Sunday, December 29, 2013

Run, Don't Walk to See "Saving Mr. Banks"

Take your tuppence and go see the movie, Saving Mr. Banks. Pop your umbrella and catch an east wind to the nearest theatre.

Based on the collaboration between P.L.Travers and Disney studios in the making of the1964 movie, Mary Poppins, the multi-layered magical ride will certainly prove to be an "E" ticket.

This is a film everyone should experience.

If stories exist to help make sense of our world, as Tom Hanks says, playing the beloved Walt Disney, this one is the pinnacle.

I hope I wasn't too annoying to other moviegoers, but I couldn't help sing along with all the wonderful Sherman and Sherman tunes I'd grown up with.

Richard Sherman, 85, the sole survivor of the songwriting duo.
The movie tenderly opened with the delicate

descending baseline of the minor harmonies of  

Chim Chim Cheree played on piano.

Then sprinkled throughout came

Feed the Birds


Let's Go fly a Kite

A Spoonful of Sugar

A word of advice to you post 60's born youngsters: Do not see Mr Banks if you haven't seen Mary Poppins.

In fact the more you've been immersed in the Mary Poppins culture the more you will get out of  Saving Mr. Banks.

My indoctrination began early as my mother regularly read several of P.L. Travers' books to me at nap time. That was the beginning of my infatuation with that quirky English Nanny. I distinctly remember the hardback books with the whimsical illustrations of the slender, rosy-cheeked British woman and her two charges.

Mary Poppins, Mary Poppins Comes Back, Mary Poppins Opens The Door, Mary Poppins In the Park, Mary Poppins From A-Z, , Mary Poppins in the Kitchen, Mary Poppins in Cherry Tree Lane,
Mary Poppins and the House Next Door.

Even before I was born, my father was keeping close watch on Walt Disney. Maybe because they shared a first name, my father, Walter Allen.

In a July 1955 letter to my older brothers when they were visiting relatives in Massachusetts, my father  wrote abut the grand opening of this wonderful amusement park in Anaheim a few miles from our home. "It's a fantastic place! We will go when you get back. It costs a large sum of $15 for the whole family to go!"

Wow! A whopping $15!  The cost, now? Add a couple of zeros for a 3 day trip to Disney World.

In the early 60's if we did our summer chores faithfully, we'd get a trip to Disneyland as a reward. I remember saving all my A, B, C, D and E tickets in my top desk drawer to use the next time we visited the Magic Kingdom.
When Mary Poppins, the movie came out in 1964, I was done. A year later at age 8, I had to be her at Halloween. Mom bought me the plastic carpet bag and let me wear her old suit, blouse and hat. Add a household umbrella and I thought I looked pretty close to the real thing.

Me dressed up as Mary Poppins - Halloween 1965

The surprise in Saving Mr Banks appeared in the personal conflicts within the author and how Disney was an agent of healing for her past. One doesn't know often where history ends and Hollywood begins, but the message, whether fact or fiction was true and poignant.

My husband shed a tear at the end of the movie too, identifying with having lost his father to an untimely alcohol related death. My husband was 17 and his dad under 50.

The highest purpose of a work of art has been accomplished in this movie. It redeems the horrible things that can happen to a person. It fosters forgiveness and births hope and joy.

One more thing.

If you exit the theater before the credits finish rolling, you'll miss the best part.

Bravo! Bravo! Saving Mr. Banks.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Those Blank Slate, No Agenda, Post-Christmas Days

It's empty.

My schedule is.

There are no piano students coming at 9am to to break the Saturday morning silence and wake my sleeping sons with their Frere Jaques and other Lost-at-middle-C beginner pieces.

The trash truck rumbles past the house, stopping to collect the piles of Christmas box debris and wrapping. The mail truck motors by stopping to pick up the late cards I send out. Several still wait on my desk needing stamps.

It's a slow morning of left over Betty Crocker Jolly Breakfast ring from Christmas breakfast.

Month old chores try to elbow their way into the day's calendar. Cleaning the garage, re-papering the kitchen shelves. Cleaning out old clothes in closets. The bathroom never got a wash down this week.

But I resist them and determine that we will play today. Though the skies are grey, it's warm out. Perhaps a walk in the preserve to sight tropical winter birds. Or a Home Depot run to return an unused tool.

I could read my eldest son's master's thesis he had bound and gave us for Christmas. It's on phenomenology. The philosophy of communication; the function of language; exchange of ideas between the subjector, the subject and the interpreter. Heady stuff for someone who only completed her bachelor's in music.

The pounds of gifted candy will be surrendered to when the afternoon chocolate craving comes.

Not sure what to do. Except we have to fog, cause our lazy dinner dish habits caught up with us and a little colony of dreaded detestable roaches have populated a corner of my kitchen. So we drop the insect bomb at noon and go out to play.

Or head with the masses to the mall to exchange Christmas gifts that didn't fit.

Saturday night church at 6.

That's it.

That's it for the day.

This blank slate, no agenda, Post-Christmas day.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Carol of the See's Candy

Every year my siblings in California send a huge box of See's candy. I'm telling you it just doesn't feel like Christmas until that box arrives. Maybe the Christmas feeling is aloof because it's still 86 outside, I don't know. 
Florida's version of chocolates by Hoffman's just doesn't compare!
My NYC son says it doesn't feel like Christmas. He says the lights, cold, hot drinks and snow bring on the festive feeling much better up north.
"Yeah, but you wouldn't be going to the beach right now if you were in NYC." The younger brother quips.

Being a Californian, I'm kind of used to the weather not being an indicator of the Season. Although it still chills enough there on the West Coast to don boots and sweaters. 
Anyway the See's candy is on my dining room table now and it feels like Christmas. 

Thank you bro and sis,  Chris and Cath!

Carol of  See’s Candy

Some people say the season starts 
When snow lies on the ground
Or when the shoppers crawl the mall
And scurry all around 
Or with the lighting of the tree in the center of the town
I count the season starting...
In chocolate by the pound!!

Does the merriment begin 
With snowman in the yard?
Or with the stockings hung
Or the opening of cards?
I say the Christmas cheer begins
When See's is in my cookie jar!!

Nuts and creams and glorious chews
There isn't any better news
Than when I hear the doorbell ring,
"A package came!" Our hearts just sing!

