Tag Archives: Book of Psalms

Praise in the Assembly

I recently stumbled across a current documentary on Hulu called, “Behind the Mask.” The series is about team mascots. It follows four guys who come from diverse levels of mascot experience and also their personal lifestyles:

Michael is in high school at Lebanon, PA. Outside academics, he is “Rooty the Cedar Tree.” He uses Rooty to support and bring school spirit for everyone…even the less attended sport events, such as the bowling team.

Jon…nicknamed Jersey–attends the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. He got a scholarship to be the school’s mascot, “Hey Reb.” UNLV is a huge deal in Nevada. Hey Reb’s role is to ensure that the college atmosphere at the games is kept alive.

Chad is the mascot for a minor hockey league team. In outfit, he goes by “Tux” (the Penguin.) Chad hopes to work his way into pro-hockey mascoting. Mascots are not allowed to speak (or not supposed to anyway); Chad found a way for Tux to make squeaky noises. When he visits children’s classrooms on his side job, Tux and his squeaks are sometimes appreciated more than they are at the hockey games…it’s cute. 🙂

Finally, there is Kevin. He is Bango, the official team mascot for the NBA Milwaukee Bucks. He does some of the craziest stunt and dunks during half time shows that I have ever seen! He sometimes includes his children for holding signs to get the crowd cheering–these little bucks in costume sure win the crowd. Every mascot has the chance for injury, but personally, I think Kevin has the most chances…but it never stops him from doing the next crazy idea.

Watching this series has been interesting, mostly because I don’t pay attention to cheerleaders or mascots when attending games; I find them more annoying or a distraction rather than a crowd spirit. Proof, it was only last week that I learned “Who Dey” was the mascot for the Cincinnati Bengals. I was tired of seeing this around (what I considered a slogan), and so I used Google to find out the meaning. Yeah, I felt pretty silly. 🙂

At the end of my high school years, a guy from my class started to be our school mascot. Up until that point, we didn’t use one. I mean, after all, we were the “Pirates”–miles from actual bodies of water mass, thus, living in the sea of potato and barley fields. I always got a laugh out of that aspect. Regardless, I am not sure if our mascot officially livened our school spirit at sport events, but think he did a great job helping the crowd get into the cheers when otherwise we just sat there (yes, guilty.)

In college, we were Cougars. Being a small university, the biggest events were women and men’s basketball games. I attended both, because I had a roommate on the women’s team; everyone attends the guy’s games. The only time I saw our mascot was at the basketball games, in which the biggest stunt performed was running half way across the court, and then sliding over the other half. It was a funny sight to see–I have pictures. I never played anything more than intramural football, but I loved the sport events. My freshman year, I had roommates who played for the women’s soccer team and my sophomore year, I had roommates who played for the volleyball team; my junior year, my direct roommate was on the ladies tennis team. I tried to attended as many of their games as well–even if I felt like I was cheering alone. I was like a “mascot” for our room every year–the only non-athletic one, but I could cheer and take pictures which I enjoyed!

In the mornings, I often read a few Psalms. I find them encouraging and a great reminder to start my day with praise even when I don’t have the energy or mind-set. They are not a “mascot;” God surely doesn’t need those, nor cheerleaders. But the psalmist often write that they will proclaim God’s name, steadfast love, and goodness in or to the assembly. They never wore a mask, but sometimes their meditation was all night long…in solitude and remembrance. At other times, they were not quiet about their love for the Lord. They didn’t just say it–they shouted it, made music and even in their times of mourning…they made known that God was their strength and salvation.

I find when I am around other individuals who live in this way–proclaiming God’s faithfulness, steadfast love and goodness both through the good and bad times–whether in speech or just living their lives in testimony of it, that it becomes a contagious attitude. It reminds me to keep my focus on doing the same.


Filed under Funny Stories, Random, Uncategorized

Be My Refuge

This morning’s breakfast routine started in normal fashion. It wasn’t until I got up from where I was eating at the counter that I noticed a small dog running around on the back patio. Mom had left me a note saying she had already fed Muffy, so I hadn’t bothered to go out before I started preparing my meal.

Glancing out the door, I figure Muffy is long gone by this time and started to wonder where the dog came from; he had a collar and when I opened the door to say, “Go home,” it started nosing against the screen door like Muffy when he wants to be pet. Cute dog, but when it started eating Muffy’s food, my tone in voice changed and I got loud, waking Marcia up in the mean time.

