Thursday, December 31, 2009

Plethora of Praises: My Gratitude List

I interrupt my year-in-review to jot down here the thanks I've been tracking in my journal.

My mom gave me a lovely journal called Impressionists 2010 for my birthday, which was back in August, but the start date just happened to be Dec. 28, 2009, my anniversary. In most ways I think of my wedding anniversary as New Year's anyway, except that I can keep eating sweets in the name of "holiday celebrations" for another three days.

The journal is really a day runner. Each date has five lines, so I limit the thanks (in writing only, not in reality!) to five per morning.

Getting on with my list:

Dec 28

Paul and our marriage of 23 years
Aunt Linda --her love & inspiration
Stephen's helpfulness with computers
Egyptian cotton sheets

Dec 29

Pleasant date @ Sizzling Bombay last night
The touching card that Paul gave me
Sarah's love for Joel
Ben's accounting internship
Aunt Linda's cyst was successfully removed, and benign

Dec 30

Purchase of a Sleep Number mattress
Good time with Paul all day yesterday when he took off
Caleb Z here to play
Enough dishwashing soap left for one large, smelly load
Encouraging words from fellow bloggers

Dec 31

Ability to anticipate
Meaningful work
Heat and light
Daddy came for dinner while Mama's away caring for Aunt Linda

I am so thankful that God's mercies are new every morning, not just every year. But hallelujah for a new year! Clean slate . New journals. Dreams of people, projects, and places in the next 12 months.

My main hope for the New Year is that I will see God's majesty. I want an increasingly larger view of Who He Is, and be ever expanding my expectations from Him, the Infinite God of the Universe. Is anything too hard for Him?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009 in Pictures, Post #2: Daisy Girl & Brotherly Affection

In April, Sarah Grace turned 20.

Did I just write that? My little girl, my second child, is how old? Didn't I just bring home that little pink bundle last week?
Anyway, what touches me about this photo is
1) her beautiful smile
2) the flowers that Stephen gave her, and how many questions he asked me about a gift that would ultimately bless her, which told me that he had really grown up, too. How precious that he would honor his sister. I told him that she loves daisies, and that it would mean an extra lot if he delivered them in person to her place of work so others could ooh and aah over them. Chicks dig it, I told him.
3) how Sarah grew up beautifully in spite of the rough start. I didn't feel mushy-gushy when she was born, can hardly remember the first six months except for the crying (hers and mine), and I didn't take nearly as many pictures of her as I did of Ben, our firstborn, but yet God's grace got me through her babyhood. I've blogged ad nauseum about my postpartum depression after her birth, but I hope I never speak more of it than of how God used it to cast me upon His mercy, and the compassion it gave me for women who don't just absolutely love the newborn phase and who feel guilty about that. My daisy girl is a continuous reminder of God's grace.
4) She's working in a job with people she loves in an area of her many giftings: administration.

Post #3 May: Beanie Kitties Play Uno

I had to look up the date when this picture was taken (April) but that's irrelevant in my mind. I just remember that Joel's personality was all over this scene:
1) He likes to wear as little as possible, but if he has to, then make it a Star Wars shirt.
2) He adores cats and enjoys collecting beanie baby kitties. Every time we go to Goodwill, he buys one for two
bucks and just says, "Aww, Mom, aren't they so cute?"
3) He set up his stuffed "friends" with a round of Uno cards and helped each one play his or her hand (paw?). You can't see Molly in this shot, but she was observing the action, lying down, head on paws, almost as if she wanted to be invited into playland. Talk about so cute. I wanted to photograph that, but I was afraid of disrupting the scene as it was.
4) Best of all was Joel's clean, soft skin. The cheeks, the fingers, the legs. All so soft. Sometimes soft skin is the one reason I would consider having more babies. But soft skin covers sinful hearts and takes far more work than I have the energy for. Anyhow, I know the time will come when he won't enjoy (nor would it be appropriate!) for me to touch his soft, clean legs, and his hands will be calloused, and his face will get stubbly hair on it. All too soon this boy will be a man.

I am weeping now as I write this. Time, please stand still, won't you?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 in Pictures, Post #1, with (Dare I say it?) Commentary

Would you expect any less? I mean, come on. The self-control it took me not to say
anything on my anniversary post!

As a disclaimer, these pictures really aren't the highlights of my year. The older I get, the more I realize that photos just don't capture the essence of my memories. I remember snippets of laughter and conversation and feelings better than actual events. And the best of my memories have not been photographed at all. They were the ones when I was enjoying the moment rather than trying to capture them on film.

