Saturday, November 30, 2013

November!

1.  Five Days At Memorial, Sheri Fink - (BOTNS recommendation)  My library ebook hold came available just as I was finishing up last month's marathon of horror novels, and so I decided a nice, narrative non-fiction book would be an excellent palette cleanser.  It was, in a word, riveting.  In fact, I finished it in less than 24 hours (and it's a hefty book) because I literally could not put it down.  (Sorry girls...)  Fink's book was also considerably more terrifying than anything I read in October, being the story of what happened in New Orleans Memorial Hospital in the aftermath of Katrina.  Shivers.

2.  The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, Charles De Lint and Charles Vess- I'd been saving this for a rainy day, and after last month, and Five Days, I really needed something gentle.  It was beautiful...and quiet...and peaceful...and exactly what I needed/wanted.  Then again, I knew it would be.  To my intense delight, both of my girls chose to read this book as well!  They checked out an extra copy from the library so that they could both enjoy it at the same time, and I managed to snap a quick - and very adorable - picture of them reading together.  Love that we've all had a special moment this month with my favorite author!

3.  Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, Susanna Clark (audio) - You all were right, it's much better in audio!  Very reminiscent of Dickens, and I happen to love listening to Dickens. I did find that periodically I had to look the chapter up and reread it, but that's a minor complaint.  Even though I liked it better in audio, though, I still didn't finish it...Sigh.  I'm not giving up...but this could take a while. 

4.  Clair of the Sea Light, Edwidge Danticat - (BOTNS)  Oh my, was this ever a beautiful book.  Now I swear I had read the first chapter before (perhaps it was published as a short story somewhere?), but I haven't figured out where or why.  I agree wholeheartedly with the reviews I've heard which state that it's rather like poetry.  I believe I must go read more Danticat now.

5.  Some Kind of Fairy Tale, Graham Joyce - I honestly hadn't heard of Joyce before, but when my favorite author, Mr. DeLint, and his wife, MaryAnn Harris, recommended his work on Facebook I decided to give him a read.  I loved it!  This should come as no surprise to anyone as many of the authors I enjoy are folk I tried because they had a De Lint blurb or review.  Ahem.  I will also be reading more Joyce.  Fairy tales have always been my favorite...and now I'm craving more and more.

6. Writing Down Your Soul, Janet Conner - A very good friend of mine sent me her extra copy of this lovely book, knowing it was something I could benefit from.  She was right.  Conner has written a guide to taking one's journaling practice to a deeper level, which is just exactly the sort of thing I needed.. 

7.  Lord John and the Private Matter....and

8.  Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade...and

9.  The Custom of the Army...and

10.  A Leaf in the Wind of All Hallows...and

11.  The Scottish Prisoner, by Diana Gabaldon. - I hadn't read the Lord John books and novellas yet.  Thanks to the library, I now have....and it was super-fun!  Must say, though, they don't come anywhere close to the magic of the Outlander Novels. 

12.  Songs of Willow Frost, Jamie Ford - (BOTNS) - Sighs...another beautiful book.  I don't know that I expected to like it as much as I did, but when I saw that it was available from the library I decided to give it a try.  I think what I love most about this book is that Ford has taken a very common orphan storyline and twisted it in an unexpected direction.  The ending was perfect. 

13.  A Fatal Likeness, Lynn Shepherd - I must say, I liked this one quite a bit better than I liked The Solitary House.   Same main characters, same witty literary connections...but this time Shepherd dumped the 'being clever for clever's sake' nonsense that so aggravated me with the first Charles Maddox book.  The central mystery revolves around the true story of  Percy Bysshe Shelley and Mary Shelley.  In fact, Shepherd had to invent very little (and she does clearly spell out what was true and what was fiction at the end of the book) because the real life events were so dramatic...and nutballs.  I loved it so much that I have three of the biographies that Shepherd used on hold at the library to pick up tomorrow!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grandpa's Wisdom

I've been sharing my grandfather's beautiful words of Thankgiving since I started my blog, and likely it will always be my Thanksgiving gift to the world because I simply cannot do it any better. May you all have a wonderful holiday filled with love and laughter, and may you recognize your many, many blessings.

