Wednesday, November 24, 2010


I am thankful for so many things, more than I can mention in one post or think of at one time.  But I was thinking today about my blessings and I decided to name a few of them:

(in no particular order)

1) I am thankful for the delicious smell of the cranberry orange bread which just came out of the oven.

2) I am thankful for my husband saying, “the more, the merrier” about Thanksgiving.

3) I am thankful that we have jobs, his away and mine with teenagers.

4)I am thankful that my house doesn’t leak in the rain.08-12-29-13-12-27H

I’m thankful this is not my house

5) I am thankful for colors, subtle and bold.  What a beautiful world we have, infinite in its variety!

6) I am thankful for each of my children, each delightful and uniquely praiseworthy!  So thankful for them!

7) I am thankful for the wonderful spouses the married kids have; I love everyone of them!

8) I am thankful for my wedding china (random, I know, but I was thinking about how to set the table for tomorrow…)

9) I am thankful that we have 2 international students here for high school this year to help me keep in practice with teenagers.

10) I am thankful for my husband who says, “You can do it”,  “Go for it” even when it means dinner might not happen.

11) For warmth, for food, for shelter, for love: I am truly grateful and I do not take it for granted.  I know I have received much and must share much. 

12) I am particularly thankful that my dad is home from the hospital after having a small heart attack last week.  So glad to have him coming over tomorrow.

Thank You, Lord

Friday, November 19, 2010

Your Thanksgiving Table?

Just for fun I am sharing this helpful hint found in my local newspaper recently:

IMG_0001 Is this how your dinner table looks?

Personally, I am THANKFUL when I don’t have too many dishes to wash, and I see no purpose whatsoever in chargers (okay, they’re pretty).  In our family, we use knife, fork and spoon, and I serve the dessert fork on the dessert plate so it isn’t used prematurely to poke at the melting candle wax, for instance, and thus be sent back to the kitchen dirty before dessert is even served!  Best not to have too many options beforetimes.

I do enjoy a pretty table and like to make an arrangement which is inspiring in its loveliness but doesn’t make it too difficult to see the person across the way and doesn’t use up valuable space needed for food!  The food is the true beauty at the Thanksgiving table for my family—all that bounty! 

I am looking forward to having the family together this year, at least the ones that can be.  Some are in Africa, some are with the in-laws, and so we’ll miss them.  But Dad and my brothers and their families and some of our kids will gather here for turkey and all the other things that spell Thanksgiving in the United States.

Most importantly, we are grateful for the many blessings, the sustenance of the past year, and the promise of the future.

Happy Thanksgiving at your house!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Time Out For Tea

IMGI am glad that I was not born before tea”

It was delightful!  A room full of young women who are collegians and student leaders and good humored friends.  They are students at Multnomah University and are the Resident Advisors in the dorm.  My daughter Amanda is the Resident Director and had asked if we might have the girls to “tea”.  They usually have their RA meeting on Tuesday night but for a break they came away from campus to my house for a little treat and a breather.


This 4”x4” magnet is on my refrigerator

Oh, the giggles as they sat around the table and asked each other questions.  When Amanda suggested they each introduce the girl on their right to me, they told such beautiful aspects of the other one’s character qualities.  It was so affirming to hear them go around the table and sincerely share the other’s uniqueness.  One thing these girls have in common is their love for the Lord and they are at Multnomah to study the Bible and grow in their faith as well as their service. 

10-11-16-19-45-48H The Goodies on the Tea Table

I shared with them how easy it is to become overly busy and forgetful of their own need for refreshment in the Lord.  Even seminary students struggle to keep their devotional life going.  I just read the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, by Joanna Weaver, and found it to be very practical and realistic.  Jesus didn’t come to get service, but a relationship.  He desires us, not our agenda.  These girls know what I mean: life is crazy busy sometimes, and they are in the thick of it.  But when we have as a priority spending quiet time with Him, our motivations and pressures have an attitude adjustment.  Then our service follows our faith and doesn’t drive it.