We look for it throughout the year
That wondrous day of holiday cheer
From relatives so loved and dear
It's Christmastime, the See's is here!!!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

Friday, December 20, 2013

New meaning to "Smokin' What You Sell."

On a recent missions trip to Cambodia, my friend distributed Bibles.

The third world folks read a few pages.

And smoked the rest.

That's right. Turns out cigarettes are hard to come by. Loose tobacco a little bit easier.

But when the American missionaries brought them Bibles, they learned that the tissue thin pages

were very good for rolling a smoke. They made nice cigarette papers.

Who knew?

So the missionaries tried to teach the Word, while the indigenous people read a little of it

and smoked a lot of it.

Those of us who call ourselves Christians or the new-fangled term:  Christ Followers need to do more of what these Cambodians did. We preach that Jesus is all we need; that He is enough, but we run like crazy to other things when we are feeling a bit down. We fill the hole with things just like anyone else. Instead of satisfying ourselves with the Source of peace and joy, we follow the crowd.

Shopping, drinking, partying, checking the 'likes' on our latest blog post or twitter, instagram, or Vine post. Because the attention gives a little lift.

We tell eveyone else that Jesus is all we need, but we do not practice what we preach.

Nor do we smoke what we sell.

Those Cambodian villagers got it goin' on.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Guess Who Called After I Wrote the President About My Spiking Healthcare Cost?

Well, it was NOT the President of the US (SR, soon to be).

But I did get a call from a representative from the Health and Human Services Department that oversees the new brand of government insurance.

He was concerned about my letter (see 12/7/13 post).

Wow! I was at the Mall where my piano students were playing to benefit VITAS Hospice children's Camp when the call came to my home landline.

I was a little freaked out when my husband texted me that someone from the HHS called in response to my letter to the White House. My heated email to them was about my husband's insurance being canceled and replaced with a policy that was $533 dollars a month higher than our current plan!

Was I in trouble?  (My good friend wanted to know if she needed to bake me some pumpkin bread and hide wire cutters inside). Admittedly, I should have been a little more respectful, but it's hard not to get emotional when the freedom to buy what you want  is being snatched away; when you are being forced to buy something you don't want


When it's being replaced with coverage that defies all logic.

My 57 year old husband needs maternity care coverage? In case he gets pregnant, right?

He is mandated to take out pediatric care for our adult children? Adults covered by pediatric care?

I'm really confused.

The utter lack of common sense kind of jarred my brain and the outraged words just spilled out on the keyboard.

So I returned the call today to the HHS office gentleman and another quiet listener on his end heard my complaint.

But, when I asked him why my husband needed maternity care,





Excuse me sir, with all due respect, you are a reperesentative of the HHS and





I rather think he knew, but would be self-incriminated to verbalize the fact. The reason is that my husband's premium is funding someone else's medical bills.

I believe they call that Socialism.

The end of the free market, earn-your-own-way economic philosophy.

Now we earn for others.

Yes, it's here, now, in the Land of the Free. Socialism.

Over 5 million people are in the same situation as we are.

Over 5 million people have had their insurance plans canceled; the plans that the President said we could keep - over 26 times he said we could keep them along with our doctors.

I believe they call that Corruption. When information is deliberately concealed for the advancement of a political agenda.

That's Corruption.

Oh, but the President apologized, the HHS representative gentleman reminded me on the phone.

Apologies are only as good as the restitution made, I replied. Until the wrong is righted, the apology is worthless.

If we were told the truth, the outcry would have been so pervasive and intense that this unfair, tyrannical, despotic health care bill would have never passed.

But it's too late now. The HHS gentleman said we could apply for an Exemption. I went to the website and no details are available right now for the "hardship" exemption. There was no hardship until it was foisted on us.

He politely, but patronizingly ended the conversation. I told him to call me when he found the answer about the ridiculous maternity coverage my husband was forced to buy.

So, in 2015 my husband has these choices.

Either pay $577 per month for coverage he doesn't need. Or carry NO insurance and pay a penalty of $95 the first year, then $315 the second and $695 the third year. And the next? And the next?

Or (Gee, I wonder if this is was their intention all along), we have the choice to buy government medical insurance from the Marketplace.

Oh, and I understand it's less than affordable. Another Administrative marketing lie: Affordable Healthcare Act.

Not a lot of choice in the Land of the not-so-Free anymore!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Advent: Week 2 - Handel's Messiah, A Holiday Must-Hear

The second week of Advent had our family taking in Handel's exquisite oratorio, sitting in a brick Presbyterian church in West Palm Beach. The young conductress and featured soprano was my eldest son's friend.

Lesson to self:

When hearing Handel, always have a handkerchief handy.

There are few words that describe the glory of his music, and the human response is one of pure tears of joy. The telling of Advent from the prophets to the angels is no better conveyed than through this baroque musical story-telling medium. And Handel created it best.

Soloist, choir and orchestra combine to bring a transcendent offering of the greatest story ever told.

Being in a beautiful church added to the richness of this morning when we heard an abbreviated version of the oratorio.

Arched windows that let in the morning glow,  diffused by leaves of mature trees. My home church meets in a windowless, renovated Target building, so daylight during worship was a welcomed change from my weekly practice.

Fluffy clouds that had just showered, broke to reveal a powder blue sky.

And strains of "Comfort Ye my people" and "For Unto Us  Child is Bo-rn" rang clear, accompanied by an small ensemble of violin, flute, cello; the rest of the orchestral parts transcribed and quite adequately filled in by the small church's lovely pipe organ.

What would Christmas be without a recital of that classic cantata?

But it's not for just this time of year. Many church's reserve that household tune, the Hallelujah Chorus for Easter services.

My Led Zeppelin-Jimmy Hendricks- husband used to listen to the Messiah every morning before he left for high school.

I have no idea where he got the notion to do so, but he bought himself a vinyl record set of the Messiah and blasted it every morning before class.

It charged him up, got him in a Jesus mind-set, ready to face the day and spread his joy through his high school halls.

Annie W. Patterson authored a book on Oratorios that describes a concert of the Messiah from over 100 years ago in her book The Story of Oratorio. Here's an excerpt:

A large concert hall brilliantly lighted. Ladies and gentlemen in evening dress are being bustled into their seats by stewards. the capacious orchestra s filled with chorus-singers and instrumentalists. The bright dresses of the soprani and alti form a broken crescent of brilliant colour, surrounded above and intercepted in the center or rows of black suited male vocalists. Aloft, the organ peals forth the pitch note...all tune their instruments.

