Friday, November 11, 2011

(A repost from Nov. 2007 that I wrote to honor the veterans I knew as a kid...)
Disappearing Heroes: A Tribute to the Veterans I Once Knew

Once upon a time, there were great story-tellers in my family. That's how I thought of them, anyhow. Truth was, they were veterans- the closest thing to a world traveler one ever met in the boondocks of Nixon Chapel, Alabama. This is a little story about their little stories.

My mother's dad, Dwight L. Moman. (The L. stood for nothing- a perfectly acceptable convention in the 20's South- like my Uncle Billy D. and J.D., etc.) Papa was a hard-to-please person, but he grew a little soft around the edges if he could interest you in a story. He spent WWII as a cook in the Pacific arena, feeding the hungry men fortunate enough to return for the next meal. The impression I got is that he didn't see a lot of first-hand action. Too bad, since he created some of his own from time to time. Like the time he fixed the latrine with chemicals that blew up under the behind of an unsuspecting and ornery superior officer. That was the closest he came to being sent to the front line, or so we hear.

My mother's uncle, Tommy L. Mitchell (his L stood for Lee). I was blessed to grow up around many great-aunts and uncles, and we were super close to Uncle Tommy. Oh, but his stories were amazing. A slight, mild-mannered man who in his post-war days became a professional watchmaker, he defined the word "genteel." So hard to believe he fought in the Battle of the Bulge, spent frigid weeks bundled in foxholes with suicidal comrades, and took Germany a house at a time. He told of an invisible hand that pulled him back onto a transport when he fell off in enemy territory. Of crawling under machine gun fire across snowy fields, of the grenade that finally took him out of the service. He would practically whisper these tales over a watch he was fixing. We tried to record the stories, but he didn't talk loud enough to get it all on tape.

Then there was Mr. Johnny, the one-legged man who kept the community cemetery mowed and weedeeded (I KNOW that can't be correct, but that's how it sounds) for donations left in a little metal box. And how my mom, looking under her bed to check for boogie-men as a child, saw his leg dressed and ready to go and nearly had a heart-attack. My grandmother had 'borrowed'? his leg for some weird reason- like show and tell for her kindergartner class or something. Sick.

And the family member, who shall remain unnamed, who survived years in a Japanese POW camp. He tells no stories, which is perhaps the most interesting story of all.

This Veteran's Day, I want to say thank you to all the veterans and active members of the service. Your sacrifice is... well, beyond words. I exercise the freedom of speech you've protected to say THANK YOU. All the people I've mentioned above are now gone, except for the POW survivor. If you have a WWII veteran left alive in your family, make sure to sit and hear their story one more time. I wish I could.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

POEM #31 Martin Luther (1483-1546)
(picture of THE CHURCH from

Halloween to most, today is REFORMATION DAY to some! The 494th anniversary of the nailing of Luther's 95 theses to the All Saints church door in Wittenberg is TODAY! Thanks be to God for all the brave men who stood up then and stand up now for the truth of Scripture.

And (drumroll, please....) now for my soapbox. (Ouch, these heels weren't made for small wooden boxes- ok) For those of you who may be joining my blog readers from FB, let me point out that I'm aware the recent portrayal of Luther has been more negative than positive. He is termed a racist, etc. Having not thoroughly studied those claims, I make no attempt to discuss them here. There comes a point in life when all media (books, internet, movies) ALL media must be filtered for truth. I am celebrating Luther as his actions demonstrated the truth of Scripture, not affirming every aspect of his character.

Stepping down... Make sure to read or sing "A Mighty Fortress is Our God" today in honor of Reformation Day. Perfect for re-centering our thoughts on the truth that God is in control, the Devil is defeated and we can make it! Here's a lovely Easter poem from the Reformation's founder "hisself", Luther.

*"trow" (def): think, believe; *Paschal (refers to Easter); pascua is Easter in Spanish, so I assuming it's a Latin-based word

In the Bonds of Death He Lay

In the bonds of death He lay,
Who for our offense was slain,
But the Lord is risen today,
Christ hath brought us life again;
Wherefore let us all rejoice,
Singing loud with cheerful voice.

Jesus Christ, God's only Son,
Came at last our foe to smite,
All our sins away hath done,
Done away death's power and right;
Only the form of death is left,
Of his sting he is bereft.

'Twas a wondrous war I trow,
Life and death together fought,
But life hath triumphed o'er his foe,
Death is mocked, and set at naught;
Yea, 'tis as the Scripture saith,
Christ through death hath conquered death.

Now our Paschal Lamb is He,
And by Him alone we live,
Who to death upon the tree
For our sake Himself did give.
Faith His blood strikes on our door,
Death dares never harm us more.

On this day, most blest of days,
Let us keep high festival,
For our God hath showed His grace,
And His sun hath risen on all,
And our hearts rejoice to see
Sin and night before Him flee.

To the supper of the Lord
Gladly will we come today;
The word of peace is now restored,
The old leaven is put away;
Christ will be our food alone,
Faith no life but His will own.

POEM #30 - Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Wikipedia asserts that I. Watts is the "Father of English Hymnody."
"From an early age, Watts displayed a propensity for rhyme. Once, he had to explain how he came to have his eyes open during prayers:
A little mouse for want of stairs
ran up a rope to say its prayers.
Receiving corporal punishment for this, he cried:
O father, father, pity take
And I will no more verses make!"
This is one of my favorites. Considering Mr. Watts managed to put out 750 poems, there are plenty to choose from! As a little 'bonus,' I've included one of his children's poems at the end of this one. *pic from

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home:

Under the shadow of thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.

Before the hills in order stood
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting thou art God,
To endless years the same.

Thy word commands our flesh to dust,
“Return, ye sons of men”;
All nations rose from earth at first,
And turn to earth again.

A thousand ages in thy sight
Are like an evening gone;
Short as the watch that ends the night
Before the rising sun.

The busy tribes of flesh and blood,
With all their lives and cares,
Are carried downwards by thy flood,
And lost in following years.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream,
Bears all its sons away;
They fly forgotten, as a dream
Dies at the opening day.

Like flowery fields the nations stand,
Pleased with the morning light;
The flowers beneath the mower’s hand
Lie withering e’er ’tis night.

Our God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Be thou our guard while troubles last,
And our eternal home.

Against Idleness and Mischief

How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

How skillfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labours hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.

In works of labour or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.

In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.