The following poem was presented to the Woods Chapel congregation of the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now known as the Community of Christ) by my grandfather, Stanley E. Curtis, on February 27, 1994, two months before he passed away.

"I am a farmer and a minister, and I see all these things that God has made and they are good.
  • To know that out under the ice and cold of winter, there are tender shoots of wheat that will emerge in the warmth of spring and produce a golden harvest next summer
  • To watch a baby calf being born, struggle to its feet and find nourishment at its mother's side
  • To ride the crest of the Missouri River in an aluminum canoe and sense the power of millions of gallons of water searching its way to the gulf 1000 miles away
  • To ice skate to school when the roads were too slick for cars or school buses
  • To wade waist deep in the Little Blue River searching by hand for fish hiding under snags of tree root - and finding them
  • To watch very fragile soybean plants push up huge clods of dirt as they emerge in the spring
  • To see a buck deer with a three-foot wide rack standing in my pasture looking exactly like a Hartford Insurance ad
  • To watch a doe raise a pair of twins later on in the spring and summer in that same pasture
  • To ride a sled down a half-mile long hill with family and friends after a new-fallen snow
  • To be up early enough for most of my life to watch the sunrise
  • To watch rivers overflow their banks covering thousands of acres of land causing millions of dollars of damage; yet realizing this has created some of the richest farm land in the world
  • To watch a nest of baby rabbits grow up less than 20 feet from the back door
  • To stand in a corn field on a warm summer afternoon and hear the corn grow
  • To watch my border collie bring a herd of cows from the pasture, up the road and into the barn to be milked
  • To smell the warm fresh milk on a cold winter morning
  • To hear the howl of a coyote on a moonlit night, and to see his shadow out the bedroom window
  • To have seen the Canadian Rockies, the Norwegian Fjords, the Hawaiian Islands, the Finger Lakes of New York, the Coast of Maine, the canals of Holland, and so many other places of breathtaking beauty
  • To see a wild tom turkey strut in the spring
  • To stand on a hillside and watch a summer thunderstorm move across the valley below
  • To taste fresh, tender sweet corn roasted in its husk over an open campfire
  • To stand in our storm cellar doorway and watch an approaching tornado pass harmlessly overhead after it had created a path of destruction ten miles long and a quarter mile wide
  • To smell a field of new-mown alfalfa hay
  • To sit under the hands of two very fine elders in administration and receive strength and healing
  • To feel the pain and yet the privilege of officiating at the funeral of a neighbor I had known and worked with for 45 years
  • To hear the scream of a mountain lion and see just ahead two huge eyes in the beam of my flashlight
  • To come home from seeing the fall colors in New England and see our own countryside ablaze with spectacular beauty
  • To see forty young friends show up to help move property out of harm's way as floods threatened
  • To watch our 12-year old daughter lead her 2000 pound Holstein into the winner's circle at the state fair
  • To stand before you this morning to testify of the overwhelming power of God's presence in my life, in you my friends, and in all of nature
From these and a Host of other experiences, I can truly say, I see all these things that God has made and they are beautiful."
Happy Thanksgiving, and God Bless.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Why I Let Her Do It

Recently my beautiful little girl went from this:
To this!
She was...and still is...a very, happy little girl who loves her new look.

 And people have asked,
"Why did you let her do it? Why would you let her cut off all of that gorgeous hair?"
 
 First and foremost...it's her head, not mine.
 
Secondly...it's just hair, and it will grow back.
 
But really,
 
Really I let her do it because of this:
 
"Jan. 1, 1988 ...  I have long brown hair that I think is my only vanity."
 
That is quite literally the fourth sentence in my first journal.
 
It's also the only nice thing I say about my appearance in any of my journals.
(I might be wrong, I've only reread through my college years, but I know myself and I'm 99% sure this is true.)  Pages upon pages upon pages are devoted to what's wrong with my appearance, and the only nice things I ever say about myself are about my hair.
 
