Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The only response I got to yesterday's post was from a left-handed friend who asked if I knew that left-handedness was considered a sign of Satanic influence by the church at one time. Children in Catholic schools were punished by the nuns if they picked up their pencils with their left hand. I learn something new every day. Thank you, PM.

I reconnected with an old friend on Monday and in the course of our conversation, we talked about our dogs, and how sad it will be when we have to tell them good-bye. Yesterday I got this in my email. Mary, this one is for you and Dave.

A Dog's Purpose, from a 4-year-old

Being a veterinarian, I had been called to examine a ten-year-old Irish Wolfhound named Belker. The dog's owners, Ron, his wife, Lisa, and their little boy, Shane, were all very attached to Belker and were hoping for a miracle.

I examined Belker and found he was dying of cancer. I told the family that we couldn't do anything for Belker and offered to perform the euthanasia procedure for the old dog in their home.

As we made arrangements, Ron and Lisa told me they thought it would be good for four-year-old Shane to observe the procedure. They felt as though Shane might learn something from the experience.

The next day, I felt the familiar catch in my throat as Belker's family surrounded him. Shane seemed so calm, petting the old dog for the last time, that I wondered if he understood what was going on. Within a few minutes, Belker slipped peacefully away. The little boy seemed to accept Belker's transition without any difficulty or confusion.

We sat together for a while after Belker's death, wondering aloud about the sad fact that animal lives are shorter than human lives. Shane, who had been listening quietly, piped up, "I know why."

Startled, we all turned to him. What came out of his mouth stunned me. I'd never heard a more comforting explanation.

He said, "People are born so that they can learn how to live a good life -- like loving everybody all the time and being nice, right?" The four-year-old continued, "Well, dogs already know how to do that, so they don't have to stay as long."

Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.

Lessons from dogs:

When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
Take naps.
Stretch before rising.
Run, romp, and play daily.
Thrive on attention and let people touch you.
Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.
On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.
When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you have had enough.
Be loyal. Never pretend to be something you're not.
If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

I recall a scene from a movie, maybe Mississippi Burning, where an older white man is explaining to a younger white man why the white people hate the blacks. Seems a neighboring black farmer got a tractor before the white farmer did. It made my daddy so mad, he said. "He shouldn't have that," the older white farmer had said. "But why did that make him so mad?" asked the younger man. "'Cause everybody needs somebody they can look down on, somebody they're better than, to feel good about himself."

I'm beginning to wonder if this whole controversy surrounding LGBT people is not a case of "everybody needs somebody they can look down on, somebody they're better than, to feel good about himself."

To focus on one thing they will never be accused of, to point a condemning finger at another does divert attention away from the accuser for a short while. It's a marginalized group of people who are not powerful enough by themselves to turn the tide of public opinion in their favor, so the majority (who happen to be heterosexual) condemn the minority (who happen to be homosexual) and thereby, elevate their own feelings of moral superiority. Erich Fromm, the noted psychologist and ethicist, said that
one of the marks of the mental and moral health of a society is how it treats its minorities.

Claiming that sexual orientation is a choice is, I believe, one of the most pernicious lies ever perpetrated. I have vivid memories of realizing my sexual attraction to the opposite sex. I was 12 years old in Harlingen, Texas. I had made a 2-day train trip with my grandmother Deedo to visit her sister Emma. She had two of the cutest grandsons, Robert, 16, and Clyde Lee, 14, and I spent a good bit of my time while there daydreaming about getting very physical with them. I was infatuated with Robert one day, and Clyde Lee the next, whichever one showed up at their grandmother's house, either one could have had his way with me if he'd been so inclined. I didn't know anything about sex, no more than what I'd seen of my own parents' G-rated affection for each other, or teen-aged sweethearts in the movies, maybe Doris Day and Rock Hudson, but the idea of lying on the sands of Padre Island, being held and kissed by one of them was very appealing to me. Thank goodness, they already had girls, other than their skinny cousin, to admire.

Straight friends have told me of similar experiences. It wasn't something they consciously chose, it just happened, usually during adolescence. My lesbian and gay friends tell me their initial realization of their sexual orientation was similar to the one I had with the boys, except they had desires for physical intimacy with people of the same sex. Most tried to deny it, to change it; they prayed, they cried, they suffered in silence. They had some idea that it wasn't natural, it was wrong, sinful, shameful, they feared the very fires of hell if anyone ever found out. They heard the epithets, the hate speech, and saw how "fags" and "dikes" were ostracized. They closeted themselves, and hated themselves, and some attempted suicide. If it were a chosen trait, NOBODY would choose it, they tell me.

When research in the 80's began to show that sexual orientation may well be genetic, or influenced by prenatal factors, they became less afraid, less ashamed, more open and honest about who they really were. And the people who hated their openness and honesty the most? The church! They were told, "You cannot be queer and be Christian." Most still teach that, and back it up with the Bible.

The Episcopal Church engaged this group directly and accepted the scientific research as liberating. Their reputation of tolerance and inclusion of the other was well known. Most Episcopalians accepted the bold move and kept on keeping on. Now here we are, several years down the road, and the minds of TEC are divided along these lines (thanks to ggritter for posting this elsewhere):

  1. There is a relatively small portion of TEC who are militant about the permanence and literality of Scripture, they are intensely anti-glbt, they are vigorously planning a temporary series of secessions of parishes and dioceses from TEC in order to form a ‘parallel Province’ which will eventually replace TEC within the Anglican Communion, and they are actively cooperative with "pastoral" intrusions into TEC by other Provinces led by Nigeria.
  2. There is a portion of TEC who, although less militant, are inclined to support literal Scripture, are not supportive of further ordination of gay bishops or blessing of same-sex unions, but are definitely not interested in secession, and are not enthusiastic about alien intrusions into TEC.
  3. There is a portion of TEC - difficult to identify precisely, but apparently substantial -- who are somewhat isolationist, regarding neither the Scripture issues, nor the glbt issues, nor the Anglican Communion itself as crucial enough to fight about, pleading ‘why can’t we all get along together?’
  4. There is a relatively small portion of TEC who are militant about progressive evolution of theology and Scripture, they are intensely insistent upon full participation of lgbt Christians in all aspects of TEC as a baptismal and justice issue, they are vigorously opposed to secessions - especially if they involve claims about ownership of property, and they are highly indignant about intrusions into TEC by other Provinces, especially Nigeria.

I'm somewhere between 3 and 4, and leaning more toward 4 all the time. I don't want to be intolerant like the first group. Devout, sincere Christians believe the way they do about this issue, and I cannot bring myself to condemn them for it. I just don't happen to believe that our sexual orientation is any more a matter of choice than whether we are right or left handed, or blue or brown-eyed. We are the way we are and should make the most of whatever physical characteristics we inherited at birth.