Amanda made phyllo tarts and teapot scones and Almond Roca bars.  I made Chocolate-Mint Brownies and toffee bars and Danish Puff  almond pastry and individual cheesecakes.  We had mixed nuts and four kinds of tea, loose leaf, of course, to be proper! 

10-11-16-19-44-56H 10-11-16-19-56-24H Amanda explaining the teas

10-11-16-19-45-37H 10-11-16-19-46-05H 10-11-16-19-55-31H

The Girls


10-11-16-22-01-57HMe, wearing the apron my sister-in-law, Kris, embroidered for me a few years ago.  It has 2 teacups, one with the flower of the month for my birthday (May, Lily-of-the-Valley) and one with my anniversary month (September, Morning Glory).

10-11-16-22-01-57H   I love it !   

“Take some more tea”, March Hare said to Alice very earnestly.”I’ve had nothing yet”, Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”  “You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”

Monday, November 8, 2010

More on Manners


Last time I posted, I was thinking about manners particularly in relation to our culture’s growing tendency toward casual apparel.  I appreciate the responses and I thought that each one brought something valuable to the discussion.  I really enjoyed the consideration you put into your answers! 

I am so grateful for the tender heart expressed by Nichole, and wish my heart were as big as hers.  The last thing I want for myself is to become Pharisaical, judging others on their outside appearance.  I hope that having good manners and having a loving heart are not polar opposites or mutually exclusive.  Does having good manners oneself necessarily require that in others?  Can you be mannerly without caring if others are?

I don’t think so.  I think it is a societal contract that, if one accepts it, leads to the expectation that others do, also.   Maybe the day has gone by that societal standards for apparel are commonly accepted.  My goodness, in  the 1950’s I remember the “rules” that white shoes were only to be worn from Easter to Labor Day, and after that, it was your black patent leathers.  To wear white shoes in winter was definitely tacky.  Then in the 1980’s “winter white” came out, muddying the waters.  Now we wonder ‘who made those rules, anyway’?  But perhaps we internalized them and carry them with us.  I know I don’t wear white shoes in winter!

These cultural norms seem small and faddish compared to having an open heart to people.  The most important  “Good Manner” is having a genuine care for the comfort and well-being of others.  I hope, ideally, that this caring can coexist with a courteous attitude on all sides towards our apparel, and that includes standards of modesty, too! 

That is another huge subject, modesty.  The day camisoles became outerwear was a day confounding the older folks and young people alike.  I know that it is a problem for young men to have nearly-bare breasts thrust at them and not regard women sexually.  I have noticed the office apparel in TV shows such as CSI: New York and CSI, and wonder if women in official capacities really expose so much cleavage.  Really?  It’s like seductive evening wear and I don’t think it belongs in the office or lab.  Inappropriate!

I was going to address some behavioral issues today such as how to sit through a concert or church service politely, or even a school assembly.  And then there is cell phone usage, and texting while you’re having a conversation with someone else. 

Changing technology has raised a whole new area for a new code of manners to emerge, and I believe the same basic principle applies: caring for the comfort and well-being of others.  Being aware of our setting, who is around us that may not want to participate in our personal phone calls.   Being engaged with the person you are with and not half there because you are texting with someone else.  Not inflicting your spousal fight on the phone with the person sitting beside you on the bus/train/plane.  It’s being aware of other people in the world and cooperating in a ‘what’s-good-for-you-is-good-for-me’ way. 

That is good manners no matter what you are wearing.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Are Manners Passe?

“Decorum: 1)whatever is suitable or proper; propriety; fitness    2) propriety and good taste in behavior, speech, dress, etc. 3) an act or requirement of polite behavior”        Webster’s Dictionary

Recently I attended a wedding and a funeral in the same week.  At both events, I was startled by the clothing worn by a few people. At the wedding, which was formal, several 20-something young men came in jeans and tee shirts, and one young couple arrived looking like they were headed to Home Depot or a Saturday hike.  He was in cargo shorts and a tee.

