Saturday, August 30, 2008

I Love This Man

I have the best husband in the world. He knows me and my weaknesses and doesn't criticize.

We were finishing the job of putting a roof on our pump house today. I am ladder challenged. I hate heights and ladders make me dizzy. We were trying to get the plywood sheet to the roof that is about 7 or 8 feet up. I climbed the ladder, but I couldn't let go of it to hold on to the plywood. Instead of fussing or complaining that I was being silly or anything like that, he just said, "Let's change plans." At this point, I don't even remember what the new plan was. But it worked like a charm and didn't involve me on a ladder trying to hold on to something other than the ladder.

Have I mentioned how much I love this man? I wouldn't trade him for anything.

Practicing the Presence

I found a book a while back that I had heard of, but never seen. It's called The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence. He became a Carmelite monk in 1666, his place of service was the kitchen. The book is a record of conversations with him and letters from him to friends. I hadn't intended to include it as part of the "Shadows" posts, because I discovered it after I had written that study. I found this in the Eighth Letter which discussed the problem of "wandering thoughts in prayer" and decided it was good not to mention.

"One way to recollect the mind easily in the time of prayer, and preserve it more in tranquillity, is not to let it wander too far at other times. You should keep it strictly in the presence of God; and being accustomed to think of Him often, you will find it easy to keep your mind calm in the time of prayer, or at least to recall it from its wanderings."

I think this is the most amazing advice because it is so simple. If your mind wanders when you're praying, try concentrating on God even when you're NOT praying. You will get into the practice of being with Him; you will be aware of His presence. If you think of it in human terms, that's we way we operate. I don't have to keep reminding myself that my husband is in the room with me. I'm always aware of him because I value his presence. I want to be with him. It works the same way with God. Our mind will be on what we value. We are on His mind because He values us. How much do we value being with Him?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Life Flight

Our church is a designated landing zone for Life Flight. There was a flight today, just a few minutes ago. The ambulance with the patient was there waiting. The firetruck is there for crowd control and in case of a disastrous accident with the helicopter.

It happened at the same time that the preschool portion of our Mom's Day Out program lets out. Lots of moms and grandmoms were in the parking lot. No one was in a hurry to leave. How often do you get to see a helicopter up close? For those children that stay until later in the afternoon, they got to watch, too.

Generator: check

Mr. H came home from work early yesterday. On Wednesday's, he usually just meets us at church. He wanted to check on the generator. I didn't realize that the generator was still up at our place after Katrina. It belongs to the Sr. H's.

The reason for the concern is that when the water came up in Ocean Springs 3 years ago, this generator went under water. We rescued it, cleaned it up, flushed it out, and then used it for a day or two. We ended up heading to Dallas for Mr. H to work from there for about a week and a half. By the time we got back, our power was back on. The Sr. H's didn't need it, as they are right on Hwy 90 and are in one of the first areas to get power restored.

The girls and I went to church, leaving him there to check on things. If that one didn't work, he was going to head over to Mobile to see if he could locate a new generator. I figured he'd miss prayer meeting and probably choir practice, too. We were still singing the opening hymn when he came in. He leaned over to me and said, "It started on the first pull!"

I guess we're as ready as we'll ever be.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Hurricane Sign

You know you're in for some bad weather when Jim Cantore shows up.

I have it on good authority that he just checked in at the Beau Rivage in Biloxi.

I think we're in for some bad weather.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shadows: Intro (part 1)

Why am I interested in the Presence of the Lord? At 4 a.m. on September 28, 1998, I was in the dark in the hallway at Mr. H’s parents’ house. Two of my children were not pleased to be in the hallway with me at that time of the morning. The Sr. H's lived in Ocean Springs, which was not a good place to be on that particular date. Hurricane Georges was coming ashore right over the house. Mr. H's mother was visibly upset at being in the eye of the hurricane. She was praying and more or less oblivious to the rest of us. I could see her at the other end of the hall, thanks to M the Flashlight Queen, age almost 4. I kept thinking: Why can't I pray like that? One reason was the 2 little girls jumping all over me.

A couple of hours later, both little girls were asleep, L (age 1) across my lap. As I had a chance to reflect, I realized that I had not been afraid during the storm. I had been aware of the wind and rain, but not afraid of it. Was it because I had been under the umbrella of my mother-in-law's prayer? I looked down at L, sleeping in my lap, and recognized that was how I felt during the whole thing. My child wasn't talking to me, or calling me, or pleading with me. She was just laying there in my lap, trusting me to be the mommy and do the things a mommy is supposed to do. She could sleep, trusting me to do what was necessary. That was exactly how I felt: like I was in God's lap, letting Him do what was necessary, since Hurricane Georges was bigger than anything my power could handle.

