Friday, December 28, 2007

Abuelita Dolls

Wal-mart is selling Abuelita Dolls. A google search reveals creators who desired to preserve their Hispanic culture. The dolls sing childhood songs. What a great idea.

When I first saw the dolls at the store, I made the connection to what the little guy next door called me.

When I saw the dolls featured in the store mailbox ad, I paused and wondered what exactly do little girls DO with a gray haired doll?? Little girls seem naturally wired to feed, craddle, rock, and put to bed with little blankets, their ordinary dolls, but what do they do with dolls that look like grannie?? Before I went to the website and figured out that the dolls sing songs, I wondered if my granddaughter needed a doll that resembled me to help remember me?? Until someone comes out with a grannie that sings in French, English and German, this one may do just fine. Little kids can sometimes pick up languages easier than us old folks.

A missed teaching moment

I am fat. I know it. But, the issue of this post is how to deal with little kids that state the obvious much to the embarrassment of their parents.

There is a certain age, say four or five or six, where little kids state the obvious. And while taught to be honest, they don't quite understand why they are in trouble with their parents.

When I laugh, I jiggle. This is fascinating to little kids. Or, maybe I remind them of Jabba the Hut in the Star Wars movie they just got to see.

The conversation goes something like this:

"Hey, lady, you are fat!"

(Their mortified parents call their name in such a manner and tone that they know they are in trouble, but are not sure just why, and so it does not seem fair.)

"But, mom, she IS fat !"

What should I say in such circumstances?? It is somehow okay to tell people they are beautiful, handsome, good, loved, but how do we teach children tact? How do we tell them it is not good manners to point out the obvious for example, that they are missing a limb, short, ugly, different?

I used to tell my boys when they were little the lame, "well, we don't want to hurt their feelings". Being short or ugly or missing a limb is not something folks can easily fix or change. Fat, is another issue. Fat is bad. Fat is unhealthly. Fat is repulsive. Fat is dangerous. And it does not matter if you go to the doctor's office to seek treatment for that sore throat or hacking cough, the doctor and nurses will be sure to point out you are fat, in case you had not walked by a mirror lately.

Any ideas??

The toothbrush

Here is your warning. Do not read this post any further if you are easily grossed out. Do not read if you are a squeamish girl who has no clue about guys, boys, and living in a house of guys. Do not read if you are eating. Okay, you've been warned.

Last night, dear husband was packing for a short hiking trip with our middle son, dear husband's male siblings, and nephews. It is to be a manly-manly trip. No fluff. But I had laid out dear husband's shaving kit bag just in case he wanted to take it. Sometimes dear husband gives his beard and face a rest on vacations. So, I was not expecting him to pack the razor or shaving cream, but I noticed he had packed MY toothbrush. We have this cute little hummingbird toothbrush holder, and when I questioned dear husband as to why he was taking the YELLOW toothbrush, he answered very matter-of-factly....because that is the one he uses, he says.

How could this be??? How long have we been using the same toothbrush???? When did dear husband adopt my toothbrush and abandon his fancy GREEN one his dentist gave him???

I had bought my YELLOW toothbrush in a double pack at Wal-mart and had cut the toothbrush pack in half, so I had the evidence that the "equate" brand on the YELLOW toothbrush matched the "equate" label on the handle of the still packaged toothbrush at the top of the cupboard. Rarely am I right, but I had proof. Mystery solved.

Next time I will buy a pink or purple toothbrush as guys are known to not touch that color. Or, at least write the word, "PINK" on my toothbrush.

Hey, at least my toothbrush story is not as gross as the one about the little kid that confesses days later that he dropped mommy's toothbrush in the toilet !

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Conscience in Hebrews 9 and 10

I have been pondering the word, "conscience" in Hebrews chapter nine for a few days.

verse 9 " and sacrifices are offered that cannot perfect the worshiper's conscience."

verse 13 and 14 "For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who are defiled, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of the Messiah, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse our consciences from dead works to serve the living God?"

Hebrews 10:1 and 2 "Since the law has only a shadow of the good things to come, and not the actual form of those realities, it can never perfect the worshipers by the same sacrifices they continually offer year after year. Otherwise, wouldn't they have stopped being offered, since the worshipers, once purified, would no longer have any consciousness of sins?" (verse four goes on to say that "For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins."

10:19-22 Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He has inaugurated for us, through the curtain (that is, His flesh); and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water. Let us hold on to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

I find such hope in these verses. I know they were written to the Jews about to get whomped in Jerusalem in 70 AD. But, these verses tell me that God is concerned about the conscience He put in us, and He is int he business of cleansing it and thanks to the work Jesus did on the cross, we can indeed DRAW NEAR, and persevere to the end, and help and encourage each other.

Thank you, Lord, for a clean heart, a clean conscience. Only You can do this work in me. No matter what, thank you for getting me ready for what You would have me do here, and ready to spend eternity with You ! In Jesus name. Amen

The different questions put to Gabriel

In Luke chapter one, we read how Gabriel appears to Zachariah during his time of burning incense. Gabriel tells Zachariah: Do not be afraid, Zachariah, your prayer has been heard. Your wife, Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord..."

Gabriel calls Zachariah by name, and he knows Elizabeth's name. This prayer for a son probably was prayed many, many years ago. Zachariah had probably about given up on those prayers. The Bible specifically states that Elizabeth was barren and that they were both well along in years. So, Zachariah asks, "How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years."

Gabriel rebukes Zachariah---"...because you did not believe my words..." Zachariah is struck speechless until eight days after John is born and the nosy neighbors argue with Elizabeth about the choice of John as a name for their new son.

Now let us look at Mary's question six months later. Same Gabriel. Gabriel greets Mary, in a face to face meeting, gives her what angels always said first: "Do not be afraid.." And Gabriel gives her details---you have found favor with God, you will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give Him the throne of his father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; His kingdom will never end." Mary asks, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

I don't know Greek or Hebrew, but Zechariah asks, "How can I be sure of this?..." and Mary asks, "How will this be, since I am a virgin?"

