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Bio: Verily Valerie

Valerie is a 42-year-old, single, Reformed Christian lady who lives in Baltimore. She doesn't remember a time before she knew and loved Jesus, but she does remember accepting John Calvin into her heart in March of 2000. Valerie is a member of Christ Reformed Evangelical Church in Annapolis.

Though her career aspiration is to be a housewife, Valerie has not yet found anyone suitable who wishes to hire her for employment in that field (or, more properly, anyone suitable has not found her), so in the meantime she earns her daily bread working in communications -- editing, writing, print design and website management.

valerie [at] kyriosity [dot] com


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Thursday, June 26, 2008 AD

Better Than Reality TV
Today, still home sick, I watched some more reality TV, but then switched to some lectures and sermons by Jim Wilson. As with his book How to Be Free from Bitterness, which was transcribed from his lectures, I get to a certain point and hit a wall in my understanding of what Pastor Wilson the More Venerable has to say -- right about when it comes time to apply it. But I'm pretty sure the problem is with my heart, not with his teaching. I wish I had someone to listen along with me and walk me through (or beat me on the head through) learning the basic, practical Christian living stuff he teaches.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 8:36 PM • Permalink Links to this post 4 comments

Wednesday, June 25, 2008 AD

Reality TV
After not having a television for a few years, I finally caved in and started watching some shows online. Today, home sick, I ran out of episodes of The Rockford Files and started poking around for something else. I settled on a reality show. No, I won't tell you which one. It was amazing. There were all of my sins right there in living color for all the world to see. Mercifully, other people were the ones humiliating themselves in front of millions of viewers, but they might as well be portraying me. Scariest thing I've ever seen!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9:18 PM • Permalink Links to this post 0 comments

Tuesday, June 24, 2008 AD

Tiffany's at Breakfast
Mom asked me a couple days ago if I wanted my birthday/Christmas present in June or September. Although my birthday's in August and Christmas is obviously in December, these were actually not irrational options as I was there in June and she'll be here next in September. She knew my answer without waiting for it -- I like presents, and the sooner, the better! So yesterday at breakfast she handed me a small gift bag in which was a small package. "I like small packages!" I noted. I opened one end of the paper and recognized the dark green box inside.

In the early '60s, a friend and mentor of mom's had died leaving almost everything to charity. Only a couple items were designated in her will. Since she was always clear about her intentions, Mrs. Sevier, a relative by marriage to Tennessee's first governor, managed to avoid "friends" who were only interested in her money. Mom, loving as she does out of no self-interest, was simply grateful for the guidance she'd received as a timid 22-year-old farm girl come to work in Baltimore. Expecting nothing, she received from the estate some cash, with which she purchased the piano I still have, and an antique Tiffany's blue enamel and diamond watch pendant on a gold and diamond chain (similar to this, but a little more elaborate). Expecting to receive it some years hence, after my mother has died, I instead received it yesterday.

This morning I began an online hunt for earrings I could wear with it, and was delighted to find these, which I think will match just about right. They'll be my birthday/Christmas present to myself, perhaps, though I will have to be patient for that present, as I need to pay off some car repairs before indulging in jewelry!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 12:25 PM • Permalink Links to this post 2 comments

Thursday, June 19, 2008 AD

Video and Audio of Corrie Ten Boom
Sorry about Mr. Smarmy, but this was the only video I could find of Corrie.

And here is a page of audio recordings.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10:26 AM • Permalink Links to this post 2 comments

Monday, June 16, 2008 AD

Of Course.
"I'll Fly Away" is just the ticket. Mom called and relayed the magic word from Amy: bluegrass. "Can't she think of something for a country boy?" Yes, I'm a little slow, but I think I can! Now I just need to figure out how to play bluegrass by Saturday. And find a decent chord chart. And learn the melody, 'cuz I always sing the harmony along with Allison Krauss!

But I still won't be able to sing it without crying....
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 10:06 PM • Permalink Links to this post 1 comments

Sunday, June 15, 2008 AD

E-Mail Balm from a Friend
I e-mailed a friend earlier today, and asked her, "I haven't the fist clue how to do grief. I'm just sort of feeling bewildered and alone. Is that what it's supposed to feel like?" Her response is what I needed to hear, especially the sentence I bolded:
Now I know why you have been on my mind so much. ... R--- said there was a death in your family. I am so sorry. This is hard, especially coming on the heels of your family friend. You know, Valerie, there is not a right way to grieve. Or a wrong way for that matter. It looks and feels different for everyone and it feels different from one experience to another. Sometimes the experiences build on one another and sometimes they are rolled up with the struggles we have in our everyday lives and we are just permeated with sadness. Death does not please God and He grieves along with us. That is my comfort. I know that in my sadness God desires and is pleased to comfort me. You know, "Jesus wept". What an incredible thing. He really understands the pain of loss and how we feel in the depths of our soul the finality of death. Don't try to second guess yourself during the process. Just cry and feel the way you feel. Be sad. It is o.k.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 11:57 PM • Permalink Links to this post 1 comments