With my balance so off as of late, even going out to feed Muffy is tricky with the back porch steps, let alone Muffy rubbing against my legs and circulating around me wanting to be pet, I often just have to stand there holding the one handle attached to the side door. This dog, I could tell, would be even worse as it was a bit of the hyper type, so I did not really venture out until it left the patio. Marcia did get a chance to look at his tag; it was our neighbor’s dog. Marcia and I watched him run under the patio and since we couldn’t do anything about that we just went on to continuing breakfast.

As we were finishing, Marcia states randomly, “I think he has Muffy up the tree.” Sure enough, this pup is frantically jumping, circling, howling, barking at the tree. I didn’t know Muffy still climbed trees as he is “getting up there in cat years,” but I have to admit, I was quite impressed! 🙂




Once we figured out how to get the visitor back to his fenced yard (I was also impressed by the size of the hole he made in the fence), it was time to try to get Muffy out of the tree. Marcia stood underneath coaxing him and trying to help him, but Muffy was not moving. I didn’t want him in the tree as we were planning on being gone for a few hours, so I decided to step out on the back patio and just try calling his name to see if that would help. I blurt out, “Muffy…here kitty, kitty, kitty.” Within a few seconds, I see black move in the tree and watch as he makes his way down (again, impressive) and run up the patio towards me. I just stood there, holding my handle–swooped down and gave him a good pet.

This week, I have been reading the Psalms and often found myself in the Gospel of John as well. The Psalms make reference to God being a refuge. I love this imagery. A refuge for me is like a fort…strong, protection, a place where I feel safe. I also think of it in terms of comfort, a place of warmth. I think the reminder of those images is like a backdrop to remembering the promise that God will never leave me nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6). Jesus never said this world would be easy (John 16:33), but my Refuge is unwavering for all eternity.

My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.

John 10: 27-28 NKJV


Filed under Family Times, Funny Stories, Muffy, Uncategorized

Appreciate the Hands Day

There seems to be a “day” for everything. My favorite part of the lounge at work was the huge calendar posted on the wall with different events for the week or special days, such as “National Marshmallow Day”; “Chips and Salsa Day”; “National Crossword Puzzle Day”; “National Peanut Day”…I mean literally–the list is endless! The only one that I have never been a fan of is “National Talk like a Pirate Day.” Our brother dorm during my freshman year of college literally took the day into full effect, some with costumes even. It was fun but after a few “Argggg Matey !” I had heard enough. But they did it ALL day–gruffy accented pirate talk–I just found it annoying. 🙂

There are days of fun, days of remembrance, days of randomness, days of awareness. Even this past Sunday was National Coffee Day, in which I took the liberty of enjoying a second mug of our freshly brewed Seattle’s Best. This post has been long time in the making…in other words, I have wanted to do this post for a long time but I believe that the timing was delayed….because God was bringing me to this point where I would learn from this post experience…where my physical body would be at a place to where I fully understand the significance of being thankful. It is the season of the soul.

Therefore, I now take a new liberty and declare today as my own, “Appreciate the Hands Day.” (In part celebration of the last OT session this morning, in which we finalized my list of things needed to order on my own and also received a few new helpful tools for my finger function).

Take these hands and lift them up
For I have not the strength to praise You near enough
See I have nothing, I have nothing without You

Bebo Norman. “Nothing Without You.” Try. 

Around my birthday, my grandpa sent me a card with a beautiful picture on the front. It was one of those reprint cards where it was an artist’s painting…in this case a watercolor. Curious of the painter–figuring it was someone famous like Monet–I flipped it over and the first thing I notice is how sloppy the artist’s signature looked. My mind is not fast to pick up on these things, but it took me a few minutes to make the connection (and also reading the description of the author) that this particular watercolor was not an ordinary watercolor. It was designed by this artist who painted it with his mouth as his hands were idle. My mouth just dropped. I would have never known if it had not been for the signature and description on the back. Come to think of it, up until that point, I don’t think I had ever known about that type of art work…only one exception would be Joni Eareckson Tada.

