Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Encouragement to Write


I wrote a fan E-mail the other day.

I told you how much I enjoyed reading Nora Raleigh Baskin's book Anything But Typical. Since writers are now listing websites and other means of contact on their book jackets, it made it fairly easy to find her.
Just had to say how amazed I was with her ability to get inside the brain of an autistic teenager and to have him speak to us in "our language." Absolutely captivated me.

Well, she wrote me back, which was awfully kind. I wasn't really expecting anything, and the part of me that might have expected something was expecting one of those pre-packaged thank-you's. (Who has time to write thank-you's to readers?)

No, she was sincere, and she was grateful to have someone take the time to find her and to acknowledge her work. Her thank-you was a warm, fuzzy start to the day, as if her book hadn't touched me enough.

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Speaking of the book, I have to share this wonderful story from the book. The lead character, Jason, is attending a special writer's workshop. He is nervous about being in the class with "neurotypicals." But, as the instructor begins his talk, Jason finds that the instructor is speaking his language. [Quotes are directly from Nora Raleigh Baskin's book, Anything But Typical]


The course instructor asks a question.

"What is the most important part of a writer's body?"


A woman answers, "Their heart."

"Good answer...but not the one I am looking for. Not the most essential. There are lots of writers with no heart at all."

Other answers come in: hands, brain, fingers, eyes, ears.

Then Jason prepares to speak.

"So I jump out of my seat. I stand up. And all those things are loose inside me, like letters of the alphabet that have no meaning until they are all put together. In one particular way that no one else can do. In one moment. In one voice. That is mine."

"'My bottom!' I say out loud."


"And it gets very quiet in the room. Everyone stops calling out answers, and they are all looking at me the way they do in school sometimes, just before everyone starts to laugh. Like in art class, and in gym class. Not the nice kind of laugh...."

"But Hamilton, the dwarf teacher, says, 'Exactly!'"

"He points right at me. 'You've got to sit down on your bottom and
write. Writing is all we have,'" he says...." "'All we are, all we can be, are the stories we tell....Long after we are gone, our words will be all that is left, and who is to say what really happened or even what reality is? Our stories, our fiction, our words will be as close to truth as can be. And no one can take that away from you.'"

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How's that for encouragement to write?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Five Random Words

A long time ago, Edie posted a Random Question that all had us thinking things. It was challenging--a knowledge-deepening experience.

This past week, she posted on the "Five Random Words" meme, which I'm not sure will bring the same kind of knowledge-deepening experience. I might be "going deep" to get these thoughts together, but otherwise....


Here's what she gave me to work with: Gather; Glean; Bleep; Worth and Wrestle. Ready...set...GO!

* * *

"
Glean this truth, friends: To wrestle with what you are worth in terms of earthly value is to gather to yourself a mound of [bleep]."

It would seem that I have spent some time in Proverbs recently.


For those interested, 'bleep' only has one definition--to censor, as in a telecast, by substituting a beep. To say that "...his horn went 'bleep' 'bleep' 'bleep'" would not be on target.

Perhaps, instead of that kernel of knowledge, I might have chosen to gather up corn so as to glean the kernels within the husks. Corn growin' "high as an elephant's eye" has the potential to hold a crop of great worth, though you might have to wrestle Curly for his surrey with the fringe on the top. [Bleep!]


Is it worth the pain to wrestle with your conscious only to gather the thorns of one's self, to glean nothing but a [bleep] of a headache?

To bleep or not to bleep? I do not find any worth in using expletives, and to cover them up with 'bleep' brings me angst. I chose not to wrestle with that issue, however, but to gather up my words and finish this exercise in randomness. What you glean from this is what comments are for. I glean that I continue to be uncomfortable with a bleep of any kind, except that which removes the need for 'bleep' altogether.

OK, I'm done!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Daybook Entry



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FOR TODAY, Tuesday, September 15, 2009...


OUTSIDE MY WINDOW...


The sun is still working its way up; seems to come up slower in the fall. Still crisp and cool. Fall is definitely on time per the calendar this year--early for central Virginia. And, there's a gorgeous pink morning glory blossom out this morning, its vine wrapping and winding its way up the bird feeder pole.

I AM THINKING...

About last night's first bell choir rehearsal of the year. We have two new members, bringing our total to 13 ringers and one substitute. For a 3-1/2 octave choir, this is amazing! I've had to write in parts to make sure everyone has bells, and, in some cases, I'm writing in percussion accompaniment for tunes in which there just aren't any more bells to add. Now the challenge of meeting the needs of 14 people.... It's all good!

I AM THANKFUL FOR...

God's blessing and provision for the above. We started our 5th year, and each year has had its challenges. He has brought us through every single time, and He continues to bless what we do. We have six concert venues between now and Christmas. Wow!

FROM THE LEARNING ROOMS...

I'm one of several team teachers for a Sunday School class on
A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life: Finding God's Refreshing Priorities for You, by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes. Finished the book, and we had our meet-and-greet this past Sunday. As the women were commenting about wanting to be better jugglers and multi-taskers, I realized that I have come to a place where I recognize that life is not about juggling things better but it's about re-prioritizing those multiple things that we see in our lives. Some of those things we aren't supposed to be juggling!! We're not even supposed to be holding those balls!!

