100 word challenge: Beyond

The inspiration:



Her mother’s words still rang in her ears, “If you go Beyond, you can never come back!”

It wasn’t a threat; it was just reality. No one who had crossed the bridge ever came back.

The mountain was her home. On it and in it were family and friends and peace. Every cave and crevice, every tree and stream were familiar haunts. How could she even think of abandoning all that she had ever known?

“But that’s just it,” she told herself. “I only know what’s here. The true adventure is Beyond.”

She inhaled deeply and took the first step.

This story is part of the fascinating “100 Word Challenge” project started by Darleen Click over at Protein Wisdom. Darleen is taking a break but expects to be back at it soon. In the meantime, I was really missing writing micro-fiction, so I decided to set one up. When all else fails, do it your dang self!

My previous stories are here.

Take part in Friday Fiction (or whenever you get around to it)! Leave your link in the comments or email it to me at oddlysaid [at] gmail, and I’ll put you right here! The idea is simple: using the image as your inspiration/jumping off point, write a 100 word piece of fiction. It’s fun and challenging, and I love reading how different people are inspired by the same picture. If you don’t have a blog or other platform, just leave your story in the comments.

I got the photo from Unsplash, a great source for Creative Commons images.



I still don’t know the proper response

“May the fourth be with you.”

And also with you? Bordering on blasphemous.

Back at ya? Nah.

Thanks, ya half-witted, scruffy-looking Nerf Herder? Mean but thematically appropriate.

Maybe I’ll stick to R2D2’s response. “Beep boop beep.”

Whatever. May the fourth be with you.

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Fine Arts Friday: Sing with me!

If a blogger doesn’t blog, is she still alive? Yes, I’m still here, still homeschooling, and still doing fine arts although we’ve actually scattered our fine arts throughout the week instead of relegating them to Fridays. Actually, I’ve been mulling. And I’ve been busy. And I’ve been tired. But mostly, I’ve been mulling.

I’ve been primarily mulling over things that I heard at the Great Homeschooling Convention back in March. However, unlike other years, I haven’t come back with a bunch of new ideas and curriculum to implement in the last few months of our school year. I’ve actually only made one minor change, but this change has probably had as big an impact as anything we do in our homeschool.

In two different workshops, a classical Christian panel and a Sarah Mackenzie workshop, we sang the Doxology. And by “we” I mean all the attendees of the workshop. We sang without accompaniment, without song sheets or projected words. We simply sang. Here’s a refresher if you can’t place it:


Sarah was talking about starting their day with something more peaceful than yelling at people to come downstairs and get started, and someone (Christopher Perrin?) had suggested playing classical music to greet them rather than frazzled mom. She also mentioned starting their morning time with the Doxology, and then she had us all stand and sing it.

Both times I participated in this ritual at the convention, it was like being wrapped in a warm blanket. Not that it was a particularly stressful environment to begin with, but the peace that descended was palpable. I thought if that could happen in a room full of strangers, what would happen in our home? So for the last month, we’ve been beginning our þing with the Doxology. It takes about half a minute, but the impact is impressive. Even if I’ve had to tell Sprite to get out of bed fifty-nine times (the last time at drill sergeant levels) and have been yelling at the boys to stop fighting and have had a twenty-minute conversation about what on earth Satchmo, poor starving child, could possibly eat, peace descends and we experience a unity of purpose that’s been missing.

In addition to the truth and beauty of the Doxology itself, there is something powerful in the act of singing together. We also sing a hymn and folk song during our þing, and all of these experiences are knitting us together more closely and giving us a common treasury from which to draw.

Corporate singing has a multitude of physical, emotional, and spiritual benefits. See here, here, and here. And here if you want to read the actual research. Seriously, it’s good for you! It reduces anxiety, releases endorphins, exercises your heart and lungs. It builds community and reduces and protects from depression and loneliness. It’s as good as yoga for practicing controlled breathing. If you’re a Christian, it’s also commanded. So there’s that.

