Month: March 2013

  • Christ the Lord is Risen Today

    Charles Wesley

    Christ, the Lord, is risen today, Alleluia!
    Sons of men and angels say, Alleluia!
    Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
    Sing, ye heavens, and earth, reply, Alleluia!

    Love’s redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
    Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
    Lo! the Sun’s eclipse is over, Alleluia!
    Lo! He sets in blood no more, Alleluia!

    Vain the stone, the watch, the seal, Alleluia!
    Christ hath burst the gates of hell, Alleluia!
    Death in vain forbids His rise, Alleluia!
    Christ hath opened paradise, Alleluia!

    Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
    Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
    Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
    Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!

    Soar we now where Christ hath led, Alleluia!
    Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
    Made like Him, like Him we rise, Alleluia!
    Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

    Hail, the Lord of earth and Heaven, Alleluia!
    Praise to Thee by both be given, Alleluia!
    Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
    Hail, the resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

    King of glory, Soul of bliss, Alleluia!
    Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
    Thee to know, Thy power to prove, Alleluia!
    Thus to sing and thus to love, Alleluia!

    Hymns of praise then let us sing, Alleluia!
    Unto Christ, our heavenly King, Alleluia!
    Who endured the cross and grave, Alleluia!
    Sinners to redeem and save. Alleluia!

    But the pains that He endured, Alleluia!
    Our salvation have procured, Alleluia!
    Now above the sky He’s King, Alleluia!
    Where the angels ever sing. Alleluia!

    Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
    Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!
    Who did once upon the cross, Alleluia!
    Suffer to redeem our loss. Alleluia!


  • Oh, the Cleverness of Me!

    Just kidding. Though I did have a clever idea today, which will be forthcoming before this post is over.

    Jasper was my Walmart buddy this morning, and he scored a deal that he’ll be talking about for a while. While I was looking for plant pots, he was scouring the clearance aisle, and he found a mini-Nerf-gun that he dearly wanted. However, it had no price tag on it and it was the only one on the shelves. In the course of our wanderings, we passed one of those price scanners and scanned the gun. The scanner had no idea what it was. When we got to the checkout, my determined son once more presented his prize for pricing. Once again the scanner was stumped.

    The cashier put out a call and before long a perky young lady arrived to help. Her verdict? “If it’s not in the system anymore that means it’s been deleted and there’s no telling what the price was. Is it okay if you just pay a dollar for it?” It was very okay with Jasper! We’re not sure what the original price was, but we’re sure it was more than a dollar!

    When we got home, I was not feeling all that great, so I lay down on the couch, only to have Walter tell me that a friend from church had called asking if I needed a ride to the ladies’ missionary brunch. The brunch that I kept reminding myself about all week up until yesterday when I forgot all about it in the midst of all the Good Friday goings on. The brunch for which I should have bought or made food.

    Well, that got me up off the couch! I had less than half an hour to make something to take out of what I already had in the house. I threw together some scrambled eggs enhanced with bacon, onions and cheese. I remembered I still had hot cross buns! Hallelujah! So I took some both regular and gluten free because one of the ladies at church is also gluten free.

    Lucy came with me and we had a lovely brunch with the other ladies. My friend Angie was the honoree today, as she and her husband are preparing to return to Kenya. Then, when I returned home there was a package waiting for me–a package from my friend Cyndee with some Kenyan tea in it! That improved my day instantly!

    The rest of the day was spent preparing for a long list of sewing projects, making gluten free bread, potting up some herbs that I bought this morning, pruning a shrub, and doing some geography.

    So what was my clever idea? Well, I was thinking ahead to making our holiday breakfast casserole, which is assembled the night before. The casserole requires two layers of bread, which is why I had to make a new batch of gluten free bread. Instead of making it into loaves which would have to be sliced and cut to fit the casserole dish, I took some of the dough and put it right into the casserole dish itself and baked it into a flat layer about an inch and a half high. When it was done, I sliced it into two layers and there I had two perfectly fitting layers of bread that did not have to be trimmed to fit! I’m pretty proud of myself. The “regular” casserole was made from store-bought bread which had to be trimmed to fit, but now I’m wondering if I should try baking bread in a 9×13 pan next time I plan to make this casserole.

    Walter and I watched some of “The Ten Commandments” with Lucy and Jasper this evening and will finish it tomorrow. Jasper was very absorbed by it. It brought back some memories for me–the first time I saw that movie it was in a theater in Salisbury, Rhodesia–now known as Harare, Zimbabwe. I was awed by it just as Jasper was tonight.