*pic from wikipedia's entry on C.W.
POEM #29 - Charles Wesley (1707-1788)

A rather bizarre train of thought has been flitting around my brain since starting this series. It is my theory that the Church, in its use of hymns (both ancient and modern), is probably the largest audience that poetry has. Every Sunday, we stand, we sit, we kneel, we mingle to strains of music, beautiful verse. Whether the church is chanting liturgy or banging on the drums up front (most of my readers know where I fall here ;o), poetry is still a huge part of our corporate worship experience. So with that in mind, here's a classic Charles Wesley hymn- one my dad associates with the early days at Hobe Sound:

A charge to keep I have,
a God to glorify,
a never-dying soul to save,
and fit it for the sky.

To serve the present age,
my calling to fulfill;
O may it all my powers engage
to do my Master's will!

Arm me with jealous care,
as in thy sight to live,
and oh, thy servant, Lord,
prepare a strict account to give!

Help me to watch and pray,
and on thyself rely,
assured, if I my trust betray,
I shall forever die.

POEM #28- William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Oh, dear. I've almost finished a full month of poetry and quite forgot ol' Shakespeare. That just won't do. Here's a lovely tribute to the quality of mercy, specifically as it relates to justice meted by kings. Reminds me of the parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18. That passage is the first thing I think of when I'm tempted to hold an unforgiving spirit. Great stuff!
*pic from wikipedia; Scots Church in Melbourne

The Quality of Mercy
The quality of mercy is not strain'd.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes.
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown.
His scepter shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptered sway;
It is enthroned in the heart of kings;
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice.

POEM #27 - Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)

The poem hits on one of Nathan and my recurring conversations. Why is it that some people just do right no matter what, and others don't? Siblings who grow up in identical settings can be so very different. One person gets cancer and becomes an inspirational speaker; another gets bitter for life. What makes one person 'good soil' and another 'not good?' Is it just God's sovereignty- pouring extra grace into some of our lives and not into others? What do you think?

The Winds of Fate

One ship drives east and another drives west
With the selfsame winds that blow.
'Tis the set of the sails
And not the gales
Which tells us the way to go.

Like the winds of the sea are the ways of fate,
As we voyage along through life:
'Tis the set of a soul
That decides its goal,
And not the calm or the strife.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

POEM #26 - William Stidger


I saw God wash the world last night
With His sweet showers on high;
And then when morning came
I saw him hang it out to dry.

He washed each slender blade of grass
And every trembling tree;
He flung his showers against the hills
And swept the rolling sea.

The white rose is a deeper white;
The red, a richer red
Since Gold washed every fragrant face
And put them all to bed.

There's not a bird, there's not a bee
That wings along the way,
But is a cleaner bird and bee
Than it was yesterday.

I saw God wash the world last night;
Ah, would He had washed me
As clean of all my dust and dirt
As that old white birch tree!

(My own clean bunny- this is after his bath ;o)
POEM #25 - Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943)

This poet combined pure silliness with commentary on modern-day (to him) issues. I think this is cute.
*Definitions I looked up: prophylactic (something that prevents disease); permanganate (a purple-colored antiseptic)

Strictly Germproof

THE Antiseptic Baby and the Prophylactic Pup
Were playing in the garden when the Bunny gamboled up;
They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised;—
It wasn't Disinfected and it wasn't Sterilized.

They said it was a Microbe and a Hotbed of Disease;
They steamed it in a vapor of a thousand-odd degrees;
They froze it in a freezer that was cold as Banished Hope
And washed it in permanganate with carbolated soap.

In sulphurated hydrogen they steeped its wiggly ears;
They trimmed its frisky whiskers with a pair of hard-boiled shears;
They donned their rubber mittens and they took it by the hand
And elected it a member of the Fumigated Band.

There's not a Micrococcus in the garden where they play;
They bathe in pure iodoform a dozen times a day;
And each imbibes his rations from a Hygienic Cup—
The Bunny and the Baby and the Prophylactic Pup.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Poem #24- Edgar Guest (1881-1959)

I'm not if I was assigned this to memorize in school, or if it was just a rare personal project. Anyways, this was a powerful piece of verse in my school years. I often thought of it when faced with compromising decisions. (I know, I know- it would be more spiritual if a Bible verse had come to mind instead, but it worked ;o) Guest became the Poet Laureate of the State of Michigan after the British-born poet became one of the most famous naturalized citizens of his time. 11,000 published poems! Scary prolific!


I have to live with myself, and so,
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by,
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don't want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I've done.
I don't want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of man I really am;
I don't want to dress myself up in sham.
I want to deserve all men's respect;
But here in this struggle for fame and pelf,
I want to be able to like myself.
I don't want to think as I come and go
That I'm for bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me,
I see what others may never see,
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself -- and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

POEM #23- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

With both marriages ending in the premature deaths of his wives, the professor poet Longfellow was well-acquainted with sorrow. The second hit him especially hard, as his wife's dress caught on fire, and she died soon after from injuries sustained in the accident. Longfellow did his best to put out the flames. His own injuries prevented him from attending Frances' funeral. Later, with his face so scarred he could no longer shave, he grew the beard we see in all his later photographs.
*Note line 6 where he equates her death with a burning at the stake
*Line 8- "benedight" (def.) blessed

The Cross of Snow

In the long, sleepless watches of the night,
A gentle face--the face of one long dead--
Looks at me from the wall, where round its head
The night-lamp casts a halo of pale light.
Here in this room she died, and soul more white
Never through martyrdom of fire was led
To its repose; nor can in books be read
The legend of a life more benedight.
There is a mountain in the distant West
That, sun-defying, in its deep ravines
Displays a cross of snow upon its side.
Such is the cross I wear upon my breast
These eighteen years, through all the changing scenes
And seasons, changeless since the day she died.

POEM #22- Guy Wetmore Carryl (1873-1904)

A recent discovery of mine, Carryl was an American humorist at the turn of the century. He delighted in retelling the tales of the Brothers Grimm in funny verses that are really enjoyable to read. He died at the age of 31, presumably from an illness due to exposure he got while fighting a fire at his house. That's what said. (Seems a rather roundabout way to die ;o) I also got the above image from the wiki entry for ol' Rumple.

