Sunday, March 31, 2013

Song for Sunday: The Day of Resurrection

The day of resurrection!
Earth, tell it out abroad;
The Passover of gladness,
The Passover of God.
From death to life eternal,
From earth unto the sky,
Our Christ hath brought us over
With hymns of victory.

Our hearts be pure from evil,
That we may see aright
The Lord in rays eternal
Of resurrection light;
And, list'ning to His accents,
May hear, so calm and plain,
His own "All hail!" and, hearing,
May raise the victor strain.

Now let the heav'ns be joyful!
Let earth her song begin!
The world resound in triumph,
And all that is therein;
Let all things seen and unseen
Their notes of gladness blend;
For Christ the Lord hath risen,
Our Joy that hath no end.
                                        ~John of Damascus, 8th century; 
                                           translated by John M. Neale

Have a most blessed and joyous Easter!!!

*Photo by Jordan Parry

Friday, March 29, 2013

The Cross

The most sacred Christian symbol.

It's actually a tool of execution, so wearing one is a bit like wearing a miniature replica of the electric chair. 

But, it was made holy by the death of Jesus.

A sad thing, but a beautiful one. We don't really need to be sad, we know the end of the story.

"And I love that old cross where the dearest and best
For a world of lost sinners was slain."

What does the Cross mean to you?

*Photos by Jordan Parry

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sadness and Joy

Maundy Thursday.

The name comes form the Latin "maundatum" meaning commandment. Before His death and resurrection Jesus ate a "last supper," the Passover feast, with His disciples.  He gave them, and by extension all of us,  a new commandment. It was that they love one another. A marvelous commandment and a tough one. It seems so easy, until we get into the day to day drama of living and interacting with each other. But even then we are to do it. 

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.  ~John 13:34, Jesus speaking.

Maundy Thursday ushers in the saddest commemorations. We reflect somberly as we remember the increasing darkness of the Passion. 

Just four days ago, we celebrated a bright and hopeful holiday, Palm Sunday. In a few days, we will surrender ourselves to the unbounded joyousness of Easter. We know that that final Passover began as  a party. But right now, we think of sad and horrifying times. Times of betrayal, abandonment, crucifixion and death. 

They were necessary to our salvation. Jesus did all this for us. If just one of us had needed his atoning sacrifice, He would still have died. He loves us that much -- and we are to love each other that much. 

Some churches and traditions put a lot of focus on these remembrances; others do not, figuring that we are living in resurrection times. 

Well, we do live after the Resurrection. Christ rose or, Paul tells us, all of our hope is in vain. Very true. 

Still, Christ did die for us, a horrible death on a cross. He gave his life to open the doors to God's kingdom. I think that's worth remembering. 

The joy of Resurrection Feast is all the greater when we remember what went before it. 

What do you think?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Song for Sunday: All Glory, Laud and Honor

Palm Sunday, when Jesus entered into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey and people spread cloaks and palms to welcome him, was four days before the Passover feast. On the first Passover, the head of each household was to take a lamb into his house on the 10th day of the month, inspect it each day. Then, if it was perfect they were to slaughter it on the 14th day, putting it's blood on the door and having his family eat it all before sunrise.

Here Jesus enters Jerusalem, the city God has made his home. Soon he will be slaughtered, having given his life for us. The crowd that hailed him on Sunday turned against him on Friday.

We went Easter caroling today and one of the songs we sang was this Ancient Palm Sunday hymn.

All glory, laud, and honor
to you, Redeemer, King,
to whom the lips of children
made sweet hosannas ring.
You are the King of Israel
and David's royal Son,
now in the Lord's name coming,
the King and Blessed One. 
The company of angels
is praising you on high;
and we with all creation
in chorus make reply.
The people of the Hebrews
with palms before you went;
our praise and prayer and anthems
before you we present. 
To you before your passion
they sang their hymns of praise;
to you, now high exalted,
our melody we raise.
As you received their praises,
accept the prayers we bring,
for you delight in goodness,
O good and gracious King! 

                     ~Theodulf, Bishop of Orleans, c. 820

What Palm Sunday songs

 do you love?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

An Easter Bunny made of ....what?!

We have a neighbor who makes awesome snow sculptures. Spiderman, Superman, Santa... he even colors them sometimes. They are a lot of fun to look at and attract a lot of attention. They should. He spends a lot of time on them and they look great!

Currently, he has a very cute display up. Of the Easter bunny.  