In the days that followed, I thought a great deal about the Presence of God. I realized that the majority of solos I had sung in church were about the Presence of God. I love patterns. I love to see how things fit together. A week or so later I was looking for a devotional book at a Christian book store in Mobile. That’s not the quiet, thoughtful activity it sounds like. L was screaming because I wouldn’t let her run loose in the store, and M wanted everything “Veggie Tale” that she could see. Amid this chaos, I spotted a book called Joy in Christ’s Presence by Charles Spurgeon. I snatched it up and took my screamers home. Chapter 2 of that book is called “Under His Shadow.” That chapter was inspired by a book of poetry by Frances Ridley Havergal titled Under His Shadow. I was excited by how this fit in with what I had been thinking about.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Shadows of His Presence

Shadows of His Presence

When my heart is a dry place
and my life like a weary land,
Spread the Shadow of Your great Rock over me.

When my heart longs for the Beloved
and my soul hungers for His fruit,
Splash the Shadow of Your sweet Tree about me.

When my heart fills with fear
and my soul can find no comfort,
Fold the Shadow of Your healing Wings around me.

When my heart is obedient
and my life brings glory to You,
I am held in the Shadow of Your almighty Hand.

Let me dwell in the Secret Place
of the Most High God
and abide under the Shadow
of the Almighty.

November 3, 1998
(based on Isaiah 32:2, Song of Songs 2:3,
Psalm 57:1 & Malachi 4:2, Isaiah 49:2-3, and Psalm 91:1)

I wrote this poem 10 years ago to go with a bible study I was going to teach on Sunday nights. It wasn't an original idea. I read about a poem based on these 4 shadows, but could never find the poem itself. So I wrote my own. Then I fleshed it out to teach over the course of a month. I'll post the study in pieces for the next week or so.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Family Heirloom

I finally got something I've always wanted: a painting by Jere Real. This one was my mother's. It was at our house for as long as I can remember, growing up. When our mom passed away recently, I asked my brother if he minded if I took it. Since there were 2 of Jere's cityscapes in the house, we each got one that we liked. You may never have heard of Jere, but I grew up knowing him: he's my mom's oldest brother. I've been looking at and admiring his artwork all my life. I had this "New York Scene-1960" rematted this week and it's now hanging over our fireplace.

Jere is one of those guys that has tried just about everything. I copied this from Lynchburg College's Exhibition Schedule:

Jere Real: 50 Years of Photographs

For thirty years, beginning in 1969, Jere Real was a professor of English and film at Lynchburg College. This was just one of his careers in his life of 74 years, which included the U.S. Air Force, the recording industry, news reporting, and photography. This exhibition of Jere Real's photography covers literary and political figures at Lynchburg College, other literary, entertainment and music figures, and photos of Golden Gloves boxing tournaments. Jere Real did not set out to have his photographs in exhibitions, and only discovered the negatives and photos recently while cleaning his garage.
Homecoming Lecture and Reception: Saturday, October 11, 2 p.m.

His photography exhibit was also shown earlier this year at the Lancaster Literary Guild in Lancaster, PA. I have a postcard of the photo of Eudora Welty that appears in the announcement.

You may be wondering how he could loose that much stuff in his garage. This photograph of Jere's cars appeared recently in Motor Trend. He is the original owner of the dark blue Corvette. His mother, my grandmother, was the original owner of the white Riviera just behind it.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Twilight Zone

I just noticed the strangest thing: I pulled up this blog and saw the latest post was one that I'd written 2 weeks ago! I thought maybe I'd done something weird like write it and put a posting date of sometime into the future on it. No. I checked. It was really posted on July 30. And all the ones I've written since then were still there, too. That thought crossed my mind, too. I've deleted the doppleganger. And it was an imperfect clone, too. The video that was embedded toward the end of the original appeared at the very beginning of the duplicate. It was just so very odd to be haunted by my own words. Let me know if something like that has happened to you.

Friday, August 15, 2008

I Knew I Took These Pictures

This morning when I got to work, I noticed the light was on in the closet in the fellowship hall. I went in to turn it off. On top of the freezer I saw something that you just don't see everyday, so I went to get my camera. When I tried to take the picture, the camera informed me that the memory was full. I realize that a 512 MB SD card isn't all that big, but there shouldn't have been any pictures on it at all, because I delete them from the card once they are on my computer. I opened the camera and sure enough, the card had popped up. I pushed it down, took my picture and went back to my office and got to work on some Sunday School stuff. After lunch, I decided to get the picture I took this morning and post it here.

When the pictures started downloading, I couldn't figure out where all the pictures came from. And then I saw this one of Mr. H looking over the edge of the Natural Bridge. My pictures had miraculously reappeared to me! I am so thrilled. I felt like I had cheated myself out of some memories when I couldn't find them.