I don't think we should endow those who want to separate with the millions of dollars worth of real estate they want to claim with secession. If they want to start a new Communion, then they need to start from scratch. They have broken their vows to serve the Episcopal Church and uphold its canons and constitution. And they have betrayed their heritage of the Via Media, or middle way. They "put their hand to the plow, but then turned back." I don't think they should be rewarded by the organization they renounce.

Where will all this lead? I don't know what the future holds, but, as the old song says, "I know who holds the future." And I do believe that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.

Remember us in your prayers.

Monday, February 26, 2007

The report from LaRue regarding their Beth Moore simulcast on Saturday is impressive. Over 150,000 women participated in different locations. That represents a lot of God-power, but also a lot of she-power, Sistas! Way to go!

In a single sentence in Sunday's NY Times, Laurie Goodstein neatly summarizes The Current Troubles in the Anglican Communion: "The liberals are saying, 'Can’t we all just get along,' while the conservatives are saying, 'Can’t we all just get in line?' " Anybody out there not sure which side I'm on? I didn't think so.

I got as far as seeing Jennifer Hudson win the Best Supporting Actress Oscar before falling asleep last night. Her story as an American Idol reject going all the way to the top so quickly is really exciting. I don't normally have much patience for celebrity stuff - I'm sick to death of hearing about BS and ANS - but Jennifer Hudson is talented, well-grounded in her faith, and not ashamed of her voluptuous Size 12 body. You go, Girl!

Mike went to Ron's for lunch, then they were planning to watch a John Mayer concert. It's so nice and quiet while he's gone. We're going to Memphis on Thursday to see Benji and family and to keep Pip while Benji goes to Atlanta and Karen goes for a job interview at Christian Brothers University. Please keep us in your prayers, as I had much rather make this trip by myself, but my hubby insists on going with me. Since he is maintaining his sobriety, maybe it won't be so stressful. We'll have to board the dogs though, and thunderstorms are forecast for Thursday and Friday. I hate not being there for Jay-Jay. Maybe the vet will give him a tranquilizer.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Hebrews 13:2

We had a very strange stranger in our midst this morning. A young man came to choir and sang in the tenor section who had never even been in an Episcopal church before. As he sat next to me, I could tell immediately that his voice was good and his sight reading adequate enough that he was able to sing all the hymns and anthems. But something was not quite right. He seemed extremely nervous throughout the service, told me, as we were headed to communion, that he wasn't going because he'd never been baptized, but then he came. Later I heard him tell someone he grew up in a Catholic orphanage and was baptized as an infant. Mike said he came in their Sunday School class and asked for prayer because he doesn't have a car. I invited him to check out the Inquirers' Class that meets on Thursday nights and to choir rehearsal on Wed. night. My suspicious nature says he may be a con artist or a mental patient, but one of our older ladies claimed to know him and said he had a degree in music, so maybe he's just searching for a spiritual home and will turn out to be a real asset to our choir. I hope so. We need another good tenor.

I went to Pan Asia for lunch with Debbie and Ann, who are also former members of St. Peter's. Conversation was lively. Ann knows more about the debacle at our former church than I did and told me some things I had never heard before. The priests who almost ruined that church also came close to bankrupting them, I learned. After getting fired, they joined forces with the African/Anglican Communion headed up by Bishop Troublemaker himself. If they are representative of the people in that renegade band, they are a bunch of outlaws, and the sooner we can ex-communicate them, the better off TEC will be.

Betsy was just here to pick up some mail. They went to Oxford for a basketball tournament and had to spend the night because the weather was too bad to drive home in. We didn't get much of a storm here, but parts of the state got a good bit of damage.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

I listened to our Presiding Bishop's briefing to the employees of our church's HQ in NYC of the meeting last week in Tanzania. In stark contrast to other reactions I've read this week, her calm, reassuring voice made me much less anxious about the future of the Episcopal Church. For anyone who is concerned, I commend it to you.

Prayer, patience, and persistence will get us beyond this current controversy. Just as we look back now at slavery and realize that we finally, with the help of God, accomplished justice for those enslaved, one day we will look back at the issue of full rights and privileges for our LGBT brothers and sisters and thank God that we stayed the difficult course he set before us.

Southern Baptists and Episcopalians have been in the news this week. The problem with news stories is that they focus on whatever is most sensational. Sex still sells, it still grabs the headlines, and we humans can not resist reading the salacious, tantalizing tales. What we forget is the pain and suffering of the people involved. Clearly, as Christians, we have a long way to go in bringing the dark, seedy side of our selves to the light for redemption. In the meantime, people suffer from our hesitancy and sometimes outright refusal to get honest.

Of course, we'd rather the dirt we sweep under the rug to stay there, the skeletons we've hid in the closet not to come out. But the Holy Spirit comes in with her Clean Sweep team of angels sometimes and says, "This is no way to clean house. Let there be light. Take an inventory. What's all this junk doing here? Get rid of it!"

Our Gospel reading today was John 1:43-51. Of Nathanael, Jesus says, "Here is an Israelite in whom there is no deceit... you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man."

Isn't it our deceit, our dishonesty, our duplicity that is eating the church from the inside out? What keeps us from seeing those things we'd rather not see? How can we attract others to The Truth when we are being so untruthful with ourselves? What are we hiding behind to avoid seeing the harm we've done?

Spring cleaning ain't easy, but it's necessary and oh so healthy.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Responses to yesterday's post were all positive and I thank you all. One of my readers said he did a search on my blog of the word father, then daddy, then dad, and came to the conclusion that I was, indeed, "a daddy's girl." He really didn't have to go to all that trouble to learn that. Anybody who knows me could have told him that. Another reader reminded me of all the English teachers who have come from Plantersville, three in my family alone. Maybe it was in the water, he said, himself an English professor.

Other memories were stirred, especially those of my father's spells of melancholia, as he called them. He would ruminate for hours, sometimes days, on all the tragedies he'd witnessed and experienced in his lifetime. Today he would be diagnosed with depression, and would probably be taking Zoloft like me. Like a broken record, he would go over and over these events:

As a 10 year old boy in New Orleans, he saw his 12 year old brother Paul run over and killed on Christmas Day while they were out playing in the street with their new skates. (That had to be traumatic.) When he was 16, his older sister Mildred drowned while trying to rescue her husband who also drowned. His mother became so despondent that she had to be hospitalized. When he was 22, his parents divorced after his father absconded with a younger woman. When he was 32 and a student at SW Seminary in Fort Worth, his first wife Amy, also a seminary student majoring in music, died of pneumonia. As an Army chaplain, he was part of a Medic unit that attended the wounded and dying from the battlefield. He was bothered as much by the Dear John letters received by some of the soldiers as by the amputated limbs that gave their sweethearts cold feet. It was his shoulder they had literally cried on.

