Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Joy of Quotations...

Aaaah, quotations. I just love 'em. I collect them the way old women gather Hummels or kids collect Hot Wheels. I'm always on the lookout for a good quote. I even follow a couple of quotation sites on Twitter.

There's just something about the perfect quotation. It sings to me. Melodiously.

A really great quotation is nearly as delicious as a milk chocolate truffle. (Nearly.)

I tend to find many of my quotations at The Quote Garden. But the very best quotations are unexpected--a complete surprise. They pop up on someone else's Twitter, on Facebook, or, better, in a book one just happens to be reading at the time. They rather jump out at one, grabbing one's attention and practically demanding to be copied down in a quotation journal.

So here are some newbies to my collection. I hope that you enjoy them as much as I do....

"In teaching you cannot see the fruit of a day's work. It is invisible and remains so, maybe for twenty years."
~Jacques Barzun

"The dream begins with a teacher who believes in you, who tugs and pushes and leads you to the next plateau, sometimes poking you with a sharp stick called 'truth.'"
~Dan Rather

"A teacher affects eternity; he[/she] can never tell where his[/her] influence stops."
~Henry Brooks Adams
As this week we try to smooth our way into the groove of homeschooling for our 13th year, these quotations inspire me to keep on keepin' on, despite the frustrations that arise on a daily basis.

On the journey,

Monday, August 30, 2010

Walking in Gratitude....

With all the craziness of starting a new school year at home plus my daughter's first day of college, the Gratitude Community passed by the wayside last week. But I still trudge along the pilgrim pathway to 1000 Gifts, passing by #300 this week--nearly a third of the way yet planning to go much further than a mere thousand....

Thanking God for:

296. ...the blessedness, craziness, zaniness, and beauty of homeschooling....

297. ...a good first week for Elizabeth at Point Loma Nazarene University....

298. ...a wonderful FREE online spelling program that survived Week One and may just work for us after all....

299. ...our beloved algebra tutor and second-godmother to our kids, without whom I probably wouldn't be able to educate our kids through high school....

300. ...a husband who supports home education even more than I do....

301. ...teaching foreign languages to kids when they're young. E did Latin in high school and is now taking German (with my former German prof) at PLNU after taking both German and Latin in elementary & junior high. T is starting his second year of high school German after learning Latin and German in his earlier years. After bouncing around among German, Japanese, and Italian, J (8th grader) decided on Japanese today, after also learning Latin and German in elementary and junior high. And B, in 5th grade, is working on his second year of elementary-level German. All kids have studied Latin and Greek root words, too. So we have German 201 and Japanese 101 starting this week at LiveMocha....

302. ...deep red cherries and tea for an after-school snack....

303. ...Rachel, the lovely LJML Assistant, who hugged me and loved on my kids when we stopped by the Literature, Journalism, and Modern Languages Department at PLNU on Friday....

304. ...big steps happening in the Book of Common Prayer project with Father Acker....

305. ...a cool day today that was autumn-chilled and October-scented, despite the August calendar date....

Grateful for all gifts of God, both little and large,

holy experience

Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Student Orientation at PLNU

The Greek Amphitheater on the campus of PLNU, taken in late afternoon
I've been largely absent from the blogosphere this week for several reasons...but mostly because school has started, both for the boys and for Elizabeth who is attending Point Loma Nazarene University.

I attended PLNU for college and, after earning my Master of Arts in English, I returned to PLNU as a writing and literature instructor. So having Elizabeth choose PLNU and even return to my old department (Literature, Journalism, and Modern Languages) as a journalism major (I was a lit major) is so amazing. And being on campus for New Student Orientation was sooooo incredible....

We first parked the cars (E and Keith were in the van loaded with her stuff, the boys in the Corolla with me) and found our way to the beginning of the line where we were greeted by cheering upper class students. We stopped at tables for the wellness center, financial aid, and, after being personally greeted by President Brower, she had her picture taken for her student ID.

Before we knew it, E and I were tooling down toward the dorms in the van while Keith and the boys walked. As I was directed into a parking spot next to E's dorm, the van was swarmed by students from the university's sport teams who unloaded the van and got all of E's belongings into her room in three minutes flat. Keith and the boys then drove home while I stayed for the orientation. I helped E make her bed and start unpacking until the first General Session in the Greek Amphitheater, the oldest such theater in the western United States. Here the students began their official college experience in the same place in which they will graduate in four years.

Despite salt-tinged breezes wafting from the nearby Pacific, we baked in the late-afternoon sunshine. We sat near signs for each major, and after the welcome from President Brower and the new ASB President, we followed the major signs to each department where we were introduced to the professors in our students' majors. Elizabeth and I slipped into the last row in the Department of Literature, Journalism, and Modern Languages. One of the professors with whom I used to teach remarked to the group on my presence as a former major and instructor, now here with my daughter. I had the chance to chat with a few professors who were either my professors when I was a student and/or colleagues when I taught. It felt like "home" to me...and to Elizabeth, too, I think.

After dinner on tables set up across the lawns, I attended the Parent Reception while Elizabeth went to the G.A.P. (Get Acquainted Party) and we met again to attend Time Out, an evening worship service in Brown Chapel which was built during my sophomore year. I was soooo greatly impressed with the worship at PLNU. Flickering white candles on the stage lit several modern icons of the life of Christ as we sang the songs printed on the large screens at the front. I loved that in the pauses between lyrics, Scriptures associated with the songs were posted for us to read and meditate upon. At times we read these Scriptures to ourselves; at other times we were led in reading them aloud in unison, a beautiful act of worship.

I went drove E back to her dorm and met her RA and some of her near neighbors in Nease Hall before driving twenty minutes to my parents' home in Pacific Beach where I spent the night. At 8:30 AM after a stop by Starbucks for yogurt and granola and a venti hot water in which I used my own brand of Irish Breakfast Tea, I met E back on campus to attend the second session in Brown Chapel which covered academics. While the parents met for a Transitions workshop and for Breakout sessions (I attended the one on Study Abroad since E is very interested in the Lit Department's biannual London Campus), Elizabeth attended other workshops on strengths and adjustments to college life.

