Wednesday, July 18, 2018

If you give a man a ladder...


In a perfect world, a drop ceiling might look like this.

The living room’s drop ceiling tiles were bulging downward. They’d been bulging downward for months, maybe years. We had repeatedly noticed this and then ignored it. As in, “I wonder why that area of the ceiling sags.…I wonder what’s on Netflix.”

But today, because my husband had brought a ladder into the house for another project, he decided to solve the mystery of the bulging ceiling tiles.

This is not my ceiling. But similar.
He removed a tile and was rewarded with a shower of crumbling plaster. The shower turned into a torrent that eventually filled three big black trash bags with heavy rubble. I helped a bit loading the first bag, until I reminded my husband that my right hand is not supposed to hold anything heavier than a coffee cup, due to my healing broken elbow. I judiciously jumped out of the way before the worst crashed down, covering him, our TV and accessories, and the carpet.

 My husband’s further reward was vacuuming up all the dirt himself, again because of my healing broken elbow. I’m sure I would have been put on cleanup detail otherwise. The carpet has not been cleaned this thoroughly since before I broke the elbow. Who am I kidding? It hasn’t been this clean since the start of the 2017 – 2018 school year.
This is not my husband. 
Our old house weathered Central Pennsylvania's famous 1972 flood. The previous owners, like many flood victims, covered damage with new carpeting on the floor, wood paneling on the walls, and a drop ceiling tile system. The old plaster remained above it. We bought the house in 2000. We even replaced the old ceiling tiles once, but we also left the old plaster in place.

Today I learned what happens when I sweep things under the rug. Wrong metaphor, but the incident reminds me of issues I ignore or hide, hoping they will magically resolve themselves. Especially relationship issues. (Isn’t everything a relationship issue? Relationships between people or groups of people or nations?)

Will I do any better after today’s lesson? I don’t know.



Friday, July 6, 2018

Do Dreams Have Expiration Dates?


Something uncanny happened on the last day of February. I've waited too long to write about it.
As I drove to school on that barely-light Wednesday, I asked aloud, “What about my dreams? Can any of them be salvaged?” I don’t know if I was asking God or myself. I don’t know if a song on the radio prompted my question. I don’t know if I was thinking of my friend Tracy who had recently written a blog post about a dream that was delayed for thirty years and finally fulfilled. 
I do know the emotion behind the question was more intense than my usual morning disquiet of it’s-cold-and-dark-and-I-need-more-coffee. But once I entered the school, responsibilities jostled the dream questions to the end of the line.
After homeroom, I shooed my students to the church sanctuary for our weekly chapel service.
After a few songs led by our worship team, Seth, our seventeen-year-old student chaplain, began his message. His first PowerPoint slide revealed his topic, “From Dreams to Destiny.”
THAT got my attention.
Following the narratives in Genesis about Joseph, Seth made some really good points, which I jotted down while blotting my tears. He bravely shared some of his own dreams, such as wanting to someday have a family and own a minivan, not a dream you expect to hear from a high school senior.
I want to see Masada.
As he concluded his message, Seth said, “Even older people have dreams. Mrs. Brosius still has dreams. She wants to go to Israel.”
At that point, I came completely undone. After chapel, I spent much of my free period crying, trying to stop crying, and trying to make my face look like I hadn’t been crying.
I didn’t know on February 28, and still don’t know, if this message from God was specifically about going to Israel. Maybe it was God’s way of answering publicly the question I had voiced privately not much more than an hour earlier in my car: Yes, my dreams can be salvaged. Even the dreams I can’t share with anyone but God.
I do know I had not talked recently about wanting to go to Israel to Seth or any of my students. I don’t know why it was on his mind.
When I was more composed, I asked Seth if he had planned to call me out, or if it just came to him at that moment. He said he had planned it, and his parents had advised him not to. They thought I might find the age reference insulting. I’m not usually glad when my students ignore their parents, but in this case I sure was.
"Joseph Receives his Coat of Many Colors"
by Shoshannah Brombacher; pastel and ink. "
Last month at a writers conference, my friend Jim Watkins, shared a message called “Keeping Your Dreams Alive.” I scribbled these points Jim made as he guided us through Joseph’s life:
  • The dream is received.
  • The dreamer is refined.
  • The dream is resized.
  • The dream is revealed.

He told us “how to keep your dream alive when they steal your coat,” and quoted author Neva Coyle, “God is a refiner, not an arsonist [of dreams].”
Do you think God is trying to tell me something?
If you believe God is speaking to you about your dreams, feel free to comment and share.



Read about Tracy's dream here: http://stdavidswriters.com/dorm-room-dreams
Follow her blog here:  http://earlgreyandyellow.com
Follow Jim Watkins here:  http://www.jameswatkins.com


Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Poem for Christmas

Emmanuel

You are God in time and place,
Wholly God with human face,
Dauntless God who joined our race.
We worship God the Son.

Prophets wrote about your worth
Ere you came to dwell on earth,
Trading riches for our dearth.
We worship God-with-us.

The branch from Jesse’s withered tree
Blossoming in history
To reign for all eternity.
We worship God the King.


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Untangle
















Don't get tangled in holiday lites,
Deafened, bedazzled by sounds and sights.
Don’t get mired in merry-making,
Overheated by cookie baking.
Don’t get wrapped up in gifts from a store;
God’s Christmas presence is so much more.
Take a breather from the Yuletide race
And savor the swaddling of God’s grace.

