Tuesday, September 22, 2015

“S” is for Song

Yesterday was rough, even for a Monday. Rotten days result from problems, people, or my perception of problems and people. 

I realize what I consider a bad day would be a dream-come-true for someone else. I experienced my bad day as an employed person in a climate controlled workplace with free coffee. A purple PT Cruiser that I don’t have to share with anyone else transported me to different locations on my bad day. My closet is overstuffed with stylish clothing I can wear while I’m in turmoil. (Yes, you’re supposed to laugh if you’ve seen my wardrobe.)

Legal, non-prescription drugs
Having said all that, yesterday was rough, even for a Monday. I would have cried, had I had the energy to do so. When I got home, I prayed and read my Bible and the study book I’m using. I asked my praying friends to pray for me. Later on, I texted a request for chocolate to my son who was shopping at the Lycoming Mall. He brought three bars of Gertrude Hawk home, and I self-medicated with the peanut butter filled dark chocolate before falling asleep watching Castle.

As I left for work this morning, I wondered if a miserable Monday would birth a terrible Tuesday. I often listen to Fox & Friends on Sirius XM as I drive to school; it makes up for having to turn off my TV and get dressed in the morning. But today I figured I probably needed some encouragement from Christian radio, hoping they wouldn’t discuss the Appalachian Trail for ten minutes. 

Thanks, guys!
And that is why “S” is for song, though it took a long time for me to get here. I heard two songs during my commute which were exactly what I needed to hear. Being of declining memory, I can only write about one of them. I believe it was performed by Finding Favour (who must be British since they don’t know how to spell favor). The other one had a lot of “w” words in it; sorry, that’s all I got.

A few weeks ago, a college and FB friend shared an article by a worship leader explaining why he no longer cares for contemporary Christian music. One of his criticisms was the endless repetition of lyrics in the songs. I immediately thought of Psalm 136, where the phrase “his love endures forever” appears sixteen times. Written about 3000 years ago, it's not exactly contemporary…

“Cast My Cares” almost reaches biblical proportions by repeating “I will cast my cares on you” fifteen times. I needed to hear every one of them. I needed to sing along to affirm my faith and respond to the apostle’s words, “Cast all your care upon Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7 

The feared terrible Tuesday never materialized. I thank God, his Word, my praying friends, my son, Gertrude Hawk, WGRC, Finding Favour, and St. Peter. I suspect I’ll have other bad days, and when I do, I hope to remember God cares for me in the midst of the muddle.
A tasty alternative to CVS

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Ten Things I Don’t Know About Laney

My small-but-mighty creative writing class at Sunbury Christian Academy is using Nanowrimo’s Young Writers Program, and today we attempted to fill out questionnaires about our protagonists. 

Forty-six questions! I realized I couldn’t respond to all of them even after writing and publishing two books about Laney Odell. So here are the top ten things I’m wondering about my favorite Arkansian refugee:

10. What color are her eyes?  I looked at Laney on the Surviving Meemaw cover, but she’s looking down at her cell phone, so I can’t tell.
Laney, look up
so I can see your eyes.

9. What is her fondest memory? We all know her worst memory, but what’s her best?

8. Who is her favorite band? I decided she likes country music, because she’s from Arkansas, so she almost has to. But band? I have no idea.

7. What are her superstitions?

6. What three words would describe Laney? Only three?

5. What is the best thing that ever happened to her? We all know the worst thing that happened to her. I think she’s still waiting for the best. 

Laney, would you like to go skiing?
Or cuddle with Calvin in front of the fire?
Or cuddle with Josh? Or someone else?
4. Where is her dream vacation? She went to Jamaica, and we all know how that turned out. But where does she want to go?

3. What is her favorite television show? Not the ones she tolerates because Meemaw is watching them on the Fox News Channel, but what would Laney watch if she could wrest the control from Meem?

2. What are her political views? Do high school seniors have political views? I know I did back in 1971, but I’m not sure about Laney.

And the #1 question I can’t answer about Laney is…

1. If a song played every time Laney walked into the room, what would it be? Now I’m considering what song should play when I walk into the room.

If you’ve read Surviving Meemaw and Surviving Jamaica and you know the answers, tell me! If you haven’t read them, you owe it to yourself!! (Did I go too far?)

