Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hard Day

I spent most of the day crying. Do you ever grieve so hard you just wonder if your body can produce any more tears--but then it does? That was me today.

I attended a Celebration of Life service at school for a man who was a father, a husband, a son, a friend to many , though I personally never met him.  His two younger children go to our school. The girl is in the 9th grade, the boy in 3rd.   The man was 43.  It was a beautiful service, and the man left quite a legacy. They said he was full of hope, love, courage, integrity. He was a thinker, an electrician, a fisherman. He was quick to help anyone in need.  He was not afraid to die; he was ready to meet Jesus. He loved his family deeply and his Savior passionately.

But my heart has been broken. The family lost their home in a fire two days before Christmas, and now they've lost their dad. Can't wrap my mind about that kind of sorrow, that great a loss.

The other reason it's been a hard day is that we've decided the time has come to say goodbye forever to our dog Brownie.

 If you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you'll recall that Brownie is the senior pup we adopted on June 1st at the tender age of 14 years. We weren't sure how much longer she'd last, but we took her anyway. I never knew how hard it would be, as her demise has been slow and gradual.



When I got home from Brad's funeral today,  I knew I'd be facing a mess to clean up from our old dog.  Sure enough. So I got out the mop and Pine-Sol and got to work. Just as I was finishing, I felt her nose on the back of my knee, so I turned around to pet her.  She was squatting to pee again.  I broke down and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed and sobbed.  I called my husband  at work and managed to tell him I can't do this anymore. I can't keep up the pace and I can't keep watching a dog lose control of her bladder.

Last night in small group, I shared my heart about this with them. They are all dog lovers, so I didn't feel ashamed to offer this burden. The leader prayed that we'd have wisdom and be able to see the situation from the dog's viewpoint, and that we'd know for sure when it was "time."

Today God answered that prayer. He gave me a memory and He gave me nothing but empathy for my dog today, replacing anger and impatience.

The memory stems back 11 years ago, Valentine's Day 2002.

That day I fractured my pelvis in several places while giving birth to my last child.  The very rare injury, known as postpartum pubic diastasis, left my SI joint separated 5 cm instead of returning to normal within hours.  The injury paralyzed my bladder;my hips were in agonizing pain.  I had to be turned in bed every two hours, helped to the bathroom and I wore Depends because, too often, I failed the guessing game called, "Do I have to go to the bathroom? Yes, it's been two hours."

God healed me miraculously and instantly six months later. I was free from pain!

But the recollection of that memory was an answer to prayer today. I could readily empathize with my dear old dog at 8:00 a.m as she struggled to rise to her feet. I steadied her and led her by her thin pink and black collar to the door.   Many times a day, this is what I do to help Brownie. When I can't be here, or when I'm not watching, she makes a puddle.

There is no spite in her, no laziness. She simply can't help it anymore.

She doesn't mean to mess up my floor. She would go out every time if she could help it. But her kidneys are shutting down, I'm afraid.   It's become commonplace to clean up several pee messes from the kitchen where she has been confined for the past week, so as not to have an accident on the carpet (again).

Brownie is virtually blind. When I reach down to pet her head, she thinks I have food, and will snatch the invisible treat--or my hand! It doesn't hurt because she has very few teeth left,  but it scares me, and saddens me.

Brownie is pretty much deaf. But she can hear water running into her bowl or the food bowl being filled. 

She has lost weight, not that she had much meat on her bones to start with, but I can count her ribs now.  She has a great appetite, though, but apparently the nutrition isn't sticking with her.

Her eyes seem weepy. Cloudy, tired, and weepy.  And sometimes, I think, apologetic.  I made a hard call to the vet's office.  "How much do you charge to euthanize?"

I could barely say the words.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Hodgepodge with Hated Questions

No, I don't hate any of the questions Joyce asked.  But one of them gave me a leg-up onto one of my many soapboxes.   Read on, and you will find out what that is.  Curious to read what others hate to be asked? Check out the Joyce's Hodgepodge link party today.


1. In the USA this coming Sunday millions will be watching as the Baltimore Ravens take on the San Francisco 49er's in the Superbowl. What was the last event you attended that could be described as super?
 
My ladies' Bible study meeting last week. I'm telling you, when believers get together to express their love to God, to pray, to read scripture, to share burdens and lift each other up, it is a super time. In the presence of a holy God, a Heavenly Father who loves and cares for His children, there is nothing that can compare--and believe me, even being a big Ravens fan in the heart of Maryland, no Superbowl even comes close to the worship we experience regularly.  

 
2. Share something you're a fan of these days?
 
Bolthouse Farms smoothies.

3. How do you feel about wings? In case anyone is confused, I'm talking the edible appetizer kind. What's your preferred seasoning on a wing-hot, mild, teriyaki, sweet and sour, other? Do you make your own or is there a favorite place you like to go for wings? 
 
I like them, but they're a lot of work for such little reward. My favorite way to fix them I learned from a man named Craig who (sadly) moved away with his wife to North Carolina.  His recipe  (I paraphrase as this was word-of-mouth): 
   
                      The night before you're going to serve them---do this:  In a big pot, dump your wings.  Cover them with equal parts water, vinegar, and beer.    Put a lid on the pot and let the wings marinade overnight in the fridge. Next day, broil them 10-15 minutes for crispness. 
When they come out, immediately season them with Old Bay,or bbq sauce, or teriyaki--whatever flavor you like, but do it while they're hot. If you use a sauce, spread in on the hot wings, but put the wings back in for a few minutes on 400 to make the sauce sort of "stick" and get a little blackened .
                   Having the wings marinade overnight in water, vinegar, and beer eliminates the need to boil them. When they're done, they are fall-off-the-bone tender!
 
I guess my favorite place to go for wings is past tense, or it's North Carolina.  Wherever Craig is cookin' them.

4. As long as we're talking sports today...have you followed the Lance Armstrong story? Did you watch his interview with Oprah and if so what was your reaction to his confession and subsequent remarks?
 
No, but I heard about it on sports talk radio.  They said he seemed unremorseful, "a monster," taking people down with him, and he will need a LOT of lawyers in the wake of his crime.  Why not just admit, "I was wrong. Everyone was doping, and I went along with it. I cheated and I regret my wrongdoing."  But apparently the only thing he regrets is getting caught and all that money he's going to lose from former sponsors and endorsements. 
 
5. What's a question you hate to be asked? 
 
"What do you do?"  

I always answer, "I'm an art teacher," which is true, but I only have one class and I don't get paid to teach it.  (It's my parent volunteer job, at least for now.)

If I answer with the one thing I do which does pay (babysit), the answer is met with (what feels to me) a condescending look and tone, as if being a mid-life babysitter is petty.

I am afraid to answer any other way, honestly.  My husband makes enough to support us, and always has.

But if I say that, I can feel the "it must be nice" vibes of jealousy from others. Some have even voiced it. That hurts. It really does. 

I'm very proud of his work ethic and his ability to get along with people  and for his chugging away in the hard times, getting up, getting dressed, putting one foot in front of the other, and going out the door to a job  which he, at times, has hated.  (When the kids were little and asked, "Daddy, what do YOU do? " he would say, "I put food in your mouth and clothes on your back." They would then look puzzled and reply,  "No, you don't,  Daddy.  We do that ourselves! What do you REALLY do?"  And then that poor man would make up all sorts of imaginary scenarios that made the boys want to grow up and get a job like his.  Slaying dragons and doing magic tricks for the President.

