Monthly Archives: April 2012

About These Ads

all business

See that banner at the top? That foreign image in the sidebar? Yes, those are ads.

I’ve succumbed to the invitation from WordPress to try the WordAds Beta.

What does that make me? A greedy sellout? A savvy businesswoman?

A somewhat clueless blogger would be more accurate. I’m still learning and this is part of the process. Together we’ll see how this works.

Together as in me and you. You and I. We. You are an accomplice, complicit in the crimes and passions of this crazy blog experiment.

Relax. Your part is easy and doesn’t involve the getaway car.

Please keep reading and visiting the site. If you see an ad that’s offensive or in poor taste, please let me know immediately via comment, email or Twitter. I don’t choose the ads that appear on my page, but I can pull them lickety-split.

Blogging with WordPress has been positive so far. If this newest twist works, great. If not, we’ll have learned something. What do we have to lose?

For I am the Lord your God
who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear;
I will help you. Isaiah 41:13 NIV

Ambivalence bordering snarkiness rules the day while the jury’s still out about the ads. Taken For a FoolI hope The Strokes’ lyrics don’t apply here, even though their song rocks.

As a reader, what’s your opinion of the ads?

If you blog, what’s your experience with ads been like?

19 Comments

Filed under blogging

Leah


garden statue of a girl

My Aunt Leah was rarely sick and always bounced back. Fell and broke her hip this past Christmas. Returned to work by February. And she was 74 years old.

Quiet, gentle, dignified, but tough as nails when it came to perseverance. Leah was steady. Without pause, always there, sure and steady.

A nurse by profession, she once took in my mother and I when we needed a place to go. Years later, when my mom was dying, Leah came to be with her youngest sibling for a week. She stood in my mom’s kitchen stirring soup made of carrots and celery she’d diced into tiny cubes.

Leah was the first person to French braid my hair. I’d come to visit that summer. I may have been 10, perhaps younger, so I don’t remember sitting still as she weaved the plaits tightly, an exercise she missed with her three sons. A picture remains to bear witness to those perfect braids.

Most of her life she lived in an old house with a rambling yard and a vegetable garden so big that I never did walk to the end of it. Her youngest son and I traversed that garden one evening as children. We navigated between squash and cucumbers and bushes of beans.

We climbed to the top of the compost pile. Then he said, “Snake!”

I never saw it. I bolted out of the garden all the way back to the house. Aunt Leah yelled from the yard for me to stop that ridiculous screaming.

Last summer, I returned with my husband and son to visit my Aunt Leah and Uncle Abe in their newer house. Their big garden was left behind, but the table was forever full. Salads and sauces and pasta to eat in the late afternoon.

She was the eldest of six children. The mother of three. Grandmother of six. Faithful wife of Abe for 53 years. She was unwavering in prayer for our family. The pages of her Bible were falling out from use.

It happened this spring, a cascade drawn out over weeks that started slowly and picked up speed as days rolled along. Leah had trouble breathing. Leah went to the emergency room. Leah developed pneumonia.

Leah was hospitalized. Leah was given oxygen. Leah was in critical care. Leah’s lungs sustained damage. Leah was on life support.

Then this past Tuesday, at 2:34 p.m., my Aunt Leah died. Surrounded by family here on earth, she was ushered into the arms of family there.

another view

It’s been almost 16 years since my mother died. Sixteen years since my family last experienced death. Years filled with so many challenges, but such a long stretch without funerals.

I wonder what they’re talking about now. Has Leah told my mom she saw me last summer? That I have a son with hazel eyes? Are they sitting with my Grandma and Grandpa V?

Are they sipping cups of tea while Grandma has coffee? Is Grandpa wearing his fur coat? Are they gushing and waiting with ease for the rest of us to meet them at the table? For dinner to begin in the late afternoon?

Over the next few days, I’ll be off the grid. Look for me in real life as I travel alone to gather with the family that’s left. To pay tribute and grieve our loss of Leah, steady and true.

We’ll miss you, Aunt Leah. Wait for us there. Unwavering, wait for us.

Precious in the sight of the LORD
is the death of his faithful servants. Psalm 116:15 NIV

This past Monday, we celebrated National Poetry Month here on the blog. The response to Poetry Slam Party has been intelligent, thoughtful, and moving. Ariel Price graced us with poem by John Donne in the comments. Seems fitting to end this week with another of Donne’s most excellent works.

