Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Shhh....this blog is sleeping.

Friends, it's time to simplify a bit.
I'm taking a hiatus from blogging and other social media.
You're in my daily prayers during this season that points to divine hope, peace, joy and love.

My best to you.

Picture from here.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Jan asks us to consider the following as we ready ourselves here in the States for the feast:

1. Where will you be on Thanksgiving Day? With whom?
We're going to drive to my in-laws in southern Illinois and our whole family (DH,FBC,SBC and FBC's delightful darling,plus Lucy the dog and me) will gather with DH's three siblings and many of their young adult children and pups. There will be seventeen humans, I think.

2. Are there any family traditions or memories associated with Thanksgiving?
I make cranberry sauce and cranberry orange relish from scratch. My SIL makes her grandmother's tea rolls. There will be parades to watch and football played in the side yard.
3. What will be on your Thanksgiving menu?
The aforementioned rolls and cranberries, several versions of potatoes, multiples pies, the bird, of course. Tomatoes and dumplings (??) and green veggies. It's a feast.
4. Are you trying anything new this Thanksgiving?
I migrated to the world of vegan eating this summer, so it will be new to me to forgo meat and dairy.

5. What is the weather forecast for this day (next Thursday)?
55 degrees and sunny.
Bonus: Prayer, poem, song, or whatever you choose to exemplify your image of Thanksgiving (giving thanks). John Bucchino's "Grateful" You can listen to it here:

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Things We Do For Love-Friday Five

Songbird invites us to consider the following at RevGalBlogPals today:

1) Something you did for love that was a hit
2) Something you did for love that was more of a miss
3) Something someone did for love of you
4) Something you *wish* someone would do for love of you
5) Something you've done for love of God

1. I spent a whole morning in a used book/music store sifting through cds to create a stack of music from the 60's and 60's for my music loving teenager. He was very pleased.
2. I attempted to make a complicated dish that was an epic fail.
3. Someone called on the phone two days ago just to thank me for serving at the church. IT meant the world to me.
4. I would love to be surprised with a visit from a friend.
5. I've changed bedpans and held people's heads while they wretch, and stayed close by when they are frightened, and stayed up all night with the family of a dying man. I have a lot of stories like these. I believe ministry is organic.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

A blog post about a great book

I review for BookSneeze®

Yesterday I finished reading Carolyn Weber's book, Surprised by Oxford. Some books are indeed a joyful surprise. I agreed to read Surprised by Oxford for Booksneeze, and wasn't sure what to expect. Having spent my junior year in college studying at Oxford, I was sure that I would enjoy any references to Oxford in this memoir, but I was not expecting to be captivated by the author's journey to a deeper faith, her blossoming romance, and her wonderful treatment of literature. Each chapter begins with a thoughtful quotation that invites the reader to consider life, faith, love, beauty, meaning. It's a great book.

Carolyn Weber is a Canadian scholar who studied for her master's and doctorate degrees in English literature at Oxford University. Surprised by Oxford is the story of her journey as a maturing person who reverently and thoughtfully considers the "head and the heart" of faith as she pursues her studies. The book provides a lovely balance between her personal faith journey and the rich experience of studying at an ancient and revered institution of higher learning.

One of the strengths of the book is the author's treatment of conversations, especially around faith. Soon after her affirmation of her faith, Weber travels by air seated next to a South African woman named Veronica, and has a deep and helpful conversation that is neither heavy-handed nor filled with cliches. Weber's conversations with her mother are also very compelling, as the author attempts to sort out her feelings about life and her complex relationships with both parents and the reflections they have upon her faith. I thought the exchanges with both women were real, fully, loving and most particularly, thoughtful.

Of course, the centerpiece of the book is her romance with TDH (Tall Dark Handsome), an American student at Oxford who is studying theology. TDH is the person who engages her in ongoing conversations about faith and lives his faith in such a way that Weber cannot help but notice, be intrigued, have questions, arguments and spirited conversations about scripture, about the Trinity, and about redemption. Sometimes overhearing or reading about faith conversations between two people can sound contrived or cloying. In Weber's memoir, neither is true. In fact, like the other characters in the book, the reader is aware of the romance that is beginning between Weber and TDH before the two acknowledge such. It's sweet without being saccharine, and compelling without being "preachy."

