Thursday, November 25, 2010


There is no great way to say this, but I’ve become an ivory tower idealist and I haven’t even hit mid life for there to be a crisis.

Today concludes a rather successful Thanksgiving celebration with my dear family. I say successful because I and my two sisters were in charge of planning for and cooking the traditional festive foods this day is know for, and we managed to pull it off. I say traditional because I am a firm believer in eating turkey and pumpkin pie on this of all days…but that’s a discussion for a later date.

The morning began with food, as any good Thanksgiving morning should. For breakfast I made french toast smothered in 100% maple syrup accompanied by halved and roasted apples sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar topped with a cream cheese pumpkin filling. It was a smashing success—presentation and all. I’m not sure that everyone liked the apple and pumpkin concoction, but they ate it nonetheless to humor me.

Shortly after breakfast, lunch preparations were under way. Yesterday I put together the mixture that would be stuffed into the turkey—a medley of carrots, onions, small potatoes, sage, rosemary, garlic, and olive oil. I made it up really, those were just a few of my favorite things (and least favorite—I’m not an onion person) all thrown together. I stuffed the turkey and set it to cook, then the girls and I worked on what we could in the 2 hours until the bird was ready. Jenny set the table with the special red and white plates, Christi kept watch over the turkey and vegetables in the oven, and I mulled over how I could make everything come out at the same time without getting cold. Ok, I also mulled over how I could make everything as beautifully presentable as possible given space and serving dish limitations.

Picture time. This was not going down without a picture. As hungry as we all were we managed to get some pictures so that we could memorialize the entirety of our spread. I only took three. A person can only plead for so long for a smile from another person who’s determined to be grouchy. My attempted picturesque moment aside, we began to eat.

And what good eating it was too! Turkey, gravy, sweet potatoes, cranberry salad, rosemary herb vegetable medley, rolls! Yum, yum, and yum! The girls had decided when we went shopping that we would have sparkling cranberry and grape juice to accompany our meal, so along with that and wine, the libations were as plenteous and pleasant as the feast. For dessert there was pumpkin pie and a spice cake in the shape of a turkey with a bourbon glaze. By that time I did not care as much about the presentation, I simply squirted as much Ready Whip on my plate as it could handle. Funny how ideals fly out the window when one has two whole cans of Ready Whip at your disposal.

Arriving home just now after spending a day and a half with my family, I open my computer to reflect on this day of giving thanks. I was immediately greeted by the desktop background I downloaded earlier this week. Picture this: half of a rugged oak table, forest green runner going down the middle, no table cloth, fire in the background just behind the table and slightly out of focus, the décor on what would be the middle of the table are fall leaves and stalks of corn bundled together and sitting upright. They too are just out of focus. Main scene is the main course—a beautifully browned turkey on a milk-white ceramic platter surrounded by herbs, stuffing, and small crabapples for presentation. Around the platter are goblets some half full of red wine, others half full of water. The place settings are red willow and genuine silver utensils.

Looking at that picture just now I realized that it embodied everything I wanted my Thanksgiving to be. In a word: perfect. This year, due to the fact that my mum went for a visit to see her brother in Colorado, I got to be in charge of the menu. I dreamed big. I was a stickler for turkey as opposed to chicken or Cornish hens because…well, because I could be, I was in charge. I was a stickler for cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie because…well, because I could be. And then there’s the presentation. This was my opportunity to make things look as good as they taste. To look, in a word, perfect.

Do y’all remember the Disney movie Aladdin? This is where the genie comes in on my behalf and says, “PHENOMINAL KITCHEN POWERS…itty bitty living space.”

My dreams of perfection ended when there was no gravy bowl to be had. They ended when one of my sisters put over-cooked baked beans on her plate, and when there was a grouchy face in the picture memorializing the entirety of our spread. In short, my quest for perfection ended when reality struck. When the pinkness of the turkey revealed that it hadn’t quite cooked all the way through. When the potatoes were still a little stiff. When I realized that I was not Bobby Flay nor were any of my family members a supporting Martha Stewart.

The funny thing is, most of this was subconscious. Not until I came home this evening and saw that ideal Thanksgiving spread across my desktop did I realize all along that was my goal. Well, I for one am glad it didn’t turn out that way. Turns out that kind of perfect little cozy scene isn’t for me. That’s not to say that I won’t strive to make great tasting food or beautiful presentations in the future, but what this thanksgiving has taught me is that there’s beauty in just plain ‘ol livin’ and lovin’ well.

