really think about all this because I honestly don't know. I do know I wouldn't send them hate mail, and I wouldn't shun them. Because they're so alone in the world, I just might love them more.

I want to know how God feels about this. I've asked Him. If He tells me, I'll let you know.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Listening to Wisdom

Funny how great minds work together. This morning I talked to God just a little and journaled that I hadn't heard from Him in awhile but it was probably because I hadn't sat still long enough to listen. Then I read my brother's blog.(http://jimmiesblogspace.blogspot.com/) He wrote about listening to his head instead of his stomach. (I've been known to do that myself.) I went to what I call my Sun Room (or Son Room) and opened my Bible. It didn't take me long to find Proverbs 1:20-33. In my Bible this is titled "The Call of Wisdom." The content spoke to me about our economy and the people who made the decisions that put our country in this precarious position. On another level I saw it more personally.

Wisdom (God) is always calling out to us. Solomon says Wisdom is calling aloud, raising her voice, crying out, speaking. You'd think if God is speaking that loudly, someone would listen. Me, for instance. This morning I listened. I heard my own body's complaint about something I've been overeating the past month. Since this is what I've been most concerned about, I'm glad I'm hearing the complaint. I'm hopeful I won't let it go in one ear and out the other. (Or in one fat cell and never out again!)

But more important than my personal foibles is how all this applies to our country, and to those of us in the country who can't do anything to turn the economy around. We are the ones (are we the complacent fools Proverbs speaks of?) who have to live through it while the "simple ones" (Proverbs's words, not mine) in authority try to get us out of the mess. The final verse in Proverbs 1 reads, "But whoever listens to me will dwell safely and will be secure, without fear of evil."

Listening to Wisdom is where I plan to hang my hat. I hope my brother will hang his there. But even more than the two of us, I'm hopeful there's someone, or many someones, in Washington who'll hang their hats there, too.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Choices


Our church is looking to hire a new minister. The team working through all the candidates has taken eight months to come down to four candidates. In the past we would have had to wait until each candidate showed up and preached to us. From that limited information we'd make a decision. But with the world of Internet technology we can go to the churches' web sites and the candidates' blogs and get a pre-sermon look into the man and his thoughts.


Yesterday at church, when we were introduced to each man and his family via pictures and a little background information, one candidate stood out in my mind. (I've talked to two other people who felt the same way.) As I've gone into the sites, I still like this man. In a few weeks we'll get to meet him in person. I wonder if that first impression will stand up.


First impressions are definitely important, but we have to be open to realizing those impressions might not be "right on" about the person. I've met people I didn't think I'd like, but after getting to know them, I realized what I first saw wasn't who they really were. It works both ways. What might look like unfriendliness can be shyness or fear.


This journey to find a minister is kind of fun--reading blogs, talking to friends, meeting the people in person when they come for their week end "try-out" and listening to God. Does it really matter which one is chosen? Aren't all the men probably fine ministers or why would the search team have come down to these four? Would they all be a good fit for our church? Does God really care which one we choose? He loves all of them. Still, we'll pray and the one we all agree on (or most of us agree on) will come, and we'll say God sent him to us.


I wonder sometimes if we try to put God's stamp of approval on everything we do just to make us feel better about out decisions. Or--is He really more involved in our lives than we think? We won't know that answer for sure until we step into eternity with Him. Until then we continue walking through life and trying not to stumble.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Natural or Supernatural?

One of the blogs I read (Inkhorn Blue on my blog list) had a posting that got a lot of comments. The writer told about her experiences with ghosts. One of the respondents wasn't a ghost believer and quoted scriptures to prove these "things" were the devil. Sorry, but I'm so sick of hearing people giving the devil credit for everything we can't explain.

Why do people do bad things? The devil makes them do it.
Why am I tempted although I love God and want to do good? Must be the devil.
Someone I know says the devil is so smart he tailor makes temptations for each one of us.
Give me a break.
Is the devil omniscient and omnipresent?
No, but God is. And if you want to quote scripture, the Word says the devil was destroyed at the cross.
Now, who's bigger? The devil or what Jesus did at the cross?

I don't get on a soap box too often (my friends would probably disagree), but this is one I can live on. Stop talking about the devil. Stop giving him credit and making him out to be stronger than God.

People are inherently sinners. That's why God sent Jesus. Only knowing Him can change a person's heart.

OK. So what are ghosts? I don't know, but I believe we are closer to the spirit world than we realize. After my husband died, I looked for an easel. He had put it away, and I had no idea where he'd put it. I looked all through the house and garage and couldn't find it. Finally, exasperated, I said, "Jim, where did you put the easel?" Immediately a place in the garage came to my mind. I went there and found one of the three parts of the easel. Since Jim had taken it apart, I knew he had stored the other two parts somewhere. I looked some more. Nothing. Again I asked him where the rest of the easel was. Immediately I thought of a place to look and found the cross piece. The chain and the screw was still missing, so excited that I was being led in some way, I asked where the other pieces were. Their hiding place became clear and I found them. Do I believe it was actually Jim? I don't know, but you'll never make me believe this didn't happen. I had a couple of other experiences like this after he died, and I know someone somewhere was helping me and sending me comfort.

When the blogger says she experienced something supernatural, who am I to say, "Oh, no, you didn't. The Bible says it isn't possible." She'll read the Bible and find out for herself, but no one will be able to convince her what she experienced was anything except a ghost. And no one can convince me something supernatural wasn't at play when I found the easel. Let's open our minds and see that in the world God created are things we don't yet understand. Wait! I believe Jesus said He had things He wanted to tell, but couldn't. Maybe that was because of the closed minds of his followers. Sounds kind of like today, doesn't it?

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Election Ruminations

We have a new President. He promised change.
His promises aren't new at all.
Take from the rich and give to the poor.
The more evenly distributed the wealth is, the more people are able to participate in the government and the better the economy. (Can you prove that?)
Health care for everyone.
Make everyone like us. (Never going to happen unless we give in to them. Then they'll hate us even more.)
Change is good. (Is it always?)
Change what? (National pride?)
I never thought anything or anyone could make Hillary and Bill look good. (I was wrong.)

To quote P.J. O'Rourke: "If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it's free!"

Our prayers may have been answered and we don't even know it. What better way for God to become important in the lives of people than for the people to go through rough times? I hope it doesn't work that way, of course. A friend wrote a morning-after rumination about his disappointment. He gave me permission to use it here, and I thank him.