I ate a boxed lunch with another parent from Heritage Christian School while E ate with her Facebook friends in the Nicholson Commons--which is still called "The Caf" by students. We then attended the third General Session on finances and then the Resource Fair where we visited The Point Weekly table (the newspaper) and the Lit Department displays. I told Rachel, the lit department assistant, about some of my projects I'm working on and, after showing her my 1928 Book of Common Prayer, she practically drooled all over it, so I promised her a copy if Father Acker had any left.

Elizabeth and I took a quick trip to Target to get a few things for her dorm room like contact paper for her bulletin board and some drinks for the fridge, returning in time for the Resource Fair drawings, after which we ate dinner on the lawns again and then walked to Brown Chapel for the closing session, a covenant service.

The New Student Covenant Service was incredible. Rev. George Williamson led worship again...I really love the way he brings us into God's presence, plus he was joined that evening by Dr. Kim Bogan, Director of Academic Advising, who leads the Voices of Praise Gospel Choir. After President Brower spoke, he led us in the Prayer of Dedication and Covenant, one of the most touching ceremonies I have attended. (Yes, I had tears gushing down my cheeks and even made E cry a bit, too....)

Responsive Commitments, Prayer, and Covenant:

President Brower: We celebrate and rejoice together in new beginnings in new places. The mission statement of the University reads as follows:

Point Loma Nazarene University exists to provide higher education in a vital Christian community where minds are engaged and challenged, character is modeled and formed, and service becomes an expression of faith. Being of Wesleyan heritage, we aspire to be a learning community where grace is foundational, truth is pursued. and holiness is a way of life.
Faculty/Staff: We welcome you as students and families to PLNU--a gathering of fellow travelers on this journey of spiritual and academic growth as we seek fullness in Christ.

Parents and Sponsoring Adults: To our sons and daughters--we are proud of your past achievements and of the people you are becoming by God's grace. We look froward to watching you continue to grow.

Students: To our parents and family members--we are grateful for your guiding presence in our lives that has prepared us for this moment. Your lives of faith lived before us have paved the way for this next phase of our journey.

Parents and Sponsoring Adults: To the faculty and staff--our student's circle of relationships now widens to include you. Challenge their minds, encourage their spirits, support their efforts to grow, model Christ's gracious love.

Faculty/Staff: We thank you for the confidence you are placing in us. We will endeavor to be faithful to our mission. Pray for us as we pray for you and your students.

Students: We are excited by the challenge of the days ahead. Pray for us as we pray for those sending us and those who are receiving us.

Faculty/Staff: New Students, you stand at the beginning of your academic careers. Your academic slate is waiting to be written upon and we welcome the enthusiasm that comes with wide open options. Transfer students, we look forward to the sharing of your experience and knowledge with a new community.

Students: We appreciate the gift of our education. Our individual journeys have brought us to this place and time and we prepare to move into our futures. We know that we are not alone, our fellow students, faculty, staff, and our families journey with us.

Parents/Faculty/Staff: Believing that the God who began a good work in you will continue to be with you, with enthusiastic determination make the most of your unfolding opportunities. Carry with you the knowledge and commitment of our love, the support of the PLNU community, and the reality that God loves you even more profoundly than we can.

All: Thanks be to God who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine.

(ASB President leads in prayer)

President Brower: Let us make this covenant together:

All: We covenant:
To be a people who together seek to love God with all of our hearts, minds, and bodies. To strive to love one another in thought, word, and deed. To continue to grow as a community formed by our worship of God, through Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit.

President Brower: Lord, we are your people. You have gathered us from around the world to join as one in purpose and mission. Unite us in our desire to glorify Your Name in our pursuit of excellence in academic preparation, wholeness in personal development, and faithfulness to Christ in character and service. This being our purpose, we now make this covenant in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
After the service, during which we laid hands upon our students, and those students without parents present had hands laid upon them by faculty and staff at the front of the chapel, we were sent to one wall which held small papers with each students' name: seed papers that we can plant and will grow into flowers, symbolizing the spiritual, academic, and social growth of our students during their time at PLNU. I drove E back down the cliffs to her dorm and helped her unpack a little more. But before long I left, with her standing under a streetlight outside her dorm level door, waving a little sadly as I drove away.

Elizabeth had a good first week on campus, despite being a little homesick. Her favorite classes are German (with my former German professor who teased her about "having flashbacks") and Writing 110 (freshman composition--a class I used to teach). She also has tennis, Biology 102, and Introduction to Theater. She met with the staff of The Point Weekly and submitted her first story on Thursday, an opinion piece on New Student Orientation.

Actually, I think she may have missed the dachshund (who sleeps in her bed) more than she missed the rest of us....

Collegiately yours,

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sooo Crazy-Busy...

This is the first week of our thirteenth year of home schooling, and I am...

...crazy busy.

...majorly stressed.

...totally exhausted.

...drained to the max.

Dealing with our daughter's first week of living away from home (and learning how to text her (constantly) on a non-texting phone), plus working out the logistics of teaching grades 5, 8, and 10 all at once is stressful and time-consuming.

And our heat wave doesn't help.

Plus I've been working on permissions letters for the new Book of Common Prayer Father Acker has written. I did similar permissions work when I co-published Light of Learning with Dr. Elizabeth Walsh of University of San Diego.

I can't wait to share the wonderful New Student Orientation at Point Loma Nazarene University last weekend; I just haven't had time to pull it together. :)

Once I get into the "groove" of homeschooling again, I'll be able to make more time for blogging and writing. See you then...or sooner.

Blessings to all,

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Quick Quotes Quill

The last few days have flown by, leaving my head whirling. Elizabeth got packed up on Friday, and we drove down the mountain to the coast, where Point Loma Nazarene University nestles along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The orientation also swirled past--before we knew it, the soccer team was unloading our van for us, delivering all of E's belongings right into her room. Keith and the boys left, and I remained on campus with Elizabeth for the rest of New Student Orientation.

I made it home late Saturday night after spending Friday night at my parents' home along the coast, and today I readied our home school for the three boys still at home. I think we're almost ready to begin a new school year. A few things need a bit of spit-shining, but overall, we'll make it.

So these days whirled past, and somehow, someway, our daughter is moved out and installed in a dorm room, ready to begin her college career tomorrow (Monday) with classes in tennis, German, and Writing 110 (Freshman Comp). Time seems more ephemeral than ever, slipping past nearly unseen, a strand of fog always moving while seeming to stand stock still.

