October was too short…

Life is too short to ice cakes; cakes are good without icing.
Life is too short to read all the church periodicals.
Life is too short not to write regularly to your parents.
Life is too short to eat factory baked bread.
Life is too short to keep all your floors shiny.*

October was too short.  Time passed so quickly this month– so quickly that I just couldn’t keep up with all our happenings here in real time and I must confess I’ve felt a little guilty.  [smile]  But October was too short… Full of little anniversaries of our first date and first kiss and bigger celebrations like my 30th birthday and our first wedding anniversary, October is already a busy month in our household, but happily we added a bit more hustle and bustle with a record total of 7 overnight guests this month (my parents and our seminary friends), the wedding of dear friends in Georgia, and of course Halloween.

Life is too short to let a day pass without hugging your spouse and each of your children.
Life is too short to nurse grudges and hurt feelings.
Life is too short to worry about getting ready for Christmas; just let Christmas come.
Life is too short to spend much money on neckties and earrings.
Life is too short for nosy questions like “How do you like your new pastor?” Or—if there’s been a death—”How is he taking it?”

October was too short.  The busyness of October bubbled over into our lives at work as well.  At the beginning of the month, Caleb celebrated his first baptism and we welcomed four new members to “The Church.”  What an exciting Sunday!  That evening at the prayer class I’ve been teaching, I had a hard time focusing our discussions because so much joy was spilling over from the mornings activities.  [smile]  “The Church” is slowly growing and we are blessed to bear witness.  This was my first full month in my new job with Appalachia Service Project and essentially I spent the whole month establishing and living into new routines.  Since October 1st, I have made trips back to each of the centers in Tennessee, Virginia, Kentucky, and West Virginia.  I have loved discovering how I am being called to be present for these young adults who are serving in these centers.

Life is too short to be gone from home more than a few nights a week.
Life is too short not to take a nap when you need one.
Life is too short to care whether purses match shoes or towels match bathrooms.
Life is too short to stay indoors when the trees turn color in fall, when it snows, or when the spring blossoms come out.

October was too short.  The most brilliant transformation during the month happened to the mountains.  Slowly the greens of summer have been replaced by the yellows, reds, deep purples, and oranges of fall.  It’s really been quite a spectacular show!  We’ve tried to be intentional about using down time to take in the colors as much as possible.  We’ve taken long drives, biked the Creeper, and spent mornings just sitting by the great floor to ceiling window in our living room.

Life is too short to miss the call to worship on a Sunday morning.
Life is too short for bedspreads that are too fancy to sleep under.
Life is too short to work in a room without windows.
Life is too short to put off Bible study.
Life is too short to put off improving our relationships with the people we live with.

October was too short, but I don’t feel like we’ve let it pass by without taking in the fullness of this very special month.  So I didn’t write about it all until now… at least I have the memory of having lived this October in a way that I can happily proclaim with orphan Ann-(with an)-e Shirley that “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers!”

-Margaret

*Poem by Doris Longacre, the author of the Mennonite cookbook More with Less and the book Living More with Less.

Advertisements

“Love is not a disease.”

"Beautifully written.  Some of the most interesting dragons I've read in fantasy." -Christopher Paulini

“Beautifully written. Some of the most interesting dragons I’ve read in fantasy.” -Christopher Paulini

I just finished reading a fantastic YA crossover fantasy novel– Seraphina by Rachel Hartman.  I categorize it as a YA crossover novel because while it’s intended for young readers it certainly packs enough action, suspense, and complexity to be appealing to a more discerning palate like mine.  [wink and smile]

Briefly an overview:  Seraphina is Hartman’s debut novel about a world where dragons and humans co-exist in relative peace.  I enjoy reading fantasy novels, but haven’t read enough to have come across many dragons or be very familiar with dragon-lore.  So I’m not sure if this compliment is misplaced, but one of the things I loved about Hartman’s treatment of draconian typology was that her dragons are able to adopt human forms.

This motif of degrees of humanness is what puts Hartman’s work in the top tier of fantasy writing because it is able to draw a universal parallel between this imagined world and our real world.  The complexities of living in a world where appearances are not necessarily trusted and that persons are judged by their parentage is reminiscent of our world’s continuing dialogue on race and privilege.

Love and friendship between species (human and dragon) is Hartman’s recurring theme.   The title of the post is a piece of wisdom imparted from one character near the end of the book when he begins to recognize that love between human and dragon is something to be celebrated and not condemned.  Fascinating thoughts and a good reminder that love is without borders.

Definitely recommend you pick up this engaging fantasy.  With the sequel due next year, I predict Hartman’s dragons are going to be the next “it” book.

-Margaret

An epic day and updates

Yesterday was in the words of Barney Stinson “LEGEND– wait for it –DARY.”  [smile] Perhaps that was bit of an oversell, but I’m so happy to be able to share that I was offered and accepted a job!  Stay tuned for further details when all the necessary paperwork is completed and I can make an official announcement.  For now, just want to say thank you for sticking with me through the ups and downs of the job search.

