Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Here's a story that inspires me. It appeared in the February 20, 2002 issue of the Fayette, Alabama paper ("The Times Record"). It was originally written by Polly Essary and re-quoted in the book, "Special Delivery" by James McWhorter:

"There was a little old lady who lived alone on the side of a country road. Her days were long and lonely and many times the only person passing to speak to was the rural mail carrier.

Faithfully, she sat in her old porch swing and waited patiently -- even hopefully for him. Even though she never received a letter, she'd wave cheerfully and call out a friendly greeting, which he always returned. Then, she'd go indie -- for the excitement and expectancy of the day was past. HOwever, bright and early the next morning, she would return to her porch, regardless of the weather to wait again. Years passed, and the postman retired. Looking back over his time of service and recalling patrons and incidents, he realized how very mucj she had memant to him. Many times her heerful greetings had brightened his day and made him more appreciative of his ability to work, to serve, and to travel along the lovely countryside, to see poeple and mix and mingle with them. She had taught a great lesson in patience as she waited enedlessly for a letter which never came. Considering how truly importnat she had been to him, he decided to write her a letter of thanks.

Some time later, her body was found int he little house by the side of the road. She had died all alone. The letter was found in her apron pocket. Its edges were frayed and worn and it was stained. Evindently, she had read it over and over again and again, feeding on the joy and comfort the few kind words ha offered to he weary and lonely heart."

I've actually read many stories about the power of a kind letter in various people's lives. Even in this age of e-mail and other electonic forms of communication, a snail mail word of encouragement can be a treasure to someone.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

San Antonio was our destination. Flowers, Flowers everywhere. I loved it!

A day or two after we came home, my Great Maiden's Blush rose slip arrived. I planted it at dusk in a nook formed where two fences sit at a slight angle. I didn't think about where the shadow of the fences might fall. So, I'm not sure I chose the best location. I've been keeping an eye on the sun just to be sure that the bush will get enough sun to thrive.

I've also been busy catching up with planting time. I've put out tomato plants, bean seeds, squash seeds, butterfly weed seeds, etc.

What are you planting in your garden?


Friday, April 24, 2009

From these photos, can you guess where we went on a few day getaway with friends?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I'm back from a trip and checking back in with the blog-o-sphere.

I'll post more later.


Monday, April 13, 2009

Don't forget to visit the Simple Woman's Daybook to read other entries or to write your own.

For Today...

Outside my window...The sun is battling with a drizzle, and the breezes are blowing.

I am thinking... of what I need to do for the rest of the week.

I am thankful for... the resurrection of Christ.

From the kitchen...something simple, as we will be heading to a meeting.

I am reading... the book of John -- very slowly -- and a book about roses.

I am hoping... for my dearest husband and myself to have a nice vacation with our friends next week.

I am creating... a home and a crocheted dish strainer, also some pillowcases

I am praying... for the people in Murphreesboro, a town very close to our city. Our whole area was in a storm system on Friday, but this town was hit hardest by tornadoes. Our daughter and son-in-law and our son and our daughter in all lived there for a time, and we currently have many friends who live there. No one we know was hurt, and many from our church are helping with the clean-up. It was so heart wrenching to hear of a mother and 9-week old daughter killed, and the husband being found in a state of great injury, having been blown by the tornado some distance away. Forty-one other people were treated for injuries, and many lost their homes. Just over a week and a half ago, our city had ten tornadoes touch down, but they did not do much damage and I did not hear of injuries.

Also praying for father-in-law to recover from health problems.

Around the house... I will soon have the delight of caring for a friend's baby for an hour.

One of my favorite things... spring flowers!!!!

A few plans for the rest of the week...getting ready for our trip.

Here is a picture thought I am sharing with you... Here's a photo someone took of one of the tornadoes and sent to local newspaper.

Monday, April 06, 2009

French women do get fat (New research raises questions concerning one of my favorite books about eating: French Women Don't Get Fat. How much longer will French women be an example to us of healthy eating?)
When I was last in Paris, the book French Women Don't Get Fat was all the rage in the U.S. I actually brought it with me to read on the flight over and back. While in Paris, my beloved husband and I enjoyed some great French food and still lost a few pounds. I had spent a summer in Paris in my teens, and I was now trying to show my dear one as many of my favorite sites in just a few days. So, we walked and walked and walked - in metabolism-raising brisk spring air, moreover. We were not trying to diet, but the pounds slipped off, nonetheless.

I intended to continue eating in the traditional French style when we returned home and to continue walking a lot, too. Alas, those pounds we lost in France eventually found their way back across the Atlantic and back onto our American tummies. Sigh.

I was interested to note on our trip that most of the Parisians still seemed both slender and petite in frame, despite the plethora of Starbucks and McDonald's that now saturate the city. Many other ethnic groups who live in that cosmopolitan city also share the tendency toward slenderness. I did notice, however, some signs that made me wonder if the next generation of French will struggle with expanding girth just as so many Americans do.