Death, be not proud (Holy Sonnet 10)

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou are not so;
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.
Thou'art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy'or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Who is waiting for you in heaven? How do you grieve here on earth?

48 Comments

Filed under faith, family & friends

Poetry Slam Party

Poetry is an old friend of mine. April happens to be its special month.

poetry commentary, poetry

Thank you, Corey of I Like My Bike and Beth Webb Hart of Southern Belle View, for bringing National Poetry Month to my attention. Thank you also, Geetanjali of Open a Book, for inspiring me with Rhyme Time on your blog.

In celebration, everyday epistle is hosting a Poetry Slam Party.

best remembered poems

This is not your ordinary poetry slam. You don’t have to write the poem you share or read it on an open mic in front of strangers. There are no hidden judges in the audience. We’re just here to enjoy reading and remembering the selections you choose.

All you have to do is share the title and author of a favorite poem.

If the mood strikes, tell why you like it, dazzle us with its best lines, or be my guest and share the whole enchilada.

Why?

Because Poetry is the shock of cool water on the tenth day of triple digits. Bonfire smoke and goose bumps in October. A wool coat wrapped in the silence of the first snow. A nest of newborn robins in the regal holly tree.

the poems of emily dickinson

Who couldn’t use more of that?

I’ll get us started with Emily Dickinson’s My life closed twice before its close:

My life closed twice before its close—
It yet remains to see
If Immortality unveil
A third event to me

So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

Let the Poetry Slam Party begin, good readers. The floor is yours.

poetry blooms

I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys.
Song of Solomon 2:1 NIV

Need help? Go to www.poets.org to find a poem.

Please share a selection with us.
Ready, set, SLAM! 

46 Comments

Filed under writing & reading

A Word for Earth Day

baby robins in nest

The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it,
the world, and all who live in it. Psalm 24:1 NIV

2 Comments

Filed under faith

Tornado Alley

You know it’s bad when your yoga teacher hands out weather maps in class.

red fence

“The storms are coming,” said Grace last Saturday morning. “They won’t be here until tonight, but they’re coming. Don’t know what you want to do about that.”

Saturday afternoon, I was inexplicably driven to clean. This was a momentous occasion. Our first chance to come face to face with the legendary storms of Tornado Alley. Needed to get our house in order, if only to have it flattened.

“Tonight we’ll have a slumber party,” we told our son. “We’ll be in the basement together and that’s the safest place to be.” Not counting other states or planets.

Preparation felt cursory. Unnecessary. We moved about in denial. By six o’clock, the twisters had yet to materialize. We shook our fists at the sky. Dined at a teriyaki restaurant called Tsunami. Let our son watch The Wizard of Oz at his Kids’ Night Out party. Drove home uneventfully.

buckled

Meanwhile, the sky went black and began to rain. Normal at first. Then in torrents. Hail. Wailing tornado sirens.

Our descent downstairs was a rush of grabbing the child, the dog, bottled water, pillows, a candle, lip balm. We barricaded our troop in a basement bedroom. From there we monitored the storms’ progress online. Posted updates on Facebook. Prayed.

We couldn’t see or hear the twisters from inside our bunker. Online reports were our only source of information. We quickly learned tornadoes are fickle.

The storms have turned south and will miss us. No, they’re headed north into downtown. Now they’re coming straight up the highway. Right for us!

Our camp scrambled into the bedroom closet. We huddled on the floor with our smart phones and prayers. You realize by telling you this I make you accountable. If God forbid we should ever go missing in a tornado, you are to direct rescuers to look for us in that closet.

inside

And then, without warning, it was over.

The next day, the sky was bright, sunny, and blue. We’d awakened to a life that looked the same as it had many mornings before, except for a few broken blades on our outdoor porch fan.

But the dog refused to leave the house. My body was jittery, sore, and fatigued. Miraculously, no deaths were reported in Wichita, though the city suffered more than $280 million in damage.

We wandered through Sunday trying to absorb our surroundings. Watched a storm chaser’s video of the tornadoes. Saw their smoky devil tendrils trickling downward from a smooth expanse of charcoal clouds. Mustering spins. Willing themselves into funnels.

upside down

When Midwesterners learn I grew up in North Carolina, I cannot tell you how many have said to me, “Oh, I wouldn’t want to live there. You have hurricanes!”

