Expectant Waiting

Advent Wreath

For my twenty-seventh installment of my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness‘ series and the final (fourth) Sunday, I will focus on the season of Advent.

“Advent is a period of spiritual preparation in which many Christians make themselves ready for the coming, or birth of the Lord, Jesus Christ. During this time, Christians observe a season of prayer, fasting and repentance, followed by anticipation, hope and joy. Many Christians celebrate Advent not only by thanking God for Christ’s first coming to Earth as a baby, but also for his presence among us today through the Holy Spirit, and in preparation and anticipation of his final coming at the end of time.”  All About Advent, About.com

Being raised a Methodist, I remember with fondness the anticipation of lighting each successive candle in the Advent Wreath on each Sunday leading up to Christmas eve, when the final white Christ candle shone bright with love and hope. I even celebrated advent at home with my husband and children for a couple of years, but being empty nesters now, it’s harder to motivate myself.

For this first week of Advent 2011, I will share excerpts from the ‘2011 Advent Home Worship‘ by MaryJane Pierce Norton:


Advent is a time of waiting and of hoping. We wait for the day when we celebrate again the birth of Jesus. We hope that everyone will come to know God and to worship God.

God promised to send a Savior to the people. When we read the Scripture reading, we hear what the prophet Isaiah wrote about God. God is the potter who molds us. We know that the gospel witness is one that helps us understand that God is loving and just. God brings peace. This gives us hope. We anticipate again the birth of the baby Jesus remembering that Jesus helps us know God’s love for us.

Yet, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand.

Isaiah 64:8 (NRS)

Think about a potter. A potter takes clay and forms it in a way that is pleasing. That is what God is able to do with each person. We are reminded that we are all the work of God’s hand. How do we use these gifts that God has formed in us?

Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the words of the Prophet Isaiah that remind us that you are the source of our hope. Help us to live each day allowing you to form us in a way that brings about your kingdom here on earth. AMEN.

* * *

The Advent Home Worship also provides daily meditations and actions to take to convey hope to others.  For example, today’s item:

Tuesday, November 29, 2011: Is there someone you know who needs to hear words of hope? Make or select a card for that person and mail it today.

* * *

May all your days be filled with hope and love.

Wholly, Holy Bible

For the twentieth day, and third Sunday, of my ‘Thirty Days of Thankfulness,’ I thank God for His Word.  I have at least ten different translations in print on my shelves at home (and one in my desk at work), including the Good News Bible, the KJV, several NRSV study Bibles and a couple of NIV devotional ones.  I may even have a few children’s editions and the teen editions from when my kids attended youth group and Sunday school at our local church.

But my favorite place to read and study the Bible is on my computer or my Nook Color via a website called Bible Study Tools.  It’s my one stop shop for research, searches and a plethora of translations.  When I’m looking for just the write devotional or inspirational verse, I can always find it there.

As an example, let’s review my favorite Bible verse, Philippians 4:8, first from the King James Version:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

As compared to the NRSV edition:

Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

Or the Good News translation (popular back in the 60s or 70s I believe):

In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable.

Or one of my favorites for a really modern devotional paraphrase warm fuzzy translation called the Message:

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious – the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

And for the occasional status update on Facebook or Twitter, I like to use the New Century version:

Brothers and sisters, think about the things that are good and worthy of praise. Think about the things that are true and honorable and right and pure and beautiful and respected.

If I want to delve deeper into a verse, passage or chapter, I’m just a click away from a dozen study tools.  The site also can help me read the Bible in a year, has several daily devotions and study guides and provides a daily verse.  And I’m just scratching the surface!  I follow the site via Twitter and receive daily trivia questions that I can sometimes answer without having to look it up.

While I always take my study bible with me to an evening Bible study gathering, if I’m leading the discussion, I do most of my research and preparation online.

I am so very thankful for the abundance and availability of God’s Word, leaving me no excuse not to read His Good News whenever I can.

Thank You, Lord!

Charlotte Brontë Burns Through the Cool Veil of Jane Eyre

I attended the second of four reading group discussions sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library in the Cohen Center conference room of the Plaza Branch yesterday evening.  As I noted in last month’s blog post, I’m picking up the other three books in the ‘A Taste of Victorian Literature’ during this encore performance.