Yes, it is incredibly sad.
 
It's also infuriating.
 
I want better for my girls.
 
I want them to know they are beautiful because they just are.
 
I want them to know that they are more than their looks.
 
I want them to have fun with their femininity...and all of the crazy things that go along with that.
 
I want them to be free of societal expectations.
 
I want them to believe in themselves...in their WHOLE selves.
 
And yes, I want them to know that a bad hair day or a bad haircut isn't the end of the world.
 
So I let her cut her hair. 
 
Goodness bless, she'll have it better than I did...of that, I am sure.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Peek Into My Workbasket

The Green Woman is over the moon that we are being creative again, and she wanted me to share what's in our workbasket right now!
 The small shawl I started earlier this week is close to being finished.  I actually have enough yarn to make myself a pair of matching fingerless mitts!
 I'm also very close to finishing another new pair of socks for myself.  Yes, friends, this will be my fourth new pair this fall.  One can NEVER have too many handknit socks!
 I've also finally started a long-wanted pair of stranded colorwork socks.  They are so fun that I think I'll keep the details secret for a little while yet.
 All I have to do is graft the end onto the rest of this scarf...
which will only take ten minutes or so if I just get to it...
 This sweet little thing, which just happens to be one of my favorite knits in a long while, needs to have the facings sewn down, the ends woven in, and buttons added before it can be sent to the baby it is intended for.  Problem is, I can't find buttons in town!
I have about half of the ends to still weave in on the Scrapbook blanket, and I also need to add the trim around the outside.  Opal has other plans, though, so I haven't touched it since I brought it upstairs.
 
I also have a circular shawl that is mostly done.  The problem is that I lost interest in it months ago, and am honestly not sure if I'm going to continue.  The Green Woman likes to remind me that if I haven't worked on something in several months it should probably be frogged so that I can use the yarn for something else.  She's probably right....and I might have some ideas....some of which would involve some tweaks to what I have already so that I don't have to entirely frog it.  We shall see!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Hope

It's no secret that I've had a really rough year.
 
But.
 
Yesterday I cast on a beaded lace shawl...my first lace in over six months.
 
All will be well.
 
All is right in the world.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Dog Dilemna

I knew when my sweet Kiera passed away just before Christmas that it wouldn't be long before I turned my attention to finding a new dog for our family.  I'm a dog person...always have been, always will be....and to me a house without a dog just isn't home.  (Yes, we still had a dog - my husband's papillon - but she is very bonded to my husband, and she thinks she is a cat.  That first fact makes the situation unfair for the girls and I, and the second...well....)  Truth be told, I had been browsing various rescue and breeder websites for quite some time...preparing for the inevitable and, yes, trying to ignore my grief over watching my beloved dog age. 

Kiera and I in the spring of 1997.
 
When she passed in December, my heart was well and truly broken.

And yet....I had hope because I knew it wouldn't always be so, and I knew that some day someone new would come along.  No dog could ever replace my Kiera, but there would be a new beginning.

The trick is in figuring out when the time is right.  My husband was quite correct to have put his foot down and said no for the first month after Kiera's passing.  I was too raw, and my grief too strong....stronger than I had expected because I thought I had prepared myself.   I knew I needed to wait until I stopped looking for Kiera around the house and that I needed to be able to remember Kiera with smiles, and not tears.  Sean made sure I kept a clear head until both of those things happened, and I'm very grateful to him for that!
 
However, once both of those bars had been passed, the house became unbearably empty.  (I know that statement is somewhat ridiculous, coming from a happy home with two children, two cats and a wee papillon....but it's true.)    It was time to get serious and start looking.
 
At the time, a friend of mine was also in the process of searching for a family pet.  She asked me for some advice, and when our conversation was over she suggested I write a post about how to find the perfect dog. 
 
So here it is!
 
Growing up as I did - the daughter of a veterinarian - I have some very strong beliefs about pet ownership and the responsibility that holds.  It's a lifetime commitment, and one that bears a great deal of thought and discussion.  It is essential to take into consideration the needs of each and every family member as well as the potential needs of your new pet in order to establish a successful relationship between family and pet. 
 