Frankly, it just feels good to sing; and it feels better to sing with others, whether it’s in a choir, around a campfire, or in an AMC Pacer. You don’t have to be a great singer to benefit. I have a fair to middling voice, but you know what? I’m not auditioning for American Idol or even my church choir. I’m obeying God, following my heart, and reaping the rewards.


This month, we’re singing “Jesus, the Very Thought of Thee,” a hymn written in the 12th century by Bernard of Clairvaux. I love being connected to church history as well as to my children as we sing. This a cappella version is gorgeous.


Our folk song is “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” In addition to being a catchy tune, we’ve had endless fun speculating who the heck Dinah is and what she has to do with working on the railroad. We’ll get around to looking it up eventually.


Now, grab some friends and sing a song!


Can’t we celebrate this more than once a year?

Remember getting totally lost in a book as a kid? On a snow day or rainy summer day or long after bedtime under the covers, do you remember reading for the sheer joy of being lost in a story? Wouldn’t it be awesome to do that again? Well, now you have a perfect excuse. It’s Drop Everything and Read Day, a holiday I feel morally obligated to participate in.


Every Lad May Be Aladdin (Crackers in Bed), Norman Rockwell, 1920

 D.E.A.R. Day is April 12 because it’s the birthday of D.E.A.R. inventor Beverly Cleary, who first introduced it in Ramona Quimby, Age 8. But it isn’t just any birthday, it’s her 100th birthday. So clearly, everyone must participate.

I can’t think of a better holiday. No gifts to buy or visitor to be or to receive. We just read. In fact, the holiday precludes doing anything but reading. We’re told to drop everything, after all.

I learned about this wonderful holiday from the Read Aloud Revival podcast, and they have a free D.E.A.R. package to help you celebrate . Our plan is a bit simpler: books and snacks. I got a stack of books from the library that I set out around the house along with some favorites from our shelves. Of course, the kids may choose from their own stash. I’ll put a big bowl of popcorn in the living room and some cookies out of Jack’s reach, and we’ll get to reading. Easy-peasy.

But it’s not just the kids who will participate. I’m going to drop (almost) everything and read, too. And not just that huge stack of books I have to read for homeschooling or work. I’m going to read those books that get moved to the bottom of the pile because of the “must reads.”  I’ve been reading on Jayber Crow for months now, in conjunction with the Circe Institute’s podcast Close Reads. I just picked up Still Life by Louise Penny which has been recommended multiple times on Anne Bogel’s podcast What Should I Read Next.  I’ve also been nibbling at Flannery O’Connor for *mumble mumble* months now. Although you really have to take her in small doses, mull over it, reread bits of it, think about it some more, then go take a walk. Or maybe that’s just me. And I have half a dozen other books I’ve been reading on or listening to. Perhaps I’m too ambitious for my first time participating in D.E.A.R. Oh well. Go big or go home.

We all have a book (or seven) we’d love to read if only we had more time. But let’s face it, we’ll only get the time if we take it. D.E.A.R Day is the perfect opportunity to do that. (If audio books are more your style, Audible is currently having a half-off everything on their site sale for members only. Sign up for a free Audible trial and get access to the trial and two free audio books. )

Will you join in? Even if it’s only for half an hour, can you tune out the rest of the world and curl up with a good book? Leave your D.E.A.R. choice (or wish) in the comments. I’m always looking for a new book to add to the pile.

April Fool

Foolin’ around

We really don’t do April Fool’s Day in our family. Talking with my oldest daughter about it, we decided it was because it really doesn’t mesh with our family culture. Most April Fool’s jokes tend to be mean pranks that involve laughing at someone more than laughing with them. That’s just really not our style.

That being said, there are a few great jokes this year.

A couple years ago, Dwane Thomas of Visual Latin had a Visual Klingon video for April Fool’s. Today, he offers futurity, the history of the future!


Audible offers a fee excerpt of your favorite narrators reading the Encyclopedia Britannica and Netflix has all things John Stamos. Weirdos. Google’s joke may have backfired, or it may be all part of the prank. Who knows? All I know is minions are totally overdone. Stop it already!

