Monday, December 31, 2007

Reflections on '07: I've Grown in Faith

Since I can't find the year-end family poem I wrote (on paper) I'll have to scrap my plan of posting it tonight.

Instead, I've been pondering the past year and the grace of God I've seen in my life. Yes, I too often see my character flaws, my weaknesses, my bad habits, my this, and my that, scattered and messy like leaves on the back steps. And too often I'm prone to either feel sorry for myself or to make a list of ways to change or to come up with nothing at all when wondering if I've grown at all spiritually in the past year.

The question was posed at our care group social: "What evidence of grace have you seen in your life this year?" Well, I think I didn't answer it directly, if at all. I think I went on and on about the grace I've seen in my kids' lives (which is a lot) in spite of me. Why didn't I answer such a probing question outright? I think it was because I am reluctant to say such things for fear that it sounds like boasting, or if I start out giving glory to God, I'll say too much about my cooperation with His work and thus end up skewing the message.

So I asked God today to show me all of 2007, not just the recent months that have clouded my memory with negatives. Here is what I've seen more than anything:

I've grown in faith. Specifically...

I have much more faith in God and much less in people. I can't say I have no faith in people because I do. There are some people who can be trusted and counted on more than 50% of the time. Only God is 100% faithful, but certain servants have proven track records that make me say, "Yes, though you have been disappointed and will be again, this person CAN be trusted to care about you."

I have a lot more faith that people want to be generous, not stingy. I used to hate fundraising. Hated it. I didn't mind being asked for support, but I didn't want to do the asking. Somehow I mistook that everyone would feel coerced, manipulated, what have you. But when I took a hard look at needing $6000 for our missions trip to Russia, it was only possible by the generosity of other people (believers and unbelievers alike). God provided every penny needed. All we spent was our own money for souvenirs!

I have more faith as the mother of a young child after seeing what God has done with my older ones. Quite often I hear, "He is such a hard worker," "He's a leader, I really see that in him, " "She is so sweet and thoughtful, so kind and helpful." I see one staying up late immersed in a book by John Owen (a tough read, I think, but he gets through the archaic language). I see another trekking out the door on a cold winter morning to cut down trees and trudge home at 5:30 covered in dirt and grime. It's hard work, not something for wimps. I see another plugging away at statistics and physical science and Honors English, working 20 or so hours on her feet, being thoughtful of her family's needs, and still wanting to babysit whenever she's asked.

I have faith that I will have more opportunities on the foreign mission field. This is not that I romanticize foreign missions over domestic ones--I know intellectually that needs are right here at my back door--but I remember being deeply affected as a small child by the Spirit of God to go to the nations, plural. God gave me a love for foreigners, a love for language, a love for other cultures, and an intense desire to worship the Lord with people in their own countries. My first thought when I'm trying to communicate with someone from another country is not, "I wish they could speak English!" but "I wish I could speak their language!"

I have faith that God will use my patriotism to encourage a few more people in the military. Yes, I do love America best and make no apologies for that. But I love it precisely because I am FREE to worship, free to move about the country, free to say what I want on my blog, free to email whomever I want, free to earn as much money as I want. (Not that money motivates me, it really doesn't. Good causes, yes; money, not too much.)

I have faith that my husband's perpective on the here & now versus the future will dramatically change for the better--functionally--in the near future. He will thrive again, he will hold his head up, he will express the grace he sees in his home. If he doesn't, I will hang a sign on his front and back , tied together with ropes, a sign that says, "My wife has faith for me. My wife has faith for me. My wife has faith for me." Over and over, just like the sentences I used to have to write as a punishment for talking out in class (as if that stopped me).

I have faith that I will really grasp what it means to be forgiven, and what it means to forgive. Just when I think I've learned it, another test comes. I hope to pass these forgiveness tests no matter if they're true/false, multiple choice or take-home!

I have faith that God will revolutionize my doctrine of stewardship. From the inside out, it all belongs to Him. My mind, my body, my money, my gifts and talents, my children, my husband, my friends, my dog, my parents, my fellow believers, my church, my time, my everything. Revolutionize my thinking, God; help me truly believe that everything I have, all that I am , has come from you and deserves to be given right back to You.

