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1 - 26 of 45 total archives for:
NOTES FROM TOAD HALL
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Spring #2 2014
Publication Date: 08/17/2014

We live in a climate where the seasons are sharp. There is no mistaking them. Winter freezes everything including our senses; but they waken again with the shifting south wind, in slight rises in temps, in clouds changing from steel gray to white muslin, when it is still well below freezing, we sniff the air and say, “I smell spring!”

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Still Winter #1 2014
Publication Date: 03/03/2014

As we prepare for a move that we pray happens later this year, we are looking into closets, corners and other hidey-holes in the house. What to sell, pitch or move? Denis and I each have collections we think indicate pathology or at least a “gentle madness” in the other....

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Winter #4 2013
Publication Date: 12/10/2013

This past summer we lost our mountain ash. For three years it has shown signs of sickness. The first year I was hopeful. It was just my imagination. It was a dry year. Leaves were withering and falling in mid-summer. When I looked closely at the bark, in places it looked like it was giving up the trunk, loosening like a roll of paper towels ready to unravel….

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Summer #3 2013
Publication Date: 08/05/2013

Learning to say no even to good things so we can say yes to what God has called us to do is scary and requires clarification. It poses lots of questions. What ought we to be doing? How do we take care of ourselves properly? Does it include rest and play? What about real suffering around us?...

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Spring #2 2013
Publication Date: 06/04/2013

I may be prone to love certain things too much – from the very important, like grandchildren, to everyday stuff, like Yirgacheffe coffee. I think about this and pray that what dominates my heart will not be grasped too tightly, but lifted to God with thankfulness in a loose hand.

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Still Winter #1 2013
Publication Date: 02/27/2013

The first meal I prepared for the man I'd eventually marry and spend my life with, until one of us dies or Christ returns, wasn't worthy of today's bare-footed, deeply cleft Food Channel celebrities, or even the humble Mennonite More-with-Less Cookbook. I was poetically naïve, unaware of the sensuous nature of food and unfamiliar with Solomon's sweet, sexually allusive "refresh me with apples." Or was I? Perhaps some part of me knew that nourishing the body with a Sunday dinner might potentially feed a part of our life together. I surely didn't know then that the skills I developed as a cook wouldn't be limited to a private show, but would sprout and mature to serve many friends, travelers and guests over the years.

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Winter #4 2012
Publication Date: 12/27/2012

When I grew up and moved away I rarely saw them. But in December of every year I especially remember my grandparents. Each December I carefully add a small collection of bubble lights to the tree, carefully placing them just so because, I admit, too many would be slightly cheesy. Their gentle movement and glow add a dimension to our Christmas tree that I must have – the memory of my grandparents’ tree in full regalia. Grandpa and Grandma Frolander made Christmas special for our family of eight. And, just as importantly, they never forgot my birthday which was December 15th, a birth date easily rolled into Christmas.

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Summer Into Fall #3 2012
Publication Date: 12/27/2012

When I was visiting my daughter, her son Mason, who was seven, quietly took her aside and said, “Mom, could I ask White-haired Grandma to go to the park with me to watch me ride my bike? She could sit on the bench because she is so old and tired and there are benches there so she can sit.” He really emphasized the benches. (I’ve been white since my late 30s and have trouble seeing myself as others see me. The youth of my face used to be a surprise, even to myself, but as it fades – it is less so.) Sember said, “Well, I don’t know about calling her ‘sooo old’ – how would she feel about that?” Looking dismayed, he interrupted, “I wasn’t being mean, I just meant...

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Spring - #2 2012
Publication Date: 06/27/2012

When the fleeting nature of life unexpectedly confronts us, the questions raised can be depressing or even frightening. However, God knows we don't like being compared to flowers - here-today-gone-tomorrow - and points us toward a deeper understanding of life and death where he comforts and heartens us through his word.

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Still Winter #1 2012
Publication Date: 02/22/2012

Dude!! You need to chill!” I don’t ordinarily talk like this, calling someone “Dude.” It’s pretentious for a woman my age. But it seemed appropriate at the time. I had to shout to get Denis’ attention because he was flipping out.
He walked into the bedroom late one night and asked why there was water under the lid of the flip-top toothpaste container. When he opened it a bunch had spilled out. Welll. I remember thinking for a second: Margie, you need to lie here. Because you love him. But I couldn’t think fast enough. I told the truth....

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Winter #4 2011
Publication Date: 12/07/2011

This time of year it’s daily: suppressed panic about what to give family and friends for Christmas – it needs to be something extremely thoughtful and not too expensive if new, ingeniously re-purposed if picked up in the alley, and not too cheesy if hand-made. Guys are especially tricky. I admire friends who have the ability to give the just-right gift. I so lack imagination that I often end up giving what I’d want myself, and then, for fear of obligating them to like it, I relieve pressure by offering, “If you don’t like it, you can give it back, because I like it very much.” This is completely misunderstood by major people in my life.

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Summer Into Fall #3 2011
Publication Date: 08/01/2011

Is it a fault or a flaw to love resolution? I remember a scene from the movie Amadeus where Soliari criticizes Mozart’s great opera Figaro for not giving the Viennese a banging-loud chord at the end so they knew when to clap. Soliari couldn’t admit how he loved that music. I don’t want to keep company with him, but I admit I love endings that resolve well, and are perhaps, yes, even happy. When I listen to music I love, my soul leans forward listening for those moments that were at first surprising, but are now familiar through repeated hearings. The notes fall into exactly the right places. When they sound, you witness the composer’s gift of knowing where to take them – to a place I couldn’t have imagined.