But I will flip back through my pictures and show some that mean a lot to me, or that represent a time and place and people that meant a lot, even if the actual picture isn't so hot.

January's Photos: The Making of a Man and a Closet
So he was 47, unshowered, wearing an old white undershirt and black sweat pants. Paul is most attractive to me when he is 1) fixing something that broke 2) cooking 3) playing guitar 4) praying or 5) making men out of our boys in either a spiritual or practical way.

In this case, he was helping make a bigger man out of our littlest man, Joel, who was almost 7. Together they were transforming Sarah's closet into something she thrives in: a place of organization and vivid color. I just loved watching Joel manhandle the power drill.
The strength. The concentration. The trying-not-to-smile expression of accomplishment when
he finished.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Blizzard of '09: "Deep and Crisp and Even"

The best part
was when big
brother, Ben, says
to little brother,
Joel, "Get your
boots on, kid.
Let's go have
some fun!"

The worst part was
when the husband, Paul,
says to the wife, Zoanna,
"I cut my thumb on the
shovel. I think it needs
stitches." (I deleted that picture in the interest of those with weak stomachs.)

"And the snow lay 'round about, deep and crisp and

The snow started late Friday night,
December 19, 2009, and by Saturday night,
we had 14 inches on our lawn. Other parts of
Maryland got up to 24 inches. Malls had to
close. School closed. (Yay! Our break started
three days early!)
Twas a white Christmas after all.

Thank You, Lord, for sprinkling our patch of
earth with the prettiest powder from heaven.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Christmas Tour of Homes

Hi, there! Welcome to our home.
Six of us live here, six plus a dog, that is.
We couldn't find the sixth stocking we
bought last year, though. I'm mystified
as to what happened to it. If you've seen
it, please let me know. It beats getting
your loot in a Walmart bag.

Joel just set his latest Lego Star Wars
creation down for a minute so I could get a
picture of it. I love this stage where his little
hands are always busy building and creating.
I will miss the toys.

'Twas a white Christmas this year. Here's
Molly during our recent blizzard. Love
her soulful eyes and patient spirit.

Pardon me while I answer the door.
"Oh, I'm sorry. I'd really rather not go ice
skating today. Or any day. I haven't skated since I was a teenager at the Dublin Dell. I'm old now, as old and rusty as this sled the skates are hanging on. But thanks for inviting me. How about if you
come on in for a cup of coffee instead? No one will get hurt that way. "

If you've sent us a card, it hangs here on the
back of the front door. Thank you for taking
time to send us your Christmas hello.

A photo of my parents, 1961.
I'm so grateful they are both
still in my life, happy and as close
as teeth and gums to each other.

More wedded bliss on display
in the dining room:
Paul's parents,
and us.

I moved the greenery right
after the photo shoot. One of those
branches had caught fire. Un petit
feu, but still! It only takes a spark...

My favorite nativity scene atop the kitchen
When I look at the tapestry from Russia, I remember fondly the year Sarah and I went there, and remember to pray for Sacha who is there now for a year, and for our Messianic friends in Birobidzhan.

A basket of silk poinsettias that came from
my sister Jill's wedding. She got married six
years ago, just after Thanksgiving because she
loved being in my Christmas wedding as my
flower girl.

The muff on the piano was what my older sister, Rachel (my maid of honor) carried in my wedding. Joel did this display. Not bad for a
7-year-old, eh?

I usually do a homespun look on my tree, with all the
old ornaments and colored lights, but this year I wanted to go with more of a glamorous one. Copper and gold and lots of baby's breath with white lights. It soothes me every time I look at it.

Candle cluster above the TV.

ettes of snow-
that Joel crafted.
Love second grade
art, don't you?

The Singing Redhead made by my
friends Diane and Sue many years
ago. Seeing this little wooden doll
reminds me of God's faithfulness
in healing Diane from cancer.

Is it sacrilegious to put a nativity
scene in a bathroom? If so, I'm
sorry, but since we visit this room
so often, it's a good place to be
meditating on the Lord, right?
The wooden creche was made
by my friend Barb's brother-in-law.
I put straw on a tray with
pinecones around it.

Can't have too many candles.

That's my motto.

Well, that's our little tour. Thanks for
stopping by our home, if only in pictures.
Do make plans to come by in person.
The driveway has been shoveled for you and
we have plenty of hot chocolate.

