Master, the Tempest is Raging

I am posting this while listening to the tornado sirens wailing . . . really hope we don’t get hit.

Master, the Tempest is Raging

Mary A. Baker

Master, the tempest is raging!
The billows are tossing high!
The sky is o’ershadow with blackness,
No shelter or help is nigh;
Carest Thou not that we perish?
How canst Thou lie asleep,
When each moment so madly is threatening
A grave in the angry deep?


The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will,
Peace, be still!
Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea,
Or demons or men, or whatever it be
No waters can swallow the ship where lies
The Master of ocean, and earth, and skies;
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, be still! Peace, be still!
They all shall sweetly obey Thy will,
Peace, peace, be still!

Master, with anguish of spirit
I bow in my grief today;
The depths of my sad heart are troubled
Oh, waken and save, I pray!
Torrents of sin and of anguish
Sweep o’er my sinking soul;
And I perish! I perish! dear Master
Oh, hasten, and take control.


Master, the terror is over,
The elements sweetly rest;
Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored,
And heaven’s within my breast;
Linger, O blessèd Redeemer!
Leave me alone no more;
And with joy I shall make the blest harbor,
And rest on the blissful shore.




A Reminder

Every time January 20 rolls around, it brings me up short for a few minutes. Twenty-two years ago, on this date, I was in a serious car accident after falling asleep at the wheel with three of my kids in the car. I am so thankful to be still here. And I always, always wear my seat belt. I am also much better at staying awake while driving these days, but if I feel sleepy, I always pull over and rest!

Today the weather turned much warmer after our very cold week. The low tonight is only supposed to reach into the 50s, and tomorrow it may hit 70 degrees! East Texas weather can just about give you whiplash.

I was not as productive as I had hoped, but I did get a lot of editing done. I also cooked ten pounds of chicken, made low-carb crumpets, strung another length of beads and did some knitting. I am so ready to be done with the beads.

Parting Shot:

Mercy in kimono

My mother has been very anxious to see a photo of the kimono I made Mercy for Christmas.

Class Day

I feel like I should have more to say. I spent the morning grading and getting ready for my class, and doing school with Jasper. Lucy also went off to her class.

I am enjoying this month with my students because we are reading and talking about the Arthurian legend, and that’s something I can discuss for hours at a time.

As soon as class ended, I was on my way to the other side of town to take advantage of a half-price sale on silk flowers at Hobby Lobby. I bought out their stock of the flowers Mercy wants to use for decorations at her wedding!

Then I returned home to make supper. Do you have any idea how hard it is to make chocolate chip banana pancakes when you are fasting? Very hard.

I’ve been trying to finish a knitting project and am getting close. Today the temperature rose into the forties and tomorrow should be similar. There are a few patches of snow and ice left, but they’re mostly gone.

When Icicles Hang By the Wall

We had another very cold night last night, but today the sunshine and slightly higher temperatures melted much of the snow. We did have some pretty impressive icicles though:

1-17-18 icicle

Although temperatures were in the teens this morning, the roads were mostly clear, so I was able to have the class I had planned for yesterday. One of my students came over so she and Jasper could learn the note taking system they’ll need this semester. Jasper really, really hated it. Nothing I said could convince him that there is ever any point in taking notes at all.

I got some editing done and plenty of shivering this afternoon, along with watching a couple of webinars. I continue to learn whatever I can to improve my health. This week is a fasting week for me, and I can’t say I’m enjoying it. I have never felt the euphoria that others report, my blood sugar often doesn’t stay where it should, and I have waves of intense hunger. Sometimes I just go lie down and cry because I know I can’t cheat. It isn’t easy and I’m discouraged by the fact that it’s not easier by now, and that I still haven’t been able to get off all my meds despite my herculean efforts. I have to keep reminding myself where I was a year ago. I really have come a long way.

Life Comes to a Screeching Halt

Everything stops around here when we have snow, and today we had snow over a covering of very slippery ice. All schools were closed. My husband went to work, but was home by 11:00 as the university was closed.

This is what greeted me when I opened the back door this morning:

1-16-18 Jack in snow

Yes, that is all of two inches of snow.

We were a little worried about poor Jack out in the cold, until I hit on a solution. I have a heated rubber foot mat that can go under a desk, but I haven’t used it recently because I do most of my work in my chair with my feet up. So the kids set up the mat next to the back door stairs, where there is an outlet. Once he realized the mat was warm, he was quite happy to stay on it!