Say what. Easter bunnies are supposed to made of grass and flowers when they aren't made of cotton and stuffed with foam.

There simply isn't supposed to be enough snow at Easter to build an Easter Bunny out of it. Not around here, anyway.

But there is. A combination of late storms and an early holiday. It seems weird, out of the ordinary, almost unnatural. Certainly, it's not the norm.

 You know, though, resurrection isn't exactly the norm either. It is definitely out of the ordinary. People don't die, get buried, stay buried for three days and come back to life. It just doesn't happen.

But it did.

Jesus died for our sins -- sacrificing himself so we could be part of God's kingdom, now and forever.  He conquered death and rose again, three days later.

Weird, but true.

Just like Easter Bunnies made of snow.

*Photos by Jordan Parry (who has become quite the entrepreneur. I had been giving him 25 cents per photo. He negotiated to get 50 cents from now on. *sigh* He's growing up. )

Friday, March 22, 2013



Just think about it. We all need it, we all use it.

Today is World Water Day.

If you have constant access to safe, clean water, take a few moments to celebrate and give thanks for that fact.

Then, say a prayer for those don't.

There are still families around the world who have no access to clean water at all. Many children still die because of this.

For millions of others, clean water is hard work -- carrying, boiling, filtering.

The technology exists to help. Limited resources, political instability, and war are just a few of the barriers that stop relief organizations from helping. In some places, education about the need for clean water is still desperately needed.

For more information, check this out:

So, enjoy water today. Use it with thought and care. It's good for you (if it's clean.)

Your thoughts on water?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Baby Bib

I came up with a new pattern.

I got the inspiration for it last Fall when I was looking for a pattern to make a baby gift. I didn't find a pattern for a bib, but I did find one for bath puppets made out of wash cloths. The only one that was practical was the duck; the others all had appendages like tails and antennae that looked like they would  poke the baby and probably fall off. I did make a few ducky puppets and give them to friends' babies.

I also came up with my own bib pattern which is actually pretty simple. I tried it with terry cloth and also with flannel but it didn't go so well.

Then I remembered the puppets and figured a bib might work with wash cloths, too. I tried it and --yes!--- it worked.

Here's the pattern, for you crafty types. If you try it, let me know how it goes.

You will need two 12in. by 12 in. wash cloths and matching thread. You may also want something to applique on the front, although if you use a patterned wash cloth, you probably wouldn't need it.

1. Place right sides of the wash cloths together and pin around the edges. Fold in half.

2.  Cut a scoop for the neckline out of top and folded edge. Neckline cut should start about 5 inches down fold. Leave about 2 inches on non-fold side for straps.

3. Unpin the wash cloths.

4. To applique: iron "stitch and tear" pellon onto wrong side of one cloth so that it covers the area you want to applique on to. Take applique item (either store-bought or handmade from cozy flannel) and attach fusible pellon to wrong side. Pin to right side of bib so right side faces out. Use a narrow zig-zag stitch around edge to attach applique to bib. Alternatively, hand sew it on using a blanket stitch. Tear away "stitch and tear" pellon.

5. Pin right sides of bib together. Stitch along neckline, making 5/8 inch seam. Trim seam.

6. Turn out bib so that wrong sides are together. Stitch around entire edge of bib, including the neckline just below the seam.

7. Hand sew half of snap or velcro onto front side of one strap and the other half on to the back side of the second strap. Trim excess thread, etc.

One note: traditional baby colors and designs are great, but don't be afraid to think outside the box. I recently gave a black bib with an applique representing the baby's dad's hobby to a friend. It seemed to be appreciated.

What homemade gifts have you given recently?

*Photos by Jordan Parry

Monday, March 18, 2013

Follow Ups

So yesterday I posted "An Irish Lullabye" as my song for Sunday, noting it was written in 1914 by James Royce Shannon. Then I cam across some trivia which credited the song to Chauncey Olcott and claimed it was on the "Top Ten" list for 1913. I did a little to figure out what the correct information was. As far as I can determine, the song was written by James Royce Shannon in 1913 for a play by Chauncey Olcott  called Shameen Dhu which debuted in  New York City in February of 1914. Moral? Don't trust either Wikipedia or A trivia calendar to be perfectly accurate.

Last week, I posted about Oz the Great and Powerful, wondering if the theological allusions in it were intentional. A friend mentioned that she had heard that the Oz books were shot through with Christian allegory and so maybe the movie producers had intentionally incorporated some. I hadn't heard that, so I decided to check it out.