Last evening, when I came to the realization that many of the things I have always believed were not so important to the majority of this country's voters, I felt devastation and despair. What's to become of us now?

Didn't do much thinking about God, until this early morning, when I picked up Emmet Fox's book, "The Sermon on the Mount."

The first Beatitude: Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. What was Jesus saying?

To be poor in spirit means to have emptied yourself of all desire to exercise personal self-will, and, what is just as important, to have renounced all preconceived opinions in the whole-hearted search for God. It means to set aside your present habits of thought, your present views and prejudices, your present way of life if necessary; to jettison, in fact, anything and everything that can stand in the way of your finding God.

What I've been doing lately hasn't brought much comfort, so think I will try the Beatitudes. May not help, sure won't hurt, plus, God and I might become buddies again.

Blessings,
Spook

Maybe, after we experience some of the changes coming upon us, God will find a whole nation of buddies. Listen to the song below and sing it to God.

http://worriersanonymous.org/Share/OnlyYou.htm

Monday, November 3, 2008

Journey

From the time we're born until we die, we are on a journey. I wonder if God is on this journey with everyone or just those who want Him to be. I'd like to believe it's the former rather than the latter because there have been times in my life when I felt I was journeying alone. Besides, if He isn't with those who don't know Him, how will they ever find out who He is?

In 1960, when JFK was elected President, I thought the U.S. would surely fall. (I gave up working in politics that year, but have always voted. What little I could do didn't seem to matter in the whole scheme of things.) The same feeling appears to abound with this election--the fear that our nation may not survive as we have known it.

Many years ago I made two lists. On one list were the negative things in my life. On the other--the positives. For every negative I gave a positive. The outcome of this endeavor brought peace to my soul. Life has many negatives, but when we look for them, there are as many positives.

What does this have to do with the election? Who knows God's plans? What I want is for hearts to be turned to Him. I want people to know His favor, to know His love. My prayer has been that whatever happens will turn the hearts of people to God. I believe God is on this journey with America and with the people of this world whether they know it or not.

If I didn't believe this, I'm not sure I'd ever be able to rest again.
If God be for us, who can be against us?

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Sunday Thoughts

Sunday morning after falling back in time.

Early. A full day ahead--as well as a full day tomorrow.

All I'd like to do today is shut the door and write.
Can't. Too much to do.

When I thought about retirement before I retired, my ideas were: do whatever I wanted to do when I wanted to do it: write, watch TV, sleep late, no make up or bra, read, read, read.

Wrong!

Retirement is busier than ever, only I don't have to wake up to an alarm clock.

But I'm happy I don't have to show up somewhere every Morning.

Complaining? Not really. Life is good. I believe it's better to have something to do than to just be able to sit around all day and indulge myself.

I hope your day is beautiful whether you're busy or not.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Good-bye Halloween


Halloween is over for another year. Not one of my favorite "holidays", I'm not sorry to see it go. Trick or Treating and dressing in a costume used to be fun for me and for my kids, but today it is just scary.


We had three people come last night: a boy, and later, his sister (guess he didn't want to have to be out with his sister), and then a family--two or three kids, a father, mother and baby. One of the malls in Tulsa has a T or T'ing night for families. In front of the stores someone gives out candy. I never attended it, but I think scores of people showed up for the "safe Halloween."


I remember my oldest daughter's Halloween when she was old enough to know what was going on. At almost three she wasn't ready to go T or T'ing, but she loved answering the door and looking at the goblins. If I had to grade it, that night was a 10 for me. Another memory was an October 31st in Amarillo. The girls were about five and seven. Cold and rainy outside, still the girls insisted they go out in their costumes (which were hidden under rain gear). Their dad took them. They only lasted about three houses before they wanted to come home.


My best Halloween was when I was a senior in high school. Several of us drove to a high-end neighborhood in Amarillo and went door to door. The people invited us in, gave us hot chocolate, cookies and friendliness. What a great memory! But that was before the scariness of present-day Halloween where you can't trust anyone; where you can't allow your kids to go anywhere alone; where you can't open your door just because the bell rings and it's Halloween.


Last Thursday we attended a Halloween party at the children's home. One cottage dressed as the Addams family, one board member came in 70s costume (which is back in style today), lots of costumes, food, games and fun for the kids.


Now it's on to Thanksgiving and Christmas. At least we don't have to wear a costume.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Dancing in the Rain


Life isn't about how to survive the storm, but how to dance in the rain!

With the falling economy, a new administration (depending on who wins) that may signal the end of the United States as we know it (does that sound like a doomsday prediction?), my emotions and my ulcer are feeling the anxiety. Emails are surfacing all over the Net asking people to pray. I hope we've already been doing that. I believe we should pray all the time for our country regardless of who is elected.

I'd be surprised if most people really understand what this recession means. Having lived during the last depression and world war, if only as a young child, I remember those times well. Denis Leary, in his book "Why We Suck: A Feel Good Guide to Staying Fat, Loud, Lazy and Stupid" says "This country--including you and most of the people related to you by birth or marriage or both--is populated by beings who have been so blessed for so long that they have become almost completely immune to any interests other than their own." I say "amen" to that and could cite example after example to prove it--but so can you.

When a people are self-absorbed, nothing outside of themselves matters. One of the candidates is appealing to the self-absorbed by promising them a better life. Better than we've had? A socialistic society can't give people a better life. All it gives to its people is less money, less freedom and more government control. A storm isn't coming. The storm is here and the best we can do to survive is dance in it.

I'm hoping for the best. In the meantime, I'm taking the King's hand, and I'm going to dance.

Asleep at the Wheel

Now I know where the music group, Asleep at the Wheel, got that name--in the same place I was when some third grader took control of my last blog.
Incorrect grammar!
Convoluted sentences!
Published author? Not if that last blog is any indication of talent.
From now on I promise to take better care of what's written here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Back to England


One of the days we were in England we took a day tour to Warwick Castle, Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford and the Cotswolds. Scenes from the early Harry Potter movies were filmed at Warwick and Oxford. Warwick has great wax figures. In the picture it looks like Henry VIII was a big man, but we saw what we were told was his actual suit of armour. He couldn't have been much over 5'5" if that tall. When you see the beds the kings and queens slept in, if they slept together, you think they had to have side rails to keep from falling off the sides. The stories about these people is "bigger than life."