I'll write a post on the incredible orientation, but tonight I want to quickly post a quote or two to start out this amazing, wonderful year of educational opportunities.

"Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty."
--Henry Ford

"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."
--Oliver Wendell Holmes

"I am learning all the time. The tombstone will be my diploma."
--Eartha Kitt
So we never truly grow old as long as we continue learning...and that's one reason that homeschooling parents are so young at heart and curious of mind!

Happy learning, everyone! Have a blessed, wonderful year!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Spiritual Practice of Letting Go

The living room, our school area and the armchair and most of the sofa and a good bit of the hearth, is her packing area: Dorm Packing Central, I joke. She washes new blue dishes and slides them between bath towels to keep them from cracking. She unpacks bedroom closet and claims she "can't edit" her wardrobe, sounding more like Rachel Zoe than my familiar grounded daughter.

Her zebra-striped luggage yawns wide, and she folds a zebra-print dress, tucking it into the suitcase's wide mouth. I sigh, not allowing myself to think of missing her.

It's going to be a hard couple of days. Today, after work, she continues packing. Tomorrow afternoon we update her immunizations and perhaps see Inception with her best local friend. Friday afternoon we check her in at 2:00 PM--into her new home for the next nine months.

It just doesn't seem possible.

I can't plan for Monday's first day of our new year of home schooling the boys when my school area looks like a fashionista's hurricane. She tells me "what's in" this fall, gloating over her olive green military jacket, her long black trench, her cream-and-lace over-jumper which hangs nearly to her knees, the arms beautifully tucked. She pairs it with pale purple top--her color this year--khaki skinny jeans and high wedges. She's captivated. I am, too.

And I mourn.

My little girl, so grown up.

Is this fashionable young woman the same one whom I taught to read, whom I educated for all but one year of her schooling? She grins with excitement, one of her many lists clutched in her hand, preparing to leave, to move into Nease Hall at Point Loma Nazarene University. Fifty miles away. It seems farther than that.

I remember my own days of packing for the PLNU dorms, of being so excited and so scared. She has many advantages I didn't: Facebook groups to meet fellow incoming freshmen months in advance, learning who her roommate is ahead of time so they can text each other regarding fridges and printers, room decor and snacks. I didn't meet my roommates until I arrived; we were four to a room. She and Jessica share a smaller room in what used to be the sophomore dorms, back when I attended, twenty-five years ago.

She continues tucking half of her bedroom into black-and-white striped luggage: boots, bomber jacket, the cool purple argyle socks she couldn't resist at Target. She continues placing my heart there, too, the heart that will go wherever she does. I hope for texting so that we can communicate during our days, so that I won't disturb her in class, at work, while hanging out with new friends. But she can disturb me. Any time.

I pray. For her, my girl. For me, the only female left in the house. (Yes even the dog and both rats are male, not to mention three boybarians and a dear husband.) Our evenings will be quiet...too quiet. But at least she'll be home most weekends--the advantage of moving only 50 miles away. I'll pick her up after her Friday afternoon classes; we'll drop her off after Sunday church and lunch.

It's a letting go. The first one. The hardest one. I will not be leaving her on Friday after she unpacks the van and starts arranging her room; I'll be there for New Student Orientation the rest of Friday and all day Saturday. I'm sure I'll have tears. It's natural. Even expected.

The first chick is trying her wings. Momma Bird looks on, proud and sad at same time--missing her so much. Already.

Parenting is so beautiful, and so sweet, and sometimes, bittersweet.

Like now.

Letting go a wee bit at a time,

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Weekly Hip Home School Hop!

We will be starting our thirteenth year of home education a week from today. I'll be teaching our three boys in grades 5, 8, and 10, while our eldest moves into the dorms at Point Loma Nazarene University this Friday.

It feels odd to only have three students, yet our daughter had a very light load last year and mostly worked as she only had three classes to finish to graduate.

So this year, this is our plan:

Fifth Grade
ABeka 5 Math
Bob Jones 5 Reader
Daily Grams 5
A Reason for Handwriting, Level E
Brave Writer: Writer's Jungle
California History at our co-op Class Days
PE at our co-op Class Days
Lego Design at our co-op Class Days
How Nature Works
Sonlight 100 Bible (with the older two boys)
German in 10 Minutes a Day
Spectrum Spelling

Eighth Grade
Saxon Algebra 1/2 with tutor
Sonlight 100 History (second half American History--using Hakim's Story of US)
Sonlight 100 Bible
Sonlight 100 American Literature (tied to history readings)
Apologia General Science at co-op Class Days
PE at co-op Class Days
Chess Club at co-op Class Days
Advanced Daily Grams (8th grade)
Online Spelling Program
German in 10 Minutes a Day

Tenth Grade
Sonlight 100 Bible
Smarr World Literature
Apologia or ABeka Biology with Lab at co-op Class Days
High School Art at co-op Class Days
Saxon Algebra II with tutor
ABeka World History
LiveMocha German 103 plus various workbooks
Online Spelling Program

So those are our plans...we'll see how they pan out during this year. I'll be teaching Intermediate and Advanced Writing at our co-op Class Days; for my syllabi and online essay help for high schoolers, see my website: Susanne M. Barrett: Online Essay Grading and Tutoring

Happy Home Schooling,

And Here's the Hop!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Continuing the Gratitude Journey

Some words resonate with me. They're my words. They belong to me, entwining heart, mind, soul. A little thrill buzzes in my deep o' deeps when I read them, hear them, write them, committing them to paper or monitor where they wink at me on the page, behind the cursor.

(especially when combined with Path)

This morning dawned hot, more summerish than we've seen, felt, thus far--hinted at by the low-hanging clouds last night at sunset. The air hangs heavy with moisture, with the possibility of afternoon showers. I scoop my hair into a ponytail, off my neck. The kids dress cool as they get ready for their jobs, E at the Bible Camp, the two older boys hauling cement blocks for an older couple in our small town. Only B is home with me this morning, his thumbs flying as he attacks Orcs on the TV screen.

Thus begins our final week of summer vacation; our home school, less one, will start a week from today. I have books bought, but no planning done. I have a desk that desperately needs to be cleared and cleaned. Much looms...much to be done. But it will all be ready. It always is.

So this week I continue on the Path to 1000 Gifts with the Gratitude Community, learning to thank God for the little things as well as the big ones....

