Saturday, December 30, 2006
She kept it secret until Christmas Day.
She spent over 100 dollars on supplies.
She emailed over 25 women to help her.
She made deadlines and extended them for those women. She directed their snail mail to my mom's address.
She spent the night with a friend who's an expert at this kind of gift-making.
She and that friend (Hannah, friends since birth) got little sleep that night, working from dinnertime till around 2 a.m.
She worked on it at my mother's house for hours and hours.
She fooled me into thinking it was a quilt or something like that she was hiding.
She wrapped it in a big, big box under a squishy pillow to add to the trickery on Christmas Eve.
She blessed me more than she'll EVER know. I couldn't hold in my joy--it came out in laughter and tears, on and off for an hour as I opened it.
She's my only daughter, Sarah Grace, to whom none can compare.
She sat beside me on the sofa for the big reveal.
A Friendship Scrapbook !!!
Here it is. I'll post a few pages at a time.
Staring at Page 1....
From Sacha (who did her own page)
and Barb (best friend since 3rd grade when I lived in Kansas)
Isabelle, my French friend and sister in Christ whom I "met" online after Katrina hit)
and my sister-in-law, Pat, also wrote touching letters to me....
My friends Therese and Bonnie shared fond memories. It's the little things people remembered that made me say, "That meant something to her? Wow."
Therese said it best when she described what she hoped I'd feel as I read this scrapbook. "May you curl up in the lap of the God of the Universe, lay your head on His chest, and hear His heart beat just for you."
Bonnie's handwritten, three-page letter is tucked into the lavendar envelope. A sample of it follows...
My friend Sandy Steward (from Ben's lacrosse games) and Danielle (dressed as a cute Norman Rockwell girl at my 40th birthday party)
You can click to enlarge any of the photos. I'll post more soon.
Such love. I can hardly believe this many people love me "Just As I Am." They do a whole lot of overlooking and forgiving, that's for sure. True friends.
The wreath sales have brought in nearly $450. (I am still waiting for donations of two people who ordered a wreath.) Some people donated who didn't need a wreath, and a bit of cash came at Christmas. I am so thankful.
Once again I realize God has given us faith for this trip that will cost $6000 plus traveling money for us both to go. Please keep praying.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
We had a wonderful Christmas:
*I received probably the single best present I've ever gotten in my life. Many of you had a LOT to do with it. You know who you are. It deserves its own post, which will happen very soon.
*My side of the family came over last evening. We haven't had what you'd call the traditional dinner for years, for whatever reason, which is fine. No one seems to mind what's on the menu, as long as it includes cookies. So we had a buffet of build-your-own enchiladas (which do look Christmassy with their white flour tortillas, red enchilada sauce and chopped green onion on top), plus some Spanish rice and applesauce. I completely forgot to take pictures of the family at the table. Waaa. I was too busy enjoying them.
*Paul wanted us to open one gift Christmas Eve. Not ordinary. But then again, these weren't ordinary gifts. He had written special notes for each one of us citing his appreciation for the qualities he sees in each of us, and how God is using us. I'm tellin' ya, it was a Hallmark commercial. Very, very special since he seldom speaks, let alone writes, what he really feels in a warm fuzzy way.
*Funniest memory: My dad often uses old-fashioned expressions in his everyday language. We kid him about things like "groovy" and "swell." And he is very "over the top" with verbal appreciation--a gusher, you could say. Well, he opened a generous gift certificate (yes, the paper kind) to Double T from Sarah. He beamed and said to my mom, "My oh my, Brenda, we can really make out there!" To which I said, "Please don't. Just eat."
So then every time they opened a gift card to some restaurant (perfect for their hobby of eating out), someone would say, "Are you gonna make out there, too?" I teased them that I don't really want to read in the Police Beat of the Pennysaver, "Local retired couple caught making out in a string of area restaurants."
More later about the BEST TANGIBLE GIFT I'VE EVER GOTTEN BESIDES MY BIBLE. IT's EVEN BETTER than my CAMERA!!!"
Saturday, December 23, 2006
A gnarled tree,
Bent by the winds
Seeking the sun.
but not lonely.
Boughs that bow
as if knowing they perform
for only One.
A child's hands.
Soft little fingers curled around an orange crayon,
Studying the next stroke,
Staying in the lines.
Boy's fingers in need of a good scrubbing
Most of the time.
My precious artist.
Storm clouds in the evening
Their hush announces the presence of God
in His heaven
Just in case you missed Him
When the sky was blue.
Squirrels frolicking in the trees
Stopping only to notice that winter
Must be coming.
"This playground of mine," says he,
"does not hide me as well as it once did."
"Maybe I should stop playing and get busy looking for
acorns to hide. Or maybe I'll just wait another day.
As for nuts, I think the lady taking this picture of me
is the biggest one around here. She thinks I don't notice
her, but I do."
Friday, December 22, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Monday, December 18, 2006
Let me explain. It was all in the perspective I chose this year.
In traffic I did not get impatient, even though at most intersections it took three "rotations" of the light before I got through. I just pretended we were all part of a big club and this is what we do. We form single file parallel lines and stay close together. We have multiple destinations but a single purpose.
When people honked at each other, I chose to think how cool it would be if we could all honk a Christmas carol during our wait times. My van horn is kind of medium-pitched, like a "G' above middle C. Most truck horns are deep,like a bass note; little sports cars hit the higher notes. I'd love to see a used car dealership do this someday--hire a crew to play a holiday tune on their lot, using car horns. I'd pay money to hear "Silent Night" like that one day. Of course, it would be a misnomer.
When I was wandering around perplexed about where "they" keep such-and-such in this particular store (I'm being vague since sometimes my kids read this blog), I was just thankful I had these kids to buy for. I was thankful for a decent budget, and for kids who really don't ask for much.