Here he is squeezing between a rock and a hard place. This is how you leave once you cross back underneath the bridge.

It's not easy to get the scale of the bridge in one photograph, but this was an attempt.

And here is the little pig that sent me on the mission to get the camera in the first place. I believe he is leftover from VBS this year. It had a Hawaiian theme. He must have been featured in the kitchen.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Was Wrong

I admit it. A dangling participle is not what I thought it was. I was confusing it with the grammar rule that is not really a rule, just an accepted practice, a guideline, really, of never ending a sentence with a preposition. I looked it up yesterday.

A dangling participle usually begins with a verb ending in "-ing", then says something about something else. I got this example from wikipedia: "Walking down Main Street, the trees were beautiful." At first glance, it appears that the trees might have been Ents from Fangorn Forest in Middle Earth. Then you realize that there is an unspoken As I was before the walking and I noticed (or saw or observed) before the trees. I found several places that had good articles. I'm especially fond of grammar humor, so this one caught my attention. This one has links and examples and references.

As for the *rule* about never ending a sentence with a preposition: it is a hold-over from Latin, where the modifier always has to be right with whatever it's modifying. I like this article titled "Will I be Arrested if I End a Sentence with a Preposition?" Back when most schools taught Latin, the idea was that proper English should imitate Latin. Obviously Winston Churchill didn't think so. An editor tried to correct a sentence he had ended with a preposition and Churchill had this comment: "This is the sort of English up with which I will not put." Sometimes, that preposition at the end is just what you need to keep your sentence from being laughed at.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Drifting Down My Stream of Consciousness

Stream of consciousness is such a strange path. I was washing dishes last night and came to a little pitcher that used to be my grandmother's. It matches the bowl that she always made cornbread in. I thought to myself that both pieces were things that I was fond of. ....

....shift to the idea that "fond of" is a dangling participle that should be phrased "of which I am fond"....

....move to something L used to say when she was little: When I gave her something to eat that she didn't really like, noodles for example, she would say, "I'm not fonded of noodles"....

....took me to what my brother's youngest son would say when faced with food he didn't like: I don't love that.....

....I smiled and looked back at the pitcher. It's something that I'm fond of....

Monday, August 11, 2008

30 Years Ago

Today we took our eldest daughter up to Mississippi State to begin her sophomore year. Her car was loaded and so was ours. Mr. H carried the heavier stuff and left us girls to bring the rest. He was watching her pull out bags and inquired what was in the red duffel bag. She smiled a big smile and said, "Shoes!" She loves shoes. There was also a bright green garment back that was making a return visit to campus. It was a high school graduation gift TO ME 30 years ago. I used it to carry hang-up clothes back and forth for 4 years. Last year my daughter asked me if I had a hang-up bag she could use. I still had that green one, with its little bow-ties all the way down and my initials monogrammed in navy blue. We both laugh when we see it.

We got everything up to her room and unpacked and put together. About 1:15 we were hot, sweaty, and hungry. We went to town and ate at Mugshots. It is a great burger place.

Mr. H reminded me that 30 years ago, I had been on the other side of the delivery to campus. In the fall of 1978, my dad took me up to State. I had been to band camp for 6 summers, so I was familiar with the campus, especially the band hall. That's where Dad took me. I was there a week before classes started because I was in the Maroon Band. Dad deposited me and my footlocker in the band hall that morning and then he was gone. I had no idea how I was going to get my stuff to my dorm when it opened later in the day. After our first practice, I was just standing there, looking lost when a knight came to my rescue. An obviously older guy (probably a sophomore!) who was a trombone player, walked over, picked up the foot locker and said "Where to?" I told him "McKee." He walked out the door, put the footlocker in the back of his truck, and held the truck door open for me. I lived on the 3rd floor of McKee, which from the back parking lot was up 3 1/2 flights of stairs (you had to go UP to the basement floor from the back because it was built on a hill). Arlon will always be a hero to me.

Side note: The current director of bands, Elva Kaye Lance, was Elva Kaye Timms (or maybe Thames) at the time. She was a majorette who had been one of my counselors the previous summer at band camp. We had all giggled that she was dating Mr. Lance, a young high school band director in the north east Mississippi area. Why was that so funny back then?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Cutting Grass Today

This is the pump house on Mr. H's parents' property. If you look on the wall without the door, about a third of the way back, a quarter of the way down, there is a little dark spot. I noticed it as I went by it on the tractor. I hadn't seen one in a long time. It's an Argiope aurantia: a garden spider. I could tell by her size that this was a female. I knew I had to come back later to take her picture.

well... several pictures.