I hope you've had a blessed Christmas Day
and will have a peaceful new year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Urgent Care and Ugly Clothes

Paul had been shoveling snow this morning since about 10 a.m., Sarah since 10:30. Ben joined them at 11. At around 11:45, when they had about five more minutes of shoveling left, Paul slipped on a patch of ice, fell, and sliced his thumb open on the rusty old shovel's blade.

It was his left thumb, in the crease, and he wondered how deep it was. To the tendon? It was bleeding pretty badly when he came in saying he had to go to the hospital or Urgent Care or something for stitches. He was hoping aloud he hadn't severed a tendon. He was saying he hoped he could play guitar again, and he hadn't eaten anything all morning, and was getting nauseated.

All this followed an argument Sarah picked with me last night. She was asking me why I give the impression I'm Martha Stewart, and part of that (according to her) means I always have to leave the house looking nice, never in sweats, always with at least some make-up on and my hair fixed.
At the very least, I put on jeans. I just hate to see people in sweats in public except at the gym. It brings me down to look at people who don't seem to care that other people have to look at them, too.

But when Paul came in holding his thumb skin together with pressure, I only whipped a brush through my hair and tossed on a sweatshirt of his. Fighting Irish, grey, boxy, do-nothing-for-ya kind of shirt. And I had been doing laundry in purple sweatpants.

Out the door I headed with Paul, (after taking a picture of his gross thumb, that is!) as Sarah shut the door behind me complaining, "Oh, MOM! I can't believe you're going out in public like that!"

I called back, "Your dad's bleeding and no one looks good at the ER. Not even Martha Stewart."

True to my hunch, no one did (except the receptionists, nurses, and doctors who had planned to be there).

Anyway, Paul got five stitches, but even he razzed me while waiting for the doctor. "Seriously, I can't get over how you're dressed. I had to walk behind you."

I threatened to do surgery on him myself if he didn't apologize. He just smiled.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Gratitude List

I'm thankful :

-for my van's heated leather seats and remote-controlled sliding doors
-that my son, Stephen, is at the Campus Initiative Conference in Knoxville. He's always shown...well, spiritual development.
-the promise of snow. Deep snow. As in a foot or more of snow.
-that I am told (as opposed to having it suggested) by God to cast all my cares upon Him, for He cares for me (I Pet. 5:8). What part of "all" don't I understand ?
- for the faculty and staff I work with
-that my husband is okay with my wearing his long-sleeved T-shirts since I have none of my own.
-for the girl and her sister who babysat Joel today and did some vacuuming for a tip
(it's always nice to a job taken off one's list)
-for a heat pump, even if ours is more pump than heat
-for a stack of blankets on my sleigh bed
-for the laugh I got at the grocery store. The guy loading my groceries into the van told me a customer asked him earlier if she could return some of her food if it doesn't snow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Simple Woman's Daybook 12.16.09

This was going to be a post featuring my photos for a Christmas Tour of Homes. But I am having technical difficulty (read: my son keeps disappearing) and can't tell if I deleted the folder I created last night with my cropped shots in it.

Once again, the idea for these "daybook" posts comes from The Simple Woman's Daybook. lieu of a photo post, here is my Daybook entry.

Outside my window...
are lovely Christmas lights on my neighbor Carol's house. We didn't do the exterior lights this year, and I'm okay with that. I okay.with.that.

I am thinking...
1) I gave more cash than tresses at the salon last night. Even I can hardly tell the difference.
2) How excited I am for my Stephen who will attend the Campus Initiative Conference in Knoxville starting tomorrow.
3) That I want to go visit the Burmese refugees in NJ soon.
4) I really should post my "I'm Really Not Martha Stewart" pictures of the messy house instead of my "cropped out the clutter for this Christmas Tour" post, just in case you're delusional.

I am thankful for...
my clutter-cropping camera.

From the kitchen...
nada new thing. Leftovers tonight, baby. Paul is at his office party tonight and spouses weren't invited. (Waa.) But he signed up for salad and cole slaw. He made the salad and I made California Cole Slaw which I found on Hope it's a hit. It tasted good to me and looked pretty.

I am wearing...
jeans and a lime green T with a plum top over it. Plum top alone is a bit decollete'.

I am creating...

I am going...
to wrap nice used toys for refugees tonight. All of the toys were donated from our school's children.

I am reading...
one page ahead of my students at this point.

I am hoping...
my husband plans a romantic trip for our anniversary, preferably to a place at least 3 hours away .

I am hearing...
snap, crackle, and pop. It's coming from my neck.

