Thank- you Jeeves, that will be all,

I must have been a VERY bad Quaker this year, because Santa brought me the world's best Bad Quaker present.  The Jeeves Clock.  It not only provides all the normal clock functions it wakes you with a recording by Steven Fry. (Jeeves MPT)
150 different recordings to be specific.  An example

(birdsong) Ahem (quiet polite cough) Excuse me Madame, I am afraid it is morning again, quite inconvenient I agree, but it has something to do with the Earth's rotation, and cannot be stopped I am told.

And it is gender Binary! you have to buy a whole different clock if you want "Sir' to be awakened rather than "Madame"  It is fabulously classist - who has't always wanted to be gently awakened by a man servant.  It provdes temptation to grandiosity, and pride. He flatters and cajoles to get you to rise. I am sure that he prevaricates. And sloth - OMG - the snooze button puts the next alarm off for a FULL HOUR.

Great Fun

And then it got spooky.

This morning's greeting - and I quote precisely

" Good Morning, Madame,  blah, blah, blah french blah (ok not so precise)  -  'If only the young knew, or the old were able.'   We must not complain about getting older, as many do not have the option. "

Yes, this on my birthday. Jeeves knew.

I think this is going to change my whole attitude about mornings.



Aging Futuristic

I describe the Bujumbura Airport as

"a terminal that looked like it was built for Disneyland in 1964 and then abandoned - aging futuristic. "
I never took a picture of it - I found this one on the web. It doesn't quite do it justice but it gives you the idea.



E-Book Option


I am now making a limited offering of my books in electronic form.
details over on



That feeling that you have tonight

A corollary to Christmas Rehab
(A post which is not for everyone - but if it is for you - you will know it)

Well, we are almost there. You are doing fine. The house isn’t perfect but it looks very inviting and comfortable. You sent a few cards and there is still time to bake a few cookies. You are charged with the duty of creating a feeling of faith, joy and abundance.  I know how seriously you take that charge. You want to balance the spiritual and the cultural. You want them to be able to enjoy both.  You want Light in the darkness. You want home and hearth. You want a connection to the past, participation in the present and hope of the future. You want Peace.

But there is a familiar but unwanted visitor in your heart.  It always shows up about now.  It doesn’t usually stay long. The actual celebration has a way of melting it away. But while it is here it is quite uncomfortable. It is itchy.  Anxious. Fidgety. It asks annoying questions.

“Have you done enough?”

“Have you done the right things?”

“Are you sure?”

It makes you do things; like count presents - many times. It seems to care a great deal about equality - at least economic and physical equality.  Will the children understand that fewer things of greater quality equal more things of lesser monetary value?

It can turn an unexpected gift into a quandary. If reciprocation was not in your budget, what do you do? It is hard to even enjoy the gift if the paper it is wrapped in is emotional obligation.

It causes you to feel uneasy about the progression of time as it is represented physically. When it is time to send small family gift to your friends who are doing so well, and whose children are not children anymore, you feel as if the natural transition is somehow a shrinking of your care or attention.

If you have the means it tempts you to just keep shopping, using the scatter shot approach. If you put many things before your loved ones your chances of have a “hit” on the joy meter increases.

If you have not such means, then it surrounds your choices with fear. The stakes seem high and you dread making a poor choice.

You even worry about this worry. You wonder if this concern in your breast is evidence of the encroachment of consumerism and a materialistic outlook.

If you let this feeling rule you, by the Day after Christmas you will be emotionally exhausted, and depression will follow.

So what is to be done?

The first thing to do is to name it. I call it Giver’s Doubt.

The next thing to do is to remember that this is an old acquaintance.  
But its dire warnings and insidious doubts have rarely proven to be trustworthy. You have been happy when the cattle were fat, and when they were lean, you did ok. No one who loves you thinks of you as one who is neglectful or thoughtless. Your track record is solid. There is no reason to believe that you will fail now.

This feeling is not your enemy. It is not evidence of corruption or failing. This feeling is the evidence that you have taken up your charge with sincerity.  People who are truly careless, truly neglectful never feel this feeling.  Some people do get beyond this feeling, they get to a place where it doesn’t come around much anymore.

But you need to respond to this feeling. You must speak to your doubt.

 Start by reminding yourself of the priorities.