I need to learn to answer with fantastical answers like he did, I guess.

Honestly, I am enjoying reaping the fruit of what I "did" for 17 years as a homeschooling mom: preparing them for college and for life as adults.  "What I did" was educate them, and I didn't get paid for it except that they earned merit scholarships (and one earned two free years on a writing scholarship).  That's how I used my English degree that people said I was wasting. I made them "write their butts off," to quote the eldest.

I can tell you what I'm NOT doing--I am NOT regretting spending 24/7 with my greatest earthly gifts while they were in my care.

Season One of my adult life is over,  and  I am praying for direction in what to "do" in Season Two. Meanwhile, I attend SUPER Bible studies, take care of needy dogs, babysit,  load and unload the dishwasher, shop for food, cook it, clean it up, wash toilets, keep the calendar updated, tend my needy dogs (did I say that already?),  run carpool twice a day, fix meals, pack lunches, blog a while, check email, dust furniture,    fold laundry-- all that stuff that keeps the world on its axis, ya know.

Is it any wonder I say, "I'm an art teacher"?  It sounds a little closer to performing magic tricks for the President, although he's quite the magician himself--doing a fine job making our  tax dollars disappear.

What do I  do? I'd almost rather be asked how much I weigh, so I could respond with something like, "Well, if you pay me 100 times my answer, I'll tell you, bozo!"

 
 
6. The coaches in this Sunday's big game happen to be real life brothers. Jim Harbaugh coaches the 49er's and his older brother John Harbaugh coaches the Baltimore Ravens. Were you and your sibling(s) competitive? In what way? Are you still? If you're the only child how did you handle competition growing up?
 
Yes, I have 3 sisters--one older and two younger. My older sister and I were competitive in an unspoken way  for most of our growing up years.  She was "the brain," always making straight A's. Hard as I tried, I usually made straight A's, minus a B in math or maybe a second B in science.  She was the yearbook editor-in-chief, while I played section editor.  She was salutatorian; I was somewhere in the top 10 percent of my graduating class.  But when she was in 12th grade, and I was in 10th grade, she and I had a fight that ended in a heart-to-heart talk and lots of tears, over the subject of competition. She said she'd give anything to be able to play the piano like I did, to cheer confidently with school spirit in front of a huge gym for a pep rally, to make friends easily.  From then on, we celebrated each other's successful niches, and the fighting was over.

Nowadays, we only compete in Words with Friends, but she usually whoops my can.
 
My younger sister is so gifted in ways I can't begin to compete with, so it's a non-issue. She's very outdoorsy, and I'm quite content indoorsy.

My baby sister and I are 14 years apart, so there wasn't really much competition, per se, between us.  For the longest time I wanted as much parental attention as she got, but I finally gave up, but she got it simply by being the baby. And nice.  She excels in diplomacy, which  I could stand to use more of. 
 
And that was totally a sentence that doesn't prove I have an English degree.
 

7. What's your favorite game involving a ball and when did you last play?
 
Tennis, and years ago. Before my knees and bladder took the "love" out of the game.    Or rather, kept the "love" in it, score-wise, for me.  There is no "advantage" to having weak bones and poor muscle tone while trying to hit a little ball hard over a wide net and then run around like a fool trying to return it.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
 
Very sad news to end on, but I want my praying blogging friends to pray.  There is a family in our school whose house burned to the ground just two days before Christmas. Thankfully, no one was injured.

However,  this past Saturday, the dad passed away after fighting a long battle with cancer.  The mother finds herself a widow, a single mom, and with no home of their own --in just a matter of a month.  The funeral is tomorrow. Please take a moment  right now to offer a prayer to God on behalf of this family whose three children are left without a daddy and nothing they owned except what they were wearing the day of the fire.

GratiTuesday: Counting 1000 Gifts, #64-84


Source: A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp's blog)
A Gift Wrinkled, Smoothed, Unfolded

64. knuckles, allowing for bendage (is that a word?) --er, flexibility
65. clean sheets on the bed
66. a letter I found from my friend, written when we were in our teens

3 Gifts Found in Christ

67. my redemption
68. my hope
69. my forgiveness

3 Things Blue

70. my children's eyes  (all 4 of our kids have blue eyes)
71. blueberry jam made by my sister at Christmas
72. a soft navy shirt I picked up at a thrift store

A Grace Borrowed, Found, Inherited

73. organizational ideas
74. an ideal location for my daughter to move to, with another young, Christian woman
75. a love for art, music, and words

A Gift Before Dawn, At Noon, After Dark

76. a warm bed in a quiet house
77. a variety of lunch choices, hot or cold, whether at home or not
78. a moonlit, textured sky

3 Gifts in the Kitchen

79. a dishwasher
80. matzo ball soup
81. special mugs from family, friends, and former students

3 Graces Found in Friends

82. humor from a friend, teasing me in a voice mail: "Did you get that ice storm? It's sunny and 72 here in Kansas!Thought I'd rub that in. Bye!"
83. encouragement
84. being recognized at a new church by a friend I knew 18 years ago in an old church

 

Friday, January 25, 2013

How Do You Say Goodbye to your Mother?

Last Sunday morning, Betty passed away peacefully in her sleep.

She was my friend Renee's mother.

I had the privilege of getting to say my goodbyes to Betty the night before. Though I'd only met her a few times, I had always enjoyed her company.  It was easy to see where Renee's sense of humor came from.

Betty had had a massive stroke six days prior to my visit, and had been unresponsive from then on.
There was an oxygen line in her nose; her mouth hung open. She was breathing rhythmically, in and out.

In

and out.

Morphine kept her comfortable.

I bent close to her to face and rubbed her arm gently. Renee' was standing in the doorway of the private bathroom a few feet away, listening, I think. Tears ran down my cheeks as I struggled to find my voice. No one else was in the room. It felt like holy ground, just the three of us women and God.

"Miss Betty, it's Zoanna. I don't know if you remember me, but I'm one of Renee's friends. I just want to tell you I'm kind of jealous that you will probably be seeing Jesus before I do."

I paused. All I could think of was how lovely must her views be from where she lay. Heaven's brightness, a cloud of witnesses cheering her on:  You're almost here. Just a few more steps!

Bolstered by their cheers (since they are cheering me on as well), I spoke to her with renewed strength in my tone.

"We'll be celebrating your life tomorrow while your whole family is still in town.
They want to tell stories and share memories.  And I'm sure we'll laugh a lot.  You all are so funny. You've raised a good family, Miss Betty. Everyone loves you."

I wanted to sing a hymn,  but the words wouldn't come out. Joy sometimes sings without a voice.

"Renee' told everyone who comes in this room to tell you that it's okay to go now, Betty. It's okay. You can go now."

I caressed her arm and told her how soft her skin is. 

Renee' piped in at that moment, "It's Estee Lauder. Kept her wrinkles away till she was i rehab. She didn't have her makeup there." I thought of my mom, who has very soft skin and few wrinkles for a 71-year-old woman.

That's when I really started to cry. I turned and looked out the window, tears choking my words. I thought, "How do you say goodbye to your mother? How? How do you say all the things that are in your heart, all your thanks, all your apologies, all your questions about how to be a woman facing the milestones in your own life stages?