How Rumplestilz Held Out in Vain for a Bonus

In Germany there lived an earl
Who had a charming niece:
And never gave the timid girl
A single moment's peace!
Whatever low and menial task
His fancy flitted through,
He did not hesitate to ask
That shrinking child to do.
(I see with truly honest shame you
Are blushing, and I do not blame you.
A tale like this the feelings softens,
And brings the tears, as does "Two Orphans.")

She had to wash the windows, and
She had to scrub the floors,
She had to lend a willing hand
To fifty other chores:
She gave the dog his exercise,
She read the earl the news,
She ironed all his evening ties,
And polished all his shoes,
She cleaned the tins that filled the dairy,
She cut the claws of the canary,
And then, at night, with manner winsome,
When coal was wanted, carried in some!

But though these tasks were quite enough,
He thought them all too few,
And so her uncle, rude and rough,
Invented something new.
He took her to a little room,
Her willingness to tax,
And pointed out a broken loom
And half a ton of flax,
Observing: "Spin six pairs of trousers!"
His haughty manner seemed to rouse hers.
She met his scornful glances proudly -
And for an answer whistled loudly!

But when the earl went down the stair
She yielded to her fears.
Gave way at last to grim despair,
And melted into tears:
When suddenly, from out the wall,
As if he felt at home,
There pounced a singularly small
And much distorted gnome.
He smiled a smile extremely vapid,
And set to work in fashion rapid;
No time for resting he deducted,
And soon the trousers were constructed.

The girl observed: "How very nice
To help me out this way!"
The gnome replied: "A certain price
Of course you'll have to pay.
I'll call to-morrow afternoon,
My due reward to claim,
And then you'll sing another tune
Unless you guess my name!"
He indicated with a gesture
The pile of newly fashioned vesture:
His eyes on hers a moment centered,
And then he went, as he had entered.

As by this tale you have been grieved
And heartily distressed,
Kind sir, you will be much relieved
To know his name she guessed:
But if I do not tell the same,
Pray count it not a crime -
I've tried my best, and for that name
I can't find any rhyme!
Yet spare me from remarks injurious:
I will not leave you foiled and furious.
If something must proclaim the answer,
And I cannot, the title can, sir!

The Moral is: All said and done,
There's nothing new beneath the sun,
And many times before, a title
Was incapacity's requital!

POEM #21- Anne Bradstreet (again ;o)

Don't we all know what it's like to lay awake with some heaviness in our heart? If you've never known Him to come be the solace, you're missing out. He's waiting for you.


BY night when others soundly slept
And hath at once both ease and Rest,
My waking eyes were open kept
And so to lie I found it best.

I sought him whom my Soul did Love,
With tears I sought him earnestly.
He bow'd his ear down from Above.
In vain I did not seek or cry.

My hungry Soul he fill'd with Good;
He in his Bottle put my tears,
My smarting wounds washt in his blood,
And banisht thence my Doubts and fears.

What to my Saviour shall I give
Who freely hath done this for me?
I'll serve him here whilst I shall live
And Love him to Eternity.

POEM #20- Robert Frost, revisited
(photo from apples on a tree in Normandy, France)

Back to lighter topics. I can only dwell on wartime verse for very short periods of time or I get depressed. So, here's a lovely one by Frost, describing the sweetness of sleep after a hard day's work. In this case, the work is apple-picking. I love the description of how he looked at the world through the thin pane of ice from the top of the trough. Who thinks to describe such things? But immediately, I can see what he's seeing. And it seems to me the author thinks he's so tired, he could just hibernate the long winter away. Come to think of it, that sounds lovely right now :o)

After Apple-Picking

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree
Toward heaven still,
And there's a barrel that I didn't fill
Beside it, and there may be two or three
Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.
But I am done with apple-picking now.
Essence of winter sleep is on the night,
The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.
I cannot rub the strangeness from my sight
I got from looking through a pane of glass
I skimmed this morning from the drinking trough
And held against the world of hoary grass.
It melted, and I let it fall and break.
But I was well
Upon my way to sleep before it fell,
And I could tell
What form my dreaming was about to take.
Magnified apples appear and disappear,
Stem end and blossom end,
And every fleck of russet showing clear.
My instep arch not only keeps the ache,
It keeps the pressure of a ladder-round.
I feel the ladder sway as the boughs bend.
And I keep hearing from the cellar bin
The rumbling sound
Of load on load of apples coming in.
For I have had too much
Of apple-picking: I am overtired
Of the great harvest I myself desired.
There were ten thousand thousand fruit to touch,
Cherish in hand, lift down, and not let fall.
For all
That struck the earth,
No matter if not bruised or spiked with stubble,
Went surely to the cider-apple heap
As of no worth.
One can see what will trouble
This sleep of mine, whatever sleep it is.
Were he not gone,
The woodchuck could say whether it's like his
Long sleep, as I describe its coming on,
Or just some human sleep.

(photo from

POEM #19 - Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

WARNING: This poem is not for the faint of heart. DISCLAIMER: Just because I include a poem, does not (of course) imply that I agree with the philosophies and/or lifestyles of the poet.

I include this one because it made me cry. "Great," say all. The British poetry of WWI was included in a college class I took, and I found it to be so tragic and powerful. There was a shocking transition in this war. Prior to WWI, there was the glory of trumpets and horses and neatly lined up troops. The emerging technology of the day allowed for horrific deaths committed in anonymity. This poem describes the terror the men felt toward being gassed. The Latin phrase at the end goes something like, "Sweet and worthy it is to die for own's homeland." Mr. Owen, was killed in action on week prior to the ending of the war.

War and the human suffering that accompanies it are part of the great tragedy of a fallen world. I'm looking forward to the day when Christ rules the new heavens and new earth. In that day, poems like this will never be written again.

Dulce Et Decorum Est

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.

Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!—An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime…
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light,
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.


POEM #18- Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

Fun with linguistics (I can't resist!) "Yclept" (pronounced ih-clehpt) see the last stanza is an OBSOLETE English word. It is the past participle of the verb "clepe" (pronounced kleep) which meant "to call." Example: She was yclept "the face that launched a thousand ships." Just think, on a birth announcement you could say, "Our fair child has been yclept Leonore." (And to those who think I'm a total nerd, I DID have to look this one up.)

A fuzzy fellow, without feet,
Yet doth exceeding run!
Of velvet, is his Countenance,
And his Complexion, dun!

Sometime, he dwelleth in the grass!
Sometime, upon a bough,
From which he doth descend in plush
Upon the Passer-by!

