Saturday, August 30, 2008

More from 8-08

Pics from August 8, 2008

Fun days with the young'uns.

Sunshiny Day

It was a wonderful day -- our annual photo session with the grands. Today I took them to the park in town, and then we went up to Grafton for a few more shots. The weather was perfect (maybe just a little warm). Today was full of the things that memories are made of.

Friday, August 29, 2008

What's a Person to Do?

I was just wondering . . .

What's an old man supposed to do when his butt gets too small to hold his trousers up and he doesn't like wearing suspenders? You know, it's trendy with the younger set to have droopy drawers, but an old codger just can't pull it off.

Why do we treat animals like people and people like animals?

What's a person to do whose ears are crooked and he has to wear his glasses lopsided on his head?

How come we see everyone else's shortcomings but not our own?

What's an older woman to do when she has to lift her bosom to fasten her belt?

Why is it cute when our kids act out, but terrible if someone else's kid does it?

What else do we expect a youngster to do with his runny nose when he doesn't have a Kleenex or a long-sleeved shirt?

I was just wondering . . .

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I Can See Clearly Now . . .

For several weeks now, I've fully intended to find time to take all my screens down and wash them. The job involved also washing the inside and outside of all the windows. Fortunately, when we built the house, Don was interested in making it cost efficient, so he didn't have a lot of windows put in. Usually, I crab about that, because I love the light. Today, however, I was thankful. It was about 90 degrees outside, and I overheat easily. He and I persevered and got the job done. I didn't realize how dirty the windows were until I sat down in the livingroom to rest after the job was done. It looked so bright outside (and it's actually cloudy and overcast, because it's getting ready to rain).

I wonder if that isn't how my life is sometimes. I don't realize how "cluttered" I've allowed my life to become or how "grimy" my outlook is. Then I'll have a good time in the Word, watch an uplifting show on TV or hear a good sermon, and it squirts a little Windex on the windows of my soul. Everything looks bright and sunny again. Unless we're taking daily account of our lives, we often don't realize how far we've slipped from where we need to be.

Since I'm not a very deep person intellectually, God uses simple things to teach me. I love that. I learned something today from His little object lesson. I'm going to try to keep the Windex and rag ready in case my soul starts getting a bit smudged. Happy day!

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Great Day

Hubby and I decided this morning to take a day trip to the country. We do this "spur of the moment" thing occasionally. I called Mom to see if she wanted to go, and she was excited about it. I told her to call my Aunt (her younger sister) to see if she wanted to go along. So, Aunt Betty drove down from Troy, IL, and the four of us spent the day driving to, through, and home from Southern Illinois. We ate lunch at Tippey's in Murphysboro, went to the cemetery, stopped to visit my cousin (my Aunt's oldest child) who has recently remarried and lives outside Murphysboro, drove out through the country where Mom and her sister were raised, stopped at a little street market in downtown Pinckneyville to buy tomatoes, got ice cream at the Dairy Queen in Nashville, then on home. It was a beautifully enjoyable day.

I'm Blessed

Yesterday was a good day, and it had some lessons in it for me:

#1 - Be thankful for what you have. On Sunday, I met a young mother of two children whose husband left her some time ago for an alternative lifestyle. Now he's balking at giving her any money. Her job isn't good and she may lose everything. A friend down the street told me she had to live several months last year on $600/month. A young married friend came by to visit yesterday and was telling me how she and her husband had been so strapped financially that they cut themselves back to two meals a day so their children would have enough to eat. I am blessed.

#2 - Be thankful for where you are. I've said before how I tend to be melancholy, and blogging has helped me with that. It's also helping me to look at life, generally, with wider eyes. I tend to look for good things now instead of complaining about the "not so good." That's growth for me. I am blessed.

#3 - Be thankful for who you are. A precious niece posted a piece yesterday about accepting yourself. I've struggled with that for a long time. Maybe it's because I used to be stick thin -- and now I'm not. Maybe it's because I used to be overly productive -- and now I'm not. Whatever the reason, I sometimes judge myself harshly. I'm doing better. I'm happy for the place I am in life, and I'm thrilled at who's there with me! I am blessed.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Out of My Comfort Zone

I'm taking a blind leap and going totally out my comfort zone. Have you ever watched Channel 5 news when Mike Bush is doing his human interest pieces about people with amazing stories? There is a young woman in our church with just such a story. Every time I would watch Mike Bush, something would tickle me deep inside somewhere with the feeling that Paula's story should be told. Finally, this weekend at church, I told her my feeling and asked for her permission. She gladly gave her okay and provided me with some of the important dates and information. It's still a draft, but I'm attaching it to get your opinions.

