The Last Time I Went to a Bible Study

19 Jun

The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I felt safe. I harbored no fear that a dangerous person would walk in. No fears that he would bring a gun with him. No fears that he would use it.

The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I sat down, opened my Bible, and knew exactly what to expect: that we’d spend the next hour talking about the Bible. Surprise! We’d read passages, look up corresponding verses. Maybe I’d write down a few lines about what I was thinking. Maybe, if it was a particularly heart-searching lesson, I’d even underline a verse with red pen. Wild and crazy times, I know.

The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I was distracted. By the last words I said to my children before leaving the house. By my shoes. By the taste of coffee in my mouth. By what I needed to do after the study was done.

The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I couldn’t remember if I had prepared my lesson beforehand and then I remembered I hadn’t and I felt a little guilty about that but then I figured that God loved me anyway so I shouldn’t let it bother me even though it did.

The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I had no thought of racial tensions outside of the building. Or even in the building, for that matter. I didn’t think once about my white Scottish ancestors or my German blood on my father’s side or the little smattering of Swedish that my children inherited from their dad. I didn’t think about what any of that meant to my life, my plans, my family. I didn’t think about entitlement or racial profiling or people who might judge me by the color of my skin rather than the content of my character.

The last time I went to a Bible study at my church I didn’t think, in other words, about anything very important. Because, after all, I was attending Bible study, for goodness sake! A nice, pleasant, uncontroversial, calm, understood, safe, place.

Safe.

For me. A white woman in middle America. Who, when she goes to Bible study, does not need to worry about being shot. I’m not saying that I want to worry about that. I’m saying that it’s horribly, terribly wrong that anyone should need to worry about it.

We live in a messed up world. And it’s not getting better; it’s getting worse. I want everyone, everywhere, to be able to go to Bible study and not worry about anything worse than what they’re going to fix for dinner when they leave. That’s what I want. But that’s not reality. And I don’t think that anything short of Jesus coming back is going to change that.

Is that fatalistic? Possibly. All I know is that there are millions of people out there who are helpless in light of the few fanatics who set out to do horrible things – like shooting up a Bible study in South Carolina – leaving millions of innocent people afraid of what will happen the next time they go to a Bible study, or to school, or to work, or to the grocery store, or step out of their front door.

That is not what America is supposed to be.

The next time I go to a Bible study at my church I’m going to pray. Because, in all honesty, that’s the only solution I see to this horrible problem.

Remembering the BOOM: Mt. St. Helens 35 Years Later

17 May

Gretchen O'Donnell:

This is a slightly updated version of a post from two years ago…because it seemed appropriate for today.

Originally posted on A fine day for an epiphany:

0-StH-before-2-final-Dig

I remember the boom that Sunday morning, May 18th, 1980 – 33 years ago this week – as we were getting ready for church on Orcas Island, Washington. It was 8:32am – or however long it takes for sound to travel 300 miles. My oldest sister was off at college, my Dad was down in Oregon at work with the Air Force, and my other sister, our Mom, and I were slipping on our Sunday shoes and just about to head out the door when we heard it.

“Oh, they’re dynamiting on Buck Mountain,” Mom said dismissively.

But Jenny and I said, “No! It was Mount Saint Helens!”

“No,” Mom disagreed. “We couldn’t hear it this far away.”

“It was the mountain, Mom,” we said again. “Turn on the radio.”

Sure enough, Mount Saint Helens – which had been steaming and belching and threatening to explode for weeks – had…

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The Telling Stone

12 May

Hey! It’s me again. I’ve been writing for a newspaper, creating a radio show, finishing up writing my second book (though the first one still is sitting on the shelf for a few months waiting for me to edit it down yet again) and doing all of the usual things a mom of a 15, 13, and 8 year old does all day. I’m hoping to begin shopping around for a publisher for this second book by autumn.

Obviously, all of my writing and running around hasn’t included much blogging. But here I am for today, at least!

A few years ago I reviewed a book written by my friend, Maureen McQuerry. (You can read that review here.) Today I get to review a second book by Maureen! I know that book reviews by friends are perhaps subject to suspicion. I mean, she’s my friend for a reason and I’d probably like anything she likes, right?