First and foremost:  Owning a dog (or any pet) is not a right, it's a privilege.  If you don't have the time, energy, resources and finances to support a pet than you shouldn't have one.  I know that sounds harsh, but it really is that simple  If you have never had type of pet you are interested in you need to do your research to make sure you fully understand the cost and care that the pet will require - including both regular and emergency vet care and training, and covering each and every stage of an animal's life.

Assuming you've done that, you need to figure out exactly what you want!  Here are the things I recommend that people take into consideration.

1.  Dog size:
 
This should be the absolute first thing you consider.
 
Are you a big dog person or a little dog person?  What type of space do you live in?  Do you have the type of space appropriate for the size of dog that you want?  How many other pets do you have and is your space appropriate for one more?  Do you have a yard?  Fence? Access to parks or trails for walking?  Do you know how size influences a dog's personality?  Do you understand that larger breeds have shorter lifespans and vice versa?
 
I personally tend to be a medium-largish dog person.  My one exception is that I absolutely adore West Highland White Terriers.  However, for reasons that I will mention later a Westie simply wasn't a possibility.  I wanted a larger dog because I appreciate the sense of safety and security you get just by having that larger dog in the home. I also wanted an exercise buddy that would force me into a constant routine.  Besides, much as we love our papillon, smaller dogs can be fragile...and with rough and tumble children I wanted a dog that could be rough and tumble with them!

2.  Dog age.
 
Most people automatically assume puppy....but there are some really wonderful things about adopting an older dog.  Here are just a few of the pros and cons of both.
 
Puppy pros:  super-cute!, high energy, blank slate, can adapt easily, train as you like, it's fun to watch them grow up and develop, did I mention super-cute?!
Puppy cons: super high energy, need obedience training, need to be housebroken, will keep you up at nights, often chew on lots of stuff, pretty needy, depending on breed can take a while to mature.
Older dog pros: tend to be calmer, often come partially or fully trained in obedience, often are already housebroken, know what you're getting in terms of size, personality and behavior, mature
Older dog cons: can potentially have behavioral problems and/or emotional issues relating to their past, sometimes have health problems, don't get to share your life with them as long
 
This was actually one of our easier decisions.  I adored Kiera, but she was about a year old when I adopted her and it quickly became clear that her earlier days had been traumatic.  She was worth every single minute of the work I put into her....but it was a solid three years of focused work to help her get past whatever had been done to her, and with two young children I just can't do that right now.  To be honest, I also wanted the girls to have that puppy experience as well.

3.  Purebred v. Mutt
 
Six of one, half a dozen of another. 
 
While you will hear from some quarters that mutts have fewer health problems...but that's not necessarily true if you find a reputable breeder.  The dearth of breed specific rescues renders the 'you should only adopt' argument moot....especially as with many of the breeds you can be 100% sure you are getting  a purebred through such rescues.  Sure, mutts are fabulous if all you are wanting is a companion...so are purebreds.  For every argument pro one side or the other I can give you a matching counterpoint.
 
This is personal preference...and the next issue is actually more important.
 
Honest to goodness, my personal preference is for a purebred, but this was lower on my priority list.
 
Not much else to say about that!

4.  What Breed?
 
Here's where things get truly personal.  
 
Please, PLEASE!!! do some research.  Different breeds have very different personalities, and what works for one family may or may not work for you.  For example, a dog with strong herding instincts may not be the best choice for a family with small children.  I could list many, many examples...but this is getting long enough as it is!  Dogs are frequently surrendered to rescue - or returned after a failed adoption - because of what amounts to an avoidable personality conflict because the humans didn't understand the specific personality traits of the dog's DNA.  This holds true for both purebreds AND mutts.   (Most animal rescue folk and/or vets can at least provide a good guess as to the genetic make-up of a mutt, giving you no excuse to skip the research!)
 
Me? 
 
I LOVE Westies (as I mentioned) and I LOVE Labs and I LOVE Brittany Spaniels.
 
