Friday, January 31, 2014

Fruit Ninjas

Williamsburg, Fall 2013

This is my daughter EV's (and her photographer friend Jessica's) idea of a fun photo shoot...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Peace, Be Still

We have had a longer, deeper snowfall overnight that has closed schools and kept our Daddy home for the day!  Here's to surprise holidays in the middle of the week, when everything is canceled!

The thing that strikes me the most about fresh snowfall is the quiet it brings with it.  And I don't just mean the lack of traffic noise because no one's out on the roads.  In some other, deeper way, life is muffled by this thick blanket of white that has fallen and covered the earth.  Like the tousled head of a sleeping toddler, buried beneath hair and blanket, life has paused from its endless energy and constant motion and found stillness. Peace. 

With no notice, no time to fill the empty square with events and appointments, we are granted the gift of a true day off.  And if not that---(homeschoolers are not unable to reach their school building on a snow day, after all!)---at least a morning or an afternoon of rest. Refreshment. Renewal. 

So today, as I gaze out my window at the blanket of white,  I wrap my hands around the warmth of my teacup and breathe deeply of this reality: 
"Wash me, and I will be whiter than snow" (Psalm 51:7)!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Bird of Mouth"

Snow that amounts to anything and is profuse enough to whiten the ground is rare where I live.  This morning we awakened to such a blanket of white.  It is beautiful!

Clearly, the birds are also happy... happy with our backyard bird feeders on this snow day.  The word has gotten out--however birds share these sorts of things*--and we're the happening place to be!


All puffed up, trying to stay warm!

In other news on this fun snow day... (yes, even homeschoolers can have snow days...)

I had to make our big king-size bed around this remnant child, who had refused to vacate the warm family spot that all six of us had piled into when the alarms went off this morning!

The delicious breakfast our dad--who didn't have to go into work until 11:00--made us... pflintzen with filling and jam, bacon, and hot tea.  Yum!

 Homeschool on a cold snow day!

* My clever husband had called it "bird of mouth"--hence, the title of this blog post.  Whatever it was, we're happy that the snowfall sent all the hungry birds in town to our feeders!  Today I saw cardinals, finches (both house and yellow!), mourning doves, juncos, titmice, Carolina wrens, pine siskins, and red-breasted nuthatches, and a couple of species I don't even recognize. Our friendly chickadees and our lovely woodpecker stayed away today, for some reason.  They're home staying warm, I hope, like the rest of us!

Saturday, January 18, 2014


Meg smiles?  Or Meg's miles?  Exactly.

More than 71,000 runners* have pledged on Facebook to run in the #Megsmiles Memorial Run set for today, Saturday, January 18, 2014. (*It turns out that nearly 100,000 runners from around the world participated before it was all said and done.)

Meg Menzies was a 34-year-old mother of three who was killed Monday morning by a drunk driver while on her Saturday morning "long run."

Those in the running community are very familiar with those--I am not!--and those Saturday morning runs can often be a source of camaraderie and fellowship for them.

My husband and daughter often take such runs, and they are pictured here with our dogs on their #megsmiles 3-mile run this morning.

My son Philip took a short run with his Vibram 5-fingers, and I took a longer run on the treadmill inside.
Although we didn't know Meg personally, we are indignant that her family was robbed of her by the careless actions of a drunk driver.  And we run in support of her and all other runners, who should be safe on the road from people who consume alcohol and get behind the wheel.

Lest anyone think I'm on a sanctimonious high horse because I don't drink and drive, I take a humble moment--although it is true that I do not drink and drive--to admit with grief and shame that I have been guilty of texting while driving--reading them, writing them, dictating them to Siri, and listening to them read to me by Siri.  I reaffirm my refusal to do so anymore as I run for Meg this morning, since texting or talking while driving has been shown to cause greater impairment behind the wheel than drinking and driving!  (...Yes, even just talking on the cell phone while driving!)

May no more Megs die at the hands of the likes of one of us!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Today is all you'll ever have...

Is it possible for one small change in thinking or behavior to change your entire outlook or experience of life?  "Why yes, yes, it is!" I would answer, for I have seen it with my own eyes--or rather, heard it with my own ears--over the past month or so.

