Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reformation Day

It's that time again for my annual, traditional posting of the Reformation Polka.

This year I was going to post the actual Youtube video.  I went to Youtube (which can be a dangerous exercise) and started hunting for a cute version.  You know what I discovered?  Comments, that's what.  Yuck!  People can get pretty hot about Youtube videos.  The comments become vitriolic, derogatory, and un-edifying.  So in order to keep this from deteriorating into that, I'm just going to put the lyrics up again this year as usual.

Here you go.  To the tune of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious: 

Author: Rev. Robert J. Gebel
When I was just ein junger Mann I studied canon law;
While Erfurt was a challenge, it was just to please my Pa.
Then came the storm, the lightning struck, I called upon Saint Anne,
I shaved my head, I took my vows, an Augustinian! Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!

When Tetzel came near Wittenberg, St. Peter's profits soared,
I wrote a little notice for the All Saints' Bull'tin board:
"You cannot purchase merits, for we're justified by grace!
Here's 95 more reasons, Brother Tetzel, in your face!" Oh... 
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!  
They loved my tracts, adored my wit, all were exempleror;
The Pope, however, hauled me up before the Emperor.
"Are these your books? Do you recant?" King Charles did demand,
"I will not change my Diet, Sir, God help me here I stand!" Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation! 
Duke Frederick took the Wise approach, responding to my words,
By knighting "George" as hostage in the Kingdom of the Birds.
Use Brother Martin's model if the languages you seek,
Stay locked inside a castle with your Hebrew and your Greek! Oh...

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation! 
Let's raise our steins and Concord Books while gathered in this place,
And spread the word that 'catholic' is spelled with lower case;
The Word remains unfettered when the Spirit gets a chance,
So come on, Katy, drop your lute, and join us in our dance! Oh... 

Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation
Speak your mind against them and face excommunication!
Nail your theses to the door, let's start a Reformation!
Papal bulls, indulgences, and transubstantiation!


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Walkabout Wednesday: Going Home

We got ready to leave on Tuesday evening, October 8.  We packed our bags and loaded everything except the essentials into the car before going to bed.  We knew we would have to leave around 6:30 a.m. at the latest; I was a little worried about getting caught behind school buses, hang-ups with getting to the airport in Burlington and turning the car in, finding a cab, etc.  Gwen (remember The Amazing Gwen of Lakeside Haven B&B?  Yeah, that Gwen!), spent quite some time mixing up a huge batch of raisin bran muffins and apple strudel muffins so that Mom and I would each have a little to-go bag of muffins for the trip.  By 6:30 the next morning we were out the door with our muffins, and in the car with everything.  It was a little chilly.  Having left my big sweater at the hotel in Wilmington, I was feeling almost down-right cold!  Being in a hurry to have the heat on, I turned on the car and switched on the headlights.  It was the most peculiar thing; I couldn't see out the front window.  It took me a moment to realize that the whole window was completely iced over.  By the time we got the ice to melt the thermostat had stabilized and we saw that it was 25 degrees.  Fahrenheit.  

We got underway and made it without incident to the airport in Burlington.  We got the car turned in with no problems and found a taxi with little effort.  This was our third taxi on the trip and the first time we had someone take advantage of us.  Bless his heart.  He thought since we were tourists that we wouldn't know he was taking the long way to the train station.  He wasted about 15 minutes and ran the meter up an extra $5 or so.  He was also the most unpleasant person we met on the trip.  Again, bless his heart!

We had a lovely day on the rails back to Wilmington.  James was working in the lounge car that day.  We had by this time met a number of different Amtrak employees and all of them were terrific.  James was the best of them all.  He was a lot of fun to talk with, told us what it is like working for Amtrak (he enjoys it), and took time to listen to us (when he wasn't busy, of course).  Best of all, James was very kind to and respectful of my Mom. When Mom and I discovered that he is another book lover we asked if he had read Dick Francis' book The Edge.  He hadn't, but wrote down the title and author and assured us that he would look for it.

We got to Wilmington safely and checked back into the Doubletree where they had my sweater waiting for me (thanks, Sarah!).  Sarah had also made sure that the shuttle was waiting on us at the train station and the driver took very good care of us and then disappeared before we could properly thank him.

