He Keeps Me Singing

He Keeps Me Singing

Luther P. Bridges

There’s within my heart a melody
Jesus whispers sweet and low,
Fear not, I am with thee, peace, be still,
In all of life’s ebb and flow.


Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,
Sweetest Name I know,
Fills my every longing,
Keeps me singing as I go.

All my life was wrecked by sin and strife,
Discord filled my heart with pain,
Jesus swept across the broken strings,
Stirred the slumbering chords again.


Feasting on the riches of His grace,
Resting ’neath His sheltering wing,
Always looking on His smiling face,
That is why I shout and sing.


Though sometimes He leads through waters deep,
Trials fall across the way,
Though sometimes the path seems rough and steep,
See His footprints all the way.


Soon He’s coming back to welcome me,
Far beyond the starry sky;
I shall wing my flight to worlds unknown,
I shall reign with Him on high.


A Birthday, Emotional Whiplash, & Andalusia

First, the birthday. My sweet daughter Mary turned 26 today. Here she is when she was much younger, with Lina and Flynn:

Mary in pool

I did get to talk to her a little this evening, and am looking forward to seeing her in person in a couple of weeks.

I know I’ve mentioned before that I am normally a one-event-a-day kind of girl. Sometimes, though, I have no choice but to participate in multiple events in one day, and today was one of those days.

I was up early this morning to take a shower before Lina, Jasper and I left for Dallas at 7:00. Way back in the fall I had signed us up for a field trip to Medieval Times, the restaurant/entertainment show in Dallas. We got there in plenty of time and met up with others from our homeschool group. Medieval Times lets you in the door a full hour before they allow you to actually go to your table. During that time, you are trapped in a large room where they try to sell you all kinds of medieval-themed things. Not a problem for us, but hard for parents with young children!

We were seated in the section that was assigned to cheer for the red knight. Before they got down to the business of jousting and horsemanship though, the cast acted out a series of little morality plays that were clearly aimed at schoolchildren. The plays used the code of chivalry to demonstrate how a “good” person behaves as opposed to someone who is unchivalrous. Some of the topics covered were bullying, gossip, and public humiliation. Very preachy but the message was good!

The show is very entertaining. Everything is scripted but it’s still fun to watch. There was a dressage demonstration by the master of horse on a stunning Andalusian stallion. Fights and jousting with exploding lances! Sparking swords! Handsome knights! A free-flying falcon! We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves.

On the way home, we stopped by an outlet mall so I could pick up a gift I needed to buy. This evening I had two events to go to and they both started at the same time. First I drove to a funeral home to pay my respects to the family of my friend Sarah, who died earlier this week. It was good to see her granddaughter after so many years. The memorial service will be in Sarah’s home state of Alabama, so it was very important to me to be at the viewing today, even though I couldn’t stay long.

There was a weird coincidence at the funeral home. When I asked Sarah’s son about the funeral, he explained that after she is cremated there will be a memorial service for her in her hometown of Andalusia, Alabama. How often does anyone mention Andalusia? Yet this morning we enjoyed the performance of a horse originally bred in Andalusia, Spain, and this evening I learned that my friend Sarah was also from Andalusia–Andalusia, Alabama.

I went straight from the funeral home to a wedding shower for a young couple. The groom has been going to our church throughout his college years and in fact is the longsuffering violinist who plays with me most Sundays. I sure am going to miss him. There was a good turnout at the shower, with lots of their college friends and some of us from church too.

When I left to drive home, though, I found myself in a strange place emotionally. The day started off lighthearted and fun at Medieval Times, only to turn very sad as I said goodbye to my friend Sarah and saw her lifeless body at the funeral home. It was hard to jump from that into being happy for the young couple who are soon to be married, and underneath it all is the looming reality of Lina’s departure. It took me a couple of hours to recover from the emotional whiplash.

Parting Shot:

4-21-17 knights

Knights at Medieval Times

Car Trouble & a New Recipe

This morning after I got Jasper going on school, I headed out to run a couple of errands. My first stop was the health food store, where I found everything I needed. Then when I got back in the car and tried to leave, the car would not start. *sigh*

I called my husband, but he couldn’t come help me because he was driving some VIP wives around town for the day. (He is a “spare” driver for the university in addition to his real job.) Lina was gone taking her big teacher test. So I called Spencer, and he reluctantly rolled out of bed and drove across town to give me a jump start.