Weber could certainly be categorized as a Christian feminist and considers carefully the joys and challenges of relationships of all sorts as her faith deepens. When she affirms her faith (p. 270), it is on Valentine's Day, in the evening, in the historically romantic city of Oxford, and Weber describes her commitment, her feelings, her faith statement, her prayer in less than two pages. It's very compelling.

I was impressed with Weber's expanding, spacious faith and well as her deeply burning questions. She writes, "How can heaven be without those I love most in it? What if this question plagues God too? And yet what if He's already answered it for us?" ("Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.-Joel 2:32) I am at home with Weber's expression of her faith because it is humble and leaves the judgement to God.

I particularly enjoyed these quotes and thoughts from the book. From TDH's father, a pastor, whose journey included time in service as a Green Beret, when asked about the presence of God in the midst of war and suffering "Caro, suffering and violence have the capacity to compress things into an airtight decision. Literally aritight--keeping you from breathing--until you make the choice. Will you join the dark, or fight for the light? That's the warrior's great question. And just ignoring it, or hoping it will go away, or lingering without your boots on....well, indecision is decision, too. Apathy is often the darkest of options."

And this quote, as the author is struggling with stereotypes of "loud" Christians: "Later Hannah (a friend) gifted me with a poignant and funny true story by Joni Rodgers about living with cancer and faith as a wifwe and mother. Her book's titile, Bald in the Land of Big Hair, is hilarious and apt, since the story meaningfully chronicles her hair loss due to chemptherapy while living in Texas, of all places, the "home" of big hair. One of her many wonderful images particularly stays with me. She rightfully rants about her problem with the phrase used when someone dies of cancer, that he or she "lost the fight." "Lost?" she replies vehemently. This is not about "failure" as the world tends to see it. How can anyone "lose," fighting something as insidious as a disease, something so symptomatic of our fallen world? You might as well accuse someone of not dodging a bullet in time. From her strengthened identity in this God who works HIs grace even through cancer, she shows us that the ultimate coming home for those who believe in what this grace entails is far from "losing." Lost, rather, is remained ashamed in the persistently loving face of grace. Lost means not knowing your way home."

I loved this book and am so glad I stumbled upon it. It is a treat, for anyone who enjoys insight into a growing mind and heart. It is, indeed, a book about thoughtful Christianity.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Money Secrets of the Amish- A BookSneeze review

I was glad to discover this book on the BookSneeze website. Lorliee Craker is an upbeat writer, a mom with young children, and a person with an appreciation for the Plain people. Each chapter contains interesting insights into the Amish culture and people, along with very practical suggestions for saving money.

Chapters on the troublesome aspects of paying on credit and maintaining debt were nothing new, and yet were inspiring. Shopping secondhand, buying in bulk, bartering and recycling all contained reminders of the benefits and joys of living in communities which engage in such practices. If nothing else, I gleaned from reading this book that community living has many, many joys, including the potential for saving money! It is certainly an affirmation of my own personal experience.

The author's deep respect for the faith perspective of the Amish shines through her writing. Her interviews with Amish men and women contained in each chapter are thoughtful, light-hearted, and kind.

It is a warm,respectful book with many practicial applications.

I review for BookSneeze. The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through BookSneeze®. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I review for BookSneeze®

Sunday, June 12, 2011


I'm trying to catch up on my reading and I'm having a good time.
Here are some of the books I'm reading right now:

Journey in the Wilderness by Gil Rendle. Our Synod is reading and reflecting upon it. It's a dense read, but very, very interesting.

A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson. Part of my summer with Eugene Peterson, I am enjoying this book on the psalms of ascent.

The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer. This is a great book by a renowed professor of ethics at Princeton University and makes a remarkable case for how challenging, yet possible, ending world poverty could be.

Money Secrets of the Amish by Lorilee Craker is a BookSneeze read I'll be reviewing soon. It's filled with good, sensible advice.

Two books by David Walsh, on parenting called No- Why Kids of all ages Need to Hear it and Ways Parents Can Say itand Why Do They Act That Way? Good parenting guidance offered here.

This Odd and Wondrous Calling by Lillian Daniel and Martin Copenhaver. Tremendous book. I appreciate every word.

Hope Will Find You by Naomi Levy. I've long been a fan of Rabbi Levy's writing. This reflection on her daughter's disease and her own response as a person of faith is most moving.