It was up quite early again the next morning and off to the station.  Mom's train was scheduled to leave for a non-stop trip to Kingstree, South Carolina where Dad would meet her that evening.  I have to admit that after all the fun we had together on the trains and on our adventure, I was a little teary at saying good-bye!  I suppose that even the best of times must come to an end this side of heaven.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

What Do You Get....?

What do you get when you combine very, very long hair

(with horrible split ends),

a short barber chair,

and a barber with a lot of grace?

 A really sweet picture!


Thanks, Larry!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Community: More Questions Than Answers

Mr. Marvelous and I have been thinking and talking about community lately.

I don't know if it is just the season of life that we are in, or if it is something that people in general are missing.  I think that a lot of our nostalgia and love of all things "vintage" is deep down a regret that we have changed from a culture of community to a culture of individuals.  We tend to idealize (and possibly idolize) how things were back in the first half of the 20th century.  We forget that there were bad things happening then because our focus is on the community.  Sidewalks, picket fences, front porches where neighbors sat and visited, places where people knew one another and helped one another.  We see those times as times when people cared enough about each other to rejoice together in the good times and the successes and cry together in the hard times.  When we get done with our nostalgic reverie, we look around and realize that we just don't have that anymore.  We mostly live in areas where the home is the fortress.  You come home after work, shut the garage door behind you and the front door stays locked.  After all, crime rates are increasing.  Besides, you have been at work all day, the house is a mess and the family is tired and grumpy.  You sure don't want the neighbors to see you like that!  We don't realize a need for other people.  If you run out of eggs you trot down to Walmart ~ they are open 24/7.  No need for a visit either, you have a TV show or a movie to watch on your home entertainment system.  How could a sunset or down-time on the front porch trump the latest episode of Duck Dynasty?!  Yet somehow at the back of our hearts there is a niggling feeling that something somehow is missing somewhere.

Good community gives us strength and keeps us accountable.  It gives us a connection and support.  God created us to be in community, to depend on others for help and support and encouragement and love.  He teaches us about the importance of the Body of Christ (i.e., the church) working together (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, etc.), meeting together and encouraging one another (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Our culture seems to like what we call Mega-Churches.  Over the years pastors, leaders, and church members have fallen victim to the numbers game.  We are thrilled to see people discover Who God is and learn to serve Him.  There is friendly, and sometime not-so-friendly rivalry between churches regarding attendance, membership, offerings, baptisms.  If we are not careful it starts to revolve around the numbers, rather than God.  We build bigger churches with programs that attract more people and assume that because of the numbers, these churches must be the most successful.  The church with the most charismatic personality in the pulpit wins, because this brings more people.  Sometimes a church finds a preacher who is on fire for the Truth of God's word.  A man who challenges the congregation and even the city to focus on what GOD has to say from His word.  Even then, at some point, the danger of focusing on the numbers begins to seep in.

When a church becomes a mega church it seems to lose community and pastoral care in direct proportion to the gain in numbers.  As more and more people flock to the church, for whatever reason, the leadership is less and less able to take care of these people.  How many families can one elder keep up with?  How is it possible for one man to tend to the spiritual growth of  500?  Knowing the names of these people and where they live is a huge challenge, how is he supposed to know the state of their spiritual walk and keep them accountable, guide and encourage them?  Many churches have resorted to the Small Group model of ministry.  They organize Bible studies that meet weekly and the leader of the group is responsible for the members in the group.  If the leader needs assistance, he calls the elder placed over his small group and gets help from this elder (and what happens when a leader gets out of line with God?  How does the elder keep up with where all his leaders are spiritually?).  Let's do the math on this for just a moment.  If a church has 3000 members and small groups are supposed to be no more than 10-12 people, that means a load of 300 small groups, even given the sad fact that many people will not be a part of a small group.  How many elders are then required to lead/shepherd/care for that many groups?  Ten?  Thirty?  Don't forget that the 3000 is members.  That does not include folks who are "regular attenders" and want to be part of a small group, or the students and children who are not yet members of a church.  So the actual number of groups is probably closer to 500.    Then again, in a church that size, who really knows how many people there are?  How many people come and go without ever really being noticed?  How many members just fade away ~ even members who are part of a group ~ without anyone ever really noticing? 

These are some things that we have been struggling with and trying to better understand.  We aren't sure at this point where God is taking us.  We'll be sharing the journey with you as we go.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cousins Part II; Quick update and HUGE Thank You!

Thank you so much for taking time to read my Cousins post the other day.  Thank you even more to those of you who stopped and took a moment to pray for my cousin Danny.