When I got home, I left the car running for half an hour to charge the battery, and then in the afternoon I finally had a chance to go grocery shopping at Aldi. When I was ready to leave Aldi, the car seemed a little reluctant to start, so I told my husband about it, and after he checked it out he grounded the car until we can deal with the battery issue. This means Lina gets to drive us to Dallas tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the reason I had gone to the health food store was to get several essential oils. My autoharp teacher had sent me a recipe for an essential oil mixture that has been very helpful for her muscle and joint pain, and I wanted Lina to have some to take back to Africa since she has ongoing shoulder pain. It was a complicated recipe–15 ingredients!–and everything had to be measured carefully. I made a big batch so Lina can take some and we will still have some here for Spencer’s rugby injuries and my old age infirmities! I hope it works as well for us as it has for my teacher!

A Bad Student & Good Friends

So, it’s been a busy couple of days. Yesterday I had an autoharp lesson, so I left at lunchtime. It’s a 90-minute drive to my teacher’s beautiful place in the country. For a while, I have felt “stuck” in my autoharp playing. I have reached a level of skill where many things are now easy for me, but I have been struggling with how to get “better.”

So, during my lesson we practiced specific techniques I can use to add “color” to my playing. It was very helpful. I am so grateful to my teacher, Ann, because she is a very patient lady who puts up with a very noncompliant student. I have realized lately what a truly terrible student I am. It is mostly due to the difference between being a teenager and being a middle-aged woman.

The way “normal” music lessons work is that you find a good teacher (at least I did that right!) and then he/she teaches you how to play your instrument by assigning you various pieces and techniques to work on. Unfortunately, I have not been terribly cooperative when it comes to practicing the songs that Ann has assigned, and she has now given up on that whole approach. It’s not that I have any objections to the bluegrass and folk tunes that are “standard” for autoharp players. It’s just that at my age, I know exactly the kind of songs I want to play and I figure life is too short to waste my remaining years learning songs I don’t love. I’m afraid that as a result I’ve been a terrible disappointment to Ann.

However, being the sweet lady that she is (and also a consummate musician), she has adapted to my “I’ll play what I want” approach and now focuses on helping me get better at playing the stuff I have picked out for myself, even if my choices are not what she might prefer. In my case, that means playing a lot of hymns and old European/Celtic folk songs and whatever else strikes my fancy. I am able to get away with this in part because I can figure out the chords to any song on my own. It’s been over a year since I even peeked inside any of my autoharp songbooks. I prefer arranging songs myself—and Ann is helping me increase my skill. Having this skill frees me from ever having to search through published music to find a particular song I want to play, and I love having that freedom.

Shortly after I returned from my lesson, Lina and Jasper and I drove to the home of our dear friends Jim and Joan to have dinner with them and their son Steve and his family. Steve and Angie are missionaries in Kenya who are also home on furlough, and somehow they have missed seeing Lina at all until now. Jim and Joan are retired missionaries who have been part of my life since I was in high school! So we had a wonderful time of fellowship together and we stayed later than we should have.

This morning seemed to be the best time to go on a mother-daughter outing that Lina and I had planned to do while she was here. I didn’t think we’d end up doing it at the tail end of her visit when we didn’t have time to make a day of it. We drove to the historic town of Jefferson (a one-hour drive away) and spent a pleasant few hours. Jefferson is known for its antique shops, so we worked our way through the biggest one.

I don’t enjoy looking through places like that unless I’m on a mission to find a specific item in a specific price range. Today, I was successful and came home with a couple of things that I plan to use in a project. We also browsed through the General Store, which is less enjoyable for me now that I can no longer sample their fabulous honey butters! I was at least able to get some pralines for Walter.

We ate our lunch in a bar that dates back to the mid-1800s. They had a salad that was perfect for me. And yes, sometimes I do get really tired of always having to order a salad when I eat out—but it beats sitting there hungry while everyone else chows down on food I like but can no longer have.

After lunch we paid a quick visit to our favorite hotel courtyard:

4-19-17 Lina

And then we had to head home. Lina has a big test to study for and I had a company dinner to prepare. My friend Robin and her husband Doug came over for supper tonight so they could visit with Lina before she leaves. It is always so much fun to spend time with them. Lina gave them a demonstration of her spinning wheel and Jasper took them on a tour of his beehive.



A Painful Loss

I wasn’t planning on posting again today, since I already did a health post, but this evening I was stunned by the news that my friend Sarah had passed away, and I feel so bereft I can’t think of anything to do except write about it.

Sarah used to be a neighbor of ours. She lived down the street from us in a little white house, where she was raising and homeschooling her granddaughter, who was about the same age as my daughter Mercy. We were in the same homeschool group.