So he seemed to have to cope with more than his share of suffering and death. Walking away from a job where he was constantly frustrated by tightfisted, mean-spirited old deacons was probably one of the best things he ever did for his spiritual and mental health. He freed himself to help them because he wanted to and not because he was getting paid to, as some liked to remind him. Keeping busy until strokes disabled him was his way of not giving in to the negative forces always trying to pull him down. He was in a lot of pain, as evidenced by all the prescription drugs he took, but he was determined, as John Wesley said, to

"Do all the good you can,
By all the means you can,
In all the ways you can,
In all the places you can,
At all the times you can,
To all the people you can,
As long as ever you can."

This quote was clipped and taped to the inside cover of a mileage record book he kept, and when I found it, I immediately added it to the notebook of quotes that I keep. There is no doubt in my mind that he was welcomed home by our Heavenly Father with, "Well done, good and faithful servant..."

Thursday, February 22, 2007

When my father switched from being a Baptist minister to a Methodist minister, a few people were surprised. Most people who knew him well knew that he had been ecumenical in his approach to ministry all along, so it was no big deal. His allegiance had never been to one denomination, but to the God of Love they all shared. Brother Johnson loved everybody and everybody loved him.

There were a couple of factors that influenced the direction of his change, probably more, but these were the ones that were more obvious to me. First, his mother and her family had been Methodists, and in his opinion, they were all supreme examples of what Christians should be. His paternal grandparents had been Episcopalians in Virginia, his father-in-law was a Presbyterian, so he had been exposed to a broad range of theology and found merit in all of them.

Second, he had served as a Protestant Army chaplain during WWII in England and France and had cultivated deep and lasting friendships with other chaplains of different denominations. He recognized and acknowledged that they had more in common than they had in differences.

There was no "major falling out" with the Baptists. His decision to become bi-vocational during the 60's caused some consternation for the senior deacons at Plantersville, but he had a family to support and there was no good reason, as he saw it, why he should not use his teacher's license as a part-time substitute teacher to supplement his income. If the church could not afford to pay him a living wage, as they claimed, he could pick up the slack quite easily, and didn't mind doing it. He viewed it as a form of tent-making, like the Apostle Paul did in order not to be a burden to those he served. The deacons demanded he make a choice between teaching or preaching. To their surprise, he chose teaching.

Immediately afterwards, he was approached by Lee County School Superintendant Leroy Belk and offered full-time employment, and by the Rev. Appleby, an old friend and District Supt of the North Miss. Methodist Conference, who offered him a part-time church circuit.

My daddy was in his early 60's when he was going through this transition. He and Mother moved out of the Baptist parsonage, and into a small apartment until they could build a house on the vacant lot that he had bought years earlier next door to the parsonage. He went to summer school at Ole Miss to renew his teaching credentials. The next year, he went to Emery University to earn Methodist minister's credentials.

Until he was 67 years old, he taught school full-time in county schools and Tupelo city schools (he was the first white teacher at Carver High School) and pastored small country churches in Itawamba, Union, and Tippah Counties, all the while, living in Plantersville and commuting. When he retired from teaching, he continued to pastor Methodist churches until he was almost 80 years old. He claimed it was some of his happiest and most productive years.

One of the things that impressed me the most about him during this time was that rather than being bitter about the way he'd been dismissed by the senior deacons at Plantersville, he continued to minister to them. He was the one they called when they were sick, in the hospital, needing a driver to take them to Campbell's Clinic in Memphis, etc. They requested he officiate their funerals. They still considered him their pastor! So did many of his former church members.

Yes, Daddy had been hurt by the brusque action of the deacons. My brother, who was a teenager at the time and still living at home, was so soured by their uncharitable attitudes that he quit church altogether, and has had very little to do with organized religion since. He was working in a grocery store owned by one of them, and he heard first-hand some of the mean, petty expressions of their sentiments toward our father. He couldn't understand how or why Daddy continued to care for them as he did. He was in favor of our parents moving out of Plantersville, "shaking the dust off their sandals," and leaving it behind permanantly.

But Daddy loved Plantersville. His own father had been a Baptist minister, and as a child, he had been subjected to moves every two or three years. It was a terribly unsettling thing for children, he said, being uprooted so often, and he would not do that to his own children. Bigger churches with better salaries called him several times, but he chose to stay in Plantersville.

When my first marriage ended in 1969, I moved from Nashville back to Plantersville. My childhood memories of the place were all good, wonderful really, and I wanted my own children to grow up there. They did, and most of their memories of the place are good, too. My father was more than a grandfather to them, more like a surrogate father (in addition to his teaching and preaching), and the man across the street was another one.

Cecil Johnson and Silas Johnson were not related, even though they made some effort to connect their ancestry, to no avail. (Tracing the roots of Johnsons is like tracing the roots of Smiths or Joneses, believe me, I know, I tried.) Cecil probably had as much influence on the kids growing up in Plantersville as Silas had as a pastor. Each had their sphere of influence, their calling, and each gave selflessly to help those within their particular circle. Neither of them was perfect, their faults were not hard to spot for those who knew them well, but their overall effect helped to make my hometown special. Plantersville, as a town, suffered when there was no more Cecil, no more Silas, no more of that "greatest generation."

There is an effort underway in Plantersville to restore some of the neighborliness and support that we enjoyed, even took for granted in our youth. Thanks to Gloria Holland, its current mayor, plans have been made to build a Boys and Girls Clubhouse. Contributions are needed to match a $20,000 gift promised by one of the town's residents. One of the purposes of this rambling remembrance is to ask all who can to contribute to this effort. Give in honor of someone still living, in memory of a dearly departed someone, just give. This is Gloria's note to George Kelly in December:

Here's the address for anyone wishing to make a contribution to the future Plantersville Boys and Girls Club. It's tax deductible.

Mike Clayborne
P. O. Box 105
3213 West Main Street
Tupelo, MS 38802

Please make sure it is designated as mentioned above so that we can get credit. We have one year to match the $20,000 donation or we don't get it. I would love to have it done before then, and even more.

Go to George's blog for more information.