286. For mountain sunsets pinking across the skies, the fields, in the fresh gloaming which leads to peaceful nights.

287. For children who are willing to work hard, to be responsible.

288. For a peaceful summer that contained rest, relaxation, and occasional fun

289. For a husband who combs Craig's List, searching for a replacement refrigerator and a replacement sofa, and who found both just today, plus more free firewood available right here in our town.

290. For piles and mounds of free eucalyptus, split by Keith and the boys--six to seven cords, ready to be stacked for winters to come.

291. For clouds scudding across summer skies, hinting at a possible afternoon thundershower.

292. For friends who share their kitchens, their lives, their wisdom when I stop by for a chat.

293. For worship on a Sunday morning, Book of Common Prayer spread on my lap while I pray and glory in Love.

294. For enough funds to purchase all our needed curriculum for this year of home education.

295. For Grace...every minute of every hour of every day.

In gratitude for abundant blessings,

holy experience

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Mary the Virgin

The statue of The Assumption of Mary in the cemetery of Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, taken Thursday when I was there with C.

This Sunday, this Eleventh Day After Trinity, blooms bright and true. Today we celebrate the Mother of Christ Jesus, the one whose "Yes" enabled the coming of the Saviour of the World. I pray that my response to God's urgent whisper is ever Yes.

This day Catholic Christians celebrate the Assumption of Mary into heaven while Anglican Christians celebrate the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin.

According to Wikipedia, the Anglican practice differs from the Catholic celebration, "In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the day is observed as the Holy Day of Saint Mary the Virgin. In the Church of England the day is a Festival of The Blessed Virgin Mary."

Today's Collect (a prayer that is prayed collectively by the Anglican Church for a particular Sunday and for the week following)for the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer:

O GOD, who hast taken to thyself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of thine only Son: Grant that we who have been redeemed by his blood may share with her the glory of thine eternal kingdom; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost ever, one God, world without end. Amen.

The Epistle for the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, also from the 1928 BCP: Isaiah 61:7-11:

THEREFORE in their land they shall possess a double portion: everlasting joy shall be unto them. For I the Lord love justice. I hate robbery and wrong; and I will direct their work in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. And their seed shall be known among the Gentiles, and their offspring among the people: all that see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which the Lord hath blessed. I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels. For as the earth bringeth forth her bud, and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

And the Gospel reading for the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin, from the 1928 BCP: The Gospel According to Saint Luke 1:46-55, from the Magnificat:

MY soul doth magnify the Lord and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath holpen his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; as he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.

So today we remember and celebrate Mary's incredible Yes to God, and remember the Angel Gabriel's words to the frightened teenager: "For nothing will be impossible with God.”

Amen and amen.

Praying to be a woman of Yes,

Saturday, August 14, 2010

A Blogging Meme

This meme is floating around. I've seen it on a couple of blogs, but I'm specifically lifting it from Sarah's blog, Paper Roads.

1. Why do you blog?
Because I love to write, but don't have the patience, the attention span, to write a book. I love this format as I can write about anything I want--family, faith, home education, writing, poetry, simplicity, etc.--and I have a wonderful audience who occasionally comment to encourage me, challenge me, and make me dig deeper. It's the perfect format for me, and with my fourth blogging anniversary yesterday, I've come to appreciate the blogging format even more.

2. What are your 3 best memories?
It's hard to nail down 44 years of life into three memories, but here goes:

1. The day of my marriage, barely choking out the "I do" through tears of joy, seeing his tears as well.

2. The births of each of our four children--the pain turning into joy so quickly, so incredibly.

3. The contentment of nursing my babies, of sustaining them myself.

3. What are the 4 best fiction books you have ever read?
Again, it's hard to turn 40 years of avid reading into a mere four books, but here are the ones that come to mind first:

1. Father Elijah by Michael D. O'Brien--The most beautiful prose grappling with the most integral aspects of faith and life and death.

2. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen--Fanny is the most incredible heroine: quiet, shy, yet ultimately strong despite her upbringing, her family's disinterest, her idealism.

3. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott--Most people are fans of Jo, the writer, but shy Beth is my heroine. The way she faces chronic pain, chronic suffering, has somehow prepared me for dealing with my own chronic pain.

4. Anne's House of Dreams by LM Montgomery--A beautiful book that helped me to become a more compassionate and aware woman, wife, mother, friend. Her prose is so stunningly lovely, surpassing even Austen's for sheer beauty.

4. What are the 5 best movies you've ever seen?
1. Dead Poets Society--a tear-jerker but simply incredible.

2. Importance of Being Earnest with Colin Firth--makes me happy and I love the wit and Wilde's dialogue.

3. Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth--the best P and P ever.

4. Remember Me--touching and tragic and remarkably acted. So believable.

5. Mama Mia!--just plain fun! And has my two favourite actors, Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan--makes me so happy!

5. Name 5 things you can't live without.
1. My family

2. Poetry

3. Chocolate

4. Fountain pens/dip pens and bottled ink

5. Music--especially U2

6. If you could change your name, what would it be?
I changed my name to Susanne about eight years ago--but not legally because it's an expensive hassle here in California. But if I could choose any name, I would add my daughter's name to it: Susanne-Elizabeth. My legal name? I'll think about telling you...sometime. (Yes, some of you know it, but I'd rather not go there right now...it's embarrassing!)

7. Tell us a unique and interesting fact about yourself.
I am obsessed with time. I always need to know what time it is--at all times. I have clocks everywhere in my house, plus I never go anywhere above water without my wristwatch.

8. What do you love best about yourself?
I admit to having a hard time loving parts of myself, but I think I love my loyalty to my family and friends and, physically, I love my hair--at long last. I now love its curl and its auburn color; I've never dyed it. But it's taken me 43 years to truly appreciate my hair and to stop fighting it.

9. If you could become someone else for a day, who would you change places with?
Hmmmmm...I think if I could be someone now dead, I would like to be Julian of Norwich, alone in my English cloister, deep in contemplative prayer. Or Mary Magdalene, Christ's friend and patron, at the foot of the cross and first at the tomb on Easter morning. If I could be someone now alive for a day, I would like to be Katie Melua and be able to sing beautifully...for one day.