The kids, of course, spent a fair amount of time outside playing in the snow. Ten years ago, I would have been up at dawn and outside taking photos before everyone else got up and ruined the pristine surface of the snow. Today, I was content to huddle in my chair underneath a blanket and admire the snow from afar! All the activities I had planned to participate in were canceled.

When the intrepid mailman delivered the mail, one of the things that arrived was a larger-than-normal hot water bottle I had ordered some time ago during a previous cold snap. What a fortuitous happenstance! Within minutes of receiving it, the hot water bottle was filled with the hottest tap water and warming my back. It stays hot for quite a few hours!

The temperature was in the teens this morning and never got out of the twenties all day. There were many, many accidents on the roads in our area. Several police departments issued warnings to stay off the roads.

Since nothing melted, and since tonight temperatures are supposed to approach single digits, most area schools have been closed for tomorrow as well, including the university. (In the case of the university, it’s because the faculty doesn’t want to drive in to the campus. Most of the students are already there.)

Although it is chilly even in the house, we will be fine as long as we don’t lose power—which is apparently a real threat when so many people are trying to stay warm at once.


Crumpets & the Threat of Snow

Our city has been in panic mode today, because snow is forecast for tonight. This morning, I went to Sam’s Club to buy laundry detergent. I didn’t expect it to be busy on a Monday morning, but it was. Lots of people in there stocking up.

Since my husband works for an educational institution, he had today off for Martin Luther King day, and I thought it would be fun to make the family a special treat, so I made crumpets this afternoon. However, by the time they were ready to cook on the griddle, the house appeared deserted, and as we all know, crumpets are at their best when fresh and hot. Miraculously, Lucy and Jasper both appeared in time to help themselves to hot fresh crumpets!  Walter and Spencer had theirs later. I just sat around feeling sorry for myself. They looked so good!

1-15-18 crumpets

Later in the afternoon, Lucy and I had to go to Walmart to pick up a few things, and again it was full of frenzied folk stocking up for the looming catastrophe.

Now I admit, it will indeed be a catastrophe if the power goes out. Otherwise, the kids will have a great time playing in the snow and many hot drinks will be drunk. The university and the local public schools have already preemptively closed for tomorrow, so it could be a very nice little break. I personally am a little frustrated because I had a very busy day planned for tomorrow and I have a feeling that everything I was going to do will be canceled.

The snow sure will be pretty though, right? If we actually get any . . .






At a Crossroads

As I think I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we have left the tiny, struggling church we’ve attended for more than a decade and are now looking for a new church home, a process my husband and I do not enjoy. We have chosen a church we plan to attend for a few weeks and see if it is a good fit for us, especially for Jasper.

This forces me to face certain truths I have been avoiding for some time, one of which is that I’m not going to find a church where I feel “at home,” soon or ever. The only way to achieve that is to change my definition of “home,” because the kind of church I’d love to attend does not exist in our community.

What kind of church am I talking about? I’m talking about a church that still believes in the participation model for congregational singing, led by a song leader instead of a worship band, using hymnbooks with all the musical notes in them, and accompanied by an organ and piano, and maybe augmented by the voices of a choir singing in four-part harmony.

The truth, I know, is that if I were to find a church like that, it would almost certainly be populated exclusively by people even older than me, and be waiting for enough of them to die off to justify closing down. (I know there are exceptions in other parts of the country, but I haven’t learned of any around here.)

But the point of this essay is not to decry the death of real congregational singing or the ubiquity of performance-based worship bands. This transition has already occurred, so there is no point in my searching for something I know I won’t find, and which is not even one of the essential elements of a “good” church.

So what else do I want from a church? I’ve had to think long and hard about the difference between my preferences and what is actually important. Obviously (I hope) I want to be in a place where the word of God is preached in a way that helps mature me as a Christian and deepens my understanding of God and His word. I want to be able to go home with something to think about and mull over and apply to my life.

I would love to see a congregation with a wide range of ages and ethnic backgrounds, with a vibrant community and a passion for reaching out to their neighbors, both locally and globally. A congregation where people volunteer willingly for kids’ ministries because they love kids, not because they feel obligated or pressured. A congregation where people form deep friendships and hang out with each other during the week as well as on Sundays. (This is an especially longed-for feature for me, after going for so long to a church where I never felt accepted and never formed a close friendship.)

Some of these characteristics are more likely to be found at large, mainstream evangelical denominational churches, yet I resist that choice because I don’t want my identity to belong to a denomination, especially if it’s one that believes its particular brand of Christianity is the only “true” one and that everyone else is hell bound. Or that its missionaries are the only ones who preach the true Gospel and all other sincere people sacrificing to minister in the same area are irrelevant. Most mainstream evangelicals hold to the same core beliefs, and I don’t understand why they won’t acknowledge this and can’t seem to appreciate each other’s efforts.