Not necessarily. I have a lot of friends who, if they wrote books, I’d never be able to honestly write my opinion of them because while they may be my friends…they don’t necessarily read and/or write stuff that I’d agree with or enjoy.

But, thankfully, I like Maureen’s book. A lot.

I have always like fantasy books. C.S.Lewis and J.R.R.Tolkien were some of my favorites. Still are. I also like a lesser-known children’s writer, also British, named Susan Cooper. In fact, for years I regretted the fact that I had not kept my series of Susan Cooper books, The Dark is Rising. Well, turns out, my mom had given them to my sister and she had given them to her daughters and finally, a few years back, I got them back.

Horray!

These books are fantasy, yes, but they’re more myth-based, and less magic-centered. Yes, there’s magic, but it’s not Harry Potter flashy magic, it’s more subtle, more realistic, if that’s possible to say!

Enter Maureen’s Time Out of Time series. Book one, Beyond the Door, came out last year. I enjoyed it as a well-written, entertaining, appropriate-for-kids book. I didn’t LOVE it, but I liked it. It reminded me of the Cooper books, and that felt good.

Then along came it’s sequel, available as of today, The Telling Stone.

This time I loved the book. I tend to like children’s books anyway (the kind kids call “chapter books”), but so often these days there is something in them to hold back my full love. They’re inappropriate in spots, or they’re badly written. This book is neither of those things. (Not that any of Maureen’s books are!)

Here’s my official review. (Yes, I’ve learned to be more succinct since the first review I wrote of her book, The Peculiars as linked above!)

The Telling Stone, while a sequel to Beyond the Door, stands perfectly well on its own. Full of adventure from the start, the story keeps its readers hooked though intrigue, suspense, and compelling characters. I felt like a kid again, sitting in my playhouse reading Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series, books which I have gone back to as an adult. The Telling Stone too, will bring me back in the future because it is told by a writer who correctly handles her research. She includes interesting details that don’t overwhelm, has realistic characters and exciting plot twists, all of which prove McQuerry’s powers as an exceptional storyteller. We need more books like this in today’s world!

So there you go. Buy it for yourself. Buy it for your kids or grandkids or neighbor’s kids. Or at least ask your local library to acquire it. Thanks!

And I’ll be back again…hopefully more reliably soon…

Here’s the Amazon link…http://www.amazon.com/Time-out-Book-Telling-Stone/dp/1419714945/ref=pd_sim_14_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0NJQCF6HPC3GN7PW45J2

The Sound of Musings

21 Mar

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the movie, The Sound of Music. I’m 45 years old. This means that one of my favorite movies of all time is older than I am. I am not alone in this love of The Sound of Music. There are many people who regard it as their favorite. People who know the lines, the songs, and even the exact movement of every character as they sang the songs or delivered their lines.

It’s like it’s a cult and they’re devoted fans.

I’m not that fanatical about it, but the movie’s endurance is rather interesting, I think. It means that of all the fancy, high-tech, special-effects-laden films that have been made over the last 50 years, this musical with the singing nuns and dancing children out performs them all. And it has Julie Andrews. Can’t forget about her.

When I was quite young, in the days before Blue Rays and DVD’s and even VHS tapes – not to mention re-releases of movies for the big screen – the only chance we had to watch something like The Sound of Music was at Thanksgiving or other holidays when they’d air them on TV. I loved those opportunities, and so did my older sisters. We’d scan the TV guide (the kind inserted into the newspaper, not the kind you could buy) to see what time it was coming on and we’d arrange our schedules so that nothing interfered with our watching. Because, after all, there were no DVRs, either, to mean that we could watch a televised show later on. It was then…or never.

And then one day I was invited to a friend’s birthday party. I was 10, I believe, so it was 1980. This friend lived on a commune, inhabited by a group of individuals who believed in a lot of things that my parents did not believe in, but for some reason my mom allowed me to attend the party. My parents considered them to be a cult…though probably they did not refer to themselves that way. Anyway, this…group…must have had a lot of money because, for the first time in my life, I saw a VCR and there, on the top of the stack of movies they owned, was The Sound of Music.

“You mean you can watch The Sound of Music at any time you want?” I squealed, amazed and impressed and excited beyond belief.

“Sure,” my friend shrugged. “Big deal.”