There’s no great way to say this, but I’m a recovering ivory tower idealist who is extremely thankful that there’s grace for even the most persnickety of perfectionists.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Something more to talk about!

We have our official logo prepared for the Ragnar Relay! For more information on just what that is, read below:

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Something to Talk About

Often times someone just needs something to talk about. As an individual who gets paid to use words on a daily basis--and a lot of them at that--I find that by mid-afternoon I have used up my word allotment for the day. Being an introvert doesn't help. And being a busy introvert doesn't help either.

But every once in a while something will come up that just needs to be talked about. Enter...The Ragnar Relay !

Here's the short of it: Running 200 miles in 24 hours with 11 dear friends to raise money for King's Meadow Study Center's Chalmers Fund. Why do such a crazy thing? Well, for starters because it's going to be a lot of fun, but the main reason I will be both running and volunteering in this incredibly wonderful craziness is because I believe in the purpose. Raising scholarship money for prospective students for both Franklin Classical School and New College Franklin is a worthwhile calling.

I've been in school all my life--first as student, now as teacher. I have been a beneficiary of sacrificial giving from individuals who felt called to give to scholarship funds so I could get through highschool and college. And now it's my turn to both give back and encourage others to do the same.

Now that's something to talk about!

Follow my progress as I join the Sum Ergo Zoom running team on November 5th and 6th, and tell everyone you know to donate by going to my online fundraising site:

It really is something to talk TELL EVERYBODY!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Kingdom Context

I love it when you come across a “plaque verse” that you’ve known all your life and rediscover it again for the very first time in its proper place in the context of Scripture. But more than that discovery, I love it when that verse comes to mean so much more because of that context which was previously stripped from its meaning. I love it when you have that realization, that “AhHa” moment when you see that there is more truth, more richness, more depth lent that commonly heard verse because the uncommonly heard verses surrounding.

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good!” (Psalm 34:8)

Sometimes when Christian kitch stores want to be able to have one plaque for families to hang in their kitchen they’ll only make a plaque out of the first part of the verse. But when they want to be able to have one plaque for saints going through a rough time in life they’ll add the latter half to the former:

“Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!”

But wait, there are other plaque verses contained within the twenty-two verses of Psalm 34. Do you need a verse for your Scripture memory program that will remind you to keep your mind ever focused on the Lord? Well then try:

“I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (v. 1)

How about a verse that reminds you to praise His name even when you don’t feel like it:

“Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (v. 3)

Or what about a verse that reminds you to not gossip:

“Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit.” (v. 13)

Or what if you are in desperate need of a rescue verse, a reminder that God’s going to make everything better and get you out of this hard time:

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (v. 17)

I don’t know about you, but each of those verses, standing alone, only afford me a little comfort, a small reminder, a minor hope. A comfort, remembrance, and hope that is real, to be sure, but one that lacks enough depth to keep me grounded when the hard times come, lacks enough substance to keep me vigilant when my heart runs low on praise. But together, with every verse in its proper place from 1 to 22 this Psalm does more than offer depth and substance.

Samuel 21:10-22:2 affords us an even clearer context for this particular Psalm of David:

“And David rose and fled that day from Saul and went to Achish the king of Gath. And the servants of Achish said to him, “Is not this David the king of the land? Did they not sing to one another of him in dances,

‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

And David took these words to heart and was much afraid of Achish the king of Gath. So he changed his behavior before them and pretended to be insane in their hands and made marks on the doors of the gate and let his spittle run down his beard. Then Achish said to his servants, “Behold, you see the man is mad. Why then have you brought him to me? Do I lack madmen, that you have brought this fellow to behave as a madman in my presence? Shall this fellow come into my house?”

David departed from there and escaped to the cave of Adullam. And when his brothers and all his father's house heard it, they went down there to him. And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.”

Wait, after all this David’s first words in Psalm 34 are, “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”?

Wait, this is the context for verse 3 when he says, “Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!”? With an exclamation point and all?

Ok, so the refuge part I get in verse 8, but he’s really still calling the Lord good?

Wait, wait, wait, wait, verses 13 and 14…he’s not really talking to himself, is he:

"Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Turn away from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it."