How do you say I wish you could be here to see all your grandchildren get married? I wish you could stay to see my joy in becoming a grandmother while you enjoy the overwhelming love of God to grace you with greatgrandchildren.

How do you say, "I'm afraid of being a widow, Mama"? Hold me, Mama, and tell me everything's going to be okay. How do you say, 'Mama I need your wisdom about this empty nest I'm dreading and the silence  that will surely fill the house when the last birdie has flown away. Will I welcome the silence later? Will my life have meaning and purpose when I'm no longer in charge of everyone's meals, or schedules, or education, or choice of friends?

Help me, Mama. Help me. Help me let go because it feels like I'm losing the people above and below me in this sandwich of relationships.

I want to say, take Jesus's hand, Mama. He's reaching out to lead you Home. But don't let go of my hand with your other one! Please don't let go of my hand!

Then I hear Jesus say,  ever so gently, "It's okay. Let go  of your Mama's hand, and take MY other one. I am big enough to walk with both of you, no matter where you are."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Birds of a Feather

 
A few weeks ago, I had my 10th/11th grade art class do line drawings of birds.  I  posted one student's piece on Tuesday.

Here are two more that I thought were exceptionally good.  I handed out copies of Birds & Blooms magazine and let the students choose any bird to draw  These drawings took roughly 90 minutes each and were done on off-white sketch paper with a variety of drawing pencils.

A friend used her photo software to enhance the backgrounds. Love the outcome.

Click to enlarge. I just adore the faces on these little cheeps.  I told the students to make their drawings fit a 4x6 space so that they (or I !) could make greeting cards of them.
 
 
 




Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Whining, Signing, and Mining in the Hodgepodge



 
I need a moment to whine, okay?  

It's 18 degrees here in my neck of the woods

I'm chillin'.  Just chillin'.  Chillin' to the bone.  

I am so cold that my thinker is frozen, so my answers will probably be shorter than usual.  (If you believe that, I really ought to sell ice to Eskimos!)  However, I did get a "perpective adjustment" in my email.  Friends of ours who live in Birobidzhan (far east Russia) are dealing with -46 degrees right now. MINUS FORTY-SIX.   That doesn't even register with me.

1. The popular saying, 'All is fair in love and war' is originally credited to English writer John Lyly. Is he right?

I'm going to say a kneejerk "no," but oversimplify my explanation because of  my aforementioned frozen thinker. 

Fairness makes me think of that which is 50/50, even, reasonable, and right for both parties.  Love is not fair in that it should never seek a 50/50 relationship, but a giving of 100%, no matter what.  Spiritually speaking, if we got  what was fair (that is, justice) from a holy, righteous God, we'd all be in hell. Fairness discounts mercy.  In war, it's "every man for himself." 


2. Are you a cereal eater? What's your favorite kind?

life photo life-cereal.jpg
Cereal eater? Are you kidding? I'm a cereal KILLER! I love cereal-- just about every kind except chocolate.    My favorite cereal is LIFE.  I like the original and the cinnamon.  Not far behind is Cap'n Crunch. 

3. A five year old in Pennsylvania was recently given a ten day school suspension for talking with a friend about shooting one another with a Hello Kitty Bubble gun (the gun blows bubbles). She did not have the gun with her at school.

A psychological evaluation was also ordered and the incident was recorded on her permanent record. The suspension was later reduced to two days and her parents are suing to have the incident removed from her file. Your thoughts? (If you missed the story click
here for details).

Ridiculous.  The girl is FIVE YEARS OLD and it's a BUBBLE GUN !!! 

Bang, bang, you're dead. Fifty bubbles in your head.

I think the school administrator ought to have a psych evaluation performed on himself (herself?) Clearly he (she?) is out of touch with the reality of a kindergartener's way of thinking.


4. Whatever happened to_____________________________?

adolescence coming to an end and adulthood being taken seriously by about age 18.  

I can't believe how many "kids" live with their parents well past college age and don't really start being independent till they're almost 30.  They get married and have kids of their own and get into debt--all those "adult things"--  while living in mom and dad's basement.  On top of that, they want everyone to support their choices in the name of love or "helping."   Mooch, mooch, mooch.

Gimme a break!   And the parents go along with it (even if they're complaining)  so it's authorized mooching!  In nature, mother birds kick their birds out of the nest and force them to fly off and make their own nest. Sometimes I think birds are smarter than people.  At other times, I KNOW they are!

Remind me of this rant when our "baby bird" (now 10) is 28 years old, going  three days at a time without a shower, working at Taco Bell, living in our basement, and whining that all the good women are already taken.



5. January 23rd is National Handwriting Day, billed as a day to reacquaint yourself with a pen and pencil. Do you like your handwriting? Do you prefer to print or write in cursive? This date was chosen because it's the birth date of John Hancock. What's the last thing you signed your name to?
Handwriting sample from my journal. 
 
My handwriting reflects my mood at any given moment.  Sometimes I like it, sometimes I don't. So I guess it's an accurate reflection of my personality! Inconsistent is the best way to describe it. Usually it's a mix of cursive and print within the same page.  My choice of cursive or printing depends on its content and recipient.

My signature varies, too.   I have a legal one and an artistic one.

The last thing I signed my legal signature to was a credit card slip. The last thing I signed my artistic signature  ON was my brand new Bible study book this morning.

 If I'm signing artwork it looks like this:

          The "Thank You" script is a stamp.  The rest is my printing and artistic John Hancock.



6. Speaking of John Hancock...ever been to Philadelphia? Do you have any desire to visit the city of Brotherly Love?

Yes and yes.  My first trip there was I was in fifth grade . Our  class went there for a field trip.  I shook hands with Ben Franklin himself, as a matter of fact, because it was that long ago.   It was that trip that planted deep seeds of love for American history in my young, impressionable heart.  I grew up to teach history to fifth graders of my own. 

Never underestimate the power of a field trip.

Nor underestimate just how little brotherly love can be shown by 5th graders after four hours of American history on an empty stomach.

It's enough to put another crack in your Liberty Bell.

But I digress.

I have been to Philadelphia a few times in my adult life for church-related things,  but have a particular destination in mind for a future trip: the Philly Museum of Art.

However, not until I thaw out a good bit. So...maybe in April.


7. Share something funny you've heard a child say.

Okay, this is from my Kidbits blog, where I've recorded years of funny things my youngest child said.  The funny post I chose "just so happens" to fit in with the question above.

This happened on...

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Special Wormie, Bad Dog, Founding Fathers

Our fifteen month old Golden Retriever can't be trusted not to pick stuff up that doesn't belong to him. Today he got hold of Wormie, an 18-inch white stuffed sock puppet that Joel made in second grade.

Reilly tore the eyes off, which made Joel understandably very, very angry and hurt. In his anger, he threw the eyes into the bottom of the trash.

He carried on and on. "Wormie was special to me! I hate Reilly. I'm never gonna look at him again. I'm never gonna feed him, never play with him even if he looks cute cuz he's not, he's ugly. He doesn't deserve anything he has! He only deserves to go back to his old owner that didn't take care of him!"

I asked Joel if he wanted to take the eyes out of the trash; he could glue them back on.

"No. He will never be the same!"