You see, I am a morning person.  I am not necessarily a "morning person" in the traditional sense of the word.  In fact, I used to be quite efficient and productive in the evening hours, those precious few hours when little ones are in bed and you can get stuff done without them under foot!  However, sometime over the past decade, I have turned into a morning person.  Those "little ones" grew up, so the evening hours are no longer the time that they are asleep in their beds.  Perhaps even more significantly, though, I hit middle age--that blessed time when, apparently, women begin to wake up at ridiculous times in the wee morning hours as a result of some mean hormonal trick that hits a few years before menopause does.  (Nobody tells you this, mind you.  You don't find out that this happens to everyone until you start to mention it to your other middle-aged friends.  Then they look at you like, "What? You didn't know that?!")

At any rate, when I awaken nightly--sometime between the hours of 2:00 and 4:00 AM--sometimes I am able to go back to sleep and sometimes I am not.  Most mornings, I stagger to the bathroom for the cruel-hormonal-nature-trick need-to-pee that has awakened me, then climb back into bed and drift back off to sleep.  But some mornings, my mind wakes up as my body does, and I can't control the racing thoughts that fill my mind and demand that my day begin RIGHT NOW.

As you can see, on these mornings, I can have been awake with any number of things (doing the day's devotional reading, praying for the day's requests and needs, practicing my Scripture memory verses, reading a book, grading papers, answering emails, catching up on Words with Friends games, trolling Facebook, looking over the calendar, etc. etc. etc.) for several hours by the time my husband rolls over and begins to drowse awake just before his alarm rings at 5:00 AM.  For years now, I have had the terrible habit, apparently, of hitting him with whatever urgent thought is occupying my mind, as soon as his alarm goes off for the day.  He is greeted, thanks to me, by urgency and panic-inducing tones regarding some serious thing I've been pondering and planning for hours.  Not fun!

Sometime this past month, some small little miracle began to take place--and not because I purposed it or planned it in any way!  In fact, I didn't really discover it was happening until it was happening, and I just happily realized it one morning.  Some odd morning about a month ago, I greeted my snoozy husband with a sing-songy, "This is the day that the Lord has made!"  And he answered with, "Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"  Sleepy smiles were exchanged, and his day began peacefully.

The next time I was already awake when his alarm went off, I again greeted him with, "This is the day that the Lord has made!" and he again responded with, "Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"  Somehow, we had started something, though neither of us realized it at the time.  A few mornings later, he was up before I was--I having gone back to sleep after the wee-hours wakeful time and slept through his 5:00 AM alarm-- and he greeted me with a big grin and a, "This is the day that the Lord has made!"  I returned the smile and answered, "Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"

This delightful little exchange has become our habit each morning as we greet each other, without either of us ever deciding it or acknowledging it or talking about it, even.  The closest we came to that was one morning when I said something else--something urgent and startling, I'm sure--as the first words I greeted him with.  He rolled over with a fake cry and said, "You didn't say it!  You said something else first!"  And with that, I realized that I had broken an unspoken understanding that had developed between us... namely, before anything else, acknowledge together that today is a gift from the Lord, and that we should rejoice in gratitude first thing upon greeting it... and each other.

What a beautiful reality!  What a beautiful habit.
"This is the day that the Lord has made!  Let us rejoice, and be glad in it!(Psalm 118:24)

* Entry 1, January - The 12 Months of 2014 Blog Challenge - title is from Switchfoot's This Is Your Life

Monday, January 6, 2014

An epiphany on Epiphany

Well, the 12-Days-of-Christmas Blog Challenge is officially over, and this is the 13th Day of Christmas 2013. Maybe.  Depending how you calculate it.  Some people--and "official" ones at that--claim that The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day, December 25, and culminate on Twelfth Night, the Eve of Epiphany.  Other "official" folks claim that they really begin the day after Christmas, culminating on the actual January 6 holiday of Epiphany.

And it turns out, actually, that even the date for Epiphany itself is negotiable.  Most traditions seem to place it always on January 6, but others insist that it should be on a Sunday and therefore commemorate Epiphany on whatever Sunday falls between December 2 and December 8.  Unless they feel like doing it the Sunday before--apparently, that's okay, too.

This reminds me a little of Easter; I can never keep track of what the "rule" is for determining which Sunday it will be in any given year!

