Wednesday, May 31, 2017

What Made Mister Rogers So Special


It's been 50 years since the debut of one of the greatest television shows of all time: Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.  And this past week sparked a new interest in the creator and star of the show himself, Fred Rogers.

Perhaps you saw this photo, which was shared widely after the horrific Manchester bombings:


Just as he had done many times in the course of half a century, Mr. Rogers was helping people with his kindness and his wisdom.

I was one of the lucky kids who got to be one of Mr. Rogers' neighbors from the very beginning. I was born in September 1963, so I was four and a half years old when the show debuted on National Educational Television in February 1968. I watched the show from the very first, and it quickly became my favorite. I didn't go to kindergarten, so I got to see lots of episodes before I began first grade. But I didn't stop watching after I started school, either.

I remember clearly one day when I was in second grade. I had been nominated for a small honor at school, and I, along with several other nominees, had to complete an interview with a panel of judges. One of the questions asked of us was "What is your favorite TV show?" There were lots of good shows on the air at that time, but I didn't have to think twice about my favorite. "Mister Rogers," I answered immediately (For whatever reason, I never called the show Mister Rogers' Neighborhood back then.)

All the other nominees laughed at me for that. They named popular nighttime shows like The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family and called me a baby for still watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. I liked those nighttime shows, too, but I wouldn't give up Mister Rogers, not even if other kids thought I was silly for watching it.

When I was in third grade, I asked for three particular items for Christmas: a Crissy doll with hair that grew, Barbie's Country Camper, and Mr. Rogers' Songbook. As you can imagine, Crissy and Barbie didn't last too long, but look what's still on my living room bookshelf, 45 years later:


Maybe by third grade I was older than the intended audience for watching Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. But I wasn't too old to absorb the lessons I learned there, to soak in the kindness and goodness that Mr. Rogers presented.

So I loved my songbook, singing along with such iconic tunes as "Won't You Be My Neighbor?":


And "It's Such a Good Feeling":


Fred Rogers, who studied music composition as an undergraduate, wrote these songs and many others. My favorite, though, was "Everybody's Fancy." Since I was born with a mild birth defect, I struggled with issues of self-esteem. Hearing Mr. Rogers say "Your body's fancy and so is mine" was balm to my heart.


There was something special about Mr. Rogers, for sure. And people who knew him or had the chance to talk with him personally testify that his television behavior was no act—he really was kind, caring, and wise. This past week a personal story of one man's encounter with Mr. Rogers has gone viral. (If you haven't already, you really should read about it.)

That fact shouldn't be surprising, for Fred Rogers was a devoted follower of Jesus. Early in life he considered becoming a pastor, but he became fascinated with television and wanted to do something with that new medium that would be good for people's souls. But after he began working in the television industry, he entered seminary as a part-time student. It took him eight years to complete his degree, but he earned an M.Div. and was ordained in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

In a March 2000 interview with Christianity Today writer Wendy Murray Zoba, Fred Rogers told a story of his most beloved seminary professor, Dr. William S. Orr.

"I studied Greek with him and then I studied New Testament with him. Every Sunday, my wife and I used to go to the nursing home to visit him. One Sunday we had just sung 'A Mighty Fortress Is Our God' and I was full of this one verse. I said, 'Dr. Orr, we just sang this hymn and I've got to ask you about part of it.

"'You know where it says—The prince of darkness grim, we tremble not for him. For, lo, his doom is sure. … one little word will fell him? Dr. Orr, what is that one thing that would wipe out evil?'

"He said, 'Evil simply disintegrates in the presence of forgiveness. When you look with accusing eyes at your neighbor, that is what evil would want, because the more the accuser'—which, of course, is the word Satan in Hebrew—'can spread the accusing spirit, the greater evil spreads.' Dr. Orr said, 'On the other hand, if you can look with the eyes of the Advocate on your neighbor, those are the eyes of Jesus.'

"I've never forgotten that. . . ."

