*Americana Vignette is a pen name. All rights, intellectual or otherwise, express or implied, are reserved by the original author/creator.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Failure, Forgiveness & Faith

I didn't intend to write a post tonight. As anyone can tell by looking over the infrequent posting history of this neglected blog, I'm not a dedicated writer. And today, it feels like just one more thing on the laundry list of things I don't do perfectly.
I failed in my 'no-speech' therapy today, even though co-workers were willing to help out and keep me from having to talk. Now my voice hurts.
I've failed in contentment, shedding tears over the desire to sing...and actually trying to sound out a few phrases, when I knew it wasn't a good idea. Of course my voice hurts.
I failed in trusting my God perfectly, not always resting in the truth that His plan is best.
But ya know what? Our heavenly Father loves sinful, fallen human beings. Jesus said that he didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. And right now, even in acknowledging my failures, I can run into the shelter of His wings, asking His forgiveness for my lack of faith...and knowing He cares for me as a father pities his children.
For that, I'm profoundly grateful.
And now, O Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in you. - Psalm 39:7

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Silent Treatment

I could call it The Silent December. Or maybe The Silenced Singer. Whatever I call it, it's weird.

I can't talk.

It's not that I can't actually force sounds out of my throat; it's that I've been medically advised not to do so. For someone who has spent their entire life living by sounds, this is the strangest trial I've ever experienced. It's Christmastime, and I can't sing. As a child singer, one of my favorite Christmas hymns was Silent Night, Holy Night...now as an adult, I'm acting a parody that could be called Silent Month, Holy Month. You see, in my world, I don't just listen to sounds--I live them. I mimic them, I mock them, I make them. What am I now? What are we, when our identity is taken away?  

You know how people sometimes play the game "If you had to choose..."? I've played it with friends before. Especially when it comes to which of your five senses you might have to do without as age steals away youth. But I didn't just choose; I begged God never to take away my hearing. I could live without sight, but to live trapped in a world without sound seemed unbearable. The one possibility I never considered, however, was losing my own ability to make sound. Sounds. Noise. Melody. Music...even simple, ordinary words. 

Of course, writing that string of one-word sentences above made me just ache to have sound burst through my wearied, rebelling vocal cords. Sheer discipline and the knowledge that religiously observing this self-denial is what might spare my voice for the rest of my life are the only things keeping me in check. As of this writing, I've been silent for almost 4 days. (Think of all of the verbal sins I won't have to account for!) And those four days have revealed things I'd never have noticed as my usual, admittedly verbose self. Here's a run-down of what I've been learning thus far:

1. I think too much of my own opinions.
To have to sit silently through days of conversations swirling around me has convinced me that I value my own opinion far too much. When I constantly have to suppress the urge to insert an opinion, I realize just how often I must give them in the normal course of a week. This is probably the only time in my life I will get to observe how interactions play out when my input is not given...whad'ya know! People can find the right answers without my help! Earthshattering realization. 

2. I am too hasty with my words.
It's easy to try to cover up an off-the-cuff comment when you can insert a teasing, playful comment immediately afterward. But when you're communicating via the written word, sometimes the cold hard force of the sentence strongly outweighs any intent of jest. And written apologies are much, much more difficult than verbal ones to get right! 

3. Communication is a gift.
The most beautiful thing about not being able to speak is learning to listen. Truly listen. To see the kindness of other people as they try to interpret my gestures; to hear the way that other people view life. As friends and co-workers kindly (or sometimes mischievously) try to speak on my behalf, I hear into their viewpoints in a way I never would've been able to do, speaking for myself. I'm given a glimpse into what they think about others, and what they would say if they were me, in a way that changes my perspective of the relational world. For this, I'm truly grateful.


All of that to say, that our identities are not all we crack them up to be. Shakespeare's often-abused quote is very apropos here: To be, or not to be: that is the question. Indeed; but so many people choose not to be, when circumstances don't go their way. In Ann Voskamp's words, choose joy*.  

Who am I? What is my identity? It's one that can't be defined by the sounds and silences of a tangible world. I'm a child of God. I'm a daughter of the King. I'm a princess of Heaven merely travelling this world...and that can't be taken away from me.  

I am Christ's. And He is my song.


-Americana M. Vignette

December 5, 2013




*The below article I located half-way through the writing of my own, above...and this lady's work in words brought tears to my eyes. Choose joy!




Thursday, November 14, 2013

Of Trees & Memories

Tis forever this way
As we go, day by day
'Hurry here', 'scurry there', grieve and toil;

True, while work is our lot
Still I thought me a thought
To take time for a stroll o'er the soil.

With a book in my hand
My gaze happened to land
On a tree, with its branches low-spreading

Then quick to my mind
Flew a moment in time
From my youth, so with book to tree heading.

From my vantage of years
Truly now I hold dear
These rare moments when leisure is mine

While the tree seemed to call
With the zephyr of fall
"Pray, make use of this afternoon fine!"

So for part of a day
While the leaves swirled and played
I became but a child again

And that tree gave me flight
On that fall day so bright
From the cares and the worries of men.

-Americana Vignette
November 14, 2013

Sunday, October 27, 2013

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

~Autumn Morning Muffins~

Reminiscent of coffee cake, but with a subtle hint of doughnut flavor from the nutmeg, these muffins have a soft, tender crumb. Best when eaten hot from the oven!