Around the house...
Christmas in its varying stages of readiness. Mostly unreadiness.

One of my favorite things...
is a pretty, new journal and pens. (Wait, that's more than one.) I got both today from my Secret Angel at School.

A few plans for the rest of the week...
Just a few? Um...I have way more than a few. Don't you?

A picture thought I am sharing...

A family photo from, I think, 1971.

Daddy and Mama, Rachel on the left, Andrea in the middle, me on the right. Jill didn't come along till '79.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Peek into Others' Nests this Christmas

Looking for inspiration or just love to be invited into others' homes, especially at Christmas? Then check out The Nester. Her philosophy is just dandy: "It Doesn't Have to be Perfect to Be Beautiful." A lot of bloggers have joined the Christmas Tour of Homes already, and I love it. Click away and enjoy the scenery.

I've decked my home but haven't uploaded the pics yet. I hope to get to it between picking up Joel from school and keeping a hair appointment. (I'm so nervous about the appointment because my friend Ruth, who usually cuts it in her kitchen, was working too much last week at the ER (woman of many talents) and can only cut it this week on her day off, which is my fullest day, so I said no. (Besides, she lives in the next county and when we get together, it's a girl fest with coffee and chit chat. ) Can't wait another week: I already look like a Papillon when I put my hair up in clips in the morning without brushing it. Anything to keep it out of my eyes. I've already done the Llasa ApZo look. I'm thinking of submitting a head shot to the American Kennel Club and see if they can ID me. Maybe a subcutaneous chip in my thigh would bring me home in case the GPS fails?

Anyway, this post was about the Christmas Tour of Homes, but I can hardly see the screen for the mane. Time to turn my hairdon't into a hairdo.

If you've decked your halls, or house, or whatever, please let us know. I'm a nosy neighbor.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Fankful Friday Poem

I'm thankful that Satan,
Though he roars like a lion,
is no match for Jesus,
the King of Mount Zion.

For Sarah's who diligence
made the house neat and clean,
and inspired me to decorate
with red, white, and green.

For candles that smell
like apples and spice,
for baby's breath accents
I've used more than twice.

For Cheryl's new home,
Though moving into it was hard,
has Narnia-type spaces
and a terrific back yard.

For Molly, our dog who,
despite soft, fatty masses,
seems perfectly healthy
except when she gasses.

For scratching our itches
With nails on our fingers,
for massages of muscles,
relaxation that lingers.

For a change of heart
with regard to Hanukkah,
I say, "Light the menorrah
and play dreidel till dawnica!"

For God's protection on Paul
when his car engine went haywire
and now won't exceed forty
though 70's his desire.

For God's giving me stamina
To fold piles and piles
of clean and dry laundry
(I hope it brings smiles.)

And finally I'm grateful
For a nice warm bed
in which to nap now,
to rest limbs and my head.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Okay, So I'm Living Like It's Tomorrow

What a ditz! I wrote my Thankful Thursday today and didn't catch my mistake till just now (11:20 pm). All morning I was thinking today was Thursday, so imagine how stupid I felt when I checked my blog tonight and wondered, "Now why does it say Wednesday, December 9, when the post says Thankful Thursday?"


I've been too in touch with my inner blonde.

Thankful Thursday

Not sure if my inconsistent nature will prove me successful at keeping up with this excellent discipline, but I would like to post today a "Thankful Thursday" list. The
thing I am resolved to do in 2010 is to be more thankful. I normally find myself complaining too much-- inwardly, outwardly, upwardly. Expressing gratitude is a sure antidote for grumbling. Let me try this in couplets today.

Though the weather outside is frightful,
There's no weather inside--delightful!

For pastors who preach with boldness and love
For fellow believers, both here and Above.

For a friend named Bonnie who is using her gifts
Of mercy and admin to give Burmese some lifts.

For jobs all around for my immediate kin
I'm thankful for money that comes steadily in.

For acoustic guitars on which Paul strums
For snare drums on which Steve puh-rumpa-pum-pums.

For snuggling with a soft-skinned little boy,
For the giggles he giggles to let out his joy.

For hazelnut creamer in my favorite ceramic mug,
And paintings by art students of The Grouchy Ladybug.

For bloggers who invite me virtually into their homes
For others who post quotes from uplifting tomes.

For laughter and tears (but more of the former),
For gloves, hats, and heating blankets to make me warmer.

For protecting my pastor's wife during her heart attack,
What relief to know that we get Daryl back!