Zachariah does not believe. Mary is concerned about the mechanics?

Gabriel gives Mary the details of this unique Virgin Birth: "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the Holy ONE to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. For nothing is impossible with God."

Boy, don't we all love hearing that promise: "Nothing is impossible with God."

And Gabriel plants the idea that to confirm all he has said, the evidence rests in her relative, Elizabeth---and so Mary hurries to visit Elizabeth.

I wish the recent Nativity Story movie had gotten their facts straight. It was a pretty good movie to help visualize living back then. The scenes with Elizabeth comforting Mary are pretty accurate, but the Nativity Story movie completely skips Jesus' dedication in Jerusalem at probably one month of age, and how the wise men show up at a HOUSE when Jesus was over one month old, not the stable.

Do young pregnant mothers do this much walking today?? Mary probably walked to Elizabeth's house, and walked part way and rode on a donkey to Bethlehem. Then they traveled to Egypt when Jesus was maybe two months old or even one year old. Whoa. They must have been in fantastic shape.

Neat stories. There is always something fresh and new when I read them and study them. Amazing stories.

Wouldn't you love to see Gabriel's briefing---God gives Gabriel the assignment to visit Zachariah at a specific time in a special place of prayer---during the incense burning part of his once-in-a lifetime opportunity to serve in the temple where it will fall to him by lot. God probably warned Gabriel that Zachariah would not believe him. And what to say next. God probably told Gabriel, at this point, you say: "I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time."

God's Word is true. God is not surprised by "lots" or gambling or the throw of the dice. God knows ahead of time everything that is going to happen. And the cursing of Zachariah not believing is turned to blessing---for we get to peak into heaven and see a faithful angel's name and job description. Amazing.

God's Will WILL come true. God's Will WILL COME TO PASS. God has promised that Jesus will rule forever and ever. Get used to it. Get over it. It is as good as done. Nothing is impossible with God.

Jesus' genealogies

Don't you just love the begats?? Each name represents a family, a mom and dad and at least one son or daughter. Generations. Survival. Struggle. History.

The New Testament records Jesus' genealogies of both his earthly father, Joseph a little different one of his mom, Mary.

At first, they may seem confusing. Matthew's account starts with Abraham. While Luke's starts with Jesus through Mary until you get to Nathan, David's son--but not Solomon, the kingly line of Matthew.

So, it take s little study, and counting, and mining the nuggets or jewels hidden here. Why did God go to so much trouble to record Jesus's ancestors? Well, the Matthew account records the kingly line, Jesus' right to be king as promised for He was descended from David through Solomon down to Joseph. And the Luke account travels back in time through Mary and Nathan and King David, and all the way back to Adam and Eve, establishing the fact that Jesus was true humanity via his mother.

Since the Bible clearly states that Jesus was the actual Creator---Jesus started in motion, formed from the dust of the ground, the very body that He would put on some 76 generations later. Counting Adam as the first generation, then Mary was the 76th generation, making Jesus number 77. Jesus created His own great times 76 grandpa.

I love the Matthew account even though its all about the guys and the kingly, manly-manly line. God in His sense of humor mentions FIVE women in the Matthew-king line. Can you find them? Each is a story in herself !!!

TAMAR. Remember her? The gal that put on a burka because gals in her day wore burkas to pose as prostitutes. She had been cheated out of her husband. God had snuffed the first two evil husbands. And her father-in-law was reluctant to give her number three she had been sent back home to her father. God blesses her endeavor with twins. Way to go TAMAR. Her father-in-law was guilty in the plot to get rid of their coat of many colors Joseph. Talk about a dysfunctional family. Makes for very interesting reading. What must her life have been like? Almost burned to death for being pregnant out of wedlock until she produced her father-in-law's items she had secured in lieu of payment for services rendered. Not what we teach our daughters in how to get a man. But, then the men in her life had been so evil that God had killed them Himself. Those twins were her retirement benefits. See Genesis 38

RAHAB and RUTH When we think Ruth, we know the story of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi as in the Old Testament book of Ruth. But, Ruth remarries Boaz and becomes the great-grandmother of King David. Tamar, Rahab, and Ruth were not Jews by birth. Rahab is from the Jericho story. She harbors the spies, and is given safe passage before the walls come tumbling down. Each of their stories speak of courage, faith, going against the politically correct. Each are used by God. Their stories are not dry, but rich and full of passion and emotion.

URIAH's wife. The fourth woman mentioned in the Matthew genealogy is not mentioned by her name, Bathsheba, but as Uriah's wife---the brave, faithful soldier King David had murdered so that he could take Bathsheba as one of his wives. The prophet Nathan has to remind David that nothing is hidden from God's eyes. When David gets bathing beauty Bathsheba pregnant, when he should have been out fighting wars, his manupulating of events does not work when he tries to get Uriah to sleep with his own wife and pass off his kid as Uriah's. DAvid and Bathsheba will lose this baby, and David mourns mightily. But, through two of their four sons, Solomon and Nathan, will come the lines of Joseph and Mary.

And last but not least, Mary is mentioned in this Matthew account. Don't you just love God's sense of humor?

The Luke account should go first chronologically, for it goes back to Adam in a curious way---"...the son of Adam, the son of God." Jesus is the Son of God. He preserved the true humanity through the Genesis 6 attack, and through satan's attempt for some four thousand years to destroy this special line of the Promised Messiah. Even after Jesus is born in Bethlehem, satan tries to kill the baby through king Herod's slaughter of the babies two years old and under. And Joseph is warned in a dream to flee to Egypt and stay there until it is safe.