Sarah was an old-fashioned southern lady. Conversations with her took a long time, because she spoke very slowly and deliberately, and with a charming southern drawl. She was unfailingly polite, always kind, and always positive, despite the fact that through all the years I’ve known her, she has suffered from severe chronic pain and a host of health problems.

Despite her many challenges, we could count on seeing her every year when we went to vote, because she always helped out at the local polling place. She greeted everyone with a smile.

Several years ago, Sarah began reading my blog, back when I still blogged over at Xanga. Somehow, reading my little vignettes about our family life led to her becoming very interested in our family. She prayed faithfully for us over the years. When my daughters went on mission trips, she gave sacrificially from her meager income to help support them.

When Mary and Jordan were first married (and penniless), Sarah sent them money every month to help pay for them to do some of their laundry at the laundromat, so Mary wouldn’t have to do it all by hand. I knew that any time I asked Sarah to pray for something, she would pray faithfully! And once when I posted something about not having transportation to go to an event, she insisted on loaning me her car.

The last time I saw Sarah was on November 28. That was the day Jasper and I delivered the poinsettias he’d sold as part of his 4-H fundraiser. Sarah hadn’t ordered one, but I wanted her to have one, so I got one for her. I also took a bag of my private recipe spiced chai mix, because I knew how she loved it. We had a bit of trouble finding her apartment (she moved years ago) but in the end we located it and knocked on her door.

It would be hard to imagine a more surprised and grateful lady than Sarah was on that night. She had been feeling very “low” and lonely (and in a great deal of pain) and she burst into tears when she saw us standing there with flowers and chai mix. I think she was often lonely in recent years, once her granddaughter grew up and moved out. I am so sorry I didn’t make more of an effort to spend time with her.

I can’t be sad for her, of course. I picture her standing straight, walking without a cane, and stepping forward with joy to greet her Savior. It’s me I’m sad for—and for all the people who never had a chance to meet and know Sarah. She had a radiant soul, and I will miss her.


Days in the Danger Zone: Where the Rubber Meets the Road

I knew that Easter weekend was going to be a challenge, right? It’s hard to keep saving your life on family holidays. For one thing, there’s the candy: jelly beans, peeps, Cadbury eggs, Reese’s eggs, etc. My family loves those seasonal goodies so it’s not as if I could just not buy them, even though I love them too and can’t have them anymore.

But for me, even a Cadbury egg pales in allure compared to my homemade hot cross buns. Our long-cherished family tradition is to have hot cross buns on Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas morning. We all are pretty passionate about them. In recent years, I’ve had to make a gluten free version, but now even that poor substitute is off limits for me.

Times like this are very dangerous for me. The temptation is overwhelming to think, hey, it’s a holiday that only comes once a year. What would be so terrible about sampling a bite or two of this or that? I think we all know the answer to that. For me, a bite or two leads to many more bites–not right away, but eventually. It’s times like these that my zero-tolerance rule about moderation is very hard to stick to, and as a result I tend to be grouchy and out of sorts because I am feeling sorry for myself. To help myself out, I got rid of the last of my insulin so I don’t have that to fall back on. I can’t “cheat” and eat something that will spike my blood sugar, because now I can’t flood my body with artificial insulin to get it back down.

I didn’t want to just sit there and stare at an empty plate though, so I did plan ahead and make my first loaf of paleo bread. Paleo bread has no grain in it. It is made from seeds and nuts and eggs. My kids would say it tastes like pencil shavings and they are not far off the mark. I don’t really think of it as bread. It’s more of a convenient way to convey cheese to my mouth.  Since everyone else was having hot cross buns, I had cheese crossed bread:

4-14-17 cheese crosses

 If you pile enough cream cheese on it, it tastes mostly like cheese. It hardly takes the place of hot cross buns, but it also did not spike my blood sugar, and that is the point. So I focused on being there with my family and enjoying our traditional Good Friday teatime.

Easter was easier in some ways. I had to forego hot cross buns again at breakfast, but at least I made an egg-and-sausage casserole that I could eat. I had to do without ham for dinner (which I love) because it wasn’t done when I had to eat, but of course I will have some leftovers tomorrow. Today is a pancreas vacation day, otherwise known as a fast. In the afternoon, I opened all those bags of Easter candy and divided them into “goodie” bags for my kids and our “adopted” college kids. I didn’t even eat a single black jellybean.