...and immense outburst of applause....four soloist singers take their place....the conductor bows solemnly.....applause sinks to a murmur....conversation of the wand...

The opening chord - a chord which resounds in anticipation already in the mental ears of many cultured musicians present. At last it comes; solemn, grand, pathetic, and yet heroic in its strength and nobility - 
the full e minor common chord that ushers in the fugal opening movement of Handel's Messiah.

...The solo tenor, "Comfort ye...Every valley shall be exalted...And the glory the glory of the Lord"...
While tears rise in the eyes of many as they hear, Come unto me, all ye that that are heavy laden..
Through the music of the Messiah many have felt their hearts burn within them as the divine words of scripture wedded to Handel's sublime music have fallen upon their ears..

Even for the free thinker and agnostic, therein is the triumph of Purity and Truth, the symmetric harmony of the universe, the evolution of perfection and purification of all things good and evil, the glorious consummation of the Faith, Hope and love that rules the universe.

Perhaps the genius of the composition is found in George Frederic's quote after emerging from a feverish 24 days of sequestered composing:

"I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself. "

The Messiah, an Advent must-hear for all.

And be sure to carry tissues.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

How my Health Insurance went from under $50 to $577 Overnight!

We interrupt this series on the Advent to address the current federal administration. Here's a letter I sent to and my senator this morning.

Dear Mr President,

An administration that forces me to buy healthcare is an oppressive one.
Here's my story.

We thought we were spared the government healthcare gauntlet. 

But my husband who has minimal Blue Cross Blue Shield plan (which BCBS said would satisfy Obama care requirements and avert a penalty, yes penalty, not tax, when I opened it last summer) received a cancellation letter. Our less than $50 per month plan ,which was just fine thank you, was going to be cancelled and replaced with a $577.70 plan that included pediatric care and maternity.

Pediatric and maternity care???!!

 We are 56 and 57 with grown children! I am mid-life (hence the incredulous letter) and well past childbearing. Our college age kids are covered in my employer plan. You're joking right! Did anyone check out our age?  This is almost as crazy as the guy who got healthcare from The Marketplace for his dog!

Is this the level of intelligence that surrounds this healthcare initiative? THIS IS LUDICROUS! 

Thankfully, I received another letter yesterday saying my husband could keep his BCBS $44 a month plan, thanks to the government changes of law. (You can just do that?)

We don't want a change! Please don't force us! This borders on totalitarian law. When I get letter in the mail saying my healthcare is going from under $50 to $577, I find these scary days to live in. This is not the America our past leaders intended to be. Please stop the madness.

Unbelievable, right? The government has only postponed their dictatorial programs for a time.

At least we'll have a merry Christmas this year.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Advent: Day One - Invasion of Love

My Christmas lights are half hung.

Only on the highest peaks where my son hung them before traveling back to college.

The other son protested my request for help with a facetious, "It's the Sabbath, mom!"

Ignoring the comment, I took up where the first son left off, but then it started to rain. I'm not that driven as to get soaked just to meet my self-imposed weekend deadline of getting the house exterior decorated.

So I left the lights and sat down with my Bible and coffee to draw take a Sabbath.

This is December 1st, the first day of Advent. "Arrival" is the meaning of the word. We celebrate the coming of our Lord. The Invasion of a love that caused a revolution.

Raised Baptist, I don't remember a strict Advent liturgy. Or even hearing the word much except in reference to the card stock Advent Calendar my mom gave us. Each day you open a little window to see pictures of the Nativity story up to the 25th.

As an adult I like the idea of a little more liturgy to help us turn our minds to the monumental act of sending God's son into this despairing world.

So, here is Advent, Day One.

 And I am awestruck by the love that propelled the God/man's entry into our time and space to rescue us. It was an audacious move;  nothing less than revolutionary.

A Revolutionary Love.

Have you been ambushed yet? It's a hostile take over for the better. A spiritual coup designed by the greatest campaign Strategist.

Let Him invade your heart and transform it. Raise the white flag.

Then join the Invasion of Love by spreading it around. Let more than the lights on your house shine this season.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

I Found Thanksgiving

I thought I had lost it because when I went to get a new leaf garland for my front doorway 2 weeks ago, there was no 'Fall' left at the craft stores. Nothing golden, brown, rust  or olive colored.
Just red an green. Already.

So I threw the broken leaf garland into a apple basket on the front porch to resemble  a pile of freshly raked maple leaves and my door remained adorned with only an Autumn wreathe. No garland draping its sides.

I found Thanksgiving in the grocery store. It's all about the turkey, you know. Found everything but corn.

So I felt better that the day of gratefulness hadn't totally been squashed out (pun intended). Until I realized I was humming along to I'll be Home for Christmas as it was playing in the store, while I picked out my Butterball. 

Last Thanksgiving while driving home from grandmother's house, over the river and through the woods,  a parking lot full of cars caught my eye while passing Toys 'R Us. Could it be true that Black Friday had appeared prematurely on Thanksgiving night!! Come on!

But it got worse this year. Many stores are touting their early Christmas sales starting Thanksgiving at 8pm.

Before your turkey dinner has even digested you can start consuming again!!

Far be it that we have a whole 24 hours of rest, family and contentment. A day to just be grateful for what we already have. Now we have to be reminded of how miserable we are because we lack the latest flat screen, computer or fashion trend, and run out and buy it in the middle of the night!!!

We should all boycott Thanksgiving Day sales. Before you know it, Thanksgiving will be like any other day. Even as Sundays used to be a time for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation, free from earning and spending,  so will this day end up; just another day....

I did find Thanksgiving tonight though.

I found it in a neighborhood church.  A band played. We sang old hymns and new Americana worship songs. Little children danced while we raised our hands in thanks to our generous God. Psalms were read. A message was shared. My son, home from college,  stood arm in arm with me as we sang

How Great Thou Art and 
Jesus Paid it All and 
In Christ Alone

O come, let us sing for joy to the LORD; let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to him with sons of praise! Fr the LORD is a great God and a great king above all gods.