Next time, let's look at God's sense of humor in the story of Zechariah and Elizabeth. What do we learn from Luke chapters one and two? Don't argue with Gabriel. And how to woo a woman without words. John the Baptizer's father is struck speechless for over nine months. Maybe he wrote Elizabeth an account for her to read. Maybe he was good at sign language or gestures. This same angel appears to Mary, but she is not struck dumb. How come? She questions, how can this be? And Gabriel tells her that her cousin, Elizabeth is pregnant---six months along, even. And so Mary goes to visit Elizabeth. God gives Elizabeth her cousin Mary to talk to for a few months. And wow--the greeting speeches via the Holy Spirit, and leaping baby John in that story ! Don't worry, Zachariah gets to give a Holy Spirit inspired speech, too, on the eighth day after John is born.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Nothing is open

Christmas Day reminds me of every Sunday when I was a kid. The only thing open is the occasional self-serve gas station, and a seven-eleven type store. We actually got in the car and took a little drive before dark. Only on this day once a year do we see even the McDonalds closed and empty. And the 24-hour a day Wal-marts--what a contrast to yesterday when every parking spot was full, and I had second thoughts about buying that cornmeal.

I love Wal-mart. They are bad-mouthed in the press and envied by liberals, but they gainfully employ vast numbers of people, and because of the great turn over of products, that box of Sun-Maid raisins I bought is fresh and the raisins are plump and good compared to the very same box and brand purchased at Tom Thumb or Kroger---my other two haunts---but their boxes of Sun-Maid raisins are old and turned to sugar and only good for cooking.

Christmas Day 2007

Dishwasher is humming for the second time today. Windows are open and it is a beautiful day outside ! Wow ! And when I use the oven---it's best to have the windows open. Why, I may even set it on oven clean today so that it won't smoke so bad next time I use it. I found out the hard way that when you don't prick the potatoes before baking, they do explode.

I am not much of a gracious gift receiver. Gifts are not my love language. Honey-do-es and quality time, maybe...for instance, I can no longer reach certain spots, so it was a big gift for dear husband to shave my legs today. I bet I was the ONLY woman on the planet to get shaved legs for Christmas.

I made the soon-to-be soldier pancakes for breakfast, and we used up the ham and beans for lunch. I made awesome cornbread. muffins and a pan full to use later for cornbread dressing.

We celebrated Christmas early on Sunday afternoon when firstborn and family were here, and when the youngest son finally made it by. They love to gift each other stuff. Buying toys for THE granddaughter was fun, but at 11 months, she does not quite understand tearing paper. And what a mixed message---it is okay to tear wrapping paper, but not books or magazines??

We need to rake, but Santa did not bring a new rake, and the old one is broken.

I forwarded dear husband's You Tube of THE granddaughter spooncam as a way to wish everyone Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. We will save on postage this year.

Used up the rum making another rum cake---this time with lots and lots of pecans.

I don't remember what we did for Christmas last year...but, maybe by blogging this year it will help jog my memory.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Good bye, Aunt Mary

What must it be like to die?
What must it be like to leave this body?
What must it be like to slip into the much better place surrounded by your loved ones?
What must it be like to fall asleep here, and wake up there? To pass away? To die.

Freed from an old body of limitations, poor memory, and pain.
Does the soul and spirit hover for a minute wondering why everyone is staring down at where you are no longer at? All they see is the empty shell. The worn out. The no longer needed. That body served you well.

Now your memory is back. Now it all makes sense. Now you see your sisters and parents. Now you are young again, and peaceful, and laughing. Now you are face to face with your Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. "Well done," He says. Well done.

One of my favorite websites is the Wall in Jerusalem. Also called the Wailing Wall. Its a place of prayer. Sometimes the live camera shows a crowd and sometimes just one or two. And on the Sabbath, they tilt the camera to just the stones. Here it is almost 8am in Texas. There, at the Wall in Jerusalm, it is after 3pm. They are seven or eight hours ahead of us. Is that what heaven is like?? Going to a place seven or eight hours ahead of us?? To our relatives on the mission field on the other side of the planet, they are almost done with today, and will soon be preparing for bed. 7am here means 7pm there.

To go to sleep here where it is night and shadows and to wake up where it is bright and light and wonderful. We will miss you, Aunt Mary, but we rejoice that your passing was peaceful, and we wonder if your reunions will last until we see you again. I am looking forward to the part where it all makes sense.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Christmas Tree Top Angel has a boyfriend

Our Senior in college and soon to be Second Lieutenant did not show much interest in helping his old mom decorate the tree this year, but he asked me this morning if I had noticed what he had done to the tree. For years now, the Christmas angel has done her job solo holding the little Christmas light that is somehow connected to the red lights in the whole string. This morning, Woody, from Toy Story has his arm around her shoulders. I guess his relationship with Bo Peep did not work out.

Senior in college sure would like an angel of his own. He would love to start the adventure of life in the Army with an Army bride at his side.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Texas weather

It is hot. It is cold. We are sweating. Now we are freezing. We open the windows. Now its time to close them. Whew. If it was up to me, August would be temps in the eighties and nineties, then September in the seventies, October in the sixties, and November in the fifties. A gradual slide into winter. But, no, we saw eighty and used the AC on Friday and Saturday. Then a cold front blew through...and we had to use the furnace and electric blanket.

Poor Oklahoma, Kansas and Missouri---two inches of ice. Yikes. Over twelve deaths...what a horrid Christmas holiday for those families. Global warming is a joke.

The grass seed is sprouting. Here in Texas we scatter rye seed for green lawns in winter.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Christmas Cookies

I have a vivid childhood memories of making Christmas cookies with my Mom. We lived in Rochester, Illinois from the time I was kindergarten until mid-way through 4th grade. It was a rambling, old house on Main street. I remember it as having a rather large kitchen where we stood on a stool or chair to help wash dishes. My Mom painted the kitchen ceiling bright red. The ceilings were probably fourteen foot ceilings. And I remember sliding around the wooden floors in our socks.