I have faith for much more, but will stop here to let this sink into my soul.
Looking back at the picture of scattered leaves, I can view them now as symbols for grace, one on top of another, spread out, piled up, artistic, colorful evidence of God's handiwork. I can rejoice that, though I may be in a winter of soul right now, there has been a beautiful fall and there will be a glorious spring.

What about you? What is ONE area you've seen the most growth/grace in yourself in '07? Don't hesitate to answer. Boast in God! Sure, you've had to cooperate, but boast in God's goodness that you wanted to cooperate, that you persevered, that you are more like Jesus than you were a year ago.

Soup Swap, Anyone?

I'm going to try to post my annual Zubrowski Christmas Chronicle in poetry this afternoon/evening, but in case I don't, I need to at least post this question:

I read about friends doing a Soup Swap. You're familiar with cookie exchanges, right, where everyone makes several dozen of the same kind and then get together with others who've made other kinds and everyone takes home a huge assortment?

Well, same thing here, except that I'm proposing soup. Why?
1) it's easy to make a big pot
2) it's better nutritionally
3) it cuts out having to buy anything except fresh bread for a quick meal
4) it's winter
5) I'll be laid up for awhile after January 7th's surgery and would love to pull soup out of the freezer for lunch or easy dinner since my righthand woman (Sarah) will be in NH.

I'm thinking of having six people--5 plus me--make a 6 qt pot of soup.
1) Sign up in the comment box
2) Tell what kind you'll make and stick to it (so we have a planned variety)
3) Make it far enough ahead of the exchange time for it to cool
4) Package it in 5 qt-size ziplock bags, labeled, with any specific directions (keep one quart for yourself)
5) Bring printed copies of the recipe for five people's cookbooks

Date: January 5th (Saturday)
Time: 11 a.m.
Where: My house

I'll make Provencal soup. It's a tomato base with herbs and veggies.

Anyone want in on the soup swap?

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Alliterative Hospitality for 2008

In the coming year, I want to apply the command to practice hospitality more than I have. So I started making a month-by-month list of ideas that I plan to follow through with. Didn't mean it to be alliterative, but after seeing the first two, I turned it into a game of "Start it with S." I had to force a couple of them to make them work into my plan of hosting singles, couples, families, and girlfriends.

Jan: Soup Swap Jan 5th (girlfriends--anyone interested?)
Feb: Sweetheart Banquet........ after the 14th (3 other couples)
March: Single Friends of my Son (Ben's b'day March 21)
April: Sarah's Birthday on the 22nd
May: Shower for Kelly.....need it May 1, she's due in mid-month! (care group ladies)
June: Stephen's Grad Party (classmates, teachers, neighbors,family)
July: Stars and Stripes .....4th of July (neighbors?)
August: Stephen's Birthday the 8th (extended family, very close friends)
September: School's Back in Session (homeschool moms).....late in month
October: Single Friends of Zo and Paul
November: Students from Towson (foreign) at Thanksgiving
December: Sugar Cookie Swap....between 10th and 20th