I felt offended that these young adults don’t have the sense of “ceremony” or “decorum” in their dress and behavior.  To me, that means that they know how to dress appropriately for an occasion, and if the occasion is special, to bump their dress code up a step. 

When a bride and groom and their parents spend a small fortune on the wedding, unless it is at the beach and the invitation reads “casual attire”, I believe it shows good manners to dress up for the celebration.  Can you not put on your best clothes for the most important day in your friend’s life?  Especially when you have had your own wedding and know how it feels to be feted?

At the funeral, some of the extended family wore graphic tees and jeans and hoodies.  Really?  Old sweatshirts and jeans at your uncle’s funeral?  Can’t you do better than this as a sign of respect?

I can hear all the objections and arguments in my head, and you can remind me of more.  I know that ‘the clothes don’t make the man’, and that ‘it’s not what’s on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside that counts’.  I am not promoting superficiality or hypocrisy.  I just think it’s sad that our culture, except perhaps the upper-income levels, doesn’t know how to dress up anymore.  And it’s not about the money.  These young people have plenty of resources.

HollyBirthdayParty My birthday dinner, 5th grade, with 3 best friends

When I was a kid (Oh, here she goes again, I can hear some of you groaning).  No, seriously, when I was a kid people dressed up to go to church.  In fact, people dressed up to go downtown shopping.   People dressed up to fly in an airplane.  I remember hats and high heels at the airport.  (Clearly, we have come to our senses in some regards.)  We went to school in school clothes and we came home and changed to play clothes to keep the school clothes nice.  Nowadays, teachers are happy when the child’s hair is combed and he doesn’t smell bad.

I know the defense of “lowering” (excuse the word bias) the church dress code is that people want to be real, and somehow dressing up is putting on airs and hypocritical.  If we go in our “everyday clothes” (by that they mean weekend clothes, not business casual) it’s a statement that our faith is an ‘everyday’ affair, not just for show on Sundays.  It’s about being transparent, who we really are when we gather together for worship.  I agree with those sentiments but I don’t think those values are limited to sloppy apparel. Let’s not polarize the congregation.  In the mindset of the dress-up days, I think people were wanting to ‘do our best for the Lord’, polishing shoes and ironing ruffles on Saturday night for the coming “Lord’s Day”.  It was a day to set apart from the ordinary.

I don’t care if people wear jeans to church or not.  I am glad if they are getting up to go to church!  Some congregations are purposely casual, meeting in storefront commercial buildings to take the ‘sting’ out of going to church in a traditional way that may have offended them.  That’s great.  Apostle Paul said he had become “all things to all men in order that he by some means might reach some”.

So, what am I fussing about?

It’s not a fuss, really.  It’s a worry.  I am worrying that our culture has forgotten how to CELEBRATE and in so doing is losing the distinctions of specialness, of what makes one day different from another and one occasion unique over others.  I know it is more practical nowadays for little girls to wear pants when they go to a birthday party at the Gymboree.  I just hope there are still party dresses somewhere in their lives.  A few years ago I was shopping for a dress and was dismayed that Mervyn’s had quit carrying adult dresses.  Period. What?

I don’t want to be thought a reactionary or an old fuddy duddy, quivering “In my day…”  All I am saying is that:

Dressing up on the outside creates a sense of specialness on the inside, that this occasion is a big deal, that we are celebratory.

I like it when a man puts on a coat and tie for a special occasion.

I think it is good to show respect for other people’s special occasions by dressing appropriately.

I think we should instill in our youth a sense of appropriateness in behavior as well as clothing.  But that is another big subject.

I  really invite your comments and you don’t have to agree with me.  I would like the dialogue.  If you set up a Google account you can respond.