Three decades earlier, when I spent that wonderful summer in Paris, I had been surprised by the fact that you could with near certainty pick out certain nationalities by appearance. For example, Scandinavians were generally the tallest in a group, and they invariably had slender frames. Americans were next in height, and, while they were generally fit, they were usually of a bigger build than the other ethnic groups around us. The French were petite in stature and slim, to boot.

At the time, there was a pronounced difference in the European and American cuts of clothing for men and for children. French men fit into shirts and pants that were cut close to the body, with lots of seaming and darts. Even very fit American men sometimes had a hard time squeezing into the European cut. Though the sizing systems differed, there was not as much variation in the cuts of French and American women's clothing. However, the problem that American men had with the European cut usually had more to do with having a larger bone structure than with excess weight.

Since my friends and I were in our late teens at the time, our youthful metabolisms handled a daily taste of wonderful French pastries without any of us gaining an ounce. (I don't think the French would have eaten these delights every day, as we did.) Of course, as soon as our classes were over each day, we headed out to enjoy the sights and the parks of Paris. We burned up a lot of calories sight-seeing and giggling and just being young.

At the time, the people of France still did their grocery shopping on a daily basis. They selected their foods from the offerings of many small markets. There was a market dedicated to each kind of food. There were a few large American style supermarkets -- or supermarch├ęs as they are called in France. However, they were just coming in style there and had not replaced the French demand for daily fresh food supplied by local merchants. (The supermarch├ęs still have not vanquished the small markets entirely. Many Parisians do still shop the small markets. They carry rolling carts with them to carry their food home, and they stop by markets on their way home in the evening.)

We were there a year before the first McDonald's opened in Paris. At the time, there was not a real hamburger to be found in the whole city. The closest the French had to a fast food burger chain was the British establishment, Wimpy's. Though we delighted in all of the wonderful French meals we were having -- many of which were prepared by Portuguese nuns in the dormitory where we stayed -- we decided to try Wimpy's one day in order to get a taste of home. We found that the Franglicized idea of a hamburger was a bit different than the American one. Perhaps, the French were happier for not yet having so many supermarches and fast food restaurants to choose from.

In the intervening three decades between my visit, many Americans - including myself -- have found themselves battling weight issues. While this was once a middle-aged phenomenon, I've noticed that even school children and young adults often carry more weight than our generation did when we were that age. And, though our mothers often complained of packing on a few matronly pounds, I believe that middle-aged Americans have an even greater struggle than middle-aged Americans of a few decades ago.

Of course, the issue for me is not really about appearance, but about health. I'm no fan of the runway waif look. Nor, do I subscribe to the idea that you have to be extremely thin to be healthy, happy, or attractive. Sometimes, French culture -- as well as American -- puts an unhealthy focus on being skinny versus looking and feeling your personal best.

The principles in the book "French Women Don't Get Fat" harken back to a time when the French ate fresh foods purchased daily in local markets and to a time when the French and many other Europeans ate most of their meals at a leisurely pace. Also, the French were extremely family centered and their custom was for an extended family to enjoy a wonderful dinner together on Sundays. Cooking and eating were seen as arts to be enjoyed.

I remember being fascinated when I was in a restaurant in Rome on my first trip to Europe. A woman had a whole peach for her dessert. She gracefully used a knife to cut it portion by portion. It took her so...o...o long to eat that one peach. I'm sure she left the restaurant feeling as satisfied as if she had had a calorie laden confection.

Now mind you, in the U.S. at that time, home cooking and eating breakfast and dinner together were also still common for American families. Americans were active outdoors. More children and teens, especially, spent a lot more time moving about in the fresh air. We had only rudimentary video games; few of us spent long hours in day care; and we probably watched fewer hours of TV than our counterparts of today. Yes, even then, Americans were racing down the trail to the modern lifestyle and excess poundage faster than Europeans were. However, our culture still shared some principles of healthful eating and healthful living that are put forth in FWDGF.

Somewhere along the way, we Americans started working out in gyms (nothing wrong with that) but stopped including healthful outdoor activity throughout our day. We began to gulp down our meals in a hurry to get somewhere else. The family seldom ate breakfast together anymore, and even family dinners were in peril. People started eating more pre-packaged foods and fast foods. And, we started packing on the pounds. This has been a mystery to some doctors, because, in a way, Americans are more health conscious than they used to be. Many cut fat from their diets and try all sorts of diet and exercise regimens. We have made strides in overcoming heart disease and other ailments. Still, we have been super-sizing our bodies for thirty years and are continuing to do so at an alarming rate.