Saturday, December 29, 2007

21 Years Yesterday

This shot was taken while we were waiting for Stephen to make his now-famous Greek meal.
Last night we dressed up, took pictures, went out to dinner at the Union Hotel, then came home.
I haven't gotten around to editing the dressy pictures, and Paul hates to be photographed, so he always looks like he doesn't want to be doing whatever it is the picture is about, in this case, celebrating our marriage. Although, in all honesty, 2007 was a very difficult year for us, and we both agreed last night that '08 has got to be better. I was thinking I'm not superstitious, but you know what they say about the 7-year itch in marriage. Well, every multiple of 7 in our marital history has been a downer. The other ones were much better.
But what I've done is resolve to commit to changing, by God's grace, only myself, my actions and reactions. It seems like an impossibility sometimes, but I can change, I just know it. I have faith, we are both committed believers, and we're staying true to our marriage vows, for better or for worse being the hardest. That and submitting to him when I disagree. Or in his case, loving me as Christ loves the church. We both admit the bar is impossibly high without grace.
We went out to dinner at a place called the Union Hotel. It was built on the Susquehanna River in Port Deposit, Maryland, circa 1783. An old log cabin with a gourmet restaurant on one level and a biker tavern on the lower, it had come highly recommended to us. (by diners, not bikers).
I was not at all disappointed, but Paul was. Our appetizer was crab-stuffed mushrooms. Delicious, no complaints. The bread was fairly tasty, though a bit overdone, and Paul didn't care for the "weird butters" of honey maple and raspberry. My entree was a seafood special of jumbo lump crabcakes, butterfly shrimp, and scallops. Absolutely wonderful, succulent, barely short of perfect. He got the bourbon marinated flank steak, expecting something sweet like a Friday's steak, but it was, in his words "too vinegary." My salad was just okay. The cherry tomato was as big as a golf ball and almost as hard. I thought that if I didn't slice into it just right, it'd go boing/swoosh/splat right onto Paul's tie, but it didn't. Score one for my ability to cut a golf ball with a butter knife. Our table was wobbly in both directions. Made of original planks, there was a one-inch gap right down the center. I made sure I kept my napkin fully stretched across my lap lest I spill my chablis on my new dress. Our waitress was probably what was most disappointing. First when we got there, she and the other one kept going back and forth over whose turn it was to take a table. Come on, ,ladies, not here, I wanted to say. The longer you fuss, the smaller your tip. If you want a nice tip, treat us like you want us to be here, and differ on that point in that kitchen. They wear old-fashioned dresses and bonnets in keeping with the history, but Paul remarked to me, "they're just plain ugly." That says a lot. He almost never comments on anyone's outfit, ever--even mine when I think I look especially good--he is just not one to notice, or comment if he does. So for him to say an outfit's ugly, well, it oughta be on What Not to Wear. So our waitress was very Balmer, hon. "Yous enjoyed your meals?" Yes, weeees did, I wanted to say. But I was polite: "We did, thanks. It was a nice way to celebrate our 21st anniversary." She said, "Yous should of told me. I woulda brought yous a free dessert of the Union cake." It is their signature dish. Well, it tastes like yellow cake with Jiffy vanilla pudding, and is topped with whipped cream and some walnuts just floppped on top. (We got it to go, since we had not saved room for it and didn't think about a freebie dessert for the occasion.) ANyway, if that's their signature dish, they ought to retake penmanship. But it was okay for a free ten o'clock sweet treat.
All in all, this date was probably very symbolic date of our 21st year. Okay, but leaves much more to be desired. So here's to '08. Yous can bet it'll be better than this past year, hon.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Cletus, Take the Reel

Music parodies are the best. This Christian comedian, Tim Hawkins, rivals Mark Lowery (sp?) and Weird Al for side-splitting, knee-slapping spoofs.

See "Cletus, Take the Reel " at but make sure you've gone potty first.
Everything on the site is hilarious.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Heart Cath Today

Please pray for Boyd, my friend Barb's husband. He's scheduled in surgery today (12:30 CST)
for a heart cath. Pray for Barb, too, please!

18 Goals for 2008

This morning I sat down and made a chart with 18 goals: six categories, each with three items I'd like to accomplish in a 12-month span. Here's my chart:

1) Read thru the Bible again (Josh 1: 8,9)
2) Pursue righteousness and kindness (Prov 21:21)(namely by quick forgiveness and gentle words)
3) Share gospel w/ 4 ppl (neighbor Sue, a child, a foreigner, one other) (Matt 28)

1) Practice Russian that I know; learn 2 new words/phrases a month (I Cor 10:31)
2) Memorize a Bible verse every week (be accountable to Paul for this) (I Tim . 3:16-17)
3) Practice an art form every week (drawing, painting, cooking, sewing, scrapping, floral design)
(need a verse to support this)

1) Have surgery Jan 7th as scheduled (common grace of healing....verse?)
2) Lose 60 lbs by graduation day (my body is His temple)
3) Wean completely off Rx (Rom. 12:1-2)

1) Be a respectful wife and serving mother (Eph 6, Prov 31)
2) Host one function a month (practice hospitality)
3)  Show kindness to strangers

1) Work 10-12 hrs/week, preferably as tutor at HCC (submitting to Paul's request, not my will)
2) Use my income as so: 10% tithe, 10% giving, 10% spending, 10% saving, 60% debt reduction (whole Bible)
3) Put pocket change each month toward foreign missions (Mexico trip, GAIN, OCC) (stretch out your hand to the poor and needy)

1) Redo office by April 15th (let all things be done decently and in order)
2) Finish sewing and hanging kitchen curtains (Prov 31...she works w/ her hands)
3) Plant cutting garden from seeds or others' gardens (spend less than $15) (He has created all things for His pleasure) and I love all the flowers He created and want many in my yard and home and to be able to give away to cheer up or thank someone else. Okay, I went on too long about flowers. Do you sense a bit of passion here? I've always said if I were wealthy, or got to be good friends with someone who is, I'd have fresh flowers in my home 365 days a year.