    Flynn, Mary, and Mercy have been at Six Flags all day but are returning late tonight so we will all be together for Resurrection Sunday. I wish Lina could be here with us!

  • Good Friday

    Somehow, I had this idea that Good Friday was going to be a nice relaxing vacation day. Then I remembered that now I have to make two kinds of hot cross buns–regular and gluten free. Then I remembered that we were going to have a birthday dinner for Flynn tonight, which meant I needed to make a cake. Then I remembered that we always dye eggs on Good Friday and that Spencer’s friend Tiffany was coming over for that. Then I remembered that we were having pizza for supper, which meant that I had to make regular and gluten free pizza dough, which made me remember that I did not have enough gluten free flour left, which made me realize that I needed to go to the health food store.

    Suddenly I realized that I was going to be on my feet in the kitchen all day! I think I washed out my mixer bowl six times by supper time! I really need to make gluten free bread too, but honestly I just don’t want to do it tonight. It can wait until tomorrow.

    Walter had to work this morning, so as soon as he got back (and the van was still running!) I took off for the health food store and the grocery store. I came home in time to start 3 dozen eggs boiling, punch down the hot cross bun dough, and start forming it into balls. (Thank goodness the GF ones were already done.) Then while the buns were rising again I had time to bake the cake.

    Tiffany came and the kids all worked on dyeing eggs. We couldn’t find a single crayon in this house, can you believe it? So we had to use birthday candles instead. They worked fine.

    Flynn was so late arriving that we started our Good Friday tea without him. The GF hot cross buns were good, but I gotta say, not as good as the “real” kind. Mary helped me with the pizzas and we had a fun family dinner together, topped off with Red Velvet cake and ice cream.

    Then, sadly, Flynn, Mary, and Mercy took off for Dallas, where they will spend the night at Flynn’s apartment before heading to Six Flags for the day tomorrow. I am very tired and dreading my trip to Walmart in the morning.

  • Nowhere to Go

    The plan for the day was to take Mary to the zoo, but obviously that did not happen because we had to give the borrowed car back this morning and the van was still dead as a doornail. I don’t think Mary minded that much–she seemed to really relish the downtime–and we can always try again on Monday.

    So instead we hung around the house (because we had no choice!) most of the day. Mary and Jasper went on a walk looking for birds’ nests, because Jasper is studying birds for science. Lucy made soft pretzels which looked beautiful and were reportedly very good.

    I spent about three hours up in Lucy’s room starting to sort and declutter so that we can get it all cleaned up and rearranged before Lina gets here in two weeks. Somehow we’ve got to make that room “shareable” after Lucy has had it to herself for almost a year. Originally all four of my girls slept up there!

    We had a bit of a crisis when it came time for Walter and Mercy to go to work this afternoon. The van was still dead. Walter had a long conversation with a mechanic friend and eventually, he ended up replacing another relay and shazam! The van started again. So at least they got to work and back!

    The kids all had plans for the evening, so Mary stayed home to watch a video with her boring old parents.


  • Blessed

    Well, it’s been a very busy day. Up before dawn making nshima. I managed to get the kids up and ready before our neighbor Phil (Spencer’s friend) showed up. In addition to my class stuff, we had the big slow cooker with the nshima, the smaller slow cooker with the relish, and my “small” roaster with a huge breakfast casserole for the mom’s room.

    Fortunately, Phil was driving the Suburban and there was room for all that stuff. Once again, more than half my class refused to even try the food. I have to admit this really frustrates me. There is one student who is subject to so many dietary restrictions that she apparently can’t eat any food at all, and that I can accept, even if I don’t understand it. But I really don’t understand how you can just assume that you will hate something without taking even a single bite! Sure, if you try something, and you don’t like it–fine. It’s the not trying that is hard for me to tolerate. *sigh* I just can’t relate to that level of pickiness.

    Of course, the good thing about today was that we were talking about Southern Africa. I ran out of time of course, long before I ran out of things to say!

    During the break, I went to the mothers’ room and mentioned our car troubles to a friend from church, who then offered to loan me her car so that we could pick up Mary. So after classes were over, Jasper went to the park with a friend, and the rest of us plus Lucy’s friend Taylor rode with Phil to the hospital parking lot, where I was able to pick up my friend’s car and drive Lucy and Taylor home while  Phil and Spencer went out to lunch.

