Saturday, February 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Dr. Ralph

Dr. Ralph Stanley turns 85 years old today.  He started singing and picking banjo professionally in 1946 with his brother, Carter, and the Clinch Mountain Boys.  After Carter's death in 1966, his fans urged him to continue his music with the Clinch Mountain boys, and he decided to give it a try. I'm so glad he did.

In the year 2000, Dr. Ralph's music was featured in the movie, O Brother, Where art Thou, which introduced his music to millions that had not heard it before.  In 2002, he won a Grammy for his song, O Death.

Happy Birthday, Dr. Ralph.  I hope you are pickin' for many more years!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Folklife Friday: Watch the Sky

History shows the Babylonians were predicting weather by watching the sky as early as 650 B.C.
Weather prediction in China and India can be traced back to around 300 B.C. The Greek philosopher Aristotle published a work called Meteorologica about 350 B.C. that described weather patterns. A little later, one of his students, Theophrastus, wrote the Book of Signs on weather forecasting. (Aristotle also concluded that earthquakes are caused by wind in caves. Just sayin'.)

Today, we watch weather forecasts to determine what to wear and whether or not we should take our umbrellas, a matter of convenience. People took it a little more seriously when it could be a matter of life and death. Sometimes, teaching children to read the sky was more important than teaching them to read books.

There was always a copy of the Farmers' Almanac at our house. It contains long-term weather forecasts based on climatological patterns of the past. Our almanac would be ragged by the end of the year from my mama looking at moon signs and weather predictions.

Red sky at night, sailor’s delight; red sky at morning, sailor take warning.

Jesus used this weather sign to teach his disciples. In Matthew 16:2-3, He said, “When evening comes, you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,’ and in the morning, ‘Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.’ You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times."

This quote is the one I remember being used  most at our house. Daddy would look to the western sky as the sun set and hope he could get the seed corn in the ground before the rain arrived. Another sign my parents swore by was a ring around the moon, which always insured changes in the weather.

    We could learn a lot from watching the sky.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Sweet Sixteen

Sixteen years ago today, our sweet granddaughter, Adrienne, was born. During the first minute I held her, I told her we were going to have great fun together.

I was so totally right!

Grandchildren are the crowning glory of the aged; parents are the pride of their children. ~Proverbs 17:6

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy Birthday, George

Today is the anniversary of the day George Washington was born, although we celebrated on Monday with sales at the mall, trying to find shoes like the ones he has on in this official photo. The following paraphrased exerts about President Washington is from the book, Hail to the Chiefs by Barbara Holland.

You'll want to know about his teeth.  Well, before fifty he'd lost most of them, though he did hang on to the lower left premolar until he was sixty-five, and his dentures had a hole punched out for it to stick through.  One set of his dentures had eight human teeth--I don't know whose-- screwed in with gold rivets.  One set was made with a pound of lead.  The set that is in the Gilbert Stuart portrait was carved out of hippopotamus ivory and was no good for chewing; it was purely cosmetic.  It was held in place by a kind of spring device wedged into his jaws, but it would have fallen out if he'd smiled.
Thank the Lord for modern medicine:

A couple of years after he left the presidency, George was riding around Mount Vernon and caught a chill.  By the next morning, he had a nasty strep throat.  Feeling it urgent to get bled as soon as possible, he sent for Mr. Rawlins, one of the overseers, to start the job while they waited for Dr. Craik.  Martha thought maybe Rawlins shouldn't take quite so much blood, but the situation called for strong measures.  Then the doctor arrived and took some more, and tried to make George gargle with vinegar.  By eleven he wasn't any better, so Craik bled him again, and at three Dr. Dick was called in and opened a vein the fourth time, in case there was any blood left.  That didn't seem to help and George was dead before midnight.
My fourth-grade elementary teacher pounded in the story of George cutting down the cherry tree and confessing to his father because he couldn't tell a lie.  At that tender age, I knew I had already blown it and would never be a good as George.  Turns out his father died when George was eleven, and the cherry tree parable was part of a collection of stories made up by Parson Weems to teach morality, long after George had been bled to death.

Still, he led troops against the British and served as our first President, having to leave his beloved Mt. Vernon, so we should probably overlook his inperfections.  Nobody is perfect, no matter how hard your fourth-grade teacher tries.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

See the handwriting?

Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful;

for beauty is God's handwriting.

Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower,

and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.

lass="separator" style="clear: both; text-align: center;"> ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Monday, February 20, 2012

Multitude Monday: Worship

Cold wind was whipping the raindrops into tiny missiles and they attacked me as I hurried from my car up the stairs.  The warm purple cape that a friend had gifted me was dripping cold around the edges before I made it inside, worried that it would be ruined.  In my haste, gloves had been forgotten and holding the wet, iron stair rail was like holding ice.  I thought about the warm fire in the fireplace at home.

I am settled, surrounded by friends, the slightly damp cape behind me, when the good pastor, he looks straight at me and says, "Have we become padded pew Christians?"  I am ashamed.  I have come to worship and all I have thought about is my own comfort.

Tangible things are a blessing from God.  There is nothing wrong with having a beautiful, comfortable place to worship, as long as it isn't what we are worshiping.  The same Holy Spirit inhabits our praise, whether it is a thatch-roofed hut in Africa or a crude block building in Honduras or a cathedral with steeples reaching toward heaven. 

Thanking Him today for:
    this promise: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8)
    a warm and dry place to worship
    no fear of being arrested for worshipping God
    a Father that is never distant
    a Father that will never fail
    a Father who will do what He says He will do
    a Father who is always enough
    friends to pray with
    friends to laugh with
    friends that help when I stumble
    friends to teach me
    elderly friends who mentor
    young friends who give me hope

    friends who call at just the right time
    a safe trip out of town
    beautiful granddaughters
    unexpectedly seeing old friends
    freedom to dance
    health to dance
    success stories
    sunshine after the rain
    reflection of sunlight off windchimes; dancing on the wall
    hot cereal
    work to do
    the power of letting go

                                    Joy Dare 101-125

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Celebrate Saturday: Dance

 You turned my wailing into dancing;

you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy,

 that my heart may sing your praises and not be

silent. O LORD my God, I will praise you forever.
                                               Psalm 30:11-12

Friday, February 17, 2012

Folklife Friday: Foxfire

In 1974, during a visit with my parents, my Dad showed me a book that someone had loaned him.  Daddy said it was very interesting and I would like it.  I spent that afternoon reading the book, and I have been in love with it since then.

Foxfire was written in 1972 by Eliot Wigginton, a visionary teacher at the Rabun Gap-Nacoochee School in Rabun County, Georgia, and his students.  The bookshelves in my house are full of Foxfire books written since then.  The first one is in danger of coming apart and is quite ragged around the edges, but it is still my favorite.

Last March, during spring break, my husband and I traveled to Rabun County in the North Georgia mountains to visit the Foxfire Museum.  It is a beautiful place, one where you could spend the day strolling between the exhibits. The day we were there, the clouds hung low and the surrounding mist seemed to enclose us in this quiet space and shut out the twenty-first century.

The museum transports you to Appalachia in the 1800s.  I wonder if the good people who placed these logs together and swept these board porches would be surprised  by the way we admire the work of their hands.

The Foxfire books, as well as local crafts,  can be purchased at the museum store. The staff there is amazingly helpful and knowledgeable.  Field trip, anyone?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rich Woman, Poor Woman

I am rich, immeasurably rich.

Not from wise investments in the stock market.
Not reflected by my bank account, although I'm thankful the bills are paid.
Not in my humble home, although I'm thankful its dry and warm.
Not because of my job, although I'm thankful it provides a little extra.

I am rich in the love of my Savior, my family, my friends.

My Father holds the wealth of the world in His hands.

The Word, the Truth, says "For a man's life consists not in the abundance of things he possesses."

There are poor wealthy people.
People who can buy a mansions and jet planes, but remain lonely, bitter, hoarding their riches because its all they have.
The poorest of them all think their wealth is all they need, that their wealth will save them, and in the end have no hope of eternal life with God, no Divine comfort when their "fair-weather" friends can't be found.

David was a man after God's own heart.  This great slayer of giants, wealthy king and conqueror, inspired writer of Psalms, became poor because he felt desolate, forsaken, and shattered by his enemies.

In her song, Coat of Many Colors, Dolly Parton wrote: "One is only poor only if they choose to be."

Choose to be wealthy. Come, sit at the Father's table.

