Saturday, October 25, 2008

One Wise and Funny Story

My friend Kathy is wise and funny, and sometimes tells the story of the time she was fretting that she couldn't remember the sermon her pastor (who happens to be my husband!) preached the Sunday before.
Her husband thought for a bit, then told her that he couldn't remember every meal she'd cooked for him, either, but that all of them had been nourishing, and even if a sermon wasn't memorable, he was sure it was nourishing, too.
We all laughed, and it's become one of my favorite stories because it's funny, but also because it's wise.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Places To Go . . . Fresh Grounded Faith Conference

I had the privilege of hearing Jennifer Rothschild speak at a Woman's Holiday Breakfast sponsored by Immanuel Bible Foundation last December. The morning was punctuated by an ice storm as we left, with tiny ice pellets pinging on the pavement, making travel home an adventure.
Jennifer was wonderful, though, and worth the effort -- warm, faithful, encouraging.
She is speaking again this week-end in Springfield at a new kind of event -- a Fresh Grounded Faith conference. You can read all about it in the article I wrote for the Springfield State-Journal Register.
I had the pleasure of talking with Jennifer about this event -- she is a delight -- and I can tell you she's excited to come. If you get a chance to attend this Fresh Grounded Faith conference, I encourage you to go.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chanting Hope

Suzannah Lessard's essay The Luxury of Order, taken from the House Beautiful book If These Walls Could Talk, Thoughts of Home -- particularly her comments about “Gregorian chant sung on a dark morning in Lent” -- reminds me of how easily appearances can deceive.
What a grounding thing it is to sing or listen to Gregorian chant, both ethereal and earthy at the same time. How does that happen? Is it a combination of words and music? Expectation? The juxtaposition of experience and hope?
Some things don't take to language easily, and sometimes reality is one of them. We see something we are sure is true, and it turns out not to be.
Autumn comes, and trees are stripped bare of everything that looks alive. Winter comes, and death glitters with icy chill. From every appearance, life is overcome by death.
But even then, underneath the chill of death, there is life waiting.
If we rely only on our impressions, on what we think we see, we can be deceived.
We need to be sure we understand; we need to listen to what the music is telling us: our hope is not in what we can see or hear, but in what God does.
Our hope is in Him.

Monday, October 6, 2008

A Number of Things

Robert Louis Stevenson said it, and I think it's true: “The world is so full of a number of things, I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.”
Known for his children's poetry as well as his adventure stories, Stevenson's cheerful couplet suggests that it's the number of things that should make us happy.
For Stevenson, that might have seemed more true than it does to us now. He lived in a time when a number of things weren't available to many people, and life wasn't as comfortable as we experience it to be.
We have many many things, and what some of us have learned is that it really isn't all about the things at all. It's about the relationships, it's about the giving, it's about the loving and caring.
Maybe that revelation is the best thing we can say about the wealth of things around us -- the comfort and convenience is nice, but the truth that things aren't everything is even better.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Autumn Liturgy

Sometimes it's hard to ignore how blessed we are.
Farmers around here are taking corn and beans out. This land is so productive, so fertile and rich it's almost Rubenesque. The harvest pours into trucks, elevators, and barges, golden and wholesome.
Fields are emptied and left to rest. Before long, farmers will shed their tractors and combines, and try to find time to rest as well.
In the meantime, they are bringing the harvest home.
Thanks be to God.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

A Well Red Mom . . .

Some things are easy to change.
A few weeks ago, I was at a meeting where the organizers decided to pamper us. They set up spa stations for us. There was the usual self-conscious giggling as we tried lip exfoliator and smoothed on satiny hand cream. We all had fun mixing up fragrant bath salts. But my favorite, and the table where we lingered longest, was the fingernail painting table.
We had about 10 color choices, everything from sparkly pearl polish to fire engine red. As we polished away, we visited. When we finished, I had lovely, bright red fingernails for the first time since I was 12 years old.
I was amazed at how those red fingernails altered my attitude! I felt different, somehow -- more conspicuous, more noticeable.
And boy, did people notice! I noticed lots of glances at the grocery store as I flaunted my fingers. Not everyone was impressed, though. One family member just stared at my hands, shook his head, and said, “Wrong. It's just wrong.”
While the color of my fingernails was easy to change, attitudes aren't so easy!
I've thought about that a lot, lately.
Evidently once a mom, always a mom!

Friday, October 3, 2008

One More Way Things Are Changing

Here's one way I know things are changing: the first thing I reach for in the morning these days is often my laptop, not the newspaper on the front porch.
I love print newspapers. I like the feel of them, and I like that moment when I first shake one open and look to see what's happened while I wasn't looking. It feels luxurious, that settling down with a cup of coffee and something to read.
But more and more that something to read is on my laptop, whether it's an online newspaper (I can find out what's happening almost anywhere in a matter of moments) or my favorite blogs or an e-zine.
I don't want to lose print newspapers or magazines. There is something satisfying about holding something in my hand, or tucking it under my arm or in my purse and taking it with me when I have early morning appointments. My laptop doesn't quite do that for me.
My laptop is somewhat portable, but not as comfortable under my arm, and there's something quite literal about the idea of connecting -- if you can't get a connection you won't connect.
The growing importance of online news, information, and entertainment seems to shove out the old ways of getting those things.
Surely there's room for both in the world!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Falling into Temptation

I succumbed to temptation.
There by the checkout at our local Barnes & Noble was a rack of music with the usual mix of pop, country, and pseudo-classical CDs. I was looking them over half-heartedly when I noticed it: The Four Seasons. Joshua Bell. Vivaldi.
I didn't buy the album the first time I saw it, or the second. Not even the third.
But the fourth time it was chilly and rainy outside, and I could just imagine how bright and lovely Joshua Bell would sound playing Vivaldi. And I fell.
Forgive me, husband, for I have transgressed against the budget.
When you hear it, though, I hope you'll forgive me. It's a wonderful CD.
I'm no music critic. I'm just a music appreciator. Having said that, this is everything I hoped it would be: bright, lovely, sinuous, evocative. If you're familiar with Vivaldi's The Four Seasons, you know it's like being outside experiencing each season in every kind of weather, hearing sounds you've not noticed before, seeing colors of varying intensity, smelling the rain, the flowers, the leaves lying on the ground.
Joshua Bell's playing is strong and yet delicate; his interpretation is inventive and tickles my imagination. He makes me smile, like an old friend who's come to share the day.
I've listened to this CD over and over again already, and it still sounds fresh and beautiful.
I highly recommend it!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

My Heart's at Home

I love Hearts at Home!
As a younger mom I often felt isolated. Most of the women I knew had jobs they got dressed up for, and my job often involved spit-up and other stains. The first time I went to a conference I felt as if someone else understood.
I remember being impressed with the chocolate, the hand lotion in the restrooms, and the overall attitude that my decision to be home with my family was a valid one.
So when I got a chance to volunteer with Hearts at Home, I jumped at it. For 12 years I wrote a monthly column in our local newspaper, but that season has passed. (A wonderful writer, Patty Maier, will be writing that column now, joining the excellent writing team of Julie Kaiser, Jill Savage, and Mary Steinke. You can read their work on the newspaper website.) Patty's first column will run this coming Sunday.)
I'm still writing for Hearts in their magazine occasionally, and on their website's blog. In fact, if you'd like to know The Trouble with Dogs, you can read it here.
While you're on the website, I invite you to look around. Check out conference information, indulge in the blog and articles, and investigate the other encouraging things Hearts at Home offers moms.
After all these years, I still believe home is a good place for my heart!