"Every time I walk into the studio, I say to myself [as a prayer], 'Let some word that is heard be Yours.' The Holy Spirit translates our best efforts into what needs to be communicated to that person in his or her place of need. The longer I live, the more I know it's true," he says ("Won't You Be My Neighbor?" Christianity Today, March 6, 2000).

Fred Rogers never talked about his faith on Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Instead, he did something far more powerful: he lived by faith, and he treated every person with the kindness and compassion of Christ. 

Mr. Rogers died in 2003 after a battle with stomach cancer, never having forgotten to look with the eyes of Jesus on his neighbors. 

The gospels tell us that when Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He answered: 
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (see Matthew 22 and Mark 12). 

Mr. Rogers learned from Jesus to love his neighbors. Then he made all of us his neighbors.


You know, we often refer to all the people who write or read blogs or social media posts as a community. Maybe we'd do better to think in terms of neighborhood. With the internet our neighborhood spans the globe, but the wisdom of Fred Rogers—the wisdom of Jesus—is needed now more than ever, don't you think?

Jesus is alive today, ready to teach us to be good neighbors. I want to learn. Maybe we can learn together to make our online world a vast, loving neighborhood.

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you.
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.
So let's make the most of this beautiful day
Since we're together we might as well say:
Would you be mine?
Could you be mine? 
Won't you be my neighbor?
Won't you please, won't you please?
Please won't you be my neighbor?


I'm joining these wonderful parties:


Thursday, May 25, 2017

Grace at Home No. 251


Hello, friends, and welcome to this week's Grace at Home party!

My head is spinning at the thought that this is the last Thursday of the month of May. When you get to be my age, you know that time flies, but honestly this year has just whizzed by!

Here are some links from last week's party I thought you might enjoy.

Kristi from Making It in the Mountains remodeled her powder room into a beautiful farmhouse space. Wait 'til you see the before photo; you'll be amazed at the transformation!


Jaclyn at One Thousand Oaks needed a console table in a particular size, so she built this beautiful table herself! She provides a complete tutorial for building your own.


Jolena at While I Linger transformed a living room from a dark, dated space to a light, welcoming room.


Leslie at From Playdates to Parties provided 40+ printables for Father's Day. Hard to believe that's just a few weeks away, isn't it?


Patti from Pandora's Box shared the sweetest story I've read in a long time--you'll want to read her lilac story!

Michele Morin from Living Our Days provided a review of a new book by Ann Swindell, Still Waiting, that you won't want to miss.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Thursday, May 18, 2017

Grace at Home No. 250


Hello and welcome! I'm so glad you're here for this week's Grace at Home party.

I can't believe that this is the 250th Grace at Home party I've hosted. I number them each week just to differentiate the titles, but it's fun to see that we've been hanging out here for that long. I'm so grateful to each person who participates.

Here are some links from last week's party that caught my eye:

Carrie from Thirty-Eighth Street explains how to find, repair, and re-do secondhand furniture. Lots of great tips here.


Ash from Just Measuring Up installed a DIY sail shade over his patio, and he provides a step-by-step tutorial for making your own.


Penny from Penny's Vintage Home showed how she transformed her garden lounge chairs for just a couple of dollars. If you like shabby chic style, you'll love Penny's place!


Jas from All That's Jas shared a recipe for 15-minute Spanish garlic shrimp. Doesn't this look delicious?


Karen at Growing in Grace and Knowledge shared some inspiring thoughts about trusting God and resting in Him.


And I shared some thoughts about what's going on in my life and how I've been thinking about the way we all need one another. I'd love for you to read my post called "When You Think Your Heart Might Burst" and let me know your thoughts.



A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Wednesday, May 17, 2017

When you think your heart might burst


The ups and downs of life don't follow a calendar.

Joys and sorrows, triumphs and disasters keep their own timetable, don't they? Just when you think your heart can't handle anything else, something else comes along.

In the past few days, I've experienced more joys than anyone deserves. My youngest son just finished his second year of college, where he made the Dean's List last semester. My middle son just learned that he was accepted to a highly competitive graduate program.