The only time I had ill feelings was when I was in this same store and was ushered to Register 6 with just three things in hand, but these two women jumped line (actually "staggered" into it with blinders on is more like it--I don't think they realized there WAS a line, or else there were pretending to be oblivious). Between them they had a stack of clothes a good foot and a half high. When the young, clean-shaven cashier was almost finished taking the last shirt off the hanger, one of the women asks him, "Do you have such and such kind of socks?" He says yes and tells her where they are. What a nice guy. (Do you see my tongue lodged solidly in my cheek?) Lady says "Ill be back in a sec. " Well, I don't know what planet she comes from, but on this one, a sec is not time enough to ring up a pack of gum, let alone get out of a line (that one has jumped/staggered into to start with) and go hunt for socks.
She comes back and the package says "7 Socks, 7 Days." Whoa! No kidding. Boy, nowadays companies, not fourth-grade teachers, teach ratios to consumers who can't figure that out on their own. But then again, maybe her kids get 3 days out of 7 pairs of socks. Or maybe they go thru 7 in 3 days."
My mind was not, in case you couldn't deduce, set on things above.
The lady asked if the shirts ever went on sale and the guy says, "Never." What? Buy something not on sale? Are you kidding? But she did. " That'll be $503.44, please." he says to her. I'm thinking 500 bucks is a bit excessive to spend on something that doesn't do the dishes or take out the trash or take pictures of someone taking out the trash.
When she was gone, I was next. The guy says, "How are you today?" Wrong question.
I should just say "fine." My daughter works retail and says she hears all kinds of negative stuff when she just asks, "How are you?"
But I add something like, "I'd be better if those ladies had stood in line. I was called over here and they just slid in ahead of me."
No, I'm making it up just to be nasty, of COURSE REALLY! (That's what I was thinking, but what I said was, "Maybe they didn't realize there was a line.")
Poor kid. He's just a cashier, not a cop. Sometimes I think if I wasn't a mom I would be a cop. Come to think of it, every mom I know is a cop. I've got so much practice maybe I should think about changing careers and actually get paid to be a cop. I'm all about the rules. Not keeping them, just enforcing them. You know, like a good Pharisee. People could call me POP--Pharisee on Patrol. Course, answering to 'Pop" would be mighty, um... weird.
"That'll be eighty-seven dollars and thirty-five cents, please." Pop's mind jolted back into Mom mode. I'm thinking 87 bucks is a bit excessive to spend on something that doesn't do the dishes or take out the trash or take pictures of someone taking out the trash.
But besides my sinful response at that one store, I was a happy Christmas shopper. I was thrilled that cashiers are saying "Merry Christmas" this year. And I am happy that songs which mention Christ the newborn King still dominate the airwaves in malls and on honker-bonker highways.
How about you? How's your perspective today?
Saturday, December 16, 2006
First time: Tuesday. Sarah went for her driver's license. I went with her for the 11:00 appointment. She did beautifully. Thanks for praying. She said the parallel parking was easy--the fastest and easiest time she's ever had with it. And the picture on her license is good, too.
So she was perfectly bubbling when we got in the car to come home. I checked my cell phone; had missed 3 calls--all from Paul. "I guess he's eager to hear," I told Sarah.
"Tell him I failed," she said. "He was so nervous for me."
"Want me to?" I felt a prank coming on. Sarah was driving.
Ring, ring. He answers his cell.
Me: Hi. Did you call me? I had to turn off my phone in the DMV.
Him: Yeh, I wanted to know how Sarah did.
Me (muffling my voice as if pretending not to embarrass Sarah): Um, it wasn't good.
Him: No? Why? What happened? Was it the parallel parking?"
Me: Yeh, she hit the poles.
Him: I can't hear you very well. She hit the pole? Which one, the back one or the front one?
Me (keeping voice low): Both of them.
Him: Both? You're serious? Aw, man, she must've felt terrible.
Me: She was red in the face and wouldn't look at me. You know how she tries not to cry in public.
Him: Bummer. So she hit both poles?
Me: Yeh, coming AND going.
(Sarah is "losing it" at the wheel.)
Him: I can't hear ya. I'll call ya right back.
Sarah (laughing a hearty belly laugh): "Oh, Mom! You got him. Did he have to hang up?"
Me: Yeh, static or something.
Him: So how is she now?
Me: (can't bear it any more, laughing hard, really hard.) I'm kidding. I am totally kidding. She passed with flying colors.
Him (Silence. Then...) You're bad. I'm gonna kill you. You are SO bad.
Next prank: tonight he was cutting his hair in the bathroom. I thought he looked cute, which would have inspired a picture normally, but I wasn't sure how I'd pull it off. So I was putting away clean socks and underwear. I took a bunch of dark pairs and wadded them up sort of camera shaped. (My camera is a heavy-ish digital SLR, so I made my "wad" look like that. )
Then I held my "camera" the way I always do, popped into the bathroom and "shot" him.
Oh, man, he jerked the scissors and comb down so fast, gave me a threatening look, then I said, "Gotcha!" I licked my first two fingers , held them up and said, "Twice! Twice in one week!" Oh, it feels good.
He said if I ever take a picture of him cutting his hair, he'll take a picture of me cleaning our room.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Or when handling baby clothes from long ago, thinking, "I remember when he wore this. Can't believe he was ever so little!" My husband's mom, who died 20 days before our wedding, had buried Paul's brother the year before her own death. I wonder if she was remembering the day he was born soon after they told her Gary was dead. He was 33.
I was reading this morning in John 19. Joseph of Aramathea has asked Pilate's permission to take Jesus' body and bury it. Nicodemus joins him, and brings 75 pounds of spices and burial ointments, aloe and such. Can't you just feel their agony as they rub lanolin on the Lamb of God and dab cleansing creams on the deep wounds of their bloody Savior and friend Yeshua?