It also reminds me of our dear friends from Germany, the Erharts, who lived here in the States as our neighbors several years ago.  They enjoyed the traditional Thanksgiving meal with our family on Thanksgiving Day the last year they were here.  We also celebrated a "Summertime Thanksgiving" during their last month here, in which we cooked and ate the whole blessed feast again when it was 95 degrees outside!  It wasn't until the following year--when they were back in Germany and we were here eating the American feast again--that we realized the confusion over dates.  They sent a lovely email on Friday--the day after Thanksgiving--telling us they were thinking of us as we celebrated.  It didn't take us long to figure out that they thought the holiday fell on the particular date and not a particular day.  (Again, what's the rule for knowing which Thursday it will be?  Is it the last one in November?  The fourth one?  Is the fourth Thursday always the last Thursday?)  But I digress...

Back to the point.  (Is there a point?!)  In my book, today, January 6, is the 13th Day of Christmas and the day to celebrate Epiphany, if you do that sort of thing.  However, it is kind of hard to make much of Epiphany when the people out there who sometimes force your hand with regard to your schedule (think school and work here!) have sent you back to your duties. 

We always leave our Christmas decorations up through Epiphany--though we stop burning the outside lights afterwards if it falls early in the week, to wait for a convenient weekend time to take them down without becoming "those neighbors"!

In the absence of any great ideas that have worked their way into our holiday traditions at Epiphany (feel free to share if you have any meaningful practices up your sleeve!) I always use this opportunity to teach my Creative Writing students [and to remind my own children, as we are homeschoolers, after all!] about the differences in the various meanings of the word "epiphany."  So, first things first:

Epiphany (with a capital E) refers to the holiday, which is defined for us by's Guide to Christianity Mary Fairchild as follows:

Epiphany, also known as "Three Kings Day" and "Twelfth Day," is a Christian holiday commemorated on January 6. It falls on the twelfth day after Christmas, and for some denominations signals the conclusion of the twelve days of the Christmas season. Though many different cultural and denominational customs are practiced, in general, the feast celebrates the manifestation of God in the form of human flesh through Jesus Christ, his Son.

The word epiphany means “manifestation” or “revelation" and is commonly linked in Western Christianity with the visit of the wise men (Magi) to the Christ child. Through the Magi, Christ revealed himself to the gentiles. In Eastern Christianity, Epiphany puts emphasis on the baptism of Jesus by John, with Christ revealing himself to the world as God's own Son. Likewise, on Epiphany some denominations commemorate Jesus' miracle of turning water into wine, signifying the manifestation of Christ's divinity as well.

(Notice that even she acknowledges the squirrelly nature of trying to pin down a date for the thing!)

Colloquially, the word *epiphany*refers to "a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience."  (This definition is provided to us by 

"In other words," my students always tell me, "an epiphany is an *aha moment*!"  Well, yeah, pretty much.

Literarily, the word *epiphany* is "a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight."

I love teaching about epiphany.  I love those little commonplace moments--whether in literature or in life--that change us... that make us realize something extraordinary in the midst of the oh-so-ordinary... that, in some ways, define us...

And so I will end with an epiphany-of-sorts that I am in the middle of... that I'm just now starting to realize, as I see the profound truth that I am so prone to miss...

This particular musing has been brought on by Theodore Roosevelt, through the following quotation from his book, An Autobiography, published in 1913.

"For unflagging interest and enjoyment, a household of children, if things go reasonably well, certainly makes all other forms of success and achievement lose their importance by comparison."

May I ever remember it... and seek to love and enjoy and not miss these wonderful ones living with us for just so-very-few-more years more!  All other forms of success and achievement do lose their importance by comparison! 

(Republished from past musings)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The 12 Months of 2014 Blog Challenge

Today is the 12th Day of Christmas... and thus, the official end to the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge.

I love the exercise of writing... of capturing the thoughts and feelings swirling around in my head, and organizing them into something that makes some modicum of sense... of sharing those thoughts, however dull they may be on any given day, with those who care to read them... of chronicling the mundane and the ordinary from our daily-day life, and thereby--if only occasionally--hallowing it as something extraordinary.  It also forces me away from the tyranny of the urgent and back to the truly important, so often overlooked in our daily-day busyness!

Therefore, this year I am committing to continue throughout the year with the 12 Months of 2014 Blog Challenge.  The rules are simple:

1) Blog at least once each month, sometime during that month.  (You may post to an actual blog, if you have one.  If not, compose a note to be published on Facebook, or simply write it out longhand and share it with at least one other person.  Whatever works for you.  Just grab your thoughts, organize them, capture them in words, and share them with at least one other person.)