Same goes for William Shakespeare. We visited his home in Stratford. Small rooms, low ceilings. A man, who in death, is bigger than life, and we aren't even sure Will wrote all those lovely sonnets and plays. In the book "Sweet Swan of Avon" Robin Williams makes a good case that the actual author was a woman named Mary Sinclair.

I've always thought of Oxford as one big university. In fact it's many small colleges in the same town. One of those buildings houses the great dining hall in the Potter movies. It's still used to feed students. The film company used it for the first two films then built their own in Hollywood, or somewhere. The dining hall looks the same as it does in the movie, just no flying postal owls that we saw.

I've heard of the Cotswolds for a long time, but as far as I discerned, they're just villages with little houses that look a lot alike.

The rest of our time in London was spent touring the Tower of London where Henry VIII had some of his wives held and beheaded and where many people the royals didn't like for one reason or another were tortured and killed. When you think about it, why do we want to visit a place like that? We loved seeing St. Paul's Cathedral.This church belongs to the people. Westminster Abbey belongs to the royals. That's why Princess Diana got married at St. Paul's rather than the Abbey. She was making a statement. Every hour a prayer is said at St. Paul's and an invitation given to anyone who wants to speak to one of the ministers about faith. The lady speaker when we were there spoke a blessing over all of those assembled. I needed that blessing. My body was giving out and we had 5 more days to go. By that night, after the all- day mostly-walking touring and seeing Phantom of the Opera (which is always good), I had red welts on my shins from so much walking. I think it was at that time I said, "No more." When pain in the body is greater than the experience, the time to do something else has come.

What is the meaning of all this? Life is one experience after another. Sometimes the experiences are wonderful, but they come to an end and all we have left are memories. On the other hand, some of the experiences are terrible, but they, too, come to an end and we're still left with the memories. Maybe that's why I write and read what other author's write. The Greek word for author is archegos. It means someone who begins something so that others may enter in to it. (The word is used in the book of Hebrews in the Bible about Jesus being the author of our salvation.) Someone somewhere writes about his experience. We read it and enter in to it. The next time I think about traveling to a far-away land, I'm just going to read about it!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Have To's and Want To's

I've lived a lot of years by myself but for the last 5 years and 5 months I haven't spent a single night alone in my house. When I first learned I'd have 4 days with no one around, I thought I'd do some things I couldn't seem to get done before--like beginning a book that's been in my mind for some time and organizing my writing files. But now that I have the time, I'm still going to have to do what needs to be done first.

What is it about life that we always have something that HAS TO be done before we can do what we WANT to do? When I was in school and had homework, I always worked on the hardest assignment first. Even as an adult, I'd get the most difficult project out of the way before doing any of the others. And I never let anything go even if it didn't have to be done immediately. I wanted to stay ahead so I would have time to do what I wanted to do. I think I was always getting things done and still didn't have much time for "want to's."

I've changed in the last few years of my life. I do what's easiest and/or what I HAVE to do and let everything else wait. My new saying is a Scarlett O'Haraian "I'll think about it tomorrow." "To be filed" papers stack up on my filing cabinet and dust bunnies grow on my furniture until we have company. Seems I'm always playing "catch-up" now.

As for my immediate plans--I have to read and critique several pieces of writing; two of them I have to have done by Thursday. The others aren't as immediate and will probably wait. I have a critique meeting to attend this afternoon and will happily do that. It's easy and I enjoy the participants. Texas and Oklahoma are playing football today and I want to watch both games. Tomorrow is church and small group at night and the Cowboys in the afternoon. I'll be busy all day with those things. I may not get to do any writing this weekend either.

Oh, well. . .I'll just think about it tomorrow.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Half and Half

I had an endoscopy yesterday to check for an ulcer, which I do have. Fortunately for those of us who have to have outpatient procedures now, someone discovered (or invented) fentynol and versed. They tell me the patient doesn't go to sleep, just forgets what he's experienced. Whatever--I'm glad they use it.

I do wonder how they discovered it? Did someone accidentally mix a couple of compounds, take it himself or administer it to a mouse? How would he know if the mouse forgot? I guess I don't have to know as long as they keep using it on me when I have to go in for a medical procedure.

Our lives consist of large and small events--mostly small, thank goodness. A big one was when I moved from the place I'd lived for 22 years and remarried. A small one is the fact that my eyebrows are kind of bushy. After many years of having them waxed, I gave it up. The lady who was doing the waxing kept getting one side a lot narrower than the other. Along with letting the grey come back in my hair, I'm letting my eyebrows grow out. For me, Tony Romo's broken pinkie isn't a big event. For him, it is.

A friend sent an email yesterday concerned about our country and the changes we've seen in our lifetime. Politics, lack of courtesy, locked doors, the economy. . . I'd add terrorism and the media. (Wait! Are they one and the same?) I agree with this friend's concerns, but with the ulcer (I refuse to call it "my ulcer.") caused by stress and Advil, I can't go there right now. I'd rather think about the man who gave my husband two one dollar stamps at the post office yesterday.

USPS gave half their people the choice to take early retirement, and they aren't re-hiring. Our post office always has a line out the door and only one worker. Yesterday, when Reid went to mail our early ballots, a gentleman opened his wallet and gave Reid two dollar stamps so he wouldn't have to wait in line.

I'd rather think about the full moon. Why is it when we see the full moon, we always say, "There's a full moon," and we marvel at it's beauty? The moon is full right now.

The glass is half full most of the time--or half empty. It's all the same. It's just the way we look at it. We can't change much, and it does upset us, but as a friend said: If you have a place to live and food to eat and no one in your family is dying of cancer, life is good. I like those words. It doesn't make my stomach hurt to think that way.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Deep Roots

We went to a movie Saturday afternoon--"Fireproof"--which is execllent. Not one cuss word or naked or dead body. Good acting, much of it done by local Georgians. I can find God in most anything, including a movie, but in this movie I didn't even have to search for Him. The actors used the name of Jesus Christ in the way it's supposed to be used--as the Saviour and the One who changes lives.

While we were in the movie, the west side of Albuquerque had a horrific storm. Wind, rain, hail. A friend told me about a huge tree in her backyard that was uprooted. I've seen that tree and would never have imagined, as large as it was, that it could fall so easily. She said it brought a lesson home to her. As beautiful as it was, and as good as it looked, the tree had shallow roots. The lesson? We can look good on the outside but if our roots aren't deep into God, we can fall as quickly as that tree did.