How could anyone, especially David, slip up and say or do something they shouldn’t have when they’re the one getting pursued by kings, running for their lives, having to act like a loony case out of fear, and being exiled to a dark damp cave? Surely David’s not, I don’t know, calling his own heart, through the gracious leading of the Spirit, to repentance in the midst of all this craziness, is he? Why would he do that?

“When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.” (v. 17)

But surely David’s not expecting God to take him out of this hard spot instantly, right?

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (v. 18)

If the Lord is near, if He cares enough about crushed spirits then no matter how many afflictions over how long a period of time, there is more than just rescue, right?

“The LORD redeems the life of his servants; none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.” (v. 22)

“And everyone who was in distress, and everyone who was in debt, and everyone who was bitter in soul, gathered to him. And he became captain over them. And there were with him about four hundred men.” (Samuel 22:2)

Kingdom context: Herein is comfort. Herein is remembrance. Herein is hope.

Psalm 34

Of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech,
so that he drove him out, and he went away.

1 I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD;
let the humble hear and be glad.
3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me,
and let us exalt his name together!
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.
6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him
and saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good!
Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
9 Oh, fear the LORD, you his saints,
for those who fear him have no lack!
10 The young lions suffer want and hunger;
but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, O children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 What man is there who desires life
and loves many days, that he may see good?
13 Keep your tongue from evil
and your lips from speaking deceit.
14 Turn away from evil and do good;
seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous
and his ears toward their cry.
16 The face of the LORD is against those who do evil,
to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 When the righteous cry for help, the LORD hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the LORD delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.
21 Affliction will slay the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the life of his servants;
none of those who take refuge in him will be condemned.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Stanley Kubrick on Society and Man

"I think that when Rousseau transferred the concept of original sin from man to society, he was responsible for a lot of misguided social thinking which followed. I don't think that man is what he is because of an imperfectly structured society, but rather that society is imperfectly structured because of the nature of man. No philosophy based on an incorrect view of the nature of man is likely to produce social good." —Stanley Kubrick in an interview with Michel Ciment

Stanley Kubrick on Film Music

"Unless you want a pop score, I don't see any reason not to avail yourself of the great orchestral music of the past and present. This music may be used in its correct form or synthesized, as was done with the Beethoven for some scenes in A Clockwork Orange. But there doesn't seem to be much point in hiring a composer who, however good he may be, is not a Mozart or a Beethoven, when you have such a vast choice of existing orchestral music which includes contemporary and avant-garde work. Doing it this way gives you the opportunity to experiment with the music early in the editing phase, and in some instances to cut the scene to the music. This is not something you can easily do in the normal sequence of events."
—Stanley Kubrick in an interview with Michel Ciment

Stanley Kubrick on Modern Art & Movies

"I think modern art's almost total pre-occupation with subjectivism has led to anarchy and sterility in the arts. The notion that reality exists only in the artist's mind, and that the thing which simpler souls had for so long believed to be reality is only an illusion, was initially an invigorating force, but it eventually led to a lot of highly original, very personal and extremely uninteresting work. In Cocteau's film Orpheé, the poet asks what he should do. 'Astonish me,' he is told. Very little of modern art does that—certainly not in the sense that a great work of art can make you wonder how its creation was accomplished by a mere mortal. Be that as it may, films, unfortunately, don't have this problem at all. From the start, they have played it as safe as possible, and no one can blame the generally dull state of the movies on too much originality and subjectivism." —Stanley Kubrick in an interview with Michel Ciment

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Some More Playing with Poetry

Living Among the Dead (take two)

Long the lines like veins entwining
Splay across the leafs of time.
Some enlivening, some refining
Long since past their scripted prime.

Flows the metre of the heartbeat
Pulse the syntax of the sage.
Courageous love and mercy meet
On some inked or printed page.

Quick the rhythm of inward breath
Marks the sound, the sign of life.
Wisdom stands ‘gainst folly’s death
Speaking peace through pain and strife.