10. What is the best thing about being a woman?
Birthin' babies. :)

Wishing you all a blessed weekend,

The Value of Contemplation

Somehow "contemplation" seems to have become a dangerous word to some Christians (see the post below this one).

I consider myself a "contemplative Christian." What I mean by this term is that I try to spend time in silence and solitude with God and His Word. Most Christians do this--often calling it "devotions" or "having a quiet time." I attempt to seek God in larger expanses of time, preferably for an entire day, and I'm hoping to spend several days in His Presence at a retreat center or a monastery/abbey this fall.

I was first introduced to the concept of contemplative prayer through a day retreat with College Avenue Baptist Church in which thirty people carpooled up the coast to the beautiful and peaceful Mission San Luis Rey, one of the original California Missions. My dear friend Johanna presented me with the retreat as a birthday gift--one of the most precious gifts I've ever been given. We gathered in a room within the retreat grounds of the mission and the concept of contemplative prayer was introduced.

We started with reading a few Psalms aloud, slowly and meditatively. Then we were given some guidelines for spending our day with God, including Scripture memorization, Scripture reading, praying Scripture, meditating on hymns/praise songs, writing prayers in journals, etc. We prayed together and then were let loose to wander or find a place to sit/pray in the beautiful grounds with one command: silence! We were not to talk until lunch--three hours in the future. 

I seated myself on a wooden bench with a view of the rose garden and the green hills beyond, lovely and fresh with spring. I took out my journal and scribbled in it, increasingly illegibly, for over two hours, pouring out my heart to the Lord regarding a difficult issue going on in our church, and my own feelings and reactions and thoughts about it. When the lunch bell rang, I rose from the wooden bench a little stiffly but feeling decidedly lighter, sensing God's forgiveness toward myself and my forgiveness toward those involved, rather than the anger and judgment I had arrived with. God used those hours to mold and teach me as I surrendered myself to Him in written prayer.

We ate a simple lunch in the small mission dining room, chatting quietly with one another. As I knew no one at the retreat, I mostly listened to their conversations. After lunch we gathered again, prayed together, and were let loose again for three hours--the remainder of the afternoon.

I walked the Stations of the Cross along the back of the mission grounds, meditating on Jesus' path to the cross, His great love that empowered Him to do so, His grace and mercy, His human physical suffering, His spiritual suffering in taking every sin ever committed and ever would be committed onto Himself. I proceeded at times with tears welling, slowly walking the dirt path from one cross to the next, imagining myself among the crowds that day on the Via Dolorosa. Powerful.

I also spent time reading slowly and meditatively the small book we were each given at the beginning of the day: Intimacy with the Almighty by Charles Swindoll. I found much wisdom there, much that I would absorb and apply to my life in the weeks, months, even years to come. It's a lovely little book--so wise and practical and beautiful and transparent.

At 5:00 PM, we gathered again in our room and shared how God had spoken to us that day. Many of the participants were in tears; I found my eyes wet as well as I heard their stories of what God had revealed to them. We finished the day with more Psalms read aloud and a quiet receiving of Communion.

I left the mission that afternoon a changed Christian.

I hungered for more days spent with God in this way, allowing the silence and the solitude open doors of communication with God. We are so often too busy to stop, drop everything going on in our busy lives, and spend a day with God. I discovered the value of contemplation--of listening to God, prepared to hear from His Heart and apply His Wisdom to my life.

I attended the same day retreat the next spring, taking a friend along. A few years later I brought a local friend with me to have our own retreat: seated side by side in lawn chairs and picnic blankets, reading our Bibles and praying, writing in journals and singing softly under our breath, allowing the silence and relative solitude to bring us more fully into His Presence.

And I led a weekend retreat for Lake Murray based on the day retreats I had attended at the mission, using materials from Swindoll and The Navigators, a missions organization based on college campuses which also focuses on the value of contemplative prayer. I also included a Biblical Stations of the Cross with Old Masters artwork accompanying each Scripture selection along the path hung on the outside of our meeting room. The retreat was helpful for many of the women who had never spent a day in prayer before. In fact, for several of the retreats following, we had an extended two-to-three hour "quiet time" built into the retreat schedule. And we've reused the Biblical Stations on Good Friday in the sanctuary of Lake Murray.

So this is how I became interested in contemplative prayer, and my goal is to spend several days doing exactly this: praying God's Word, meditating on Scripture, writing prayer, and being open to listening to God's direction for me. I find the Anglican Morning Prayer and Communion services provide me a glimpse of an experience I hope I can accomplish some time--spending several days in sweet Communion with our Lord.

The value of this practice, for me, lies in the quiet, the solitude, the opportunity to set aside my busy schedule and sometimes crazy life to sit at Christ's feet, as Mary did, listening to Him. We need a balance between being a Martha and being a Mary, between our responsibilities and duties as homeschooling mothers and taking the time to bask in God's Presence. The dishes and dusting can wait...at times. And we can be with the Love of Our Life without fear of interruption, giving Him our undivided attention as He whispers His grace into our listening ears and waiting hearts.

Sitting at His feet,

Friday, August 13, 2010

Being a "Contemplative" and a "Mystic" Is "Satanic"?

I had posted some suggestions for American Literature books on a homeschooling forum several weeks ago, and someone posted today, claiming that a contemporary poet--and a dear friend of mine--was "New Age" and "satanic" and "occult" because of the words "contemplative" and "mystic"--I'm not sure where this person even unearthed these words; they certainly were not part of my original post which I posted merely to recommend some contemporary poetry readings for high school American literature.

This person linked the words "contemplative" and "mystic" to the "New Age" movement--which this person apparently believes is both "occult" and "satanic." I suppose that one can make that (mostly wrong) assumption, but to level such inflammatory accusations publicly on a Christian forum crosses the line--bounds across it, actually--in my opinion. If this person was curious, then why not e-mail me any questions privately? Why make public accusations, both regarding my friend and, indirectly, myself, as right here on my blog I refer to myself as both as a "contemplative Christian" and as a "mystic."

I think this poster who maligned my friend has such a narrow, "in the box" view of Christianity that it's just plain scary. It's the brand of Christianity that gives Christians such a bad name among non-Christians: judging others, labeling others, and mostly without adequate information to make such sweeping judgments. This kind of judgment both maddens and saddens me. Why are some Christians so willing, so eager, to draw lines in the sand and attempt to define what Christianity is and is not with sweeping generalizations and wildly out-of-context Scripture verses?

