Saturday, November 30, 2013

Time and Travel. Time Travel?

Our trip is underway. We are excited, nervous, happy, panic-y, a million things.  Here's some of what we had to pack, along with clothes, gifts and toiletries:

 For the moment, more than anything, this trip  has me wondering about the mechanics of time.

We started out on EST time or GMT - 5 hours. Now we are in LA on PST or GMT - 8 hours. Next, we are on a plane for 24 hours and when we land we'll be 11 1/2 hours ahead of Boston. 11 1/2. I had to go looking for the reason for the 1/2. Of all things, it has its roots in the British Colonial Railway System in India. Despite it's large size, India has only one time zone, established well over a century ago to keep the trains running on time. Go figure.

Where we are headed, they don't acknowledge time zones established by England's Royal Observatory back in 1884. No reason they have to. They go by the Indian time zone. By the sundial, there is a 90 minute difference from the east side to the west side of India. We will be just east of the east side of India and so end up with the extra half hour.

Then there is the International Date Line. On the way over, we will skip an entire day. On the way back we get the same day twice. Jordan, musing on this, thought we would be traveling back in time on our way home. And, I suppose, into the future one day on the way there. Time travel. Well, in a manner of speaking.

Time --- today was the perfect time for a tour of LA, our guide told us.  A Saturday so we didn't have to contend with traffic. A day clearer of pollution than most. Excellent weather, though that is typical of LA. So we picked the right time to have our stopover. Our pre-tip adventure. Also, it's helping us adjust more slowly to new time zones and warmer weather -- timely advnatages. A real blessing to have this addition to our trip.

One final aspect of time I am deliberating on -- that day we will be missing is the First Sunday of Advent, the Christian New Year. So I will miss this low-key celebration this year. It makes me wonder -- does the New Year start for me, then? How does it change things that a day of the year - this day in particular -- will not exist? On one level, silly. The day goes on at home. I am on their time. But the overall celebration of Advent may be largely missing for me. It is a time of spritual preparation for Christmas and the Incarnation. My sense is that Baptists in Myanmar are nonliturgical and don't do much, if anything, to obsrve Advent. Plus, the worship services we attend will be largely focused on thanking God for the ministry of the Judsons 200 years ago. How will this change Christmas?

I don't know. Things may be different, but very worth it. To be with these brothers and sisters, to join in their celebrations of their spiritual parents, to see the place where Ann and Adoniram worked -- these are priceless, once in a lifetime opportunities, and I am deeply grateful for them.

What are your thoughts on time?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Gratitude over Greed

   I went to a chain department store recently and saw this notice:

Massachuesetts Law requires that we close on Thanksgiving Day.
Therefore, we will open at 1:00AM on Nov. 29. Neighboring
stores (excluding Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island)
will be open at 8 PM on the 28th.

I have also been seeing posts on Facebook from people stating that they will not be shopping on Thanksgiving Day. I copied one of those posts.

Thanksgiving is the one major holiday that we can all really share. Whatever our religion* we can all give thanks -- and even atheists can give thanks to family and friends. People from other countries who are working, studying or visiting can gather for Thanksgiving and participate freely with the full meaning. Alternate diets can be got around so everyone can be part of things. Thanksgiving has traditionally been a day for family to enjoy a meal, a football game, a long discussion, a time of serving the poor  or whatever their particular tradition, together. I hate to see retail work get in the way of that.

I know that some people will always have to work on Thanksgiving. I also know that many “critical” workplaces try to arrange shifts so that everyone can be home at either noon or in the early evening. I know of families who accommodate difficult work schedules for members who work in hospitals, public safety institutions, etc.

I am grateful to those who work in restaurants so that some families –like mine this year—can have their dinner out. I am hopeful that they work their shifts so everyone can be at home part of the day.

I am very glad to live in a state that requires stores to close on Thanksgiving.

I would like to call for people to respect Thanksgiving. To give us at least this one day when we can have a common day off to spend time with our families and loved ones, to worship if we will, to rest and to be grateful.

I would ask people not to shop before 9:00 AM on “Black Friday.” 1:00 AM openings mean that people have to sleep through the late afternoon and evening.

I would ask store owners and managers to keep their stores closed until 9:00 AM on black Friday.

I would encourage retail employees to organize and ask for the day off. It has to be a large group effort to protect people’s jobs.

Let's put gratitude ahead of getting a bargain or making a buck. Let's have a holiday together. Keep the stores closed.

Your thoughts?

*Except Jehovah's witnesses, who only celebrate one holiday and not this one. 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Song for Sunday: Thanks to God for My Redeemer

A classic Thanksgiving Hymn. We sang it in church this morning. It's the second verse that caught me.