After they cleaned His body and applied the comforts and sealers for his burial, they wrapped him in swaddling clothes and laid him a tomb. Linens that must have looked like giant bandages around His torn flesh. Carefully they pulled out the deep thorny wreath from his scalp. They dressed the gouge in his ribs where blood and water had dripped out from the site where the soldier's sword had pierced him. They had to be careful and yet hurry. It was almost sundown. Sabbath was nearly upon them and they couldn't touch a dead body on the sabbath. . In fact this was no ordinary sabbath. This was Passover. They had to get home and prepare for the supper of lamb.
Mary his mother had seen them take down her son's naked body from the cross. What to put on him? Soldiers had already cast lots for his unique purple garment that had no seams. It was woven from top to bottom without a seam. But now it was gone. Sold to the lucky winner wearing Roman armor and carrying a sword. Maybe a blood-tipped sword.
Can you imagine being Jesus' mother Mary and having flashbacks to that evening 33 years before, when she was about to give birth? Her water broke. There was bloody show. She didn't have a lacy white layette for him or a ruffled bedskirt for his crib. His crib was a common, animal-slobbered feed trough, probably splintered from wear. He took His first breath in a barn filled with the very animals He had filled with breath. His mother nursed him--the Bread of Life--and set Him down in a place where young colts and donkeys and sheep took their daily sustenance. Mary probably brushed out the crumbs of grain and prickly hay as best she could between contractions. I remember thinking in the hospital, "This place is so clean. I can't imagine giving birth in any other country." I remember thinking also, "I hope the baby clothes I brought will fit him."
But Mary had no proper baby clothes. She wrapped her infant boy in grave clothes. Linens that accompany last rites. I'm sure it was one of those many things she kept and pondered in her heart. Her baby boy came into this world soaked in blood and water. Her adult son came down from the cross the same way. His swaddling clothes weren't proper for the Son of God, but they were fitting.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I can't help but find typos. I see them in stores, in church, on packaging, in my blogs and everyone else's. I see typos like a neat freak sees something out of place, or an accountant who spots numerical errors on a ledger.
Some typos are hilarious, particularly ones on official sites. Here is what I read on the MVA Maryland website:
""Maryland's Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) does a pretty good job decimating information, but DMV.ORG goes a step further."
Boy, if they can decimate information, I hate to know what going "a step further" would mean.
They can't even disseminate the right word. That's the government for ya. Trying to impress us with egg on their phace.
Sunday, December 10, 2006
For those who are curious about "what I am" (Jewish? Messianic? Christian?), I will attempt to answer, as best I can: Jewish by birth,Christian by rebirth. Along with that question "what are you?", others have come up regarding the holidays: what do I/we celebrate this time of year, and why?
Simply, I grew up in a Christian home, but had probably the most ecumenical experiences a Christian young person could have. Here is a nutshell chronology of my "religious" upbringing:
1)Age 5: I was baptized in a Baptist church, attended evangelical Christian school from grade 5-10 (and public schools the other years), with a few years at a Methodist church during my youth.
2) Age 6-10. My dad was ordained Baptist in Missouri, but the only job he could find in the Midwest was at a little United Methodist church in Alden, KS. The two best years of my childhood were spent there. I made two good friends, one who has been lifelong (Barb) and we talk every week. I loved watching my dad in his role as a pastor. He is gifted with a thirst for understanding scripture, he is compassionate, he gives good counsel when asked for it (but doesn't push), is not judgmental, and genuninely loves people.
3) Age 11-14 Back in Maryland, we attended Mt. Zion Methodist Church. Methodist charismatic was a big switch, but I loved it. Our youth leaders were Jim Lilley and his young wife, Sharon. Their daughter, Heather, was 3. Their ministry had a huge impact on me as a young teen. Their love for the Lord and His people was unmistakable. Nothing "churchy" about them. We now attend the same church (they for over 20, us for over 10).
4) Late teens: my family joined Calvary Baptist in Bel Air. I stayed there till I left for college. (Later Paul and I were married there. Twenty years ago this December 28th!)
5) For a short summer of my teens, my parents pushed my older sister and me to attend a Jewish youth group for a while. (Met on Saturdays, I think). I remember little about it except impressions: the kids were mostly rich snobs who never mentioned Jesus (except when cursing) and their lives seemed vain and empty.(No wonder.) Their "services" in the synagogue were formal and dull, but again, I loved the sound of Hebrew sung a capella. At their retreat Rachel and I attended, I saw mostly self-centered worldliness, and their mention of God was mostly in conjunction with either tradition or, again, cursing. I really felt like an outsider. I was. The only thing we had in common was our heritage and big noses. And our love of money, except they had a lot and we didn't.
On Sunday mornings I liked going to our Protestant church. In the evening, Episcopal youth group! Spirit-filled Pentecostal type Episcopalian services in God's country-- Darlington, Maryland, where I met a beautiful Christian girl named Kelly. She was the only believer in her family, until her older sister met the Lord. That's when I first came to get an understanding of genuine, daily life relationship with Jesus, outside my own home, through a couple of women at Grace Episcopal: Nan Connor, Bruce Muller-Thym. (Yes, a woman named Bruce.) I was also a singer in a band this youth group formed in the pastor's garage. We sang mostly Phil Keaggy music, which I love to this day. The leader was the pastor's son, full of sweet godliness. For a while I wanted to marry him.
6) Age 18: Got a good scholarship to a Catholic college in Greensburg, PA. Accepted it. I had no idea that Catholicism was so far removed from what I knew about grace and Jesus. The only time I went "to church" was to Mass was when I felt far from God--and guilty, or when I felt really near to God--and "good" or wanted to hear the Bible being read. (I never saw Catholic girls actually read the Bible, but they heard soundbites of the New Testament from priests.) I also loved the chants sung in Latin, also a language foreign to me that took on a beauty all its own when sung a capella. Great acoustics in the 200-year- old cathedral-like sanctuary only added to the magnificent sounds of music. At first I thought the girls who attended Mass on Saturday were more spiritual, as if they "couldn't wait" to get to church. I thought the slackers went on Sunday. Found out that most girls went to Saturday evening Mass, then partied all Saturday night at the men's college 20 minutes away, then slept in the next day, some hung over. "Doing church" and partying were commonplace. For them and me.