I just heard from Dan's sister Elizabeth this morning that his platelet count did not improve dramatically over the weekend.  Monday night (I think I have this time-table right), several folks gathered for a special prayer service at his home.  The next day he went in and his platelet count was at 40,000.  That was a big improvement, but it needed to be at 50,000 for him to have the medication he needed.  He was told to walk around and come back.  When he did, his count was up to 50,000!


We are very thankful for your prayers.  We are very thankful that God chose to answer them in this way.  May He be glorified in the lives of each of us.  May we remember to give all the praise and glory and honor to Him alone.

God's peace to your homes.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Walkabout Wednesday: Glover, Vermont

Important Disclaimer.  There are a lot of links on this page.  They are not there because anyone asked me to put them there, or gave me any kind of "gift" or compensation for putting them there.  They are simply there to enable you to find some of the great places Mom and I visited in Vermont.  And if you ever decide to make that trek yourself, be sure to call our new favorite B&B.  You won't do any better anywhere!

Have you ever heard of Glover, Vermont?

Unless you are a member of my family you probably have not.  It's a very small little town.  To get there you take Amtrak to Burlington, spend the night at the Comfort Inn in Burlington (incredibly nice staff there, by the way), get up the next morning and take a beautiful 2 hour drive.  You go through Stowe, where my Grandmother used to live, you pass the Ben and Jerry's place ~ yes, the REAL Ben and Jerry's! ~ go past a lot of dairy farms (well it's the Ben and Jerry's state, right?!), some beautiful mountains, some full-color-trees, and on into town on Vermont Highway 16.

As of the 2000 census there were 966 people living in the city limits.  Glover has a church, a Mercantile, The Busy Bee Diner (Great Place!), A cute little museum/gift shop/everything you want kind of place, a few Maple Sugar places, an elementary school, AND the Union House Nursing Home.  My Aunt lives at Union House, and the whole purpose of this visit was to get my Mom and my Aunt together.  It's been quite a while since they have been able to see each other with Mom living in the low-country of South Carolina and my Aunt living almost on the Canadian border. 

We had a great time visiting and getting re-acquainted with each other.

I did find a craft idea there that I thought was pretty neat.  


Isn't that amazing?!  Just twigs and branches and vines to make a window planter.  I've tried to replicate it, but it is going to take several days to get it right.

My Aunt took us to see some of the sights.  This is what they have in place of deer up there in the wild north!

"The Clark Girls" with a moose

A full shot.  Just a little bigger than a white-tail...

At one point we decided we needed an ice-cream treat.  We wound up with a pint of Ben & Jerry's and three spoons from the mercantile.  Than we went back to the nursing home and sat around in my Aunt's room dipping, enjoying, and giggling.

We stayed outside of town at Lakeside Haven Bed and Breakfast which is owned and operated by Gwen Maynard.  Gwen is a lovely lady who opens her home up, welcomes you in, fixes the world's best breakfast, and makes you feel like family.  She has the sweetest little Shih Tzu, too.  In addition to operating a B&B, she takes care of her Aunt, and on Tuesdays she takes care of everyone's hair at the nursing home.  An accomplished lady!  I'm still trying to figure out if there is anything that Gwen can NOT do well.  Most of all, Gwen is a lady who reflects God's grace very, very clearly to everyone she meets.

And she decorates, too! 

Did you notice the chairs upended?  The first two nights we were there they had raging gale-force winds around 50 mph.  It whistled around the house to the point that Mom and I had a night-time lullaby of a Russian men's chorus (think The Hunt For Red October on a very low volume).

Since there are a few of these scattered around the state, that wasn't completely a bad thing.

This picture was taken from several miles off.  I can't get over how humongous those things are.  I would have loved to have seen them up close.  I kept thinking about my friends in Texas who work on these.

We also managed to find a little antique shop/thrift store just down the road from Gwen's.  Fortunately for our budgets, we didn't go there until just about an hour before closing time.  I hate to think what would have happened if we had gone in the morning!  Books were about $2, clothing for around $4.  I found a beautiful Fair Isle sweater (the real thing) for only $4, but it was too small for me.  Oh well!

Here are a few more random pictures from my "picture walk". 

Yup, those are apples on that tree!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Walkabout Wednesday Or Maybe Rideabout Wednesday


Two weeks and 3168.4 miles later (give or take), I am home again. 