I asked my husband, who is in the thick of directing a reader's theater version of The Wizard of Oz if he had heard about Christian imagery in the books. He hadn't but it lead to a larger discussion. My son jumped in. "Are you thinking to hard about this? You have a group of people making requests." Ahh...

Thinking simply, along those lines, Dorothy's longing for home could symbolize the Christian's longing for the heavenly kingdom. So maybe....

Research... many people have used The Wizard of Oz as an analogy for the Christian life. L. Frank Baum however was not a Christian. His Methodist parents sent him to a Sunday School which intentionally taught ethics without religion, believing religious decisions should be made by adults. In adulthood, Mr. Baum became a Theosophist. Members of this spiritual group seek divine wisdom by studying a variety of religions and teachers. They see God in all nature and all nature as divine.

It seems unlikely that Mr. Baum intentionally incorporated Christian theology and teaching in his books. He did have some political messages and satire woven into them, though I never recognized that either. The scarecrow was a common image in political cartoons at the turn of the century.

The Wizard of Oz is one of my favorite children's tales. And I did enjoy this new movie.

Have a blessed day.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Song For Sunday: An Irish Lullabye

Top o' the Morning To Ya!

Actually, that saying isn't common in Ireland. It's an Irish-American thing.

 My great-grandmother was a first generation Irish-American. Her parents were born in County Cork. She (horror of horrors!) married a Scot-Protestant. Her family disowned her, but his was happy for them, so she became a Scot-Protestant, joining the Methodist Church and the auxillary of the local Scot's Society. Eventually, my grandmother reconciled with some of her siblings. Still, Scot was the heritage I learned from that side of the family. 

Today, though, we are all a bit Irish and I love to embrace the Irish part of me. In honor of the occasion I present an Irish-American classic song, written by Irish immigrant James Royce Shannon in 1914.

Over In Killarney,
Many years ago,
My Mother sang a song to me
In tones so sweet and low;
Just a simple little ditty,
In her good old Irish way,
And I'd give the world to hear her sing
That song of hers today.

Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Hush now don't you cry!
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, Too-ra-loo-ra-li,
Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral, That's an Irish lul-la-by

Oft, in dreams I wander
To that cot again.
I feel her arms a-hugging me
As when she held me then.
And I hear her voice a humming
To me as in days of yore,
When she used to rock me fast asleep
Outside the cabin door.
Oh I can hear that music
I can hear that song
Filling me with memories
Of a mother's love so strong
Its melody still haunts me
These many years gone bye
Too ra loo ra loo ral
Until the day I die


Is there a song from your heritage that you love? Are you Irish?

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!


Friday, March 15, 2013

Remembering Mom

My mother was the most self-less person I ever met.

Two years ago today we lost her to cancer.

Before that, she spent 15 years as a devoted fulltime caregiver. In that time, she cared for my grandfather during his battle with emphysema, for my father while he battled ALS and for my grandmother who was bedridden for 10 years.

Much of the time she was "on duty" 24/7 with an aide only two hours a few times a week. She never took more than a two day break and that no more than twice in a year.

She dealt with bedbaths, commodes, medications, equipment, doctors, nurses and hospice workers. She managed it all with grace.

Less than two years after my grandmother died, my mother got her own diagnosis: ovarian cancer. She was gone a few months later.

I miss her. I'm sure she has a few jewels in her heavenly crown.

Who are you missing?

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Spring Cleaning

I guess I am Spring cleaning.

I hadn't planned to do it yet. It's not exactly something I consider a great joy.

But yesterday I found myself dusting and vacuuming the downstairs hall, the stairs and the upstairs hall. I took a few rugs out yesterday and beat them. This morning I took more rugs out and beat them.

That's right, I beat rugs. Old-fashioned, I know, but the vacuum cleaner just didn't cut it. There was dust flying off these things out in the back yard.

I don't know where I got this cleaning energy from. Maybe it's just that I had about 8 weeks of forced vacation from heavy cleaning and when I got a good look at the resulting dust I went into overdrive. Or maybe I'm just in ADHD mode.

Either way, I hope it lasts til my whole house is clean because, for once, I am actually not minding the process. I do really love a clean house. Cleanliness makes for a much nicer environment.

Have you started your Spring cleaning yet? How's it going?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful

We went to see the new Oz movie.

My son says:

"It was very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very good."