Our country is in crisis. With businesses failing all around the world, we need to have our roots deep into our faith in God. Years ago I spent an entire year meditating and memorizing Psalm 91. I personalized it: "No evil shall befall me--He shall give His angels charge over me to keep me in all my ways--Because she has known my name, therefore I will deliver her and show her My salvation--"

I have said these words many times since that year. Every time I say them, I believe my roots in Him go deeper. Whatever happens to me--to us--to the country, God never changes, and we can count on His salvation.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Worry

I got an email today about worrying. It was how we never stop worrying about our kids--from the time they're small, through teen years, adulthood. Always. The only time we stop is when we die.

The comic strip "Pickles" has been about worrying the past few days. If you've never read this strip, it's about an old couple. They're so funny and as I age, I can totally relate to them. One day she lost her glasses and found them on top of her head and buried in her hair. I do that all the time since I had cataract surgery. I go around feeling the top of my head to be sure they aren't there (or are) before I make a general run through the house to find one of the four pair of Walgreen's cheaters I own.

About the worrying. It's so easy for someone to tell you to not worry, but when someone you love is in trouble, it hangs heavy on your heart. That's what's happening more often than worrying. I know I can't change anything in anyone else's life. I can hardly handle my own. But the heaviness of their pain--well, how do you get rid of that? The only thing I know to do it is to take it to God over and over again. I leave it with him and find it's sprung back into my heart like a rubber paddle ball. Still, somewhere deep inside I know everything will be all right in the end--whatever that end is and whenever it comes. And that's not because of me but because of who He is. He said He'd never leave us or forsake us, and I'm holding on to that promise!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Filling the Holes


My mother had a fancy China boot she always had out on a table in our living room. Looking at it transports me back into my past. We had several items--a picture, a China set that included an old-fashioned bathtub, some tea cups and tea pot. I still have the boot and the picture but I wasn't around when Mother garage-saled the other things. It looks perfect--from one angle, but turn it around and you'll see a small chip gone. This missing piece taught me an important lesson.

Many years ago I made some choices that I wish I hadn't made. No excuses though. I made them and paid for them. In some ways I'm still paying. During that period of time someone broke my precious boot. I gathered the pieces and tried to put them back together, but one small piece was never found.

I grieved over that boot--over the loss of that piece. Every time I looked at it, the day it was broken, the choice I made was brought back to me. What I was really grieving for was the lost time, the hurts that came from my choices--and those things still plague me today in a different way.

But just as He is always ready to step in, God opened my eyes. If I could be so bold as to paraphrase what I think He said to me--"Your whole life is imperfect and can't be any other way because you're human. That's why I gave my son. When you look at that boot, just remember it is Jesus who fills the holes in your life."

Now, when I look at the imperfect boot, I see Jesus.

When I die and my belongings are passed on to my daughters, this boot probably won't mean anything to them. Maybe one of them will remember it from Grandma's house and mine, but more than likely, it won't be important enough for them to save it. I think it's time I tell them the story and let them see Jesus, too.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Count It All Joy

I've had a couple of strange and painful days seeking the reason for severe stomach pain. As it turns out, the diagnosis is probably gastritis.

Gastritis has many causes. Some of these are: taking pain relievers, taking aspirin on a daily basis for the heart, and stress. All of them relate to my life. Someone in my family apologized for causing me so much stress, but I told her it wasn't her fault. Whatever happens to me is a result of how I handle or live my life, not what someone else does. I wouldn't want anyone to carry guilt like that around.

Just before the pain hit early Thursday morning, I had read some verses in James that made everything that I've been experiencing worthwhile. The first chapter in verses two through four tell me that I should count it all joy when troubles come because my faith and endurance are being strengthened. And when it is over, I will be perfect and complete, wanting nothing. Now that's good news!

As for the gastritis, well, I'll just count it all joy.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

London Royalty

We arrived in London on a Friday. On Tuesday the guys rode the tube early in the morning to save a place at the fence around Buckingham Palace to watch the changing of the guard. The women (daughter-in-law, granddaughter and me)took a taxi about an hour later. (In order to get a good place to stand, a person has to get to the Palace about two hours early.) Our taxi driver was from Afghanistan. He, like everyone we met, was interested in America and where we were from. When he found out our daughter-in-law's family lived in the country, he talked about the way he lived in his country. Contrary to the pictures we see of Afghanistan, there are areas there that are lush, green and productive. He said his family had 3000 fruit trees on their land. The farmers in his area have banded together and he said, "No one can come in. Not the government, not the military and not the Taliban. We are safe from the war." They must not let the press in either because we've never seen anything like that on television.

Reid and I stayed across the street so the other four could take their places at the fence at Buckingham. We visited with an interesting man from Spain who had never been out of his country. He wasn't even sure what was going to happen so we filled him in the best we could. After the changing of the guard, we toured the Queen's Mews (where she keeps her horses, cars, carriages), her gallery where she has numerous paintings of the masters and the State Rooms of the Palace. Afterwards we walked to Pizza Express to eat then Reid and I took the tube back to the hotel while the others did some more touring. That evening we were excited to be able to watch a shortened, yet complete, video of the Dallas vs Eagles football game.
Sometimes the best part of being away from home is hearing from home.

One part of this trip stood out to me, and that was the opulence of the monarchy. We saw it at the Palace and again at the Tower of London where the Crown Jewels are kept. When you go into the area where the jewels and other golden pieces are stored, you are walking into a vault. Crowns, jewels, golden goblets and dishes, a huge punch bowl that surely can't be lifted without some mechanical apparatus--even the ladle would take several men to wield it--all within this room and absolutely useless.I think they take one of the crowns out when the Queen has to wear it. (I could go into a diatribe about how much "stuff" we all have that we don't use, but I'll just leave it at this.)If you know anything about the Tower of London, you know it was, among other things, a place of pain and passion, treachery and torture. English prince, Edward V and conspirator Guy Fawkes were imprisoned there as was a friend of Henry VIII, Sir Thomas More. Having anything to do with Henry was perilous to one's health. His six wives are remembered thusly: divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived. His second wife, Ann Boleyn,was beheaded at the Tower. Execution inside the tower was a privilege for those in high rank. Makes a person glad they didn't live back then nor know any of these "important" people.

I imagine most Londoners don't pay much attention to the tourist places. I don't think most of them pay attention to the queen either. Kind of like right here at home.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Alone in London

Being alone in a strange city may not be unnerving to most people, and when it happened to me, I thought nothing of it--for awhile. Since I hadn't slept the night before the Paris trip, I knew I couldn't go. All day sightseeing, no place to lay my head when sleeplessness caught up with me. It would ruin the trip for the others so I chose to stay at the hotel.