My other purpose is that sometimes nothing satisfies like a stroll down Memory Lane.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A friend asked me yesterday what I was giving up for Lent, and I was stumped. Ash Wednesday catches me like this every year. I'm feeling pretty good about myself, not weighed down by any sin in particular, then we go to church and the Litany of Penitence reminds me exactly where I fall short. It's a great common denominator. Everybody leaves church with a smudge of ashes on their foreheads and much less smugness about our own goodness. "From dust you were formed, and to dust you shall return."

For further information on Ash Wednesday, I commend Father Tom's blog. The thoughts are borrowed from others, but are profound.

Our Old Testament reading for today is from Isaiah 58: 6 Is not this the fast that I choose: to loose the bonds of injustice, to undo the thongs of the yoke, to let the oppressed go free, and to break every yoke? 7 Is it not to share your bread with the hungry, and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover them, and not to hide yourself from your own kin? (Not to hide yourself from your own kin? I don't remember seeing that before.)

Lord, help us all to fast in this way during this season of Lent and from now on. Amen.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What the conflict in our church boils down to, once again, is interpretation of scripture. I agree with Professor Phyllis Trible, who said, "The Bible is a mixture of blessings and curses. It doesn't speak with a single voice. It has competing voices, contradictions in it. As it moves through history, it encounters new settings and new occasions and we're ever called upon to do something with this text."

The Bible seems to have become a golden calf to many who are limited in their ability to see beyond the stranglehold of patriarchy practiced in ancient times and throughout history. Letting go of the power and control exercised by authoritarian male leadership is just too threatening to a majority of Christian believers.

Policy in the Episcopal Church is decided by General Convention which meets every 3 years and includes the House of Deputies (lay and clergy, men and women), the House of Bishops (men and women, but mostly men), and the Presiding Bishop (as of 2006, a woman). It's quite democratic and has led to innovative actions.

The unhappy Primates who are raising most of the current ruckus seem to want to bypass the House of Deputies and not have to acknowledge the authority of our new Presiding Bishop, no matter how many voted for the path we've taken, and regardless of the vows they took when ordained. Most of their demands are addressed to the House of Bishops and Bishops who are not members of The Episcopal Church. Simply put, they need a Pope. They need the Good Ole Boy club to maintain control. They are the schoolyard bullies who will kick dirt in everybody's faces because they aren't able to dominate all the games and spoil the fun for all like they did at one time. They have been suspended and cry foul, appealing to authorities who are not even in the same school system.

It will be a while before the other children feel free to play unencumbered by their tyranny, but they eventually will. Are the bullies to be expelled, will they reform, will they change schools, will they quit school altogether? Time will tell. One thing is for sure, the playground is much more appealing when the bullies are not in control.

Monday, February 19, 2007

The party pictures are on our church's website. Enjoy Jim Carrington's work, he's a great photographer. I posted my few pictures on my Flickr site. Mike and I missed the JSU Jazz Band which played from 6-7 pm. Dressing him and me took more time than I realized it would. I should have started earlier.

The conflict that rages within the worldwide Anglican church has centered primarily on the controversial stands taken by America's Episcopal Church. A big pow-wow took place this week-end in Tanzania that brought rival factions together in an effort of reconciliation. The dissident minority boycotted part of the meeting after our female American Presiding Bishop was included for key committee membership. One even refused to take communion with her at yesterday's worship service, on Amazing Grace Sunday, no less.

The sermon by the Archbishop of Canterbury was powerful, I thought, and can be read here. Even though the Archbishop has no authority to rule the ins and outs, the bishops seem to expect him to take one side over the other. What I got from yesterday's sermon by the Most Rev. Rowan Williams is that it's time for them to open their eyes to the injustices of the 21st century. I pray they all do eventually.

I wish they could welcome, love, and serve all like we do at St. Philip's. It was gratifying to see the broad diversity of God's children who enjoyed the party at our church on Friday. Our Sunday services are not quite that diverse, but we're working on it. From glory to glory...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

2 Cor 3:12 (NRSV) Since, then, we have such a hope, we act with great boldness,

13 not like Moses, who put a veil over his face to keep the people of Israel from gazing at the end of the glory that was being set aside.

14 But their minds were hardened. Indeed, to this very day, when they hear the reading of the old covenant, that same veil is still there, since only in Christ is it set aside.

15 Indeed, to this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds;

16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

18 And all of us, with unveiled faces, seeing the glory of the Lord as though reflected in a mirror, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another; for this comes from the Lord, the Spirit.

4:1 Therefore, since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart.

2 We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God's word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God.

Luke 9:28 Now about eight days after these sayings Jesus took with him Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.

29 And while he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became dazzling white.

30 Suddenly they saw two men, Moses and Elijah, talking to him.

31 They appeared in glory and were speaking of his departure, which he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.

32Now Peter and his companions were weighed down with sleep; but since they had stayed awake, they saw his glory and the two men who stood with him.

33 Just as they were leaving him, Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’—not knowing what he said.

34 While he was saying this, a cloud came and overshadowed them; and they were terrified as they entered the cloud.

35 Then from the cloud came a voice that said, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him!’

36 When the voice had spoken, Jesus was found alone. And they kept silent and in those days told no one any of the things they had seen.

O God, who before the passion of your only-begotten Son revealed his glory upon the holy mountain: Grant to us that we, beholding by faith the light of his countenance, may be strengthened to bear our cross, and be changed into his likeness from glory to glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

"There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is." Albert Einstein

Mike is claiming another small miracle in his continuing recovery. He started another round of therapy yesterday with the same therapist he had a couple of months ago. The strength and movement in his left leg is so improved that even she called it a miracle. Could it be his brain is rewarding him for cutting out the alcohol? It was probably a contributing factor, whether he agrees with me, or not. Please keep him in your prayers as he continues to struggle with this and to work toward recovery from his stroke.

Last night's party was a blast. The Yum-Yums seemed to be a crowd favorite. The cabaret hour fizzled into a dance party with cd's from the disco years, but choir members were so tired by then no one seemed to mind. I have a feeling there will be plenty of opportunities in the future to perform some of the solos that didn't get done, mine among many. The crowd wanted to dance, so I'm glad James and David decided to take it in that direction. Pictures and videos will be added to our church's website soon. I made a few pictures which haven't been edited yet, but I will add them to my Flickr site in the next day or two.

LaRue's new granddaughter Marlee K made her debut at 10 lbs and 6 oz. at 12:37 PM on the 16th. My goodness, Laurie, that's a lot of baby to deliver! I hope you recover soon. She must have known she was coming into a family with 3 big brothers. LaRue has pictures on her blogsite. She's a cutie.

Benji has added Pip's birthday celebration pictures to his Flickr site. The train tent I sent was bigger than I realized. Looks like they all had fun.

