Down at the Cross

Down at the Cross

Elisha A. Hoffman

Down at the cross where my Savior died,
Down where for cleansing from sin I cried,
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His name!


Glory to His name, glory to His name:
There to my heart was the blood applied;
Glory to His name!

I am so wondrously saved from sin,
Jesus so sweetly abides within;
There at the cross where He took me in;
Glory to His name!


Oh, precious fountain that saves from sin,
I am so glad I have entered in;
There Jesus saves me and keeps me clean;
Glory to His name!


Come to this fountain so rich and sweet,
Cast thy poor soul at the Savior’s feet;
Plunge in today, and be made complete;
Glory to His name!



Block Party

This morning we had our annual neighborhood block party. They are supposed to be held in August, but let’s face it—nobody wants to hang around outside in Texas in August. And they are usually held in the evening, but our somewhat quirky neighborhood meets for breakfast instead.

So I was up early for a Saturday morning, making a big breakfast casserole to take across the street. Many of our neighbors are people we have known for decades, so it is always enjoyable to have a gathering and have the opportunity to chat and get caught up with old friends and acquaintances. I stayed until Walter and Jasper had to leave for work and I was getting uncomfortably hot. We are experiencing the “still summer” season in Texas, but if the experts are to be believed, fall might arrive next weekend when I am in Dallas.

I didn’t even come close to working through my to-do list for today, so I had to prioritize. I did make it to Hobby Lobby and Walmart to get some items I needed. I made some ink and portioned it out into tiny jars for next weekend. I put away my reed pen stuff and got out my quill pen stuff—but didn’t have time to work on it. I went for a very lackluster walk and felt sorry for myself because I really wanted to be at the symphony tonight.

Mostly, though, I worked on my class grading and preparation. I had kind of forgotten about how much of that I still needed to do. No time to cut quills or do the sewing I had hoped to do.

Baking and Being Sociable

Today was busier than my average Friday. I had my usual excursion to Aldi, where I encountered the most in-your-face clerk I’ve ever met there. She was on a mission. She made decisions on my behalf. She chose a spot for me to bag my groceries and issued a stream of orders to me. I was tempted to advise her to calm down a little, but I’m not sure she knows what that means! It was kind of amusing.

This afternoon my new tutoring student came back and we worked through his latest assignment with him yawning all the way. I sympathize. I wanted to yawn too.

After he left, I got to work in the kitchen. I made a batch of my prizewinning molasses spice cookies, and once they were out of the oven, I set to work making the spinach cheese appetizers that I like so much.

Jasper had talked me into going to a church-sponsored ladies’ social event tonight, and we were supposed to bring desserts and appetizers. It is the type of event that I normally avoid at all costs, because there are few things I enjoy less than sitting in a room full of strangers. My guess is that extroverts have no idea how much courage it takes for someone like me to walk into a room full of people they don’t know.

Now, to be fair, there were a couple of ladies there that I do know slightly, and I ended up sitting at a table with them and others that are more or less of my generation. Although I still felt very out of place, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared and I enjoyed the conversation. There wasn’t much that I could eat there, but I knew that going in and I enjoyed eating my own spinach puffs! I also had my knitting to distract me from the very tasty-looking desserts. I’m glad I went and I am beginning to experience a tiny glimmer of hope that maybe I’ll eventually get to know some people at this church.

Meanwhile, when I got home I had plenty to do. I made several more reed pens. The last of my tools arrived today—an awl and a tiny manual drill which I am now using to drill the holes in the nibs. I have 27 functional pens now and I think I should have no trouble demonstrating how to make them next weekend. You know what this means? Tomorrow I graduate to quills.

I finished off the evening by doing some advance prep work and chopping for tomorrow morning, when I will be cooking for yet another social event.


This morning at Aldi, I overheard a young mother explain something to her toddler. The little girl was curious about a young woman who was walking with crutches. The mom explained, “Sometimes people might have an owie that you can’t see, and they need help walking.”

I love that explanation. It was on the girl’s level, yet still encouraged compassion for someone who is hurting. As I drove home, I found myself thinking more about it. The reality is that we all have injuries that others can’t see, don’t we? I certainly do. The older I get, the more I value kindness and compassion, and the more I try to express those two qualities in my dealings with others.