All this in summer.
But when winds alarm the Forest Folk,
He taketh Damask Residence—
And struts in sewing silk!

Then, finer than a Lady,
Emerges in the spring!
A Feather on each shoulder!
You'd scarce recognize him!

By Men, yclept Caterpillar!
By me! But who am I,
To tell the pretty secret
Of the Butterfly!

(Photo from
POEM #17- Lord Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892)

Little Alfred was obviously a writer from the beginning. At the age of 12, he wrote a 6,000 line epic poem!!! His father was mentally ill, and that combined with his alcoholism to make for an unhealthy home. Tennyson's brothers were in turn, a violent quarreler, an asylum inmate, and an opium addict. Truly sad. The gifted Tennyson managed to get into Trinity College at Cambridge at 18, where he was encouraged in his poetry by peers. By the age of 41, he was named Poet Laureate of Britain and was doing well financially. At the age of 75, he accepted a peerage and became an official "Lord."

This poem always reminds me of my great-uncle Lloyd Creel. He's been gone now for 15 years or so. A truly beautiful spirit. He was a mortician by trade, but no one ever saw a happier one. It did creep me out a little to see his mortician's pin (a skull and crossbones) that he wore in the casket. Anyhoo... He always called me Goldilocks, and when the roads would get icy, he would hook an old wooden ladder to the back of his truck and yank us kids around those country roads or through the cow pasture, whooping like a bunch of Indians. Sometimes it was a tire. In the South, we don't exactly own sleds, you know. In his seventies, he rode a motorcycle. He stood up often at church, would raise both hands in the air, smile broadly and say, "This is the day the Lord hath made. I will REJOICE and be glad in it!" That's the last thing I heard him say. This was the poem he wanted read at his funeral. I plan to someday see my Pilot in the same way he did!

Crossing the Bar

Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea,

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far,
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have cross’d the bar.

POEM #16- John Donne (1572-1631)

No Man Is An Island

We've all heard the expression; here's its source. I can't think of a single place where the connectedness of people should play out more than in the church. We are one Body, and Christ is the Head. The decisions we make ALWAYS affect more people than we realize. Years ago, when we were going through a rough time, Nathan said, "I struggle with the fact that trying to live biblically to provide a restful "pond for my family to swim in" isn't enough. Other people come and throw big rocks in my pond." That is so true. We live with the ripples caused by other's actions. And heaven knows, we've thrown some rocks of our own. Let's reverse Jesus' remark and say, "He who has not cast a stone, please step up..." This interconnected life is meant to be a blessing- where my and your daily decisions to do right bless the lives of those around us. It should encourage us to humility and forgiveness of those who ripple our pond (even as God in Christ Jesus has forgiven us!) and to a desire to edify each other.

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as a manor of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

POEM #15- Henry Timrod (1828-1867)

Since verse is some of the best expression of the deepest of human emotion, it is only natural that war has given us some of the world's best poets. The following poem describes the waiting, waiting, waiting that comes before the first shot. Poor Timrod lived a short and sickly life. Some of his verses make up the South Carolina state song.
*Two references that I had to look up: Moultrie was another fort that along with Sumter protected Charleston's waters. Calpe is another name for the Rock of Gilbratar. Click here to read more and see the above picture's source.

Calm as that second summer which precedes
The first fall of the snow,
In the broad sunlight of heroic deeds,
The City bides the foe.

As yet, behind their ramparts stern and proud,
Her bolted thunders sleep --
Dark Sumter, like a battlemented cloud,
Looms o'er the solemn deep.

No Calpe frowns from lofty cliff or scar
To guard the holy strand;
But Moultrie holds in leash her dogs of war
Above the level sand.

And down the dunes a thousand guns lie couched,
Unseen, beside the flood --
Like tigers in some Orient jungle crouched
That wait and watch for blood.

Meanwhile, through streets still echoing with trade,
Walk grave and thoughtful men,
Whose hands may one day wield the patriot's blade
As lightly as the pen.

And maidens, with such eyes as would grow dim
Over a bleeding hound,
Seem each one to have caught the strength of him
Whose sword she sadly bound.

Thus girt without and garrisoned at home,
Day patient following day,
Old Charleston looks from roof, and spire, and dome,
Across her tranquil bay.

Ships, through a hundred foes, from Saxon lands
And spicy Indian ports,
Bring Saxon steel and iron to her hands,
And Summer to her courts.

But still, along yon dim Atlantic line,
The only hostile smoke
Creeps like a harmless mist above the brine,
From some frail, floating oak.

Shall the Spring dawn, and she still clad in smiles,
And with an unscathed brow,
Rest in the strong arms of her palm-crowned isles,
As fair and free as now?

We know not; in the temple of the Fates
God has inscribed her doom;
And, all untroubled in her faith, she waits
The triumph or the tomb.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

POEM #14 - Anne Bradstreet (revisited)

I said we might get back to some of these my favorites. Here's one on which I'd love to hear some "real" authors' opinions. The small bits of writing I have done have given me a true appreciation for this piece of art. Turns out some of her work was published with the best intentions by friends, albeit WITHOUT PERMISSION. Awkward. Her response? Here you go...

Thou ill-formed offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth did'st by my side remain,
Till snatcht from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad exposed to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th' press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call.
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
The visage was so irksome in my sight,
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could.
I washed thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretcht thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run'st more hobbling than is meet.
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i' th' house I find.
In this array, 'mongst vulgars may'st thou roam.
In critic's hands, beware thou dost not come,
And take thy way where yet thou art not known.
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none;
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caused her thus to send thee out of door.

Poem #13- G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936)

Can we safely say that Chesterton wrote a lot of... everything? According to his entry on, he wrote on, "philosophy, ontology, poetry, plays, journalism, public lectures and debates, literary and art criticism, biography, Christian apologetics, and fiction, including fantasy and detective fiction." Known for many great things, he was also known for one rather amusing thing- his sheer size. Check this out (from the same article): "Chesterton was a large man, standing 6 feet 4 inches and weighing around 290 lb. His girth gave rise to a famous anecdote. During World War I a lady in London asked why he was not 'out at the Front'; he replied, 'If you go round to the side, you will see that I am.' On another occasion he remarked to his friend George Bernard Shaw: "To look at you, anyone would think a famine had struck England". Shaw retorted, "To look at you, anyone would think you have caused it". P. G. Wodehouse once described a very loud crash as "a sound like Chesterton falling onto a sheet of tin." Here's an interesting twist on the humble animal that carried Christ during the Passion Week. Enjoy!