Friday, February 16, 2007

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die...
A time to laugh and a time to mourn...
He has made everything beautiful in his time.
from Ecclesiastes 3

As LaRue welcomes a new granddaughter into our world, Georgia and Jerry bid farewell for now to their 85 year old father. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you.

By combining some prayers from our Book of Common Prayer, I composed this prayer for my Baptist grandsons following Clay's baptism several years ago. Even though it will be a few years before Marlee K is baptised, my sentiments for your grandchildren are the same, LaRue. May God bless you and those you love on this special day and all those that follow. Congratulations to Laurie and Dewayne.

Deliver these children, O Lord, from the way of sin and death.
Open their hearts to your grace and truth.
Fill them with your holy and life-giving Spirit.
Keep them in the faith and communion of your holy Church.
Teach them to love others in the power of the Spirit.
Send them into the world in witness to your love.
Bring them to the fullness of your peace and glory.
Heavenly Father, we thank you that by water and the Holy Spirit you have bestowed upon these your servants the forgiveness of sin, and have raised them to the new life of grace. Sustain them, O Lord, in your Holy Spirit. Give them an inquiring and discerning heart, the courage to will and persevere, a spirit to know and to love you, and the gift of joy and wonder in all your works. Amen

Of all the children I knew who grew up in Plantersville, LaRue's daughters were all favorites of mine. I've got a couple of pictures, from then and now, that I want to post, but Blogger has been doing a strange thing this week whenever I insert pictures - the spacing between paragraphs disappears. Maybe in a separate post.

Speaking of a time to laugh, check out Jerry Grace's take on the latest development for Baptists' Lord's Supper:
SBC Outhouse: The $2 Communion

Makes me appreciate our weekly Eucharist with its common cup even more. I'm really enjoying his take on the questionable actions of the SBC. If I were a man and had stuck it out with my original church, I'd like to think my protests would be as eloquent as his. As it is, I'll stand on the sidelines and fan the flames. More power to you, Brother!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

I have cancelled Mother's doctor appointment for today. She's too frail to get out in this cold wind. Her total exposure to the elements would not be more than 5 minutes, but she would get chilled and it's so unnecessary. The nursing home staff says she's fine, the doctor made rounds yesterday and didn't find anything that needed attention, so I'm for letting her stay warm.

Happy Birthday to Pip! He's two years old and getting cuter with every day that passes. I hope Benji and Karen are ready for potty training, talking, "NO!" to everything - those terrific twos. Benji says his automatic response to everything has always been no, ever since he learned to turn his head away from a new food, or shake his head from side to side. I sent him additional track for his train set and a Thomas the Tank Engine playhouse/tent. As soon as Benji posts birthday pictures, I'll add one to the blog.

We did a complete run through of Friday's show last night. It's not but about 40 minutes, several numbers got cut because some people just couldn't learn the music in time to do their songs. For those who still work, it's been difficult. We've been working on it only 2 1/2 weeks. But we've learned a lot about what to do and not do next time. We also have 3 anthems to sing Sunday, which we rehearsed, and Ash Wednesday is next week with lots of music to do for that. I almost volunteered to do a Psalm in the Plainsong Chant style during Lent, something I've never done before, but I'm willing to learn if David is willing to coach me, and I'm sure he is. Several dates still open. It's a good thing David is so hyper, too bad the rest of us aren't.

I've got a gorgeous kimona to wear, thanks to a lady in church I don't even know. Her father brought it from Japan when he was in the Navy. It's a smoky teal color with an Oriental scene painted on the back. I made Mike's wooden leg this morning, and it looks amazingly like a wooden leg. Still don't have a pirate's shirt, but I plan to have one in time for the party. Someone, somewhere, somehow, one will materialize. Mike says that is real faith.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

My valentine gave me roses and a card that plays "I'm walking on sunshine." He can be so romantic sometimes. I gave him a card and fixed his favorite breakfast. We're eating lunch out today. I hope everybody has a love-filled day.

The Yum-Yums met again last night to practice our two songs, then I went over my solo a couple of times. David and James both admonished me for keeping my light hid under a bushel most of the time. Until I sang, "I Could Have Danced All Night," they had no idea I had that much voice, they said. James said it was like a piece of rich chocolate pie but all I had ever let them taste was the meringue. Choir singing does not offer much opportunity for my Eliza Doolittle to shine though. My head was quite swelled when I left.

Mine is not the only light that has come out from under the bushel for Friday night's party. A force has been unleashed amongst us that demands repeat performances. The Mardi Gras party may become as big as the Goat Roast in the fall. The Spring concert may be different this year from what it's been in the past, too. The wheels are turning in our director's head. I've already decided my next solo will be "My Mama Done Told Me."

We've sold enough tickets already to make a nice profit. The dinner itself is worth the $50 ticket. All proceeds are going for pipe organ repairs and eventually additional pipes.

I had a disturbing dream about singing the other night. I was a guest at a Baptist church fellowship where they were having a talent show. Someone suggested I sing my solo from "My Fair Lady," and I agreed to do it. Several other songs from that musical were being performed by other choir members. When it came time for my solo, a group of men started singing,"She Could Have Danced All Night." I never got a chance to open my mouth. I woke up fighting mad. How dare they steal my song and silence my voice?!?!

Do I have unresolved issues of anger, or what?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

We were awakened at 2:30 this morning by an explosion that sounded like a bomb was dropped in our front yard. The thunder and lightning hit suddenly, causing Jay-Jay to levitate about 3 feet off the bed. For the next hour or so, he trembled so violently and hyperventilated so much I thought he would surely expire. He's spent the morning catching up on his sleep.

Gus, pictured above, is not nearly as frightened by storms. We call Gus a pughuahua, but I heard a breeder on Animal Planet refer to the offspring of a Pug and Chihuahua as a Chug. I found pictures of the Chug, but Gus doesn't look like these guys. The only things about Gus that look like a Pug are his floppy ears and his curly tail. His ears don't stand erect like those of the Chihuahua, and he weighs 11 lbs., closer to the typical Pug, but unlike the Pug, he isn't stocky. His temperment is more like the Chihuahua. Both Pug lovers and Chihuahua owners recognize their breed in him, but a Chug he is not. Pughuahua suits him much better.
I'm watching with increasing amusement the Republican candidates who emerge to run for the presidency. The Republicans I've talked to aren't thrilled about any of them. Well, one of them supports Mike Huckaby of Arkansas, but I don't think he has much of a chance. I'm still liking Obama better than any of the other Democratic candidates. Bill Richardson is my second choice.
I tried to watch the Bush interview on C-Span last night, but the guy creeps me out. He looked ill-at-ease, acted silly and smart-alecky, and suggested the solution to his father's angst about the war is for him to quit watching the news. With the Libby trial bringing out so many of the
behind-the-scenes shenanigans, and the debate going on in the House of Reps, his father's embarrassment may be never ending, even if he doesn't watch the news. I missed the part where he claimed that he would be remembered for his compassionate conservatism. I think the man has lost what little grasp of reality he may have had. His father probably worries as much about that as anything.
Mike has decided to dress as a pirate Friday night. I've got to figure out a way to make his leg brace look like a peg leg, maybe take some woodgrained contact paper applied to a stiff surface like poster board shaped like a cone. He's got an eye patch, an earring, a bandana to tie around his head, and a parrot to wear on his shoulder. He needs a white shirt with the puffy sleeves. Maybe David or James has one I can borrow.