Dear, dear Father,
By your grace, for your glory and not mine, please hear me and grant the desires of my heart if they line up with what you want. I think they do, but I could be deceived. Speak to me if there are selfish ambitions here; redirect my thinking and my actions so that You are glorified. I have the most faith for the Domestic category (or should I say I am most confident because I like those things in that category?). I need the most faith to be the wife Paul needs, a true helper, a kindhearted woman, a selfless giver, and thinner too! Oh, Abba, help me. I've prayed this prayer for so many years, so many times, but rather than feel discouraged, I am sure You enjoy the fragrant aroma of your children's prayers the way I enjoy lighting a vanilla candle every day. I want to want what You want. My heart is light and thrilled when I get out of the way and watch You do what want. I am miserable and defeated when I buck Your system. Thank You for Your patience with me! Thank You for forgiving me every time I ask. Thank You for putting people in my life who love me no matter what. Thank You for putting the desire for righteousness and kindness in my heart. I am so looking forward to a happier marriage in 2008 as I seek to change rather than to change Paul. I am eager to be a more caring mom, to care about everything the kids care about by really devoting myself to their care, by really listening, by taking them out one-=on-one like the good ole days, by blessing them intentionally by keeping plenty of good food stocked, the house and my heart ready for people, and making the clock my slave, not the other way around. Give me eyes to see the needs within and without and the courage and wisdom to know if, how, and when to meet those needs. May I be able to see at the end of 2008 that much fruit has been borne from this prayer because of Your faithfulness to me and my cooperation with Your Word.
I love You, and it is for that reason that I'm compelled to change and have faith for it. May You smile as you hear my prayers. I'm smiling knowing that You care more about me than I do. Thanks again for your new mercies every day.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Chicken Satay Funny

What's for dinner? Chicken satay. What's so funny about that? Read this. I turned three shades of red.

Another Q&A

This past Saturday someone stole my cell phone. I had just put it in its case that hangs from my purse strap. Paul said, "Make sure it's on, we'll probably get separated in here." (We were in Value City in Dundalk, and I kept saying to myself, "I hate this place. I hate this place.") Sixty feet down the main aisle, we got separated, I thought, "better put my phone in my pocket on vibrate," but when I reached for it, it was gone. I hadn't been in the store more than 80 seconds.
Retraced my steps, asked a clerk (who rolled her eyes as if to say, "Yeh, right, lady, someone turn in a cell phone. Where you from??)
The last time we had something stolen was at Christmastime, 1992. We had gone out to get a tree around 3 pm. Got back around 5:30, and our front door was standing open, a man's shoe imprint just above the handle. (We lived in guess where? Dundalk!) They took a TV and VCR which were replaceable, but then rummaged through Paul's top drawer and stole the Brooks Robinson baseball card his dad had given him. It was especially sad because his dad had just passed away that year. Thankfully, his guitar --which sat smack dab in front of the fireplace that day--was not lifted. It was bought with money he got when his mom died (which was 20 days before our wedding). And the feeling of being intruded upon, watched, and ripped off takes a while to get over. So, "Don't go to Dundalk in December" is my new motto.

Have you ever had something stolen from you?

Q&A Wednesday

My three most favorite memories of 2007 were:
1. My brother-in-law's homecoming and party
2. Our trip to Russia
3. Having Barb here

What were yours?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas Tour of Homes 2007

Welcome, friends, family, foes, and Fortune 500 moguls. (The first three may leave comments; the last ones please leave a donation.)

A barndoor "Z" is a year-round fixture on the porch post. I've decorated with a garland of poinsettias A pair of antique skis I found at a yard sale for $3. The wreath was made by Missy Geiwitz, the year Paul led their care group.