When forests walked and fishes flew
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood,
Then, surely, I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening bray
And ears like errant wings—
The devil's walking parody
Of all four-footed things:

The battered outlaw of the earth
Of ancient crooked will;
Scourge, beat, deride me—I am dumb—
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour—
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout around my head
And palms about my feet.

POEM #12 - Julia Carney (1823-1908)

One of my favorite children's poems. How those little things and little moments add up to make our days, our years, definitely our character! It's also the little things, the kindnesses that make a family a loving group of people or the lack thereof that creates strife. Here's a picture of the two to whom Nathan and I are teaching the "little things:" (They are making their weird grimace faces. This comes from stupid mommies taking pictures with her back (and their eyes) to the sun!)

Little Things

Little drops of water,
Little drains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the beauteous land.

And the little moments,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

So our little errors
Lead the soul away,
From the paths of virtue
Into sin to stray.

Little deeds of kindness,
Little words of love,
Make our earth an Eden,
Like the heaven above.


POEM #11- Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)

E.W. Wilcox was simply observing human nature when she wrote this poem. There is something in all of us that shrinks back from pain and runs toward pleasure. But there is nothing natural about the Spirit-led life. The life that is to "bear one another's burdens" and to place God and others above ourselves. Since my first time through the deep valley of grief when we lost our dear, dear friend Greg Makcen, I have found myself saying when other people have lost someone, "I don't want to be near them. I don't want to go into that valley again with anyone. It's ugly and painful and so, so dark!" Although I shrank back in ignorance and cowardice on occasions, God is teaching me how to "cry with others" and using Nathan to teach me the balance of emotional management- so that the pain allocated to other's lives doesn't overwhelm me and keep me from doing God's will in and for my own family. Anyone else out there struggle with this balance?

The great news is that the Christian never "weeps alone." Christ is always there; may the body be there, too.


Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it's mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life's gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

Monday, October 10, 2011

POEM #10- William Wordsworth

I love music in the background of my day! Always have, it seems. When I graduated from high school, my mother got me a Bose Wave radio instead of a hope chest. I was delighted! (Nathan and I were broken up at that point anyways, so why did I need a hope chest? Another story for another time... ;o) Years later, Mother told me that when I left home the music stopped. I have actually seen DUST on the top of the CD player at their house (what shame!!!) Nowadays, Pandora is my dear, dear friend. I have stations ranging from Veggie Tales, to Michael Buble, to Roger Whittaker, to Lawson Rollins.

This poem is a sweet picture of a street musician who has charmed the common man into a musical spell. I couldn't remember anything about the mentioned "Orpheus," so Wikipedia informs us that he "was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. The major stories about him are centered on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music." So there you go!

Power of Music
AN Orpheus! an Orpheus! yes, Faith may grow bold,
And take to herself all the wonders of old;--
Near the stately Pantheon you'll meet with the same
In the street that from Oxford hath borrowed its name.

His station is there; and he works on the crowd,
He sways them with harmony merry and loud;
He fills with his power all their hearts to the brim--
Was aught ever heard like his fiddle and him?

What an eager assembly! what an empire is this!
The weary have life, and the hungry have bliss;
The mourner is cheered, and the anxious have rest;
And the guilt-burthened soul is no longer opprest.

As the Moon brightens round her the clouds of the night,
So He, where he stands, is a centre of light;
It gleams on the face, there, of dusky-browed Jack,
And the pale-visaged Baker's, with basket on back.

That errand-bound 'Prentice was passing in haste--
What matter! he's caught--and his time runs to waste;
The Newsman is stopped, though he stops on the fret;
And the half-breathless Lamplighter--he's in the net!

The Porter sits down on the weight which he bore;
The Lass with her barrow wheels hither her store;--
If a thief could be here he might pilfer at ease;
She sees the Musician, 'tis all that she sees!

He stands, backed by the wall;--he abates not his din
His hat gives him vigour, with boons dropping in,
From the old and the young, from the poorest; and there!
The one-pennied Boy has his penny to spare.

O blest are the hearers, and proud be the hand
Of the pleasure it spreads through so thankful a band;
I am glad for him, blind as he is!--all the while
If they speak 'tis to praise, and they praise with a smile.

That tall Man, a giant in bulk and in height,
Not an inch of his body is free from delight;
Can he keep himself still, if he would? oh, not he!
The music stirs in him like wind through a tree.

Mark that Cripple who leans on his crutch; like a tower
That long has leaned forward, leans hour after hour!--
That Mother, whose spirit in fetters is bound,
While she dandles the Babe in her arms to the sound.

Now, coaches and chariots! roar on like a stream;
Here are twenty souls happy as souls in a dream:
They are deaf to your murmurs--they care not for you,
Nor what ye are flying, nor what ye pursue!

Sunday, October 09, 2011


A rarity in his day, S. A. Beadle was a black American lawyer. He moved to Jackson, MS after the Civil War to practice law (and obviously) and to write poetry. I love this poem's way of expressing "from the heart, the mouth speaketh." We've surely all said things we regret. We've all said things (by the grace of God) that someone found helpful in the moment. May our words always be the "bread of life" and never the "cindered dross of hell!"


Words are but leaves to the tree of the mind;
Where breezy fancy plays;
Or echoes from the souls which find
Expression's subtle ways.

A beaming lamp to idea's feet
Where sentinel thought abides;
Or a guide to the soul's retreat,
Where master man presides.

A jewel trembling on the tongue,
The index of the heart;
The black mask from the spirit wrung,
Revealing every part.

A ship upon the sea of life,
With all her sails aswell;
Her cargo being the bread of life,
Or the cindered dross of hell.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

POEM #8- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. (1809-1894)

O.W. Holmes, Sr. was a fascinating man. Trained as a lawyer AND a doctor, skilled in verse. He coined the term "anesthesia." He received a lot of flack for his articles claiming that disease could be spread from patient to patient by doctors who carried the germ. That was a bizarre thought in his time period. Turns out he was right of course. The last stanza of this poem is a beautiful picture of... well, you'll see. Enjoy!

This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main, --
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.

Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed, --
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!

Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.

Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathèd horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings: --

Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!