  1. Thanks to God for my Redeemer,
    Thanks for all Thou dost provide!
    Thanks for times now but a mem’ry,
    Thanks for Jesus by my side!
    Thanks for pleasant, balmy springtime,
    Thanks for dark and stormy fall!
    Thanks for tears by now forgotten,
    Thanks for peace within my soul!
  2. Thanks for prayers that Thou hast answered,
    Thanks for what Thou dost deny!
    Thanks for storms that I have weathered,
    Thanks for all Thou dost supply!
    Thanks for pain, and thanks for pleasure,
    Thanks for comfort in despair!
    Thanks for grace that none can measure,
    Thanks for love beyond compare!
  3. Thanks for roses by the wayside,
    Thanks for thorns their stems contain!
    Thanks for home and thanks for fireside,
    Thanks for hope, that sweet refrain!
    Thanks for joy and thanks for sorrow,
    Thanks for heav’nly peace with Thee!
    Thanks for hope in the tomorrow,
    Thanks through all eternity!
                    ~August L. Storm

And related to that second verse: 

Happy Sunday and God  you bless your preparations for Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 22, 2013

In Memoriam, 50 years later.

50 years ago today, the U.S. and the world were reeling with the news of JFK's assassination, an event which cut short a productive and stellar life.

Others died that day. It is one of those, the news of whose death was swallowed up by the President's slaying, whom I want to talk about here.

He captured the imaginations of thousands of children, drawing them into a new world at a time when educators and authors believed children didn't need fantasy.

His fictional narratives for adults drew people in as well, demonstrating spiritual truths in compelling series of stories. Some were set on other planets, one was correspondence between demons.

He also explained in books, in essays, and in radio talks the theology of the Christian faith. He was an apologist par excellence who contended for Christ in every area he was found.

He was a teacher. He was once a soldier. He was a Christian who smoked and drank. He married to give a woman his citizenship and eventually fell in love with her. He met with a group of writers, the best Christian writers of his day, every Thursday morning at a bar. They criticized each other's work, argued, talked, inspired each other. It had been one of those Inklings-- JRR Tolkien -- who led him to Christ.

This author, teacher and apologist did much to build the Kingdom of God. His works still speak for him, challenging people to think theologically, to strive for excellence, to love their neighbors. He still calls people to Christ.

And, so, rest in peace

C.S. Lewis
you are not forgotten. Narnia, Perelandra and the rest are still beloved. Your books still teach. You were and, I trust, are a true servant of God.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thursday Craft Time: Floppy Things

This is a great project for gathering up the pieces and not wasting anything. Also, they were the first things that sold at the craft fair I participated in a few weeks ago. A teacher bought them to use as rewards for her class. They are quick and easy. Kids could do this. Also, they are free to make and I sold them for 50 cents each.

Cut your scrap fleece into strips approximately 8' by 1-1/2" long. They don't have to be exactly the same size though they should be reasonably close. You need 19 strips.

Gather up 18 of the strips and hold them so they are even.

Wrap the 19th strip around the middle of the gathered strips. Fold the ends over each other as though starting a knot. 
Pull very tight.

Flip the bundle over. 

Start another knot. 
Pull very tight.

Finish the knot. 

Wash and dry the tied bundle to tighten the knot and curl the ends. 

Now you have tossing toy that is machine washable.


Hope you and your kids enjoy making these and playing with them. You can add an environmental lesson about not throwing away what you can still use -- or just have fun. 

What have you made lately?

Monday, November 18, 2013

Song for Sunday (belated): Easy Like Sunday Morning

I drew a complete blank on my "Song for Sunday" this week, so a friend suggested this one. I do like Lionel Richie, so here you go:

Easy Like Sunday Morning
Know it sounds funny but I just can't stand the pain 
Girl, I'm leaving you tomorrow 
Seems to me girl, you know I've done all I can 
You see I begged, stole and I borrowed, yeah 

Ooh, that's why I'm easy 
I'm easy like Sunday morning 
That's why I'm easy 
I'm easy like Sunday morning 

Why in the world would anybody put chains on me? 
I've paid my dues to make it 
Everybody wants me to be, what they want me to be 
I'm not happy when I try to fake it, no 

Ooh, that's why I'm easy 
I'm easy like Sunday morning 
That's why I'm easy 
I'm easy like Sunday morning 

I wanna be high, so high 
I wanna be free to know 
The things I do are right 
I wanna be free, just me, babe 

That's why I'm easy 
I'm easy like Sunday morning 
That's why I'm easy 
I'm easy like Sunday morning 

Because I'm easy 
Easy like Sunday morning 
Because I'm easy 
Easy like Sunday morning

                   ~Lionel Richie

Who are some of you favorite artists?