A pair of ice skates on an old Red Flyer sled (another yard sale treasure, $3.) Perry Penguin greets our visitors, asking, "Have you seen my lost mitten?"

I arranged cinnamon-scented pinecones and burlap fruit in a wicker bowl, plunked it down on a bed of cotton snow, and called it a bench blessing. Come sit a spell--if you're a polar bear. I'm heading inside!

Piano greenery. The clock was an anniversary to my parents from my mom's parents. The leaded glass cookie jar was a wedding present from my Granny. I have it filled with cranberries. Hymnal collection is special: one is from my Grandpa Dauber when he pastored . Another belonged to my dad.

The Dining Room. Greens in a soup tureen. The art in this room is a nod to my love of Renoir.

Below: Gifts waiting to be given
or mailed. Click on the picture
to see the toy on top of the mailbox.
I picked it up in Russia. Grab the handle, spin it, and the little chickies
peck away at the painted-on food!

This was a picture of the table the
night Stephen made our Greek meal.

Enter the kitchen.

Kitchen table centerpiece:
Gold charger for the base,
then some aluminum foil in a circle, topped with a snowflake made from a coffee filter, and adorned with a wonderful hand-me-down vanilla candle from Beth. (Thanks, Beth!) I've threaded some copper colored poinsettia ribbon through copper cookie cutters. and tied it around the bottom of the candle. I love shiny, simple things. Cost? Less than five bucks! And when I need the cookie cutters, there they are!

On top of school bookcase: Nesting dolls and a tapestry from Russia.

Fresh arborvitae from the yard and some fake cranberries on a
glass table lamp in the family room.

A Charles Wosocki puzzle we put together as a family one winter. The puzzle is very much "us."
I framed it and just recently
moved it to a new home above the TV armoir. More candles courtesy of Beth!

Our ceramic nativity. I tried to position the wise men and shepherd straining in close to see the baby Jesus. It reminded me of the joy I had in watching people visit me and my babies when I gave birth. All eyes on the newborn!
Next to that Joel's tree that Sarah bought him at Michael's and decorated. He wanted it near the "daddy tree."

Sweet singing angel made by Diane Smith and Sue Timko.

Our tree. Every year we've gotten a fresh tree. I just love the smell of pine. When I was a girl, my daddy and we girls planted 450 pine saplings on our new little farm. The aroma will forever bring back happy memories. Sarah and Joel usually decorate it, but this year I did it pretty much single-handedly. Decided to put 21 years' worth of sentiment on it.

Merry Christmas, One and All!


Saturday, December 15, 2007

10 Items or Less? NO!

Grammarians don't write express lane signs.

Walk into any grocery story (except Giant) and you'll see signs that say, "10 Items or Less." They should say, "10 Items or Fewer."

Why? Because you can count items. Four calling birds, three French hens, two turtledoves. Count them.

With regard to the grocery store, they might be Cornish hens, but you could still count them, and if you were to put three on the checkout belt, you'd better not put more than seven of anything else on it. Not in these here parts anyhow.

With the impending ice storm, you run out to the store for bread, milk, and toilet paper. You reach the checkout and unload the gallon of milk onto the conveyor belt.
Rather, you mean to, but it slips out of your hand and bursts open on the floor. Milk seeps out, ounce by liquid white ounce. Now there is less milk in the jug and more on the floor. If you were to count the ounces, you would have fewer ounces of milk, but less milk. Get it?

You then request a book of stamps. To replace the milk, you ask? No, although that's a perfectly logical guess, but not quite where I'm headed with this grammar lesson.

The book of stamps has twenty stamps. Woops! Last time I checked, twenty stamps is roughly ten more than the ten items allotted in the express lane. Oh, you say, it's just one book, so you're okay.

Next time I'm in the express lane with ten items or fewer, I think I'll kindly (smugly?) tell the lady in front of me--the one buying a four-pack of Starbucks Frappucino and a box of powdered donut holes-- to move to the regular checkout lane. I just know from a quick count that there are more than six munchkins in that box.

On the other hand, if there's a man in front of me with a dozen roses, I'll smile and think, "How romantic." More flowers, more love. Fewer flowers, less love. (Not that I've EVER thought about love in such quantifiable terms or anything.)