Does this mean I've gotten rid of all the balls I have? No, but at least I recognize that there should be a different principle at work in my life. I have come a long way in this regard....really!

FROM THE KITCHEN...

Last night, we had penne with vodka sauce. CJ got all upset because we weren't enjoying the marinara sauce that is my husband's recipe. (Traitors!) Sometimes, you just like something a little different. Tonight, sauteed chicken and red peppers, with coconut rice and black beans. Baking cereal cookies for lunches and homemade banana bread.

I AM WEARING...


A browniful T, shorts and shoes. Put long white socks on today, too, so I can weed the jungle that is behind the bushes in our front yard.


I AM CREATING...


Open spaces again! I'm clearing out bell music and files that have been here all summer, finishing up small sewing projects that have also been in the dining room all summer, and starting to move out old clothes, toys and videos that the girls aren't using anymore.

I AM GOING...


Nowhere today! I can't believe that has been the response for the Daybook, but, perhaps that explains why there is a Daybook entry today at all. Every other day, I have had to go multiple places. It will be nice to be here all day...me and the laundry and baking and home projects.


I AM READING...


Still trying to finish Anything But Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin (see last Daybook entry). One thing I didn't mention about the book is that it is a book for youth. CJ plowed through it first thing when it came home from the library. I'm hoping to finish it before it has to go back next week.

I AM HOPING...


To find some judges for the PTA Reflections program. The entries will soon be coming in from the kids. Now I need to secure judges in the six categories (literature, visual arts, photography, film production, dance choreography and music composition). Can't wait to see what the kids come up with for the theme "Beauty is...." I'm sure CJ will enter something, but I need to steer clear of anything she contributes this year, Mom being the chair of the program and all.

I AM HEARING...


Some cricket-like bug with its constant whistle. The white wash is kicking around in the drier. Hoping to hear the garbage truck pull up. It didn't come at all last week and seems to have forgotten to come again this week. Someone might be hearing the sound of "goodbye" soon.

AROUND THE HOUSE...

We cleaned out the family room over Labor Day weekend to make way for painting the room red. The problem is, we can't decide on a shade. It's very hard to visualize such a bold color filling an entire room when you are looking at a 1x5 rectangle, next to four other 1x5 rectangles, next to five other sheets of rectangles!! I will need to venture out to the home store with some choices and ask them to whip us up a couple of mini-pints to test. You don't want to mess up with the "wrong" red. (Just ask those HGTV designers who look at your remodeling efforts to see whose will bring in the most money!)

ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS...

I do love being back with the bell choir. The first night is always awkward, because we don't play over the summer, so folks are just getting back into the swing. Plus, with new folks, you always want to make them feel welcome, and yet it's so overwhelming to join an existing group.

But the sound! I can hear and see how much this group has grown. Even with folks dropping out of the music at various times over the rehearsal, I can hear how well things are going to come together. Our first concert is October 5, so there is little time to prepare. I'm so pleased with what we'll have to offer, even this early in the season.

A FEW PLANS FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK:

Trying to stay home and get things done. Still not looking for any new plans, thank-you-very-much!

HERE IS A PICTURE THOUGHT I AM SHARING...



"...the whole earth is full of His glory."--Isaiah 6:3

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Click on the "Daybook" icon to link to Peggy's blog for more entries.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Life is Good!

We're riding the bus to school to school, riding the bus to school....

Friday, September 4, 2009

A Life Gone, but Light Lives On

I knew the news would likely not be good when a second prayer concerns E-mail came from church. It was the one I knew was coming one day but still wasn't ready to receive.

A friend in ministry, Kate, passed away yesterday afternoon. Kate had joined another woman and I in leading the kids' worship ministry last fall. I still remember the evening when the three of us were chatting before it was time to begin our program. One said that I really should do something about that dark spot on my arm. I had already made the appointment, though I hadn't known it was melanoma at the time.

Meantime, there was Kate, a two-time survivor of breast cancer. Two of her children came out to sing and play handchimes in the program, and Kate was asked to accompany us on piano. She shared that she was having trouble swallowing, like something was catching in her throat. Seemed minor at the time--cold or allergy-related or something?

But, no, as she shared a few more weeks into the program. The doctors found cancer--lung cancer this time. Didn't seem possible. Kate talked about it with disappointment but not with fear. She had amazing composure and peace.

I remember her apologizing for not being able to continue playing with the program into the New Year--with treatments and trying to keep up a healthy immune system. This was Kate. So willing to give...all the time!

Here is a link to a story about Kate that ran in the local paper recently.

http://www2.timesdispatch.com/rtd/news/local/article/CANC13_20090812-215405/285724/

What the article doesn't tell you is about Kate's passion for God and for her love of traditional Christian music. Her coming on board with the kids' worship ministry last fall was such a gift--not only to the kids, but to me. When you get caught up in contemporary praise songs, you sometimes forget your roots and the powerful lyrics of the hymns that came before.