2) Give your blog post a clever title, using the title of or a line from a song.  (Identify the song at the bottom of the post.)

3) Include a photograph you took to accompany your post, if at all possible.  ("If at all possible" is the caveat for those of you who don't take pictures, or don't own a digital camera, or don't use a smartphone, or don't look at life with a photographer's eye... But maybe 2014 is the year to learn to do just that!  Look for ordinary miracles in your days, and capture them.  Look at life with gratitude, and express it.  I'm planning to, and I believe it will change me!)

Won't you join me?

"There are thousands of thoughts lying within a man that he does not know 'til he takes up the pen and writes."    ~ William Makepeace Thackery

Saturday, January 4, 2014

If Only in My Dreams

My daughter OG is scheduled to get her braces off on Monday morning.  (This is 2 days away. Yesterday it was 3 days away.  Last week it was 9 days away.  Last month it was 30 days away.  Ask me how I know this... how I have known this every day since her last appointment...)

This excitement at the certainty of getting her braces off on Monday morning has been curbed slightly by the true story one of her friends told her about going in to get his (her? I don't remember who it was!) braces off at the time they told him to expect to, only to be told that he had six more weeks to go.  "Can you imagine, Mom?" an incredulous OG had uttered.

She came in this morning equally incredulous, telling me about a dream she had last.  In it, she claims, it was time to leave for her appointment to get her braces off and I was working on a blog post.  (Like my friend Pam, I am only reliably regular about posting on my blog during the 12 Days of Christmas Blog Challenge, so I have been blogging daily for the past 10 days.)

In this dream, apparently--in response to her, "Mom, it's time to go"--I stuck up a shush hand and gave her a mean look.  She waited a bit, then tried again.  "Mom, we really..." to which the mean-mommy-from-her-dreams replied, "Hush!  I'm working on my blog!"  Desperate, OG-from-her-dreams tried a third time, "But we're going to be late!"  Apparently I then told her, "We are not leaving until I finish this blog post!"  In this dream, mean mommy delayed too long, and OG missed her appointment and her chance to get her braces off.

Poor thing!  I assured her that her real mommy would never let the mean-mommy-from-her-dreams keep her from getting her braces off on Monday.  Unfortunately, her real mommy holds no sway over the orthodontist, however, so she'll have to take her chances with him!

Friday, January 3, 2014

We're Happy Tonight

I love camping. I love everything about it... the smells. the views. sleeping in a tent. cooking over a fire. walking through the woods to traipse to the bathroom. the sound of crickets and other singing insects. the freedom from the tyranny of the schedule. sleeping under the stars...

Given that I'm currently snug in my bed while it's in the teens outside, I can dream of those wonderful spring days ahead when we'll go camping.  Every year, my oldest daughter asks to go camping for her birthday. Some years we make it, and some years we don't, but it's always exactly what I'd rather be doing if we're doing something else.

This spring, I hope to implement several of these great camping ideas!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Later we'll have some pumpkin pie...

Today, day TWO into "No Sweet Treats 2014," I almost cheated... I almost cheated accidentally, then I almost cheated deliberately.  We were at Costco, shopping for and visiting with some dear friends who moved to Johnson City, TN, where they have no Costco!  (How do you shop if you don't have Costco?!)

After our friends left, and my sweet daughters headed out to start loading our purchases into the car, I ducked into the ladies' room.  On the way out, as a fun surprise I knew would thrill them, I stopped and bought two churros for my girls.  (For the uninitiated, these are delicious!)

It never occurred to me that I had just purchased a forbidden sweet treat.  Truly!  It wasn't until I got out to the car and proudly presented my surprise...
puzzled looks... confusion...
"What?!"...  (I'm a little thick!)...
"No sweet treats!"

I promise you I was that dumb!  I had totally forgotten.  As in totally.

"Oh no!  I totally forgot!"
Then it started...
A girl who will remain unnamed: "Weeelll, it's only the 2nd..."  (Hear long, sweet Southern drawl on that first syllable!)
The other girl: "It's okay.  You forgot.  It doesn't matter.  We won't do it again..."

How tempting those words were!  How much I suddenly wanted this thing I'd cared little for just three minutes earlier!