They left at 4:45. I dressed at 5:45, went downstairs and paid for computer time, (7 pounds for 45 minutes), wrote emails then had breakfast at the hotel at 6:30. I was able to sleep from 7:45 until 10:30 and when I woke up, I wished I could magically join my family in Paris. Since that couldn't happen, I walked to Starbuck's instead, sat out on the sidewalk and watched London life go by.

A truck picking up large containers of garbage, "City of Westminster Clean Streets" emptied one of the few trash containers available on the streets of the city.

A young man came out of Starbuck's carrying two coffees in one hand, one stacked on top of the other, with a cell phone to his ear in the other hand. (It's no different there. Everyone has a cell phone.) He put the coffees on a table, continued to talk on the phone and lit a cigarette. (Since July, 2007, no smoking inside buildings in England.) A friend came, grabbed one of the coffees and went to catch the bus that was pulling up to the stop on the curb. The young man said good-bye, turned off his phone as he walked to the the bus, took one more drag on the cigarette and dropped it to the sidewalk. As he got on the bus an older little man came upon the still smoking cigarette, picked it up and held it toward the man on the bus. With a broad smile he seemed to be saying, "What luck!" and walked away smoking it.

He wasn't the only person I saw finding something and taking it for his own. A man in the tube found a mint on the platform, put it in his hand and after studying it for a second, popped it into his mouth. I have no way of knowing if it had fallen from someone's mouth, or his own, or was brand new. At any rate, it didn't stand a chance with this guy around.

An older, rather paunchy man got off one bus, his jacket buttoned wrong, longer on the left and hiked up on the right side. It worked well for him since he easily put his hand in his right pants pocket.

After finishing my coffee and reluctant to go back to the hotel room, I walked a bit in the neighborhood. It was sunny and warm, a lovely day to stroll the streets. A young Londoner asked me for directions and laughed when I told him I didn't know anything. He could easily see I wasn't a local. I passed St. George's Catholic School that had a sign stating the school was inspired by gospel values. After a lunch in the hotel I went back to my room, lonely and wishing I could hear a friendly voice. Although the price wasn't right, I called my daughter in Las Vegas, and after talking to her, I knew I'd make it the rest of the day.

I read English newspapers and watched TV (Diagnosis Murder, Murder She Wrote, and a recap of Sunday's NFL games)I napped a bit and managed to make it until Reid came back around 11:00 that night.

Being alone is all right for a little while, but it can become too much after awhile--at least for me. I wouldn't make a good hermit. I talk to myself as it is, and with no one around, pretty soon I'd be answering.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Poet's Corner

It's four in the morning and I've been awake since 1:30. Guess ye olde jet lag has settled in. Whatever it is, I'm awake and thinking about Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey in London. I love standing in the midst of the great minds of old authors hoping some of their ghosts will pass their genius along to me.

The most famous monument is to William Shakespeare and wasn't erected ujtil 124 years after his death. He's buried in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon. When the Abbey began burying famous folks, it was suggested his body be reburied there. But his epitaph made it clear his bones should not be disturbed:
"Good friend, for Jesus' sake, forbear
to dig the dust enclosed here!
Blest be the man that spares these stones
and curst be he that moves my bones."
So they built a statue instead. It shows him pointing with his left hand to a version of Prospero's lines from the Tempest:
"The Cloud capt Tow'rs
The Goreoous Palaces
The Solemn Temples,
The Great Globe itself,
Yea all which it Inherit, Shall Dissolve,
And like the baseless Fabrick of a Vision
Leave not a wreck behind."
(I'm not sure what all that means but Willie must have thought it was good.)

Many of the masters are buried beneath the Abbey floor, their names and dates engraved in the stone. Some have statues, like Wordsworth, and only the front of a bust like William Blake, which looks rather Halloweenish if you ask me. Jane Austen is one of seven women writers honored and she has only a small plaque that was installed in 1967.

Shelley and Keats are commenorated together. Shelley was initially refused because of his atheism but in 1945 he was linked to Keats by a marble swag. Lord Byron was excluded because of his scandalous lifestyle, but in 1969 he was given a floor stone.

Charles Dickens is the most visited. A floor stone covers his grave. The Bronte sisters have a wall memorial that states their names, dates of birth and death and below it is carved, "With courage to endure." Robert Browning is buried in the Abbey but his wife, Elizabeth Barrett is buried in Italy. John Milton waited 60 years before he was honored with a memorial bust that states simply, "Milton."

Chaucer, the father of English poetry, rates an altar sarcophagus; Christopher Marlowe, a memorial window in 2002. Handel, Laurence Olivier, Kipling. Names we all know and many more.

Being a writer, I decided I'd try my hand at a sonnet (written on the plane coming home.)

Good-bye, Britain
To your land of poets, palaces and queens,
To monarchs' fits of fancy, beheading, bedding and debauchery,
To glittering crown jewels and oppulant coaches that obscure the masses from your sight.
They've served you well and birthed our Eagle's Nest.
Thank you, Pilgrims, visionaries and Lovers of Liberty,
Pursurers of God's own plan.
Freedom has become our song, and bound by loyalty we wish not be released.
For holiday we visit you.
For living we come home.

Think I'll ever get a marble slab in the Abbey?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

No Place Like Home

It is so good to be home!

After 20 hours of being awake and flying from London to here, we slept 10 hours last night and have spent the morning unpacking, doing laundry, picking up mail and all the "normal" life activities. I'm sure I won't be flying across the Atlantic (or the Pacific) ever again. But the trip was good, and we did enjoy being with a son, daughter-in-law and two grandkids.

We arrived in London on Friday and had planned a trip to Paris on the EuroStar, which goes through the chunnel between England and France. Our taxi driver told us there had been a fire in the chunnel a few days before and the chunnel was closed. We were thankful we weren't on the train when that happened! As it turned out, they re-opened the chunnel for the Paris trip on Monday. However, it was the last day tours were going to be able to go through it. I didn't make the trip since I didn't sleep one wink the night before. I spent Monday alone sleeping, watching TV, reading, walking around the neighborhood, sitting at Starbuck's and people-watching. I didn't mind missing the trip since I'd been there before.

We heard that Ike had hit Galveston and the Gulf Coast where I used to live. From what we have heard from those we know who live in that area, the devastation was horrific. It's difficult receiving news from the States when in London. Their papers report a little and the BBC reports a little. (We didn't mind not hearing about the campaign.)The bank failings were widely reported. It seemed their reporting was without bias--like it should be here.