    I texted Walter the following: “Borrowing a car so we can go get Mary.” However, when I pressed send, my husband received the following text: “Borrowing a car so we can go get married.” !!! You can imagine my surprise when his response was “Married again?”

    After a tutoring session, I was able to rest a little. My sinus infection is far from gone and I find I still need quite a bit of rest.

    After supper, we just waited to hear from Flynn that he had picked Mary up at the airport. Then we took off in our borrowed car and drove to a McDonald’s at the halfway point and waited until Flynn arrived with Mary. Then we brought Mary back and now she is here! We have her here till after Easter.

    As the day winds down, I have been pondering how blessed I am. It is all too easy to focus on the discouraging things–the high tax bill, the dead van, the lack of a second vehicle, the sinus infection, etc. But I choose to focus on the blessings. In the last three days, an unknown donor offered to help with our tax bill so that we don’t have to sink even further into debt; a friend I don’t even know well offered to drive me home from my writers’ meeting when I was stranded at the library; a neighbor offered to transport me and three children and a lot of food to our co-op classes; another friend offered me the use of her car so that we could go pick up Mary; yet another old and dear friend offered financial assistance; and of course Mary is now here for the holiday weekend! I am so blessed in my friends.

  • Another Curveball

    I don’t even know where to start with today. Today has been all over the map. First of all, I really struggled again physically, which made it hard to get through Walmart and school and everything else. I kept having to lie down.

    One of the things I did do was raise the stakes in my ongoing battle of wills with Miss Wisteria. Once again, just like every other year, wisteria are blooming all over East Texas, while my stubborn Miss is conspicuously bloomless. I pruned her very severely during the winter, as I have done for the last three years, but since it didn’t work before I didn’t really think it would work now.

    So I got a shovel from the shed and prevailed on Spencer to use the shovel to thrust down into the ground and cut the roots in a circle about two feet out from the trunk. Then I had him dig up all the weeds that were growing inside the magic circle. I applied fertilizer and will follow up with mulch when I get the chance (about which: more later). Now obviously I don’t expect blooms to spring forth in the next few days. I’m thinking more of next year. But I am determined to have a blooming wisteria someday. That’s what I get for buying a fancy variety instead of the ubiquitous purple vines that would completely cover the state of Texas if given the chance.

    Thank heaven I did all the preparation for tomorrow’s classes last week. Well, except the cooking. Tomorrow we finally get Zambian food. The relish is simmering on the stove and I will be up bright and early making nshima. I am also signed up to bring food for the mothers and I am trying to figure out how to do that without having to get up in the middle of the night to turn on my roaster.

    This evening was my monthly writers’ meeting, which means I get a quiet hour and a half in the library while waiting for the meeting. I found and checked out books for Spencer and Lucy to use for their research papers. I got some work done on my computer. Then it was time for our meeting, and it was very encouraging right up until the point where I texted my husband to come get me, and he responded that the van was dead. Again.

    Yesterday, the van seemed to have trouble starting for me, and in the evening when Walter and Spencer tried to come home from work, it died. Fortunately, Walter was pretty sure it was the fuel relay (for the umpteenth time) and he had a spare in the van. He replaced the relay, the van started, and they got home. I went out on two errands today with no problems. Walter dropped me off at the library on the way to work, and got home without incident. It was only when he tried to come get me that the van refused to cooperate. We are out of relays. And honestly, it can’t be practical to have to replace that relay every day!

    Fortunately, one of my fellow writers offered me a ride home. I am so thankful for the kindness of others! And when I got home, I called our neighbor, who also goes to co-op classes, and he kindly offered to give us all a ride in the morning.

    So far, so good. The big “but” here is that Mary is flying into Dallas tomorrow, and we had arranged for Flynn to pick her up and then meet us at a halfway point so we could bring her the rest of the way here. Now I’m not sure what is going to happen!


  • My Happy Place

    If you know me in person, or if you’re really good at reading between the lines, you may have gathered that the last several months have been very difficult ones around here. That has not changed. However yesterday was a momentary escape to my happy place. My happy place, as you all know, is the nearby Renaissance Faire which runs through March and April.

    This past weekend was the fourth–the fourth!–weekend of the Faire, which means that it is now half over. Normally by this point I would have gone at least two or three times, but due to all the goings-on lately yesterday was my very first foray to the Faire this year. In fact, the reality is that we might not have gone at all this year if I hadn’t got the tickets before we got the soul-crushing tax bill. But, if I have tickets I am going to use them. The kids have already been warned that this year’s Faire excursions will be of the “bare bones” variety.