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Spring #2 2011
Publication Date: 06/06/2011

Needy for Spring
In March my husband complained that I frown on eating donuts. Well. He knows he is guilty for even thinking about what he himself describes as the minimum amount of flour required to hold sugar and fat together. He craves them and has been quite foxy about getting them so now I can’t trust him to be alone. When we traveled to Chicago at the end of March and stopped at a gas emporium, I was coming out of the restroom, wending my way past aisles of manufactured cheese bits when I bumped into DENIS, who was stuffing a raised glazed into his mouth.

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#1 2011 (Still Winter)
Publication Date: 03/01/2011

Skirting the Fleece
“White as snow,” I understand. We have a lot of it right now, you probably do, too. All I need to do is look out the window. But to sharpen the analogy, in case we don’t get snow, God mentions wool for us to consider. “…though your sins are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” Did you know crimson and scarlet are color-fast dyes? You can’t change your mind once they get into a fiber. They are indelible. When wool is first sheared from a sheep it is not a brilliant shade of white or even cream, so I needed help to enrich this analogy.

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#4 2010 (Winter)
Publication Date: 12/01/2010

Gift list from Toad Hall is in this issue. Main essay: Six of One and Twelve Dozen of Another “…we want to learn that God messes with our carefully constructed exegetical, methodological selves to take us to a much deeper level than where we habitually hover. …Some days I think I haven’t made an inch of progress from where I was when I was four years old and swore at our rat terrier for taking my mitten and running through the snowdrifts.”

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#3 2010 (Summer/Fall)
Publication Date: 08/01/2010

The Work of Art …"In countless conversations the surprise would be that our working life falls out according to schedule, resulting in meaningful relationships, well-earned rewards and lots of options. … The notion of being compassionate causes me to ask how we help keep heart, particularly when work seems insignificant and without apparent reward or appeal.”

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#2 2010 (Spring)
Publication Date: 05/01/2010

Facing North
The contributions I, Margie, make to the “work of the Lord,” may look trifling in the extreme compared to the work of others, but I have to trust what God says is true, and believe “he is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine according to the power that is at work within us…” (Ephesians 3: 20) So despite the unfinished nature of what I see, this work will not be in vain. Restoration will complete the story.

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#1 (Still Winter)
Publication Date: 01/01/2009

Never Too Late
Margie, I've adopted the "Shirkers & Slackers" program recently after failing yet again at another more sequential organized plan. I don't need the burden of such at this time in my life--been there, done that. Blessings, Doug.

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#4 (Holiday)
Publication Date: 12/01/2008

Slowly Slipping Southward
You may not have noticed this in the news since it came out the week before the elections, and we were all very preoccupied and weary of the media, but it's kind of fascinating. Science News (Oct. 25, 2008, Vol. 174) reported that astrophysicists looking at data gathered by a NASA probe have observed a kind of slope in space where something like 700 galaxy clusters--involving hundreds of thousands of galaxies about one billion light years from earth--are slipping southward (which way is "south" in space?) at a speed of 1000 kilometers per second.

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#3 (Fall)
Publication Date: 09/01/2008

Shreds of Life
Our three-year-old granddaughter, Paige, has a habit that got me thinking--it's pretty common among kids--she sucks the index finger of her left hand while grasping the satiny edge of her baby blanket between the thumb and remaining fingers. Her right hand clutches another part of the ribbon edge in the exact place where she knows there is a hole in the binding and can slip her other thumb in and out.

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#2 (Summer)
Publication Date: 07/01/2008

The Working Difference
Martha and Mary. Classic working women from the Bible. Single, too. For years whenever I've heard someone (mostly men, sorry) teach about them - Mary is such the darling. Martha is so-ooo flawed. WHO wouldn't know sitting at Jesus' feet is best, huh? Isn't it obvious Martha should've been sitting there listening, too, where we ALL should be?

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#1 (Still Winter)
Publication Date: 01/01/2008

Stranger To Me
I don't think I've met you. My name is Margie. I said this as I held out my hand, warm and friendly, to a young woman standing in the foyer after church.

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#4 (Holiday)
Publication Date: 11/07/2007

Matters of Perspective
When we were staying with friends Leslie and John near NYC in October it was, I think, our second day with them--a Saturday. They were outside working in their pleasant yard with its meadowy borders of butterfly bushes, roses, and boxwood. I was relishing a nap in the cozy guest bedroom; the window was open and sounds of dirt scratching and pots thumping floated up. I was content to hear someone else purposefully engaged until John's voice drifted in and I heard this snippet "Oh, by the way, Leslie, we have rats again, so don't.." I sat up fast and looked around. Rats? Where?

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#3 (Fall)
Publication Date: 10/07/2007

The Joy of Bees
A long time ago when our children were young and we lived in Albuquerque, Denis traveled a lot. The reason I mention he traveled a lot is becausewhen he was out of town there was some kind of cosmic balance that shifted and it did nothing to favor me. Thus trips to the ER, little fires in the kitchen, escaped animals, and most annoying, the times when our bees swarmed, happened when he was gone and I was left to deal. It was easy to imagine him in El Paso drinking Corona, eating chili rellenos someone else labored to make, and having lively conversations with students and staff about theology.

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#2 (Summer)
Publication Date: 07/07/2007

To Be Where You Are
How often do we look at the circumstances and difficulties of life and think that because we can't fathom what God is doing, then he is doing nothing at all?

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