I am getting better at reminding myself that when someone else treats me rudely or unkindly, it may be because their internal, “invisible” wounds are hurting them. Maybe they’ve gotten a devastating diagnosis from their doctor. Maybe they’ve lost someone precious to them. Maybe they’ve been betrayed by someone they loved and trusted, or been passed over for a deserved promotion, or had to watch a loved one suffer in some way. Maybe their spouse is divorcing them, or that letter they longed for never came. Maybe you happen to look like someone who treated them like dirt.

I don’t think anyone gets up in the morning and thinks, “I’m going to be rude and insufferable to everyone I meet today because I’m a bad person and I like hurting others.” The Bible says that “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.” If someone is causing pain with their words, then surely those words must come from a place of pain inside. So I try very hard to meet caustic words with compassion and understanding. Like the lady said—sometimes people have an “owie” that you can’t see.

A Birthday Breakfast & An Excursion

This morning I was very busy early, making a belated birthday breakfast for Mercy. She has very recently joined me in keto-land, so instead of making her what I had made for her siblings this year, I made her a loaded keto omelet, bacon knots, and keto bread toasted and spread with cream cheese. We watched a nature show while she ate, but she had to leave before it ended as she has a regular babysitting job on Thursday mornings before she goes to her job at the library.

After Lucy came home from class later this morning, we threw some stuff together and set off for the lake. It was a very warm and rather humid day, so we thought it would be a great day to do some lake school and go swimming.

Since it is October, they have closed off much of the lakeside park, including the part I like the best, so we had to be satisfied with the main “beach,” which is severely overgrown with weeds. The picnic lunch went okay, but then we discovered to our horror that all the bathrooms in the park had been locked up due to a water shortage. For someone my age, this is a real tragedy, and I felt that this fact should have been emblazoned on signs all over the park.

Lucy and Jasper went down to the water to swim, while I stayed in my chair and wondered how long I would last before exploding. I don’t swim so early in the afternoon due to my sun exposure issues. The swimming was not a success. The water was colder than expected, and the lake is so low that when the kids waded in, they found themselves in thick gooey mud right away. They didn’t stay in long. We reconsidered our plan to stay all afternoon and headed home instead. It was still a long drive to a gas station with “facilities!”

On the way home, I stopped at the trendy snow cone place and let the kids each get a fancy snow cone as a last farewell to summer. Snow cones have come a long way since the days when I could get one for a nickel from the ice cream truck in my neighborhood!

Next time we go to the lake, it will probably be too cold to swim, but maybe then it will be enjoyable to have a fire and make something in a dutch oven.

I cut a few more reed pens when we got home, but then had to wait for Jasper to cut me some more bamboo segments. I’ll let it soak overnight and work on it some more tomorrow.

Parting Shot:

10-4-18 dragonfly

I had just set up my chair next to the picnic table, and was about to sit down in it, when someone beat me to it. At first, I waited very patiently for him to leave, but when it became clear that he liked my chair as much as I do, I had to take measures to shoo him away. He still left very reluctantly!



Today, for those of you who don’t have a German background, is German Unity Day, celebrating the reunification of Germany back in 1990. Whenever this day comes around, I remember visiting Germany in 1980, and one of my husband’s friends there telling me that reunification was all but impossible and would never happen. Yet it did happen just ten years later! So today my husband flew his German flag on the front of our house.

Today I set up a reed-pen-making factory in the schoolroom, after watching and reading more instruction last night. One of the tips I read was to soak the bamboo in water for a few hours before cutting into it. This turned out to be very helpful. I am a boss at making reed pens now. I plan to keep at it, honing my skills, until I’ve used up my entire $3 worth of bamboo from Hobby Lobby. It would be great if I could have enough functional pens to pass out to everyone who comes to my class at Writers in the Field. Also, I want to be really good at making reed pens before I graduate to quills, which are considerably more expensive and less plentiful around here!

Mercy and Daniel came over this evening to do a trial setup of some camping gear. They are going camping with friends this weekend, and are borrowing some of our long-unused camping stuff. Setting a tent up at home before you go camping is so important if you’re not familiar with that particular tent, as we learned to our sorrow on our first camping trip several decades ago!

Parting Shot:

10-3-18 reed pens

These are the pens I’ve made so far. All of them have been tested with purple ink before being approved.

Pen Making

Today was a little different as a school day because Jasper saved his math for the evening as we had arranged for Daniel to come help him. His other brother-in-law, the college math professor, is too busy at the moment to keep tutoring him online.

I got a little more work done in my sewing room this morning, and some school stuff too, of course. This afternoon I had a tutoring student come in. He is struggling a little in a class he is taking, as it involves writing skills that are new to him. I am confident that I will be able to help him. Today’s session went pretty well, I think.