Monday, February 12, 2007

I wish I'd seen the Grammy show last night. I missed some of my favorite musicians. Since I don't keep up with the new stuff, I just didn't think I'd recognize many names, much less their music. But with John Mayer winning two awards, Don Henley winning Person of the Year award, and the Dixie Chicks winning Album of the Year, plus four other awards, and performances by Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richey, Smokey Robinson, and Tony Bennett, I'm sure I would have enjoyed most of it.

Even more enjoyable would have been Musicare's Dinner for Don Henley on Friday night. Was it televised? Last year's dinner honoring James Taylor was recorded and is available as a DVD with funds supporting Musicare, a recovery organization for musicians with addictions. Maybe the Henley dinner will be made available for the same purpose.

I'm so glad the Dixie Chicks were finally honored. A lot of people agreed with the sentiments they expressed in 2003 about Bush's war in Iraq. Now many more do. I thought Nashville was wrong to slam all the doors in their faces for exercising their freedom of speech. That so many country musicians joined the pseudo-patriotic war effort really turned my stomach. I would not have thought they would be part of the propaganda machine. Just shows what I know.

I've got an unfriendly neighbor who needs to be set straight on how non-private the property is at the reservoir. All the land here is owned by Pearl River Valley Water Supply District, none of it by any individual. We lease the land our houses are on, plus a few feet on each side of the house itself. He has nailed up a barricade to block a pathway that I regularly use when walking my dogs. I usually step over it and keep walking. Today he stopped me and told me not to do that. "I'm sorry that bothers you," I told him and kept walking. If he says anything else, I'll have to explain a few things to him. Maybe I should complain to him about erecting an illegal barricade, or just go out there and dismantle it. If he wants to live on private property, he moved to the wrong neighborhood. What a jerk!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

This Sunday has been busy, but fun. With church this morning and more practice this afternoon, I'm pleasantly tired. Our choir seems to have a new charge of energy running through it, mostly from excitement about Friday night. We have more hams among us than I realized. Most of the numbers we're doing are going to be outrageously funny.

The most frustrating part for me is trying to mimic the dainty, demure movements of the Geisha. For those who know me, dainty and demure are not adjectives you would ever use in describing me, now are they? I can't seem to make the top part of my body move without my butt swinging in the opposite direction, which generated fits of hee-haws from those observing. I've never been in a role that was so totally foreign to me. Thank goodness, we're only doing the one song.

We did a new anthem for offertory today, "Thou Wilt Keep Him in Perfect Peace," from Isaiah 26. With just a few run-throughs, we had it learned. I just can't say enough good things about the talented people I sing with. It's got to be the Holy Spirit who empowers us to sound so heavenly. We are truly blessed. Thank you, Lord.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

I've got choir rehearsal today from 2-5, so Mike will have to fend for himself this afternoon. He's planning to spend most of the day with Ron.

I've got to concentrate on memorizing my three songs plus the choreography, and memorizing anything has been difficult for me my whole life. Thank goodness, Chapel of Love and I Could Have Danced All Night were not new to me. By this time next week, I'll be feeling a huge relief.

And I've still got to come up with a kimona I like. This is the first stage production I've been involved in where each participant is responsible for finding their own costumes. I'd prefer we had a costume committee working on this, a suggestion I will share with our director before I do another one. David had his sewing machine set up in the choir room on Thursday. Maybe if I took the pattern and fabric with me today, Margaret and I could "getter done." It's a better place to sew than I have here with two dogs and two cats right in the middle of anything I do, especially if it's out of the ordinary, like sewing.

I've got music to learn. Better get busy.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Friday mornings are not as easy around my house as Mon-Thurs mornings when Mike goes to the gym. Dealing with all his interruptions has totally blocked what little inspiration I had to write. He doesn't know the meaning of the word "wait," so everything has to be done NOW! He's about to get on my last nerve. GRUMBLE! GRUMBLE! grumble!

Happy belated birthday to Deanne, who was 26 yesterday. I hope she and Kris are still honeymooning. May your fondest dreams come true, Sweet Niece of mine!

I was just reading her dad's last post at his Magnolia Crappie Club site. His enthusiasm for their fishing tournaments, and his talent in expressing that enthusiasm make me wish he would start a blog and write about other subjects that interest him. I know fishing is not the only thing. Here's the link:

Most of my family members are good writers. Why don't you all start blogs so we can get to know you better and keep up with what's going on in your lives? It really doesn't take that long, and you will be surprised at the amount of satisfaction it brings. With no more personal contact than we have with one another, it might help us to understand each other better, gain some insight and better perspective, and, dare I say, more appreciation for our strange estranged relatives.

I heard a comment by a writer who compiled a book from letters written by some famous person to his sweetheart, can't remember if it was Billy Graham, Ronald Reagan, or who, and she made the point that telephone conversations will never take the place of the written letter. Telephone conversations evaporate with the disconnect of the two talkers. Letters can be read over and over, treasured forever; tangible sentiments rather than intangible ones, a real gift to those you love. That's kinda the way I see blogging.

She mentioned the 9/11 survivors, who realized anew their mortality, how fleeting life is and how swiftly death can come. Several have started writing since then because they want their families to have more than a last-minute cell phone call from someone as they look certain disaster in the face. Would that we all cared for our loved ones that much.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Mother weighs 45 lbs less than she did when admitted to the nursing home in August 2003. Her appetite is lessening by the day, but "her skin is not breaking up," the nutritionist said. Evidently, the skin begins to deteriorate if a person is malnourished. She is increasingly fatigued as the cancer eats at more of her body every day, and she sleeps a good part of the day. She brightened with a smile and a few words when I visited, but within about 5 minutes she was gazing out the window with heavy eyelids, then they closed. I just don't see how she can last much longer. But how many times have I said that, and she continues to chug along? Lord, have mercy on my frail mother and don't let her suffer. Answer her longing prayer to go home soon. Amen.