While I was in college, my mom was also --back in Baltimore--getting a master's in Hebrew Studies. I think God gives a lot of people a desire for a specific people group. For me it's the Chinese.I can't explain it. My mom has always had a love and desire for the Jews to know their Messiah. Her grandmother was Jewish but didn't practice her faith because of religious persecution. This grandmother died when my mom's mom (Tola) was only 9. Granny Tola's dad was now a single father raising many children. I don't know all the details, but do know Granny was put into a sort of group Masonic home (Masonic, not Messianic!) while her dad made a living on the road. No Judaism in a Masonic home, for sure!
7) AGe 19: Left Seton Hill after 2 years, homesick and sick of sin. (My own and everyone else's.) Came back to Maryland, got an apartment on 33rd Street in Baltimore with Kelly, my friend from Harford Christian/Grace Episcopal. She moved out after 3 months (country girl couldn't handle city life) but I stayed, found a church, met Paul. By then it was October of 1985. I was 20.
Well, this is getting too long. If you're still with me and asking, "Where does the Judaism come in?" then here it is. The Jewish line is passed down through the mother, back to Sarah and Abraham. So in that sense we are ALL Jewish. If you're a Gentile believer, then according to the Bible, you've been grafted in. ("Grafted in" is symbolized by the gold Messianic sign you can see hanging from the center of the wreath above. I made the wreath for my mom this year.) My parents started attending a Messianic congregation several years ago in Burtonsville, MD. That's a LONG way from where they live. After a while, they began to seek the Lord about forming a local congregation. My dad retired from the government (engineer for the US Army) a few years ago, and right away they planted Ain M'Chitzah (pronounced Ane Muh Heet suh). It means "No Dividing Wall" (between Jews and Gentiles).
They decided to abruptly stop celebrating Christmas as we knew it a few years ago. That hurt us a lot. In fact, it was so ugly I could barely rally my spirits to go over the day after Christmas. But my hubby convinced me that maybe I was the one too steeped in tradition. Maybe I was the legalist. You can be legalistic about the day and time of opening presents, and you're no better off than a Jewish legalist, a Catholic legalist, a Seventh Day Adventist legalist, a Protestant legalist, a New Age legalist. Having the identity of Christian doesn't mean you do holidays "right." I thought it did!
I am not about to abandon celebrating my Savior's birth any sooner than I'll abandon celebrating my Savior's death, resurrection, or ascension. Maybe we'll celebrate differently eventually, but my heart is toward Jesus, if I center it there, by His grace. We have a tree, presents on the 25th, no big dinner (not important to us) ,family over Christmas Eve from Paul's side. During this season ,like all other seasons, we worship Jesus ,thank HIm for coming to us in the flesh and atoning for our sins, not the least of which is legalism in every form. Truth be told, I'd rather make this season about giving gifts, and celebrate the coming of Christ in spring, which is Lambing season. Trying to smash it all together is quite a nutty game. Don't get me worng, I lvoe part of the nuttiness, but the blessing not the stressing kind of nuttiness! I would love to give and get eight gifts of any value, in 8 consecutive days in December. Then I would celebrate the coming of Christ in spring, when He was most likely born. Follow it with Passover, Resurrection, Ascension,and Pentecost. Call THOSE the "happy holidays" and bring gifts to the altar and spread them out to the needy. But I don't see that happening soon.
My parents have us over during Hanukkah. They still love to give gifts, still love to have us over to eat and play games. (We love dreidel now, sort of Jewish poker!) Their traditions are different, and I'm not altogether okay with change, but I am bending. If anyone has a tradition of embracing multiple traditions, it's my family (the one I grew up in). My own children are not as flexible. For better or worse, all they've known is two churches. I hope we're not making snobs of them. But at least they're doctrinally well-grounded and see genuine, daily love for the Lord being lived out around them.
That's all for now. I hope I answered the questions some of you have raised without boring you. ??
Friday, December 08, 2006
The last several years I had treated the stress of Christmas the same way Martha did. Go, go, go. Run here, run there, wrap, shop, wrap, bake, run, party, bake, run, wrap, party. And that didn't include the biggest time-absorber for me: cards.
Every year I write a poem chronicling our family's highlights and lowlights throughout the year. I do it when the inspiration strikes, which can be anywhere between Nov 30th and December 2oth, give or take. I'd crop pictures for it, take it to Staples for 60 copies, hand address all 60 and mail them by Christmas, or intend to deliver a good third of them to church, only to foget to take them at the last opportunity. Then I realized no one was particularly fazed by not getting their card from me. Some asked, "Are you gonna write your family poem again?" And I realized that was anticipated by some people but certainly didn't shake up their routine in the least. So I sent them out after Christmas and you know what? I didn't melt like Frosty at 50 degrees. In fact, I remember a sense of relief, a huge feeling of "this is better than fine!"
That one small change in routine turned a Martha moment into a Mary one. That way, not only did I cut out the trip to the copier, spent precious time addressing envelopes, stamping them, filling the envelopes with both card and poem, I decided that adding a verse or two to the Chronicle meant I could include what our Christmas/Hanukkah celebrations actually entailed, which then becomes part of the year in review, so to speak, and goes into my scrapbook. Plus a lot of people say they look forward to having more cards come after the hubbub so they have time to appreciate them. I know I like to get cards after Christmas, too.
I don't care what Martha Stewart says. I'd rather be "Mary."
What are you changing this year to have a "Mary" Christmas?
Monday, December 04, 2006
It meant a lot to me to be asked to make a wreath for the Bishops in memory of Scott.
I asked Donna what he liked, and she told me: nature, football, snow, all things Christmas, and Edgar Allan Poe. His football jersey number was 76 at Joppatowne High.
