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...