Psalm 95 
Here are the little children spontaneously dancing in the front while the praise music played. Little girls and boys swinging each other in circles and baby toddlers moving freely to the sounds while we sang. It was beautiful!

O give thanks to the LORD!!

 Tomorrow and everyday.

I hope you find Thanksgiving, too.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Sea of Galilee Baptism Experience

It was our first church campus' Beach Baptism.
All others had been jointly held with other churches. But this was our very own. With canopy, T-shirts, pens, registration forms, towels, signs and banners in tow, we headed east on Lake Worth Road.

The sky was vibrant blue with a few clumps of pearly clouds. Sunshine was winning all the way to our sandy destination.

Once we turned north on Ocean Blvd the clouds thickened and darkened. Turning into Phipp's Beach parking lot and I noticed a finger-like cloud jutting downward under a large grey formation hovering the water.

Hopping out of the car, folks on the beach confirmed what I saw. "There's a water spout moving at high speed southward." It started to rain. Over the sea out about a mile, we could see little glittering sprinkles swirling on its sunlit surface directly below the cloud protrusion. Cold front meets warm air.

Heavy showers forced us to wait it out in the car, wondering if our premier baptism was a wash. The 10% chance of precipitation had turned into 100%.

Volunteers arrived, including my good friend, Janet who said she was arguing with God as she drove toward the smouldering skies hovering over the coastline. "Lord, you told us to make disciples! Why are you making it so difficult for us?"

Why indeed.

10 minutes in and the drops stopped. We decided to move to the shoreline and give it a try.
Our hired lifeguard said the water looked fine, there was no lightening so we could proceed, though the clouds still hung dark and ominous.

Then just as the pastors started baptizing, the sprinkles started up again, then hard rain, then a downpour turning to sideways torrents. I had never been outside in weather this bad. It was hard to see anything except dark shapes moving in the shallows, the rain in sheets and and gale-like gusts.

They didn't stop baptizing. The life guard remained calm. Even with my 'cut' signals to the pastors, they kept on. Umbrellas having no effect against the storm, we were drenched through, t-shirts and jeans, hats and hoodies. Cell phones and watches thrown into the plastic bins for protection. I managed a couple of photos seconds before.

Jesus took the disciples out on a boat on the Sea of Galilee, when a storm just like this one stirred up suddenly with near hurricane strength. The disciples questioned God, "Why did you take us out here? Did you take us out here to die?"

We did not fear as the disciples did by any stretch, but this was certainly not what I'd envisioned for our first baptism. I imagined smiling faces, a guitar player singing worship songs.  Sweet moments of baptism on a sublime fall Florida day. Good thing I left the guitar at home!

We ask God those sorts of 'why' questions often. It seems he leads us to stormy places and we question his direction.

Yet, He remained calm. In one instance He slept through it. He after all, was Lord of the storm.

The picture is fitting. These new believers were learning that following Jesus isn't always sunny skies. But there is resistance and challenge and trial. And serving him, making disciples, is also not surrounded by fair weather. Quite often its uncomfortable and cold and we are fighting elements to get the job done.

Up in the tiki hut where I gathered with others seeking shelter from the pelting rain, I handed out dry t-shirts and congratulated the newly baptized friends. We could hear the cheering on the shore whenever another one got dunked.

Then the life guard called an end as the current was just too churned up for safety. All but one was baptized.

Pastors went home after good-byes. And the sun came back out.

We wondered why the weather couldn't have held till after the baptism, why it stormed only while we were baptizing.

Perhaps it was to experience the thrill of His strength in nature. To see a water spout send droplets dancing circles over the surface of the sea. To see the sky-washed beaming faces of those proclaiming their soul's decision to follow Jesus. To see them glory in  having triumphed over the whipping wind and wet, following through with their commitment.

Perhaps that's why, God.

The tempest will help us remember. We will never forget this baptism day, to be sure.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Of Poets and Presidents

My father was not a fan of Jack's politics.

Dad, a Goldwater republican,  and JFK a democrat. Dad loved a battle of wits and the raising of voices in discussing politics. (What I'm saying is there was a good amount of yelling). He broke all the rules about appropriate topics at dinner parties, much to my mom's chagrin.

I'm about to follow suit. Forgive me in advance.

The 60's left wingers were benign compared to today's democrats. My father would be, not just turning, but agitating like a washer in full spin mode in his grave at the democratic politics of today!    
 "*@#! commies," he would call them!

Think of how different the two generations  are!  JFK said,

"ASK NOT what your country can do for you...

Ask not what your country can do for you?

 Our generation is known to deliberately have children to get DCF benefits, father far removed. All we do is ask is what our government can do for us! The government encourages it, I might add. Today's democrats, 50 years later are bent on the country doing nearly everything for the citizen.

Yes, palms open, we ask all the time and this is where we republicans can be real hypocrites, because as much as we say we want small government, we want the college Fafsa grants for our kids' education, yes we do, two faced as we are.

2013 democrats are a far cry from the party platform of Kennedy's day. His democrat looked a lot like today's conservative. And today's conservatives are leaning more and more to the left.

Ask what you can do for your country.

Right! That's what I ask all the time. First thing when I wake up in the morning, I say to myself.,
"What can I do for my country?" Hardly. I am constantly thinking of ways to keep the government's hands out of my self employed piano teacher's pocket (45% tax rate) by hoarding every tax deduction I can, you bet I do.

On the up side, and akin to the republican ideal, I do try to find ways to give something to someone everyday. Even if it's a small donation at the grocery store or my banana bread I baked to a neighbor.  I figure if I'm helping a person in need, that's one less single mom or poor person the government has to provide food stamps for. And that helps the country.

JFK, 50 years ago this week was assassinated. We remember his larger than life contributions.
He was an orator and statesman that inspired hope. Hope that the nation might enjoy peace and grace and beauty like that in the popular 60's musical, Camelot.

His wife helped foster the Camelot  personae. Embodying class and grace, she was a lady who sought to preserve the historicity of the white house, and brought a style and sensibility to its halls no First Lady has since then. I was reminded of this as I thumbed through the book The Best-Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, by Caroline Kennedy,  mentioned in the previous post.

Conversation between a great poet lover and a great poet.

A Poet spoke at his inauguration. Not just any lyricist,  but a renowned one, in his latter days.