Table of Contents

Brontë Background
Gothic Elements and Contemporary Criticism (p. 2)
Scandal (p. 3)
Discussion Questions (p. 4)

A Taste of Victorian Literature
A Taste of Victorian Literature

Katie Stover, head of Reader’s Services at the Library, spoke briefly on the focus of the reading group, including a tie-in for next month’s book, The Mill on the Floss by George EliotMelissa Carle, Reference Librarian and Weekend Supervisor for the Plaza Branch, assured the group that several copies awaited them upstairs should they not already have it checked out. Katie then introduced our lecturer, Andrea Broomfield, associate professor of English at JCCC.  An author in her own right, she’s currently working on new book tentatively titled Dining in the Age of Steam.  Katie had one final tidbit for anyone interested in seeing the recently released theatrical version of Jane Eyre, the movie opens at the Cinemark and Glenwood Arts on April 8th.

Charlotte Brontë (1850 chalk)
Charlotte Brontë (1850 chalk)

Andrea began her lecture by referencing a couple of handouts we received via e-mail (and hard copy if you forgot to print), including a brief biography of Charlotte Brontë and a few paragraphs about the impact of Jane Eyre after publication in 1847.

Andrea touched on just a few key points with respect to Charlotte’s childhood. Her mother died while Charlotte was still young, leaving her father with five children (one son and four daughters) to raise on his own.  As a direct result, his children had free reign over his library, not unheard for a son, but scandalous in the early Victorian Era (1820s & 1830s) to let his daughters read a gentleman’s library.  The children  especially loved the works of Byron. The Brontë children nurtured their imagination by creating the fantastic realms of Gondol (articles and poems written by Anne and Emily) and Angria (Byronic stories written by Branwell and Charlotte).  They also created their own periodical similar to Blackwood’s Magazine.

A painting of the three Brontë sisters; from left to right, Anne, Emily, and Charlotte. In the center of portrait is the shadow of Branwell Brontë, the artist, who painted himself out.
A painting of the three Brontë sisters; from left to right, Anne, Emily, and Charlotte. In the center of portrait is the shadow of Branwell Brontë, the artist, who painted himself out.

Her two sisters, Elizabeth and Maria, attended the Clergy Daughters School, but the deplorable conditions of the school caused Patrick Bronte, their father,  to withdraw Anne, Emily and Charlotte from the school.   Elizabeth and Maria contracted and died of tuberculous, exacerbated by the terrible conditions extant at the school.

While Patrick was in Manchester having cataract surgery, Charlotte wrote Jane Eyre, using the pseudonym Currer Bell, bucking the trend of the ‘normal’ three volume serial novel most common then.

The Bell Brothers (Anne wrote under the name Acton Bell and Emily wrote as Ellis Bell) had a stellar year in 1847, for in addition to Jane Eyre, both Wuthering Heights and Agnes Grey were published.  Andrea admitted Charlotte Brontë to be her favorite Victorian Era author, favoring Vilette as her most mature effort.  The following couple of years left Charlotte bereft of all but her father, as first Emily and Branwell died, in 1848, followed by Anne in 1849.

Andrea’s next couple of presentation slides included modern day photographs places important in Charlotte’s life and which she used symbolically throughout Jane Eyre.  The Brontës lived in West Yorkshire in the Haworth Parsonage.

Haworth Parsonage in Yorkshire
Haworth Parsonage in Yorkshire
Wycoller Hall as the model for Ferndean Manor
Wycoller Hall as the model for Ferndean Manor
Norton Conyers as the model for Thornfield
Norton Conyers as the model for Thornfield
Pennine Way
Pennine Way
Gawthorpe Hall for the Ingram manor
Gawthorpe Hall for the Ingram manor

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Singing, Snowing, Zinging, Knowing

My least favorite forecast includes ‘wintry mix’ concatenated with ‘winter storm warning’ culminating in excruciating commute times.  My vanpool dodged that bullet (barely) on the return trip home last night, for which I am very grateful.  It allowed me to watch and listen to my daughter’s first concert of the year, as a member of the Chamber Choir at the UNT College of Music.   While she is also a member of the Collegium Singers, she enjoys the challenge of increasing her repertoire in those two choirs and in her vocal performance studies individually as well.  Musicology is her primary focus as an undergraduate for the next year or so.   Living eight or ten hours north (by automobile) from her concerts would be torture if it weren’t for the appeasement offered by the College’s live streaming of most of the concerts.