I remember my Mom making Christmas cookies one year. It was such a big production that the cookie dough and shaping was done in the kitchen, and the warm cookies were dried in the dining room and iced there. I have my Mom's stained recipe for those cookies made with eggs, sugar, butter, and sour cream. Mom credits Mary Ann as the one who gave her the recipe. The recipe calls for five cups of flour. The instructions are simple: roll out. 375 degrees, 15 minutes.

I remember star shaped cookie cutters, and reindeer shapes. I am sure we got more flour all over the kitchen than in the cookies. Mom rolled the cookies thin, and the icing was made with confectioner's powdered sugar and milk and food coloring.

Thanks, Mom for a wonderful memory.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree...

A few days ago, I got down the can-o-ornaments and spread them out on the counter. I just could not decide whether to put the Christmas tree up this year or not.

We did not "do" a Christmas tree until our baby turned two or three. At the time, it seemed like such an expensive ($40) little four footer. We have a small house, and it has always been kid friendly. But, this has also been a house of just guys.

When the boys were little, I remember them fighting over the ornaments. Decorating the tree was a job for reforee mom. I doled out the ornaments fairly. And whenever you do things with boys the job at hand becomes a race. A competition. How fast can we decorate this tree?

One year the boys did not want me to take it down. Back when they were all sharing one room. So, I moved it to their room, and it made a great nightlight.

Ususally the drill involved waiting until Dad got home so that he could precisely wrestle the strings of lights on the tree. One year I forgot I had shoved it back int he box with its light strings attached, and felt really silly when I told the boys we have to wait until Dad gets home, only to find the lights were already on it.

For the past few years, as the boys go to college, and the oldest got married and left us to start his own family, enthusiasm for the tree waned. Some years the two left at home were willing, but reluctant unless it was their idea. And now, down to one, with May his exit date, I sensed that Dad and middle child did not care one way or another. And where to put it? I'd rather have seats for visiting than take up floor space for a tree. And I don't want to interfere with nightly Scrabble.

Yesterday, it hit me. Keep it simple. Put up the tree, but with an extension so that I can lift it off the Scrabble table for our nightly games. The tree looks nice. And I got to take my time and place the ornaments just so. I added a few new things---like the chop sticks, because we go to Pei Wei so much these days. And the old beanie baby toys and toys from the Babe movie, and Toy Story. It is still kid friendly for The Grandchild. And I got used to doing it myself.

Traditions change. I am not married to traditions. As our boys grow up and fly the nest, our current tradition is transition. I am trying to stay flexible and enjoy every stage. But, I sure miss those little guys even if they were LOUD. When the leaves fill the gutters, I see a little blonde boy in tiny jeans shuffling around the block. That little guy climbs roofs these days, and installs solar panels. He grew up. How short it seems looking back, that they were little. It was such an intense time. High alert, 24/7. They no longer fit in my lap, and they will never lay their head on my shoulder again like they did when they were babies. But, the ornaments spark memories. The picture of middle son on Santa's lap---he whipped it out as ID when cashing a check at the bank when he was eight or nine.

I hope firsborn has the pig ornament and the red feathered bird on their tree. And all the trumpets and french horns...

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Our responsibility

But if you warn a wicked person to turn from his way and he doesn't turn from it, he will die for his iniquity, but you will have saved your life. Ezekiel 33:9

God says just a few verses later: I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked person should turn from his way and live. Repent, repent of our evil ways !

Its our job to warn. To speak up. Reprove the Ruthless.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Day 2 without power...the last thirty minutes in a twenty hour adventure

It is five o'clock in the morning of Day 2 without power, (I wrote by flashlight). I promised my son I'd wake him up in thirty minutes because he has a PT test this morning and he set his cell phone alarm 30 minutes early so he could read his Bible. But, by candle light, it is too dark to read.

By candlelight we played Scrabble last night. Bob calls Scrabble foreplay. He beat me by ten points. I had a word EXCITING but no where to play it, so I played the "X" on a triple joining an "O" and an "E" already on the board for 54 points. Then I had the word, SINNING, but Bob went out before I could play. After the game is over, we find places to fit the leftover tiles. Just for fun. Just for some completeness. It doesn't gain me any points or change who won nor the score. But, I found a space for SINNING. The sound of chain saws all night. Seems like crews would be more effective during the day, but a truck was dispatched what with all the calls. The whole neighborhood was dark as the tree trimmers cleared all the lines.

The frig is leaking. Twenty hours without being opened, but without power, and the ice is melting.

And then, at 5:30am: THE POWER IS BACK ON !! yeah ! LIGHTS ! CAMERA ! ACTION !

Now the coffeemaker will work. Bob blew out the candle he was shaving by and I hard boiled a dozen eggs.

It was clear earlier as I checked on trucks down the street. I saw stars. But, it started getting foggy. I like fog. Fog is cool. Quiet. Fog eats noise.

Laundry humming, second load of dishes also loaded. Sixty degrees outside. Feels great.

My son reminded me he is twenty-one years old. Again. He is tired of being mothered. He saw my page of cursive and asked, what is that? When I was in seventh grade our teacher encouraged us to practice our handwriting. Didn't his teachers?

A Day Without Power

October 15, 2007 (I wrote in longhand)
No vacuuming

No dishwasher

No computer

No radio

No lights

No cordless phone

I'm thankful its cooler. No need for AC. I'm thankful for birds twittering. And I'm thankful for screens. We sure needed the rain.

A cardinal with sharp peeps.

A titmouse (horrid name).

A chickadee. Traffic and engines with that doplar effect. This would be a fine day for painting on canvas or walls. Today marks an ending of summer at last. No AC humming away here. Autumn approaching Texas from north and from west with delicious coolness. A chill.

A time for re-arranging.

A time to reconsider.

A time to trim up those bangs.

Stamps wait in the basket. Bills that need writing. But, there will be no checkbook reonciling until the power is back on.

Scented candle time !

The tree trunks turn from grey to black after being saturated with a heavy rain. How come I never noticed it before?

The streets dry first. Why are they in such a hurry? The trees continue dripping.