Hurricanes are visible on weather maps three days out. Those that make landfall wreak havoc, but most hurricanes sputter and die at sea. They are devastatingly dangerous, yet hurricanes lack the element of surprise.

We’d survived this first round. A fine welcome to Tornado Alley.

Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
But the love of the Lord remains forever
with those who fear him. Psalm 103:15-17 NLT

Dust in the Wind, like you’ve never seen or heard it before, by Judith Mateo.

I shot the photos in this post three miles from my home.

What’s your storm story? How did you survive?

18 Comments

Filed under life

How I Almost Became a Troll

i am not a troll

I didn’t know what a troll was until one came to my site.

His strong negative reaction to a post was a dead give away. He implied I should be arrested. Wonderful.

To me, trolls were strange, little garden statues. Wait, that’s gnomes. Told you I didn’t know what they were.

Let’s try that again.

To me, Trolls was a bar in the basement of a building across the parking lot from my sorority house in college. Smelled like beer. Had foosball tables and booths. Became the second living room of the sisterhood. The one where alcohol and boys were allowed.

That was Trolls, until Mr. Meanie came a calling on my blog. I was crushed. I feared he would key Cranberry Mary. Stick pins in a voodoo doll of me. Or worse.

My husband, the calming force in our home, told me it would be okay. The comment wasn’t that bad.

You know, he’s right. I’m small change on the blogosphere. I have it easy. Upon further research, I discovered there are entire sites devoted to dissing other people’s sites. Meanies, every one.

i am not a troll

Who has time for this? I can barely keep the wheels on my own blog, much less create another one to ridicule, criticize, or spew at people.

Then last week, a twist. I’d been following this Blogger who shall remain nameless. That’s Blogger with a capital B.

Blogger enjoys an enormous following. I like Blogger, but Blogger writes things with which I disagree about topics that matter to me.

I first read Blogger when a friend sent me a link a few weeks ago. In response, I submitted my comment of respectful disagreement.

The next week, I visited Blogger’s site to be rankled by another post. I submitted my comment of respectful disagreement.

Then last week, I read a post by Blogger on a popular website. Blogger was once again wrong (surprise). I submitted my comment of respectful disagreement.

This time something went horribly awry. The captcha bit me. The queue malfunctioned. My comment appeared multiple times. Like a broken record. On a major site. In response to Blogger with a capital B.

Immediately, I contacted the site to correct the mistake. Prayed no one noticed the fumble from small change on the blogosphere.

That’s when it hit me. Each time I read Blogger’s work, I get upset enough to lodge a complaint. No matter how respectful I am, my response is still negative.

i am not a troll

This may be Blogger’s modus operandi. Stir the pot. Salt the wounds. Elicit a response. Spike the stats. Who knows? Doesn’t let me off the hook. I was becoming a troll.

If you come here to my itty bitty blog, and what you read repeatedly upsets you, gets your panties in a wad, sends your blood pressure soaring—well, against all blogging wisdom about building an audience, I would probably suggest you not come back.

Lively discussion in the comments is welcome. But I bristle at my blog being a source of upset for readers. Challenge, maybe. Upset, not so much.

Don’t know if I’ll continue to read Blogger. Sure Blogger has impressive stats. But Blogger brings out the troll in me. That’s not acceptable. Trolls in my life will best remain a memory of a bar in the basement of a building across the parking lot from my sorority house in college.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to Him, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. 1 John 1:8-9 NLT

Choke me in the shallow water before I get too deep. What I Am by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians.

25 Comments

Filed under blogging, humor

Introducing chapter & verse on Tumblr

There are days you need a straight shot of courage. That’s why I’m excited to launch chapter & verse on Tumblr. This hopeful offshoot of everyday epistle is a microblog, ideal for folks who prefer visuals to text.

spring hope

Every entry on chapter & verse will show an interesting everyday epistle photo with a verse from the Bible, the source book of Life. There will always be a click-through to transport you back here to read the original story.

The inaugural chapter & verse post features this inspiring snapshot of a robin’s nest we found in a holly in our backyard this past weekend. The nest and eggs survived the tornadoes, as did we. More to come on that.

Click over to chapter & verse, check it out, follow, and share. See you back here this week as we continue the journey together in posts and now tumbles.

Oh sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth! Psalm 96:1 ESV

I’ll Tumble 4 Ya by Boy George and Culture Club.

click to visit chapter & verse on Tumblr

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

5 Comments

Filed under blogging