Jasper spent a while cutting up some bamboo for me, so I can get to work practicing with it to make reed pens. My first couple of attempts looked pretty good, but are not effective writing instruments—unless you’re going for massive blobs of ink instead of actual writing! I’ve been doing more research to try and figure out what I can do to improve the end product. Stay tuned.


Another Birthday

Yesterday was a day of celebration for Mercy’s birthday. Twenty-five years ago, she was born in our home in Zambia. The smallest of my babies, she weighed only nine pounds! I spent the afternoon making the Italian cream cake and chicken enchiladas she had requested. I had never made this kind of cake before, but the family seemed to think it was pretty good.

Lucy got back from her trip to Dallas just in time for supper, and Spencer also joined us. After supper we watched a movie together, a longstanding tradition of ours. I also received a phone call from Flynn, and got caught up a little on his and Tiffany’s plans. So it was a pretty good evening.

This morning it was back to school, of course. I also had to run an errand, so I continued on up to the one grocery store that sometimes carries cinnamon chips at this time of year. They not only had them in stock—they were on sale! I think I am all set to make molasses spice cookies for several months to come.

Late this afternoon I had a sudden urge to go through all my sewing patterns and purge the ones I know I’ll never use. Most of the patterns I own are in sizes too big for me now. It felt good to get them all out of my sewing room, and to sort all the remaining ones into the right boxes.

I had a great walk this evening and got some knitting done on my red scarf.

Parting Shot:

9-30-18 Mercy with cake

The birthday girl with her cake yesterday.

When Morning Gilds the Skies

I’ve been singing this to myself all day, so I’m sharing it with you.

When Morning Gilds the Skies

Robert S. Bridges

When morning gilds the skies my heart awaking cries:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Alike at work and prayer, to Jesus I repair:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When you begin the day, O never fail to say,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
And at your work rejoice, to sing with heart and voice,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Whene’er the sweet church bell peals over hill and dell,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
O hark to what it sings, as joyously it rings,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

My tongue shall never tire of chanting with the choir,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
This song of sacred joy, it never seems to cloy,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Does sadness fill my mind? A solace here I find,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Or fades my earthly bliss? My comfort still is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

To God, the Word, on high, the host of angels cry,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let mortals, too, upraise their voice in hymns of praise,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this at meals your grace, in every time and place;
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Be this, when day is past, of all your thoughts the last
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When mirth for music longs, this is my song of songs:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evening shadows fall, this rings my curfew call,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

When sleep her balm denies, my silent spirit sighs,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
When evil thoughts molest, with this I shield my breast,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

The night becomes as day when from the heart we say:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
The powers of darkness fear when this sweet chant they hear:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

No lovelier antiphon in all high Heav’n is known
Than, Jesus Christ be praised!
There to the eternal Word the eternal psalm is heard:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Let all the earth around ring joyous with the sound:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
In Heaven’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this:
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Sing, suns and stars of space, sing, ye that see His face,
Sing, Jesus Christ be praised!
God’s whole creation o’er, for aye and evermore
Shall Jesus Christ be praised!

In Heav’n’s eternal bliss the loveliest strain is this,
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Let earth, and sea and sky from depth to height reply,
May Jesus Christ be praised!

Be this, while life is mine, my canticle divine:
May Jesus Christ be praised!
Sing this eternal song through all the ages long:
May Jesus Christ be praised!



I try to be pretty chill about things, but I am getting less and less chill about a situation we’ve got going on. My husband’s evening job is cleaning a daycare center. They are supposed to pay him at the end of every month. Some months they are anywhere from one to two weeks late in getting the check out, which is very stressful when one has bills to pay. This month they outdid themselves. They still haven’t paid him for August, and now they owe him for September too. And I am having to scramble to pay bills that have been waiting all month for the check to come in.

I don’t understand how they can be so cavalier about this. I bet there’d be a mutiny if they paid their own employees this late! Surely they must understand that the whole reason my husband is working there is because we need the money? If I am ever a business owner (unlikely) I think I’d be obsessive about making sure my employees are paid on time. I’ve had too much experience being on the other side of it.

This morning I had my weekly grocery shopping excursion to Aldi, and then returned home. Jasper spent the morning wrestling with quadratic equations. This afternoon he mowed the lawn and this evening he is at a birthday party. He will be tired for work tomorrow . . .