Last year, while still fighting her illness, Paula met a man and they are now married. He supports her endeavors and tenacity 100%. Everyday continues to be a battle for her. She's already had to protect herself against students who come into her classroom with sniffles, etc., because her immune system is totally broken down. She's quite a lady. Give me your comments, but don't be too hard on me, please! I'm not a professional, you know.

"You’ve asked on your news broadcast for people to e-mail you stories. “Feel good” stories about people who are modern-day heroes. I know such a person, and I want to tell you about her.

I met Paula (Hummel) Wilder about five years ago. At the time we met, she appeared to be the picture of health. She was a single mom, raising three children, and supporting them on a teacher’s salary.

Around Christmas 2006, Paula became very ill. After trying to get through the illness on her own and failing, she went to the doctor. He diagnosed her with pneumonia and gave her medicine that he thought would help. It didn’t work, and she grew steadily worse.

Finally, on January 26, 2007, he referred her to another doctor, who immediately hospitalized her in the Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital in St. Louis. Several tests were run, and the doctor came back with tragic news. Paula’s lungs were barely functioning, and the doctor wasn’t expecting her to pull through this illness. He told her to get her affairs in order. If you knew Paula personally, you’d know that was like saying, “Sic ‘em” to a hound dog! She told the doctor to get busy fixing her up, because she was determined to live and raise her family. The doctor took her seriously and introduced her to a Pulmonologist and surgeon. They confirmed the gravity of her condition and prepared to do a lung biopsy. Meanwhile, Paula did as they had instructed and prepared her Last Will and Testament and Living Will. They didn’t think she had the strength to survive the ordeal and called in her family to say their goodbyes. Doctors scheduled a biopsy for January 29, 2007.

Following the biopsy, Paula was hanging on to life by a thread. The doctors put her on a vent and told her family she would probably not be able to breathe without help for three or four months. She was off the vent by that evening!

The doctors weren’t able to diagnose her condition until February 6, 2007. She was told she had a degenerative lung condition called ______________________________. The Pulmonologist started her on a heavy regimen of drugs to attempt to fight off the disease. On February 10, they released her from the hospital. Paula was so weak she could not bathe herself, hold her fork to feed herself, or dress herself. She had round-the-clock care. Her family stood by her side steadfastly and Home Healthcare and Home Health Rehab came regularly to assist her in exercising her lungs to try to achieve sufficient lung function to live a somewhat normal life.

Paula had to miss the entire last half of the 2007 school year, but the drive to get back into the classroom doing her job was strong. Although she must still carry an oxygen tank around with her at all times and hasn’t been declared “well”, she went back to work as a fifth grade teacher at Mitchell Elementary School in Granite City this school year.

The doctors are astounded at her resilience and ability to function, but Paula isn’t surprised at her progress. She leaned heavily on the shoulders of her loving family and relied on her strong Faith to bring her through. So far, it has worked, and she’s a walking miracle.

Mike, you need to meet her!"

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Three Strikes - You're Out!

I have a number of pet peeves, and one of them is a person not doing a job to the best of his or her ability. It bothers me (I'm not going to lie) when I see the fault in others, but it especially irks me when I'm the one not quite making the grade. Today was a perfect example.

It was a frustrating day, to say the least. Today was Distribution Day for a program at our church called "Angel Food Ministries." Great program, but a lot of work for me, because I do all the paperwork, setting up the spreadsheets, linking everything together, etc. People place and pay for food orders earlier in the month, and then we drive to another city, pick up all the groceries and bring them to our church for distribution to our customers. Good idea, when it works right. But it can only work as well as the people who are running it.

Today, I worked at breaking in two young ladies to train them how to take orders, and everything went smoothly until . . .