Since I did not walk those miles, I am not counting them in my Walking To New Zealand total.

The week before leaving was consumed with cooking for the men in my house, cleaning the house, making sure that laundry was done, double-checking reservations, lots of last-minute phone conversations with Mom, and all the other things that Moms have to do before leaving husbands and sons and going on an Adventure Of A Lifetime with their own mother. 

Mr. Marvelous put me on Amtrak on a Thursday afternoon and I rode through the afternoon, evening and night to get to Charlotte, NC.  I had a layover there (we won't say what time I got in or how long the layover was if you don't mind) and Mom and Dad met me at 6:00 a.m.  Mom and I got on the train from Charlotte and took off around 7:00 a.m.  A day on the train.  It was even more fun than it sounds!  I know that a lot of people don't like trains and are in too much of a hurry to get where they are going for trains to be a possibility.  Mom and I love trains (although she may not love them quite as much after this trip).  The staff were helpful, kind, cheerful, brave, reverent....oh wait a minute, wrong oath there....but we found the Amtrak staff to be terrific.

We got into Wilmington, DE Friday evening around 7:00, went to our hotel and had CRAB SOUP for supper.  It was even better than it sounds.  We were up bright and early ~ early, anyway ~ Saturday morning to catch the train from Wilmington to Vermont. 

Before we left that morning we looked out our hotel window.  Mr. Marvelous and my Dad had expressed a little concern while this trip was being planned.  They were afraid that we would get into trouble and they wouldn't be there to take care of things.  Not to worry!  Here's what was right across the street from the hotel:

See?  No problem.  Talk about a full-service hotel!

Saturday was another full day on Amtrak to get from Wilmington to Burlington, VT.  Again, the service on the train was terrific.  The view was wonderful.  Mom's only regret was that by this point we were going so fast that when she saw something out the window and wanted to get a better look, it was gone before she could.  We did have a little excitement when we got to White River Junction, VT.  Apparently there is a pub in White River that is VERY popular.  A crew of about a dozen folks had enjoyed their adult beverages a little too much, so they made the adult decision to not drive home to St. Albans, VT (the end of the line and last stop before Canada).  Very noble of them and I appreciate their discretion in this matter.  However, they decided to join Mom and I in our car.  Some sitting in front of us, some sitting behind us, some beside us, and all of them very loud.  Their leader was also rather foul-mouthed.  I told Mom to turn her hearing aids off.  When he asked if we would like to join them for a few rounds of Yahtzee, we politely declined.  One of the men was sober enough to be embarrassed at the language and tried (in vain) to get the leader to tone it down.  And I promise that when I slung my (very, very heavy) backpack up on my should when we were ready to get off in Burlington I didn't mean to swat the leader upside his head.  Really.  I'm sure it was the hang-over that left him with a headache the next day.

We spent Saturday night in Burlington (probably the biggest city in Vermont) and the hotel staff there were fantastic; very patient with two older southern women who had been on the road for multiple hours by this point.  Thanks, Comfort Inn, for having such gracious and wonderful folks manning your hotels!

Up next, Glover and an Aunt!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

BIG Walk-About

It's Thursday again.  A week ago I was getting the last minute details taken care of and getting ready (or "fixin' to") get on the train.  It's been a wild ride. 
  1. I love Amtrak.  
  2. The hotels we have stayed at were marvelous.  
  3. Two of the three cab drivers we encountered were wonderful (the third didn't realize that I knew he was taking the LOOOOONG way around, thus jacking up the fare.  Bless his heart!).
  4. The Bed and Breakfast in Vermont just took us in and treated us like family.  The staff at the nursing home where my aunt lives now were all wonderful.  
  5.  We had a terrific visit with Aunt Roberta. 
  6. Vermont is a "WOW" state; it was amazing all the things we saw and experienced in the short time we were there.  
  7. Vermont does not have deer crossing signs.  They have replaced those with Moose Crossing.  Sadly I was not able to get a picture (I was the designated driver.  Scary, isn't it?)
  8. They have the same tractor crossing and bus stop signs, but they have gone a little further and added a sign for Snowmobile Crossing.
  9. The Busy Bee in downtown (!) Glover is closed on Monday evenings.  If you want supper you can not get it in Glover or Barton, you have to drive up to Newport on the Canadian border.
Here's the first of many pictures that I thought you would enjoy.  Have a great Thursday; I'll be back in full swing by Monday.