Friday, February 22, 2013


"Here it is!  Here it is!"  my little brother, Ricky squealed with delight.

I chimed in, laughing all the way, "Honk the horn, Daddy!"

Hurtling down the winding old I-40 during the '50's, Dad would lean on the horn of the blue Buick, as we entered the dark tunnel.  We rolled down our back windows.  The cool air coupled with the long, loud blast as it echoed throughout the tunnel.  Daddy turned on the car lights until we exited the other side.

Childhood thrills.  As kids we knew no fear there. We trusted Daddy.  But adult tunnels can be scary.

Today I have family and friends going through dark tunnels in life.  They don't know what waits on the other side.   Part of me wants answers or to rescue them from the narrow places they must pass.  Another part of me draws from childhood memories to connect dots in the darkness.

  • Daddy's in control and at the wheel.  Their heavenly Father will take them safely through this time.
  • The Buick headlights guided us.  God gives just enough light for our next step on the path He calls us to walk.
  • Horns blasts are louder in the tunnel.  As my loved ones praise God, their voices of faith ring unusually loud to others.
  • Open windows bring in fresh air.  Open hearts and lives feel the presence and peace from the Holy Spirit, even in the dark.
Tunnels.  We all go through dark places.  We choose to let God lead, shine His light on us, control the wheel of life.  We choose to either cower down in the back seat or to open our heart's window to the fresh wind of grace.  We can shout praise in the darkness, knowing our faith is active only when we can't see the outcome clearly.  

Tommy, I hear your resonant voice praise God, even in the chemo tunnel. Family, I see your quiet faith and peace while you wait to see the other side of your tunnel.  Jan, your trust, entering the tunnel of uncertain future plans, shines brightly. Larry, you reflect the Light every time you smile hello in your tunnel of uncertainty, encouraging those around you.

Honk those horns, saints!  You pave the way for us all.

Thursday, February 14, 2013


"Pastor, since you hail from Texas, I bought you a little gift," the parishioner teased Chuck Swindoll, handing him a small, snuff-sized can. His impish grin betrayed the gift-giver. Chuck chuckled as he read the label:
Pure Armadillo Meat
Sun-dried and road tenderized. Run over by a log truck three miles south of Pollock, Texas.  Not over 20% hair and gravel.  May contain foreign matter.

Pure love.  Texas style.

Stephen Hill, a lawyer, deacon and friend once gave my husband, a wood-worker, two unusual, but treasured, gifts. Both were antiques--a block plane and an old Stanley square.  For many years they held a special display spot in his office.  Most folks had to ask, "What's that?" It was more than "a conversation piece" as the gift tag, still attached, says.  Stephen and Doug knew it was

Pure love.  Carpentry style.

At choir rehearsal I'd take my place on the piano bench.  More times than I care to remember during that hour, someone crept up behind me, poked my shoulder and screamed like a madman.  I'd bolt, slam my hands on the keyboard, jump straight up and scream like a mad woman, "CHARLIE GRAHAM!"  I knew he would do it weekly, and he knew he could time it right.  So the scene became a hilarious ritual the choir enjoyed more than I.  He knew since I dish it out, I could take it.

Pure love.  Mischief style.

Friends asked us over for dinner. The meal was frog legs!  They do taste like chicken.  Another invitation while living in Cuba served us up conch.  Delicious.  Though watching the prep was not appetizing.

Pure love. Cuisine style. 

A fistful of dandelions clutched in my child's cherub fingers, "For you, Mommy!"

Pure love.  Beautiful weed-bouquet style.

Love splinters into many forms, expressed in the styles of both giver and receiver, as different as we all are created.  Worship is love expressed to God.  His Word describes many ways:

hymns, psalms. . .loud-sounding brass. . .in quietness. . .lifting holy hands. . .with trumpets. . .singing praise. . .lifting eyes. . .falling prostrate. . .in silence. . .kneeling. . .standing

(Sidenote: Though we customarily close our eyes to pray, that posture is not found in the Bible!)

We love others with hugs, handshakes, back-slapping, smiles or nods.  We accept that folks do so differently.  Yet many expect others to love God and express it in the same way they prefer, disregarding personalities, cultural differences and even scripture.  

Man looks on the outward appearance.  God looks on the heart.

Whether you're loud like Peter (and me) or the quiet, intellectual type like Dr. Luke, God accepts and smiles at our bouquets of love when the heart is 

Pure love.  Human style.  To the Divine!

Our styles of worship, of love, may appear to others to contain "some foreign matter."   However, God stamps our various weed-bouquets and US

Friday, February 8, 2013


If you've read my blog for awhile you already know my love for language, wit with words, love for lexophiles and affinity for alliteration.  Since I just ran out of the latter, I'll share two interesting articles by other linguist lovers.