. . . one of the customers (a lady from our church, thankfully), sat down and said, "You know, you really need to change the message on the answering system for the church phone regarding Angel Food. It hasn't been changed since June." I wilted. That's my responsibility, and I had totally forgotten about it. We just started putting the message on in April, or around there, and it had TOTALLY slipped my mind to update it for the past several months. Strike one.

After I came home and took care of the paperwork associated with Angel Food, I decided to take a few minutes and sit down with the monthly publication they put out. I was reading the very first article when I noticed that they had changed the Distribution Day for September from the 20th to the 27th. That's a big deal, and no one bothered to tell me! We had already put stickers on all the order receipts that went out today reminding the customers of the pick-up date. All of the menus that I customize and copy (about 300 of them) had the wrong date on them and 100+ had already been passed out. I had to call everyone that placed an order today and give them the correct information. LOSER!! I don't know who dropped the ball, but I never received any kind of notification that the date was being changed. And I HATE not doing a job well. Strike two!

I'm going to stay inside and watch the Olympics on TV for the rest of the day. Don't dare go out, because a BIG MISTAKE is sitting out there and just waiting to pounce on me. I don't think I have the patience or fortitude to take strike three!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

How Bad Is Bad?

Hubby had an appointment with the neurologist today (seems like we see a lot of him lately). My sweetie's antibody ratio is still through the roof, so they're wanting to remove his thymus. The good thing is, adults don't need a thymus gland. The bad thing is, the thymus drapes over your heart, and even with all the scopes, etc., it's still a serious surgery. They think it could prolong the time before this horrible myasthenia gets worse, and, at this point, we're all for that.

On the way home, I called my daughter to tell her about our visit. She told me that someone she works with has a friend/relative recently diagnosed with myasthenia gravis, and he already has to tape his eyelid up in order to hold his eye open. Hubby's is atypical and is affecting mainly his legs and feet. Although he has a problem walking sometimes, we feel so blessed and thankful. We think we're getting off lightly compared to many who have this disease. We can cope with wobbly, weak legs and an uneven gait. At least he can see. At least it isn't in his lungs, throat and mouth (tongue, swallowing). That's great! The doctor continues to tell us mg is progressive, and my love will certainly get worse. But how bad is bad? We feel like we're God's favorite kids right now. We've survived, and done it with gusto. What's to keep us from keeping it up for as long as it takes?

All I have to do is look around to see people worse off than we are. Life may not be exactly as we had planned it at this stage in our lives, but that shouldn't limit our ability to enjoy - even LOVE - where we are and what we're doing this very minute, this very second! Whoopee! Bad's not so bad after all!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Take Two Aspirin and Call Me in the Morning

Some of you who know me know that I have battled severe depression in the past. Thankfully, it isn't a huge issue anymore. I've learned something about blogging, though. It seems to keep me in a better frame of mind, a better mood. I think it's because I don't want to post negative things, so I'm forced to think on more positive things. It's true that, "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he." So, I'm just going to keep on blogging. I don't know if many people are reading or not, but it seems to be therapy for me. I've given advice to young women and young couples for years, but I had gotten to the place that the old saying, "Physician, heal thyself" applied to me. So, blogging has become my self-prescribed medication to a better me.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Don't Pick up the Load Until . . .

I just finished reading the classic "The Hiding Place" by Corrie Ten Boom. In it, there's a little story that was so wonderful. Corrie and her daddy were on the train together - just the two of them, allies among a train load of strangers. She had been pondering a question, but wasn't brave enough to ask anyone else in the family but her daddy, because she knew he would be completely honest with her. The question was, "Daddy, what's a sex sin?" Wise man that he was, he knew the question was beyond her years, so he said nothing at all. They were near the end of their trip, and she thought he had simply forgotten her question. He hadn't. When they were ready to get off the train, he said, "Corrie, pick up my bag and carry it for me, please." She tried, but the bag was much too heavy. Finally, having to admit defeat, she dropped the bag. "Daddy, I can't carry it. It's too heavy for me." "Yes, Corrie, I know. And the answer to your question is to heavy for you to carry as well. You must trust me to give you the answer when you're strong enough to carry it." These aren't direct quotes, but the essence of the story is there.