"How about if I sew the eyes back on? He'll look just fine."

"No, he won't, Mom. Even if you make me a brand new Wormie, I'll still be angry. It's like the Declaration of Independence."

I was stumped. Where'd that analogy come from?

"What do you mean, honey?"

"I mean a copy of the Declaration of Independence just isn't valuable. Only the original thing is!"

 

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Our Ravens are going to the Superbowl !!!!  We're going up against the 49ers. For anyone who is not really into football for the sport, perhaps I could pique your interest with a "personal slant" to the news?


The Baltimore Ravens are coached by John Harbaugh.
The San Francisco FortyWhiners are coached by Jim Harbaugh.
Those men are brothers.
Yes, that's right.
Brothers.

I'm so glad I'm not their mom.   Who would I root for?
 .
--------------------------------------------------------
 PS.  Sorry, readers,  but my thinker warmed up.

GratiTuesday: Counting my 1000 Gifts, #43-63





Source: A Holy Experience (Ann Voskamp's blog)

 

A Gift Worn, Given Away, Shared

43. a warm  heavy green bathrobe from my sister-in-law about 15 years ago
44. matzo ball soup to my sick parents
45. a shopping trip with my daughter

3 Witnessed Blessings

46.  my son scoring one of only 5 the entire team has scored all season
47.  a hospice nurse swabbing the mouth of an unresponsive patient
48.  the Ravens kneeling in prayer after their win Sunday night

A Gift Bringing Laughter, Prayer, Quiet

49. stories told by family members at a Celebration of Life service
50. a touching card from a Kansas friend
51. the morning of a school holiday

3 Gifts From God’s Word

52. a challenge from the preacher on Sunday to bring our Bible every Sunday and take it to work or school every day
53. assurance that I have peace with God  (Romans 5:1)
54. promises that someday we shall see Jesus face-to-face

3 Gifts that Might Never Have Been

55. My arms or legs, had my mother taken Thalidomide for morning sickness while pregnant with me
56. A debt-free life had we not stopped living beyond our means many years ago
57. my last child's bright mind  had the complete knot in his unbilical cord been any tighter during his birth

3 Gifts Only Seen Close Up

58.  the individual feathers of a bluejay, as drawn by one of my art students
 
 
59.  the numbers on the alarm clock saying I have 2 more hours to sleep
60.  the heart-shaped pads on my dog's feet

A Gift in Sky, Water, Memory

61.  lilac and fuschia streaks followed by snow tonight
62.  a lifeguard rescuing me and my two children in the ocean
63.  introducing my first two babies to all my grandparents before they passed away


Monday, January 21, 2013

Celebrations with all Kinds of Tears

This past weekend I shed all kinds of tears.  On Saturday evening, I went to visit my friend Renee', whose mother was in hospice. As I sat with Renee', we shed tears of sadness together. 

I cried with her when she got angry over a couple of things that happened that should never have happened at a time like this.

I cried as I said my goodbyes to her mother.  I cried as I drove home. 

Ten hours later, as I was fixing my coffee at breakfast, I got a text from Renee': "my mom passed this morning."  I cried into the skillet of eggs and heard my own tears sizzle in the pan. That was a first.
I almost giggled and then thought how ridiculous was my next thought:  Sizzling Tears would be a good name for a band.

What makes us go so quickly from the pangs of deep sorrow to chuckling about an invented band name,  from chuckling to embarrassment about it, from mourning  to reassurance that  a person's soul was safe in the arms of Jesus, back to grieving deeply--all in a matter of two seconds?

Tears of relief that Betty's suffering was over.
Tears of joy that she knew and loved Jesus and there was no doubt about her eternal destination.  Tears of thankfulness that God  had orchestrated the timing of Betty's homegoing while out-of-town family were here.  I mean, here was the scenario: last Sunday when her massive brain bleed occurred, Betty's doctor said he thought it would probably just be a few hours, a day at most, till she passed. So Renee's sister and a large contingent of family from the Midwest made arrangements to fly in immediately and plan a celebration of life ceremony for Sunday. They'd have to fly back on MLK Monday.

No one had any idea that Betty would still be alive on Saturday evening.

Renee' asked me if I thought it was weird that they would still go through with the service, regardless.  For a moment I thought yes, but didn't say anything till I had pondered it more. (Every ten years or so, I'm wise like that.)

I assured it that it would be perfectly fine and very healing for everyone to be together, sharing memories, sharing hope, sharing love, no matter what. 

And it was. The ceremony was upbeat, truly a celebration of a life of a woman who loved to laugh,  who had a "need to feed,"  who was remembered as being very grateful for the littlest things (like someone changing a lightbulb or setting her clock back at Daylight Savings Time or washing a window).  I laughed till I cried at the stories her family told because they  were getting so tickled from the microphone.  I could picture God saying,   "Keep going! Betty and I are up here rolling!"

Then, last night, as if a heavenly homegoing and a celebration of life weren't enough to make my tears flow, the RAVENS BEAT THE PATRIOTS WHICH MEANS WE ARE GOING TO THE SUPERBOWL !!  The air in Baltimore is absolutely electric !! There's  a sea of purple and black all around.  You can feel the excitement everywhere and see the smiles and it's just a beautiful thing to be part of .   I cried tears of joy with and for this great team!  Renee's daughter posted on Facebook that she was all over the place with her emotions.  Grandmom had been a huge Ravens fan; this was the first game without her, and they won big time.

Parties in heaven , parties on earth. It was all just too much to take in.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Friday's Letters

Linking up with a blogger named Ashley over at The Sweet Season.

Dear Annie's Eats, I was looking for a chocolate-coconut cookie or bar recipe last night. A Facebook friend linked you, saying there are no bad recipes on your site.   Here's the recipe I found easily.Thanks! Delish.


Dear Organization, I really like you.   Everything "kitchen" is on my list for organizing this month.
I started with the junk drawer.  Setting the timer for 15 minutes helps me when I need to stay on task, or feel overwhelmed.  Junk drawer done in 15 minutes? Seriously? Yeah. 

I forgot to take a 'before' picture. Oh well. Here are two "afters."

 

Bottom tray


Top tray

And, yes, that is a RAVENS magnet on the side of the fridge there.
And yes, that is my trash can. So much easier to toss stuff out
when you make it easy on yourself.


Dear Floral Designer we met Tuesday,  I think if there were a TV show called "How Not to Get a Bride to Use Your Services,"  I would feature you on the pilot episode.  Why?  Let me remind you of some of the things you did or said while my future daughter-in-law and I were with you.
                             
 a.  (upon our entrance, saying we were there for an appointment with you)  "Today?   Um, okaaay.  My boss didn't mention that. ... Hold on. Let's see if I can find you in the book."

b.  You want lots of baby breath?  You know it stinks, right? To me it smells like feet. When it comes in, I always Febreeze it.
           
 c.  You want what kind of flower in your bouquet?  Good luck. That time of year it's high cost, low quality.  (not true, said a different florist)  Better have a back-up flower in mind.

 d.  I try to get out of wedding shows. They take up the whole weekend. And I'm not a people person. I am a designer. I am not a salesperson! I keep telling my boss that! I am a designer!

Dear Rain, Please go away. You're not welcome here any more right now. You know it's bad when you see neighborhood animals marching two-by-two down the street.