For forgiveness asked and forgiveness granted,
For adjustments by others when my views are ill-slanted.

For a home that is safe and secure fore and aft,
For Ben's jokes about cycling and recycling, how I laughed!

For plenty to be thankful for, in verse or in prose,
I submit that it's difficult to know when to close.

But that's not a complaint, it's a good problem to have!
A plethora of blessings about which to rave.

No matter how many things I can list
The Lord nods and smiles, "You get the gist!

That you can't outgive Me, I'm Infinite, right?
But I'm blessed when you thank Me by day and by night."



Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ten Grace Notes

In the past two weekends, I've had four major events that required a lot of energy, organization, and emotion.

Noting the grace I experienced in the midst of the busyness:

1. My younger sister, Andrea, flew in from Arizona to share a belated Thanksgiving and my dad's 75th birthday party.
2. All the arrangements and details went beautifully for those events, including the slide show and trophy cake, both of which he raved about.
3. In spite of my assumptions that left me scrambling for Plan B for my Ladies' Breakfast tablescape, God gave me inspiration.
4. Sarah set my table for me while I taught Friday so that I could be free to spend the brief remaining time with my sister.
5. Andrea wanted to spend one evening out to dinner with just me--and treated me to lobster ravioli. Good ole-fashioned sister talk? Nothin' like it.
6. Stephen didn't let the snow and numbing cold keep him from serving at church by putting 30 tables in the storage shed.
7. The play, written by Emily C, moved my heart yet again, to thank God for choosing me to be His child.
8. Ben and Stephen put their arms around my shoulders to pray for an unbelieving loved one today. That meant a lot.
9. Even though my pastor's wife had a mild heart attack this morning, God spared her life and comforted Jim with reminders of His faithfulness. He also gave Jim the strength to preach this morning, at Daryl's insistence that he go to church and preach his prepared sermon on God's sovereignty.
10. Watching my daughter plan, set up, host, and take down (with lots of help) her first-ever churchwide baby shower. Her care group leader's wife, Leanne, is expecting in January. This also is the week of finals, and so Sarah hasn't gotten much sleep, yet remains joyful and is so excited to welcome this baby--and to babysit him someday if allowed.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Roses, Yes. Rose of Sharon? No.

Every year for about 10 years, I have delighted to decorate a table for our church's annual Ladies' Christmas Breakfast. This event is our largest one of the year, and is always filled to capacity, with over half the ladies coming as guests. Some are churched, some are not, some are believers, some are not.

There are about 30 tables and each one is uniquely decorated as a woman sets her own (or borrowed) dishes, napkins, coffee cups, centerpiece, and (if she wants) gifties up the day before. It's a huge undertaking administratively, and I'm glad that's in the capable hands of other people who've been given that gift. Any time a function has more than 12 people to it, I'm overwhelmed. So I enjoy being 1/30th of the table decorating team.

Normally I get inspired for the next year's table right after the current breakfast has ended. If so, I go on a hunt for low-cost elements to pull it together. By June or July, my table is pretty well "set" in my mind.

This year has been altogether different. I wanted roses. That's all I knew. Roses are in my china pattern, but I wasn't sure they were exactly Christ-centered.

Instead, I reasoned, maybe do a nativity scene. Can't beat that for a simple, all-about-Christ table theme. But mine only nativity scene has a stall, which means a few guests would have to sit and stare at the back of a barn for two hours. Not appealing to most women. Without the barn, Mary, Joseph, the livestock, and the Baby Jesus looked completely dwarfed on a six-foot round table. "Lonely and Haphazard" was not the theme I was going for, either.

Back to roses, I was determined. I thought of Rose of Sharon. Isn't that a name of Jesus? I wondered, assuming I knew the answer. I intended to look up the significance a couple weeks ago. But did I? No. Life got busy with Thanksgiving and Daddy's party. So last night I decided to get serious. Found out it's not a reference to Jesus at all. "Rose of Sharon" is the name the Shulamite woman in the Song of Solomon goes by. Sharon is a fertile valley in Palestine.

Okay, so the research was...what shall we say...spicy? But hardly an index-card explanation I wanted to display at church. (Although, if conversation were to lag, it'd be quite a rebounder topic.)

So I prayed, "Lord, please inspire this table. Please be the Center of my table, no matter what. I want to use what I have to save money and so that, if I break something, no one but me will be upset about it." (I'm a klutz.)

The inspiration to be revealed in a future post, complete with pictures . (Maybe by May, knowing my track record.)