The other day, I was driving along with my younger grandchildren. One of the girls was sitting in the front seat, while the other three children were in the back. Knowing they couldn't hear her (or didn't care), she said, "Granny, my legs are going to be as hairy as a bear before I'm old enough to shave them!" After I picked up my lower jaw, I said, "Honey, I'm sure you think it looks much worse than anyone else does." "Yes, but look, Granny. Look how hairy!" It's hard to deny the truth, but I managed to skillfully evade the issue, and we moved on with the conversation.

Later in the day, I was thinking about how old I probably was when I began shaving my legs. A little more than my granddaughter's 10 years, but not much. I'm hoping no little boy mentions her hairy legs to her, because she would be devastated. In the meantime, I don't want to give her any burdens to carry that are too heavy. I don't want her to grow up too quickly. Childhood lasts such a short time.

I have a friend who lost her husband and three sons -- all within a six-year period. As I prayed for her, the scripture came to mind that God will never put more on us than we're able to bear. I thought, "What confidence God must have in this dear woman!" Her strength must surely be far beyond anything I see in myself.

How wise we would be not to take on burdens that are beyond our ability to carry. Certainly God is there to help bear them, but what about those things that He never intended for us to pick up in the first place? He's wise. He knows when we're strong enough to carry the weight.

The Simple Things

My hubby and I were never big money makers at our jobs, and, worse yet, we didn't seriously plan for retirement. That being said, it isn't hard to see why we must live within our means in order to stay afloat financially. We can't take cruises, visit foreign countries or indulge ourselves with expensive toys. And I'm the first to admit that there are times a little more of the paper stuff in our pockets would certainly make things a bit more convenient. But that's not what really matters in life.

Last evening, I went out on the front porch to watch the hummingbirds that visit our front porch feeder. I didn't realize it before going out, but across the street from us, a little 10-year-old boy, three of his buddies and a little girl about the same age were playing. Actually, the boys were riding their bikes and other things with wheels over a ramp they had set up on the front sidewalk, and the little girl was doing her "girl thing", cheering them on and exclaiming at their exploits. I tried not to be too obvious with my attention, but I was watching and listening the whole time. One of the little boys, tanned to a deep bronze from a summer without a shirt and sporting long hair, because who needs a haircut in the summer, was the alpha male. My attention was immediately drawn to him. He was bossing everyone around and retaliating if they didn't follow his orders to a "t". In former days, I would have developed an instant dislike for that little fellow. Too bossy. Too obviously undisciplined. Last night, though, I watched and listened. He was such a cute kid. Why did he need such attention? What was it like for him at home? Was he actually MEAN or just needing someone to notice him? I grew to like the little bully in the few minutes I sat watching the kids play. And it seemed that the group around him liked him, too, despite his overbearing ways. They were comrades on a mission. Buddies. I smiled, feeling a part of their fun and games, even from my seat on the porch.

After a while, hubby came outside with me, and we decided to take a drive and stop at the local ice cream stand for a treat. We drove up and down city streets, seeing folks sitting out on their lawns or porches. Some drinking and getting a bit rowdy, others simply enjoying time with their family or neighbors. We chatted. We were silent, simply enjoying being together.

Isn't that what life's about? I don't envy people with lots of money. Those who put their trust in lucre are going to be greatly disappointed someday. But folks who have money, yet have learned where true wealth is are the blessed ones. It isn't the "things" that you accumulate or the credits behind your name. It's all about valuing the simple things. The great Billy Graham said his one regret in life was that he hadn't spent more time with his wife and children. After a laudable life and ministry, he was still learning what's important.

The gurgle of a baby's first attempts at laughter. Little ones splashing in the tub as they costume themselves in bubbles. Kids yelling with enthusiasm as they enjoy a game of soccer in the side yard. An old couple walking hand in hand through the flower garden at the park. Being with the love of your life. Those are the things I'll remember. Those are the things I treasure.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The Wonder of It All

The other day our younger grandson and Pa were watching TV when a commercial came on. I can't remember if it's Toyota or Mazda, but it's the commercial where two guys come out from the left side of the screen and begin to do gymnastic stunts over a row of cars. Cartwheels, flips and whatever else they do. The camera slows down to slow motion as the gymnast begins his feat. Grandson said, "Pa. That looks really, really hard." Pa: "Well, your sisters do most of that stuff at cheerleading, but they don't do it over cars." "Yeah, but they sure can't do it in slow motion!" He's eight, and you would think he had seen enough technological trickery to catch on, but children so often tend to view life just as they see it.