Dear Sun, You came and went today as fast as a paycheck.  Please, either turn white or turn loose of our part of the country!

                                         

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pack Snack & Spoon Together

 




I'm not sure why this idea never occurred to me before, but it sure beats my old method of keeping plastic spoons in one place and the snacks that need spoons in another.



With one grab, the lunch packer has spoon and applesauce (or other fruit in single-cup serving) together in one bag. 

Advantages:

1.  Guarantees the eater will have something to eat with.
2.  Disposable.
3.  Makes packing quick and easy.  Even a child could put this in his or her lunch bag without help.
4.  Zippered sandwich bag provides extra protection against spillage in the lunch bag.
 
It took me less than five minutes to assemble about 12  of these.
 
I'm pretty sure it will save
much time and aggravation on a busy morning when folks
are trying to get out the door to work and school.
 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hodgepodge, on Track Again

If you're looking for my HP for today, scroll down. Silly me. In my foggy stupor of the late-night hour, I mistakenly linked to Joyce's linky from my dashboard. Access to others is denied ,Joyce informed me. Sorry for the derailment.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Hodgepodge with a Peck on the Cheek



>Lake Superior University has once again published a list of words/phrases they think should be banished from the Queen's English...here's the list for 2013-

fiscal cliff, kick the can down the road, double down, job creators/creation, passion/passionate, yolo (an acronym for you only live once), spoiler alert, bucket list, trending, superfood, boneless wings, and guru


Which of these words/phrases would you most like to see banished from everyday speech and why. Go here to read more about how the words were chosen.
 
YOLO, because people usually say it right before they do something stupid, as if living only once justifies folly.   It makes me wonder if they'd be any less stupid if given a second life??


.
2. When was the last time you rode a train? Where did you go?

A real train, as in choo-choo, not the metro?  If choo-choo passenger train, then the first and only time was when I was in college. I went from Greensburg, PA, to Akron, OH.     I loved it. Very relaxing except for boarding at night, alone, as a single woman at a dark, unpopulated depot.  I guess my thinking was, "YOLO"! 


3. Bagels-yay or nay? Favorite 'flavor'? Favorite topping?

Yay, taste! Nay, gluten.  Cinnamon raisin with Brummel & Brown's strawberry cream cheese spread.

   This question reminds me of a joke I heard last night:

Why are seagulls called seagulls? Because if they lived at the bay, they'd be called baygulls.


4. 'Tis the season of awards shows...if you could star in a movie already made which one would you choose?
 
 "Roman Holiday."  I mean, I could do at least as good a job as Audrey Hepburn, right? And I sort of look like her, too, right? I mean, we both have hair, eyes, nose,  lips, and curves.   Being the leading lady next to Gregory Peck--how much better could it get?  He was tall, dark, and handsome, heroic, charming,  with a great, low voice.  I heart Gregory Peck.

That said, my favorite movie of his was not "Roman Holiday" but was "To Kill a Mockingbird," which also happens to be my favorite-ever novel, but I digress.  

(Sometimes I think I should change my blog name to "But I Digress...")

5. The move towards single gender classrooms has been making the news in recent months....what say you? Do you think kids perform better if separated by gender and are taught differently or is that discrimination? If you're a parent, is this something you'd support in regard to your own children?

Another great question.   Oh,  but Joyce, you've given me a leg-up onto my soapbox, my friend.

I think kids benefit from being from in mixed-gender classrooms for just about every subject.  The one exception ?   PE.   

As far as mixed-gender classes go,  my wish is that the system would change to having boys start kindergarten at age 7, and girls at age 5.  The maturity difference is so obvious until about tenth grade.  Girls develop mentally, physically and socially sooner than their male classmates, and then parents and teachers seem all perplexed when 14 year old girls are drawn to 16 year old boys. Duh. Have you seen how the average 14 year old boy acts?  In the early grades, boys often get labeled "hyperactive" because they are much MORE active than girls their same age. Well, hey, I don't think God intended for little five-year-old boys to sit still all day and only have one recess.
They're not "hyper"; they're energetic!

As a teacher, I have enjoyed having both boys and girls together for balance and perspective.  And in high school, it's better for attendance. Why? Well,  did you know that teenage girls who are in close proximity  daily tend to get on the same "cycle"?   So you'll have a handful of girls missing school for "sickness" which, roughly translated, often means cramps or you-know.

I think having mixed-gender faculty for every class  past  third grade is essential. Boys and girls need to have both in their formative years.

6. What's your favorite thing about staying in a hotel?

That someone else has cleaned it before me, and will clean it after me.  And it means I've gotten away from home for a while.  Even a 3-star hotel would get 5 stars for that.


7. Do you have a 'word' for 2013? What's the story behind your choice?

Peace.   

Story behind it?  Turmoil of 2012:

I would wake up many mornings without peace, and go to sleep without peace.  I found myself dreading the darkness and quietness of night because I couldn't distract my mind like I could in the daytime. I had peace with God as far as eternal security,  but in the here and now, in my everyday life, I had frequent panic attacks, crying spells, outbursts of anger, and a sense of purposelessness.  Very little communication with real people, just a lot of online snippets.   My role as a mom was changing. Our identities as parents were fuzzy, having three older ones who "need us but don't need us," and one clearly young enough to need us in every sense of the word.  And we were drifting apart as a couple.

I headed into 2013 with a heavy heart; I had hope, but it wasn't steady.  I prayed, "Oh, God, what can I DO? Where can I GO?  Whom can I trust?  When will this change? Why is our world  being rocked?" 

And then God said plainly, "Peace."

In that one word, I felt it.  I sensed this letting go of the need to DO, to have the answers to where, who, when,and why that Satan kept firing at me like bullets to keep me doubting God's sovereignty and love.  Just one word: peace.   I realized that I had let myself be shocked and disappointed and
confused about the fact that I had troubles. Imagine that! As if I'm entitled to a trouble-free life!  Jesus reminded me of what he told his first disciples: "In this world you will have trouble, but I give you my peace, that where I am, there you may also be."

8. Insert a random thought here.

Please pray peace and comfort for my friend, Renee'.  Her mom suffered a massive brain bleed yesterday and has been unconscious and unresponsive since. She is now in hospice.  

GratiTuesday: 1000 Gifts, #22-42

 1000GIFTS 413x300 300x217 Counting 1000 Gifts (22   43)

Dusky Light, Surprising Reflection, Lovely Shadow

22.  thick fog that shrouds beauty in mystery
23.  looking at 2012's calendar and seeing more highlights than I'd remembered
24.  hazel eyeshadow

A Gift Held, Passed By, Sat With

25. my husband's hand 
26. a grandpa with his little granddaughter taking a walk
27. my Bible

A Gift Sour, Sweet, Just Right

28. Simply Raspberry Lemonade
29. date syrup
30. Twining's Bedtime Blend tea in a K-cup

3 Yellow Gifts of Fresh Mercy

31. eggs , scrambled or over-medium, to start my day
32. juicy pineapple chunks in my boy's lunch
33. a banana to revive my energy in mid-afternnon

Something Above, Below, Beside

34. a roof that doesn't leak
35. a basement  used for watching TV, taking refuge in during storms, doing laundry
36. a portable 12" electric heater

3 Things About Myself that I am Thankful For

37. I  can find humor in most situations.
38. I  have enough interests that I am rarely bored.
39. I  can think fast on the spot, so coming up with Plan B isn't usually hard.