Even though the concert only lasted thirty minutes, Terry and I enjoyed hearing Rachelle’s voice across the aether of cyberspace.

Immediately prior to the concert, while I shook off the last dregs of the work day, Terry tried a new recipe for stuffed tomatoes, which we barely got in the oven before the singing started.  Twenty minutes later we sampled his latest savory culinary comeuppance.  Delicious!

We opened the front door to near white out conditions.  We couldn’t see across our court to the houses on the opposite side.  Thick snow blanketed the steps and driveway, even though just ninety minutes prior there had been less than a half inch of icy, slushy, sleety mess.  We promptly closed the door and return to our regularly scheduled DVR programming.

Snow Accumulation in just 90 minutes Thursday evening
Snow Accumulation in just 90 minutes Thursday evening

Due to some systems maintenance performed overnight, I overslept by thirty minutes, awaking at 5:30 a.m.  Barely stopping to slap on some socks, I jammed on my boots, grabbed my coat and gloves and opened the garage door to an even thicker blanket of snow.  And while it looked fluffy and airy, it proved to be heavy and wet.  I began to doubt my ability to shovel just half the driveway to the street in the thirty minutes before I needed to dress for work.  My white knight came to my rescue and helped vanquish the snow dragon.   He even volunteered to do the steps while I finished my morning ablutions.

Terry drove me the two miles north to the Hallmark plant in Leavenworth so I could catch my ride to work.  As we were passing by the IHOP in Lansing, I commented that we should have had breakfast when I was awake between two and four o’clock earlier this morning.  Being such a considerate husband, he drove in a circle around the van chanting ‘na na’ at me because he planned to stop at said restaurant for breakfast on the return trip home.  True to his taunting, we saw him parked front and center at the IHOP as we headed south on K-7/US-73 (aka as Main Street in Lansing).

Our commute to Kansas City’s Midtown and Plaza regions remained uneventful, if a bit slow.  We observed several cars languishing in the medians and ditches, but we deigned to join them.  And for once, I made it to work when some of my team members decided to turn around a go home due to the icy road conditions in their part of the metro area.

Finally, and in closing, in perusing the blogs I follow as part of my morning tea sipping ritual, Modesitt posted a rebuttal to his previous blog (from earlier this week).  The earlier post, entitled ‘The Problem of Truth/Proof” generated several comments (a couple of which were mine), which then spurred Mr. Modesitt’s posting this morning, entitled “True” Knowledge is Not an Enemy of Faith.  I will monitor this blog throughout the day to follow the next wave of comments, but will probably refrain from commenting myself.

May you all have a restful and peaceful weekend!

Giving Thanks Early

God is good!  All the time!

Twenty Years Ago ... the Moss Family
The Moss Family ~ Jon, Rachelle, Terry & Derek (1990)

Just a couple of months ago, I had a hard time counting my blessings as I’d been taught.  Striving to praise Him during the storms, instead of just when the sun shines, so to speak.

Now, just a handful of weaks later, my cup overflows, my heart is bursting with joy and pride and my blessings seem as uncountable as the stars.

Yesterday, while I was shutting down and packing up to return home from work, I received a jubilant call from my son.  He’s currently wrapping up his college at SMU’s Guildhall in Plano, Texas.   The reason for the call?  He’d accepted an offer from Haliburton for an astounding salary (which I won’t repeat here to protect the parties involved).  As soon as I got off the phone with Derek, I spent the next few minutes bouncing off the walls and sharing the great news with my co-workers, who probably thought I’d lost my mind. Once my feet touched the ground again, I rushed down to the lobby to catch my vanpool ride home.  I shared the news with them as well and phoned my dad during the commute home.

Once home, I told Terry, because Derek hadn’t called him yet.  Later that evening, I received a call from my uncle and aunt in Virginia to congratulate and share in the good news.  Overall, Tuesday ended on a very high note.

Today, I received even more good news from Rachelle‘s boyfriend.  He also finally found employment in Denton, Texas, within just a mile or two of their house.

Derek marries Royna in July 2009
Moss Family Addition ~ Derek, Royna, Rachelle & Terry (July 2009)

I’m so excited for all my offspring and would-be-offspring.  Next week, when Terry and I head south to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with all of them (Derek & Royna and Rachelle & Nic), I plan to continue my continual prayer of thanksgiving with them.

One week to go before I can be reunited with my kids!  Lord, let the days fly by and my heart overflow with Your peace and grace.