One of my granddaughters asked me one day if I was mad at Pa. I began to assure her that I wasn't and asked her what had made her think so. She said, "Well, your voice sounds like you're mad at him!"

Children see what they see. Children hear what they hear. Children are what they are. Nothing is put-on with them. Even when you're in the process of teaching manners, it gets difficult at times because children are transparent. If they don't especially care for a person or a situation, it's hard for them to pretend they're happy being nice about it.

Remember when you used to be like that? Now we've all learned how to "pretend" so well that nothing's as it seems anymore. A young man in our Sunday School class commented yesterday that he was (and he was quoting a "Casting Crowns" song, but I don't know which one) tired of the plastic people and their plastic faces. I tend to be all out there. Spill my guts - that's me. But there are times when even I feel it necessary to put on my plastic smile and try to make people see me other than I really am. Is that good? Is it wise? I don't know, but we all do it. When we're constantly trying to cover our feelings or camouflage what's really going in our lives, we eventually lose our appreciation for the "realness" that comes with life. We get calloused. Watch a child. You'll see again the wonder of what God has placed around each of us. Take off your blinders. Be real for a change. Lie down in the backyard with your little one and imagine the shapes that the clouds make. Get them a big ball of clay and let them create some of the wonders they see in their little heads. Then let them paint their creation and set it out on your coffee table to remind you how wonderful life is. Be amazed! Be curious! Be real!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Bending Over Backwards

I'm doing one of those things today that wives frequently do for husbands -- just because they're husband and wife! One of those things where one spouse or the other must be martyred for the cause. Today, it's my life on the line. Hubby has long been interested in blugrass music, because he plays the five-string banjo. Not that he likes that high, nasaly, twangy sound that comes screaming from the throat of the singers(?), but he does like a lot of the music. Which brings me to the dilemma. The Men's Ministry at church is having a BBQ today for the men and their families. Good move. I like BBQ. Then, someone had the brilliant idea to ask Don to play his banjo. Well, Don can't play the banjo without his own, personal back-up musicians -- just ask him! It's impossible. So he's invited several of his bluegrass buddies and their spouses (kids?) to accompany him during this BBQ today. I rarely go with him to any of his shindigs, but this is one I don't feel comfortable missing, since it's at our church and all. So, I'm going to be playing "good hostess" to a handful of people I hardly know and listening to music I can barely tolerate for at least a couple hours this afternoon. Sometimes they play some good, old-fashioned gospel or mild country, and that's not too bad. I will survive: I am WOMAN!

Friday, August 15, 2008

The Hiding Place

I just finished reading "The Hiding Place" by Corrie ten Boom. I've read it several times before, but each time I read it I'm amazed all over again. The human spirit is so unbelievably resilient, especially when reinforced by God's Holy Spirit. War is a horrible thing, but God isn't defeated by war, sickness, divorce, death or any other thing that causes our steps to falter and fail. He remains the same. Wow! I'm glad I reread the great classic. I feel rejuvenated, and we all need that from time to time.

Longing for the "good old days"

I just came home from a birthday party for one of my dear friends - her 70th! Wasn't it only yesterday that, when I went to a birthday party for a dear friend, he/she was 15? Where have the years gone? I was honored to share the table (the party was at a little tearoom in town) with a woman who has been my friend for over 50 years. Much of that time, we've been BEST friends. We were reminiscing about all the wonderful people who have left the stage that this present generation will never have the opportunity to know. Our Primary Sunday School teacher, Viva Laswell, who could keep all 40+ of her primary class spellbound with Bible stories. And all this without the aid of Powerpoint, DVDs or anything else new-fangled. She even took in stride when two of the little guys, Ronnie Kee and Gilbert Dickey, got up to sing their favorite Sunday School song and belted out, "Davey. Davey Crockett. King of the wild frontier . . " without missing a lick. My Intermediate Girls' teacher, who wasn't the best teacher I ever had. But she had a unique gift. She offered us certificates with big stick-on stars for memorizing various parts of the Bible -- the Ten Commandments, Books of the Bible, 23rd Psalm, Beatitudes and Lord's Prayer. Those are things I've never forgotten, and I've incorporated the memorization into my working with children as well. Most of our memories revolved around the elderly who have gone on, but there are some young ones, too. The young man I was raised with who stepped on a landmine in Vietnam and was killed. My "boyfriend" for many of my growing-up years who died lately of cancer. The 18-year-old friend who was killed in a motorcycle accident.