1 cup butter, softened
1 2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs
3 cups flour
1 T. baking powder
2 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk

Topping (optional):
1/2 cup rolled oats
1 T. butter, melted
1 1/2 T. brown sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon

Additional butter for greasing muffin tins (approximately 2 tablespoons).

Cream butter in large mixing bowl. Beat in sugar until texture is smooth. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Mix together dry ingredients. Stir into butter mixture alternately with sour cream and milk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. TOPPING: Stir cinnamon and sugar into melted butter, add oats and stir until well coated.

Liberally butter muffins pans. Spoon in batter, filling 2/3 full. Sprinkle topping on top, if desired. Bake at 375 for 18 minutes, or until very lightly browned. Yield: 2 dozen muffins.

Created October 15, 2013

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Substitute 2 cups golden whole wheat flour for each 2 1/4 cups white flour, dark chocolate chips for semi-sweet chocolate chips and use packed brown sugar in place of white sugar in your standard chocolate-chip cookie recipe. The results are amazing. Take these cookies to a get together, and typically come home with an empty plate!

God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas. And God saw that it was good.
There's something timeless and irresistibly majestic about the crashing rhythm of ocean waves. Generations pass from cradle to grave, and yet the whitecaps still rise and fall to the tune of each day, washing shores clean worldwide for new stories that are waiting to be told. Oh, if the rocks could speak...!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Just a tiny little child
Three years old,
And a mother with a heart
All of gold.

Often did that mother say,
Jesus hears us when we pray,
For He’s never far away
And He always answers.

Now, that tiny little child
Had brown eyes,
And she wanted blue instead
Like blue skies.

For her mother’s eyes were blue
Like forget-me-nots. She knew
All her mother said was true,
Jesus always answered.

 So she prayed for two blue eyes,
Said “Good night,”
Went to sleep in deep content
And delight.

Woke up early, climbed a chair
By a mirror. Where, O where
Could the blue eyes be? Not there;
Jesus hadn’t answered.

 Hadn’t answered her at all;
Never more
Could she pray; her eyes were brown
As before.

Did a little soft wind blow?
Came a whisper soft and low,
“Jesus answered. He said, No;
Isn’t No an answer?”

 -Amy Carmichael

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tried a quiche without a recipe the other day, and it turned out superbly! Trying to jot it down here so that I can re-create it, although the exact measurements are lost forever...

Large onion
Monterey-Jack cheese, finely shredded
Unbaked pie crust
Salt & pepper to taste

Saute onion in butter until lightly browned and carmelized; add spinich and cook just until wilted and moist. Beat eggs in a medium mixing bowl. Mix in milk. Stir in cooked vegetables and cheese. Pour into pie shell and bake at a low temperature until center is slightly firm.

Yield: 8 servings

Mary's Mississippi Cornbread Turkey Dressing

If you didn't make dressing (or stuffing, as some of us say) for Thanksgiving this year, then put this excellent recipe on the docket for Christmastime! The recipe was taught to me by a dear old Southern gentlelady, and I have tried to reduce it to a written version. The taste is full and rich.

1 13" x 9" pan of freshly baked cornbread
(make sure to use a non-sweetened recipe. I utilized a cornbread muffin recipe from the Southern Heritage cookbook series.)

1 large onion
2 celery hearts
4 T. butter

Neck and giblets of turkey
2 quarts water
Poultry seasoning to taste

Dice onions and celery; saute in butter. Boil neck and giblets of turkey in water to create broth. Crumble the cornbread into the base of your turkey roaster, mix in sauteed vegetables and moisten with broth. Add poultry seasoning to taste. Prepare turkey, and bake slowly (breast down) on top of the cornbread stuffing. The juices from the turkey will keep the dressing moist and flavorful.

Yield: about 20 servings
...[M]any of God’s people are constantly under apprehensions of calamities which will never occur to them, and they suffer far more in merely dreading them than they would have to endure if they actually came upon them. In their imagination, there are rivers in their way, and they are anxious to know how they shall wade through them, or swim across them. There are no such rivers in existence, but they are agitated and distressed about them. An old proverb says, “Don’t cross the bridge till you come to it;” but these timid people are continually crossing bridges that only exist in their foolish fancies. They stab themselves with imaginary daggers, they starve themselves in imaginary famines, and even bury themselves in imaginary graves. We are such strange creatures that we probably suffer more under blows which never fall upon us than we do under those which do actually come.

-Charles Spurgeon in Needless Fears June 11, 1874
There are few sounds more ominous to me than the rythmic, hollow thud of footsteps echoing down a hospital corridor.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If cloudy or sunshine or rain...
The Lord I know ruleth o'er everything,
And all of my worry is vain.
Living by faith in Jesus above
Trusting, confiding in his great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arm
I'm living by faith, and I feel no alarm.

Though tempests may blow and the storm clouds arise
Obscuring the brightness of life
I'm never alarmed at the overcast skies--
The Master looks on at the strife.
I know that He safely will carry me through,
No matter what evils betide;
Why should I then care though the tempest may blow
If Jesus walks close to my side.

Our Lord will return for His loved ones some day,
Our troubles will then all be o'er;
The Master so gently will lead us away,
Beyond that blest heavenly shore.

Classic hymn.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

In real life, there is no accompanying soundtrack to highlight significant moments. There is only quiet heroism, unsung and unseen.
In real life, there is no close-up of important scenes. Those scenes are only evident to the ones who observe.
In real life, there is no retake for mistakes made. There is only one lifetime apiece.