Friday, December 14, 2007

Catch-all post

To completely bore you, that's the reason for this post. But here's a synopsis in case anyone is still with me after such an alluring title.

1. I've gained 3 lbs.
2. Feet hurt worse than ever when I get up from a sleeping position or even if I've sat a long time. I have to take tiny baby steps till my feet sort of "relax."
3. I can't wait to send Barb her Christmas present. You know when you've got the smiles while you're wrapping it.
4. Normally I don't feel very confident in gift-giving to certain people (namely ones who don't appear wowed or especially grateful. I know, it's their problem, but I still take it personally).
5. I wanted to hear a new Christmas song (very Christ-centered one) this year. Today I heard it! Don't know if it's new or my hearing of it is. There's a line about "What kings would leave their thrones, what lords would leave their homes...for me?"
The radio didn't give a name or title. Anyone know?
6. Barb called tonight. She lives in Rice County, KS. Hasn't had electricity since Tuesday cuz of the ice storm and heavy snow. It was snowing as we spoke.
7. I spent a lot of time decorating my home for Christmas and really enjoy it.
8. Stephen made a Greek meal for the family--very fancy--on Sunday... candlelight, cloth napkins, the whole deal. One of my most memorable meals of all time. Family decided to make it a tradition to have a fancy Greek meal on the same day we get a tree every year. Pix to follow.
9. I realize after all these years I like playing w/ food more than cooking it. Garnishing, photographing, plating it just so....
10. Paul found out he gets to keep his job. They didn't even remove the Master Trust division that he specializes in. In fact, w/o losing any pay or status, they decided to take away the supervisory part . He hasn't enjoyed overseeing people very much. He's much more task-oriented and prefers that slackers have to report to ppl other than him now! Thank You, Lord!
11. I have been battling the devil this week and he was winning, sorry to say, till this morning. I'd had all the negative thinking and self pity I could handle. I rebuked him in Jesus' Name, three times, with all the strength in me, which wasn't much on my own, but in the power of Jesus' Name is able to break the venomous arrows of Satan even as they fly. I was then in tears from weakness and then sang my gratitude. It was quite an amazing breakthrough!
12. As part of my reading, it occured me again that Satan loves to use isolation as a tactic. Get Christians to stop hanging out with others, tell them they really don't need each other, that the prayer they asked for last month should get them through, don't be a bother, don't call ppl when they're obviously too busy to care, yada, yada, and don't initiate, it'll be more than you can handle. Well, I determined to take more initiative in relationships, to call people more and email less because ppl can ignore email or never get it or misread it, and walk away wondering, as I have, does anyone care? I mean, really care? INitiative is a character trait I highly value, so guess I might as well model it, huh?

Monday, December 10, 2007

She's Having Brain Surgery Right Now

Please remember to pray throughout the day today for Leannes's 8-year-old cousin, Livvie. She went into surgery at Hopkins to remove a brain tumor that's been pressing on her optic nerve.

You can read details on Leanne's blog, Learning to Be a Student (see my sidebar).

She was scheduled to be in surgery beginning at 7:30 this morning and it may take all day.

I imagine Leanne will post updates ASAP.

Friday, December 07, 2007

We Shall All Walk Again

I just woke up from an intensely powerful dream that has me thinking about heaven.

In the dream, I was standing on a curb in a big parking lot, holding a baby girl. She wasn't mine; she belonged to Mary, a friend who has four older children, but no baby. I was waiting for my parents and Stephen to pick us up. They approached slowly in a sage green Mercedes. Daddy and Stephen were in the back seat, Mama in the front passenger's seat. The driver's seat was empty as if I was supposed to hop in and take the wheel. So I stepped in front of the creeping car, walked around the side, and was reaching for the door handle just as a another car zoomed up from behind and rammed into it.

I lost my footing, but clung to the baby. I remember falling onto my back ever so lightly, as if cradled myself. With my right arm I clutched the baby girl to my chest, but my left one was still out, and the green car's wheel ran over my hand. It should've hurt, but didn't. Nothing hurt. I was conscious and only wondered if my family was hurt.

I got up, looked into the car, and despite the fact that the back seat had been dislodged, everyone appeared fine. We huddled together and someone handed me a phone.