What Should I Sing?
My cousin's husband died early yesterday morning. Junior (my mom was the only one who got away with calling him "Wayne"!) was big and strong and loud and jovial and wonderful. When he and my cousin, Amy wanted to marry, they eloped to Elkton, Maryland, where they didn't need a blood test. I suppose such a beginning doesn't generally portend much good, but I never once doubted that they had a good marriage. They carried on the sort of perpetual happy arguing that assured you they were, underneath it, in perfect agreement. Their daughter, Sarah, is closer to my age (I'm the youngest grandchild of 15 on that side, and Amy's one of the oldest, and Junior a few years older than her), so I grew up playing with her and other cousins in her generation when I was in New Hampshire on summer vacations. They used to get a Fresh Air kid in the summers, so Vivi was a part of my vacation for several years. One summer I went with Amy and Junior and Sarah to Maine for a few days. I have a photo somewhere of Junior caught reading one of my comic books on that trip. It was X-Men, so I must have been in high school by then. I remember learning to play canasta with them on that trip, though I've long since forgotten.

I hate cancer. I hate death.

Amy and Sarah have asked me to sing at the funeral...and to suggest a few possible songs. A hymn seems the likely choice (though I sang a folk song at my grandfather's funeral) I can't handle something as emotional as "Abide with Me" again. But then again, whatever I sing will probably leave me a basket case. A friend mentioned a couple weeks ago that she's told her family that if any of them dies before she does, "For All the Saints" is the only hymn to be allowed at the funeral, since it already makes her cry, and she doesn't want to start a whole collection of tear-inducing hymns! Here are some of the options I've thought of so far:
  • I sang a version of Psalm 23 at Nana's funeral, and I don't think I want to do that again, unless I pick a different version. (I think I sang Crimond last time. There's another tune I like -- I thought it was called St. James's Air, but I can't find it. Ah...there it is: Brother James' Air. I think I could pull that off without being maudlin. Actually, now that I think about it, I may have used that version at Nana's funeral.)
  • I really like "Jesus Lives and So Shall I," but that already makes me cry even when nobody's died.
  • Perhaps "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." Bob Bennett recorded a version of that, I think with guitar, that I really like. Of course I can't play that well, but perhaps I could figure out some simplified version. (Aha...the red Trinity Hymnal has guitar chords for Duke Street, and I think they're all ones I can play.)
  • I love "Be Still, My Soul," but I think I'd better not risk it.
  • "Amazing Grace"? I may be crazy to even consider it.
Any other suggestions? I think a reasonably familiar hymn would be best. Or maybe a Psalm with a tune that would be familiar to those unused to singing Psalms. Or maybe something I haven't thought of yet. I just need to give them a couple options soon to choose from. Ideas are welcome. But I want to have long since forgotten them all before the next time somebody asks me to sing at a funeral.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9:23 PM • Permalink Links to this post 3 comments

Friday, June 13, 2008 AD

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!
Surprise 1: The first one was on me. I was making a cake yesterday morning for a party Kenny was hosting last night. I had a batch of icing I needed to get rid of, and they seemed like a good cause. So I've slathered the cake with a ton of green icing, and instead of making any attempt to smooth it out, I made it as fluffy as possible. So fluffy it looked like fur. So I was quite surprised when my intended-to-be-plain cake demanded white fondant eyes and black icing brows and turned into Oscar the Grouch! Alas, I did not get a picture.

Surprise 2: I made another cake yesterday morning and brought it to the office to surprise my supervisor for her birthday. It was a mango cake with mango coconut cream cheese frosting -- an original recipe for a mango lover. I didn't get a slice because I had to run, but it got rave reviews. Once our department members had gotten their share, the leftovers were put out for public consumption and I'm told there was a buzz across the floor: There's a cake in the kitchen! It's a Valerie cake! But it's small, so hurry!

