". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Ascension Eve

We celebrated The Ascension of Our Lord at my church last night. The Feast of the Ascension is actually today, but because we normally have a midweek liturgy every Wednesday, we had an Ascension Eve service instead, followed by a reception with lots of white, fluffy snacks (cream puffs, popcorn, and angel food cake, to name a few). It was a wonderful, festive service with brass, bells and choir, and the fellowship afterward was icing on the cake, with one side of the gym set up for the adults to visit and the other side equipped with beach balls and hula hoops for the children to play.

The video below is a ten-minute clip from the service, beginning with the Kyrie and ending with the Gospel. The sound quality is not the greatest, as the camera was set up right behind the piano and on top of the organ, but I share for those who may be interested. The musicians of Immanuel have made such wonderful progress this year and I can't wait to see what the future holds for them. This clip also features a young cantor named Evan singing several solos.

Here is a list of what is included in the clip with starting times for the musical selections:

"Alabaré" (LSB 799), 00:30
Psalm 47, setting by Thomas Tertius Noble, adult choir, 03:15
First reading, Acts 1:1-11
Alleluia & Verse (Matthew 28:20), 08:00
Holy Gospel, Luke 24:44-53

I love the service note my husband wrote for the bulletin. If you aren't sure what Ascension is all about, I hope the video and note, copied below, gives you a taste of this magnificent Feast. God has gone up with a shout!

Ascension Eve 2014 Immanuel Lutheran-Broken Arrow from Cheryl on Vimeo.

"The Church knows and confesses her Lord Jesus Christ. The Christ we confess is with us--even as He is now ascended and exalted over all things. We praise our Incarnate, Crucified, Risen, and Ascended Lord today, whose glorious Ascension assures us that we too have an eternal place in our Father's house. We long for the day when He will come to bring about the end of this age, and give thanks that He sends His Spirit to draw us to Him until the day of His return. We rejoice in His presence among us this day and pray that, with the Lord's help, we may be able to bring our friends and neighbors to come and share in our great and certain hope while there is still time."

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our Patio

One of the things I am loving most about our new (rent) house is the patio. Our house in Illinois had one (that is, after we removed the sunroom and poured a patio in its place), but we didn't spend a great deal of time on it. It wasn't covered. It was on the east side of the house, so the light and heat from the sun were too intense (in my opinion) for enjoying coffee outside in the morning. Our patio furniture (hard, white resin from the big box store) also left a bit to be desired.

When we found our house in Oklahoma we were surprised to discover that it came with patio furniture. Not only that, but the patio has a roof with ceiling fan! The last few weeks have been gorgeous, and we have discovered the joy of mornings and evenings on the patio. I only pray this weather lasts a while longer!

I have been slowly adding flowerpots. 

Room for the whole family!

Breakfast outside. :-)

Monday, May 19, 2014

Still Here

Almost two weeks without a post! My, how time flies! I think that is the longest I have gone in a while. I wish I could say it's due to my making prodigious progress in some other aspect of life, but alas, that would not be accurate. I haven't started writing a book, nor have I found a job or sewn a new dress (I don't sew) or planted a vegetable garden or planned out all the meals and shopping for the rest of the summer. No, the best I can say is that I've been getting through the days and enjoying them, mostly. That's worth a two-week blogging hiatus, isn't it?

Here are a few of the things I have done over the last two weeks.

Got my son home from college. Yay!

Finished reading The Fault in Our Stars. Yay!

Watched four movies: Dead Poets Society (repeat viewing), Lars and the Real Girl (first time), Mary Poppins (repeat view), and Saving Mr. Banks (first time). Yay!

Watched the Oklahoma City Thunder secure a position in the NBA Western Conference Finals. Yay!

Unpacked the good china and glassware and put it in the china cabinet. Yay!

Started planning in earnest for several significant summer events involving Caitlin: her graduation from our home school in late June and our mother-daughter trip to New York City in early July. Yay!

Enjoyed a lovely Mother's Day with everyone under one roof. Yay!

Scheduled our first social gathering in our new house. Yikes! (This is a yay, too, but I do have some more work to do before we have company this weekend!)

In our house we sometimes speak of the "yay's" and the "waaah's." It's nice to look back over the last two weeks and see how many of the first category there have been. Not that there haven't been minor frustrations and annoyances. But I must say that spring in Oklahoma so far has been stellar, and I am looking forward with anticipation to what I hope will be a long, lazy summer full of many more yay's!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Reading Challenge

Periodically one of my friends posts something online about taking part in a reading challenge. Such a challenge typically involves coming up with a list of books to read in a given period of time. There was a time I would have embraced so worthy a goal, but these days it sends me running in the opposite direction. You see, I don't like failure. Avoiding situations in which its occurrence is predestined is one of my basic guiding principles.