3 Startling Graces of God

40. He calls me His child.
41. He paints the sky differently every single day, changing it subtly or dramatically as He pleases, using only words.
42. He uses flawed humans to carry out some flawless, divine purposes.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Date Syrup

It's as easy to make as 1, 2, 3.

1.  Chop 10 pitted dates in half and put them in a 2-cup glass Pyrex measuring cup.
2.  Pour 1 cup of boiling water over them and let that sit for a half hour.
3.  Blend it for a minute.  That's it!

I used a hand blender because it's so much easier to clean.  I also used a Pyrex cup instead of a pot
so that I wouldn't have to wash a pot.  (See a theme here?)  I then let the syrup cool,  covered it  and put it in the fridge. 

Date syrup is delicious in hot tea, hot cereal, over waffles and pancakes, in muffins. Anywhere you'd want to use sugar or syrup, but without the refined sugar. Yum.

And as a bonus: it keeps for a long time.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Wonderful Weekend Wrapped Up



Well, I wonder if I'll ever write another single-topic blog post again?  Probably not this week anyway.


WE WON!  I was a doubting Thomas, but I was wrong!  The Ravens BEAT the Broncos!  I thought surely the thin air and 8-degree weather and light snow and being on the road and the fact that we were up against Peyton Manning would all spell close game/ultimate defeat. Wrong. Way wrong!

People, if you haven't heard, read my lips:  We won by a field goal in double overtime. It doesn't get much more exciting than that!  38-35.  That was the best part!

The worst part?  I missed the whole second half of the game!!!

Why?  Because my good friend Ashley and I had made plans for a girl's night out to see Les Mis.
She knew I was conflicted.   Wavering between staying home with the family when the game was tied at halftime, and going out with her.    It's a rare treat for me to go to the movies (I haven't seen one on the Big Screen for probably two years) because I rarely want to spend money on movie tickets and overpriced concessions.  But she had free passes and invited me.   I told her that yes, I'm a big Ravens fan, but I'm an even bigger fan of my friends.  You can always watch replays of the game. She even treated me to popcorn and a drink.

Of course we had our pick of seats. Only about 50 other people were in the theatre.  I figured as much on a playoff game night.


What a phenomenal movie. Oh, my word! Without a doubt, the best film I've seen in years. Years!
The plot, the music, the singing, the actors perfectly chosen for their roles.  The costumes, the lighting, the themes!  Redemption, forgiveness, love conquering hate. Living for the sake of others. Dying for one's beliefs.  Wow, wow, wow.    I sat there next to my friend who lost her brother to brain cancer last Easter, but amid the sadness she walked out saying, "It made me think so much about heaven, with the people who love you waiting for you to come!"

I visited a church today that had a guest speaker, a pastor from a church in DC.   He was preaching on Psalm 119:97  . "Oh, how I love your law. I meditate on it all day long."  One thing he said really impressed me.   He is leading his congregation in memorizing a scripture every week this year. Not just the kids in Sunday School are memorizing, but the whole church is memorizing the same verse each week. They post it on their Facebook status, they tweet it, they recite it at dinner, they review it at small group, and then on Sunday, they recite it in unison.  What a demonstration of loving God's Word!




Friday, January 11, 2013

Friday Fragments, Flu, Five-Quart Quinoa Soup, Fomites, and Flacco

Here I am in the 11th Hour of Friday.  Scattered thoughts and a bunch of happenings before and behind me  fill my mind, and sometimes I sleep better if I just write it down.  It helps to
call all the mumbo-jumbo something alliterative, too.

Mommy's Idea



Friday Fragments. Clever title from Half Past Kissin' Time.   Won't you kindly pay a visit and see what else you might have in common in your fragmented world or fragmented blogworld at least?


Today is rainy, wet, and cold.  I made a big pot of soup I shall call Five Quart Quinoa  (KEEN WAH) Soup. Actually there's very little quinoa in it, save for a can of gluten free quinoa/bean/spinach soup.  I just starting choppin', dumpin', tastin', spicin',  and stirrin' till it tasted good. I ended up with an almost-full 6-quart pot, so that's how I named my soup,

It has carrots, onions, celery, cauliflower, black beans, lima beans, white hominy, corn, tomatoes, sweet potato, bay leaf, Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning,  salt and pepper. And maybe 1 quart of water. 


No meat  for the next 21 days.  I started the Daniel Diet today.    I didn't realize my ladies' Bible study had started it (most of them) on Monday since I plum forgot the meeting they had at one cheffy lady's home. There they talked about the plan. It's no meat, no dairy, no yeast, no caffeine, no sugar, no alcohol. Some of them are doing for 30 days, but I'm doing it for three weeks . (Hey, if three weeks was good enough for the guy who got thrown to the lions , then it's good enough for me. The purpose for us collectively is to seek God earnestly to make us more like the first church (Acts 2), for revival in ourselves, our families, our churches, our nation.

By the way,  I can kick some of those "forbiddens" on the Daniel Diet, but not all at once.  Or shall I say, I'm not ready to.  I am fasting from meat and most sweets and most dairy . I'm "beefing up" on veggies, fruits, and legumes.

Bonus to making that much soup today: I was able to take some to my parents who just got home yesterday from a few days in Florida. Now they are sick. I blame the airplane. Everything on an airplane becomes a fomite.   What's a fomite, you ask? I just learned this word in the psst year when I got pinkeye. A fomite is an inanimate object that transfers germs.  You have the flu, you touch the airline seat, the seat is a fomite. The next person to touch is exposed to your flu germs.  That second victim reads the airline magazine, puts it back, and the magazine and seat compartment holding it have become fomites.

 I'm not a germophobe, but writing that paragraph gave me the heeby-jeebies.  Can you give yourself the heeby-jeebies?

At any rate, my parents were very grateful for a hot, hearty soup, salad, and matzos, plus a homemade birthday card for my dear mom.  Such a pity to be sick with flu. . Even worse when it's your birthday week.


\
 My son's math teacher is moving out of state. He  thinks she is the nicest teacher ever. Truly one of the sweetest souls I've ever met. I mean, listen to how she described to the incoming teacher when asked, "So, tell me about the students."   MOST of us who know them might be tempted to say "wild and crazy," or  advise her to "man the lifeboats!"  but Mrs M simply told the new teacher,  "They're all extroverts!"

We all went out for a taste-testing dinner last night. For what? To decide the menu for the upcoming wedding!  Boy, what a wonderful job--to be a food reviewer.  Gonna be a good rehearsal dinner, that much I know, even though we had to narrow it down to a few choices and "have" to go back next month when they have prime rib on the menu. Twist. my. arm.


Ever hear something peculiar which then becomes slightly unsettling? Well, this afternoon I heard not one, not two, not three, but FOUR small airplanes fly overhead in rapid succession.  Granted, we live near an army post, and they do training exercises occasionally,  but not often.  They were flying so low it sounded like they could hit the house. I shuddered.