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Back Yard LARP

My son asked me awhile ago if we could run a LARP in our backyard for him and his friends. So, last Sunday that’s what we did. It was the first time I had ever run a LARP, so I ended up learning a few things.
First, for those of you for whom this is a new topic, LARP stands for “Live-Action Role Play.” It’s a hobby in which people take on characters and interact with other characters to solve puzzles and problems, fight enemies, and achieve a set goal. There is a plot for each event that is established by a plotmaster or staff ahead of time.

The plot for our event involved a group of young students forced to cross a war torn country to get to a portal that would take them to a palace and safety. Along the way they had to solve puzzles in order to collect pieces of the key to the portal.

Boffer weapon – a weapon consisting of foam-wrapped core
Mod – a scene or happening within a game, such as a battle or a feast
NPC – non-player character, the portray the characters the players encounter as they work through the plot.
PC – player character, someone who is playing the game

What worked:

The scene changes went well. They were prepped ahead and the NPCs readily pitched in to make them work. I tried to keep most things simple, but I wanted stuff to look good, too. I think the scenery was good. I got to use my giant chess board. I had a cave and a river and  a wizened tree.

Some thing that could be adjusted:

I think if I did this again I would arrange for a separate room upstairs for the NPCs to put their costumes and weapons. I wasn’t prepared for the sheer volume of stuff they brought. They used it to make the evening utterly fun for the boys and I am glad it was there but a better space for it might have been useful.

The kids’ evaluation:

The boys said that they wanted to do this again. One gave it a 9/10. Two boys said they would have liked a deeper plot. On the other hand there were a couple of them who seemed to not be worried about the plot at all. Deep plots are hard to manage for one-off events, especially those designed specifically for kids. However, if I do this again, I’ll go for something more layered.

What the NPCs had to say:

“You started and ended on time.” Apparently that is quite an achievement in the LARPing world.
“The next event is all combat training.” We started off with the boys at a “swordcraft school” and used that mod to teach them the basics of boffer fighting. Things like no head shots, how to count their hit points and what makes a legal hit. There really wasn’t  enough time for that and the boys needed frequent reminders to not hit too hard, to avoid the head and groin and not to keep hitting a monster that was down. So maybe we’ll do an event all for that – no plot, no characters, no costumes, just teaching.
“Just have a basic plot and then let things happen.” OK – I’ll try not to be quite so directive next time. I teach kids.
“Add spellcasters.” Next time. I wanted to keep things simple. Most of these kids have never LARPed before.

A couple of things I would have done differently:

I think I would have had the NPCs come a little earlier than the players. While two NPCs ran the first mod, I met with the others but then I never filled in those two. Everything did work out, but maybe a few minutes to get organized would have been better.

I would have delegated food preparation ahead of time. I had done most things ahead and the players brought potluck, but I had planned to do the final bits of cooking and heating up myself. That was not going to work, but fortunately when I asked for someone to “IRL make pasta” a friend stepped up and handled the kitchen. It went fine, but having handed it off ahead may have prevented a bit of stress.

One thing I was very glad for:

The NPCs. A friend of mine gathered an awesome team, combining some mutual friends of ours with some people from a game she plays in. The organizer of that game actually gave in game advantages to players who came to my house to bring LARPing to kids. I was very grateful to my friend for organizing these people and to each of them for turning up with their costumes, weapons, energy and teaching skills. (Oh, and there was this cute little skeleton NPC—so awesome!)

Some things never change:

LARPing has always attracted more men than women, although there are some ladies thoroughly dedicated to the hobby. Jordan and I invited plenty of both boys and girls to the party. On the day, we had 10 boys show up. Not one girl came. Amongst the NPCs/adults the men outnumbered the women 7-4 – and one of the women was a Mom who decided to hang around and watch her son. I have no idea what drives that gender gap but it seems to be real.

Basically, I think it was a fun day. I am hoping we can repeat it and make it even better.

LARPing is “just a game” but it is one that requires people to think, work out strategies and find solutions. At the same time, with boffer LARPS, you can get a pretty decent physical work out. I am glad my son enjoys this pastime and can share it with his friends. 

What are your hobbies? What benefits do you see in them?
Have you stretched yourself recently? What did you learn?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Thursday Craft Time: Blessing Bookmarks

These bookmarks make for a nice gift and are fairly simple to complete. Several are made at once. They also add a prayer to each recipient’s day.

To make the bookmarks you will need:  

 -three colors of cotton or similar fabric; solids,
         textured solids and small prints work well.