Donna asked for muted fall colors. Beyond that, she trusted me to design something special.
Then came a story of one answered prayer after another. While I'm planning the wreaths I make, I ask God for direction and creativity, and for help with the practicals if a certain component is proving hard to find. Well, I was on my way to Constant Friendship when God said "Try DJ's." (It's in the shopping center with Gabriel Brothers.) So I did. I walked in and described for the 18-19ish looking girl there what I was looking for and told her what I was making.
"I need a little football, something snowy, and something Christmasy. He loved Christmas." She led me straight to the little snowman you see on the wreath. He has a Ravens logo and a Ravens-colored scarf. As it that weren't enough, he is musical. You press the button underneath him and he plays a little Christmas tune. By the way,for those who might not recall, Edgar Allan Poe was a native Baltimorean and wrote a famous poem called "The Raven."
It was perfect. God had directed me to the perfect place for the perfect icon.
While I was talking to this same cashier at DJ's, she told me she had attended Joppatowne High and knew where I could get something else for the wreath: purple beads with helmets strung on them, from the latest pep rally. She even provided the name of a contact at the high school. I drove over there and Ms. Hendricks took me through the art room (where I tried not to gawk at the amazing talent displayed in charcoal drawings) straight to a room where these beads were. As soon as I spotted a purple helmet, I knew I had to have it. She gave me as many as I wanted for free. I practiced writing on a couple, but wasn't happy with them. Finally Paul wrote a good "76" on one of the helmets and I hot glued it on. (You can click on the photo to enlarge details.)
The little bird has such soft feathers. I kept stroking his wings and was reminded of Psalm 91 and the encouragement I've always gotten there. When all around you is only darkness, remember that you are under the shadow of His wing.
And the picture. Laurie posted this great picture of Scott with her post called "Brass Plaques." The colors of the photo were ideal and you can see twinkling lights in the background. Sacha laminated it for me so that it will withstand the weather at the cemetery.
Donna, thank you for trusting me with this special commission. I shed many a tear at my work station and prayed many a prayer that you would find comfort over and over. Truly God took pleasure in this labor of love. I'm so glad you like it.
Sunday, December 03, 2006
Emily's tablescape was a sandy beach theme. Seashells and starfish, little message bottles, and a classic sea green table cloth and pretty dishes made her design a Christmas original. Good taste runs in the family. Her mom, Debbie Reyes, set an exquisite table of pinks, golds, and burgundy beauties. Karen Hevesy and Marybeth Hooever decorated a show-stopping table with purples and silvers. Diane Smith and her daughter Kristy and friend Robin did a fun-in-the-winter theme,complete with round mirror as an ice skating rink and ceramic bears skating arm-in-arm (next photo). Daryl decorated one in classic golds. I'm speechless that she would take on the decorating of a table along with the thousand other details she spends months planning.
There were plenty more tables I took pictures of, but not all 37 had been set when I was at church setting mine. I wish I had taken a table tour, but I was busy delivering wreaths. I hope other people got pictures for me!
This year we had 296 women, and about 2/3 were guests. It's one of my three favorite days of the year, I must say. I can't say enough good about it. If I start naming names of everyone who had a large part to play, I'd certainly forget someone. Everything was so well done.
My favorite parts of the day?
1) Seeing Diane there. She has been walking through the valley of the shadow of cancer since the spring and this was her first time back to church in about six months.
2) Having my next door neighbor there. She was so thrilled that I had invited her again this year. She wants to bring co-workers next year.
3) My friend Kathy came along, too. We've been friends for nearly 22 years. She was in my wedding.
4) Laurie's encouraging speech about Emmanuel, "God with us." It came on the heels of a sad, anxiety-filled evening that caused me to ask for your prayers.
5) Hearing nearly 300 women sing "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!" in harmony. Doesn't get much better than that.
6) Giving Scott's memorial wreath to Donna. She had a good cry. I guess she liked it, she went around showing lots of people.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I can't believe I posted below and forgot to say THIS IS MY DAD's BIRTHDAY. Happy Birthday, Daddy!
To those who've never met my dad, you must. Don't get a day older before you make his acquaintance. I've always called him "Jesus with Skin On." He exemplifies First Corinthians 13:4-7. Where you see the word "love" fill in "Lyle" or, as I do, "Daddy." Where you see "it," substitute "he" or "him."
4Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Ten Things About My Dad:
1) He has never yelled at us. He only got visibly disturbed twice a month, and that was when paying bills. We knew not to bother him for money then. When he'd pay bills and we happened to mention wanting something that cost money, he would say, "Dearheart--" or "HoneyChild--." Imagine! A father whose harshest name for his girls is "dearheart" and "honeychild." He didn't even fill in our middle name after that. I never heard "HoneyChild Marie--not now."
2) He has only used foul language one time in my presence. (Maybe in his life.) That was when, as a pastor in Kansas, he and my mom had a rental property in Missouri. Their tenants were low-class scumbags. (In case you couldn't tell,I didn't inherit niceness from Daddy.) They were slobs to the 100th degree. I remember a conversation he was having with the man and my dad was trying every which way to control himself. My parents had recently seen the place and there was filth everywhere, the worst of it being dog mess in the basement. My dad had the phone (which back then was also attached to the base) and was trying to keep us out of earshot, but we were nosy. Seeing Daddy mad was so rare we just had to hear him! Well, imagine our shock (and subsequent giggle) when he, Mr. Wonderful Pastor, says to the guy, "And there was dog shit on the basement floor!" We asked him later why he said a bad word, and very embarrassed said, "Because he's a person who wouldn't understand any other language, dearheart."