Do you go all in or abstain? What’s the best/worst prank that you’ve ever played or has been played on you?

Anyway, here’s hoping your April Fool’s Day is as fun-filled or mundane as you wish.


The story of the saint


For St. Patrick’s Day, you should listen to this wonderful episode of Circe Institute’s The Commons with Dr. Jonathan Rogers who wrote a book about Patrick.

Some thoughts:

Dr. Rogers sounds so much like my brother — both his voice and his speech patterns — that it kind of freaked me out. I was tempted to call and make sure he isn’t living a double life as an academic in Tennessee.

Ireland was the first nation to become Christian without first becoming Roman.

Dr. Rogers talks a lot of the joy and humor in Patrick’s story. He concludes: “We’re reminded from his life that human history, in the end, is a divine comedy. And in the end, love wins out and all the darkness can’t compete with even the smallest candle. All the death that ever was barely filled a cup when it sat next to light. That sort of life and laughter and joy just spills out of the Patrick story, and a lot of it comes from the fact that he was not afraid. He didn’t let himself let the darkness of the world around him paralyze him or make him too afraid, and he just charged forward.”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day. However else you celebrate, do listen to this podcast and raise a glass to a remarkable man of God.

My previous post on St. Patrick.


eat two, brute

The Memes of March

First, a message from my friend Amelia: On this, the ides of March and Super Tuesday 3, try not to vote for somebody who will stab this country in the back.

Never forget:


creamy caesar

Keep the true meaning of the holiday:

The spirit of March 15


Celebrate properly:

eat two, brute


Gaining a day


This year leap day happens on a Monday in an election year.  Because of course it does. (Actually, it’s always in an election year. Whose bright ideas was that?) Still, we get an extra day, right? Woo-hoo! Party time! Let’s blow off work and head to the (insert favorite place to loaf)! But alas, the calendar can only mark time, it can’t allot it. We have X number of days on this earth, whether we call some February 29 or March 1 or some other day entirely. Dangit. I want more time for me!

From my C.S. Lewis Daily reading this morning (which you can subscribe to here), a selection from The Screwtape Letters:

Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. It is the unexpected visitor (when he looked forward to a quiet evening), or the friend’s talkative wife (turning up when he looked forward to a tête-à-tête with the friend), that throw him out of gear. Now he is not yet so uncharitable or slothful that these small demands on his courtesy are in themselves too much for it. They anger him because he regards his time as his own and feels that it is being stolen. You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to his employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which he allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.

I also listened to Lewis’s essay, “Learning in Wartime” from The Weight of Glory* this morning, which was on a similar theme, namely: how ought the Christian use his time, especially in times of crisis?  Lewis is specifically addressing the scholar, but I think it applies to everyone in any type of work.  Speaking during World War II, he notes that war doesn’t bring a new experience to us — that is death is the fate of all men — but it does cause us to remember death. He notes,

If we had foolish un-Christian hopes about human culture, they are now shattered. If we thought we were building up a heaven on earth, we looked for something that would turn the present world from a place of pilgramage into a permaent city satisfying the soul of man, we are disillusioned, and not a moment too soon. But if we thought that for some souls, and at some times, the life of learning, humbly offered to God, was, in its own small way, one of the appointed approaches to the Divine reality and the Divine beauty which we hope to enjoy hereafter, we can think so still.

I think “the life of learning” can be extended to the life of homeschooling or the life of creating or the life of producing or whatever your vocation may be. Likewise, wartime can be any time: times of peace, times of prosperity, times of instability, times of hardship. For Christians, our time is not our own and our vocations are not our own but we are stewards of them for the glory of God and in the light of eternity. We should always be aware of the times and the seasons and act accordingly, with such wisdom as God grants us. We should also do our daily work, tend our gardens, and build our families and communities.