Our "Better...Off Broadway" musical revue has stirred up a lot of excitement among choir members. The Mardi Gras masquerade party is promising to be much fun and very entertaining. I still don't have a kimona, but I bought a pattern and fabric yesterday, so I can stitch one up pretty easily, if, by this time next week, I still don't have one. Several people are helping me locate one. I found several at Jaki's Costumes yesterday, but most were old, stained, dirty, nothing I wanted to use. I hit several consignment shops with no luck, too. My beautician says she can use a black rinse, then straighten my hair for the pageboy-with-bangs look, or we might just pull it back and put it up in the back, which I like better. We're staying in the Japanese costume all night and during the Cabaret hours we'll do the "Going to the Chapel" as the Yum-Yum's, my character's name from The Mikado. I may also do a solo from My Fair Lady, "I Could Have Danced All Night," but not sure, yet.
I'm enjoying Jerry Grace's rants over at SBC Outhouse. He expresses some of the same frustration I was feeling when I finally threw in the towel. As a man together with several of the other men who are also pissed, maybe they can get some changes made. When my great, great grandfather the Rev. Jeremiah Johnson attended the first SBC convention in 1845, I doubt he had any idea how close Baptists would come to one day installing a Pope. What has happened to the autonomy, the free-thinkers, the democracy that used to characterize that great body? People who used to feed on the whole Word of God have become so insecure they need to be spoon-fed? So enamored of Paul that they've made select passages from his epistles to the early churches into a new set of laws for today's church? It's just too scary to trust the Holy Spirit for individual expression? For scriptural interpretation? Where women are concerned? For private prayer language? What a shame!
I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
I took a quiz the other day to find out "How do you experience the Holy?". My answers determined that I am a seeker (and why I was unhappy as a Baptist long before I actually left). Lots of seekers in the Episcopal Church. Here's the summary.
Seekers are people who naturally connect with the Holy One through questioning. They have a healthy skepticism that makes it easy for them to explore different opinions, understandings, and experiences of faith. They do not feel the need to accept traditional faith patterns in order to come to a lively trust in God. They do not feel that faith needs to be categorized or institutionalized in order to be real. Inconsistencies and mystery are not daunting to them, but they sometimes find it hard to recognize God in ready-made answers to questions of faith. They seek to relate to the Holy One through exploration and journey. They tend to pray with hopefulness rather than certainty in God’s response. If they were to meet God face to face, they would want to ask God questions.

The woman who met Jesus by a well near her town exemplifies the qualities of a seeker. She was courageous in speaking with Jesus — a male who was outside her tradition — and she even boldly challenged Jesus when he questioned her about her faith and life. Though she was on a path of trying to find and live spiritual truth, she was humble enough to accept new truth when it was revealed to her.

If you are a seeker you may find spiritual meaning through asking questions and testing the normally accepted assumptions about God and faith. As a seeker looking for truth, the journey will be as important to you as the destination.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Sam Waterston, aka Jack McCoy on Law and Order, was on Hardball last night announcing an alternative to the polarized political procedure that we use to elect our presidents. is creating a bipartisan platform with the presidential candidate from one party and the VP candidate of the other party. This organization believes the time has come to give voice to the millions who are tired of the status quo. It's an ambitious plan, not sure it's time has come, but seems I'm not the only one sick of the way things are now. The thing that bothers me the most about it is that it will have the Ralph Nader effect on the outcome of the '08 election. I don't want to see that happen again. Check it out and let me know what you think.

It's time for the quarterly review with the nursing home social worker. At 2:30 I'll meet with a lady who will not tell me anything I didn't already know about mother, simply because, well, I don't know why. The state requires it? That would be my first guess. Maybe I should ask her that question when I go. Probably another CYA issue.

I need to find out if Mother's house has been rented again. It was vacated last month and needed a couple of repairs, but our prop mgr was handling it. Haven't heard back from them on where things stand now. We probably should be charging more rent than we do, but I don't want to go through that rigamarole with the Medicaid people again.

Too much on my plate today to spend a lot of time at my computer. Hope everyone is having a blessed day.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Happy 39th Birthday, Benji Boy!

They still have snow where he lives, which is a fitting reminder of the day I birthed him. It was a balmy 70* when I checked into Nashville's Baptist Hospital. I had been for my check-up and Dr. Jones ordered me straight to the hospital. I was dialating, but my water had not broken. The contractions I felt were no worse than a bad case of cramps. On my way to the hospital, I took time to get Ricky's tricycle out of the repair shop, then go by Barge,Waggoner, and Sumner Engineering to pick up Richard. That I was driving around while in labor sounds a little strange, but I swear it happened this way.

"When is your baby due?" the young woman at the bike shop asked.

"This afternoon," I replied, "I'm on my way to the hospital."

Needless to say, I did not have to wait my turn for service. Everybody in the shop was suddenly in fast motion.

By the time we got to the hospital, the contractions were close. They barely had enough time to prep me, get the needle in my spine, and break the water bag, before his head, full of black hair, began to emerge. He was so beautiful, all 8 lbs and 4 oz. of him. And he was jaundiced the first day, some problem with the rh factor they explained, but I was much too foggy to comprehend. I knew he was in good hands, so I went to sleep. His first few days were spent in the special light therapy incubator.

He was born around 2:00 on a Tuesday afternoon. I slept until the next morning, and woke up when I heard my parents, who were looking out the window in my hospital room, talking about the snow. "It's a good thing we drove up here yesterday," my dad said, "we may be here longer than we planned. There's already 5 inches of snow on the ground and it's still snowing. Clayton and Marguerite will have to wait to make their trip, too."

The plan was for Mom and Dad to get 3 yr. old Ricky and take him back to Mississippi with them, while Daddy Cate and Mama Rita, as Ricky had dubbed them, were coming to help us after we left the hospital. Luckily, in those days, it was not unusual to be hospitalized for a week following childbirth. By the time, I was discharged, the snow had melted, my parents had returned to Plantersville with Ricky, and my in-laws were at our house to help.

I marvel at women today who give birth one day and go home the next. How do they do it? And without nearly as much family support. It must be very difficult. We were blessed to have both sets of grandparents pitching in and helping out.

Joseph Benjamin Borden was named for his grandfathers, Clayton Benjamin Borden and Joseph Silas Johnson. Would we call him Joe Ben or Benji? I decided on Benji, from the movie The Graduate, which I had seen shortly before he was born. "Benji Boy" was such a pretty baby with dark curls and big brown eyes, he was often mistaken for a girl. Maybe that's why we called him "Benji Boy" as long as we did. I wish I had a good baby picture to post, but they're all in his album, which is at his house. (Why is it that we make so many more pictures of the firstborn than the secondborn?)