Well, statistics say that as the French and other Europeans are becoming more and more Americanized, they are -- you guessed it -- picking up American -style pounds. Here's an excerpt from an article about that:

"The French are looking more like Americans because they are living more like Americans. Goodbye shopping at outdoor markets. Hello processed foods. Goodbye two-hour lunches. Hello cramming a sandwich in your face at your desk as you scroll through e-mail. Goodbye savoring. Hello snacking.

"Most shockingly, French women (and it is still mostly women) not only don't have time to cook anymore - they've forgotten how. At a recent Weight Watchers meeting, a bunch of ladies who battled an hour of grinding Paris traffic to make it there after work were unable to identify a measuring spoon."

Another article about the book FWDGF describes the role of French government in regulating things related to diet. The article points out that Americans have traditionally found this paternalistic style of government to be too intrusive into one's personal life.

I'm fascinated by the connection in both countries -- France and the U.S. -- between extra girth and the fact that women no longer have time to cook. Of course, France is the land of great male cooks. Yet, in the home, it is usually the woman who plans the menus, does the marketing, and cooks the daily meals. It is generally the women who see that the family eats dinner together and organizes meals for the extended family on Sundays. On both sides of the Atlantic, it seems that women are struggling to find time to exercise the domestic arts that make for healthful and happy home lives. Have we Americans done the world a favor by spreading the wonders of fast food, as well as the idea that women are no longer needed in the home sphere and should turn their talents elsewhere?

Since my blog tends to be about domestic things, it's obvious that I have an interest in home and family. I do believe it's important for a woman to see home keeping as a worthwhile and satisfying sphere of life -- perhaps even making family her main career. Let me be clear; I am not rigid in my views about the choices women make concerning family and work. I don't want to err on the side of trying to dictate to others what decisions they should make in this regard. Still, findings like this research about French and American culture do make me wonder...Hmm.


Thursday, April 02, 2009

Overview of the Bible -- Part III
A view of the cross --

Romans 3:22-26, 5;6-8 The cross is a demonstration of God's justice in the face of sin. God would not be righteous if He simply looked the other way regarding sin and evil. At the same time, the cross is the greatest demonstration of God's love for us. God loved His enemy -- you and me! We don't like to think of ourselves as having been God's enemies, but all of us, at some time, have lived in opposition to God's will and wisdom. We have chosen our own way, rather than submission to His perfect will. Still, God loves us. Because God loves us, Jesus Christ died for our sins. See also I John 3;16, 4:10

Mark 10:42-25 Jesus understood God's plan for Him to give Himself as a ransom for us -- to die for our sins. He could do this only because of His sinless life and His own love for us.

Matthew 26:36-46 What choice did Jesus make for us in the garden that night? Matthew 20:17-19 Jesus knew this day would come.

Matthew 26:52-54 Jesus chose not to use the power at his disposal. He could have called twelve legions of angels to deliver Him from the situation. Yet, because of His love for us, He did not. John 12:27-28

Matthew 26:59-63, 27:11-14 False witnesses as well as false evidence were brought against Jesus. Yet, Jesus chose to remain silent and not to defend Himself. He did this out of regard for His Father and His love for us.

Matthew 27:27-29 Jesus as a king could have chosen a crown of glory, but instead He chose the crown of thorns. Jesus did this for you and for me.

Matthew 27:38-44 The robbers, the chief priests, the elders of the law and the teachers all mocked Jesus and said, Come down from the cross, if You are the Son of God. Think of the choice Jesus made for us by staying nailed to the cross instead of saving Himself at the time. Yet, Jesus had not come to save Himself; He had come to save us. What an example he set for us in how to love others!

Isaiah 53 Written about 700 years before Jesus, this chapter predicted what the Messiah would do at the cross and why. In Luke 22:37, Jesus quotes from Isaiah and says it was about Him.

Isaiah told us in 53:1-3 that the Messiah would be despised and rejected. In verses 4-6, it says the Messiah would be pierced for our transgressions; in 7-9, the Messiah would be led like a lamb to the slaughter In verse 10-12, the Messiahs would be a guilt offering; but after His suffering, He would receive satisfaction in His resurrection.

Psalm 22 also foreshadowed Jesus' suffering on the cross.

Ephesians 2:1-10; Titus 3:3-8; Luke 15:11-31 We are saved by grace through faith. Faith is obedient trust in God. James 2:14-1. We trust what God has done in Jesus as the ground of our salvation and we commit our lives fully to Him.

I Corinthians 1:18 You can only see the cross in one of two ways: For those who are perishing, the message of the cross is foolishness. For those who are being saved, the message of the cross is the power of God.

I Peter 2:21-25 -- Why did Jesus die on the cross for us? So that we might die to sin and live for the new righteousness that the cross provides.

Acts Chapters One and Two: By inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Peter explains the Messiah, the cross, and calls the people to a response. We are called to make the same response today. "for all whom the Lord will call".

Question we can all ask ourselves: What impact does the cross and God's grace have on my life?