I'm also pretty cool with pitts, rotts, terriers and pugs.
 
I like - but know better than to get - several varieties of working dogs.
 
What I don't care for so much are boxers, poodles, hounds, chihuahuas, or small decorative puff balls.
 
At the end of the day, I know what works for me...and what doesn't work for me.  This time around, though, I based much of my decision on what my girls needed...and that was a happy-go-lucky lab... AKA, the perfect family dog.

5.  Breeder v. Rescue: 
 
I may get into trouble for saying this publicly, but I am a supporter of responsible breeders and I believe whole heartedly that if you are a family who wants a very specific breed you have every right to find a breeder.  (The trick being you must do your due diligence and find a responsible breeder.  Our state is notorious for puppy mills, and that is a deplorable practice that must be stopped.  So NO pet store puppies and no puppy mills!!!)  You can find information about how to go through the process here

I'll go a step further....it really makes me angry when people get on their high horse and start preaching that you HAVE to adopt a shelter dog.  I mentioned on FB that I was starting to think through what we wanted to do and I pretty immediately had people start to try to influence my decision in that direction - some gently, some not so.  I also have friends who hesitate to tell you where their wonderful puppies have come from because they have so often been given so much crap over having used a breeder.  It's irritating and offensive.

As with everything else, there are some legitimate reasons to go either way. Please respect that YOUR decision may not be someone else's decision on this sensitive topic.
 
Breed specific rescues are a great compromise if you are struggling to decide where to get your pet - especially if you want a purebred.  Be warned, however, that they often have very high adoption fees and/or that they can be very selective about where they place their animals.  Remember that Westie I wanted?  The MO Westie rescue won't place in a home with children under the age of 8 because of typical terrier behavior...and they are four times more expensive than our local shelter.  Having said that, the benefit of those stringent placement rules is that they do a great job of putting dogs in homes that are good for the dog and the humans.
 
When it came right down to it, we chose to go through the Central MO Humane Society (my preferred rescue organization in our area) for two reasons.  First, they had exactly what we wanted..and I do mean EXACTLY.  I wanted a black lab (or lab mix) puppy with an outgoing personality that didn't show any signs of either aggression or fearfulness.  Check, check and check!  Two, the price was right.  Adoption fees at CMHS are a fraction of what a purchase price would be from a reputable breeder.  True, I could have saved up for a purebred...but I didn't want to wait that long!
 
So there you have it....my long-winded opinions on how to pick your next pup.
 
And now I'm going to go snuggle with my Winston, who is now about a year old and is just about the best dog I've ever known.


 Winston and I on the day we fell in love!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Some Thoughts About Change




I can actually remember the first time my husband and I saw this commercial.  We laughed ourselves silly...and have referenced it often over the years.  You see, I am a woman who LOVES my bushes.  Change is NEVER easy for me, usually creating considerably more stress and anxiety than the specific situation warrants.   If I had my druthers, I would happily live in my bushes forever and ever and ever.

Stupid pants.

Which brings me to what I would like to talk about today - Community of Christ Sings, my church's new hymnal.

(I imagine some of you may be scratching your heads over that one.  Bare with me...)

Two weeks ago, Community of Christ Sings was officially released at the 2013 Peace Colloquy to great fanfare and celebration.  (The Peace Colloquy is an annual event held at our world headquarters in Independence, MO.)  New hymnals don't exactly appear often, so this is - as you can imagine - a Very Big Deal, and was in fact part of the main focus for the weekend.

According to my mother, who is my resident expert, hymnals go out of date roughly every 20 years, and our old hymnal was over 30 years old....so we were overdue.  My understanding of the purpose behind updating the hymnal was twofold.  First of all, the church wanted to make sure that the songs inside reflected our current mission initiatives as a peace seeking church which is inclusive of all.  Second, they wanted to expand the range of music available to include different styles and languages as we truly are a global church.  This all makes very good sense as we do consider our hymnal to be a book of scripture, and I actually do support those goals.