Many thanks to www.nanowrimo.org and the free curriculum at http://ywp.nanowrimo.org/. I encourage other teachers to check out these resources. There are free curricula for all ages of young writers, from kindergarten on. It’s not too late to get started.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

R is for Ready Feet

What are ready feet? I’m so glad you asked.

In Ephesians 6, Paul uses an extended metaphor—or is it an analogy?—of a Roman soldier’s uniform to tell his readers to put on the armor of God. Most of the items are pretty straightforward, especially if you watch movies of ancient soldiers fighting:  helmet, breastplate, shield, sword. It’s verse 15 that I always trip over. 

I find the wording awkward in most translations. It may really flow in Greek, since Paul was an educated and excellent writer, but I can’t remember enough Greek to be sure.

Here are a few translations of Ephesians 6:15 from www.biblegateway.com:
and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. (NIV)
and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. (ESV)
and as your shoes the readiness to announce the Good News of peace. (GNT)
For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. (NLT)

Then the NLT has a footnote, “Or For shoes, put on the readiness to preach the Good News of peace with God.”

I want to call that item of the soldier’s equipment “ready feet.”

In Jamaica, the children weren’t allowed in school (and were too respectful to come into church) without some kind of footwear, any kind of footwear. We brought lots of flip flops to the island and gave them away. Most schools in the U.S.A. won’t allow students to wear flip flops; they are not considered proper, or safe, or covered by insurance.
You can't go wrong with classic Florsheim.

Depending on the activity, you buy the appropriate footwear. You might need cleats (baseball or soccer or football) or hiking boots or riding boots or firefighter boots. You might need ice skates or skis or snowshoes. You might need steel-toed boots. You might need tap shoes. You might need shiny, expensive Florsheims to go with your Men’s Wearhouse suits. (I put that in for my husband, even though he doesn't read my blogs.)

I’ve never been an athlete, but I’m guessing if you show up for the soccer game without your cleats, you’re going to sit on the bench. Your feet aren’t ready.

I think Paul might be telling us believers to be ready to tell not-yet-believers the good news about Jesus. The Gospel makes us ready to share the Gospel. 

However, the context is all about battle: “For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12, NLT) So the Gospel also makes us ready to fight, not people, but those ominous sounding enemies in verse 12. 

Ready isn’t when you search frantically for your shoes for ten minutes because you’re going to be late for school or work or whatever. As the mom of four sons, I have participated in the desperate shoe search on more than one occasion. I even wrote about it and titled my work “The Journey of a Thousand Miles Begins with a Lost Shoe.”

A vintage Reddi-wip ad, 1951
Maybe I should change the spelling to “reddi feet,” like Reddi Wip.” When you want whipped cream for your pumpkin pie, the topping is already in the can, pressurized and ready to jump out. You don’t have to get out the mixer and chill the stainless steel bowl and beaters and mix in the sugar and whip the cream. 

British clergyman Charles Spurgeon said, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.”

As followers and soldiers of Christ, let’s have Reddi Feet, and get ahead of the lie. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Top Ten Tuesdays

Ten Annoying Things Related to Driving

Fog + floaters = frustration
10. Driving on a foggy morning with floaters obscuring my vision even worse than the fog

9. Driving on a foggy morning and the other drivers are too clueless to turn their headlights on

8. Driving a car right after a
person twelve inches taller than I drove the car and he didn’t return the seat and the mirrors to the car owner’s shortness

I miss my Jamaican singers.
7. Driving a car with a non-functioning CD player and I can’t listen to my Jamaican music which I bought in the straw market at Ochos Rios

6. Driving a car which apparently has Sirius XM radio, but it won’t work

5. Driving a car switching between two Christian radio stations. One plays a lot of songs with an too much annoying beat. Or the morning show hosts chat for ten minutes about the Appalachian Trail. The other station plays songs from fifty years ago, and always the same ten songs.

4. Driving the speed limit and being passed by every other vehicle on the road

3. On a rainy night, driving a car whose headlight covers are dull and no longer transparent. Or a snowy night. Or any night.
Where am I supposed to put my coffee cup?

2. Driving a car with not enough cup holders for my current beverage and all the half-finished beverages still in the car

And the #1 annoying thing related to driving is

1. Exiting the highway to visit a restroom or restaurant (or both) and hearing the know-it-all say, “Recalculating.”