I was reminded of this verse, from Romans 7:8 ~ "But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. "

And so it was.  Now that I wasn't supposed to have it... wasn't allowed to have it... Oh how much more I wanted it!  I was thankful to be able to call on the name of the One who strengthens me to resist the lure (and justifications!) of my flesh, enabling me to resist the oh-so-tempting draw of the-thing-which-I've-seen-and-now-want, but which I shouldn't have.

Of course, those churros were not really forbidden, and it wouldn't have been sin to eat them, but I did have a very small picture of the sin battle right before my very eyes.

I gave them away to a surprised woman and her two delighted children.  And I did walk away!

Now only 363 days to go!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

To face unafraid the plans that we've made...

No-Soda 2013 has come to a successful close!  For the past year, my family has chosen to forgo soda, together, in a show of family solidarity and as an exercise in self-control.

We are far behind my friend Pam's family!  The ones who last year inspired us to try this, they have participated over the past four years in No Fries 2010, No Soda 2011, No Fast Food 2012, and No Chips 2013.  Calling it a "family project," they have chosen to "eliminate something that's not good for us anyway," and to "pick it right back up when the year is over."  I love that.  No judgement.  No life pronouncements.  Just a year-long exercise in self-denial and mutual support.  It was nice.

Giving up soda was difficult for me at first, not because I drank it very often, but because when I did want it, I really wanted it.  Specifically, I really want soda if I'm having to eat at Taco Bell.  I would be fine to never eat Taco Bell again in my life, but my family likes it, so occasionally I find myself outnumbered in the family's we're-stuck-and-have-to-eat-fast-food-out, quick-dinner vote.  At those times, a Baja Blast Mountain Dew (which is only available as a fountain beverage at Taco Bell) is a must.  Well, not a must, I discovered this past year, but almost.  (In fact, in short order, our No Soda 2013 also became No Taco Bell 2013 by default, because it turns out that much of my family would just as soon skip the Taco Bell if you have to skip the Baja Blast as well.)

We (which term I use loosely since only us women were involved!) debated about what to give up this year.  Pam's family is giving up candy.  We don't eat a lot of candy, so my girls were against giving up something that would be "too easy."  We looked over the list of prior Team Fahs eliminations, but decided against each one: "We don't eat fries very much.  Or fast food.  How about we give up all fried foods?" [Our son works at Chick-fil-A. That wouldn't work!] - "But Mexican food has to have tortilla chips, and you make Mexican a lot!" [A good point. How good is taco salad, or how easy is pintos and cheese, without tortilla chips?!] - "I know. Let's give up popcorn!" Um. No.

My son had announced earlier, during previous discussions, that he would like to give up dessert this coming year.  We had rejected that out of hand as our family goal because we weren't willing to sacrifice special-occasion or traditional holiday desserts.  After a few minutes of clarifying discussion yesterday about the "rules" and "definitions" that would govern things, we decided that this would be No Sweet Treats 2014.  My son is thrilled with our choice, made in his absence.  My husband is not!

The revelation went something like this:
iivo, yesterday: "I'm planning to lose twenty pounds this year."
Me: "Wow! Good for you! Then you won't mind that we're giving up sweet treats this year."
iivo: "No, we're not."
Me: "Yes, we are. That's what we decided."
iivo: "Well, that's not what I decided!"
After a few minutes of catching him up on the discussion concerning the other possible (rejected) choices, he reluctantly agreed to join us.  But he immediately informed me that New Year's Day is a holiday, and that he would be eating some of the last remaining sweet treats on New Year's Day.  Hmmmm.  Clearly we'll need to clarify this one as we go along.  The rule?  Family vote will determine a majority consensus, but grace will be allowed for personal conviction.

No (Daily-Day) Sweet Treats 2014:
The clear-cut ones: (notice I didn't say the "easy" ones, since there's nothing easy about giving these up for a year!): no candy, no ice cream, no cookies, no cakes, no pies, no milk shakes

The exceptions: special treats served for birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays

The "gray areas" 
-->i.e. what to do with "special occasions" that aren't birthdays, anniversaries, or holidays:
*wedding cake at a wedding--of course you may
*shared dessert at the end of a date night--well, no (sigh)
*tasting a special sweet treat to avoid being rude in a certain situation--always avoid being rude!
- So, yes, when some friends from church invite you to dinner, and the five-year-old who worked on them all day brings out a plate of cookies after that dinner, eat a cookie!
- No, do not ask people to invite you over and offer you sweet treats! :)

-->i.e. what counts as a "sweet treat":
*mildly sweet muffins or quick breads (without chocolate chips!), pancakes or waffles, or cinnamon rolls (without frosting!) served at breakfast--fine
*those same foods served any other time of day, not at a meal--that's probably a sweet treat
*smoothies, lemonade, soda, fruit juice, etc.--fine
*milk shakes or Starbucks frozen drinks--nope!