3) My dad is incurably romantic. He should give writing lessons to men who know nothing except how to underline what Hallmark has already written. Whether an anniversary card to Mama or a Valentine to his daughters, he knows how to write sincere mush that just makes ya melt. Every Valentine's Day he would leave a big box of chocolates and a big mushy card for Mama at her place on the kitchen table. Each of us girls got a small box of chocolates and a small card. To this day, he lavishes us with sweetness on that day. I always wanted to repay him somehow, but it wasn't until God gave me a son, my last child, on February 14th, that I felt I adequately could. When I handed Joel Lyle to him four years ago, I said, "Daddy, I've never known how to thank you enough. Here's a Valentine with your name on him."
4) My dad taught me how to give. (So did my mom, but this is about Daddy.) When he paid bills, tithe was always first. Then house mortage and Christian school tuition. Tithing was never a have-to, but never negotiable. When I was a little girl, sharing a pew at church with my sisters and my parents at Harford Baptist--before he was a pastor--, he would dig into his pocket for change as the offering basket was being passed. He put a quarter into each of our little hands, and we, in turn, dropped our quarter into the basket. It has always been a picture, to me, of where our money and everything else comes from: Our Heavenly Father. He puts it in my hand, I give it back.
5) My dad loves to have his family around his table. You can feel his pleasure at just having us near. "How GOOD it is!" he'll exclaim, "to have you all here. This is wonderful."
6) My dad loves to work. But I'd never call him a workaholic. He enjoys being busy with his hands and his mind. Whether designing chemical filters for the US Army (one which he invented and patented) or tilling the acre-wide garden or fixing a little girl's broken bicycle chain, Daddy likes to be productive. Without him I wouldn't have passed Algebra 1 or 2, Rachel wouldn't have attempted Electrical Engineering classes at Delaware, Andrea wouldn't have a barn for the horse she raised, and Jill wouldn't have , well, the world.
7) My dad loves the Lord. I should have made this #1, because it's for this reason that all the other things are true about Daddy. You can hear it when he prays, you can feel it when he hugs you, you can sense it when he preaches, you can sense it when he sings, you can see it when he waits patiently for all the slowpoke women in his family. He loves Jews and Gentiles, rich and poor, black and white, pretty and plain.
8) My dad is a gentleman. In 46 years of marriage, he has maybe not opened my mom's car door a dozen times, and that's because she insisted on holding it herself for whatever reason (for his benefit). It was one thing I was looking for in a man, and if he didn't come with the door-holding habit, I'd train him in that. My parents always watched the guys I dated to see if they held the car door. (DAddy said it was a telltale sign that he was a Prince of a Fellow.)If Daughter's Date did not hold the car door, they had their doubts about what other selfishness he was harboring. Well, poor Paul, he grew up with all brothers and a dad who didn't practice the car door thing because he and his mom were split up. I wanted to keep Paul no matter what, and had to whisper occasionally (the training part) on the way to the car, "Please hold my door, my parents are watching." To this day, I think Daddy watches Paul to make sure his daughter is being treated like a lady. (She is.)
9) My dad is a math whiz. His claim to fame: he tutored legendary basketball star Wilt Chamberlain in college. I don't know if it was college algebra or calculus or what (I don't know if a basketball player needs calc, but anyway), he said he and Wilt used to sit together in the cafeteria at KU where Wilt was Jayhawk. Wilt was 7'4", I think, and his knees were too long to fit under the table. Daddy said he always had to sit on the end across from Wilt to eat and show him how to work equations. Wilt passed away a few years ago; my dad's still a loyal Jayhawk. He forgives Paul for being a Terps fan. (It may be the only reason Paul is not a 100% Prince of a Fellow.)
10) My dad loves me. I know it with all my heart. He has told me time and time again since I was born. I never have to guess, never have to wonder, never have to earn it or never feel like I'm going to lose his love because of bad behavior. (And trust me, of all his daughters, I've been the baddest. I don't mean worst, I mean baddest.) His unconditional love for me has been the bedrock of my stability when I've questioned why I was put on this earth. No matter how I've sinned, Daddy has forgiven me and held me through the hardest of times.
Thank you, Daddy. I love you with all my heart. You will never know how much that is. Thank you for being Jesus with Skin On. Happy Birthday!
Sarah snagged this precious sight through the lens of my camera.
Taken on Thanksgiving at my folks' house, while the women were preparing dinner, it's my dad (who was an engineer before retiring and pastoring a Messianic congregation) and my Joel, his youngest grandchild, making a Lego car on the deck.
My dad is Lyle, my son is Joel Lyle. My dad is the man who made Valentine's Day my third favorite holiday, and Joel "just happened" to be born on Valentine's Day, 2002. I love this picture.
I also want to tell you a funny thing Joel said a couple weeks ago. (It's on my Kidbits blog.)
He said, "Mom, are you a Christian?"
I said, "Yes, I am. Are you?"
He said, "No. I'm an engineer."
When I told my dad that, he just laughed and laughed. "Everyone knows you can't be both a Christian and an engineer," he said. "The two are mutually exclusive."
Sunday, November 26, 2006
Perfect for the care group leader, a whole family gift, or as a way to present someone with a "big gift to open" and keep the "package" for years after the gift cards have been spent. One gal has ordered and I'm excited to create this for her.
A Gift Card Wreath will be a 14" wreath of silk flowers and greens, and five gift card holders securely attached to the wreath. (This one isn't finished;it only has two holders so far, but I wanted to post the picture now to give you an idea what I'm talking about.)
Suggested donation: $20. (The more the merrier:)). I would love one of these for myself, actually. Isn't that funny? I can just see some of my favorite place names playing Peek-A-Boo out of their holders. Mine would be: Ritz Camera, JoAnn's, Michael's, Ross, ScrapMasters, and Dunkins. (Love their coffee!) Of course, there's no stopping you from putting cold hard cash in little holders, or a receipt for airline tickets, or notes of offer to babysit, wash the car, bring dinner, or tickets to a show, concert, or game. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination!
Place your order soon.