I googled a bit and found the Mouth and Foot Painting Artists website and soon found myself reading through the list of artist bios and pictures. Just astounding talent and artwork! http://www.mfpausa.com

The thing is at that point in time, my hands–although starting to weaken and numb–were very able to function “normal” (to borrow the term.) The thought came to mind that I should try a painting by using my mouth only, but never put the full effort into the idea as I was painting other canvases, especially for the show. Now that my hands have come to a point in major lack of motor skills and function, the mouth painting idea came back to mind. To fully appreciate  my hands, I wanted to “have none” for a painting. It was an eye-opening experience. (Although I did ‘cheat’ a tad, because I was home alone and had to set up, choose and squirt my paint using my hands, but the painting itself was all by mouth. Even my ‘Mel’ signature. It really gets to your neck after a while!)

I still say “good grief” in frustration tones at certain times during the day when my hands just become frustratable (yeah, I just made up a new word! 🙂 ) But in this season of learning to give thanks for everything–joys or trials–I am now seeing that my feeble hands are still strong enough to help me, so I can’t give up on them just quite yet.


I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. Psalm 16:8


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Paintings

Good grief

If someone asked me if there was a particular book I found myself returning to and rereading, I would have to answer: The Book of Psalms. Don’t get me wrong…I could say ‘The Bible’ as a whole, but even within the Bible, I am consistently in the Psalms. The Book of Psalms seems to cover every emotion of the human heart: anger, fear, sorrow, joy, peace, praise, questions…whatever situation I find myself in, I can find a Psalm to encourage, comfort or challenge my thoughts.

I am not sure what initially caught my attention to the phrase, but I started to note that “steadfast love” made a common appearance throughout the whole book. I recently restarted the Psalms, this time with the intent of not skipping around, but rather reading through the book in numeral order and making reference to the verses containing the phrase, “steadfast love.” I have just begun and realize that there will be many references by the time I reach Psalm 150. 🙂

Seeing, reading, hearing or writing certain phrases (or words) will cause them to get in your mind, and out of the reoccurrence, a habit of saying the phrases (or words) is most likely to follow. Habits like this are strange. It is not that I planned to get myself in phrase habits…it just happens.

The first time I think I started getting into phrase habits was when my sister started to use the term, “cutsie” in describing things. I started to say it, because I heard her say it. Once I got to college, I stopped saying the word. Then there was the term, “Cool beans.” What that means, I am not quite sure but I am glad I chose that particular phrase instead of “Dude.” For some odd reason, I never found myself sounding realistic when I said, “I know dude.” It would be as if I were quoting Janice from the Muppets, “Oh wow, like for surely.” Both were just not in my personality profile I suppose.

Last summer the word was “genius.” If I agreed with something: “Genius!” If I thought a point was well made in a conversation: “Genius.” If I learned something new or finally understood something that was trying to be communicated: “Genius.” Along the way, with my fascination for English/UK history growing, I then ventured to also stating, “brilliant” after my train of thoughts if “genius” had not already been spoken. Of course, I know where I got my word “brilliant” from: try not to laugh but it is the truth–Yzma, off of Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove. Truth spoken. 🙂 [And if you haven’t seen the movie…you must!]

As of the present, my phrase is “Good grief.” I have no idea where this came from–I don’t even read the cartoon Peanuts either.



The phrase itself is neutral; the context of how I say it is when it differs from a plain mutter to a complete mode of venting my frustration. I don’t apply it to people as I did the word, “genius’, but rather I find this time my phrase habit is associated with my physical state. I run into the wall as I turn the corner: “Good grief” (muttered). I can’t get my bobby pins in my hair or my pants buttoned: “Good grief!” (with tone of frustration and a slight, ‘ugh’ added.) I spill something, drop something or can’t get something open: “Good grief” (sort of in whinny tone). These are just a few…but my reoccurrence of the phrase has me once and for all thinking in my mind: “Good grief…why can’t I stop saying this phrase?”

I have tried. Then I catch myself saying it again and it starts to play like a broken record in my mind. I am not sure how to break myself from this phrase habit. I have before with the others but this time since I am sincerely trying to stop the habit, I find it more continual. So as I read the Psalms yesterday, the thought dawned on me that if I see, read, hear, or write a phrase that a habit of saying it will be more likely to follow.

I may not walk around and say, “steadfast love” after every sentence, but it could very well be a map of a new habitual phrase. In seeking the continual reminder of God’s steadfast love, I hope to find that in the end all of my ‘good griefs’ will fade to where only His goodness remains.

Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.

Psalm 33:22 ESV


Filed under Adjusting to NF2, Books and Movies, Family Times