It has, quite naturally, been a long process.  In all fairness, I give great credit to our world church for helping to prepare everyone by releasing previews at reunions and special events, and by holding music workshops.  They've been doing this for about two years, with the end result that most of my church family has been quite excited about the new hymnal.

And I've just been 'meh' about the whole thing.

I fear change, and will keep my bushes.

You might be wondering why I would be so ambivalent and/or nervous about a new hymnal when I support the ideas behind it.  Seems odd, don't you think?

Sigh.

The fact of the matter is that I've struggled with new religious music since I was a teenager.

Let me explain...

The contemporary Christian music and worship movement was really taking off when I was a teen...and I hated it.  I had sooo many well-meaning adults try to convince me that such things were for ME.  After all, I was a teenager..and teens LOVE pop and rock music, right?! Teens wanted informal and fun, right?!!  Teens wanted lots of movement, bright colors, dancing and concerts, right?!  RIGHT?!?!

Wrong.    

In fact, I was super-annoyed by the whole thing.  (And a grumpy Kristin has NEVER been an easy thing to deal with...sorry Mom and Dad.)  I suffered through contemporary services that my parents dragged my brother and I to in an attempt to give us what they thought we needed/wanted.  I rolled my eyes at the canned music that found its way into our worship services and the overeager people around me who embraced it.  I prayed for peace, and I shut down.

(As I write this, I'm keenly aware that as an adult I've come to realize that I do truly have issues with being very sensitive about sensory input.  It's entirely possible that much of my problem was actually about the fact that it was all too much...too loud, too much motion, too bright, etc.)

You see, I love the old hymns.  Always have, always will.  There is a difference in my heart between a song that has been beloved by generations and a song that was written last year.  The old songs carry the weight of history behind them, and because of that their meaning and spirituality is magnified.  They are beautiful...and nothing is better than listening to a congregation join together to lift them to the heavens.  The familiarity is comforting.  Those old hymns have lifted my soul in joy, bonded me through tears with a friend, brought comfort when needed, inspired me to greater contemplation and given me great peace.

In comparison, I felt that most of the contemporary Christian music was overproduced dreck that was so treacle filled that it could have given a person a cavity.  Either that or it was emotionally manipulative in a clear and cheesy way.  Don't even get me started on the electronic background music.  Shivers.

No thanks...I'll keep my old hymns.

I survived the Contemporary Christian movement only to be confronted with two supplemental hymnals that our church published about 15 years ago.  To my disappointment, the two books had a distinctive contemporary Christian feel, including songs such as "My God is an Awesome God."  That's just about my least favorite song in the entire world - being maddeningly repetitive and slangy.  Ugh.  To my even greater disappointment, I quickly found that my opinion was in the minority...and that if I expressed it I was going to be quickly trounced as a hater.  The movement had officially invaded my church, and was here to stay.  It's hard to put a finger on exactly what I felt we had lost...except perhaps that in embracing the new I felt that we had taken a huge step away from who we were.

(Another wee insight that I'm receiving as I write is that newer songs are never sung well by congregations...and the stumbling around is distracting, even in new hymns with potential.)

Please remember, this is personal opinion...and I'm being honest.

Since then, by and large I've kept my mouth shut.  I know full well that my feelings on the subject are just that - MY feelings - and that others feel quite differently.  So long as our services at church include a decent mixture of the old and new, I am happy.  (Although I'll be honest...there have been many a service in which only new songs were used, and they generally leave me feeling pretty cold.)  I don't want to impose my own personal preferences for worship on others, just as I don't want them to impose their own preferences on me.  I truly believe that if a church is going to thrive it needs to learn how to accommodate the needs and wants of all of it's members, and I'm totally ok with that.

Oddly enough, I love experimenting with different components in the worship service...it's just the new music that bugs me.  Go figure.  I'm a conundrum.

Anyway.  This brings me back to the new hymnal and its release two weeks ago.

My Mom called me from the Peace Colloquy, clearly head over heals in love with Community of Christ Sings.  She wanted to buy me a pew copy as my ordination gift...and I tried to politely refuse.  What followed was a crazy discussion in which my mother told me I was being an old fart (in not so many words) and needed to be more like her as I tried to explain why I'd rather just stick with the old hymnal, thank you very much.  It was a rather bizarre conversation, and I'll admit that it left me rather agitated.  It felt like high school and that rock worship service all over again.