By the way, yesterday I got a surprise call from a couple, Frank and Mary S, who are reps with GAiN. Frank has been on 27 missions trips with them. I was asking him what sort of little gifties we can take with us to hand to children and adults. He said they take little toys and hair things, cars, balls, just like our kids. The adults are hungry for the Bible. One English-speaking Russian woman in the airport with whom Frank and Mary were speaking said she really wanted an English Bible. Frank inquired around among the GAiN group and no one had a new Bible in their luggage. Mary said, "Frank, give her mine. It's got notes and highlighting, but that's probably okay." Well, this woman was so grateful she began to weep. On the plane they saw her kissing the Bible. Kissing the Bible. How I long to witness this hunger for God's Word among foreigners. Well, I desire it among Americans, too, and am filled with more love for God when I see others so in love with Him also.
Please keep praying that God would open the storehouses of heaven for both Sarah and me to go together on this life-changing trip. We need $6,000. So far we have $245.
Friday, November 24, 2006
Ordered by a family member (I don't know if I can say because all I know is it's a gift), this is one of two Apple-Scented Wreaths I'll have made for this person.
I love apples. They may well be the prettiest fruit God made. At one time I decorated my kitchen in apples and Paul gave me apple dishes for Christmas. I sure love the things that come from apples, too--apple pie, apple crumble, applesauce. And on a cold day like today, what could be better than some hot apple cider?
The last one was Gold.
I can't say who ordered this; it's a secret. You might be the recipient. But here's a sneak peek. Notice all the chocolate around the sides of this wheel? Mmmm.What a delectable wreath. I think this one has about 54 pieces of Hershey's yum-yums on it.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
I am thankful for...
- My heavenly Father
- The relationship I have with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
- His Word, His kindness, mercy, forgiveness, patience, discipline, promises, faithfulness
- My eternal life thru salvation by Jesus Christ
- Spiritual gifts
- Natural talents
- My Children --all 4 living plus those in heaven (and maybe one more to come?)
- Paul's love, devotion, faithfulness, wisdom, responsibility, humor, etc.
- Molly (our Golden Retriever) -- gentleness, devotion, beauty
- Trees, leaves, extra long fall season this year
- Paul's income
- This neighborhood-quiet, safe, friendly, pretty, convenient
- Van and car
- Friends near and far
- My parents--alive, well, enjoying ministry
- Protection and safety...Paul had no injuries even tho' the Toyota was totaled and the Kia was hit by a hit 'n run driver.
- Language and the ability to speak and communicate
- CCC and CDS
- Operation Gummi Worms--the kids who express their care for one soldier they don't even know and for the moms who bring them here to make cards for him
- Heat and AC
- Care group
- Mobility...joints that move freely
- Tim Barranco's life
- Hair --realizing Diane lost hers to chemo this year makes me ever grateful for mine
- Cleaning products
- Mental wellness
- Prescription meds
- Indoor plumbing
- My camera
- Sarah's desire to finish well in homeschool
- Ben's diligence and perseverance at college
- Joel's personality,affection, talents
- Stephen's passion for God and desire to lead other
- Paul's willing and dedication to church and care group, esp w/ his guitar
- America. Freedom.
So much more to thank You for, God. I won't let the rocks take my place in praising You! So many blessings. I am just getting started!
Tuesday, November 21, 2006
For example, you want an elegant wreath in mostly reds. Or you want predominantly green. Or you want a whimsical one with lots of glitter. Or you want purples and blues (Those are limited.)Or you love apples and cinnamon. I'll do my best to make you happy.
Thanks for your generous support.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
I've just finished a similar
one for Jack M. He wants two.
These are fun to put together.
You can eat the mistakes--literally!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
Here are some ways I could customize your wreath.
1) Gift Card Wreath. This one will have credit card size
holders securely tied with ribbon to the wreath base, surrounded
with a simple arrangement of Christmas flowers. Once you
pick up your wreath from me, simply insert the gift cards, and voila! Two
gifts in one! You might consider giving this as a gift for a family. Tell me how many
card holders you need. Say you know a 5-member family. Give dad a Home Depot card,
Mom a Starbucks card, Teen Guy or Girl a Best Buy card, youngsters a Toys R Us, and
baby a Target card. Or maybe you know a bride who'd enjoy decking her new threshhold with a wreath, but you want to give her more than that. Give the couple five different cards of varying denominations, to one place or many. (Restaurant and movies, Lowe's and Pier 1 ?) The possibilites are endless. They spend the card and keep the wreath. You've just given them 2 gifts and, with your donation, are gifting orphans and me. What a winning idea!
2) Photo wreath. A simple bed of Spanish moss with wallet-size, clear plastic photo holders attached. This is a year round wreath. I could make it Christmas-specific if you'd rather. Just tell me the number of photo holders you'd want. I suggest a minimum of five.
3) Coffee Ring. You don't like coffee rings on your stationery or end table, but wouldn't you love to give (or get) a wreath of coffee samplers? This wreath would have five samplers of coffee, probably Millstone, since I know they come in gold foil packages.
Leave a comment telling me a theme you have in
mind, or a color scheme. I'll see if we can make you
Here are some suggestions:
1) Angel with a Birthstone brooch on her pretty white
gown. I could coordinate her with almost any color
scheme you have in mind.
2) Guardian Angel . She is a whimsical country-style gal.
I'm thinking she'd look perfect in a "We Love our Troops"
3) Non-traditional colors and flowers. How about soft purple hydrangeas and purple berries in muted tones with silver leaves?
4) Nature lover's wreath. A brown quail in a ring of pinecones, berries and raffia? This one could stay up all winter, long after your neighbors have taken their Christmas decorations down.
5) All That Glitters. You could get either all gold elements--including little gold-wrapped gift boxes and gold ribbon, or the same in silver, or mix it up.
Look at my hobby shop above.Click to enlarge for detail. Lots of goodies to choose from. Just leave a comment and it will come straight to my email. Happy hunting.
and warm red carnations on a gold
green leaves add a graceful touch
First one to speak for it gets it!