A time to practice cursive. A time to listen. A basketball bouncing next door will probably bounce until it is too dark to see.

When the power comes back on it will be bright as day. The frig will hum and the switches work and the screen on the computer will fuss that I didn't shut it down properly. Fans will whirl and it will be revealed what all got left on.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Remembering the lessons of Mount St. Helens

This past summer, my dear husband took me on a 7500 mile drive across the country. Palo Duro Canyon is beautiful. And the volcano in New Mexico revealed the hidden treasures of migrating ladybugs and greener hills than even their own postcards as the area has had lots of summer rain like we did.

The Mount Saint Helens visitors centers help understand what happened there and the first one you come upon is built and funded by the paper company. It is the best, in my opinion, and its free. The paper company has been busy harvesting and replanting, and their hills of trees looked photoshopped because they are all about the same height and spaced just so. The two parks service centers go for the more "natural" look, and charge you eight bucks a head to view and attend a movie that ignores the people that died here. Nor does it barely acknowledge the ones who survived here.

One amazing lesson was how the trees became projectiles to take out more trees. The blast at an angle snapped nine foot in diameter trees off like matchsticks and hurled them into other trees creating a flood of trees and ash and mud that clogged the rivers and created a new lake.

When I read a blog the other day about the pain a wife was suffering when her husband lost his arm in Iraq, I was reminded of those trees. And how those trees did not have a choice. They became part of the weapons used to take out more. When a couple or a family experiences the horror of an act of terrorism that rips into the body and mind of a warrior, the wife and family often are called on to help and watch their loved one suffer numerous surgeries, nightmares, painful withdrawal from medications, and physical rehabilitation, and that wife or family has a choice to be strong, and lean on God for that strength and patience only He can give, or allow the murdering cowards who laid that IED rip into their family.

Dear Heavenly Father, Please be with those wives and families dealing with wounded warriors. Help them to be strong as they stand in the gap while their warrior heals from the physical and mental wounds. Help them know what to say to nosy reporters, and neighbors. Help us be part of the solution, not more of a burden. Please protect our soldiers in harms way. Please help them unearth the buried bombs before they maim or injure anyone else. Your Will be done. In Jesus name. Amen.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

new normal

For the last twenty years, I have tried to take pictures of the boys on their first day of school. Our firstborn married and moved away, and the "baby" also graduated from high school and fled the nest to his own apartment five mile west. Middle son has been my only one left to take pictures of, and as he started his senior year of college, I took the first day of classes picture, the first day in full uniform picture, the first day of being twenty-one birthday picture, and today, the first day in "ACUs" as their Army ROTC uniform changed from the green jungle camo (BDUs) to the diggie desert camo with tan suade boots. ACU means Army Combat Uniform. BDU means Battle Dress Uniform. My son throws these capital letters around like whole words, so I had to ask him to slow down and explain. My oldest did ROTC in college, too, but as his college was "away" down south at A&M, and they were not allowed off campus in uniform, I rarely saw him in full regalia unless we attended a game or Aggie function. And firstborn's Air Force uniform now is different from middle son's diggies. Some day I'll be brave and ask about all the noncom and commissioned and reserved and the terms they throw about for rank. Maybe my sister-in-law with a son in the Army, another in the Air Force Reserves, and a son in the Navy can give a seminar to bring this old mom up to speed.

I put all the first day of school pictures in a row down the front hall. Ran out of room, actually. Maybe this new picture of middle son in his diggies will go under the picture of him as a toddler watching big brother head to kindergarten. What a contrast. And it seems like yesterday. And I see the handwriting on the wall---next May, just eight months from now, middle son will put on his "class A" uniform and the next will be truly empty. And my mission accomplished? Nah, mom is a verb. Once a mom...always a mom. It sure is fun being a grannie, too !

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Living with the Literal

My prayer was, "Lord, Please give me joy in the mundane tasks--the toilet cleaning, the clothes folding." So, God answered in a wonderful way--by giving me a husband who does all the mowing, and enjoys order so he picks up bits of trash and paper and lint, and loads the dishwasher and makes coffee. God also has a sense of humor, and showed unto me that the dishwashing liquid named, "Joy" works just as well on spots on clothing, cleaning toilets, and mopping the floor. And it is cheaper than "Dawn". I suspect it is made by the same people. The bottles are shaped exactly the same.

I have a towel that I have accidentally turning into an astronomy picture of the universe. Thanks to a splash of bleach there, and a hole here and the wear and tear of living a long life as a fluffy, then rag, it reminds me of pictures of the universe on the website, "Astronomy Picture of the Day". Expanding gases via bleach.

This month, with our middle son at rotc camp, we are experiencing "empty nest" and the dishwasher reveals a house of lovers: two cups, two bowls, two spoons, two mugs, two plates.

Thank you, Lord, for joy and jobs, accidents in laundry, and a dishwasher load that makes me blush. Thank you for my lover. His curly chest and body hair reminds me of the curly strands that arch out from the surface of the sun. His curlies can be found like gems upon the sheets. They tickle my nose when I give him a raspberry. I don't know why they call it a raspberry because it sounds more like a trombone.

Monday, July 16, 2007

My Day

Last Friday night, my husband, Bob, and I attended a family reunion where one of Bob's brothers was surprised with an early birthday party for his fiftieth. As Bob is one of eight siblings, who all made an effort to assemble for the surprise, plus their spouses, one or more children, cousins and their children, at one point I counted over twenty-five relatives. One of Bob's cousins asked me if I still worked or volunteered up at the school, but I said no. She asked if I still helped with that old lady across the street? No, she died years ago. With all my boys up and out, and one married, one in his own apartment, and our middle son away at ROTC camp for a month, maybe Bob's cousin was wondering what I do all day. This dear lady works outside her home, and other sisters-in-law run businesses out of their homes. Thankfully, Bob supports us. Our house is small, but small means easy to clean. And I do have the luxury of lots of free time. I thought it would be interesting to keep track of exactly what I do all day.