    So, yesterday I had to drive over to that area to pick up Spencer anyway. Lucy and I changed into garb after church and took off on a very windy drive. We arrived at the Faire mid-afternoon and got our first look at the new gate which is still under construction (the old one blew down in a storm last fall). The weather was very windy, sunny and cold. It was wonderful cloak weather. As we walked to the gate, our cloaks flapped and billowed behind us in a most delightful way.

    The Faire was serene and uncrowded, which was lovely for us but of course not so great for the Faire! To tell the truth, there wasn’t a whole lot going on–but that doesn’t bother me at all because now I go more to see people than to be entertained. And what could be better than to arrive and find that you have been missed? Everywhere we went, we were greeted with enthusiasm. “Where have you been?” “It’s about time you showed up!” “We were getting worried about you!” “We missed you!” I was equally delighted to see all of my long-time Faire friends.

    One of my favorite moments came at the forge. When we arrived, Shadowhawk had stepped out for a few minutes and his fellow bladesmith Dan was manning the forge. He was also bantering with a young cast member, who chided him when we walked up and sat down. “You have patrons,” she said. He looked up at us and then back at her. “Those aren’t patrons,” he said. “They’re friends.” Yep. That felt good.

    Besides visiting the forge, we browsed several of the vendors’ booths, listened to some music in the now-enclosed tavern (which also now has an actual floor!) and of course watched the joust. We missed our favorite knights from years past, but a joust is a joust, and we love it. There are new knights, including a woman who even participates in the tilt. There are new horses to admire. Lucy and I love the horses!

    After finishing his part in the tilt, Sir Dustin (the Faire’s owner) rode to the rail to welcome me with his characteristic charm and enthusiasm, and to ask if I could hang around to chat later. So Lucy and I lingered till closing time, finishing out the day by watching Thom Bedlam’s magic show. Thom is a longtime favorite of ours and even if we have seen most of his tricks before, we get a kick out of watching him because he always seems to be enjoying himself so much while performing.

    We did a little more window shopping until Dustin found us and then we chatted for a while about the Faire. He often asks for my input since I have been going every year for so long. This is my tenth year! I was happy to be able to tell him about a comment I had overheard earlier. A young couple had passed Lucy and me, and the man was saying to his wife (or girlfriend), “This is so cool! It was totally worth the admission price. It was money well spent!”

    Eventually, we made our way back up the gate and to the van, where a thermos of glorious hot tea was waiting for us. We sat drinking our tea and watching all the performers and vendors drive their vehicles into the Faire grounds to load up and go home. It was a beautiful afternoon, followed by picking up Spencer and driving home in the moonlight.

    Today, of course, was back to reality, a reality which includes my lingering sinus infection. I picked up a few things at the grocery store before trying to get my kids going on school. It is hard to motivate kids who are not motivated on their own! But, eventually we got stuff done and then it was time for my English class, the one I had to cancel last week when I was much sicker. We are still plugging away on research papers.

    I had a break for supper before teaching again, this time a tutoring student. I felt we had a very productive session and am encouraged by the progress she’s making.

    After she left, I finally let Jasper open the two boxes that came for him on Friday. I knew what was in them, and knew it would distract him from studying for his quiz, so he didn’t get to open them until today. You know what was in them? Vintage Lego that used to belong to my brothers and me. My parents have saved it all these years, and felt the time had come to pass it on. Jasper was in heaven! He has already made a couple of vehicles and a house.

    Now, we just have one day to do a week’s worth of preparation for our co-op classes on Wednesday.

  • Today was a bright and beautiful day, so naturally I thought of this old children’s hymn.

    All Things Bright and Beautiful

    Cecil F. Alexander


    All things bright and beautiful,
    All creatures great and small,
    All things wise and wonderful:
    The Lord God made them all.

    Each little flower that opens,
    Each little bird that sings,
    He made their glowing colors,
    He made their tiny wings.


    The purple headed mountains,
    The river running by,
    The sunset and the morning
    That brightens up the sky.


    The cold wind in the winter,
    The pleasant summer sun,
    The ripe fruits in the garden,
    He made them every one.


    The tall trees in the greenwood,
    The meadows where we play,
    The rushes by the water,
    To gather every day.