Sunday morning we attended Westminister Abbey's 10:00 service. That was a new experience. The Abbey is so beautiful and used to be wonderful to tour, but in order to keep the homeless and drunks out, they have changed all of it. Lots of barriers. It isn't the same. I spent most of my time in the Poet's Corner, which I'll write more about later. It can't be toured on Sunday but we had done it Saturday.

Every day was a blog event, and I'll be writing some about it. Right now, all I can say is that there's truly no place like home!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Don't Miss Life

The first book in a series I'm writing is pretty much edited and finished. I've sent a couple of queries out and received one rejection. Haven't heard from the other one yet. I began the second book and couldn't figure out why it wasn't flowing. Last night, at a writer's meeting, I got my answer, which means I have to totally re-plot and re-character (if that's a word.)This morning I read an article from one of the blogs I follow (look to your right on this page), about Character External Goals. Turns out this article will help me when I re-character and re-plot.

I like to think of myself as a writer, but I don't think at this time in my life I really have what I need to try to get to the "top" of that profession. I'd like to have this series published, when and if I ever get to book number five. I have another book that needs serious revising before it will be ready. I put in a lot of time researching background for it, and feel I need (want?) to write it. When we were in Virginia City last year, I took pictures of some tombstones. There's a story there for sure. We have two real-life events in our family that could be written. Lots of research needed for both of them. I have a memoir floating around in my head, too. And I like writing short stories. But writing any of this takes discipline, and "life" always gets in the way.

I probably will never be on the Best Seller List, but that doesn't matter. I enjoy writing when I do it, love going to critique meetings and reading other writer's work, hearing ideas of how to improve the craft, and most of all, I love reading almost any genre.

I think that's what life should be about--doing what you love but not allowing it to interfere with Life. Otherwise, it becomes a Job. Jobs are all right if they're just jobs and not life. I was married to a man who thought Job came first. That is, until he was dying of lung cancer. In the end he did recognize how out of balance his thinking had been and apologized for it...and made up for it the best he could.

I loved working when I did it. I loved my job, but it never got in the way of Life for me. My job today is to enjoy the years I have left. I don't want to spend them chasing after something that has no real lasting value. Lasting value things are family, loving other people, enjoying God and His world and playing with grandkids and great-grands.

Trace Adkins sings a song, "You're Gonna Miss This." Listen to the words. They're right on. When my girls were growing up, I spent a lot ot time--too much--worrying about keeping the house neat and a myriad of other small things. If I could go back, which I can't of course, I'd look at everything through different eyes. That is if I could go back with all I've learned over the years--which I can't, of course. The reason I bring this up is because I don't want to miss anything now. If I don't get to the computer to write 300 words every day, well, so be it. Maybe I'll do that tomorrow--if Life doesn't happen first.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Getting Our Peace

When I have time every morning, I sit on my patio. We seem to have more geckos than usual right now. They skitter across the flagstone and hide under bushes and in the rocks. Pity the unsuspecting bug making its way to the water fountain or wherever bugs go. From its hiding place the gecko strikes and the bug is still. I watch as the gecko waits--15 seconds, 30 seconds--then he takes a bite. Soon the bug disappears and the gecko skitters back into the brush.

For the past two springs one of our flower pots has been host to a dove couple and their offspring. The first spring she sat twice--four babies. Last spring we determined she wasn't going to do it again. We turned our pots upside-down, and although she appeared for a few days, she must have finally found another birthing room. Thinking we'd outsmarted her, we proceeded to get our pots ready for planting. Before we had a chance to get one plant in a pot, she had built a nest. Twice we cleaned out her nests, then planted flowers in our pots. We got up one morning and there she sat, amidst the flowers on two eggs. As a postscript, one of her babies died. I wonder if that will deter her from our pots next spring but I doubt it.

It occurred to me this morning that every creature on earth, whether those who stand upright, or slither, or skitter, or fly, or crawl--all of us are looking for one thing. Getting our needs met.

The picture of the Maui skink (could have been a gecko) was taken last spring when my daughters and I were there for a week. It was the first time we'd been together, just the three of us, in years. The first evening on our lanai we spotted the critter searching for water. That week taught we something. Along with the skink all three of us were looking to get a need met. We wanted to re-create the relationship we'd had over the years as they grew up, and we all had aged in our different lives. What we have learned since then is that life doesn't work that way.

We love each other but we've all changed. In order to get our needs met today, we have to learn how to love each other differently. That road is unfamiliar and bumpy at times, but like all roads, it has a destination.

Now if you're a "super Christian," you may be thinking, "We shouldn't be talking about getting our needs met, but should be trying to find ways to meet others' needs." Hmmm... Even when we're trying to find ways to meet someone's else's needs, ours are still at the top of the heap.

Years ago, when I was in a troubling time, I prayed for God to give me peace. The song I sang everywhere I went was, "Master the tempest is raging.....The winds and the waves obey His will...Peace be still." It took awhile, but eventually the peace came. Life hasn't always been smooth and the road has had an awful lot of speed bumps along the way, but peace makes the Life Road easier to travel.

Once again I find myself desiring peace. I want to know that everyone I love is all right. I pray for them and I pray for myself knowing that even if everyone isn't all right, peace is available. That's why, when the man who died and came back, told me how profound the peace was where he went, it made me long to be there.

Being without peace eats away at a person's heart, soul and physical body. Jesus said He came to bring us peace. Somehow I don't think He was only talking about when we die. If that's true, then just as in my past, the peace will come--again. And maybe that's all "getting our needs met" is about anyway. Peace.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Stretching the Limits

I'm a fiction writer and reader--mostly. I belong to a book discussion group and have read books of genres that I probably wouldn't have picked up on my own. Because of dipping my toes into other streams, I've read two excellent non-fiction books in the past few months.

One is "Blood and Thunder" by Hampton Sites. (I'd underline the title or put it italics but when I try, it comes out really strange.) It is the true history of the Southwest wrapped around the life of Kit Carson. After our friends read it, we made a trip to Taos where we visited places mentioned in the book. We saw Kit's house and his grave, along with the graves of his wives and children. We'd been to Taos Pueblo before but seeing it through the eyes of what we'd read made it more meaningful.