I’ve come to realize this is another loss experience for me. We all experience various losses throughout our lives. The really big one for me was losing Africa, having to face the reality that I am unlikely to ever live there again, which was all I wanted from my adult life. The grief has lessened, but it has never gone away—nor do I expect it to. The churches of my youth, the vibrant congregations with their sublime traditional music that I would love to find—they are even more unreachable than Africa is, and rather than exhaust myself searching for something that doesn’t exist, I mourn their passing and look for something different.

By “different” I do not mean “inferior” in any way. Last week, we went to Spencer’s church and I saw a vibrant, enthusiastic congregation with a real passion for reaching the community.  There is nothing inferior about a church like that, even if it is not an environment where I feel at “home.” It is a wonderful example of a living body of Christ and I am so glad Spencer is a part of it.

This week we went, as I said, to a church we are going to try out for a while. We know quite a few people there, if not many of the songs. It has some wonderful qualities. I don’t know if we’ll ultimately choose to stay, but I do know that regardless of where we end up, I’m going to have to set aside my grief and my longing for a vanished reality, and learn how to embrace something that is real and powerful and vital, even if it’s not what I’m used to.

We Worship Thee

A hymn I have come to love and will miss singing. . .

We Worship Thee

Inglis Fleming

Thou Son of God, eternal Word,
Who Heav’n and earth’s foundations laid,
Upholding by Thy word and power
The universe Thy hands have made.


We worship Thee, all glorious Lord,
Forever be Thy name adored!
We worship Thee, all glorious Lord,
Forever be Thy name adored!

As Lamb of God, Thy path we view,
Thy Father’s will Thy whole delight;
To Calvary we trace Thy way,
Each step of Thine, with glory bright.


For us untold sufferings there,
For us the darkness and the woe,
In love, transcending all compare,
Thou, Lord, for us to death didst go.


Exalted to the Father’s throne,
With glory and with honor crowned,
All at Thy glorious name shall bow,
As Lord of all by each be owned.


Visitors & Flat Tires

Well, I don’t know what happened yesterday. I plumb forgot to post! The day started off very cold and I really didn’t want to have to go out to Aldi—but with a chai party this weekend I had no choice. I did see an amazing sight on the way, though:

1-12-17 ice tree

There were several other places where the sprinklers had been left on, but this was the most spectacular one I saw. Several other photos of it popped up on Facebook too!

After finishing up school with Jasper, I spent the entire afternoon running errands. I will have a lot of errands to run in the coming months as I take advantage of weekly coupons to get things for Mercy’s wedding. This time I also took advantage of sales to get art supplies for a class Lucy and I hope to go to on Tuesday.

Shortly after I returned, Spencer’s friends Jayme and Raymond arrived. They are our friends Don and Gwen’s sons, and when they were here a couple of weeks ago, Spencer was away. Since Spencer had to work late, I went out to get pizza and tried to keep them entertained until Spencer got home.

This morning they all slept in, but eventually they all got up and had breakfast and watched some soccer. The visitors had to leave early in the afternoon, but first we took some photos:

3 amigos a

Meanwhile, after Lucy and I made a brief trip to campus, Walter noticed that we had a flat tire. He was able to get the spare on and drive the car to the tire place, only to discover that all four tires were in really bad shape and needed to be replaced. This was not exactly a surprise, but it wasn’t welcome news either. We have had the car for two years and have put many thousands of miles on it. I knew those tires couldn’t last forever! But we certainly weren’t expecting to have to spend so much money on the car right now either.

Lucy and I made the chai party food this afternoon, and Walter and Jasper set up outside. It’s very cold, so we had three fires going instead of the usual two. Despite the low temperatures, we have had a good turnout. I stayed out there until my feet got numb . . .


Back in Teacher Mode

Today was the beginning of the semester for my English class, so it was a busy morning preparing. Jasper also had some assignments to finish up because he missed a couple of classes when he had the flu.

Three of my students dropped out over the break, which is about typical. I always miss the ones who leave, but on this occasion the silver lining is that we can all fit around my dining room table now!

We started off by watching a documentary that we didn’t get a chance to watch in December because of my illness. Also, it makes a gentler start to the new semester.

Normally I send the kids outside for recess, but this afternoon it was pouring down rain so they had to stay inside. I don’t think they minded.

Since class ended the temperature has dropped dramatically and there is talk of possible snow tonight. I started a new knitting project, making three current projects now. Not sure when I think I’m going to get all that knitting done!