This person quoted from Genesis about Eve and the serpent...I don't understand why in the slightest when the context of the post was about New Age beliefs...in response to a poetry recommendation I made for a literature program. What?????

So yes, one can definitely be a "contemplative" and a "mystic" and a Christian. Just look to the past 2000 years of Christianity...oh, wait! Most evangelicals (not all, mind you) have no concept of Christian history...or at least of Christianity preceding 1517 and Martin Luther.

But there are modern Christian contemplatives--Eugene Peterson being one, Richard Foster another. I've also discovered much information about contemplation in the materials of The Navigators as well as in Charles Swindoll's little gem Intimacy with the Almighty. And there are many, many more out there, thankfully, among both evangelical Protestants and Catholics.

In 2006 I led a women's retreat for Lake Murray Community Church on contemplative spirituality, teaching the meditational mode of Lectio Divina ("Holy Reading") for meditating on Scripture, along with the spiritual disciplines of solitude and silence to help us to truly hear God in the midst of our busy lives, using almost exclusively Swindoll's book and materials from The Navigators who also teach Lectio.

Just because the meditation form of Lectio Divina was first formulated by catholic Christians (small "c" catholics, not necessarily Roman Catholics, but including them as we all were One Church for at least 1000 years before the schism with the East and 1500 years before there even was a Protestant Church) is no reason to ignore this valuable mode of meditating on God's Holy Word. If evangelicals kept to such standards, we Protestants wouldn't celebrate Communion because catholics did first, read and study Scripture because catholics did so first, etc. It's a ridiculous reason to disregard a fully Christian and Scriptural practice.

In fact, one of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 6:16: "Thus says the Lord: 'Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls'" (ESV). And there indeed we can find the rest in Him that our sould thirst for--this truth is the value of contemplative prayer and study, of allowing outselves to remain open to His mystical revelation through Scripture and prayer--of quieting our minds and listening to Christ Jesus our Lord.

Here is a secular definition of "contemplative" from the secular information site Wikipedia--and here's the secular definition of "Christian mysticism" from Wikipedia as well. There's nothing New Age about either of these terms--although mysticism can refer to many shades of religious practice but definitely includes traditional Christianity.

Thanks for allowing me to let off a little steam tonight after having to respond to what I consider an inflammatory attack by someone I don't even know regarding a dear friend and including myself, since this person was directly responding to a post I wrote that had nothing whatsoever to do with the subject at hand--which was the supposed to be the study of American poetry.


Signing off now, I hope in peace,

PS I found that this person who wrote these comments on this particular homeschooling forum took them from reviews of my friend's work. So my friend never penned these words; reviewers did. Even if my friend had called herself "contemplative" and "a mystic," I don't see why those labels should brand her as a "satanist" and "occultist." But she didn't. This person never read her work, never asked about my friend's faith and practice; this person leveled accusations and slander instead, based on the words of others taken waaaay out of context, rather than trusting my opinion of my friend, sister-in-Christ, and Christian mentor. I merely reiterated my experience of my friend's faith and wrote that I would not continue the conversation in public.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Another Hip Homeschool Hop

So here we are--another wonderful Hip Homeschool Hop! Check out the wonderful links below (inluding mine!) to find some really cool homeschool friends-to-be!

After all, we Hip Homeschoolers need to stick together!

And what makes me a Hip Homeschooler? I happen to think that my allergic reaction to denim skirts & white Keds, my love for U2, especially their latest CD's, my Harry Potter & Twilight fandom, and my (secret) desire for a tattoo (just a Celtic cross on my ankle) make me rather hip, even if I am in my (cough-mid-)forties.

So, what makes YOU a Hip Homeschooler? I'd love to know!

Probably not as hip as I think I am,

PS I messed up the link to my web site, so here it is, just in case:
Susanne M. Barrett Online Essay Grading and Writing Tutoring

Monday, August 9, 2010

Giving Thanks....

Joining the Gratitude Community on the path to A Thousand Gifts as I give thanks for His blessings, the little things and the huge ones--all marks of grace, glimpses o' glory.

Giving thanks this week for:

276. Prayer in a cemetery

277. Hard things that reveal so much that we need to learn

278. Rejection letters...because they show me where I'm lacking

279. The blessing of being able to homeschool our kids...and needing very little curriculum this fall

280. Boys who work hard in house and garden...for neighbors and for us

281. Guitar and piano music...played by our middle son

282. The melodic chime of mission bells

283. Learning, growing, teaching, absorbing

284. Hands held in darkness

285. Crisp nights dipping close to freezing...unheard of in a Southern California August

Thanking God this night and always,

holy experience

QuotationS of the Week

I received my second rejection letter for some poems today--and very quickly, too; I had only submitted them last week. Sigh. (Sob!)

So...I sent out more poems today.

Therefore I thought I'd share a quote or two about poetry for this week's quotation. (Okay...quotationS)

"Poetry is just the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash."
--Leonard Cohen

"The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth."
--Jean Cocteau

"Poetry is a deal of joy and pain and wonder, with a dash of the dictionary."
--Kahlil Gibran
So I hope to grow as a poet and gain a couple of acceptance letters. But I'm saving my rejection letters anyway--not really sure why. Perhaps to look back over in about...oh, maybe like ten years...and laugh.


Hopefully awash in acceptance letters in a decade...or two,

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Another Sunday Morning Comes

Another Sunday morning comes. After the chill of an overnight low of 41, quite cold for Southern California, we rush about, making and eating breakfast, spilling water into neglected flower beds before August heat further wilts the sorry blooms, dressing stiffly in our best clothes, then piling into the van to drive into the city, leaving purpled mountains sheened with Grace behind.