I went to bed that night very, very nervous about going to church the next day.  I knew the new hymnal was likely to be a hot topic as we'd already received excited news of it from a few of our congregations members.  I was so very not ready....

And then I had a dream.

I dreamt that I was in a large hall for some sort of event.  It was a beautiful, beautiful place...reminiscent of an old fashioned 'crystal palace' ,the flight cage at the St. Louis Zoo and a grand ballroom.  I wandered through the very crowded room, mostly keeping to myself...but happy to be there, enjoying the party  Then I heard a single voice begin to sing...

Come thou fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing thy grace...

It didn't take long for other voices to join in, and before I knew it every single person in that very crowded hall was singing along.  There was no accompaniment...just hundreds of voices lifted together in song.  At one point a choir appeared to lead the room in harmony.

It was amazing.

I woke up the next morning with that song on my heart, and was comforted.  I felt as if God had reached down to say, "Don't worry.  The old will not be lost or forgotten.  We will still honor it.  Don't be afraid of what's to come."  I felt better about that new hymnal than I ever had, and was able to honestly celebrate with all of those who were excited for what it had to offer.

I've been singing that hymn to myself every since.  What a blessing.

There was still something missing, though.  I needed a reason to embrace the new hymnal for myself.  I had to find something in it that I could love, and I had to find a bit of reassurance.

With that in mind, I sat down with my mom's musician's copy of Community of Christ Sings during our trip home a couple of weekends ago so that I could explore it for myself.  What would I find?  What was still there?  What had been left out?  Would there be any new songs in there that I would like?

I spent a good hour searching through that book.  I was relieved to see that many old favorites had survived the selection process, and was amused to see a key change or two designed to make them easier to sing.  I both laughed at and was puzzled by the inclusion of alternative music for one hymn.  (Mom said it had lots of complaints for it's tendency to be a dirge..which I blame on the pianist, and not the actual music.)  I was glad to see that the one song I enjoyed from the supplements made it in, and relieved that a few others had been left out.  I figured out why that blasted preview song had been such a hot mess when we'd tried to sing it at reunion.  (No time signature) I also grieved when I discovered which hymns were missing....at least two of which were near and dear to my heart.  For the record, I wish there was an official list somewhere of the approximately 200 songs that were cut from the last hymnal.  Mostly, I explored the new..reading lyrics, examining rhythms and styles, seeking to understand what was so special about them.  I tried my darndest to keep an open mind and heart.

By the time Mom came home from church (You caught me...I was lazing at home with my brother and kids!) I had found two new hymns that spoke to me.  Mom was delighted when I asked her to play them for me.  She's a brilliant pianist, and has a gift for making hymns truly come alive when she plays.

The first of the two songs I had selected had absolutely lovely lyrics, but had a flat that I found a bit irksome in the melody.  I need some time - and a few more listens to adjust.  Still...it held potential.

The second, though, the second was absolutely beautiful and I fell in love.

I didn't know it, but apparently all I needed was that one new hymn that could speak to my heart as so many of the old ones do.  I've found it, and I am at peace.

Community of Christ Sings is indeed a book of scripture, and there is much in it that I look forward to exploring and enjoying in the years to come.  I have no doubt that it will become an important part of my own ministry, and I look forward to learning more about it.  I will also hold on to my old hymnal, and will honor all that it's given me over the years.  There are still lessons to be learned from it as well.

So yes, my friends, I shall continue to hold on to my bushes...but I will wear pants as well, and I will learn to enjoy both.

Miracles never cease!

Many thanks to my Mom...for being patient...and to all of my church friends who've been working to prepare us all for the new hymnal.

Many thanks also to all of those who put their hearts and souls into creating Community of Christ Sings.  I know it wasn't an easy job - especially when such changes can be so challenging for so many - and I do appreciate all of their hard work!