In other news, I spent some time yesterday afternoon updating the About: My Blogging Bio, Creative Reading, and Nearly Ordained Cafe tabs above.  After checking out some of the stats from yesterday’s “Nearly Ordained Cafe” post, I realized that I had gotten really far behind on updating what posts have actually been written under this category and the “Creative Reading” category and that it was hindering visitors from finding other posts they might enjoy.  I’ve rectified that issue and updated “My Blogging Bio” to reflect our graduation and move to Tennessee.  It’s about time, I guess.  We have been living in Kingsport for almost 3 months! [smile]

Finally, I have added a Publications tab under the About page.  Through the process of applying for jobs over the last few weeks, I have finally gotten up the courage to actually name one of the career aspirations that I’ve up to this moment have kept quite close the chest (particularly here):  I would love to write professionally at some point in the future. Perhaps this is not quite as big of a revelation to regular readers and those who know me in life outside the blogosphere, but naming this ambition here feels like a big step in a very right direction.  Who know what might come from it?  [smile]  So if you’d like to read some of what I’ve already published check out my “Publications” page and if you are publisher and you like what you’ve read, I would love to hear from you. Email me at margaret.n.frazier@gmail.com.

– Margaret

Courtesy of 12 year old “Mag”

A fantastic thunder storm has rolled into our little part of Tennessee and the heavy rain has made the mountains disappear in a hazy fog of grey-green.  Our lights keep flickering and I’m hoping against hope that we don’t loose power because tonight is Caleb’s choir practice.  I love our house but do not want to be stuck here in the dark alone.  The stormy weather reminds me of a passage I wrote in my diary when I was 12 that I ran across yesterday when I was going through some boxes.  Pardon the misspellings and the improper use of punctuation I was only 12 after all.  [smile]

Diary, I need to write some descriptions in you. So that I might learn to write well.
The day was as drery [dreary] as a young boy who has just lost his true love.
-Mag

I have a sneaking suspicion that 12 year old “Mag” might have been just a bit pretentious and definitely a completely hopeless romantic.  [smile]   In the entries that follow I gush about my crush on a boy named Alexander, going to shop for school supplies, attending the funeral of someone in my dad’s church, and my first observations of middle school!

August 22
1st day was OK. I think my teachers will be pretty good… Things that have changed:  No more holding hands or smucking [I have no idea what term “Mag” is trying to spell here!] at school, and All the boys talk “Deeper“.  It is so wierd [weird]!  I think it will be a good year, Mag
P.S. I think Alexander likes me.

The post script is written with a heart drawn around it and hearts before and after Alexander’s name.  I must have been really into this guy.  Actually I think it’s indicative of an interest in boys in general because before he diary peters out less than a month later I mention at least 4 other boys who I like!  [smile]

I remember wanting to be in love for such a long time and becoming frustrated with ups and downs of waiting for “love” to happen.  While I waited, I read about love in the pages of Anne of Green Gables and Pride and Prejudice and The Rosary and thought I was becoming an expert on the subject.  [smile]  In the process of reading about such independent heroines, I found the courage to not just wait for love to come along, but also to live life and have my own adventures in the meantime.  When I look back on my almost 30 years of life, I am so grateful for the whole of it.  I am grateful for my wonderful childhood with loving parents and perfectly annoying younger siblings.  I am grateful for the boy-crazy middle school, high school, and yes even college years.  I am grateful for my years of adventuring in far off lands.  I am grateful for the amazing man who surprised me the forever searching romantic and swept me off my feet.  I am grateful for our current adventure and so grateful for the opportunity to take a moment to reflect.

The storm is passing and I think –fingers crossed– that I am out of danger of losing power.  Best of all I can see my mountains again.

-Margaret

If I Could Keep You Little

Book Review of If I Could Keep You Little by Marianne Richmond

I love happy coincidences.  Last week happily I ran across this little book just after writing about knowing that one day many years from now I’ll have to let our future little ones fly off on their own adventures.  I was out shopping for gifts for some of my friends little ones and “surprisingly” found myself in the book section. [smile]  I love gifting books, especially to children.  When I give children a book, I always feel like I’m blessing them with a greater gift– the joy of reading.  When I was born, a parishioner at my father’s church gave me a copy of Charlotte’s Web in which she wrote:  “Here’s something she won’t grow out of.”  [smile]  So I try to follow in her footsteps by sharing the wonderful blessing she once gave me.

If I Could Keep You Little is a precious book that is as much for parents as it is for children.  It is all about a parent opening up their heart to embrace the blessings that come with children who are growing older.  Each page adopts the same pattern celebrating the joy of little ones and then naming the joys of discovering something new as a child grows.

“If I could keep you little, I’d fly you with my feet.  But then I’d miss you seeing sky and cloud from your seat.”