© 2017 Roberta Tucker Brosius

Saturday, August 26, 2017

A Love Song for Coffee



          This poem is dedicated to everyone who loves coffee, and especially to my coffee buddy and former student, Alex Gessner, my FB friend Patti Smith, and Dr. Ernie Zarra, who inspired the last verse. Many thanks to West Branch Christian Writers for valuable critique.

COFFEE LOVE

Coffee, you’re my favorite brew.
You love me, and I love you.
Coffee you’re my truest friend.
You stick with me to the end.

From the pot or from K cup,
As I gladly drink you up,
Comfort spreads like gentle rain,
Sending caffeine to my brain.

Decaf is your evil twin,
Created by my friend, fellow writer,
and former student
https://www.facebook.com/TonyaWilhelm/
Lulling me to sleep again.
Herbal tea is even worse,
A soothing, soporific curse.

Prevagen makes claims to help,
But the tablets taste like kelp.
Coffee tastes like rainbows bright,
While it holds my brain cells tight.

So what if my eyeballs itch?
So what if my eyelids twitch?
So what if my heartbeats race?
Give me coffee any place.

Grown faraway but roasted near,
Coffee beans, I hold you dear.
And I love your offspring, too,
Espresso, latte, and cold brew.

http://www.newenglandcoffee.com/
sweets-sweetie-diy-chocolate-coffee-beans/
Coffee, you’re the best perfume,
Casting scent to every room,
As your beans begin to grind,
Sending love to heart and mind.

 When in Timbuktu or Nome,
Coffee makes me feel at home.
As ubiquitous as air,
Coffee love is everywhere.


When I feel a lot of stress,
Coffee comes to heal and bless,
Filling me with joy and hope
That each morning I will cope.

Coffee, you’re my go-to drink,
Cause you always help me think.
James Martin, S.J.,  looks joyful.
http://www.scranton.edu/news/articles
/2017/03/Grad-Under-Speaker.shtml
Without you, where would I be?
I love you, and you love me.

I asked Pastor if it’s true
Coffee’s served in Heaven, too.
He replied with joyful brow,
“Heaven’s served in coffee now.”



The poet and the object of her adoration


Saturday, August 12, 2017

Can you teach an old song new tricks?



            In 1971, the year I graduated from high school, Karen Lafferty wrote the song “Seek Ye First,” based on Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Matthew 6:33
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: Matthew 7:7
Early Karen
             Ms. Lafferty probably used the King James Version, because there wasn’t much else to use in 1971, and her lyrics closely match KJV:

Seek ye first the Kingdom of God
And His righteousness
And all these things shall be added unto you
Allelu Alleluia

Man shall not live by bread alone
But by every word
That proceeds from the mouth of God
Allelu Alleluia

Ask and it shall be given unto you
Seek and ye shall find
Knock and the door shall be opened unto you
Allelu Alleluia
(http://www.metrolyrics.com/seek-ye-first-lyrics-karen-lafferty.html)

            Oops. My songbook doesn’t include the second verse. If memory serves, that verse is based on Jesus’ answer to Satan in the wilderness. And biblegateway.com confirms I have a few shreds of memory left; it’s from Matthew 4:4 and Luke 4:4.
             In 1990, Ms. Lafferty told interviewer Harry Boonstra the circumstances behind her song:
Let's back up for a minute. What was the origin of "Seek Ye First"?
It was back in 1971. I had quit my entertainment job and was trying to support myself with teaching guitar lessons. I had three students! When my savings were all gone and I had no money to make my car payments, I became very discouraged and confused.
One evening I went to a Bible study at church, and we talked about Matthew 6:33.1 was tremendously encouraged and challenged by the words about Christ's kingdom. So I went home, wrote the tune, recorded it on a tape recorder, and then sang this little descant part.
I taught the song at church the next week, and it caught on right away. The Lord really paved the way for me with that song. "Seek Ye First" has opened doors for me all over the world. And because it's in so many hymnbooks, about 40 percent of my mission support comes from that song! (https://www.reformedworship.org/article/march-1990/seek-ye-first-interview-karen-lafferty)
If you can't get to Robert M. Sides in
Williamsport, PA, you can buy this on
Amazon.com or (believe it or not!)
Wal-Mart.com.
            Though I have frequently sung “Seek Ye First” over the decades, I never noticed until today who wrote it. And I only noticed today because I was paging through The Easy Worship Fake Book, playing my ukulele and singing until my throat was taken over by a croaking frog begging me to stop. 
          I bought the songbook last week at Robert M. Sides when I also bought Star Wars:  A Musical Journey, Episodes I-VI for easy piano. You may think my musical expertise is limited to EASY PIANO, SIMPLIFIED CHORDS, and OVER 100 SONGS IN THE KEY OF “C.” Please remember this spring I sang the Alto I part in Latin lyrics as the oldest nun in the Sound of Music.
            Anyway, as I played and sang, I thought, “This song needs another verse.” (This is before I realized it has another verse.) Well now it has yet one more verse. This is what I came up with:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart,
With all your soul and your strength.
And love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Allelu Alleluia.

            My verse comes from Jesus’ words in Matthew 22:36-40. I used NIV 1984, because that was the Bible close at hand in my bedroom, but here it is from the more recent NIV, from biblegateway.com. And, as the footnotes indicate, Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy and Leviticus.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Footnotes:
  1. Matthew 22:37 Deut. 6:5
  2. Matthew 22:39 Lev. 19:18
            Get out your ukulele or slide onto your piano bench and give it a try. I think it works.
            If you want to know more about Karen Lafferty and her role in Musicians for Missions, read the 2009 article found here: 




Karen c. 2009