 -matching thread

 -embroidery thread in a complementary color

 -a piece of thin cardboard (5-1/2” by 1-1/2”.) I  
          use the dividers from boxes of tea bags.

Cut the cloth into 16” by 3” strips. Sew together strips of the three different colors on the long sides, using a 1/2 “ seam. Cut into 4 inch strips, cutting across the seams so that all three colors are in each strip.

For each strip, fold along the long side so that right sides are together. Sew along the top and down the side opposite the fold. Turn out so that right sides are facing out. Use the eraser end of a pencil to push out corners.

Write a blessing on the piece of cardboard. I also speak the blessing over it.

Some blessings:

“May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.”

“May the shalom of Jesus be in your heart.”

“May joy from God in rich your days.”

If it is a gift for a specific person, I use their name instead of “you” and include a card with the blessing on it.

Slip the cardboard into the bookmark and sew across the bottom.

Cut a length of embroidery thread (all six lengths.) With a large-eyed needle sew the thread into the top left corner of the bookmark so that half is on one side and half on the other. Tie a knot a little from the ends to form a looped tassle.

That’s it!

Hope you enjoy making a few.

What crafts do you use to make personalized gifts?

Photos by J. Parry

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Beyond 500

My last post was my 500th on this blog. 

I began this journey nearly three years ago on November 29, 2010. My first post, on the first day of the Christian year, was about our family tradition of allowing Jordan to set up our Christmas creche. Since then I have tried a variety of things. I want to review what I have done, the ground I have covered and then take a moment to consider what could be ahead. 

I will start with some statistics. 

The posts that have gotten the most pageviews:


Oct 13, 2012
Jul 18, 2011
Mar 6, 2013, 

     Jul 6, 2013,

I am not sure to make of that list. I do know that the top few have gotten many "spam" comments. I did try to see if they were posted or linked from somewhere that gets more traffic, but I haven't found anything. Anyway, I am not sure they are worth people's linking from them. One is just about an old camp song and one about a lesson Jordan got distracted during. Hmmmm.

The posts that have received the most comments, not counting spam, have been:

Books are Dangerous
Two Steps Forward,One Step Back
Craft Time: Giant Chess Board

Those are three very different posts. Actually far more of my posts get zero comments than any. Comments increase when I comment on other people's blogs. 

My longest running "series" is Song for Sunday. I have posted in that 62 times, more or less consistently since October 7, 2012. Before that it was sporadic. I hadn't originally intended to make it a weekly series but it grew into that. Like the rest of my blog it is fairly eclectic, mixing Christian, popular, TV and children's music. It's been fun. I think I'll keep it for now. 

I have participated in the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which involves posting 31 posts in a month, several times and actually finished it twice.

I tried running a blogging challenge myself. It was titled "Wednesday Encouragements: A Christian Blogging Challenge" and the idea was that participants would each write a Christian-themed blog post every Wednesday during Lent 2012. It didn't work very well, though. Only one other person signed up and she didn't finish. 

I also started a Comment Circle. Six people committed to write comments on each others' blogs for 12 weeks. It started out strong and people wanted to keep going so we tried monthly themes and added new folks. All women, though we didn't limit it to that. Just worked out that way. The group seems to have run its course now. Activity has been low. People are prioritizing other things over blogging and commenting. That's find. "All good things must come to an end." We might try starting up again later. 

Just for fun: Here's where people have visited my blog from. The U.S. has almost double the next on the list, but  it's a pretty good spread. 

United States
United Kingdom                    
Canada                                      175

What have I accomplished with this blog? I don't know. 

I haven't made any money to speak of. 

One of my goals is to promote the Christian Youth Confernce at Ocean Park, but I don't think I have brought any campers to the program because of the blog. 

I have spoken out about some important topics like modern day slavery, drunk driving and victim-blaming, but I don't know how much of an impact I have made. 

I have shared housekeeping tips, organizing ideas, recipes and homeschool activities that I hope were helpful to somebody. 

I have written about the Gospel of Jesus and his amazing love. Maybe that led someone to a new understanding of faith. 

The most consistent benefit is that this blog has helped me to organize my own thoughts and clarify my own views of things. 

So what are the plans for the future?

I am going to keep writing. It will continue to be an eclectic blog, but I hope to bring more focus to the posts. One of my goals is to reduce the number of labels so that people can find things of interest more easily. 

I will continue the Song for Sunday series and I plan to add a Thursday: Craft Time series, though I doubt that will be permanent. 

That is what I am working toward for now, trusting that God will lead me and "musings" in the directions He wants us to go. 

How's your blog going? 
What do you like to read about on a blog?