The other book I read is "109 East Palace" by Jennet Conant. This one is the true story of Robert Oppenheimer, head of the secret Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. The scientists and their families lived in secret (and appalling living conditions) all the war years as the atomic bomb was being "created." We plan to make another "field" trip to Santa Fe and Los Alamos some day.

In reading these books I was stretching out of my comfort zone. Sometimes it isn't easy for us to get out of that zone, is it? When we went to El Morro a couple of weeks ago and climbed to the top and walked around on those horrible rocks, I was definitely uncomfortable. It's done and I'm glad I did it. Maybe that's why people climb mountains and jump out of airplanes. I won't do those things (or ride roller coasters, bucking horses, or race at NASCAR) but I can still stretch my limits.

I've always loved learning. Since I no longer go to school or am in a profession where I learn something new every day, I need to keep my mind alert. Reading does that for me. Writing, too.

They say you can't teach an old dog new tricks. I beg to differ. This old dog is into new tricks!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Mornings and More

I love mornings. Retired mornings now. In the past, weekend mornings. Mornings when I wake up without an alarm clock going off, when I don't have anywhere to go. Quiet mornings when I can write. Fall is in the air, and I love fall here in the Desert Southwest. I loved mornings in Hawaii. Mornings in Tahoe, England, Italy. I just love mornings.

This morning I read in 2 Timothy. Paul is talking to Timothy about persecution. He tells him that "everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. But evil people and impostors will flourish. They will deceive others and will themselves be deceived." I don't want to believe that. I want to believe the other words that tell me how powerful God is and how we overcome everything in Him. Later in that book, Paul says "For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths."

The Political Conventions have been and are going on. We've been inundated with political speeches and ads, etc. for months now. (Or has it been years?) I find it hard to imagine how people can listen to one of the candidates and think he'd make a good President. It seems so clear that he's not what this country needs now or will ever need. I can't understand how people believe what he says. Is it because of itching ears? Or am I putting words that were written for another time into our lives today? Do they belong here? I get tired hearing all the rhetoric from the media gurus, many who twist the truth. "Reject the truth?" "Chase after myths." I find it hard to understand how people believe them, but do Paul's words apply?

One such person made the statement that the hurricane was God showing he's for one party and not the other. Since he was speaking about the "other" party I don't belong to being the beloved, and is well-known for his disbelief in God, people can see through it. But haven't we said the same things? Isn't God always on "our" side, and we see events, natural and otherwise, that prove He is? So, are these words from 2 Timothy any different? Do they apply to us today? It's a question I can't answer.
God is all powerful, and we are overcomers in Him. Of course, I don't want to have to be persecuted to overcome!

Anyway, I really love mornings.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Repentance

I don't know if I'm going to blog any longer.

When I write, it comes from my heart, and what is there comes out onto the page.
I'm way too transparent.

I wrote a blog a couple of days ago that I'd give anything I had never written. I wrote about something I thought I knew, but my information was wrong. I should have checked it out before I believed it. (Just now I started to give my reasons for believing what I was told, but have decided I had no excuse.)

That's a problem people have. We see things from our own perspectives and make what we see "the truth" when it isn't always "the truth."

So, if you read the blog that isn't there any longer, let me tell you that what I wrote about someone isn't true.

I will continue with one more thought. Division. I don't believe in families being divided. I think, if any people should ever stick together, it's a family. My dad had two sisters and a sister-in-law who were always mad at each other for some silly reason or another. My mom and dad refused to be a part of any of it. I admire them for that. Life is just too short to be mad at the people we love the most, although we may think they have hurt us the most. One way we can keep the peace is be willing to look at our own actions and realize we've done some things we shouldn't, too. When we face ourselves truthfully, how can we cast that stone at someone else?

That sounds like something Jesus said, doesn't it?

Friday, August 22, 2008

Always Blessings

"Life is too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so love the people who treat you right, forget about the ones who don't,and believe that everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would be worth it."

I copied this from an email I received this morning. Coupled with something a woman said to John Edwards yesterday, I believe I heard from God.

If you don't know, John Edwards is a famous physic who has a televison program. I was flipping through channels yesterday and stopped when I came to his program. He was talking to a man who had lost a four-year-old son. The mother, Cathy, of the boy hadn't been able to take off work and go to the program, so they called her on the phone. After giving them some messages from their son, John asked Cathy how she had gotten through her child's death. Her response was, "Always blessings. Never losses." She said that's the way she lives her life. Her statement impacted John so much that he had to get control of his emotions before he could go on. When he asked her what she meant by it, she said, "I had him for four years and those years were blessings. I have no loss because of what I had for those four years."

This takes some thinking about. My biggest problem is fear, and that's not faith, is it? It's my fervent prayer that I live my life without fear. I want to be a person who believes life is all about blessings instead of seeing the losses. I want to live by the quote that began this blog. Just so you know--I'm working on it.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another Generation

Lately my blogs have been depressing. If you aren't tired of them, I am. So today I'm going to talk about something wonderful. Her name is Amiyah Bush--our ten month old great granddaughter. She was born last October to our oldest grandson, Cory. They live in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. It's a long ten hour drive to see her, but we've been there twice this summer. Amiyah is just a darling, of course. When we were there this last time, I was taking care of her--all by myself. I thought I could multi-task and dust as well as talk to a friend on the phone while Amiyah was playing. Wrong! She crawls, and she goes fast. I had only turned away for a second and when I looked back at her, she had dumped the dog's water bowl out on the kitchen floor and was having a ball swimming on her tummy in the water. It was just too cute so I let her swim for a little while. (Good granny's do that.)

You'll see her picture on this page, as well as a picture of the four generations. I have a family picture that includes me when I was about four, my mother, my grandmother and my grandfather's mother. I remember when we took a four generation picture years ago with my grandmother, my mother, myself and my two daughters. Then, years later, we took one of my mother, me, my daughter and Cory. I don't know if it's unusual to have been a part of four of these generation pictures. But what I do know is that it shows me how life goes on. I can remember when the first picture was taken. That little girl is as real in me today as she was 63 years ago. I hope, when Amiyah sees the pictures of our four generations, it's as important to her as mine have been to me.

Cory was my first granchild, and I cried all the way home when we had to leave him after he was born. When he was about 20 months old, he and his mom came to live with us. I had the joy of watching him grow up into the 24 year old man he is today. Nothing can equal the first child, the first grandchild and now, the first great grandchild. The funny thing is, every one of the ones who come after them is just as special as those first ones.