*The image above is another beauty from the National Geographic website.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

(another beauty from the National Geographic website)
POEM #7 - A.A. Milne (1882-1956)

I was delighted to discover an A.A. Milne book "When We Were Very Young" at a local thrift shop last year. Turns out the man best known for Winnie the Pooh and his companions wrote some delightful children's poetry, too. He seemed to have a special gift for getting inside a child's mind and speaking to his imagination.

He also wrote The Magic Hill, about a princess "blessed" by fairies so that wherever she walks, flowers spring up. So she plays all day on her own hill, and in the evening the other children pick her flowers for their mothers. This is one of Kathryn's and my favorites.

Kathryn and Alex often pretend the Wal-Mart parking lot is a deep ocean, full of all kinds of beasts (the cars, you know). We carefully traverse the dangers, arriving safely in produce. And of course we all know how children are obsessed from ages past with "not stepping on the cracks!" Well, A.A. Milne knew that, too. Here you go.

Whenever I walk in a London street,
I'm ever so careful to watch my feet;
And I keep in the squares,
And the masses of bears,
Who wait at the corners all ready to eat
The sillies who tread on the lines of the street,
Go back to their lairs,
And I say to them, "Bears,
Just look how I'm walking in all of the squares!"

And the little bears growl to each other, "He's mine,
As soon as he's silly and steps on a line,"
And some of the bigger bears try to pretend
That they came round the corner to look for a friend;
And they try to pretend that nobody cares
Whether you walk on the lines or squares.
But only the sillies believe their talk;
It's ever so portant how you walk,
And it's ever so jolly to call out, "Bears,
Just watch me walking in all the squares!"

Friday, September 23, 2011

POEM #6- ROBERT FROST (1874-1963)

Another favorite from school days that I had to memorize. I frequently find myself saying, "miles to go before I sleep, miles to go before I sleep" while I clean the kitchen late in the evening. Someday I hope to see a snowy scene that would merit the application of these verses; we don't get a lot of snow here, you know. Can you see it? The dark skeletons of trees reaching against a full moon, slowly dressing themselves in white, the diamonds of fresh snow sparkling on the ground? The quiet? The woods are lovely, dark and deep.

The above picture is from the National Geographic website. Click here for some of the most beautiful free downloadable wallpapers you can find.
Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village, though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

POEM #5 Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)

The first poem I ever remember loving. This must have been in elementary school at some point.

THE fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

POEM #4 - Anne Bradstreet (1612-1672)

Another "friend" I met in college. Mrs. Bradstreet, according to, wrote most of her poems when her husband, a governor, was away on political errands. There's going to be more than one of hers in this series. The following poem I had done in calligraphy by my oh-so-creative and artistic friend, Paula Miller. It sits on Nathan's bedside table.

If ever two were one, then surely we.
If ever man were loved by wife, then thee;
If ever wife was happy in a man,
Compare with me, ye women, if you can.
I prize thy love more than whole mines of gold
Or all the riches that the East doth hold.
My love is such that rivers cannot quench,
Nor ought but love from thee, give recompense.
Thy love is such I can no way repay,
The heavens reward thee manifold, I pray.
Then while we live, in love let's so persevere
That when we live no more, we may live ever

POEM #3 Teresa de Avila 1515-1582

Sorry, dear reader! I hate to disappoint you, but some of the best stuff isn't in English. So there's a translation I threw together on the bottom of this one. I "met" Teresa de Avila in college. A part of the Christian mystic genre (mystic=one who believed a knowledge/relationship of God could be attained in this life; um... I guess that makes me and a large part of my readers mystics- who knew? ;o), Avila was a special inspiration to me in a public university full of relativism and skewed philosophies. I felt a kinship with her, like a secret friend I carried in my textbook.

Nada te turbe;
nada te espante;
todo se pasa;
Dios no se muda,
la paciencia
todo lo alcanza.
Quien a Dios tiene,
nada le falta.
Solo Dios basta.

May nothing disturb you.
May nothing frighten you.
Everything passes away.
God does not change.
can attain anything.
He who has God,
lacks nothing.
God is enough.

POEM #2 - William Wordsworth 1770-1850

I was first introduced to Wordsworth through the wonderful writings of Jan Karon. Her main character, Father Tim, delights in quoting Wordsworth throughout the books. I love the imagery of these springtime friends. Daffodils in an October post? Well, this is the time to put those babies in the dirt. (Click here to start planning now to see these in the spring)

The Daffodils
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling leaves in glee:
A Poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
POEM #1- James Whitcomb Riley 1853-1916

I'm really excited about the fun 31 day challenge. There's no rules, just posting 31 consecutive posts about something that you love. Well, I love poetry. It's something that floats through my life in stages. Here's one of my all-time fall faves. You can just feel the crispness of fall in the fun verses. I really love the way the spelling is changed to reflect dialectal uniqueness.

One of the most fascinating things about Riley is the story of his grand Poe hoax. Evidently, as this website indicates, he had an interesting reaction to the rejection of his poetry by a magazine. He felt the poetry wasn't the problem, rather his unknown name. So, with the help of some newspaper conspirators, he passed off a poem as a posthumous finding of Edgar Allen Poe's. He had the literary scholars of the country in an uproar. Crazy stuff.

WHEN the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock,
And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin' turkey-cock,
And the clackin' of the guineys, and the cluckin' of the hens,
And the rooster's hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;
O, it's then the time a feller is a-feelin' at his best, 5
With the risin' sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,
As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

They's something kindo' harty-like about the atmusfere
When the heat of summer's over and the coolin' fall is here— 10
Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossoms on the trees,
And the mumble of the hummin'-birds and buzzin' of the bees;
But the air's so appetizin'; and the landscape through the haze
Of a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn days
Is a pictur' that no painter has the colorin' to mock— 15
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,
And the raspin' of the tangled leaves as golden as the morn;
The stubble in the furries—kindo' lonesome-like, but still
A-preachin' sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill; 20
The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;
The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover overhead!—
O, it sets my hart a-clickin' like the tickin' of a clock,
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keeps 25
Is poured around the cellar-floor in red and yaller heaps;
And your cider-makin's over, and your wimmern-folks is through
With theyr mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and sausage too!...
I don't know how to tell it—but ef such a thing could be
As the angels wantin' boardin', and they'd call around on me— 30
I'd want to 'commodate 'em—all the whole-indurin' flock—
When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder's in the shock.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My Adventure With The Crazies

Last week I sat for a total of 8 hours (6 with kids, 2 without) in the car fix-it place getting Nathan's car tuned up. His Honda Accord (oh, blessed be it) has 388,000+ miles and just needed a little work. However, as the store I was in had 60 magazines (all hunting, fishing, or sports) and the TV channel was stuck the whole time on the hunting/fishing channel, Nathan SO owed me!!! So off I went. I thought doing the errands and going to the thrift store alone would be a happy reward. Don't get me wrong- I love my kids, and they are not "store brats"- but they SSSLLLLOOOWWWW me down.