Robert Frost. Have you read him? A great American poet, he is best known for The Road Not Taken, Mending Wall and Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening.

Kennedy invited Frost by telegraph and the poet answered by the same means the following day.

Kennedy's invitation came to Frost by telegraph and the poet answered by the same means the following day:
- See more at:

I never realized that in 1961, when I was 4 years old, Robert Frost was 87. That such great literary things were transpiring before I learned to read and write myself.

Here's his poem for JFK's inauguration.     

The Gift Outright

By Robert Frost
The land was ours before we were the land’s.
She was our land more than a hundred years
Before we were her people. She was ours
In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak
Until we found out that it was ourselves
We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

What president invites a poet to recite at his inauguration?

A president like Jack Kennedy, married to a First Lady like Jackie, with a passion for things penned.

May verse and rhyme ever compel us to set aside our politics.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Sad Fate of Hollywood Has-Beens & Dollar Store Hardbacks

Some people give it all to get from the gritty sidewalk to the glittering screen.  To make themselves a Hollywood actor or entertainer.

They spend every penny, sacrifice every moment, forgo loved ones and give the best years of their lives for this goal.

Then, after all the trouble to get there, at the twilight of their life they find themselves demoted to nightly shows in Vegas.

Really? That's what the end of a celebrity life looks like? It's as fleeting as the strobe lights that flood a Vegas boulevard. It's as meaningless as the neon flashes that seek to grab the attention of the tourist's wallet.

If that were me, I'd feel disappointed and cheated to have given so much just to end up on the desert hotel stage entertaining a gaggle of senior gamblers. Such a sad fate!


An equally unfortunate fact of life is that good books end up in dollar stores.

That's right. I have found some great reads at the Family Dollar that break my heart to think they missed the NY Times best seller list. It's like finding a diamond in a pig sty. The location doesn't match the quality of the item.

The dollar store is where I stock up on my piano students' incentive gifts. I have a treasure box to reward their practicing. Other than that, there's not much to find. And it's really scary that some super dollar stores sell food!

But if you wander down the coloring book aisle and rifle through the shelves you're likely to find a very good hardback for 100 measly pennies.

Sometimes they make great gifts, too.

Here are a few gems that I've found recently:

The Best Loved Poems of Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis
by Caroline Kennedy.

I adore Caroline Kennedy, one of the last of that famous family to live on, and a contemporary of us baby-boomers.

She wrote a book about the poems her mother loved. These stories of how Jacqueline Kennedy introduced great literature to her children are poignant and to be imitated by every good mom. And the poetry is rich.

I feel so sad for Caroline; that her book ended up in the dollar store. And truly, if a book about Jackie O, the wife of one of the most prominent Presidents, JFK, written by his daughter doesn't sell much, 

what hope do we bloggers have of ever attaining any commercial success?


 Life of the Skies by Jonathan Rosen.

Anything birds grabs my attention. This is full of notes on Audubon and great birding stories and analogies.

Never heard of the writer before, but  he had so many intriguing points about bird watching. While I didn't agree with a couple of chapters, it is a wonderful book on birding. I bought extra copies and gave my brother and daughter one along with a pair of binoculars.

My brother loved the book.

Wander no more. Sit and read this book called

When Wanderers Cease to Roam - A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put by Vivian Swift

I was struck by the clever title and whimsical illustrations and have enjoyed getting to know Vivian Swift through her

lovely sketches,


and wit of this memoir of traveling and nesting.

I think you will, too. 

So pick up one of these books on Amazon.

 I doubt you'll get them for a dollar, though.

And that's a little sad, too.


Monday, November 4, 2013

When you need to pop a Psalm!

The end of daylight savings signaling less sunshine and shortening the days sends some people into seasonal depression. Especially, those who live up north or work in windowless offices.

I fall into the latter category and found myself clamoring like a lunatic for natural light today. It was too blustery to work out by the pond and the warmth of the sun in the courtyard coupled with the time change cast a spell of mid-day drowsiness against which I was rendered powerless.  Lunch time turned into power nap time under my desk. (Oops! My secret is out!).

This was me before I crawled under my desk.

What do you do when lethargy descends? When a bad case of the blues hit? When loneliness lurks like a dull ache and when shadows fall long and foreboding?

Rather than running to the medicine cabinet or wheeling over to the wet-bar, try to pop a Psalm. There is one for nearly every emotional ailment. Most have heard of the first one, though I don't know who to credit it to.

In an emergency dial Psalm 91:1. 

"He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide in the shadow of the Almighty." 

When you are burdened by something,  read Psalm 55:22

"Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved."

When you are afraid because of the actions of another, pray Psalm 56:3

"Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God (I will praise His word), in God I have put my trust. I will not fear. What can flesh do to me?"

Or Psalm 34:4

"I sought the Lord and He heard me and delivered me from all my fears." 

When the future seems uncertain, meditate on this Psalm 23:6

"Sure goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

When there seems to be no good around, try Psalm 34:8

"Oh Taste and see that the the Lord is good; 

When you need to get happy, read further

"Happy (Blessed) is the man who trusts in Him."

There is no other shelter, no escape, no pick me up, no well of living (flowing) water other than Him. And David, the Psalm writer seemed to know that better than anyone else. So run straight to Him, the Light of the World to brighten your day, renew your strength and lift your spirit.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Fall is Fallin'

I missed this by a week. My Virginia visit in mid-October was too early to see the firey fall colorfest lead by this tree.

I had tidied the brick steps and front sidewalk of my daughter's house, sweeping these same leaves from this same tree. But they were brittle, dry leaves of mousy brown; dirty, dusty, before-the-streetsweeper-came-brown, when I left.

Now they're forest fire orange. Almost electric. A sight my eyes never saw in California, temperature too mild to cause a leafy stir such as this. It was all evergreen palms and pines, mulberry and silver eucalyptus against an ever-blue sky. And now in Florida, the only orange is in the lobster blossoms of the palm shrub in my front yard.

Nothing as massive as this pulsating  blind-your-eyes shade of  ripe tomato to greet you on a brisk morning, cheeks pink with chilled air. Leaves drop and the ground is a  bed of red-hot coals.