I love watching history being made in our lives. The only problem I have with it is that time passes too quickly. I wish I could go back and savor a few of those moments as we stood in front of the cameras and had our four generation pictures taken.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How Long, O Lord?

The theme of my Google page is Hawaii. In the morning on the page is a scene of an early morning view of the ocean. It always brings to my memory the morning my daughters and I went down to the Maui beach and watched for whales. That time of the day was quiet on the beach, not many people out yet. I could have stayed out there for hours and listened to the waves, felt the ocean breeze and marveled at God's nature. As the day goes on, the pictures change on my page. None is as restful as this one. Still, every time I open Google and see something of Hawaii, I remember the week last March when my girls and I were there. In our lives, we'd been through many hard times together, but over the last years, our lives had seemed much smoother for all three of us. Last December changed that. After being together in Maui,we felt everything had smoothed out and was over. We'd lived through it. It was the first time in many years that the three of us had been together--just the three of us. The last time was also at a beach in 1978. Although those months from December of last year until March had been rocky, we believed life had returned to normal. We were wrong. The past months have been even harder. Even now I can't see the way out. I'll think things have settled down, then something else happens. As much as I try to put it out of my mind after praying about it, it never leaves.

I have a niece who is in a rehab hospital due to anorexia. She has a voice in her head that tells her she can't eat. It's put her entire family into a situation none of them has control over. It affects her sisters and brother, her parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins--and most of all, it is robbing her of her teen years. We know people who have cancer, some told it is incurable. They know their end. But the ones who love them see that end as a terrible beginning. Others live with hope that their cancer is cured. Still, they live with the after-affects of their treatments.

Who's to say which way of life is harder? In every instance lives are up-ended, interrupted, and painful. People who have no control over a situation are learning they have to live with it. But it's stealing joy, peace, well-being, and even health. I understand David's cries, "How long, Lord? Will you hide yourself forever?" "Hear my cry, O God; attend to my prayer. From the end of the earth I will cry to you. When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I."

When all this began for me last December, in the night I heard His voice--not audibly, but His voice nevertheless. As clearly as anything I've ever heard from Him came words from the 34th Psalm, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all." That's all I have to hold on to.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Choices

We are free, aren't we? Mostly free, that is. The one place we are completely free is in our choices. Even if we lived under an oppressive regime, we still could make a choice to obey or disobey or escape. The outcome of our choice could mean life or death to us and maybe to our family members.

Same as today in our free society. If I choose to obey the speed limit, I probably won't get a ticket. If I decide I need to go faster, then I have to live with the consequences which might be as simple as a speeding ticket and as dire as a wreck. Does my choice affect anyone except me? Of course, it does. If it's a wreck, I could be killed, another person could be killed or maimed. Yes, my choice affects a lot of people. I've heard the saying that no man is an island, and that's true. When a person makes a choice, it affects everyone who loves him or her.

I've made choices in my life that I wish I hadn't made. I can excuse myself by saying I was doing the best I could at that time, and in some ways that might be true. But the truth is that I was foolish and immature and definitely selfish.

There are some of my loved ones I wish would get this message.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Being Rescued

My brother thinks some of my blogs are strange. Maybe they reflect the "real me." Maybe he's the one who is strange. At any rate, here goes another one.

I started thinking about the word "rescue." I've been told I shouldn't "rescue" my children when they get themselves into messes. I have to agree that if a person keeps doing the same thing over and over and doesn't really want to change, rescuing him/her probably has to come to an end. I've done stupid things many times and God has always "rescued" me. Sometimes it was the same mistake twice or three times. He still rescued me. Think about the mountain climbers, the people who manage to be in the arroyo when a wall of water comes down on them, and other people who take chances with their lives. Don't we send out teams to rescue them from their own foolishness? What would we do if we knew we would never be rescued if we made mistakes?

I'm glad I can be a rescuer when someone needs me. Even if I didn't want to, I don't think I could turn my back on someone who needs rescuing. And I wonder if the people who say they would could really do it if they were faced with a person who needed to be saved from their own mistakes. When I made my mistakes, I was doing the best I could do at that time in my life. I didn't know at the time what I knew later, did I? If I had, then I wouldn't have made those choices. I think it's important to give people the benefit of the doubt before we judge them.

Yes, I may write strange blogs, but as I said, that's how my mind works. Surely my brother has known me long enough to know that!

Friday, August 8, 2008

One Day At A Time

If you are reading this, then you can see a blog on the right hand side of the page belonging to a literary agent. In it he sends the reader to an opinion concerning a novel about Muhammad. Because of the fear of retribution from the Islamic community, the book was pulled and will not be published. I wonder if this story was about Jesus or Bhudda or Joseph Smith or some other religious figure, the book would have had the same outcome? Of course not because those followers don't hold society hostage with threats of violence.

Everything in our world seems to be turned upside-down right now and I don't know how to change it. I'm reeling from what's going in the lives of my immediate family and friends, and in the world we live in. Is this still the right time to pray God's will be done? Should we be more specific? I've been in churches where we fought the devil all the time. I know that's not the answer because he's already been defeated by Jesus on the cross. I don't want to hide from the problems, but I don't want to be worrying all the time either.

So, here's what I'm going to do. I'm going to wake up every morning and thank God for another day, for our lives, for the wonderful family and friends we have. I'm going to keep writing, keep watching American Idol (and whatever else we like to watch), keep reading fiction and non-fiction, keep going to church and small group, keep knitting for hospice patients and keep trying to show God's love to everyone.(I fail at this a lot, but that doesn't mean I should stop trying.) In short, I'm going to keep in mind that life on earth isn't the end for any of us. There's something way better down the line, and until then, I'll take one day at a time, cover each one of those days with prayer and just go on living.

The Best Prayer

8-08-08 A special day. The Chinese say eight is the perfect number and to have three eights is even more perfect for them. As you know, the Olympics begins today in China. In a number book I have, it says the number eight represents New Beginnings.

Whatever it all means, today is special because it's Reid's birthday. He's such a jewel that he's outside helping my daughter do lawn work, has been to Sears twice (once to buy her a shovel and the other time to take it back because it immediately broke), and when the right time comes, he will show us how to set the sprinkler system. I used to know how it worked, but even reading the directions now only confuses me.

Our grandson and great granddaughter both have pink eye and some kind of respiratory stuff. He goes to the doctor this afternoon.

It's been a strange visit, but good, I hope. At least now I know how to pray--God, do whatever your will is in their lives.

That's probably the best prayer we can say when we don't have a clue.