Still, I do believe in the value of reading, and by "reading" I mean "reading books." I worry that in our headline-driven, Twitter-dominated society, human beings, myself included, are losing the ability to concentrate on complex ideas for extended periods of time. I also miss the joy I used to take in getting lost in a good book. So last year I created my own reading challenge, which goes something like this: "Pick out a book and read it." 

You think I'm joking. I'm not. Right now, it's the best I can do. And for the most part, it's working for me. I've read more books over the last year than I've read over the last five years. I'm not going to tell you how many books that actually is.

Recently, though, I seem to have hit a snag. I have tried one book and another and nothing has grabbed me. So I finally did the obvious thing: I asked my daughter for a suggestion. She readily obliged, and I started the book she gave me a few nights ago night. At this writing I am ten chapters in.

The book is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, one of Caitlin's favorite YA (Young Adult) authors. I am impressed. The story is engaging, and so is the first person narrator. But one of the things I am most appreciating is the style. For me style is as important as story. When it comes right down to it, plot lines can be reduced to a few essential arcs. People are born. They die. Along the way they do stuff. The greatness of a book is in the telling, in the ability to memorably and freshly cut to the truth of a situation in a way that makes you say, "Yes, that is exactly it." I am seeing this characteristic in abundance in The Fault in Our Stars. I am also meeting characters who are real and likable and intelligent. The book does not come across as one written for teenagers. It is devoid of clichés. It is a book about the human condition, and that is something that has no age limit. Here is an example that I think can be understood and appreciated without context or comment.

"She didn't want to dump a blind guy," I said. He nodded, the tears not like tears so much as a quiet metronome--steady, endless.

"She said she couldn't handle it," he told me. "I'm about to lose my eyesight and she can't handle it."

I was thinking about the word handle, and all the unholdable things that get handled. "I'm sorry," I said.

He wiped his sopping face with a sleeve. Behind his glasses, Isaac's eyes seemed so big that everything else on his face kind of disappeared and it was just these disembodied floating eyes staring at me--one real, one glass. "It's unacceptable," he told me. "It's totally unacceptable."

"Well, to be fair," I said, "I mean, she probably can't handle it. Neither can you, but she doesn't have to handle it. And you do."

"I kept saying 'always' to her today, 'always always always,' and she just kept talking over me and not saying it back. It was like I was already gone, you know? 'Always' was a promise! How can you just break the promise?"

"Sometimes people don't understand the promises they're making when they make them," I said.

Isaac shot me a look. "Right, of course. But you keep the promise anyway. That's what love is. Love is keeping the promise anyway. Don't you believe in true love?"

I didn't answer. I didn't have an answer. But I thought that if true love did exist, that was a pretty good definition of it.

There's a lot more where that came from. I think I'll get back to reading. And when I'm done I'll ask a girl named Caitlin what my next book should be. 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

A New Blog

Several weeks ago, one of my online Lutheran friends launched a new blog. It is distinctive in that it is written by women, for women. The result is promising, and I encourage you to check out Sister, Daughter, Mother, Wife. You might recognize the author of today's installment.

Rethinking Worship

This is one of the best things I have read on worship in a long time.

"Many congregations lose the Divine Service in what turns into little more than a performance. Other congregations, on the other hand, take a functionalistic view. As long as there is an organist, six or seven hymns we all like, and a liturgy, we’re fine.
Can I just say that neither attitude, it seems to me, really upholds the Divine Service and the gifts Christ gives in it?"

Thursday, May 1, 2014

First Day of May

It was a race this morning to see who could find and post it first. Phillip won. That's okay with me because we're in this together and for the first time in a long time, it feels like a new beginning. Thank you, dear Father in heaven, for this and all the days you so graciously give.

And the light between us
Which we could not quite extinguish
Which we see at dawn
Burns on
First day of May
Things are beginning
Our side is winning
Hip hip hooray
Made in the shade
Deep in the shadow
Down by the meadow
Lie in my arms
And the moon will rise
Before our very eyes
We will rise too
I'll be with you
It's a rite of spring
A horizontal thing
The sweetest sort of dance
Hidden in among the plants
Ha ha ha ha
People are laughing
Children are singing
Come join the dance
And the walls around us
Which we kept at such a cost
When we turned around
Came tumbling down
Ha ha ha ha
She can't stop laughing
He can't stop singing
First day of May