We were about to put it on but her mom said that the party games took precedence. I remember nothing about the games, just the disappointment I felt at being denied The Sound of Music. I do, however, remember that there wasn’t any birthday cake. Apparently sugar was against their religion.

But that’s neither here nor there. What is applicable is that, ironically, The Sound of Music has become, like the commune my friend was a part of, a cult classic, with a following of obsessive fans, and 50 years of sustainability under its belt.

Which, as far as I know, is a lot longer than the cult my friend was a part of. She – and the entire commune full of people – moved away not long afterwards and I’ve never heard of them again.

Funny thing, that. Quality lasts, I guess. And The Sound of Music has “lastability”. Danger, humor, love, music, children, nuns, Nazis…and Julie Andrews. Now there’s a description of a cult I could be a part of.

I guess it’s time that I learned the exact movements of every character so that I can apply to be a member. Care to join me? I even own it on Blue Ray, so we won’t have to wait until Thanksgiving to start learning…

A Duck Fan Through and Through

13 Jan

Oregon-Ducks

The truth is, life is easier when you don’t care about sports.

This deep thought occurred to me Monday night as I finally admitted to myself that three minutes of game play was probably not enough time for the Oregon Ducks to make up their point deficit against Ohio State in the college football national championship game. It was painful to admit. But it was, sadly, true. Ultimately, the game was a loss for my Oregon Ducks.

I never remember a time when I wasn’t an Oregon fan. My mom attended the U of O and ever since I was old enough to think about such things, I decided that I wanted to be a Duck when I grew up. When the time came to apply to colleges I sent my application off from my home in Germany and waited with baited breath to learn my fate. I didn’t apply anywhere else. I guess I was either very confident or very foolish.

When I found out that I was accepted I took it in stride. None of my classmates really knew anything about the U of O – they were mostly going to east coast schools – so I didn’t talk about it much, but I began secretly buying up green and yellow clothes and even a button-down shirt covered in ducks which I found in a German department store.

By the time I got to Eugene I dove into college life like a duck taking to water. Well, ok, I did have a few weeks of homesickness, in which the orange carpet of my dorm room absorbed more than a few tears, but I quickly came to love college and my life as a Duck.

I didn’t attend a whole lot of football games during my four years of school and I only remember going to one basketball game. I did go to a Track and Field invitational where I saw Jackie Joyner-Kersee and Florence Griffith Joyner and Carl Lewis running just a few feet away from me which was easily the most exciting sporting event I’ve ever seen in person.

You see, back then Oregon didn’t win many football games. It was fun to go to a game or two a year, but we went just to support our team, not to see a fantastic football game. It wasn’t until several years later, after I moved to Minnesota, that Oregon began to win consistently. Somewhere in there I married a U of Minnesota alum and we moved to Worthington and, much to my amazement, found out one year that Oregon and Minnesota were set to play each other in the Fiesta Bowl. That was a lot of fun in our household. (Oregon won, by the way. But the same match up happened a year or two later in which Minnesota won, so we’re even.)

And then, suddenly, Oregon seemed to blossom as a team. We were winning! We were on TV! It was exciting to be a Duck! Our perpetual underdog feeling was beginning to dissipate!

And then along came this year. It’s been amazing. We were winning (except for that Arizona game but we made up for that in the Rose Bowl) and we even had the first-ever Duck Heisman Trophy winner! Whoo hoo! We were even favored in the championship game!

But it was not to be.

Oregon has never won a national championship. Ohio, on the other hand, now has yet another trophy to add to their case. Yes, I’m bummed about that. “Number Two” doesn’t have the nice ring to it that “Number One” does.

But that’s life as a sports fan I guess.

Like I said, life is easier when you don’t care about sports.

And to that I say, Go Ducks!

Merry Christmas!

15 Dec

Ok, so I don’t usually post videos on here and this is the second one in a couple of weeks but it’s marvelous! So consider this my Christmas gift to you all! I laughed until I cried and I don’t do that very often! Somehow, combined with our recent performance of Handel’s Messiah, this was the icing on the cake! There are several different versions of this on You Tube but this is my favorite.

So I give you Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus as you’ve never seen it before!

My Orcas Island

3 Dec

Ok, so this is where I grew up. Can you understand my obsession?

The video is only 2 and a half minutes long. What better way to spend two minutes?!

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