The thrift store was my first stop. Ya never know with those places. I was anticipating a relaxed browsing. Nope. There was an older lady who kept loudly complaining to her daughter about "that stupid dinosaur toy that keeps snorting!" She was worried "because EVERYBODY is looking at me like I'm on oxygen." Let me clarify by saying that I neither saw nor heard any such dinosaur toy. Note to all friends: if I ever suffer from early-onset dementia, please, please do not allow me to make scenes in stores if possible. I'd prefer to suffer with some level of dignity- thanks!

On to Wal-Mart, where my mere presence coaxed an employee/stocker to share her life story, her family's genealogy, her cosmological beliefs, her grandson's educational prospects, and her views on prejudice. I heard about the Trail of Tears, gifted classes, how she was going to lead her grandson through the spirit world after they meet around the ancestral campfire (the stars). All-righty then. I think I used at least 5,000 of the my daily word quota in "Well... ok... I need to be... Sorry to cut you off..." Whew. By the time I got home I was exhausted.

Something must have happened in that last encounter. Maybe she cursed me with a Navajo crazy curse or something, but by the time I reached our neighborhood, I realized I was putting on the blinker TO GO AROUND CURVES.

But read on, dear reader- the best is yet to come. Nathan was at the office (that's NOT the best part, I promise) to prep for an interview. I, his helpful spouse, was made aware that a smoke detector was beeping downstairs in his dedicated man cave. So I'm thinking I'll get rid of the annoyance by changing the battery before he gets home. BUT I COULDN'T FIND THE DETECTOR. After about 30 minutes of looking, I determine it MUST have been installed in the unfinished basement before the drop ceiling was installed. I begin removing tiles. Using a flashlight and a compact mirror, my search was still in vain. Despite my best intentions, Nathan arrives home to ladder, tiles, wife with head in the roof, etc. He joins the search. We removed 9 tiles, even begin chipping away at the drywall above the ceiling with a hammer. The noise is incessant and TRAVELING. We hear it there, get there, and now it's behind us by 3 feet, move there, oh dear- now it's the the left by 5. So I go to plug in the shop vac and clean up the drywall dust. We've decided some moron has installed this thing heaven-knows-where, and the electrician will have to find it. (Did I mention I called the fire dept. on the non-emergency line to get advice as well?) That's when I saw it: the carbon monoxide detector, normally plugged into the bottom of the wall, has slipped down by the treadmill and is the culprit. How the sound traveled all over is a mystery of acoustics. How Nathan felt at that moment is not. Let's just say I thought it was funny, he did not.

Well, there you go. I have re-joined the world of the sane. May your week have a least a few laughs in it, even if they are at yourself....

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Picture Blog Summer 2011 Part 2

Since we 're-started' Kindergarten in January (that's a whole 'nother story- suffice it to say we were not connecting with our original plan, and we found happiness in the BJU Online K5 program), we've been doing homeschool through the summer. We're currently in our month off, and about to start Grade 1. I DID try to make the summer fun. The following pics of Elephant Girl and Boy are from the zoo. They have a new African Elephant exhibit, complete with drums the kids can play, masks, and 5 huge bull elephant. It's also cleverly (haha) designed to make you walk a gazillion miles between exhibits. Poor, poor feet.

We also took a long weekend to visit our friends Matt and Julia Thomas and kiddos while Nathan was suffering for the gospel in the Grand Caymans. We had a blast with their fabulous family (and their pool). Of course, I didn't take my camera- genius. We celebrated Alex's 4th b-day there with pizza and a DQ ice cream cake (and Matt parading him around the room ;o) Alex was embarrassed and kept staying, "STOP THE MUSIC!!!" in his best Veggie Tale voice. On the way home, Kathryn said, "OK, Mom- when we get home, we can go out and buy the pool and set it up, right?" Right... I caved and got them SWIMMING CLOTHES and went to Oak Mountain State Park / Lake instead. Beautiful surroundings and a nice shallow area for the kids to play in.

Bible visitors came to homeschool one day, then they shed their headgear and voila! time travel is so easy!! (even if the Vulcan High Council doesn't think it possible)

Mitzi, the family schnauzer, continues to grow and chew on everything she finds. She likes salsa, muffins, toilet paper and gum.

More pics to come!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Picture Blog of Our Summer Part 1
We started the summer with a lovely week at Pell City Bible Methodist Camp and a trip to Rickwood Caverns just north of Birmingham. We got there on a weekday for the first tour- so we had the sweet guide all to ourselves. As I've said before on here, I LOVE caves- the well-lit, tour-able kind of caves (not the crawl on your belly, claustrophobic kind) Vaguely disturbed to "meet" a lethargic snake inside, but it didn't seem to notice us. More pics coming...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Taking In

I've been to Church Camp and back with the kids. We've been swimming at the state park, been spelunking in a local cave, etc. We really are having a wonderful summer. I'm even having all kinds of blog-gable thoughts. I've been wondering why I really haven't written much of anything recently. Well, the mystery is over. I'm in a 'taking in' mood. Those are phases I get in where my bedside table, the back of the toilet, the coffee table, even the passenger seat of my car begin to grow book stacks. I start feeling pensive, internalizing thoughts. Sometimes (and maybe some of you out there can relate to this) I feel like my brain is having flickers of new thoughts, of great things to come. It's a quiet time internally, a bit like the tuner of an old radio passing quickly through stations, picking up bits of white noise, static, a snatch of a song. Then suddenly a symphony of thoughts will burst forth, a phase of deep personal growth. Of changes, of (hopefully) maturation of views.