"Call your pastor," my mom said.
"I don't know who my pastor is!" I cried, with sudden amnesia.
"Then call anyone who cares and will come to us," Stephen said.
The only person I could think of was Sharon Lilley.
I dialed a bunch of random numbers and Sharon answered. Before long, all of us were being airlifted to various hospitals.

Time passed. I don't know how long, but I was flat on my back. My mind was working just fine, but my mouth couldn't make the words come out clearly.

My mom came to visit and said everyone was okay. "Me?" I muttered. "Wah?"

My mom said, "Will you walk again? Probably not, honey.The doctors say you won't be able to stand again, either."
I wasn't prepared for that. I felt fine, even though--now that she mentioned it--I couldn't wiggle my legs.
"Whu?" I stammered. "No!"
"You broke your spine, Zo, when you fell. Right here." She drew a line with her finger across my ribcage.
"But it didn't hurt!" I managed to slur.
"I know, honey, that was God's protection."
"Bay....bee?" I asked, suddenly remembering the baby girl who had been my responsibility to protect.
"She's fine. She is absolutely fine at home with Mary."

I was on a moving bed, but it wasn't a traditional guerney. It was hooked to a wall in the hospital corridor, on one of those indoor moving sidewalks like they have at airports. Beds were being moved that way in this dream, so that nurses could transport patients at the click of a button .

We arrived at a large room called a cafeteria. Wheelchairs lined up with patients in row after row, waiting to be fed. Just three people available to feed about 50 souls.
My mom transferred me to a wheelchair. I read the poster tacked to a pole near the kitchen. It had signatures of people who had visited that week and who they had come to see. There were only seven names on the list. This was my mom's first visit so her name wasn't there yet. I cried.

"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Name!" I pointed clumsily with my half-working right fist. Mama seemed to be able to fill in the blanks.
"There aren't enough names on there, right? I agree. Well, after I feed you, I'm going to visit everyone here personally, okay?"
I nodded. Mama's tender heart never seemed to run out of love for the suffering.

She positioned herself to lift and transfer me to my waiting wheelchair. But this time, instead of telling me, "Sit down now," she said, "Stand here a minute while I make sure these wheels are locked."

Then I felt a power surge from God fill my back and my legs. They weren't strong, but they held me up. I stood there, wobbled just a tad, then straightened .

"I'm standing, Mama!" I exclaimed with full clarity. "I'm standing!"
"You sure are!" she said, eyes beaming.
I extended my arms outward, palms up. I took one step. Then another.
By this time, I had everyone's attention.
"Look, Gracie," my mom said to one of the cafeteria nurses. "Zoanna's walking!"
"Well, would you look at that!" Gracie said, nearly dropping a plate.

I surveyed the room and proclaimed, "Everyone, I am standing! I am walking!"
The ones who could clap, clapped. Some smiled. Others sat there, mouths agape.

I extended my arms out to my sides, like a worship leader. "Let's all stand," I said.

I waited. They looked at me like I had mental problems.
"Seriously, what are you guys waiting for? Stand with me!"

Then, I beheld a miracle: I saw them, one by one, use weak arms to push themselves up out of their wheelchairs. They stood, grinning from ear to ear. Nurses were dumbfounded.

"I'm standing!" cried a woman in a blue coat.
"Me too!" cried a man in a bathrobe.
"Let's walk!" I said, "Let's all walk."

Step by step, we walked around the cafeteria, hugging, laughing, weeping, telling the nurses to put those dishes away, we could feed ourselves.

The dream ended. I woke up, praising God. This dream filled me with hope. Doctors may say "Impossible!" but God is capable of miracles.

It also filled me anew with compassion for the handicapped. Not just the ones confined to beds and wheelchairs, but who are paralyzed by their own spiritual ignorance. They are waiting for the Lord to say, "Walk!" and then they'll walk. Meanwhile, there aren't nearly enough names on the "I Care" poster of people's lives. I want to sign my name today. I want to extend my arms in heaven and look around and behold all the miracles God has wrought. And I'll get to see my baby girl, too. The one I got to carry before she was born, but who God spared from harm on this earth.