Words That Aren't Really Words

No authoritarian authority exists that determines whether a given word is valid or bogus. In any language, there's a complex and imperfect vetting procedure; at least in English, most serious writers agree on the correct or preferred form of a word that is one of two or more variants or on whether a word is acceptable at all.
Here's a list of words that have been under scrutiny in this approval process:
1. Administrate: A back-formation of administration and an unnecessary extension of administer
2. Commentate: A back-formation of commentator and an unnecessary extension of comment
3. Dimunition: Erroneous; the correct form is diminution (think of diminutive)
4. Exploitive: A younger, acceptable variant of exploitative
5. Firstly: As with secondly and thirdly, erroneous when enumerating points; use first and so on
6. Heighth: Rarely appears in print, but a frequent error in spoken discourse (Why isn't height  modeled on the form of depthlength, and width? Because it doesn't shift in spelling and pronunciation from its associated term, tall, like the others, which are derived from deeplong, andwide, do. Neither do we say or write weighth.)
7. Irregardless: An unnecessary extension of regardless on the analogy of irrespective but ignoring that regardless, though it is not an antonym of regard, already has an antonymic affix
8. Miniscule: A common variant of minuscule, but widely considered erroneous
9. Orientate: A back-formation of orientation and an unnecessary extension of orient
10. Participator: Erroneous; the correct form is participant
11. Preventative: A common and acceptable variant of preventive
12. Societal: A variant of social with a distinct connotation (for example, "social occasion," but "societal trends")
13. Supposably: An erroneous variant of supposedly
14. 'Til: Also rendered til and till, an clipped form of until that is correct but informal English; use the full word except in colloquial usage
15. Undoubtably: An erroneous variant of undoubtedly
A version of this article first appeared on

Friday, February 1, 2013

BEING PETTY (not Richard)

As Tommy as I put away our music to leave the funeral home, a former church member hugged him with, "The music was beautiful."

As I walked by her I hugged her, "How are you?  Good to see you."  She stiffened like a statue, silent.  

"Oh, my, aren't you going to hug me too?"  I was baffled at her bristling.

"Well, I don't know how you feel about me," she said.

Puzzled, I said, "I feel no differently than I ever have.  Have I given you any reason to think I wouldn't care for you?"

"Well. . .yes," she stammered, "but you probably don't even remember it."

She was right.  I didn't have memory of any encounter with her beyond normal greetings. So I asked, in order to apologize.  She told me it was because years ago her husband got my email address and began sending me forwards.  Cute, devotional, funny, whatever.  I simply wrote back asking him not to because I use my email primarily for communicating with our very scattered family and for my piano business.  

That was IT.  She was offended and held it for years.  My efforts to explain had no effect.   "I tell friends that all the time because well-meaning folks could fill your box daily.  Everyone understands."

"Well, he didn't send that many.  And it did hurt!  He chose only two people to send things to.  And you were one."

So I apologized, telling her I certainly didn't mean to offend. 

Tommy pouted at her, jesting, "I don't even wanna know what just happened here, 'cause you might get mad it me too!"  He chuckled.  She didn't.

As I drove home, I was aghast at her pettiness.  Imagine!  Nursing that bitterness for so long!   I'd told her she needed to let it go.  Wow!  I'd hate to view the world through those critical eyes, ready to pounce all the time.  

About halfway home, I shot up a quick prayer for her.  For him.  Then for me! Let it go, Kathy.

But it ate at me.  Ridiculous! I laughed out loud. How can anyone be hurt over asking not to send junk mail to me?  Doesn't she know we have family members from Canada to Minnesota?  How selfish they are!  How critical, judgmental!

Let it go, Kathy.  But as I pulled into my driveway, it hit me. You're doing the same thing she is!   Being petty!   And not Richard Petty, though we live near the Darlington Raceway.

I'd meant no harm.  It was long ago.  A little thing.  It seethed in her heart for years, simmering until it boiled over when she saw me.  But then I'd let her heat ignite me into seething too.  I'd become indignant in just those few minutes.

A verse came to mind.  Great peace have they who love your law and nothing shall offend them.

How quickly peace flees when petty things offend! Offences can go both ways, received or given. Several take-away lessons came to me through this encounter.  
1. Don't mull a grievance. Pray first.
2. If peace does not come, seek out the person.  You may need to apologize, rather than gripe. Or you may need to ask if you've offended them.
3. Bring every thought into captivity.  Discipline your mind not to recite the negative.  It breeds contempt.
4. When wronged, you may sit on the pity pot briefly (or de-briefed!)  Just don't stay there long enough to get ring-around-the-hiney.

Boy!  I hope she doesn't read my blog or I'll be in trouble til Jesus comes.  Her name is Rumplethinskin, just in case.

Let it go, Kathy.  I finally did.

Living peacefully with all men, as much as lieth within me,