I watched the National Spelling Bee last night. It was great fun to watch the kids and to cheer them on.
This morning I attended the spelling bee for my granddaughter's elementary school. She had won the bee for her fifth grade class and was in the whole school competition. About thirty-five students were seated on the stage as the competition began. The school cafeteria was filled with her school-mates and parents. The competitors came one-by-one to the microphone. The audience seemed to hold their breath as each student spelled their word. We exhaled with each correctly spelled word and sighed when a word was misspelled. The excitement grew. Lexie came to microphone. Your word is “tetanus,” said the announcer. “Would you please repeat the word,” responded Lexie. She took a breath and spelled “t-e-t-a-n-u-s.” She advanced to the next round. Several competitors were eliminated. Her next word was violently, which she spelled correctly. She advanced two more rounds. There were now only five students left on stage. Her word was “eliminated.” She spelled “e-l-e-m-i-n-a-t-e-d.”
We were all very proud of her. She will never again be eliminated by the word eliminated.
I love to laugh. Laughter is one of those things that just makes you feel good all over. When I laugh I laugh loud and long. It used to embarrass my children. Now that they are grown they say they like to hear me laugh. I don't laugh loud and long as often as I would like to. It has been a while since I enjoyed a good belly laugh. Last weekend my eleven-year-old granddaughter picked out a movie for us to watch. I loved it because it made me laugh out loud. My sides hurt from laughing. It was just a silly slapstick movie, but it was wonderful. If you need a good laugh watch "Mr Bean's Holiday."
Yesterday my town celebrated Memorial Day with our annual parade. It was one of those wonderful events that made me glad to part of this community. The boy scouts, the girl scouts, the high school band and pom squad all marched proudly down the street. There were dancers and baton twirlers, red-hat ladies and local politicians. Vintage cars decorated with red, white and blue joined fire trucks and police cars. I knew many of the marchers. We waved and cheered and had a lovely day. It was a time of patriotism and community that made me feel proud to be an American.
Music is one of God's better gifts. It seems to touch all my moods and makes life better in many ways.
Our congregation celebrated it's annual Music Sunday this week. Music was the focus of our worship to God. We had music that combined the voices of the congregation, the choirs, the handbells, the orchestra and the organ. We filled the sanctuary with with loud, boisterous, joyous music of praise. We had quiet instrumentals that felt like a haunting whisper from the Holy Spirit. The music was beautiful, uplifting and holy. The Psalmist was wise when he said in his last chapter:
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet, Praise him with the harp and lyre, Praise him with tambourine and dancing, Praise him with the strings and flute, Praise him with the clash of cymbals, Praise him with resounding cymbals. Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.
Last night we celebrated with another evening of music. This time it was the Senior Chorale singing rock and roll. The one-hundred member chorale forgot their creaky joints and aching backs and we rocked the house. The six hundred folks in the audience were clapping and singing along with us to music of the fifties. It was our music. Dressed in poodle skirts and ponytails or blue jeans and letter sweaters, we all felt like we teenagers again. Music that makes a bunch of senior citizens feel young is a wonderful thing!
Graduations are always emotional events. I can't count the number of graduations I've attended, but this morning's event was one of the proudest moments of my life. My son Paul received his Master of Education degree.
Paul is my youngest child. School has always been hard for him. In kindergarten they told us he was immature and he needed to repeat the year. In second grade he was having a great deal of trouble academically and they gave him a series of tests. They told us he had a low IQ and he would never learn to read. In high school they said he would never go to college. In college they said he would never graduate. School was hard for Paul. He worked hard. It took him longer than others, but they were wrong. He did indeed graduate.
He now teaches special education and he never tells kids they won't learn to read.
May is National Older Americans month. In Maryland this month was celebrated yesterday by an awards ceremony in Annapolis. I was there with the Bowie Senior Chorale. Our singing group won the performing arts award. Several awards were given. My favorite went to a Ms Angela Witt for her participation in the Maryland Senior Olympics. She has won 80 medals, 54 of them gold. She is 99 years young and is still an avid walker and a very funny charming lady. I want to be like her when I get old.
Who is an older person who has enriched your life and made this a better world? This month is the time to tell that person thank you.
We enjoyed a near perfect Mother's Day yesterday. The weather was beautiful. My family gathered at my daughter's home, where the moms all enjoyed mimosas and conversation on the front porch. In the kitchen the guys all worked to set a delicious feast for us. We had steak, scallops and everything else to make a wonderful dinner.
I recently found this picture of my mother and me. I love her expression. I see the protecting, comforting fierce love that made me know everything was safe and good.
My earliest memories are sitting in her warm, cozy lap. She would rock me and sing, “Jesus Loves Me” to me. Her lap was the most wonderful place in the world. There are many times I long for that wonderful, warm, safe place.
One of the last times I saw my mom she was sitting in a big recliner chair in the nursing home. For over a year she had been lost in a world of dementia and blindness. She no longer spoke. This day I sat close to her and put my arms around her and began singing to her. “Jesus loves me this I know.” Suddenly her weak voice joined mine. “Yes Jesus loves me, Yes Jesus loves me.” She sang the entire song with me. Afterward she turned to me and smiled. She whispered, “That's right, honey, he still does.” Those were the last words I ever heard her speak.
I look forward to heaven. It will be wonderful to be able to sing together again.
I talked with my brother Bill this evening. He got the biopsy report today. NO CANCER! When I heard the report I felt like I could finally exhale. It felt like I had been holding my breath ever since we learned he had a mass in his lung. What a wonderful relief.
The doctor does not know for sure what the mass is, but it is not cancer. It may be an infection that has somehow encapsulated or a cyst of some sort. More tests will have to be done, but the mass is not cancer. That is good enough news for us all today.
One of my favorite biblical phrases is found several places in Psalms. It is “fret not thyself.” It means the same thing as as Jesus' command, “Do not worry,” which he repeats several times in the Sermon on the Mount. I'm getting better about following this command, but sometimes it is hard to just rest in the Lord and not worry about life and all it's concerns.
Today one of the big things I am trying not to worry about is my big brother Bill. He went to the hospital last week coughing up blood. A mass was discovered in his lung. He is having a biopsy today. He has a history of colon cancer. Is this a primary or a secondary lesion? His wife remains in fragile health in a nursing home since her head injury last summer. Life just seems very hard for them now.
Of course I am trying not to worry about the various other health, financial, social and spiritual concerns that are present in the lives of my friends and family. God has helped us to survive this far and I am trying to trust Him now with all my worries.
Resting in God and trusting is not always an easy command to follow.
Amid all the talk in politics about whether or not torture of suspected terrorists is ever permissible, I find this survey from Pew Research Forum a puzzlement. According to the survey the more often a person attends church services, the more likely that person is to approve of torture. The people who attend church the least often are most likely to disapprove of torture. It seems to me that church folks who are taught about grace, mercy, forgiveness and love should be against torture more often than those who not. I find this strange.
Can someone explain to me why the survey found this result?