Next year I'll visit Virginia in November and gorge myself on the visual  feast of the tangerine, golden blaze of a real Fall.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

How I avoid the g-word and other profanities

50 is by no means too young to be a g-ma. It's just the word that bothers me. It reeks of that nursing home smell and conjures pictures of shriveled, droopy-jowled faces, crocheted shawls and rocking chairs with tatted doilies on them. I prefer not to say the g-word.

But, while I refuse to call myself by the name, I am not stupid enough to refuse its benefits.

The excuse to shop is one of them. As is the need for travel.

I now check 2 bags when visiting the g-children. One for my things and one chock full of wrapped toys: Disney character toys, size 3-months ruffled jean skirts and polka dot leggings with matching   peter pan tops, Golden books from the thrift shop, newly printed photos, 90% finished baby quilts, and various and sundry items for the mom, my daughter.

There is a down side to g-mothering. I often wake in the wee hours and worry like a crazy woman about my 5 kids. Now I have my g-kids to add to the mix.

To offset the age stigma I still wear the peach colored v-neck fitted t-shirt embroidered with "World's Sexiest G-ma" that my daughter gave me to announce the arrival of the 1st grandchild. It's pretty stretched out by now, but offers comfort and a big self-esteem boost.

But my name is Bella. 

The name was suggested by my daughter. I loved it because it was also the name of my privileged mother's nurse maid. It was short for Isabel and there were too many Isabel's in her family already. Bella raised my mom in a big house, while her mother and grandmother (oops, I said it and will say it for other people) chain-smoked their morning cigarettes over black coffee. They spent half a day lounging on those overstuffed, one-armed chaises my great-grandfather dubbed "wench benches,"  while Bella bathed, fed and entertained my mother and her brothers.

A short survey revealed that there are others out there like me who adamantly shun the g-word as well. They go by:

Pop E
Cee Cee

It's affirming that I am not alone in avoiding the g-word, a by-word to many.

Though I am a g-ma 5 times over,  I go by Bella. My less vain husband has no problem being called 'grandpa.' I Shudder!!

A second profane word I refuse to say is what I call 'the other f-word'. And I do apologize if it makes you think of that obscenity that the Federal Communications Commission just lifted the ban on for the air waves. You'll be hearing a lot more of it on TV whether you like it or not.

Big mistake and another huge dive in the culture's downward spiral  that has completely lost their sense of decency and annihilated any shred of politeness that may have previously existed. What's become of our sensibilities and simple manners?

When asked my age, I simply cannot say the other f-word.  My lips trip and spudder as they try to form that fizzy consonant. My brow sweats, cheeks flush and facial muscles contort. The number following forty-nine is practically unpronounceable.

When the fifth decade rolled around, the same year I became the g-word, (double whammy), I adopted the age terminology the ever clever Anne Lomott coined as the year forty-ten. What a genius that author is! 

The next birthday I called myself forty-eleven.  And so on. It's the perfect verbal weapon for those waging war on middle age. 

When both bad words, the g-word and the other f-word approached me the same year, I had to do something! And I found a way of not saying either.

My name is Bella to my g-children and I am fortyfive-eleven.

Monday, October 28, 2013

My Baby Girl Had a Baby Girl

It's a strange thing, you know, when your baby girl has a baby girl.

Flashback 31 years to our early days of married life.

We lived in a 400 square foot abode on the Balboa peninsula  in Newport Beach, California when our baby girl, April arrived to a blue and white wallpapered nursery. Ultrasounds informed us we were having a girl, but decorating with more than two colors would have overwhelmed the tiny apartment. Thus a blue room for our girl. (Which perhaps was predictive of the 4 boys that followed?)

  The wall paper was both decorative and functional. And thank goodness it was in vogue then because it covered the many flaws of peeling plaster 50 yrs of damp salty air inflicted on that 1920's triplex. A mini flowered pattern of blue and yellow covered the living room walls with white Priscilla curtains on its 2 vertical sashed windows providing little privacy from the public sidewalk just outside its panes. I endured the sight of passing strangers for the sake of sunlight.

Weekends sent a trail of beach goers by our windows as they headed out to play in the sand and surf, 100 feet from our front door.

Despite the dream beach location, the place had its problems, such as a broken window sash cable that was propped up by a wood scrap. An antiquated electrical system that  blew a circuit if the blow dryer and the iron were run at the same time. A broken heater. A leaky ceiling in the kitchen that no roofer could seem to fix. Rent at $165 a month kept our complaints to a minimum. Wouldn't you have?

But it was home to us newlyweds and the little girl soon to come.

She came quietly in that Tustin hospital. Didn't make a peep till the nurse placed her warm skin on the icy stainless scale. From cozy womb to steely world. Then she let out a wail that did her virgin lungs good. Tawny skinned and wide-eyed, we welcomed

April Marbury Shaw

We were married for 5 years before we had her. As a funny card said, "A new baby is the realization that you were getting entirely too much sleep."

Following April, we bore four sons. And suffered broken sleep for many years to come.

My Four Sons: Jesse, Brandon, Elliot and Carlin

And then April married and started a family, only to have two more active sons.

Dad, Neal getting his ear chainsawed off by son Walker with Carter standing by.

Finally April became pregnant with her first baby girl.

So it's been a long time waiting for pink. Although pink is not in style for baby girls these days. Unless it's hot pink.  Nor are girl names for girls. Nowadays baby-chicks are named Quinn, Rikki, Finley, Spencer, Chase, Lyken, Skylar and Sydney. I thought for certain when my son-in-law and daughter arrived at Charlotte for a name, she would be called Charlie, which I think is kind of cute.

Charlotte Marbury McCullohs and mom, April Marbury McCullohs
But so far it fits the very petite 7 pound Charlotte whose precious face exudes all the femininity and softness the name conjures up.

As you can see there is no pink in the room. Not light pink, rose, mauve or ballet pink. Aqua walls are set behind bright yellow large florals and coral chevron patterns.

When I happily took the job to sew the crib bedding because nothing in the store was satisfactory to mom, I learned that crib bumpers are frowned upon due to safety hazards.

"What?" My good friend exclaimed. "So the baby just hits her head on the crib slats?"

I answered that new studies show that
suffocation caused by the bumper is more
probable than head bruising.

After having 5 babies who slept in cribs fitted with the cushioned sides,

I did not buy that anti-bumper propaganda.

But I agreed quietly, secretly resisting the temptation to cut out the bumper pattern and sew it up in the middle of the night... accidentally.