Kate brought that love right into the program, suggesting the kids sing "Jesus Loves Me" along with whatever praise songs we were singing. So simple--kids voices with handchime accompaniment--but so beautiful and powerful! We continued to pull out the traditional, teaching kids words we hoped would stick, as they learned not only about music but about how amazing God is--and that what those folks said back then was still true...and always would be. I keep all this in mind, now, as I prepare selections for the adult handbells and our outreach to older adult communities. It's the music that "sticks."

Even with Kate's love of the traditional, there was one song she really wanted us to do with the kids. Very lovely piano. Moving lyrics. It was a song we sang in Vacation Bible School that summer; and it made lots of us tear up! I was glad when we were able to work the song into the play that the kids had written that spring. That occasion was the last that I saw Kate at church, and I knew it took a lot for her to be there, to see her kids perform and praise.



Lord, thank you for the blessing of Kate to the lives of so many, for her passion for You, for her gifts that she shared so graciously, for the Light that she shared with everyone. Comfort her family, especially her children, and may we all choose to walk as she did--knowing that even when life on earth is failing, that life in You is never over when we walk in faith.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Daybook Entry



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FOR TODAY, Wednesday, September 2, 2009...


OUTSIDE MY WINDOW...


Appears a light breeze is in the air, moving the leaves, the purple grass and the bird feeder. The backyard is really sterile right now. No big flourish of blooms like spring. September is the time to start closing things down outside. I'm having a "master gardener" friend come to visit this fall so she can evaluate the backyard and offer some helpful suggestions for trying to make something--besides trees and ivy--grow past spring.

I AM THINKING...

That I need to organize my projects so I don't look at a huge list and freak out! (Those projects I was working on a month ago are all "hot" this month, and I need to make a checklist so I don't forget anything.) And, what color red to paint the family room.


I AM THANKFUL FOR...

School starting in six days!

FROM THE LEARNING ROOMS...

Trying to find the best ways to communicate with my girls about certain aspects of their behavior that need attention. Is there any way for a mom not to sound critical when she's being critical for their own good?! (Sigh. Note I AM THANKFUL FOR... above, because that will make everyone happy and more receptive in six days.)

FROM THE KITCHEN...

Grilled pork tenderloin, with a Cuban-style marinade; herbed risotto and mixed summer veggies. (The last time I made the pork, I served it fajita style with a fresh pineapple/red pepper salsa--oh my! That's an culinary experience in itself.)

I AM WEARING...


A white short-sleeved shirt, medium blue overshirt (it's cool here!) and purple "yoga" pants (in which I never do yoga or aerobicize, but they are not exactly lounge pants either). Still not wearing socks. My anklet comes off Tuesday.


I AM CREATING...


Publicity materials for the PTA Reflections program, the annual arts and literary competition. You'd have thought I never designed a flier before; it took forever! Obviously, certain creative processes have been shut down for summer. But, I discovered the fabulous "smart art" graphics on Microsoft Word, and I'm thrilled with how they make mundane lists really pop!

I AM GOING...


Nowhere. We had a 3-hour playdate at the pool yesterday (and I got really cold), and we had another playdate this morning. Tomorrow is a very long day at school, finding out teachers, paying school fees, etc. So, today....nowhere!


I AM READING...


A Woman's Secret to a Balanced Life: Finding God's Refreshing Priorities for You
, by Lysa TerKeurst and Sharon Jaynes (the Proverbs 31-based Bible study that I will be co-teaching as a Sunday School class this Fall. I know, you all are reading this post and thinking, "Sue, you need to stop posting and go read the book!") and Anything But Typical, by Nora Raleigh Baskin--which is a fascinating look into what someone with autism is thinking from the perspective of an autistic child who is "speaking" to the reader in a neurotypical (as opposed to autistic, atypical) voice.

I AM HOPING...


Everything comes out all right. (This is the statement you make when you have too many hopes out there at the same time.)

I AM HEARING...


Cicadas? The windows are open and the A/C has been off for days, so there's a lot to hear outside. Inside, the girls are tucked away upstairs with the door closed. How many more minutes of quiet will I have left?

AROUND THE HOUSE...

All of the toys from our playdate this morning are still out. We had two really nice boys come visit for awhile, and now we have two extensive train and block systems in our front hallway. Hot Wheels tracks in the playroom. And, CJ put together one of her recycled box creations (this one is a large train, though it looks like Star Trek: Deep Space 9) which is taking up most of the playroom rug. Perhaps this is why the girls are upstairs!

ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS...

Is over now. I completed writing for the summerlong bloggy Bible study on the Book of Proverbs Monday night. In Between Time is having its own "in between time" until I decide what to do next with my other blog. It was wonderful discipline to post daily for three months (minus one post in July, but added one September 1). It was also wonderful to spend such concentrated time in one Book. Learned a lot and can't wait to share some things with the gals coming to Sunday School.

A FEW PLANS FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK:

School open house. Last preps before Tuesday. Do I want any more plans? Not really....

HERE IS A PICTURE THOUGHT I AM SHARING...


All smiles at Virginia Beach (But, I'm still thankful that school starts in 6 days!)

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Click on the "Daybook" icon to link to Peggy's blog for more entries.