We all leave our mark. I'm sure those teachers I had as a kid wondered if they were impacting my life for good at all. But they were. And beyond that, they were piecing together a wonderful patchwork quilt for me that has literally made me who and what I am. I used to look forward, dreaming of what it would be like to grow up. Now I look backward, remembering how filled-to-the-brim my life has been. Looking back is what makes me excited about going forward. Life has been so good that I don't want to miss a second of what it still has to offer. There are definite advantages to aging, and one of those is remembering.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Forget what?

Today hubby had an unusual situation occur. This is the second time in his life it's happened, and the other time was possibly 10 years ago. Today, he was doing an a/c job with his friend when he totally forgot everything that had happened up to that time. The "situation" may have only lasted a few seconds or even a milli-second. He told his friend that he was having a problem, so they stopped their job and Bob sat down on the truck tailgate with him and rehearsed where they were, what they were doing, and what they had accomplished so far. For the next 30 minutes or so, he had to consciously think out each action before he performed it. Nothing came naturally. By the time he got home, he was fine. It's kind of like the little tape recorder in his brain erased a small sketch of time. He still can't remember his day in sequence, but we don't think it's a big thing. In fact, there are some things I would LIKE to forget.

There was a time in fourth grade (maybe it's why I remember fourth grade as one of the hardest grades of my school career) when we were doing "Br'er Rabbit and the Tar Baby". One of the guys in our class was the Tar Baby and I was Br'er Rabbit. I got my teacher's attention and told her - warned her, actually - that I needed to go to the bathroom reeeeeally badly. She insisted I could finish that particular scene before my exit. Well, I couldn't! The Tar Baby ended up with wet shoes and standing in a puddle, while I ran from the room in utter and total humiliation. Or what about the time Dad was out of work and we had to move to the country and live with my grandparents for a while. My sister and I had to attend the little country school there, and I felt like someone from outer space. I didn't fit anywhere. At least that's the way I saw it. My respite was the weekend, when I could tromp the woods and be the free spirit I longed to be. One particular Sunday, I devoured a whole bag of little green apples, in total disregard of the warning that it wasn't a good idea to be eating so many little green apples. The veracity of the warning didn't hit me right away. In fact, it didn't hit me until the next day, during the long, long bus ride home from school - bumping and jostling along those gravel roads. I became a Believer. I mean, I REALLY became a Believer! The second I stepped off that bus, I knew I couldn't wait an instant longer. I squatted right there and did my business with all the kids looking out the bus windows at me. Wow! I still wither just thinking about it. By the grace of God (literally!), that was our last day of school, so I never had to face most of those kids again.

So, while I'm sorry that a portion of my honey's day has vaporated into nothingness, I'm thinking that a failing memory might be good in some areas. There are definitely some things I would like to forget, but, then, what stories would I have to tell my grandchildren??

I stand corrected!

Have you ever received a piece of mail or invitation with your name spelled wrong? I have. And I don't like it! I'm a stickler for making sure words are spelled correctly before sending out a document (or posting a blog), but sometimes an error will slip right by me. A few weeks back, maybe even a couple months, I noticed in our Sunday church bulletin that they had spelled "worshipped" "worshiped." I let it pass, because I have a bit of a reputation for being TOO observant in such matters. Then it cropped up in the slide presentation that they do at the beginning of the service and on our church website -- all spelled with the one "p". I figured they had just copied and pasted, and thus the error. I even checked my trusty Webster's Dictionary (which, obviously, is from the Dark Ages), and it only showed it with the double "p". So, I e-mailed three or four of the young men at church that I knew had input in the technology side of things and pointed out the error of their ways. One of them got back to me and said that I was wrong. The accepted English spelling is with the single "p". The double "p" was the British spelling! Can you believe that? They CHANGED it and didn't even notify me or get my permission. Actually, when I checked the link he had e-mailed to me, it can be spelled either (is it ee' ther or i' ther?) way. I was dumbfounded, but, of course, humble enough to admit I had made an error. I'm afraid we've actually come to the point in our changing culture that even Mr. Webster can't be trusted anymore!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

If at first you don't succeed . . .