A bumper balances out the nursery dressing so nicely!

But this one will have to do without.


My husband believes it was a divine plan, rather than a coincidence that Charlotte was born October 3rd, 2013, the day that Chuck Smith, our beloved pastor died.

And also that they share names: Charlotte being the feminine form of Charles. Names that have meanings like church and warrior. I pray she will have the depth of faith he did and grow the Kingdom well in her own Charlotte sort of way.

Finally, we got another girl after 31 years.

My baby girl had a baby girl!

And we are tickled pink!

Goodbye Papa Chuck

Chuck with his One Way - Jesus gesture

It was 1974 and I was not exactly following Jesus. I had in fact spent most of my high school days running away from all that I had known to be good.

But my parents started attending this hippie church forty-five minutes from our home. "Everyone is so full of love there," my father gushed. And he was not the gushing type.  We attended every Saturday night and Sunday. Scruffy young people and distinguished grown-ups sang arm-in-arm together.

My dad would drive a car full of my teenage friends to the Saturday night concerts where we heard  Jesus bands like Love Song, Children of the Day, Parable, Joy  and Mustard Seed Faith. Artists, like Bob Carlyle, Keith Green,  Malcom and Alwin, Richie Furay.

Then, there were the tent days. After the little chapel had grown too small for the crowds, a temporary tent was erected until the larger sanctuary was built. My husband, Tim attended and lived just behind this little country church immortalized by Love Song.

Sometimes my husband (whom I'd yet to meet) used to sleep over in the tent during Santa Ana wind conditions to make sure the thing didn't blow over. 

I surrendered my heart to Jesus after a personal crisis. The solid Bible teaching of Chuck Smith taught my newborn legs to walk with Him and set my course straight. I was later baptized in Pirate's Cove, Corona del Mar along with hundreds like myself.

Tonight, we attended a memorial for Chuck that was streamed from the Anaheim Pond. Four full hours of speakers, bands, video clips and memories dedicated to a man who grew the kingdom of God worldwide and whose beaming smile and bear hugs nurtured the hearts of millions.

A military official spoke, showing the faith movement's support of our troops and the Israeli consulate presented eloquently. Chuck was an ardent advocate of Israel and had visited the country 60 times.

One speaker quoted Paul from I Corinthians 4:15.

"For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel." In this Internet age, we have many teachers, but not many fathers in the faith.

Chuck was a father to so many. The kind of dad that makes you feel safe, valued and uniquely loved.

That was Papa Chuck.

Papa to four biological children, sixteen grandchildren and thirty-three great-grandchildren and thousands of spiritual children,.

His daughter, Sheryl, spoke of how Chuck never lost the thrill of life, nature, new grandchildren, a soul saved, a good musician, competition sports, vintage cars, a parking lot full of church-goers, another believer baptized. He was exuberant to the end. 

Chuck's church building strategy was very anti-establishment and countered church planting trends of the day.  Tom Stype, one of the early pastors and musicians summed up Chuck Smith's hippie-welcoming ministry best:

"Pastor Chuck let sinners and rejects into the House of God.
And here we all are."

It's unbelievable that at 86, weakened from battling lung cancer, Chuck preached from a stool four days before his earthly departure on October 3rd of this year.

My favorite message from the memorial was given by Florida's own,  Bob Coy,  pastor of Calvary Chapel, Fort Lauderdale. He held up a cassette tape and told how this was the medium which he heard Chuck teach from as he grew and founded his church in the late 80's, 3000 miles away from the mother church in Costa Mesa, California.

Bob spoke of how Chuck was a sloooowww talker. From time to time on the tape, he would make pauses. Long ones so that you would think the tape was over; that he was done teaching. Then after a lengthy space of silence,  Chuck would continue with a, "Now..." and teach on. "Now"? Bob exclaimed. "I thought you were done!!!" But Chuck had just paused.

In that same way, we see that with his death, Chuck is silent, but not done.

He has just paused...

"God has just pushed the pause button on what we know of Chuck. And we will hear him speak again."

Well-said, Pastor Bob.

The memorial reached down deep in my heart and revived the foundations of my faith that were laid over 3 decades ago. So grateful for all that God has done through the years and expectant for the journey ahead.

It was healing to see personal friends I had played worship with: John Wickham, Lisa Wickham. Friends like Donny Kobayashi. My husband knew so many more than I.  Tom Stype, Mike MacIntosh, Don McClure, Bill Batstone, Freddie Fields (he looks good, Tim said), Tommy Coombs, Chuck Butler, Johnny Mehler. So many musicians and pastors who had been inspired and touched by Chuck.

But with all the looking back, all the reminiscing, the evening ended with a look forward.

In closing, Evan Wickham sang a beautiful song. His brother Phil Wickham played the final piece with the finesse and artistry of a well-seasoned musician. Tim said he could see his father, John's mastery of the guitar and hear his mother Lisa's strong and versatile voice embodied in Phil.

Sing on Phil and Evan! Be vehicles of the next revival for this generation, following  Chuck's example. A revival greater than the Jesus Movement we all were blessed to experience. One such that we have never seen.

And, goodbye, Papa Chuck.

You left a legacy broad and swathing as your 10,000 watt smile.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

When You Grow Up - A song for my daughter

The setting sun sent a gentle glow through our tiny beach apartment's windows.

I was a first-time mom. While cooking dinner, I began to ponder my newborn daughter's future. Safely napping in her crib, still I feared for her. The uncertainty of life and it's dangers seemed so inescapable. I'd do anything to prevent her from making the same mistakes I had made. Was there a way to shelter her from life's hazards that lay before her; this tiny newborn, so unaware and vulnerable?

But there was also great hope that she might avoid the foolishness many fall into. She had a clean slate and the potential to do things right, to make good choices.

Bouncing back and forth between the stove and the piano, a tune and lyrics started to materialize. By the time dinner was done, a song had emerged. You can take a listen here....