Last but certainly NOT least, I will be cheering for our football team--the Baltimore Ravens tomorrow.   I hate to be a Debbie Downer and give my opinion when I should be optimistic, but I don't think we'll beat Denver. I really think Peyton Manning will outdo Joe Flacco. I think being in the Mile High City will prove difficult for our offense.  I hope we win, and I will be all kinds of EXTROVERTED myself (ie loud, wild, crazy) if we do, but I'm going to make my prediction and hope no one throws quinoa or black beans at me.  I predict the score 17-10 Broncos.

With that said, GO RAVENS.  I will love you no matter what.  But you know, it would be loverly to see you again in the SUPERBOWL. Send Ray Lewis out on the highest note possible, will you/ ??? Pretty please???




Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Would You Like Fries with Your Hodgepodge?




 


1. What is ONE thing or area in your home or life you hope to report is completely organized when 2013 draws to a close?  Do you have a plan to make it happen?

My photos.   Yes, I have a plan in the works, though I should probably write it out with more specificity.  And due dates for each phase of the torture process. And rewards for myself because slaying the monster I created deserves rewards.

Watch out. I just might use my blog to take many a trip down down memory lane as I enter the thick of the battle.  It's what middle aged moms do between hot flashes.



2. What's the worst uniform you've ever had to wear for a job?

Decisions, decisions! I can't say which was worse, my Hardee's uniform or my Burger King uniform.   What made them equally despised was that I changed out of the former and into the latter, several times a week the summer of 1980.

That's right. I worked the breakfast shift at Hardee's  and the dinner shift at Burger King at the same time. Well, you know what I mean.  It was pretty confusing most of the time . Never knew (or cared) where I was. Same grease, different grill.   Picture bleary-eyed me standing there taking orders at HARDEE's drive-thru,  "Good evening, Welcome to Burger King."    Poor, caffeine-ready drivers rarely noticed.

Eight hours later,  standing more alert  at the Burger King counter: "Hi, welcome to Hardee's. Would you like to try a Deluxe? I mean a Whopper."

It could be why I never got my ten cents an hour raise at either place.

For a good laugh, I found this apt description of the Burger King Uniform, Circa 1980 online, complete with some of the top notch (and bottom rung) ads.
 
This absolutely hideous outfit takes every horrible fashion idea from the 1970s and 1980s, and combines them into one uniform. Note the huge butterfly collar, the *ugly orange/yellow/brown color scheme and the Burger King version of the Hot Dog on a Stick hat. The indestructible polyester blend ensures that somewhere in a landfill, this uniform is going to outlive the Burger King employee who wore it. All that and their fries sucked. Why did anyone go to this place?




3. What was your last kitchen 'mishap'? This question comes to you courtesy of Betty who blogs over at A Glimpse Into Midlife...everyone go say hi to Betty!

Does short-term memory loss count as a mishap? Yes, it does. So...

last night was my most recent Kitchen Mishap.

The whole reason I decided to fix steak fajitas for dinner was that I had some strips of red, yellow, and orange peppers leftover from a recent party.  I sizzled the steak and onions, put out a yummy spread of toppings and tortillas, and proceeded to chow down with my peeps. After the meal, my  husband was cleaning up while I sat there enjoying the break. He lifted a Ziploc bag of THOSE PEPPER STRIPS from the counter and asked, "Any reason you didn't use these?"    

4. How do you protect yourself from other people's negativity?


Great question.  But first, how do I protect myself from my own negativity???

Okay, let me answer YOUR question:

A) If I don't know the person well, and don't have to spend time with them, I avoid them at all costs.  B) If I know them but can't risk "adjusting" them,  I try to steer the conversation to something positive.   Sometimes I join in, and regret it later, because misery loves company but company doesn't necessarily love misery.  
C) If  the person is someone I love and can be gut-level honest with, I will call them out on their negativity.  (They do likewise, trust me.)  On a mild "call" I will tell them they're being critical/judgmental/condescending/cynical/self-pitiful,  but if what's coming out of their mouth is outright evil, I will rebuke them.  I will and I have! I will call a lie a lie and it usually comes with volume!
D) If it's really bad, I hop in the car and head for the airport.  I've never actually physically flown away from negativity, but they don't call it "fight or flight" for nothin'!

5. Who in your family do you most resemble (physically)? If you have children, who do people say they favor? Do you agree?

I resemble my mom.  

 
As for my four children:
 
   Not sure who our oldest son looks like. 
     (His wife says he's the most handsome man in the world.)























When our daughter and I  are together meeting someone for the first time,  we often hear, "You're her mom? Seriously? I thought you were her older sister!" (I never get tired of hearing that.) I see  my hubby's side of the family in her.   But a lot of other people see me. What do you think? Does my daughter take after me (see our photos in the sidebar). I don't really think so. 

Son2 -- relatives call him Little Paul.  I agree.

Our youngest son looks very much like I did in elementary school. Don't tell him, though. He's too manly to be compared to a girl! I think he takes after my dad. He's good with that.

6. January 8th is National Bubble Bath Day...will you be celebrating?

No, because I don't want to be celebrating National UTI Day on the 10th.

However, we are celebrating something else: today marks the 2nd anniversary of Dating Each Other for my son and his fiancee'.  Ain't that sweet?  He came home from work with white roses and a card, romantic guy that he is. They had plans for Olive Garden.  He changed out of his business casual into jeans and a flannel shirt. I asked him what she is going to wear. He said, "Oh, guess I better ask her." Next thing I knew (which I guessed),  he was pressing a pair of khakis and donning a clean blue oxford. 

Those two lovebirds are so in love it just about kills me.



7. Some of the 'world's best winter festivals' are - Mardi Gras (New Orleans), Quebec Winter Festival (Canada), Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah), Rio Carnivale (Brazil), Sapporo Snow Festival (Japan), Venice Carnival (Italy) and the Harbin Ice Festival (Northern China). Of those listed (and if cost were not a factor) which would you most like to attend and why?

Venice Carnival. I don't even know what it is, but you had me at Venice.

8. Insert your own random thought here.

Speaking of uniforms, I do remember the absolute worst one. It wasn't for a job, though; it was  the one I had to wear on the tennis team. I was a sophomore at a little Christian school that operated (as most little Christian schools do) on a shoestring budget.  Instead of affording us a different uniform for each sport, they made us wear the same ones.  So, the field hockey girls wore white short-sleeve polyester oxfords and a wool kilt to the knees with knee highs.  Not bad in the fall when October winds bite the legs. But imagine those same  kneelength wool kilts and polyester blouses and knee highs on the tennis court in late May, at 4:00 in the afternoon, in 95 degree heat and 99 percent humidity?

I think those wool tennis kilts are  trading war stories with the Burger King uniforms at the landfill.

Monday, January 07, 2013

GratiTuesday of My 1000 Gifts: #1-21

 



A Holy Experience









3 Gifts Heard:  

       1. "Happy New Year!"
       2.  "You have my support."
       3.  "I'm going to give you a mentor." (reminder)



A Gift Outside, Inside, On a Plate :

      4.  sunshine
      5.  heat
      6.  my sister's homemade strawberry jam

3 Graces You Overheard:

       7.  "You've been on my mind."
       8.  "He was getting closer to God."
       9.  "Go ahead and get it if you like it."