Midnight to 1am: emailed folks from my email address book that know our middle son, and are curious about how he is doing at ROTC camp in Washington state. James had called us a week ago and said he needed prayer. I got the impression he had one more try to pass the night land navigation course and since it did not get dark until 10pm, it was 3am before they got back to the barracks for a little sleep. I had emailed different ones that know James a week ago, so when we got a call from him Sunday night at 10:45pm our time, I thought I'd give an update that he did indeed pass the night navigation course on that third try with flying colors. And since James enjoyed the verses I mailed him, and he is finally receiving mail, I got another letter ready to mail.

1am to 6:15am slept with two bathroom breaks

6:15am made coffee for Bob, fixed his pb&j sandwich for lunch, folded clothes

6:45am kiss goodbye to Bob and walked him to the truck, folded more clothes, re-wrote the errands and want list

7am set more laundry going in the washer and dryer. Answered emails to niece in Indonesia, son in Dayton, and the neighborhood crimewatch group. ate breakfast, started on pile of vitamins.

8am Listening to WBAP started bread dough. Ground oats in coffee grinder.
One cup water with one tablespoon of yeast from the powdered yeast jar, two tablespoons of brown sugar stirred and set aside. One cup water and one cup dry powdered milk, six more tablespoons of brown sugar, one tablespoon sea salt, one half cup of olive oil, the cup of ground oats, white flour from the freezer, one fourth cup of molasses, in a big mixing bowl. Once the yeast mixture is foamy, add to the flour mixture and add more white flour until you can knead it. This will make four huge loaves. Today two of the loaves are plain, and one divided into rolls, and one loaf of cinnamon bread.

9:30am finished kneading. Mopped floor where I was messy with a dusting of flour.

9:45am bath time. Answered emails from bob at work, son in Dayton, listening to Mark Davis on WBAP, let the cat in and out four times, hung up a load of shirts from the dryer, set another load going. Put up the NASA tv website so I can catch the ISS coverage.

10:15am watching Clayton Anderson on the ISS coverage stow stuff while Mark Davis debates the evils of bottled water. I remember how my grandparents had a water softener and how they would bottle water in old milk jugs for making coffee.

10:30am finish choking down vitamins. Burped bowl of bread dough. Making bread is a six hour commitment. Assembling, kneading, cleaning up, punching down the dough, burping the lid, buttering loaf pans--glass are my favorites. Weighing, measuring into one pound loaves.

What haven't I done today? Still have not made the bed. Front yard needs weeding, but mosquitoes are my excuse. I want to write a note to Pastor Mark because their CO2 alarm saved their lives.

10:42am marveling at the mowed backyard. Bob did a great job with his new mower which I suggested he assemble in the living room and he said I'd remember it wrong.

10:44am Wondered why Bob did not marry better if his wife nags him about assembling a new mower from a clean box in the air conditioned comfort of our living room. Bob gets drenched in sweat when he mows. Wish we could afford a yardman.

11am Mary K. called. We got caught up on our weekends. She lets her husband assemble stuff inside where it is cooler, too.

11:25am Son from Dayton called on his lunch hour to answer my questions about his brother at ROTC camp, and tell me about how cute our grandbaby is. She is not wild about green beans. She shudders when fed a spoonful. Her Daddy used to do that as a baby, too. My nephews would eat string beans from a can as toddlers, but babyfood greenbeans---yuck. I folded more clothes and unloaded the dishwasher.

11:45am Lunch with Mary K. We also shopped at Petsmart and Greens. Can't wait to tell Bob about her grandson's body art with a permanent marker.

2:45pm Shaped bread dough into loaves and put in the pans and set in the oven to rise again. Four loaves rising and sweat dripping off my nose. again. Listening to Dr. Laura.

3:15pm answered emails, wrote thank you emails, cleaned email box, filed some and forwarded some to show to Bob to his home email.

4pm Dr. Laura is over, so I pick up the mail. Letter from niece in Indonesia and a picture of her husband and the kids. Her kids enjoy my letters. I will put writing letters on my to do list for tomorrow. Folded clothes, put away clothes, hung up another load.

4:14pm off to Kroger to hunt for apples for Bob's lunches. Found instead some steaks for supper, strawberries, and his gluc-condrotin. I should have picked up the better tasting apples (pink ladies) at Greens today.

4:50pm Home just in time to hear the phone ring---its Bob calling to say he is headed to the train. I promise fresh, hot bread when he gets home at 6:10pm. I set timer for 30 minutes to let the bread rise just a little more. Then bake, and fix Bob's supper. Searched for the video of the toddler who used permanent marker on baby brother, as I had told Mary about it.

5:12pm Found the pictures on the website after googling, and sent to Mary K.

5:20pm Quickverse searched "life of God" but it is only found in Ephesians 4:18
Listed the contrasts from the section Pastor Mark preached yesterday from verses 17-24. Quickverse searched "likeness of God"

5:36pm oven started, saw that Bob had emailed a bid home for me to see

5:50pm email to folks we saw at the party Friday night. Checked on bread baking, set table, unloaded dishwasher.

6:10pm Bob came home and munched on the strawberries while I cooked the steaks. I think he liked the homemade bread.

7pm Cleaned the kitchen

7:22pm done. dishwasher humming. three loaves of bread put in baggies.

8:05pm Wrote out verses I had quickverse searched for James. The word "bless" occurs 533 times in 473 verses. Started typing up My Day from notes I jotted down throughout the day. and now its 9:13pm. Time for bed.

Friday, June 1, 2007

post office

Standing in a long, long line at the post office this morning with a package of items for my granddaughter, a letter of beads for my neice, and a letter each for my great neice and nephew in Indonesia. No clue what postage to put on these items. That is why I am there.