We shall all walk again!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Health Progress Report Week 5

Total weight loss to date: 8 pounds

Diet wasn't great. While I'm not thrilled (wanted to lose 10 in November) I am fine with the slow but steady decline. Unfortunately my whole body, not just my weight, is in slow decline. My feet have hurt so much this week, I've not been able to sustain walking. What little I've been able to stand on my feet has been to do dishes and household chores, but even then my kids have been doing stairs with the laundry. (Mostly Stephen, I must credit. He has been a real servant, doing far more than he's been asked. So much initiative in that young man!)

To give myself added incentive, I took Tori's advice and put money where my mouth is.
I sent my friend Barb $16, one dollar for each pound I want to lose by Jan 1st. She also is trying to lose weight. (She had lost lost 11 at last check-in.) I told her if I lose the 16 by Jan 1st and keep it off, she has to return the cash. If she loses 16 but I don't, she gets to keep it. If we both lose it by Jan 1, she'll send me back half. "Better be looking over your shoulder," I warned her, "cuz once I've got my feet under me, I'm gonna catch up fast!" I really want to get the money back because:
a) it'll mean I've met my goal and
b) it's pedicure cash! I love having pedicures, but they're a treat not in the monthly budget.
So here's to more steady decline of the weight, but prayers for the rapid Return of Good Feet.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Q&A Wednesday

If December 25th rolled around, and you had no gifts to give anyone, and had none from anyone else, and there was neither a tree nor decorations, and no family members at all around you (immediate or extended) would you still celebrate Christ's birth that day? If so, how, but if not, why not?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

His Words Make Me Sick

Sarah came home the other day and told me her English prof had said words that stung her. They stung me, too, because if you hurt my child, you better watch out. The prof's words make me sick.

Sick for a few reasons:
-that the Lord is so blatantly reviled on college campuses
-that this man has no idea how much this same Jesus, whom He despises, loves him so much
-that this man is in terrible danger spiritually
-that my daughter's heart breaks when exposed to this attitude
-that we are paying good money for some bad teaching

My guess is that this man may have been terribly abused within the church. Such is the case with many people who equate Jesus with His less-than-perfect people. I am sad for him.

The college campus reminds me of rocky, shallow waters near a coastline, in desperate need of lighthouses and foghorns. Sarah is among the brightest in her demeanor. She is praying for boldness to be more of a foghorn.

Scrapbooking (Dis)Organization

Today both of my feet are in pain, but I think I can manage to start organizing my tiny (7x8) office from a chair.

But the kind of help I need most will come from organized scrapbookers.

I have been at it since 1995, and keep trying new systems. I have plenty of archival safe photo boxes in use and more at the ready. I have Rubbermaid totes with hanging files, which sometimes I've used for just organizing various papers, and sometimes for holding entire layouts (memorabilia, photos, paper, embellishments).

I have a huge binder full of stickers, a plastic magazine-holder thingy for assorted papers. Just outside the office is a corner at the bottom of the basement steps. In this corner is a triangular cabinet. It reminds me of a pie-shaped Murphy bed, because when the desk surface is not in use, you can flip it up and snap-lock it away. Very cool. When the "desk" is down, it's good for sewing or scrapbooking. Shelves in the lower half of the Murphy desk currently house my sewing machine, box of scrap fabric, a Creative Memories carryall bag (which is NOT all that handy at home). The shelves in the top half contain binders for stickers and open boxes for gadgets.

So what's the problem?

When I get inspired AND have time to scrapbook all at once, I seldom have everything I want all in one place. Photos are still on the computer, I have to pull everything out to see what I have, and only a few boxes are in chronological order.

Inefficiency, I guess, is the problem.

Can you who do scrapbooks offer suggestions that will make the 'getting started' each time more enjoyable? I know the solution must be easier than I'm making it.

PS This office does triple duty for three hobbies: computer, scrapbook, and guitars.
There is a doorless closet with 2 large shelves above where the guitars sit. Lots of wall space. The end result I'm going for is #1 functional and #2 an aesthetically pleasing "his and her" space.

Whether you scrapbook or not, you can offer organizational tips! And while you're at it, please pray God's healing on my feet. I feel like I'm always asking for prayer, but then again, lately I feel like my body's been falling apart one member at a time.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

The Worth of a Mother

Ever find yourself wondering your inherent value as a mom?

I do.

Best I can figure, my human worth is somewhere around $22. Wanna know I how came up with that? Read this priceless gem.