A Gift Old, New, and Blue

        10.  my grandpa's hymnal

        11.  a really big mug with a cardinal on it, from a friend
        12.  a winter landscape my dad painted for me

Something You're Reading, Making, Seeing

         13.  God Loves Broken People   by Sheila Walsh
         14.  songbird greeting cards
                
         









15.  how much I miss being in a small group
                 with my husband

 

One thing in your bag, your fridge, your heart:

             16. red leather wallet from a soldier friend
             17. Simply Lemonade
             18.  renewed desire to read the Bible in the morning

3 Graces from people you love:

             19.  kids' texts to let me know where they are
             20.  daughter picking up dog food for me
             21.  conversation

             






Pleasure upon Pleasure

This past weekend was full of pleasures,  not in big ways, but in myriad small ways.  I shall name three of them.
                                        
Pleasure One:  Three Year-Olds

Friday night I babysat, as usual, at a local synagogue.  I got to enjoy the presence of a three-year-old (my favorite preschool age).  He kept calling me "Sue" (his daycare worker's name) so I kept calling him by a different name,  just to tease him. 

He'd say, "Hi, Miss Sue!"  and I'd say, "Well, hello, Moses!"  and he'd get a funny look on his face.  I enjoyed reading a book to him with the song that ends, "Off we go!" and listen to him wait eagerly to join in on that part.

Little hands, little feet, little voices. Such a pleasure. And this boy is so very smart. I can't believe he knows all his letters and how easily he works puzzles.  God's design of little humans just amazes me all the time. And I'm so glad He made them with soft skin. What great joys from small things.

Pleasure Two:  Something Fixed in a Father-Son Moment

Saturday I had another great pleasure from a small thing.  For about a year and a half or more (I've lost track) we've had this dresser in the kitchen that has four drawers, but only three that would open. Grrr. 

We got it as a "manager's special."  Watch out for those, people. Just sayin.'   You could end up with something not-so-special that makes you want to manage the business end of a hammer right through its guts.

Anyhow,  I put on my New Year's 13 in '13 list  (as yet incomplete in my drafts folder)  to make that dresser useful again, starting by putting 8 working new knobs or pulls on it.  

When I mentioned it in earnest to my dear hubby, he took it upon himself to buy new pulls AND attach them, AND fix the broken runner that made drawer #3 wonky and #4 pull out without wrangling it/breaking a nail/using unwholesome words  emphasizing what a pain in the butt it is to have something useless in a prime spot/ that an unskilled bachelor someone who doesn't cook obviously designed this kitchen with only three built-in drawers.




One of the pleasures inherent in the dresser fix was that my handy hubby showed our youngest son how to affix washers to screws for a tight fit. Joel did two of them and was so proud of himself. I was proud of both men--old and young.  I had to take a picture on the sly of hubby fixing the dresser. My thought was, "I don't think I'll ever get tired of seeing these hands, and the muscles in his arms that are still exciting to me  even though he's 51."  No, they're not the rippling biceps they were at 31,  but they have always been a source of thrill for me. Okay. I'll stop. I'm getting breathless thinking about him. Hahaha.

 And I for sure never get tired of watching father-son or father-daughter moments together. (I missed the father-son photo op.  Boo.)  

                                                      
Pleasure Three: How and What We Watched: Ray Lewis's Last Home Game

The third joy of the weekend was sitting alone, beside my hubby, in the basement,  in his old Ed Reed jersey (not the new one because I respected him enough not to risk spilling mustard on it).  We were watching the Ravens  in the playoff game against the Indianapolis Colts.  What made it more pleasant was knowing that all of our kids were gathered at our married son's house to watch it together. Ben and Dee's hospitality, and the kids enjoyment of each other's company in grown-up ways makes a mother and father happy.  Those times when we wondered if two certain siblings would ever be friends? My mom said ten years ago,  "Just wait. They will."  And she was right.

This game was huge because it was the last home game for Ray Lewis, the leader of men in football, who is retiring after 17 years--all 17 with the Baltimore Ravens. He has earned the respect of players, coaches, fans, opponents, and this year was difficult. He tore his tricep early in the season and was out until this last game. His comeback, complete with his signature dance after running through the tunnel, made grown men cry. I think there might have been water droplets in my hubby's eyes. There were in mine, but that's no surprise. I cry when I see total strangers hugging at the airport before a loved one catches a plane.  

To wrap up the pleasure of watching the game together? The Ravens beat the Colts, 24-9, so we get to watch Ray play again.  Perhaps  his team--OUR TEAM--will go all the way to the Superbowl !! Wouldn't that be the best send-off Baltimore could give its living legend?




Friday, January 04, 2013

"Arch Word" of the Year: Peace




From my journal, 12/31/12, which is brand new for 2013...


Each of those things [sorrows from 2012] has shaken me deeply, and while I've been tempted to say, "Where ARE you, God??" the question I've asked most frequently has been, "What are you DOING, God?" And, "OK, I know You're in this, but please show me how. Help me see." The tornadoes in my soul have gone away for now, but I'm in the process of dealing with the aftermath. 2013. Lord God, You give me an "arch word" for each year {a word that overarches the twelve calendar months}.

This year coming, I believe You've spoken the word "PEACE" to me .

...Isaiah 26:3 will be my Verse of the Year. I like it best from KJV, the way I memorized it as a girl.


Thou wilt keep
in perfect peace
whose mind is
stayed on Thee.
 
 
 NIV: "You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You."  (emphasis mine).
 
How do I keep my mind stayed, fixed, steadfast on You?   By trusting you. .  Sounds so simple, almost cliche'.  But in my humanness, I have doubted You.  I've doubted Your presence, Your care, Your strength, Your power, Your love. How can that be? How?  Why? Why would I doubt that the One who knew me before the foundation of the earth, who knit me together in a secret place, who knows the number of hairs on my head, who died in my place for my sins, who forgave me and cast my sins as far as the east is from the west, who calls me His own, who gave me an inheritance with his Son, who sealed my pardon, who gives me his Holy Spirit, who is preparing my room in His mighty mansion in heaven, how and why do I doubt His love for me?  Forgive me, O Father!!
 
 
                                                                      PEACE.
 
How do I seek peace? Where? In what areas can I strive for peace? Because I know it's a choice.  "Inasmuch as lieth within you, live peaceably with all men."  Romans 12:18
 
In my mind,  I see that verse as the hub of a wheel, with the "spokes" being verses around it.


9 Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.
10 Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.
11 Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. 12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.
13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.
16 Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.[c] Do not be conceited.

17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.
18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”[d] says the Lord.
20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”[e]

21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
 
  (Please note:  to "heap burning coals on [your enemy's] head" is a reference to a  very good thing, something opposite what we think in our culture.  In those days, to keep warm or to cook food, people had to use coals; by sharing burning coals, a person was helping his neighbor survive well. Heaping the coals on the head evokes the image of piling it on--giving abundantly, the equivalent of paying someone's entire heating bill for the month, I suppose.)
 
 
 
 
 
So...what do all the "do's and don'ts" add up to?  What  has God spoken to me in the "spokes"?
 
 
            "Do what doesn't come naturally.
Do the opposite;
            Do what comes supernaturally."
 
This is how to seek peace and find it. It is  altogether possible to live at peace-- with friends, with enemies, and with those whom I question "Friend or enemy? Hard to tell in this moment!"
 
How is it possible to "live peaceably with all men"?  It's possible because God's Spirit is within me.
 
 
Peace.