    He gave us eyes to see them,
    And lips that we might tell
    How great is God Almighty,
    Who has made all things well.



  • A Fine Achievement & A Daunting Task

    This morning I was up early to do the chai party shopping, and then shortly after returning Jasper and I set off with our neighbors Kim and Ben to go to another Bible quiz. This one was here in town, which made it very convenient. Jasper and I had been reviewing all week, because this quiz was over the whole year’s material, which meant that Jasper could be asked any of some 400 questions.

    To my surprise, I was asked to be a score keeper. The system requires that there be at least 2 scorekeepers for every quiz. Jasper and Ben were the dynamic duo once again, as they both received perfect scores. This means another special gold medal and it also means they are qualified to go to the district level quiz next month.

    Kim had told me last month that Jasper was lagging behind on his memory verses, so I had him work on those a lot the last couple of weeks also. Today I think he said all 8 of his remaining verses! I was very proud of him.

    I had a relapse after returning, where I had to lie down due to fatigue and sinus pain, but eventually I was able to get up and make brownies for the chai party. The problem was deciding if there was even going to be a chai party, because it kept raining. It rained very hard. When I looked on the weather site though, I could see that the rain would be ending right about time for the chai party to start. So we sent out word that the party was still on but would just be starting a little late so we could set stuff up after it stopped raining.

    We didn’t have many people show up at first, but as the evening has gone on we have actually had a nice turnout despite the squelchiness of our yard.

    Meanwhile, due to various health issues, I have been indoors and I thought it might be a good time to tackle the task of figuring out how to create an ebook version of my memoir. I’ve just started the process, and I don’t mind telling you that it is extremely intimidating–much more so than creating my print book. This may take awhile . . .

    Spencer had a disappointing tournament but I assume he is enjoying his visit with Britton regardless. Tomorrow when I go to get him I’m hoping to sneak over to the faire for a while . . . . It will be my first visit this year.

  • Zoo Field Trip

    When Spencer told me that he had to be at Britton’s house by 8:30 this morning, so that he could go to classes with Britton today, I had a bright idea. Since we failed at going to the zoo last week, maybe I could bring Lucy and Jasper along and we could go to the zoo after dropping off Spencer.

    So, everybody had to get up by 6:30 this morning. No one was happy about it, least of all me, but it was for a good cause. We made it out the door by 7:20, which was only five minutes later than our goal. In our world, this is a “win.” We made it to Britton’s house without incident, unless you call stopping to get Spencer some breakfast an incident.

    After dropping him off, the rest of us could take our time about finding breakfast, but first we had to find a drugstore. I am still really struggling with my sinus infection, and Lucy has a severe respiratory infection, and we both forgot to take any meds before leaving home. In our world this is a “fail.” So, rather than drive aimlessly around town hoping to encounter a drugstore, I drove clear across town to a drugstore I was already familiar with, and bought medicine for both Lucy and me.

    Then it was on to a leisurely breakfast while we waited for the zoo to open. Finally, we headed up to the zoo and only had to wait in the van for about five minutes before it opened. The weather was very overcast and cool. The animals were either fast asleep (otters, colobus monkeys, the lion) or very active (most of the big cats). We were meowed at by a serval cat and appraised at very close range by a white tiger. The kids loved it.

    We stopped for a snack at the concession stand and sat at a table overlooking the African area. Two of the elephants were playing with sticks and it was very endearing. Usually they seem to be so bored.

    The whole zoo was exploding with color. It is a beautifully landscaped zoo, and it really shines at this time of year. Dogwoods, azaleas, daffodils, pansies, redbuds and snapdragons were everywhere, but the real showstopper at this time of year is the wisteria. Many of the walkways are shaded by arbors covered with wisteria vines. The wisteria are just coming into bloom, so we were walking through a scented purple corridor for much of the way. So much loveliness!

    By the time we had completed our circuit, the sun had come out and the temperature had risen significantly. My thermos of tea was waiting for me in the van, and it was very welcome after the long walk. Jazzed up on tea and meds, I drove home feeling that I might actually be human again at some point.

    Tomorrow is going to be quite a day. Spencer is playing in a tennis tournament in Tyler. We are having a chai party. Walter has to work all day without Spencer. Lucy has a birthday party to go to, and Jasper has a big Bible quiz in the morning so I will be riding with him to that. That means that Mercy (who is also very sick with a respiratory infection) will be on her own for a large portion of chai party preparation. I think it may be an “Easter candy” chai party!

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