The music in church this morning is loud. We slide into the last row of teal chairs hooked together, trying to adjust to volume of guitar and drum and voice. The songs are mostly new, unfamiliar, belted out with vigor. After attempting to worship to two of the songs, I give up, opening Psalter instead, praying through Psalms for the Eighth Morning. The intrusive cacophony fades into the background of my mind, and I find myself praising with the Psalmist from the fortieth Psalm:

I WAITED patiently for the LORD, * and he inclined unto me, and heard my calling.
He brought me also out of the horrible pit, out of the mire and clay, * and set my feet upon the rock, and ordered my goings.
And he hath put a new song in my mouth, * even a thanksgiving unto our God.
Many shall see it, and fear, * and shall put their trust in the LORD.
Blessed is the man that hath set his hope in the LORD, * and turned not unto the proud, and to such as go about with lies.
O LORD my God, great are the wondrous works which thou hast done, like as be also thy thoughts, which are to us-ward; * and yet there is no man that ordereth them unto thee.
My heart quiets, and, at last, a more mellow, more familiar song sets us into Communion. I turn in my prayer book to the beginning of the Office of Holy Communion, bow my head, and fix my heart...to worship in Word and Deed.

Ruminate Magazine posted this poem by Wendell Berry on its Facebook page this morning, and I resonate with the idea of God's Creation all a-worship in His Grace....

"Another Sunday Morning Comes..."
by Wendell Berry, from A Timbered Choir.

Another Sunday morning comes
And I resume the standing Sabbath
Of the woods, where the finest blooms
Of time return, and where no path

Is worn but wears its makers out
At last, and disappears in leaves
Of fallen seasons. The tracked rut
Fills and levels; here nothing grieves

In the risen season. Past life
Lives in the living. Resurrection
Is in the way each maple leaf
Commemorates its kind, by connection

Outreaching understanding. What rises
Rises into comprehension
And beyond. Even falling raises
In praise of light. What is begun

Is unfinished. And so the mind
That comes to rest among the bluebells
Comes to rest in motion, refined
By alteration. The bud swells,

Opens, makes seed, falls, is well,
By becoming what it is:
Miracle and Parable,
Exceeding thought because it is.

Immeasurable; the understander
Encloses understanding, thus
Darkens the light. We can stand under
No ray that is not dimmed by us.

The mind that comes to rest is tended
In ways that it cannot intend:
Is borne, preserved, and comprehended
By what it cannot comprehend.

Your Sabbath, Lord, thus keeps us by
Your will, not ours. And it is fit
Our only choice should be to die
Into that rest, or out of it.
Walking forward to worship in His grace, both with the family of God and with the woods and wilds,

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Saturday Evening Blog Post

It's been a few months since I've posted to the Saturday Evening Blog Post, so tonight I thought I would post my favorite post of the last month.

I'm cheating, actually. 'Cause I'm going to post two.

I'm so bad. Elizabeth Esther is going to scold me. Big Time.

So here they are:

Sunday Rest...and e.e. cummings


A Day of Friendship

So I hope you enjoy my favorite blog post (okay...postS) of the past month.

Happy Blogging,

A Busy Few Days...of Friendships

The last few days have been busy but wonderful--and healing, too, in a way.

I spent Thursday with C at Mission San Luis Rey. I wrote last week about our day of friendship, the time we spend there each week, enjoying wonderful lectures on medieval church history, a lovely lunch in the dining room, and sacred time in the cemetery. This Thursday C brought folding chairs, luxurious ones with shades attached. We settled the chairs in the new part of the cemetery, on the pavement under the imposing statue of Mary, facing the marble wall. We nestled under the chair shades, relieved to be protected from the stunningly bright (and hot!) sunshine.

From my bookbag, I brought out my Divine Hours book and prayed aloud the Midday Office for Thursday, my voice lightened by brisk winds that set the nearby wind chimes dancing and singing. C pulled out her rosary; I dug out my Anglican prayer beads from the bottom of my bag, and we prayed in silence, side by side, fingering smooth beads, feeling His Spirit within us, her spirit beside us.

It was a peace-filled hour, yet an hour of struggle, trying to wrap head and heart around this new reality, a reality without her here on earth, filling it with her artwork, with her stories, with her quiet joy. I finished the hour by writing in my journal, completing the last sentence on the last line of the page just as the mission bells chimed two o'clock, a perfect way to end an hour spent with friends, one here on earth, one gone on into eternity.

On Friday I didn't attend the Feast of Transfiguration service with the Anglicans at Victoria Chapel; instead, I arrived in Lakeside at 9:30 AM to spend the morning with my chiropractor's wife, Fern, who had taken a bad fall in May and was still recovering from a broken pelvis, a broken arm, and spinal damage, the latter of which required a more recent procedure. Fern's pain is debilitating, yet her joy remains palpable.

I brought along The Divine Hours book again and I prayed aloud Friday's Office of Morning Prayer. From my voluminous book bag, I then pulled out my 1928 Book of Common Prayer and my English Standard Version Bible, and I prayed aloud Morning Prayer, including the Psalms for the Sixth Morning from the BCP Psalter (Psalms 27, 28, and 29) as well as the Old Testament and New Testament readings, according to the BCP Lectionary, from my ESV Bible.

Fern very much enjoyed hearing God's Word--which is what the Book of Common Prayer is: God's Word, arranged into prayers. We chatted between prayer and readings: what our kids are up to, the latest events going on at Lake Murray (they used to attend with us) including two new engagements, and the strange dreams our pain medications cause. After I gave her the pain meds scheduled for 10:30, she was ready for a nap, so I made myself a cup of tea and settled into a soft recliner just outside Fern's room to work on my MLA project (taking my MLA class posts for Brave Writer and transforming them into a book) for an hour or so until Dr. Burns returned from seeing patients at his office. He adjusted my neck before I left--which was a blessing as it's been bothering me this week.

He said that the visit was a true blessing to Fern, so I'll try to stop by for an hour once a week to spend time with her. Dr. Burns and Fern were our adult Sunday School leaders when B was born almost eleven years ago, and Dr. Burns has been my main doctor through my chronic health problems. Fern and I have always had a close relationship; she's known Keith's family for 40 years, and we have many acquaintances in common outside of Lake Murray. She even attended the Lake Murray Women's Retreat when I was the featured speaker. So it was a joy to be there for her while she's bedridden and in pain; she called me often when I was in the same situation eight years ago, and her calls always encouraged me and lifted my spirits.

I'm blessed and thankful that I am able to return the favor now.

Wishing you all blessed friendships in our Lord,

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Listening Through Writing

I adore antique pens. Okay, replicas will do, too (and they usually write better as well). And I've unearthed an ancient secret.

Writing slowly and methodically helps me to listen to--to actually hear--God.