So, while I'm taking in I thought I'd simply share a sampling of what's in my bookstacks these days, and a teensy review in case you're in need of a good book:

1. High Call, High Privilege by Gail MacDonald (my number one pick of the last five years!!!! Should be next to the Bible on the shelf of any woman whose husband is in ministry. Planning to do a full review of this book soon. Reading MacDonald is just so edifying, so practical, so uplifting, so real!)
2. Too Small to Ignore by Wess Stafford (just started, picked up based on a radio interview I heard of his story some years ago- so far, so good)
3. The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara (a highly-acclaimed Civil War novel, really has a talent for bringing the Lees, Grants, etc. to life, warts and all)
4. The Ezekiel Option by Joel C. Rosenberg (a fictional thriller by a man with his pulse on the Middle East)
5. The Pilgrim Nazarene Church Manual (since I'm translating it ;o)

What I'm listening to (since I'm a multitasker):
1. Lawson Rollins (Spanish guitar- great for waking up in the mornings)
2. Doris Day and peers (great for quiet evenings after the kids have gone to bed; and for Sunday food prep on Saturday night); when I was a kid, we had "Encore" on the radio on Saturday nights, featuring the golden oldies.

Whether you're in a taking in mood or a giving out mood, I hope you're having a wonderful summer!!!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer So Far- Achoo!

The long and short of our summer so far is: we've been sick. Not for hours, days, but for weeks and weeks. It would seem that as the tornado passed by our house, it dropped all sorts of ick into the area, plaguing us with respiratory issues. Kathryn had pneumonia, followed by my, Nathan's and Alex's bronchitis bouts. My pitiful little eustachian tubes, for some weird reason, were freaked out by the barometric changes as the storm passed by, causing them to be stopped up for all this time as well. More annoying than painful, I've begun to have problems hearing. I really wondered why the lady in the store was calling my children "lab rats"- when all along she was asking about 'lite-brites'. She must have thought I was nuts...

Meanwhile,the children play right along and the dog is growing like a weed. Well, a stunted weed. We had her spayed to avoid the inevitable parade of male dogs ringing the doorbell. She spends her time doing things my children never did, like running around the house, emptying a toilet paper roll as she goes, then systematically shredding it. Trying to drink out of the toilet. Lying on the air conditioner vents. Eating crayons (OK, my kids DID do this). Ad infinitum. She's great!

Kathryn is plugging away at homeschool. (shh- nobody tell her that everyone else is getting a summer break) Since I 'rebooted' her K5 in January, we're running through August, and taking September off. The reading is coming along well (which is my top priority, of course).

Alex is super-excited about his being ALMOST FOUR!!! He talks about his birthday everyday (it's 7/26), and when the wind blows, asks if there's another "tomato" coming. I get the impression that he thinks a giant Bob the Tomato came walking through, and squished all these neighborhoods and woods he's seeing. Vaguely disturbing, I guess. Malvala bitter paint stuff has killed the thumb-sucking habit he established before birth.

Nathan is traveling a bit more this summer, and is especially excited about his trip to the Grand Cayman with his dad in July. I have to say seeing him walking about the house in flippers, snorkel, and goggles is DEFINITELY worth a pic. But he would kill me. And then slowly pull out my fingernails. And then kill me again. So we'll have to settle for reader's imagination.

As most of you know, we've begun attending a church close to home, the Pleasant Grove Pilgrim Nazarene Church. And Nathan has begun teaching the adult Sunday School class. As biased as I most assuredly am, he is fantabulous. And now, for your listening pleasure (spoken with great drama), he will be posting weekly audio online for whomever. He is working through the book of Hebrews, from start to finish. The first lesson covers the contentious debate of the authorship of Hebrews, and here it is! Enjoy!

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Invictus/My Captain
Somewhere along the way we have all heard "I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul." Since I'm a bit puny today, I'm curled up in bed with a book of poetry. I found Invictus by Henley and Dorothea Day's response side by side. We've all tried to 'captain' our own soul at some point. Here is Day's beautiful take on the original:

Out of the light that dazzles me,
Bright as the sun from pole to pole,
I thank the God I know to be
For Christ the conqueror of my soul.

Since His the sway of circumstance,
I would not wince nor cry aloud.
Under that rule which men call chance
My head with joy is humbly bowed.

Beyond this place of sin and tears
That life with Him! And His the aid,
Despite the menace of the years,
Keeps, and shall keep me, unafraid.

I have no fear, though strait the gate,
He cleared from punishment the scroll.
Christ is the Master of my fate,
Christ is the Captain of my soul.

Much Overdue Picture Blog

Much has happened since I last blogged. Nathan and I went for a lovely mini-vacation to Memphis to celebrate our 10th anniversary. The kids and I did a 'field-trip' to Moundville. Kathryn celebrated her 6th birthday. Then the icky stuff began. A day of tornadoes, which destroyed our first home's neighborhood, many places full of sweet memories in Tuscaloosa, and grazed our current neighborhood with a force that still gives me the willies. We were very fortunate to have only the tiniest damage to our property. We then headed north to wait out the power outage, and now we are back. Whew! (And that breathless description was briefly interrupted by a lesson in why we don't throw dirt in our sibling's face.) And today is Happy Mother's Day! Nathan brought home some beautiful flowers on Friday- so sweet!!! My prayer for the next year as a mom is that I will persevere in loving my children through consistency in joyful training. Everyday I need Him more- I just want to realize that everyday instead of flying through the day by the seat of my skirt. So! Pics!

Huge Hosta, Crazy Kid

Alex giving his Indian face to me at the burial mounds

She's the Big SIX!

Beautiful Spring in Alabama

The Backyard of Our Neighborhood. The huge tornado that devastated Tuscaloosa skimmed by our house about a 1/4 mile away. Scary. The snapping of the trees made it sound like an artillery barrage in an old movie. These pics are of the back part of our neighborhood. How their houses are standing at all when the storm literally brushed by them, taking out the woods behind them is amazing to me!

Aw! Nathan brought me flowers. After 10 years, he has my taste in flora NAILED!!!!

This is the only royal wedding we got to see- boohoo.

Just a sweet pic by the river.

The trees in our neighborhood still look like they're leaning into the wind. Weird.

I know these post is a strange blend of happy life and pics associated with a deep and troubling tragedy. I'm not separating them out, b/c that's how our life is mixed right now. Life isn't separated into sweet little boxes. I have been feeling all kinds of strange mixed feelings. Guilt for mowing my lawn, while my neighbors are pulling trees off their houses. Relief at being passed by. Joy at watching my children play in the cool of the May evenings. Sweet contentment as I sip my morning coffee. Sadness over the physical changes to places I have loved for years. C'est la vie.