Abundance.  Faith. Joy. 
Look about you. Is there a sense of abundance? There are so many ways to make plenty. For a week or so (and only that) feed yourself and everyone else better. Make the time to share memories, and hopes, and kindnesses - to those you love and strangers you meet.  Bring out all the pretty things. Hang up all the cards. Lots of color. Plenty of light. Be bold. Be generous.

Is there a sense of Faith. Have you built in time for worship? Music that feeds you? Do you have physical reminders of the story around you?  The spirit of the Christmas holiday is about being present. God is with us.  We spend a lot of spiritual time trying to live up to being Image Bearers - we want to be more like Christ - of course we do. But on Christmas it is good to remember that He wanted to be like us. He didn’t need us to be better before He joined our team.  Share that message wherever you can by being really present to people.

And where is the Joy? What makes you laugh? Do some of that. You cannot give what you do not have. If you do not enjoy yourself, you won’t be able to create a place for joy in your home.

Remember that Christmas was about accepting limits. The Infinite climbed inside the finite and accepted its limitations.  The Baby Jesus didn’t get much done on that first Christmas except suckle and wet His swaddling clothes. I don’t suppose his momma did much either.

You have limits: emotional limits, physical limits, financial limits. Find out where they are and live inside them, not just beyond them.  It is the Spiritual Discipline of Enough.

The reason for mastering this Discipline is that this feeling is not confined to Christmas, nor celebrations in general. It will come around when your children leave home. Do you do enough? Did you do too  much? Did you do the right things? Will it be OK for them?  And it will come around when you finish caring for your parents, and at the end of your own days if you are blessed to have time for reflection.

So make yourself a cup of tea. Take a deep breath and say: “It is enough.”  Say that as many times as you need to.  “I have remembered and honored abundance, faith and joy. I accept as He did, and does, my limitations. It is enough.”

For all my students and teacher friends


Baby Jesus was breastfed


Probably for years. Can't imagine He or His Mommy would take very kindly to people who make life hard for nursing moms and babies.



Christmas Elf

This Little Elf
is especially
at surreptitious
dolly delivery



"Remember, we're walking to heaven - don't let nobody turn you round"

OK this dudes on my itunes wish list!
preach it   Eric Bibb!

"might say things, sound strange to you,
might preach the Gospel
I believe that it's true."


December Book Specials

Special seasonal prices on both volumes of So There I Was...
over at

Cheap postage in effect until Dec 15.


Books Galore!

We don't just give books because they wrap so easily, we like getting them, they re-gift so easily, and can be turned into liquid assets at our local used book store!

Good News all around!

I have now set aside a special place for Book sales. is open to take orders for both Volumes of So There I Was.

I would be grateful for F/friends who link to the new page and/or use the comments over there to write short book reviews.


What a great day - and it's not over yet!

Wow, what a nice day.

Woke up and had coffee and then an hour-long skype with the grandbaby.
We had a slightly post birthday party on line.  She really likes group singing, and seems to especially like Happy Birthday.

We sent her a wooden box, made and decorated by Alivia  full of surprises.
This included iced oatmeal cookies that I baked for her.

Two days ago she turned up her nose a her birthday cupcake and went for the pizza. I did not have high hopes for the cookies. She recognized them for what they were, which she calls "Cook" popped one in her mouth and said "MMMMMMMM"
Oh Boy did that feel good!

After that I got dressed in my special Christmas Shopping outfit, including Christmas hat, and went downtown.

The Sun was/is shining furiously, but the air is crisp.

I picked up a hundred copies of the new book at Salem Blue, and Shawn told me that he was really happy with the cover.

Then I went to the YMCA and got back a membership. I lost this two years ago due to a severe economic downturn, but am back on my feet in that regards and can go back to the gym. This is called redemption, and it is very Christmasy.

Then I went shopping for doughnuts at my favorite bakery.

Then I went shopping for me, and the fashion demi-gods were in a very favorable mood, and I got pretty things for the party and Christmas Eve. And wedding shoes!

And I found all the bell ringers, and contributed, and one even let me ring the bell.

And an old black lady told me that my hat was "fabulous"

And I had an eggnog latte.

And its only 2:30
Oh endorphins, how I love you!

I am going to go buy a Christmas tree for the church,

And tonight I get to see people I like and have fun talking about Africa.

And it will get even better than this, because it always does