The line lumbers on with the two postal workers moving slower than molasses. One postal employee, “Daniel” (says so on his hand-lettered nameplate) is railing at a customer that the post office is using Fed EX to send out passports. Yes, a postal employee is bad-mouthing his own place of employment. The very next (victim,) customer, in line wants her letter guaranteed for tomorrow, but no doing, as Daniel explains that they cannot guarantee overnight to a PO box. He shows her the fine print on some form, and there is a language cultural issue, so he speaks slowly. Finally, he advises her that she can go to Fed EX but he is not sure if they guarantee overnight to a PO box. I start giggling. And sure enough, this would be the guy I draw in line when its my turn. Here is my side of the conversation as he waited on me and was interrupted by impatient older people who only wanted to know if their letter needed extra postage or for a form:

“please hand cancel this one (bulging letter), beads, eight year old girls don’t like broken plastic beads.”

“these are going to Indonesia, has the post office decided what postage will be to Indonesia?” (90 cents ! it went up six cents )

“no, this package contains no liquid, only baby toys to my granddaughter and I must confess there is a letter inside, so first class?”

“priority mail will be fine, since you says its too heavy for first class, thankyou”

I presented Daniel with a twenty. He asked if it were debit or credit, as he had not seen actual cash yet today, and was trying to be funny. I just stared at him, as I could not come up with a good retort and after I received my change back in my hot little hands, I thanked Daniel for not sending me to Fed EX. Sometimes its hard to keep a straight face at the post office.

Friday, May 18, 2007

A letter that helps my attitude because I am the mom of sheepdogs

Subject: Sheep, Wolves, and Sheepdogs

This letter was written by Charles Grennel and his comrades who are veterans of the Global War On Terror. Grennel is an Army Reservist who spent two years in Iraq and was a principal in putting together the first Iraq elections, January of 2005.

It was written to Jill Edwards, a student at the University of
Washington who did not want to honor Medal of Honor winner US MC Colonel Greg Boyington. Ms. Edwards and other students (and faculty) do not think those who serve in the U.S. armed services are good role models.

To: Edwards, Jill (student, UW)

Subject: Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

Miss Edwards, I read of your "student activity" regarding the proposed memorial to Col. Greg Boyington, USMC and a Medal of Honor winner. I suspect you will receive a bellyful of angry e-mails from conservative folks like me.

You may be too young to appreciate fully the sacrifices of generations of servicemen and servicewomen on whose shoulders you and your fellow students stand. I forgive you for the untutored ways of youth and your naivete. It may be that you are, simply, a sheep. There's no dishonor in being a sheep - - as long as you know and accept what you are.

William J. Bennett, in a lecture to the United States Naval Academy November 24, 1997 said: "Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident." We may well be in the most violent times in history, but violence is still remarkably rare. This is because most citizens are kind, decent people who are not capable of hurting each other, except by accident or under extreme provocation. They are sheep.

Then there are the wolves and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy. Do you believe there are wolves out there who will feed on the flock without mercy? You better believe it. There are evil men in this world and they are capable of evil deeds. The moment you forget that or pretend it is not so, you become a sheep. There is no safety in denial.

Then there are sheepdogs and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf. If you have no capacity for violence then you are a healthy productive citizen, a sheep. If you have a capacity for violence and no empathy for your fellow citizens, then you have defined an aggressive sociopath, a wolf. But what if you have a capacity for violence, and a deep love for your fellow citizens? What do you have then? A sheepdog, a warrior, someone who is walking the unchartered path. Someone who can walk into the heart of darkness, into the universal human phobia, and walk out unscathed.

We know that the sheep live in denial, that is what makes them sheep. They do not want to believe that there is evil in the world.

They can accept the fact that fires can happen, which is why they want fire extinguishers, fire sprinklers, fire alarms and fire exits throughout their kids' schools. But many of them are outraged at the idea of putting an armed police officer in their kid's school. Our children are thousands of times more likely to be killed or seriously injured by school violence than fire, but the sheep's only response to the possibility of violence is denial. The idea of someone coming to kill or harm their child is just too hard, and so they chose the path of denial.

The sheep generally do not like the sheepdog. He looks a lot like the wolf. He has fangs and the capacity for violence. The difference, though, is that the sheepdog must not, can not and will not ever harm the sheep. Any sheepdog who intentionally harms the lowliest little lamb will be punished and removed. The world cannot work any other way, at least not in a representative democracy or a republic such as ours.

Still, the sheepdog disturbs the sheep. He is a constant reminder that there are wolves in the land. They would prefer that he didn't tell them where to go, or give them traffic tickets, or stand at the ready in our airports, in camouflage fatigues, holding an M-16.

The sheep would much rather have the sheepdog cash in his fangs, spray paint himself white, and go, "Baa." Until the wolf shows up. Then the entire flock tries desperately to hide behind one lonely sheepdog.

The students, the victims, at Columbine High School were big, tough high school students, and under ordinary circumstances they would not have had the time of day for a police officer. They were not bad kids; they just had nothing to say to a cop. When the school was under attack, however, and SWAT teams were clearing the rooms and hallways, the officers had to physically peel those clinging, sobbing kids off of them.

This is how the little lambs feel about their sheepdog when the wolf is at the door. Look at what happened after September 11, 2001 when the wolf pounded hard on the door. Remember how America, more than ever before, felt differently about their law enforcement officers and military personnel? Understand that there is nothing morally superior about being a sheepdog; it is just what you choose to be.

Also understand that a sheepdog is a funny critter: He is always sniffing around out on the perimeter, checking the breeze, barking at things that go bump in the night, and yearning for a righteous battle. That is, the young sheepdogs yearn for a righteous battle. The old sheepdogs are a little older and wiser, but they move to the sound of the guns when needed, right along with the young ones.

Here is how the sheep and the sheepdog think differently. The sheep pretend the wolf will never come, but the sheepdog lives for that day.