I enjoyed it also.  The sets were fascinating and the characters interesting. It did have some inconsistencies with  The Wizard of Oz and even more with L. Frank Baum's books. Occasionally the film seemed to lack direction and the final message was predictable. But it was fun. Well worth seeing.

There were some theological allusions, too, that I found intriguing.

***Spoiler Alert***

One witch becomes evil after eating an apple and then is able to "see clearly." She was deceived into believing that eating it would be a good thing -- would protect her from hurt. Only after eating it could she see that the one who gave it to her was wicked.  It's a vague reminder of Eden when Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Their eyes were immediately opened and they knew they were naked. The began to know shame. They are banished from God's presence.

In the end this witch is given an escape route -- told that if she ever finds the good within her she is welcome to return to Oz. She vows never to accept that offer.  This reminds me of Jesus. He provides us with the way to Heaven -- offers a way out of a life apart from God. We have the choice to accept or reject it.

In our culture there are many religious references floating around and sometimes, as part of our common culture, they find their way into books and movies "coincidentally." Other times people are intentional. Actually, C.S. Lewis said that he often was not intentional but the story of redemption was so deeply ingrained in him that it came out in his fiction. That could be the case here.

I am curious about whether the film's makers were intentional about the allusions. In the end, though, it's a good movie either way.

Have you seen a movie lately?
Would you recommend it? 
Did you notice any religious or cultural references?

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Song for Sunday: Jesus Loves Me

It began as a poem, spoken to comfort a fictional dying child. 
Jesus Loves Me was in a book written to keep food on the table for two sisters who had lost everything in the financial panic of 1837. The book was published in 1860. The poem was set to music by William Bradbury, a profilic hymnwriter, in 1861 and gained popularity quickly because of the easy tune and the simple way it presents truth. Mr. Bradbury added the chorus "yes Jesus loves me...."
In the Civil War, soldiers on both sides sang it around their fires. It is quoted by seminary professors and concert performers as stating the basic truth of Christain faith. 
I recently attended a Bapist family event and we sung it as the benediction -- young and old knew it well. It seems to be one of those songs that is eternal.
May God bless you through it.

Jesus loves me! 
This I know, 
For the Bible tells me so. 
Little ones to Him belong; 
They are weak but He is strong.
Jesus loves me!
Loves me still,
Tho I'm very weak and ill,
That I might from sin be free,
Bled and died upon the tree.
Jesus loves me!
He who died
Heaven's gate to open wide;
He will wash away my sin,
Let His little child come in.
Jesus loves me!
He will stay
Close beside me all the way.
Thou hast bled and died for me;
I will henceforth live for Thee.
                ~Anna B. Warner

Through the years verses have been added. Here is Whitney Houston's version:

Is there a simple song that rings true for you?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring Gardening

Next week, I plant seeds indoors so that I can have a fruitful garden this year. Usually, I am late with this step and I aim not to be this time around.

Last year, I grew tomatos, green beans, strawberries, nasturtiums, sunflowers, basil and marjoram. All organic.

I hope to add peppers this year. I also planted garlic last Fall, which I hope will come up. We should get actual strawberries to eat this year, too.

Starting the seeds for the gardens reminds me that Spring is around the corner. While I love winter, I look forward to the new life, the flowers, the baby birds and the bunnies. I feel very blessed to live in a place where God has ordained four definite seasons. The variety is wonderful!

What are your thoughts about the coming of Spring?


Sunday, March 3, 2013

Song for Sunday: I Know Who Holds Tomorrow

Sometimes it's hard to live in the moment. 

I heard this song at school and it touched me. It's a good reminder that we have today and tomorrow (as well as now) is in God's hands.

don't know about tomorrow,
I just live from day to day.
And I don't borrow from the sunshine
'Cause the skies might turn to grey.

And I don't worry about the future,
'Cause I know what Jesus said,
And today I'm gonna walk right beside him
'Cause he's the one who knows what is ahead.

There are things about tomorrow
That I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.

And each step is getting brighter
As the golden stairs I climb.
And every burden is getting lighter
And all the clouds, their silver line.

And, I'll bet the sun it's always shining
And no tears will ever dim the eye
And the ending of the rainbow
Where the mountains, they touch the sky.

There are many things about tomorrow
I don't seem to understand
But I know who holds tomorrow
And I know who holds my hand.
Yes I know who holds my hand.

             ~Ira Forest Stamphill

What song has blessed you recently?