This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. Psalm 34:6

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Perfect Love

It was late September, 2001, and we were bombarded with fear and disbelief and images of burning buildings falling to the ground.  He was sitting there, watching it again, when the phone rang.

The doctor, with a voice that indicated he had done this many times before, told him that the stomach ache he had been experiencing was actually fourth stage colon cancer that had metastasized to his liver. The doctor instructed my little brother to find an oncologist and set up a course of treatment.  The doctor told him that there was little possibility for long-term survival.
He was living in Tennessee, alone, having been recently divorced.  There were relatives that lived nearly, but no one able to care for him, no one to help with the chemotherapy schedule or the meds or to talk to when it all became overwhelming.

My sister, BG, is possibly the only living human who dreads cold weather worse than I do.  She lived in North Alabama until she was financially able to move to Florida.  In September 2001, she was living in Florida with a job that met her needs, enjoying her life and the Florida sunshine.

After my brother's prognosis, she gave up everything tangible in her life and moved to Tennessee to take care of him.  She drove him to chemotherapy, cooked his meals, dealt with the insurance companies, and watched movies and laughed with him.  She cared for him until he breathed his last breath, staying until his estate was settled before she returned to Florida.

It was the was greatest act of pure, selfless love that I have witnessed in my lifetime.

Someone said Valentine's Day is just a commercial construct; the busiest time of year for florists and jewelers.  It is all about measuring love by who gets the biggest, temporary bauble.

Can a relationship be measured by a pound, two pounds, or five pounds of chocolate?
If he buys you a two caret diamond instead of one, does he love you twice as much?
Can a relationship be measured by a stack of goodies on a cold day in February?

All these things seem so trival when compared to what BG did for our brother.  It can never be measured on scales or credit cards.  It was having the strength to get out of her comfort zone to do what needed to be done. 

 Perfect love.

Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.  John 15:13

Monday, February 13, 2012

Multitude Monday: Breath

Way, way back in the beginning, God created the world and everything in it.  The light and the darkness, He spoke into existence first.  Then He spoke the water and sky to their places, so complicated that earth science and physics students spend years and lifetimes trying to understand it.

On subsequent days, God's spoken word caused the land and the seas to appear, and  the land blossomed with plants.  He hung the moon and stars and various other objects that are beyond comprehension even in this day of technology and intelligence. He filled the seas with teeming life and covered the land with birds and insects and mammals, each with a job to do.  And it was good.  All good.

By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth. Psalm 33:6

On the sixth day, God created man to rule over, or take care of, His other creations.  But unlike before, He didn't speak man into existence, but with His hands and the new dirt, formed and molded man in His image.  He wasn't done yet.  I wonder, did He hold Adam's head in his hands, look into his eyes?  Did he make some changes, refining this or that, smoothing the clay as all sculptors do?

Did He lean Adam's head back just a little as He breathed life into his nostrils?  With that breath, man became a living creature.  That breath, straight from God, will never cease.  This life we have on earth, living in shells made of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen, will end when the circle is complete, but the breath will never end.  It will continue for eternity with God or away from Him, but the breath of God cannot be extinguished.  He is the air we breathe.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. 2Timothy3:16

How can we thank Him for that?  How can we thank Him for. . .
     the air we breathe
     strong lungs to breathe in, breathe out
     clean air
     the physical laws He put into action, so we can breathe without thinking   
     remembering my sons' first cries, first breath
     the moon, controlling the tides and inspiring poetry
     the stars, mysterious, beautiful
     plants for our food
     plants for our healing
     plants for our pleasure
     trees to shelter us from heat
     trees to build our houses
     trees to raise happy children
     rocks (I am a rock groupie; ask my students!)
     His dynamic earth
     the seasons
     the way the sun warms my back through the window
     the birds that come to the feeders, colors flashing

     hands covered with age spots, but still strong
     a gift of candy at Sunday School.....a chocolate hug.
     an unexpected gift from a much loved friend
     my friend, Lynn, sharing her coat?

We can never thank Him enough.  We can have a thankful attitude.  Always.

 What a pity it is that this earth, which is so full of the proofs and instances of God's goodness, should be so empty of his praises; and that of the multitudes who live upon his bounty, there are so few who live to his glory!  ~Matthew Henry

Joy Dare 76-100