What are you going to do when you grow up
April Marbury?
What will life bring when you're adult?
What will you be?
I took a long time to come around
Wasted a lot of years being down
Followed all the dead-end roads I could find
But Jesus was the one who could change my mind

I see your life stretch out into the years
Displaying all you are
I can see all the unshed tears
And potential scars
Please don't take a long time to come around
Don't waste your years being down
Follow the road that never ends
And Jesus is the one who will be your Friend

The world will try to offer you the good life
at best it's only heartache in disguise
One day you will awaken to the choices
Purpose in your hear to be wise

After your hopes and dreams have come of age
And you're standing at that Day
When you've penned this earthly life's last page
I hope you hear Him say:
"I've waited a long time to take you home
Happy to have you here as My own
You've run very well on that narrow road"
Yes, Jesus is the One who'll be your reward.

April Marbury McCullohs

31 years later I see much of what I'd written for her has come true. She's followed Jesus hard since a little girl. She is a writer, blogger, , a songstress,  a speaker and a great wife and mother.

Though she has not been spared all the hurt I'd hoped against.

This broken world still finds our blind side.

But she is so blessed as a result of loving Him.

Tonight, April Marbury had a baby girl of her own: 

Charlotte Marbury.

As her newborn sleeps near her, I wonder if she's thinking the same thing....


I am  joining Emily Freeman's link-up for making art. My art is the song in the link above in my blog.

I am honored to be a part.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Do You Vine?

I don't twitter or tweet.

Even though a little bird told me I should. 

But I do Vine.

It's really fun to watch the 6 second videos play

and replay

and replay

and replay.

Especially if they are the mega - funny sort that my sons' friends, Cody and Marcus Johns produce and post. Each has their own individual profile and following.

Their followers grew in a few short months from 0 to -  get this - 3 million followers between the two of them!!

How did they rise so quickly to celebrity Vine status? That is the question that The Huffington Post asked in their 16 minute interview of the 2 brothers.

Little did I know my son Jesse was putting Marcus up in his Brooklyn fourth floor apartment before and after the interviews. So fun. So unglamorous. After all, when the interviewer asked Marcus what he disliked most in people he answered, "Ego."

Before the interview they were treated to a shopping spree at the Gap. Nice.

And after the show they met fans in Washington Square park.

Then Cody flew back to LA to his NowThis internet news position.

 Marcus went back to work on his film degree in Tallahassee.




Grounded by the great upbringing of their godly parents (mom Holly, my BFF), who also make guest appearances in their super short,  shimmering comedies.

In between their day-to-day working and studying Cody and Marcus will be back to posting

very funny 6-second Vine videos.

So if you don't vine yet, perhaps you should.

Just say you heard about it through the grapevine.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ode To a Beauty Queen

Cancer took her life too early at the age of 52. Many celebrated Sandra at her memorial. Though it's been 3 years, the service and dear Sandra are hard to forget.

In 1998 we met the Shiraz family after moving from California to Florida. Our boys shared a third grade class together and have been friends ever since.

Sandra was both beautiful and funny. Recounting a decision by her husband Ben she disagreed with, she blurted out, "Oh men! They're all camels!"

With his middle eastern heritage, the comment was all the more humorous. I quickly assured Ben we didn't make a habit of husband bashing. Still, I'll never forget her insightful, irreverent parallel to the other sex's obstinate nature, not to mention their difficulty in kneeling.

Sandra was a second mom to my son, Brandon, a much nicer one than I. She spoiled him when he spent the night by letting him sleep in, giving him the best bed, extra toothbrushes and contact lens solution when he'd forget to bring his own. I would have kicked him out of bed to do Saturday chores.

Then there were the fabulous trips that the Shiraz' invited Brandon to accompany them on. Trips to amusement parks and wonderful vacations; the ultimate destination being Norway. The Shiraz' heart is large and generous. Sandra held the truest embodiment of that generosity.

One evening in West Palm while waiting for our sons, Elliot and Shamir to perform at Respectables,
a club on Clematis Street,
Ben, Sandra, my husband and I went to the Hibiscus House, a cute Bed and Breakfast where they were featuring a garden terrace with drinks and food. Ben presented Sandra with a beautiful hibiscus flower he had picked from surrounding bushes which resulted in a gooey exchange of affection between the two.

'Hibiscus is her favorite flower', Ben said, beaming.
In the language of flowers, Hibiscus means 'Delicate Beauty'. Sandra was very much like that hibiscus blossom - vibrant, colorful, open, cheery and beautiful.

We are sad and brokenhearted that her flower has faded prematurely. But her memory and attributes can remain in full bloom in our hearts and beings.

Though we mourn now, I don't think Sandra would have wanted us to shrivel and dry up under that weight of her loss.

We can wear the bloom and beauty of her life. We can perpetuate her passions. Rather than wilt and fade in sadness, we can carry on her openness, her pursuit of beauty, her devotion to Jesus, her love of travel, new friends and adventure.

Can we who live on, resurrect and revive those uplifting qualities that so defined her? Not only can we try, but it may be the saving grace of those devastated most by her passing. It may be the breath of life that sustains them.

May Sandra's fragrance linger long. And those who love her most breathe it deeply.

I think the song her son, Shawn wrote about her called Beauty Queen says it best.


Friday, September 20, 2013

2 Things that hold it all together.

  1. Coffee and 
  2. Prayer.

These are what held me together today following a slam-packed 12 hour Wednesday of filling back-to-back requests at work. I was a bit spent as I stumbled into work again today.

Coffee and Prayer. Two Essentials got me through the day. 

"In that order of importance?" my husband quipped. 

Geez, I hope not.

It's pretty hard to pit a little brown bean against the One who thought the bean up and spoke it into existence.

There's a huge disparity in power between the two.

Sometimes we need a little miracle in our mundane. A pick me up off the floor before we doze off after lunch.

Here's what  Shauna Niequist says about prayer in her book, Cold Tangerines:

"When I pray, something freaked-out and dazed inside me finds a place to lay down and rest. When I pray, I don't feel so alone in the universe. " 

A little prayer can change a rotten mood set-off by lack of rest. I restrain from raising my voice, but let the car door slam a little too hard. Pray some more for forgiveness and to fix the sour situation.

A phone call. Conversation. Somehow things are mended; love extended. God hears and restores.

Then there's Kathleen Stockett, author of The Help. Her

character Aibeleen says,

"Prayer is like electricity. It keeps things goin..."

Yes, it kept me going, today, and does many days.

Then home to another cup of java my sweet husband

fixes me as I teach piano lessons. Dinner and the pillow my head so dearly longs for.

Tomorrow is another day.

Less coffee,

but never



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