There is something so elemental, so relaxing, in dipping a brass nib into a bottle of ink (I prefer sepia ink, but also use black, green, and violet) and setting pen to the thick, lined paper of a journal. The sybilant scratch of nib quietly traveling across paper calms me, relaxing me far more effectively than the click of keyboard (and I don't click gently--I rather BANG on my computer, especially if I get on a roll). Watching the colored ink form loop and line, letters melding into words, words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraphs into pages--it's a progression as natural as knitting, sewing, painting--the creation of an artistic entity that seems to breathe from the pale pages. It soothes me. And it opens me.

For as I write so slowly, so methodically, my heart rate slows, my mind quiets, my body settles out of its frantic pace into rest. And my ears open--my spiritual "ears" if you will, the ones that are plugged closed when I am too busy, too frantic, too consumed, to listen truly. And mine are plugged the vast majority of the time, I am ashamed to say.

But writing like this--in this old-fashioned manner, the way of Austen and Dickens, of the Brontes and Poe, of Dickinson and Longfellow--enables me to think...ponder...contemplate. It frees me, for twenty minutes or so, from the chokehold that daily life has on my mind and heart, and I can take deep, cleansing breaths once again. I can stretch out my mind, let it wander where it will, and let it absorb what I am nearly always much too busy to hear...


He Who created me, Who romances me, Who adores me, Who wants time with me.

As my pen, smooth rosewood between my fingers, scritches across the page, His Spirit fills me "to the brim and above the brim," as Robert Frost writes in "Birches." I breathe Him in with deep, throaty gulps, not realizing until now that I was suffocating, Spirit-deprived far too long.

I admit to being a journal junkie. I have three--okay, four--journals that I write in regularly. My first--and it's nearly filled once again--is my "life journal," the place where I write about what goes on, what I'm thinking about, what the kids are up to, how my week has been; I try to write in this one weekly. I also have a journal--my "poetry journal"--dedicated to drafts of poems, where I feel comfortable scribbling out lines, revising with arrows pointing there and here, where I don't judge what I write at first; I also try to write in this journal at least weekly.

My "quotation" journal has been a project since moving into this mountain cabin in 2001; sometimes I don't write in it for months, but I also write daily for short spurts; it's a grown-up version of my children's copywork notebooks where I carefully transfer quotations from books, magazines, websites. Sometimes I jot down a sentence or two; other times I copy pages from a certain book or web page. Lastly I have a "spiritual journal," filled with prayer requests grouped together, with sermon and lecture notes, and with lots of conversations with God. I pause to dip my pen into the bottle of black ink, His thoughts melding with mine as I carefully place pen to paper, continuing to write.

But my grandmother's clock on the mantel chimes. With a sigh, I complete my sentence and reluctantly close my journal. I cork the bottle of ink, gather my pen, wiping it carefully on a rainbowed cloth to remove excess ink, and reluctantly place pen and ink on my desk in their place of honor...to be drawn forth another day, just so I can listen again to Him Who created the sun, moon, stars...and Who loves me far more than I can ever mold into words, than I can ever comprehend on this side of Heaven.

On this listening journey with you,

holy experience

Welcome, New Followers!

I just want to welcome you new followers and readers from the Hip Homeschool Hop!

I am thrilled to have you along for the journey, and I can't wait to take a look at your blogs as well.

We'll be starting our thirteenth year of home education on August 23, the same day our eldest starts her first college classes at Point Loma Nazarene University, the college I attended and also taught at for a few years when the children were young and my husband able to stay at home with them. It's a beautiful campus--not merely because it's nestled on cliffs overlooking the glorious Pacific Ocean in San Diego, but also because of its incredible spiritual and academic strengths. This liberal arts university of 2000 students becomes true family.

I'll be posting more about our homeschooling plans in a few days. Now with only our three boys at home, starting grades 5, 8, and 10, we'll be shifting into new schedules, new curricula, new lotsa stuff.

I'm also going to be teaching two classes at Brave Writer this fall: Just So Stories, a class in story writing based on Rudyard Kipling's wonderful animal stories, and the MLA Research Essay, in which I'll be guiding high school students through the research and writing processes necessary to produce a college-level argumentative research paper according to the MLA (Modern Language Association) format, the format most commonly used in universities.

And of course I'll be continuing my own online essay grading and writing assistance/tutoring for homeschooling families through my website: Susanne M. Barrett Online Grading Services.
So again, welcome to my blog, and I hope that you'll find it a help in your homeschooling journey as well as a place of peace and contemplation in our busy lives.

On the journey with you,

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hip Homeschool Moms


Tonight I experienced my first TweetChat--a Twitter Party with the fun homeschoolers associated with Hip Homeschool Moms. Some really great women and resources changed hands in a pretty wild TweetChat--wow! They were almost impossible to keep up with!

But I wanted to add the Mr. Linky List for the first Hip Homeschool Hop so that we can share each others' information and links and stuff. So here they are:

Trodding the Path to Gratitude

This week's path to 1000 Gifts at the Gratitude Community is one of the "little things"--the simple, everyday things we so easily overlook and forget to thank God for...or at least I do. So on I trod, opening my eyes and my heart to the little things that make life so sweet...

...if only they are noticed.

So this Monday, drear with low-hanging grey clouds whispering the possibility of summer monsoonal rains, I thank God for...

266. ...sweet cherries, finally in season

267. ...peering into clear blue eyes, the color of summer skies, each morning for over 25 years

268. ...the rambunctious sounds of boys wrestling and tumbling in the next room

269. ...the quiet cool of early summer mornings

270. ...the hush of summer twilight, all creation quieting in the gloaming

271. ...fresh-squeezed lemonade, with lemons from the Ackers' trees

272. ...mare's tails stretching crisply across bluest-of-blue skies above shadowed mountains

273. ...small town parades, with small (and not so small) children scrabbling for candy thrown from restored jalopies, and with local firefighters crowned as hometown heroes

274. ...gardens growing despite benign neglect

275. ...the pale pink of Mexican primroses fluttering in afternoon breezes

To quote the renowned American poet, Henry John Deutschendorf, Jr., better known as John Denver, Poet Laureate of Colorado in 1977: "It's the little things that make a house a home" ("Back Home Again," 1974).

So true.

And it's the little things that make us people of gratitude, trodding the path of God's gracious gifts.

Walking with you,

holy experience


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