As with any good children’s book, half of the story is revealed in the pictures.  I can imagine the conversations that must be sparked by Richmond’s simple yet rich watercolor illustrations.  Somehow Richmond captures both present joys of parenting young children and the future blessings of watching them “become the person they are meant to be.”  My mother and I were both almost in tears by the end of my reading it to her.  [smile]  With its tearjerker charm, this book has the potential to become the next Love You Forever.  I recommend that next time you find yourself in a bookstore you pick up a copy for yourself and for the present and future parents you know.

-Margaret

Growing in Gratitude: Expectations

Growing in Gratitude:  A weekly series on “Daily Musings on Life Together”
The psalmist wrote, “Sing a joyful noise to the Beloved all peoples of the earth!  Serve the Lord with a glad heart!  Join hands in the great Dance of Life!” (from Nan Merrill’s Psalms for Praying).  Join me in this dance each Monday as I practice
giving thanks for things big, small, tangible, and intangible.  Feel free to count your blessings in the comments.

While packing up the study last week, my mother ran across an old book she’d found years ago at a used book store called The Pastor’s Wife.  It’s written by Mrs. Carolyn P. Blackwood, a minister’s wife from Princeton, NJ and published in 1950.  I vaguely remember when my mother bought this book.  The whole concept- a serious how to guide for preacher’s wives -made her laugh since she felt like in some ways she’d thrown out “the book” through her many years of discerning how her call and my dad’s vocation aligned.  [smile]  When she rediscovered it on the book shelves, she decided to pass it along to me to enjoy as I begin to negotiate the same waters very soon.

I’ve started reading bits and pieces just for fun and for the anthropological curiosity of the history of the role I’m about to take on. The introduction by the Rev. Blackwood provides a good glimpse into the scope of his wife’s book:

This book deals with the mistress of the manse in a church of average size, or smaller.  The author views her as a full-time partner in the most important work on earth, and as largely responsible for her husband’s success or failure.  Kindly and clearly these chapters discuss her problems and difficulties.  Hence the volume will appeal to countless good women out on the field, and younger ones with eyes turned that way.

It’s hard not to smile when I think about how I’m one of those “younger ones with eyes turned that way.” [smile] Clearly The Pastor’s Wife  was written in a very different age, but even so a book like this helpfully brings forth the idea of expectations.  Each of the chapters examines a different expectation:  “As Her Husband’s Helper;” “As a Financier;” As a Worker with Women;” “As a Subject of Criticism;” “As a Friend to Everyone;” “As a Community Force;” and “As an Uncrowned Queen.”  So maybe society’s expectations for who a pastor’s wife will be has changed a bit, but that doesn’t mean they’ve disappeared entirely.  [smile]

Frankly knowing that some people will expect me to act a certain way or participate in specific groups because of Caleb’s vocational choice sometimes freaks me out.  But… expectations are a part of life together- not just the small life together of our marriage, but the grand life together of living in this world.  So lately when I begin to “freak out” about the prospect of taking on this role, I’ve tried to remind myself that expectations can be good.  Expectations can be opportunities that provide spaces to explore something new both for the expector and the expectee. [smile]  At least that’s how I’m choosing to see them today.

Today I am thankful for expectations.

What are you grateful for?

-Margaret

The higher the expectations…

Book Review:  A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny

I wanted to love this book.  All signs pointed to it being a great crime novel. For one, A Fatal Grace began a three year winning streak at the Agatha awards for Louise Penny.  (I’ve read a few other Agatha winners and have enjoyed discovering new authors that way.)  The review that really swayed me to make the purchase was by People magazine:

With superb characters and rich, dark humor, Penny… continues to deepen and modernize the traditional ‘village mystery.’

Unfortunately in the case of A Fatal Grace, I found that the higher the expectations the greater the disappointment.  I love crime fiction, especially the classic detective novel, but the mystery that Penny sets up is infuriatingly slow and unnecessarily complex.  I kept reading hoping that it would get better, but the neatly wrapped up ending was just as disappointing as the rest.

A Fatal Grace is the second of Penny’s novels featuring Chief Inspector Gamache and from what I can gather the second novel set in the quaint town of Three Pines, Quebec.  I will give Penny credit that she creates a beautiful little village.  If it weren’t for the extreme cold… and the propensity of people in the village to be murdered, I’d love to live there myself.  [smile]  The characters are equally intriguing creations, particularly the Chief Inspector and his staff.

Putting the murder of CC de Poitiers at the center aside, the plot ultimately revolves around belief.  At a particularly crucial point in his investigation, Chief Inspector Gamache quotes Mahatma Gandhi who sums up well Penny’s plot construction:

Your beliefs become your thoughts
Your thoughts become your words
Your words become your actions
Your actions become your destiny.

In A Fatal Grace, misguided belief leads to death for CC de Poitiers and Gamache’s integrity and willingness to live with his doubts leads hims to the killer.

Next book on the nightstand:  Many Waters by Madeline L’Engle.  Read along with me if you’d like.  Also, I’m looking for some really great summer reads, I’d love to know your recommendations.  Please leave any suggestions you may have in the comments.

-Margaret