On Mother's Day, my middle son prepared the most delicious brunch I've ever eaten. Here's a photo he posted on Instagram:
Later that day, my beloved Uncle Richard (my mother's younger brother, for whom I was named) and Aunt Laura came to visit me. It had been years since I'd seen them, so I was overjoyed to have them here.


Today is my oldest son's 26th birthday, and he is at home today to celebrate. He's about to start Advanced Flight Training with the U.S.Navy, so his being here for his birthday is a big deal.


It's hard to contain all the happiness this May!

Yet there have been other times when I've wondered if my heart could contain all the sadness or stress instead of happiness.

Like that year when my mother died two days before Thanksgiving.

Or when my husband had major open-heart surgery just a few months after our son had major open-heart surgery.

Or the time that I posted this photo on Instagram:

Exactly one week later, my 21-year-old son had a stroke.

The truth is that the happiness and the sadness are sometimes too much to handle.

In those stressful times, I've often heard people say, "Don't worry; God will never give you more than you can handle." And while I appreciate their intentions, that's simply not true. They may think they're quoting scripture, but the passage (I Corinthians 10:13)  actually says this:

"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. 
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. 
But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."

So there is a promise that you will not face more temptation than you can bear. But hardship, difficulty, adversity? No. There is no promise that you will not face more hardship than you can bear. 

Whether from happiness or sadness, there's no guarantee that your heart will be able to take what comes your way in this life. The good news, of course, is that you'll never face more hardship than God can bear. God's grace is sufficient to our needs, whatever they are.

And God has arranged a way for you to handle things. The beautiful triune God created us to live in relationship with one another.  So when Romans 12:15 says "Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep," it's not just good advice. It's imperative.

Even as I was counting my blessings and enjoying an amazing Mother's Day this week, there were many women and men—my sisters and brothers—who were barely hanging on.

As I celebrate my son's birthday today, there are many women and men—my sisters and brothers—who are reeling from the death of a child.

God help us, we can't do this alone. 

We shouldn't try. We were not made to do it alone. We were made to live in real relationship. Jesus made that life available to us, and the Holy Spirit provides the power to do it.

Is your heart so full it feels as though it will burst? Are you experiencing more happiness or sadness than you can hold? Please share your story. Let's do this together.



Thursday, May 11, 2017

Grace at Home No. 249


Hello and happy Thursday! Welcome to this week's Grace at Home party. I'm so glad you're here to celebrate the ways we make our homes places of grace and beauty.

Here are some links from last week's party I think you'll enjoy:

Kristi from Making It in the Mountains provided us with more than 20 FREE farmhouse printables. Such a great way to add a special touch to your decor!

Speaking of printables, Leslie at From Playdates to Parties is giving away free printable tags for Mother's Day--just in time!


Roberta from A Little Bit of Everything shared a great idea: she made an end table from coffee table books! She stacked them to the desired height and topped them with glass. Isn't that clever?


Kendra from Joy in Our Home shared a recipe for lemon squares (one of my favorite bar cookies!) that looks easy but oh so yummy!


Amy from Wasteland to Graceland started on series on practicing the presence of God. This is sure to be helpful!


As for me, I shared some fun news from our family that's been keeping me quite busy: we bought a little place in the mountains! I'd love for you to take a look and give me your best advice.


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!





Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fun news to share


I've been keeping a secret for the past several weeks, and I'm excited today to share it with you.

Most of you know that I live in Durham, North Carolina, which is a wonderful, beautiful place to be most of the year. We love North Carolina, and we really like Durham, but this area of the state (the Piedmont) is hot in the summertime. As in H.O.T. And humid as well. Ugh.

So for years now we've dreamt of a place to get away from Durham in the summertime. We've looked at so many different places over the years, but never found just the right spot.

And then last summer my husband took a fly-fishing class in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. We rented a condo there and I went with him—not to fly fish, just to hang out in Blowing Rock. I've been a fan of Jan Karon's since 1993, so it wasn't hard to convince me to spend some time there. Besides, I love the Blue Ridge Mountains. Something about them speaks deeply to my soul.

Here's a sunset photo I took. You can tell these mountains are old, can't you?