The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron. I'm re-reading this as a place to find writing prompts for 750 words per day. I'm developing a good practice here that is a lot like taking deep breaths to start the day.

The Wisdom to Know the Difference by Eileen Flanagan. I just finished this wonderful book this evening. It is a forthright look at our response to change. I felt as though I was having a conversation with a friend while reading this honest Quaker author's reflections.
That's what I'm up to this week. What are you reading?

Friday, June 3, 2011

My Perfect Morning

There's a thread on Twitter today called "my perfect morning."
I'm working hard to find bloggable things to share, in an effort to get back on track here.

I'm absolutely a morning person. I love the fresh start of a new day, the dew of a crisp, clear dawn, and the sounds and scents of morning. I love birdsong and lilac, both of which have accompanied me on morning walks lately. I received a new bike for my birthday last Saturday, and I've been out on it every chance I could, even in between rainstorms last weekend.

A perfect morning for me would look a lot like mornings when DH and I were first married and after FBC was born. We lived in Cape May, New Jersey, just two blocks from the Atlantic Ocean and a boardwalk tailor-made for bike rides with great scenery on either side. A perfect morning would include a bike ride at the beach, followed by coffee and bagels at our friends' store, Bodacious Bagels, followed by a bike ride home. Reading the paper at breakfast, chatting with folks, playing with a child were all parts of an idyllic time. I remember thinking just that, twenty years ago: "This is the picutre in my head of a perfect morning."

It still is.

image from

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Knitting Knee-Highs by Barb Brown A BookSneeze review

Knitting Knee-Highs (Sock Styles from Classic to Contemporary) is a colorful softback book of knitting patterns for knee-high socks, but that's not all. Each project contains additional patterns so that one can adapt the knee-high version to knit conventional length socks, or anklets or even legwarmers. The introduction to this attractive volume reassures knitters that socks are no more complicated than other projects like sweaters, for instance, and that not much more knitting is required of knee socks than of conventional length socks.

I'm an intermediate knitter, and I believe I'm going to enjoy Knitting Knee-Highs for a long time to come. I chose a simple pattern for my first foray into this delightful book and chose the Stalking Stockings beginning on page 102 as my first project. The directions were clear, and although I am new to reading diagrammed, chart patterns, I found the instructions to be easy to follow. The instructions are in a nice, large font and I didn't need to consult my knitting guru neighbor at all! (She often has to help me with interpretting patterns.)Best of all, I have a beautiful pair of knee-socks to keep or give as a gift!

I would not hesitate to purchase Knitting Knee-Highs by Barb Brown as a gift for anyone who has some knitting experience, and I feel sure that I will knit many of the twenty-one patterns offered, whether as knee-highs or as variations. I would definitely recommend this book to others!

I review for BookSneeze. The publisher has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book or advanced reading copy through BookSneeze®. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

I review for BookSneeze®

Friday, April 29, 2011


It has been a difficult few months. Unbloggable things in my life have made the past weeks most challenging. My faith has been tried, by sanity tested, my strength called upon on what felt like a minute-to-minute basis. I think we have a shred of hope these days. It's been a fierce storm and I feel battered. I do see tiny glimmers of light, though, and this song feels like a whispered refrain:

My life goes on in endless song:
Above earth's lamentation,
I catch the sweet, tho' far-off hymn
That hails a new creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul--
How can I keep from singing?
What tho' my joys and comfort die?
The Lord my Saviour liveth;
What tho' the darkness gather round?
Songs in the night he giveth.
No storm can shake my inmost calm,
While to that refuge clinging;
Since Christ is Lord of heaven and earth,
How can I keep from singing?
I lift my eyes; the cloud grows thin;
I see the blue above it;
And day by day this pathway smooths,
Since first I learned to love it.
The peace of Christ makes fresh my heart,
A fountain ever springing;
All things are mine since I am his--
How can I keep from singing?

Friday, April 1, 2011

National Poetry Month- Day One

In a Country Once Forested

The young woodland remembers
the old, a dreamer dreaming

of an old holy book,
an old set of instructions,

and the soil under the grass
is dreaming of a young forest,

and under the pavement the soil
is dreaming of grass.

Wendell Berry

Young forest photo from here.