I wish I could say that all this self-denial is getting easier—but it isn’t. Not yet. I am also struggling with a weird form of guilt. When I have to be in the kitchen a lot, preparing food for other people, I find myself feeling very guilty, as if I’ve totally blown my whole pancreas rescue plan and have eaten far more than I should—even when I haven’t actually eaten anything, let alone something that’s off-limits for me. At some point I suppose I will be less afraid of screwing up, because I’ll have more of a track record of success, but for now, I find myself often fearing failure.

He Arose

I was able to enjoy singing this hymn this morning because Lina played the piano so I had a day off!

Low in the Grave He Lay

Robert Lowry

Low in the grave He lay, Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day, Jesus my Lord!


Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!

Vainly they watch His bed, Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead, Jesus my Lord!


Death cannot keep its Prey, Jesus my Savior;
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!


A Faire Day

I know it’s hard to believe, but until today I hadn’t managed to visit a single Renaissance Faire this year.  Since Lina’s been gone every weekend for a couple of months, I figured I would wait until she was here to go with me.

Being a glutton for punishment, she walked a 5K this morning before we left for the faire. This is the “new” faire, which has essentially replaced the faire we first fell in love with 14 years ago.  This new faire is now in its third year of operation.

I was happy to see a very good turnout. Lina and I enjoyed the birds of prey show (twice), an escape artist show, and two music shows we really enjoyed–the Green Man Clan and Faire to Middlin’, both of which I have seen several times at past faires.

We also went to both jousts. I have learned that I can enjoy a theatrical joust as long as I think of it not as a joust (because it isn’t one) but as a melodrama acted out on horseback. As theater, it is quite enjoyable. The script calls for “Sir Galahad” to fight and ultimately defeat “Sir Mordred.” Sir Galahad had a pronounced Southern drawl which made me giggle. Sir Mordred, the villain, was much funnier and more charismatic, so I’m afraid I cheered for the losing side.

Of course we also spent quite a bit of time browsing the booths and enjoying all the handcrafted items on display. I paid a ridiculous price for a turkey leg, because that is one of the very few festival foods I can eat.

We were quite delighted to come upon a spinning booth, in a completely different place than it was the last two years. They had a cage with some very fluffy angora rabbits. The booth was manned by a young woman and a young man, and when I asked who the spinner was, they answered that they both were. To prove it, the man soon sat down and started spinning some fiber on the spinning wheel.

show 2

First time seeing yarn spun by a man in a kilt!

It was a beautiful day. It did get hot for a while, but it wasn’t unbearable and this particular faire is in a forested location, so there is almost always shade. I had my silver umbrella but didn’t need to use it! I’m glad Lina and I were able to do this.

Hyacinths & Hot Cross Buns

Good Friday or not, I had to go to Aldi this morning, so I made sure to be there when it opened. It was still a madhouse! I brought home a very fragrant pot of hyacinths to grace our Easter table.

Shortly after getting home, I mixed up my first batch of Paleo bread. More about that on Monday. I will say that it is at least marginally edible. I haven’t had bread of any sort for over two months and am a little leery of going down this road, but I wanted to give it a try.

I also made the hot cross bun dough because at this house, Good Friday is hot cross bun day. The buns took a little longer than I expected during the rising stage, so we had our usual Good Friday tea a little later than normal. Janet came over because she hasn’t been able to make it to our Sunday night dinners for a long time. It was good to see her but all too brief.

While we were enjoying our tea, I was boiling some eggs. Once tea was over, Lina took charge of the egg-dyeing operation. I intended to dye a few eggs myself, but I sat down first and dozed off. By the time I woke up, the eggs were all splendiferous:

4-14-17 eggs

We had a quiet supper and spent the evening watching a video and knitting. Well, Lina and I knitted. My husband is not a knitter.

Back to the Airport

Today was mostly about another trip to the airport. Remember, it is 150 miles to the airport, and depending on traffic it can take more than three hours to get there. I left mid-morning and thought I had left plenty early, but Lina’s plane ended up landing early so she was waiting for me for a few minutes before I arrived.

I took her to one of our favorite Indian restaurants for a late lunch before we headed home. I was thrilled to see they are now offering a salad option if you don’t want naan or rice (or in my case, can’t eat them). So I was able to have a good meal without doing any damage to my blood sugar.

I enjoyed hearing about Lina’s visit in Canada during our drive home. It was a beautiful day with brilliant sunshine and flowers everywhere. This area is just so beautiful in the spring.

We arrived home just in time to make supper. So glad to have Lina back for just a little bit longer.