Monday, February 05, 2007

Mother had a 10:45 doctor's appointment, but I called and rescheduled it for next week. Why does she need to see the surgeon again? He's seen her twice since her surgery in May and she has had no problems with her incision. It's healed perfectly well. Being at the nursing home, she is checked and observed on a daily basis. The aide who bathes and dresses her is very conscientious about notifying me if she has any problem out of the ordinary. Getting her out in this cold wind seems so unnecessary, I was tempted to just cancel the whole thing. Is it a CYA issue for the surgeon? If so, he can rest assured we're not the suing kind.

My dogs have been bad boys, Gus staying out for 2 hours last night and Jay-Jay almost that long this morning. I know what Gus was doing, making the rounds of super bowl parties, anywhere a grill was fired up. He came back with a full belly and a satisfied grin. He's a charmer where handouts are a possibility. Jay-Jay just enjoys rambling around the neighborhood sometimes. Having survived mostly on his own for the first years of his life, he visits old haunts to remind himself just how lucky he is to get regular meals and shelter from the rain. He always comes back with generous puppy kisses, something quite out of character for him.

While the rest of the world watched the Super Bowl, Mike and I watched the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet. In channel surfing I saw Peyton Manning being handed a huge trophy and figured the Colts won. And the whole thing was played in the rain? Is that what I heard? I guess those $10,000 seats weren't any drier than the $5,000 seats. If the Good Lord sends the rain on the just and the unjust, why would he discriminate between the Colts fans and the Bears fans? I started to say between the cheap seats and the expensive ones, but with the price of those tickets, nobody got a bargain. I wonder about the priorities of Americans sometimes.

Mike just called to order a hamburger and baked potato for lunch. I'd better go turn his order in to the cook.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

I started today's post earlier and never came back to finish it. Now that I'm back, I found the whole thing so silly that I erased it. Now that I'm staring at a blank screen, I'm totally uninspired. Here's a favorite prayer from an unknown author. I hope everybody has enjoyed a peaceful Sabbath.

Lord, Thou knowest better than I myself that I am growing older and will someday be old. Keep me from the fatal habit of thinking I must say something on every subject and on every occasion.

Release me from craving to straighten out everybody's affairs. Make me thoughtful but not moody; helpful but not bossy. With my vast store of wisdom, it seems a pity not to use it all; but Thou knowest, Lord, that I want a few friends at the end.

Keep my mind free from the recital of endless details; give me wings to get to the point. Seal my lips on my aches and pains; they are increasing, and love of rehearsing them is becoming sweeter as the years go by.

I dare not ask for improved memory, but for a growing humility and a lessening cock-sureness when my memory seems to clash with the memories of others. Teach me the glorious lesson that occasionally I may be mistaken.

Keep me reasonably sweet, for a sour old person is one of the crowning works of the devil. Give me the ability to see good things in unexpected places and talents in unexpected people; and give, O Lord, the grace to tell them so.


Saturday, February 03, 2007

I really shouldn't wait a month to bathe my dogs, but I did. They got it first thing this morning, and for the first time let me use the hair dryer to dry them. I didn't want them getting chilled, and they seemed to enjoy the warm air. They smell good again and hopefully, will not be itching and scratching so much. Jay-Jay and I had a restless night, him scratching furiously every 10 minutes and me going to the bathroom every 20 minutes, not a pleasant experience. Mike is spending the afternoon with Ron, so maybe I can catch a long nap. I'm so glad I did not commit to singing at Annual Council.

Friday, February 02, 2007

It's been 5 years since I had a bladder infection, but it doesn't take long to realize I've got it again. When the "go alarm" comes on and won't go off, no matter how many times you go, it's baaaack! I guess that's why I felt so bad yesterday. The doc called in a Rx for me, so I'm on the mend. What a miserable feeling. Both the doc and the pharmacist recommended cranberry juice, too. That used to be considered a folk remedy; seems the pros finally got wise to what we ladies knew all along.

I've been persuaded by the others involved with our Mardi Gras act that the Japanese version of "Three Little Maids" will be easier to do than the Andrews Sisters version. We don't have time to memorize the song, plus learn the shimmy-shimmy-shake-shake dance that goes with it, plus put costumes together. Kimonas and the white-faced, black-wigged Geisha look are supposedly easier to accomplish, and there's less choreography to learn. Later, during the Cabaret hours, we're singing "Going to the Chapel," the Dixie Cups version, which means we have to change our look entirely. Today this whole thing makes me tired to think about it. Hopefully by then, I'll have more energy and enthusiasm.

One of my favorite columnists died Wednesday, Molly Ivins, 62, of breast cancer. There is a good tribute to her at From their press release: America has lost a national treasure in Molly Ivins, but we are blessed to be able to look upon her columns and books for hope and a hearty laugh. For the woman who once joked, "I believe in practicing prudence at least once every two or three years," that's the way she would have wanted it.

My Illinois family got a couple inches of snow. Benji sent this picture of The Pipster. There are more on his site.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Yesterday's post drew one response from an anonymous source which did not get published. Helpful links were included, however, that have given me way more information than I can ever digest on the federally funded abstinence only curricula being taught in public schools. It appears to be a well organized campaign of misinformation based on fear and shame.

I'm sorry it has come to this, I had no idea. I am obviously behind the times in knowing what goes on these days, since I no longer have children in school. Looks like what little progress that was made in the last three decades in Mississippi in providing for and protecting the rights of women has been set back to square one. It makes me very sad.

Skip told me not long ago that if he didn't hate cold weather as much as he does, he would be strongly tempted to move to a blue state. I'm beginning to feel the same way. Maybe our last election should be seen as an encouraging sign with those who have been misled pushing back, restoring balance. I hope so. As my friend LaRue says, a bird needs two wings to fly.

I heard a report this morning about all the money that has been spent on the war and the rebuilding efforts in Iraq. New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast could have been rebuilt with that money, but no, that's not as important as funding this ill-fated crusade. That makes me sad, too.

Mike and I attended the business meeting at our church last night, then enjoyed a delicious supper in the parish hall afterwards. Two of my choir buddies were elected to the vestry, Cynthia and Ben. According to the reports that were given, our parish is in sound shape, fiscally and spiritually. Annual council in Vicksburg this week-end sounds like it would be fun to attend, but not with Mike, and I'm just not up to arguing with him about it. Our bishop will not be there due to his mother-in-law's grave condition in Maryland. She's not expected to live much longer.

This cold rainy day has me wishing I could go back to bed.