Surprise 3: The reasons I couldn't stick around to share the second cake were that a) I had to deliver the first cake, and b) I was trying to get to Kelly's house before Margaret left. Alas, I missed her by about an hour. Nobody was expecting me, or we might have managed better, but nor did there appear to be much consternation at my arrival. There were lots of hugs, but none so dramatic as the one from Mosey (third of Kelly's seven), who positively hurtled out the door and flung herself upon me. I think hurtling and flinging make the world a better place.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 3:08 PM • Permalink Links to this post 6 comments

Not So Bright
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 1:24 PM • Permalink Links to this post 3 comments

Tuesday, June 10, 2008 AD

Wonderful Paper from Jeff Meyers on the Lord's Supper
"Eating and drinking alone is sometimes necessary. But it is not normal. You may have to eat fast food in your car by yourself occasionally. But when there are other people at a common table eating with you, ignoring them is rude and anti-social. It's just plain weird. What would we think about a meal at home with everyone seated around the family table but no one speaks to anyone else? No one looks at anyone else. Everyone acts as if no one else is really present. What if everyone curled up to consume his or her own private meal in silence? We would think something is wrong. And we would be right. Now, by way of analogy, could it be that something is wrong with the way we perform the Lord's Supper in our churches?" (pp. 13-14)

So how should we administer the sacrament so that what actually happens is what the Lord intends to happen among his people? Let me suggest a few possibilities. Start with training people to stop curling up and bending inward during the Supper. Let them know it is okay to keep their head up and look around at others. It's more than okay; it is the best way to eat together. It is normal. Give them something to sing together, or better, to say to one another during the distribution. As they pass the bread to the person next to them, they could say, 'The Body of Christ given for you.' The one receiving might say, 'Amen,' or even 'Thank you.' As they pass the wine, 'The peace of Christ be with you.' The recipient could say, 'And also with you.' After they pass the bread and/or the wine they can greet the person behind them or in front of them. They might even -- gasp! -- chat with them for a moment about how they are doing. This would mean that the sanctuary would be filled with the noise of many joyful conversations around the room, surely even some laughter. The Supper would then be a ritual that the people of God actually experienced as the communal meal it is meant to be." (pp. 15-16)

"We confess that the grace we need as sinners comes from outside of us (extra nos). But when people come to the Table, the way we do the sacrament effectively teaches them to look inward for assurance. Our repeated and excessive emphasis on 'fencing the Table' has the effect of making it difficult for Christian people to find assurance at the Lord's Table. Our 'super fencing' tradition ends up asking people to be assured of their salvation before they come to the Table. Our 'super warnings' obscure the communal dimension of the sacrament, and in effect insure that each person is isolated and alone in his or her quest for assurance. Here, then, is a particularly serious example of the sacrament actually accomplishing something different or even at odds with what God intends because of our poor performance of the rite." (pp. 17-18)
Read or listen to the whole thing.
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9:09 PM • Permalink Links to this post 1 comments

Air Conditioning Outage: The Ugly, the Bad and the Good
The Ugly: My brother's power was out when he got home from running errands on Saturday. And he doesn't even have a car that would allow him to easily escape the heat. To him I proffer a virtual stay here.

The Bad: Abra and Ben's a/c was dead this weekend, but they were able to seek relief in the homes and pools of others.

The Good: The a/c was out at work yesterday, and our department manager let us all work from home. I'd be content for the a/c to be out at work every day if it meant not having to go there!
Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 9:36 AM • Permalink Links to this post 2 comments

Monday, June 2, 2008 AD

Eighty Percent Is Still a B, Right?
I made it through the first four stanzas of my solo at Miss Gloria's funeral before I lost it and had to whisperchoke my way through verse five.

Here's Miss Gloria with Mommy just a few weeks ago:

Thirty-some years ago in a VBS class, Miss Gloria handed out ice cream sandwiches without comment. Some kids, thinking it was a trick, didn't take one. If I recall correctly, I did take one. She used it as an illustration of grace -- an undeserved gift that is good and free. After the service, and the looooong journey to the cemetery (I missed most of the committal service because I had to run for the restroom in the cemetery office), and the trip back to the church, and lunch, Mom and I headed home. I stopped at the grocery store to buy ice cream sandwiches first, though. A few days before she died, Miss Gloria told my brother David, "I'll see you on the other side of the river." That's where the Promised Land is -- the land of milk and honey. Which reminded me of something Tim wrote once about milk + honey sounding like the beginnings of an ice cream recipe -- sweetness, fatness, deliciousness. Miss Gloria's grace illustration was more accurate than even she knew!

Here's David, by the way. His hair's never been this long, so MG and Mom teased him about looking like Jesus. But at least he's not as creepy as this!

[David asked me to remove the pic. Sorry.]

And while we're downloading pix from Mom's camera, here's "Little Eddie" -- to distinguish him from Uncle Eddie, Miss Gloria's brother. Of course he's just "Ed" now, but it's kinda funny to think of anybody calling him "Little Eddie" anymore. He visited Miss Gloria once or twice before she died, and left his motorcycle angel pin for her. I generally hate cheesy, sentimental stuff like that, but it was a kind gesture.

Posted by Valerie (Kyriosity) at 6:39 PM • Permalink Links to this post 2 comments

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