After the attacks on September 11, 2001, most of the sheep, that is, most citizens in America said, "Thank God I wasn't on one of those planes." The sheepdogs, the warriors, said, "Dear God, I wish I could have been on one of those planes. Maybe I could have made a difference." You want to be able to make a difference. There is
nothing morally superior about the sheepdog, the warrior, but he does have one real advantage. Only one. And that is that he is able to survive and thrive in an environment that destroys 98 percent of the population.

There was research conducted a few years ago with individuals convicted of violent crimes. These cons were in prison for serious, predatory crimes of violence: assaults, murders and killing law enforcement officers. The vast majority said that they specifically targeted victims by body language: slumped walk, passive behavior and lack of awareness. They chose their victims like big cats do in Africa, when they select one out of the herd that is least able to protect itself.

Some people may be destined to be sheep and others might be genetically primed to be wolves or sheepdogs. But I believe that most people can choose which one they want to be, and I'm proud to say that more and more Americans are choosing to become sheepdogs.

Seven months after the attack on September 11, 2001, Todd Beamer was honored in his hometown of Cranbury, New Jersey. Todd, as you recall, was the man on Flight 93 over Pennsylvania who called on his cell phone to alert an operator from United Airlines about the hijacking. When they learned of the other three passenger planes that had been used as weapons, Todd and the other passengers confronted the terrorist hijackers. In one hour, a transformation occurred among the passengers - athletes, business people and parents -- from sheep to sheepdogs and together they fought the wolves, ultimately saving an unknown number of lives on the ground.

"There is no safety for honest men except by believing all possible evil of evil men." - Edmund Burke. Here is the point I like to emphasize, especially to the thousands of police officers and soldiers I speak to each year. In nature the sheep, real sheep, are born as sheep. Sheepdogs are born that way, and so are wolves. They didn't have a choice.

But you are not a critter. As a human being, you can be whatever you want to be. It is a conscious, moral decision. If you want to be a sheep, then you can be a sheep and that is okay, but you must understand the price you pay. When the wolf comes, you and your loved ones are going to die if there is not a sheepdog there to protect you.

If you want to be a wolf, you can be one, but the sheepdogs are going to hunt you down and you will never have rest, safety, trust or love.

But if you want to be a sheepdog and walk the warrior's path, then you must make a conscious and moral decision every day to dedicate, equip and prepare yourself to thrive in that toxic, corrosive moment when the wolf comes knocking at the door.

This business of being a sheep or a sheepdog is not a yes-no dichotomy. It is not an all-or-nothing, either-or choice. It is a matter of degrees, a continum. On one end is an abject, head-in-the-sand-sheep and on the other end is the ultimate warrior. Few people exist completely on one end or the other. Most of us live somewhere in between.

Since 9-11 almost everyone in America took a step up that continuum, away from denial. The sheep took a few steps toward accepting and appreciating their warriors, and the warriors started taking their job more seriously. Its ok to be a sheep, but do not kick the sheepdog.

Indeed, the sheepdog may just run a little harder, strive to protect a little better and be fully prepared to pay an ultimate price in battle and spirit with the sheep moving from "baa" to "thanks".

We do not call for gifts or freedoms beyond our lot. We just need a small pat on the head, a smile and a thank you to fill the emotional tank which is drained protecting the sheep. And when our number is called by "The Almighty", and day retreats into night, a small prayer before the heavens just may be in order to say thanks for letting you continue to be a sheep. And be grateful for the thousands - - millions - - of American sheepdogs who permit you the freedom to express even bad ideas.

Quickverse word searches

One of my favorite ways to study the Bible is using Quickverse's word search. My dear husband showed me how to enter a word with a star (for example: lov*) and find all the instances of the words love, loving, loves, lovingkindness, and loved. And the search box tells neat statistics. There are 744 occurrences in 648 verses of the words for love. I was surprised to discover that the first use of the word "love" does not occur until the story of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Genesis 21:1 "Take now your son, your only son whom you love, Isaac...and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I tell you." And I was also surprised to see the word, "worship" also making its debut here in this same story just a few verses later, Genesis 21:5 "Stay here with the donkey (Abraham is speaking to his servants) and I and the lad will go yonder and we will worship and return to you." Abraham proclaims in these instructions that he believes God will resurrect or resuscitate Isaac. I word searched "worship" and discovered that it occurs 112 times in 107 verses.

Can the word, "love" be substituted for worship? Is worship love? Or, is love something that compels us to worship? "Worship" is a church word that is hard to wrap my mind around. How would I explain worship to a child? What does worship mean exactly? Looking through the verses where the word, "worship" occurs, I see half of the verses seem to be warnings what NOT to worship. For example, in Exodus 20:5 "You shall not worship them (idols) or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me.

Wow---another rabbit trail. Is this verse saying that you either worship God or you hate Him? Maybe that is why God commanded us to love the Lord our God with all our heart and mind and soul and spirit and energy in order to save us from ourselves.

As Christians we take such comfort from the promises that in the future, as Psalm 66:4 says: "All the earth will worship Thee and sing praises..." So what is worship? What does it look like? Is worship love, awe, reverence, respect, admiration and obedience?

Psalm 95:6 "Come let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our Maker--for He is our God and we are the people of His pasture, sheep of His Hand..."

This reminds me of a wonderful analogy someone sent me recently which helped put into words my attitude as a mom of sons in the military. How some are sheep, and some are wolves, and some are sheepdogs. I will double check the author and names and reprint it next. I hope it encourages other parents and spouses of our military and policemen.
Isaiah 66:13 " As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you..." Mothers Comfort. That is what God designed us to do. God even promises to someday comfort Israel just like a Mother comforting her toddler.

My boys are all grown up now. My firstborn is 25 years old, and a new Daddy. My middle son is a senior in college about to turn 21 years old. And the "baby" graduated from high school one year ago and moved out in January. How come the clingiest baby is now the most independent young man??

The Bible says that older women are to be reverent in their behavior...teaching what is good, that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be dishonored. I like that. And often God tells us what to do in commandment form because it does not come naturally. We need His Help to love our husbands, and love our children. And God also helps us enjoy each stage.