In the light of all that, what will I do with “my” extra day? Maybe we’ll celebrate the day with a little “extra.” Ice cream, anyone? But honestly, I’ll do the same thing I do with my other days. We’ll do school and chores and work and read. Hopefully, I’ll do these remembering that my days are not my own and I am to do all things — on all days — to the glory of God.

*As of today, The Weight of Glory is $6.95 on Audible, which is a great deal!


My two cents

I have avoided writing about politics for quite a while for many reasons. The primary one is because I’m a bit of a pessimist, and, frankly, I see the writing on the wall when it comes to the beautiful experiment of a constitutional republic and a nation governed by rule of law.

But, though fatally wounded, we’re not dead yet, and I might as well weigh in on this hot-mess of a political season to explain while I will never vote for Donald J. Trump.

Abortion is my primary issue. It isn’t my only issue, but I will never vote for a pro-abortion or pro-euthanasia candidate. It’s a deal breaker. Yes, Trump claims to be pro-life, but, bluntly, I believe he’s a lying liar who lies a lot. I don’t believe his “conversion story.” Honestly, I don’t believe he cares very much about abortion at all except to say what he needs to say to get votes. But, bearing that in mind, in this election cycle he has said, Planned Parenthood does wonderful things” and other PP-praising statements to that effect. (That would be Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of abortion.) In this election cycle, he has said his very liberal, partial-birth abortion supporting sister would be a “phenomenal” Supreme Court judge. So I know what he says, but I don’t believe any politician on just what they say. They lie by nature. You have to look at the totality of what they say and do, and the evidence does not back up Trump’s words. I don’t believe he is pro-life.

While abortion is my primary issue, it is not the only issue. I wouldn’t vote for a thief who opposed abortion. I wouldn’t vote for a child abuser who opposed abortion. I wouldn’t vote for someone who is completely unfit for the nation’s highest office simply because they oppose – or claim to oppose – abortion. This isn’t dogcatcher or random legislator we’re talking about. The president has a ridiculous (and unconstitutional) amount of power, and all manner of lives are in his or her hands. Being pro-life is the first qualification, but not the sole qualification.

In the case of Trump, I believe the fable of the scorpion and the frog is very instructive. For those unfamiliar:

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream, the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown, but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “It’s my nature…”

Trump has spent his entire life demonstrating his nature. He is anti-liberty. He uses the force of government for his personal gain. He has a long history of supporting pro-abortion, very liberal politicians. He has ties with all manner of criminals. His Trump University stinks of fraud. And I don’t believe he holds a single position that he hasn’t held the opposite position. He is cruel, insulting, and vindictive to anyone who opposes him in the slightest. He is the scorpion, and if you give him a ride, he will sting you. It will be a small consolation that he will probably take himself down as well.

If it’s Trump v. Clinton or Sanders, well, this is how the Republic ends. But don’t tell me that since the Republic will die either by fire or by sword, I must choose between lighting the match or swinging the blade. I don’t have to support one liar and criminal who will destroy my country because another disaster stands on the other side. I don’t. Moreover, I won’t.


100 word challenge: Waves



She went about her preparations calmly while her aunts berated and pleaded in turns.

“You can’t go to the beach alone; it’s improper!”

Book tucked in the corner of her bag.

“Who will prepare our tea?”

Sunglasses slipped between the folds of the towel.

“There are strange and forward men there that you aren’t prepared to handle!”

Eyes sparkling, she pulled out the flotation device the shopping bag. The aunts gasped.

“Surely you don’t intend to go in the water. The waves will carry you away!”

Finally, she smiled and looked at them.

“But, dears, that’s what they are for.”

This story is part of the fascinating “100 Word Challenge” project by Darleen Click over at Protein Wisdom.

My previous stories are here.

Here’s Jimmie’s story from last week, which I didn’t do because February. (I had one in my head, it just never made it to the paper. I may do it later. In my downtime. Bahahahaha!) I’ll update with this week’s story and roundup if and when he gets to it.

Join in! (If you don’t have a blog, leave your story in the comments.)

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