-->i.e. what counts as a "holiday": all birthdays, anniversaries, holidays that Daddy (and other non-federal employees) have off from work, and holidays we've celebrated with a sweet treat in the past
*Thanksgiving and Christmas pies--yes!
*Valentine's Day or Halloween candy--nope
*Mardi Gras king cake--let's hope so
*New Year's Day?
--eating leftover New Year's Eve cookies because you weren't ready for No Sweet Treats 2014 to begin?  (Let's just say I didn't eat any, but we let our daddy do so!)
--eating a Reese's peanut butter cup in the candy jar at Nanny's because it happened to sound good to you, you never normally eat sweet treats, your Daddy is eating leftover New Year's Eve cookies, and you just had surgery?  (Who wouldn't say, "Yes, ma'am, have a piece of New Year's Day candy!"? :)

Things get clearer tomorrow.  Though it's true that "Every day's a holiday," for this year, at least, they don't all officially count as one! :)

Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot?

Today (and I suppose it is now technically "yesterday," though I still count it "today" since I haven't yet gone to bed and put an end on the day that is December 31, 2013) I attended the funeral of a man I hardly knew, but whose wife and daughters I once knew quite well.  Over the years we have seen each other only sporadically, but it was an honor and a privilege to gather with them and their family and friends as they grieve the Christmastime death of their husband, father, son, coworker, and friend.

In an age of Facebook, one can have many "friends" who aren't really friends at all, in the traditional sense of the word.  In fact, I would venture so far as to say that Facebook, and other social media like it, have changed the way we think of friendship.  First (but not foremost!) "friend" is now a verb, not to be confused at all with "befriend," which requires some real effort and work.  Those who would have once been considered "acquaintances" (i.e. someone you're acquainted with or someone you know) are now considered "friends" on Facebook.  Intimate details about peoples' lives, shared publicly, keep us somehow connected to those whom we never see in person.  Our natural connection to them long past, we still stay (passively) involved in their lives by catching an occasional update on a screen.  Whether this is good or bad is debatable (and often hotly debated!), but the fact remains that it is true.

I watch the children of cousins I've never met, grow up via Facebook.  (And I often have "news" of them before my mother does, who is quite close to her siblings (their parents) in the traditional ways.  She will consider herself quite "current" and "modern"--and so she is, when compared to many of her contemporaries who refuse even to get on the computer!--when a picture of a grand-niece arrives via email; she then forwards me a photo that I saw three days ago on Facebook.)

I see the children of friends I knew many years ago grow up and go away to school, then graduate, and settle into vocations, and get married, and have children of their own, even though I haven't actually seen them in person since they were in elementary school.  I run into them by some happenstance and immediately speak of their lives as if I'm actually involved with them...and no one thinks this strange, this fact that would have made me a weirdo-stalker-person just ten years ago.

In fact, what is considered strange these days--what is rare and bizarre in the world of Facebook "friend suggestions" and "people you may know"--is to run into someone you once knew quite well whom you haven't even thought of in about twenty years.  This happened to me today at the funeral, and I was struck by the novelty of it...the strangeness.  I saw her across the room, this woman-from-church-twenty-years-ago whose husband I had prayed for for years (literally!), and I struggled through the dust-covered boxes of my brain to come up with her name.  ("It's 'Angela,' I think.")  The husband's name (he whose spiritual salvation I had prayed for hundreds of times!) came more slowly, but the "S" eventually lengthened into "Steve" in the cobwebs of my mind.  If my life had depended upon coming up with their last name, I wouldn't have been able to do it.  I approached she-whose-name-I-was-pretty-sure-was-Angela from across the room and struck up a conversation.  Her son, elementary age when I knew him, is now 25!  It was wonderful to see her, but it would have been strange to be too chatty and happy to see each other in the context of a funeral reception.

"Should old acquaintance be forgot and never brought to mind"?  No, I say!  And, thanks to Facebook, they don't have to be.  I just sent her a friend request this morning...