Friday Five Quick Picks

At the RevGalBlogPals site, Kathryn writes:
"We're in the midst of 'it' and I'm hoping that it is not just me who is starting to get a bit overwhelmed. So for today I am asking for five quick picks of things that are good in your life. And as a bonus, 1 pick for a thing you could do without.
If you want to describe them? Great.
If not? That's fine too."

It's not just you, Kathryn. It's the ironic Lenten dash.

Five things that are good in my life include: my sweet puppy, Lucy; signs of spring in the yard (daffodils, crocuses);a good hair cut; great books I'm reading (see yesterday's post; a fairly short to-do list for today.
One thing I could do without? Insomnia.

Spring flowers image from here.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

I am reading Gretchen Rubin's The Happiness Project and am gleaning much from it. Her project (to learn as much as she can about happiness and become happier herself) resulted in a book, a blog and a website,all chock- full of helpful things to think about each day. I've taken a number of her insights to heart, including "dressing the part". Today I'm more dressed up than I would be on a typical weekday, but it's improved my outlook. I've asked for help, which was a difficult thing to do, but most beneficial, and I've gone out looking for small things that light up my day. Today seeing spring green shoots in the gardens at home and at church have been great delights. Spring is springing up, and it's just March 31.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

It's Wednesday

I'm trying so hard to get back to blogging.
I'm writing at, which feels like a good practice, but I just haven't gotten back into the habit of posting something here every day.
In an effort to say something, today I am grateful for...

*sunshine, which makes my morning walk much more pleasant
*a great wedding over the weekend. Perfect, in fact.
*Lucy, home from the kennel. I love her so much.
*2.5 pounds lost last week. I'll take it!
*some stability at home. That's good.
*terrific books I'm reading (The Sabbath World and The Happiness Project)
*time away.

That's good for now....

Friday, March 18, 2011

All in a week

It's been a full week, since I tossed out my resolve to return to blogging.

FBC's last chorus concert tour of her college career was this week, and DH and I hopped in the car and drove to Louisville to hear the concert that was held in this congregation's beautiful sanctuary. It was a splendid concert and it has been so much fun to hear them sing over the past three years.

SBC did not attend because he was singing in his high school solo and ensemble contest. We are blessed to have friends who did not mind transporting him to and from and to school and feeding him and having him stay the night. It was well worth the nervousness of leaving him, because he advanced to the vocal runoff yesterday, and he invited me to come and hear him sing in it, which was a very great treat. He is poised in ways that FBC was not at the same age. He did so very well with his solo and with the junior madrigal group with which he sings.

Today we learned that he advanced to the final, the reward of which is a master class with this person. 146 students participated and ten individuals and two ensembles advanced to the master class. (Note: SBC thought he didn't do very well in the vocal runoff. Both his solo and his work with junior mads advanced him to the master class.)

I would not, for one instant, want my children to be so self-assured as to be cocky, but I do wish for them that they could enjoy their craft and not be so hard on themselves.

In the trivial (but not to me) department: I had foot surgery in November that was supposed to be a walk in the park but turned out to be more involved. When I was preparing for the surgery in November, I hoped that I would be able to wear cute shoes one day. This week, I turned a corner, and was able to find cute shoes that are very comfortable and will work for work and weddings (of which I have quite a few this spring and summer). It is such a joy!

Those are the highlights. In the past few months it has been so difficult to find anything of good report, which is more about my challenge of voicing my gratitude and finding the good than it is about my life. I pray this is improving.

Friday, March 11, 2011

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

I'm planning to come back to the blogosphere, and very soon. The past seven months have been very stressful, and hard to write about, privately or publicly. I know, though, that writing begets writing, and I want to continue to hone that craft. I know that I have special connections with friends out there somewhere, and I want to strengthen those ties. I feel hopeful about getting back to writing, and attempting to do so regularly, but at a gradual pace.

I hope what I write will be worth reading, and I hope it well feel like something hopeful and healing.

It feels risky, to try again. Personal goals have been a bit elusive of late, as the immersion of caring for others has filled up all available space. We shall see.

From the time I was a very little girl, I've had an attraction to Japanese culture.
I pray for the people of Japan today, and everyone who has been touched by the earthquake that rocked the Pacific this morning.
Image of Japanese garden from here.