One of my favorite young married couples at church has recently taken over the College and Careers class. In my humble opinion (humble?), that's one of the most difficult classes to teach. It's full of "tweeners." Too old to be irresponsible teenagers and too young to be responsible adults. Stuck right in the middle. No longer a child, but with too little experience to be counted on for much. Anyway, this young couple knows the challenge they're facing. Having taught for years, I can identify with their feeling of inadequacy. I've actually been teaching a Sunday School class, working in Children's Church or ministering in music off and on since I was 12 years old, and I don't think I've ever felt that I mastered any of the arts. There have been times that I've left the church after Children's Church or Sunday School or choir and felt that I had accomplished something very worthwhile. But, just as often, I've driven home feeling that I've made a total mess of something that God meant for good. I could easily be overwhelmed by my shortcomings. Then I look around at all the young people who either sat under me in Children's Church or choir and are going on and doing great things for the Lord on their own. Maybe they're working with children (sometimes their own) or ministering in music, and I feel like maybe, just maybe, I fed into that life a little. Rick Clendenen says in his book, "Playing from the Second Chair" that we should strive to be fathers, not just mentors. Fathers always expect their children to surpass the mark they set themselves. Like a marksman who picks up his bow and aims for a far target. If the arrow falls at his feet, he failed in his mission. Instead, he fully plans for that arrow to fly into the air and hit a mark well beyond where he stands. I may not have succeeded in all the ways I might have hoped; I may have even disappointed a few people in my efforts. But it's the fruit that matters. I see little apples and oranges all around me that testify that it wasn't in vain. This morning, I tried to encourage my young friends to keep trying. Try different techniques. Aim for the sky! Who knows the harvest they may be able to look back upon someday.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Blessed Quietness

Hubby has been out on a couple a/c jobs all day, so I've been alone. I did go to the church from 10:30 till 1:30 to take Angel Food orders, but I've spent a fairly solitary day. I like a bit of quietness. In fact, there are times when I'm in an exceptionally chaotic atmosphere that I long for silence. But, when it's forced upon me, that's a different story entirely. I like knowing my honey is in the house, even if we're not in the same room, not talking, or even able to see each other. I could never be the little girl on Nim's Island or Tom Hanks on Castaway (wasn't that the name of his Robison Crusoe-type movie?), because I really NEED to be around people from time to time. In Genesis, when God said He saw that it "wasn't good for man to be alone", I think He actually created us for fellowship. Of course, there's the male/female thing, but it goes beyond that. We're basically social beings. The times when I've found myself withdrawing from people were the times when I was going through a deep depression. Not fun! I believe God wants us to seek out companionship - friends, family, associates. That being said, I also believe God wants us to make the most of the quiet times. I sat on the porch and thought on good things. I took the dog for a walk. I went through our huge stash of books and chose an old classic to read again (The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom). I spent a bit of time in the Word. Did some good things. Quiet time things. I've learned to enjoy the quiet times, as long as there aren't too many and they aren't too close together!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Crafty Little Dude

We have our 8-year-old grandson today, and I'm convinced that children are God's gift to the world -- especially to grandparents! I had bought him some craft clay at Wal-Mart, and he was looking for a project, or two, or three, or four . . . First he made us and his Auntie a plate on which he wrote a little message. Then he really began to wax creative! He asked if I thought he could make his sister (who aspires to be a chef) a clay cupcake for a gift. I gave him a cupcake paper wrapper and some candy sprinkles. He proceeded to make the cupcake and then coat the top with the brightly colored candy sprinkles. How cute is that? It turned out looking just like something she is going to really, really love. He also made her a sign to go on the door of her room to announce to all that enter therein that they're entering the chef's private domain. Aren't children wonderful? What happens to our imagination when we get older? Where does it go? Sometimes I sorely miss mine. On a day like today, however, I feel quite comfortable right here where I am - enjoying my second childhood.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Walk More Slowly