Friday, November 17, 2006
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Let me see if I can help you. This is not to put pressure on, it's to take pressure off by removing the guesswork. I'm going to tell you what my costs are, on average. I speak for myself based on the cost at which I can get materials and I probably undervalue my labor or else I wouldn't be making a dime.
The wreaths pictured in previous posts cost me about $20 to make, figuring $6.50 an hour for my time. That doesn't include the time involved shopping for materials, driving there and back, finding deals on ebay, setting up or cleaning up. That's just from the time I affix the first element to the time I put the last nail in the metal hook on the back of the wreath.
More custom wreaths involve more design time, more shopping time, and maybe more materials, depending on the design.
So, bottom line. A donation would be anything above $20. A reasonable donation would be higher. And a generous one, well...you get the idea. We appreciate your donation on behalf of the gospel, which is why we're doing this. But my husband wants to make sure I'm making money, not just gifts for other people's relatives! Heehee.
Loving this project. Keep the orders coming. I have had 8 requests in 2 days. Thank you all in advance!
She gave me a couple of solid paragraphs that really helped me picture his favorite things. I am on mission to make this memorial wreath really special.
If you would like a Fond Memories wreath as well, please let me know ASAP. (They take a little longer to customize.)
Of course I have no picture to show you, as the wreath for Scott is still in my head and heart!
Again, your donation would go into our fund for Russia. At this point, Paul is saying only Sarah will go, but I am begging to go, also. Begging without nagging? Is that possible? Hmmm.
So I suggest a donation of $50 for this one, but if your budget can't swing that, I understand and will work with you on a pleasing keepsake for you and a drop in our Russian bucket for me.
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
I have not made one yet to photograph, but designs are swirling in my head.
Here's what you'll get: a wreath filled with fun-sized chocolate bars of your choosing, plus a few Hershey kisses in holiday foil wraps, tied together with fun ribbon.
You choose the size. Small (suggested for co-workers, teachers, care group leader's wife, hairdresser). Medium (for anyone else on your list). Large (for yourself, of course. Just kidding.) Medium and large ones would be ideal for the social gathering. Set them on the table or island and let guests enjoy picking their chocolate off the wreath. Or, hang the wreath on the inside of your front door and let people take a chocolate as they leave your home.
You pick the candy. Just let me know which candies you want. For example, "All Snickers" or "surprise me, just nothing with nuts" or "Dark Chocolate only" or any other way of personalizing it. I want you to LOVE your wreath.
I'd be happy to mix and match candy in your wreath, too. Candy canes, Mike & Ikes, Laffy Taffy, Milk Duds, whatever. Just name it and I'm sure I can satisfy the Sweet Tooth on your list.
All proceeds will go to orphan care through GAiN, or specifically to Sarah 's and my trip with GAiN , should Paul say yes. Please pray. We need to raise $6,000 in a few short months.
By the way, for the security reasons, I will only sell to people with whom I have some relationship or am comfortable providing my address to. Sorry to disappoint anyone who found this blog by doing a chocolate wreath search!
Monday, November 13, 2006
- Dear Friends,
Whether the Lord sends Sarah, me, Sacha, or any combination thereof to Russia (or wherever) next summer, I am starting to raise funds now, in faith. The application alone is $750 per person.
I plan to make several wreaths between now and Christmas. Rather than set a price, I will be asking individuals who want them to make a contribution to our trip fund. The donation amount is up to you.
Available before Thanksgiving. For indoor or outdoor use. (I recommend that wreaths for outdoors be sheltered.)
Perfect for the hostess:
12" wreath: Bountiful Harvest has pumpkins, pinecones, small gourds, fruit, a quail and a big rust bow, on a scrappy nest of natural colored raffia.
12" wreath: Fresh Linen and Cinnamon. I created this one for my powder room. This wreath features several strips of linen-scented bark, cinnamon sticks, cinnamon-scented pinecones, sage green leaves, and ivory shells. (Every time Sarah is in our foyer, she says, "Oh, that smells so good!" ) This wreath would accent a shabby chic, traditional, or modern bathroom, bedroom, or laundry room very well.
My wreaths come with an attached sawtooth metal fixture for hanging on the wall. If you want a brushed brass-like door hanger, I can supply that for an additional $5. They look good with all styles of decor.
If you prefer a wreath for Christmas, I can do that for you. Just leave a comment saying what you'd like and how I can best reach you.
May I make a wreath for you?
Sunday, November 12, 2006
On Wednesday afternoon this tree in my front yard was beautiful. It had only lost about half its leaves. The rest were a splendid tapestry of golds and rusts. I asked Stephen to take a picture of me in front of that tree . (I was sporting a fresh-from-the-salon hairstyle which nobody has noticed, apparently, but that's not the point.) I knew my hair wouldn't look as good the next day , mostly because it had enough gel in it to withstand a Kansas tornado.
Stephen put up a bit of a fuss. ("Puh-lease, Mom. Why?)
"Honey, please," I begged. "These leaves might not be here tomorrow. And my hairdo definitely won't be. " He shook his head.
I was right.
Today, Sunday, nearly every leaf of that tree is gone. The leaves lasted a couple days longer than my hairdo, but they are both fleeting.
"Teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom."
This verse came to my mind. I had read it a few days earlier--differently. Always before, I had sort of skipped over the first two words.
God has numbered your days. He's numbered mine. The key question I've always dwelled on is, How many days have I been given? Or, more simply, When will I die?
God is probably not going to answer that question. He will just call me home. I may or may not be caught by surprise when He does. I am not scared of that. I look forward to it, provided I don't have to suffer a long time while I wait for His call. The most important thing is to not forget that I am here for Him, for a brief and glorious interlude between birth and physical death. My life is as fleeting as one autumn leaf on a single tree.
It's the two words "teach us" that gave me pause . Teach us. I read "us" as "me" and realized that I need God to teach me to number my days. What does that mean? I have some thoughts. What are yours?