While I was at it, I took some pictures of Mr. H on his ride. He's sitting on the Wheel Horse, pulling the offset mower that he and his dad built. Sr. Mr. H was a welder in the Navy and build the deck. It's got three blades and cuts a 5 foot path. The Wheel Horse cuts 3 feet, so together, they have an 8 foot cutting path.

And then there's my old blue tractor.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Necessity... the mother of invention.
And, no, it had never been put into service.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Lost & Found

When I left work to go stay with my mom at the hospital in Brandon, I left my coffee cup in the kitchen at church like I always do. I was in and out for about a month and didn't think too much about it. Once I was back in full swing, I started looking for my cup. I couldn't find it anywhere. Not in my office, not at home, not in any of the usual places in the church kitchen. I wondered if maybe it had been broken in my absence. After all, VBS took place while I was gone. If you know anything about a bible school kitchen, you know that just about ANYTHING could happen (and usually does!)

Today, as I was rearranging filing cabinets to make room for my new couch (see below) I needed twist ties or tie wraps to get some cables under control. I was hunting in the kitchen (you never know what you'll find in there: we actually found a bundle of Sunday night offering there 6 months after the date because the ushers couldn't get to the safe and forgot to tell us!!) and there on the top shelf with the clear glass plates and glasses were my and my co-worker's coffee mugs. Both of these mugs hold special places in our hearts. As you can tell by the date on mine, it's 26 years old. It was given to me as I stood in line for graduation from MSU in May of 1982. I don't think I could ever get another one like it. My co-worker's cup is even older than mine. She's a couple of years older than me and her best friend gave it to her when they were in elementary or junior high school. We did a little victory dance in honor of the reunion.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Pa-Pa Ace

These are pictures of my Mom's father. We called him Pa-pa Ace. The story is that when he was a small child, he once got so dirty, he was as black as the ace of spades. I have no idea if he was pulling my leg or not. He was a big kidder. When I was little and being nosey, asking him what something was, he would always tell me it was "layovers to catch meddlers." I can't tell you how many times I heard that phrase.

The black & white photo was taken in the '40's or '50's. It was probably at his work. He's wearing his suit, as always, and holding his pipe. He looks rather like a gangster here.

My favorite memories of him are at Christmas. I think this man was born for Christmas. He was just as excited as my brother and me. Every year, he went to the stadium and bought a white flocked tree. The red smoking jacket he's wearing in this picture is something he wore all the time. The dachshund he's holding is Tiny, who really wasn't tiny at all. Her belly was bald because it drug the ground. My grandmother fixed her a slice of bacon and an egg every morning.

We lost him to a heart attack in 1976, 4 days before my 16th birthday.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Burnt Knees

Yesterday, I did a No-No. I mowed grass without benefit of sunscreen. I really did intend to cover myself with it. I had my long sleeved shirt, my hat, my shades, and my earplugs (the tractor is very loud.) I was distracted while searching for the sunscreen, and then I couldn't remember what it was that I was looking for before I was interrupted.

Why is it that the muscles under sunburned skin hurt? Are the muscles burnt, too? I may have to wear dresses or skirts the rest of the week. Just the thought of having jeans pressed against these knees makes them hurt. Ouch!

Get That Nose!

Here's another picture I found at Mom's house. My brother took this one. My eldest is in the middle, holding my brother's oldest son and M (our middle daughter). This is such a great picture. I think it's the last in a series of about 3 shots taken. In the first two, the babies are posing very nicely, looking at the camera. I don't remember what happened to make them attack the eldest's nose, but it must have been a conspiracy.

I just noticed that she is holding on to her cousin with both hands, while M is perched up there with no support. I think the little man was a little more wiggly and she was afraid she'd loose him! This picture is about 13 years old. The babies will have 14th birthdays in October (they are 12 days apart) and the eldest will be 20 in November. Boy, time flies!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Dad 's Rudolph Hatchet

This is my dad about 19 years ago. I can remember because it was the first Christmas after we moved from Virginia back to Mississippi. At the time, Mr. H, our eldest, and I were living with the Sr. H's, waiting for our house in Virginia to sell. The Sr. H's were planning to go to Pearl to visit Sr. Mrs. H's mother and offered to invite my folks to come down while they were away. I don't think I have any other pictures of my dad at Mr. H's parents' house.I can't remember if Dad asked for a hatchet that year or, if for some reason, we just thought it would be a good idea. Now, wrapping a hatchet is a tricky business. If it's not in a box to mask it's very distinctive shape, you know what you're getting.

This was a very "crafty" period in my life. I turned the hatchet into Rudolph with brown paper, googly eyes, and twigs from the yard. My dad was appropriately impressed.