I think I've already stated on here that my husband has been diagnosed with myasthenia gravis. It usually affects the eyelids, vision, throat, speech and lungs; hubby's has affected his feet and legs. We're learning to cope. I walk more slowly. We don't walk the park anymore or plan trips that involve a great deal of walking. We had our younger grandson today, and he chose the place for lunch - a Chinese buffet that we like. As we were going in, my honey didn't lift his foot high enough and tripped on the step going in. Although I tried not to make a big deal of it (tripping or falling always embarasses him so), I felt somehow responsible. If only I had been paying more attention. If only I had been walking more slowly so he could reach out and take my arm. If only. . . if only. Life is full of if only's. I spoke at length today to a friend whose marriage is faltering and struggling. I must take time to encourage. I must reach out to others. Life really is about more than "our four and no more." I tend to be selfish and self-centered, but I'm trying to be bigger than that. I want to touch you. I want to reach out to hurting friends and family. Lord, help me to walk more slowly.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

One-eyed,one-horned,flying, purple people eater!

I took a huge leap today. I had bought new glasses (2 pair, in fact) in November of last year. I went in three times to have each pair adjusted, because the no-line bifocal wasn't set correctly. After trying for months to wear them, I gave up. Today I went to see if I could wear contacts. They fitted me with a monolens, which means I wear a contact (for reading) in my left eye, and nothing in the right eye. It's not uncomfortable at all, which was a huge surprise to me, but my vision for distance isn't right. They told me it would take a lot of adjusting on my part, but I don't know if my right eye is up for the task. Reading is fine. Seeing my music at the piano is fine. The computer screen is a little blurred, and my peripheral vision at a distance is scarey. I feel a bit "off" somehow. Kind of like that one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater they wrote a song about more years ago than I care to remember!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Let Your Face be 10 After 10. Wear a Smile!

I picked up our four younger grandchildren after their swimming lesson yesterday morning and kept them for the day. Pa had an a/c job to do, so I had them all to myself. When they were younger, that was a chore. Now that they're 10 and 8, it's total fun. I had decided that I was going to take them to a couple local flea markets, then we would go to Fazoli's for lunch. Unfortunately, we were a day early for the one here in Granite. It's only open on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So we headed for the Alton Exchange. From the moment we walked in the door, I knew I had played a winning hand. Every one of the kids was enthralled with the place. I had asked them not to be picking things up and handling them, but some things are almost irresistible. Why have all those candles and homemade room fresheners laying around if you don't want people touching and smelling? Triplet #2 has decided she wants to be a chef. First she wants to work at either McDonalds or Fazoli's, and then she'll probably go to Paris (her words). She found a small, rubber Pillsbury Doughboy right away, and she carried him around with her the whole time. (She said he was her inspiration to become a chef. Go figure!) He was a bargain. We later saw two more, but both were more expensive than the one she found. It was kismet. Triplet #1 found several TY dolls that are no longer being made, and she was hooked. Had to spend all her money on dolls. Triplet #3 found some cute little Precious Moments figurines and wanted to buy them for her mom, since mom "collects" them. (I know Mom's overjoyed every time I bring all four kids home with their bags of goodies!) Grandson bought some little miniature pie plates, because he's almost as interested in cooking as the sister who's going to make her career statement at McDonald's and Fazoli's! As soon as we got home, I instructed them in how to use the food processor to grind up the Vanilla Wafers for the crust. They melted the butter, mixed it all together (with a little sugar, for good measure) and pressed it into their fancy little miniature pie plates. Then I let them mix up some instant vanilla pudding and - wala - their own little masterpieces!! Children get such profound delight from small things. I do the same, at least at times. I recently purchased a couple hummingbird feeders, and hubby and I both find ourselves lying on the couch so we can see out the window and watch those amazingly tiny little birds come and sample our nectar. I sit in my lawn chair on the porch, hoping a brave little hb will decide it's time for lunch. I don't scratch an itch or slap a fly. It's of major importance that I sit perfectly still. If I do my part, maybe they'll come. Delight in small things. I don't think we can properly appreciate the big things until we've learned to value the trivial. There are few things in life that equal the smile of a child. Laughter - bold, unbridled and uninhibited. Bring on the grandkids! Bring on the hummingbirds! Anything to make me smile is worth it.