So too the poetry of sages lends their substance in our time.
There we reap the depth of ages, coursing through a verse of rhyme.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Spring Time Planting

There are a few plants I've babied from infancy to toddler-hood and a few I have just picked up at my local plant store. My avocado and oak trees are the ones I've babied. They've been anticipating spring for a while now and have been antsy for a bigger pot to grow up in. The avocado tree was an experiment that Joanna and I tinkered with last spring by simply buying an avocado from Kroger, taking out the seed, helping it sprout, and then planting it. Talk about fascinating! I had no idea it was that simple. Now, if it ever lives to bear fruit that'll be a miracle, but I certainly have enjoyed the process even if it doesn't. The oak tree came from a small newly sprouted acorn in the Wilbur's back yard about two years ago. It was all but dead several months ago yet I couldn't bear to get rid of it. Then one day I looked down to discover the smallest speck of green that was ever visible to the naked eye--not even the beginnings of a leaf mind you, just a speck--and I said, "Ha, I knew you'd make it!" And so it has. Whether or not it will ever grow grand and stately enough to be considered as a candidate to replace an oaken beam in some parish church or school of learning, well, that too would be a miracle, but I certainly have enjoyed the process.

And then there are my new additions, not nurtured by my own hand until this point. I have no idea where they initially came from, but they have come to rest in my keeping. They have provided me with a bit of instant gratification, something I have not earned but nevertheless get to be the beneficiary of. These newcomers--Celosia, Verbena, Bacopa, Petunia, and Dusty Miller--will require just as much attention as those toddler trees that have been with me so long. But isn't that just like spring to be both a continual reminder of the old and yet be a provision of hope with all things new. Who knows what will become of this newness, but I certainly am enjoying the process.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Quotes from The Mind of the Maker

"...if the M.C.C. (Marylebone Cricket Club) were to agree, in a thoughtless moment, that the ball must be hit by the batsman so that it should never come down to earth again, cricket would become an impossibility. A vivid sense of reality usually restrains sports committees from promulgating laws of this kind; other legislators occasionally lack this salutary realism."

" To complain that man measures God by his own experience is a waste of time; man measures everything by his own experience; he has no other yardstick."

"The poet is not obliged, as it were, to destroy the material of Hamlet in order to create a Falstaff, as a carpenter must destroy a tree-form to create a table-form."

"Our minds are not infinite; and as the volume of the world's knowledge increases, we tend more and more to confine ourselves, each to his special sphere of interest and to the specialized metaphor belonging to it. The analytic bias of the last three centuries has immensely encouraged this tendency, and it is now very difficult for the artist to speak the language of the theologian, or the scientist the language of either. But the attempt must be made; and there are signs everywhere that the human mind is once more beginning to move towards a synthesis of experience."

Dorothy Sayers

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Reminiscing Over Spring Break: The Foodo-Journal

One must grill on the first night.

French toast, bacon, and OJ...I love breakfast!

Can you tell that breakfast food is a favorite?

And then there's the view...

Complementary bubbly...of a sort.

Grilled brats. This is making me hungry.

Banana nut pancakes.

Yellow curry. It tasted so much better than it looks, I promise.

The best omlet I've ever made in my entire life, OJ, and Earl Grey.

The last dinner: Bacon and muchroom burger with a broccoli and cheese baked potatoe. Have I ever mentioned that I love food?

Top 11 Things I've Been Thinking About

1. How can I translate the concept of endurance from running to the rest of my life?
2. Why haven't I read Dorothy Sayers' Mind of the Maker before now?
3. As a teacher, how can I be more discerning of the times when I should point my students in the right direction as opposed to giving them a right answer?
4. What was the origen of the Old Testament school of the prophets, and did it cease to exist before or after the temple was built?
5. Why am I so good at justifying whatever I feel needs to be justified?
6. Does the fact that I'm a better starter than finisher affect the relationships and interactions with those around me?
7. What is it about food that makes a person less grouchy?
8. Will my fledgling avacado tree survive if I transfer it to a bigger pot?
9. If Al Gore had not invented the internet would we still be afftected by global warming?
10. "Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you." —Augustine. Why is it that I tend to do one or the other and seldom both at the same time?
11. Why do I love questions so much?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Winner

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Playing with Poetry

Living Among the Dead

The veins of life are ne’er complete
Running ‘long a single course
There lacks purpose, there lacks feat
There no depth of combining force.

The veins that spread and twine and splay
Covering ‘er the breadth of time
There springs purpose, there springs play
There must route stretch to reach its prime.

The veins that pulse life-giving wealth
Thriving on some richer fare
There flows purpose, there flows health
There the inherent grace must share.

So too the poetry of sages lends their substance in our prime
There we reap the depth of ages coursing through a verse of rhyme.

Silence and Words

"Silence is indeed the friend and helpmeet of thought and invention; but, if one aims at readiness of speech and the beauty of discourse, he will get at them by no other discipline than the study of words, and their constant practice." Gregory Thaumaturgus