One thing led to another, and we ended up looking at various properties in the Blowing Rock area. And I am so excited to tell you we ended up buying a condo there this spring!

A condo is a good choice for us. Although it affords less privacy and less space than a cabin or house, it also involves less work. We want a place to get away and relax, not to get away and do yard work.

I shared this photo on Instagram back in March. This was the view outside the dining room windows of the condo:


That beautiful view was my reward for having just moved this stuff into the condo all by myself:


Here's what's been happening. The condo was partially furnished when we looked at it—beautifully staged by a local interior designer. She has furnished the living room, dining room, and master bedroom. In fact, she offered a package deal for us to purchase that furniture, but even the discounted price was $30,000 (yikes!). We politely declined and I set to work furnishing things.

The photo above is mostly kitchen equipment and basic bedding, some of which we already owned and some of which I bought (thank goodness for the great deals at Amazon and Target). We want the condo to be a fully-functioning second home, so we're trying to equip it thoroughly. . . but it's amazing how much stuff you need to outfit a kitchen!

We ordered beds to be delivered immediately after we took possession, so at least we had a place to camp. But beds were pretty much all we had for awhile. Here's how the living room looked on the first night:


And the kitchen:


As you can see, the only furniture at this point was a little barstool! But if you look closely you can see a coffee maker and toaster as well as my ancient KitchenAid mixer. (When I won a new KitchenAid several years ago, something told me I should hang on to the old one!)

We've come a long way since then, and I'll post some photos with furniture soon. We've spent a couple of weekends happily hiking mountain trails and visiting antique stores. Here's my favorite find so far:


It's a classroom pull-down map from the 1940's. Isn't it fun? The surface can be written on with chalk; maybe we should label Durham and Blowing Rock.

I guess it's fair to say that what's been keeping me busy lately is a dream come true—a little getaway of our own. The best part is that it's less than three hours from our house, so we can enjoy it often.

Thanks so much for allowing me to share my fun news. Now, I could use your help! Do you have any tips for furnishing a home-away-from-home? I'd love to hear them!

Joining Inspire Me Tuesday at A Stroll Thru Life

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Grace at Home No. 248


Friends, I can scarcely believe another week has flown by! I have so much to tell you—a couple of fun things have been happening in my life that have taken up a lot of time—I'll share all about that next week!

For now, though, I'm so glad you're here for the Grace at Home party, where we celebrate all the ways we make our homes places of grace and beauty. Here are a few of my favorite picks from last week's party.

Lindsey at Repurpose and Upcycle created a simple, do-able LEGO storage/play table. I'll be honest: because of our youngest son's LEGO review business (read all about it here), our house contains so many LEGO sets that we'd need one of these in every room to contain them all. But for normal people, this would be awesome!


Leslie from Lamberts Lately explains her secrets to paperless organization. I've wanted to get rid of the paper in our home, but I'm clueless about how to get started. This post is really helpful!


Springtime brings lots of houses on the market in our area. If you're planning to put your house up for sale, you'll want to check out these tips from Eileen of Just Measuring Up. She and her husband sold their house in less than a week!


Amy from A Day of Small Things shared a recipe and step-by-step photos for making rosemary focaccia. I'm going to try this!


April from April Knapp wrote a beautiful, inspiring prayer of thankfulness to the Good Shepherd.  I love reading prayers, don't you?


A big thank you to everyone who joined last week's party!  I'm so grateful for each person who links up each week. If you've been featured, feel free to grab the "I was featured" button.  I'd be so proud if you displayed it!


Now for this week's party!  Grace at Home is a place for you to share anything related to making your home a place of grace. I invite you to link posts about
  • DIY projects
  • decorating
  • recipes
  • hospitality
  • homemaking tips
  • parenting
  • marriage
  • faith
  • self-care
  • soul care
Whatever you do to make your home a place of grace, I'd like to hear about it.  Here's what I ask of you.  Please include the permalink to your post, not your blog's home page.  Please let people know that you've linked up.  No more than three posts per person, please.  Note that if you link a post here, you are giving me permission to share your post, including a photo.  And visit at least one of the other party participants--that's what really makes it a party!