~~~~~~~~~ "We are here for only a moment, wanderers and sojourners in the land as our ancestors were before us. Our days on earth are like a passing shadow, gone so soon without a trace." I Chron. 29:15 NLT

Friday, December 24, 2010

Remember the Reason

Christmas isn't about buying the right gift.  It's not all about sending cards, baking, eating, and hoping we'll get our wishes fulfilled.

Christmas is accepting the gift that God gave us--a Babe in a manger, His only Son, Jesus, the Christ.  Like Mary, we ponder what this gift means to each and everyone of us.

The world was, and is, in great darkness.  Will we see and accept that light of great joy into our lives?  Will we surrender to,  and reflect, the light for others to see Him in who we are and what we do?

Thanks be to God.   We have the Word with eye-witness accounts to give us hope and wings of faith to free us from the burden of our, and the world's, sins.  What more could we ask?

The world didn't know what was needed, but God did.  Out of love for humankind, He generously gave us what we need.  Will we unwrap the gift in awe and wonder?  Will we retain the gift or get bored with it and lay it down after a few days?

Enjoy the season with the music, the giving and receiving of earthly gifts.  But when all that is over, Remember the Reason.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Been Here

As you can see, I've been back briefly to update the blog to a wintry theme.  I wanted to do a red, white, and green blog for Christmas, but decided for as much work as it is, I would just do winter with a splash of pink to brighten it up.   If I have time I can always add red and green to the current theme.

I plan to follow-up soon with pictures to catch up with what's been going on--been busy.  Nothing bad has happened while I've been gone, at least nothing major.  There have just been a pile-up of activities that leave little energy for journaling and blogging.

I don't expect that too many of my casual readers have stuck around to see if I'm going to post anytime soon.  But, family will no doubt get a kick when they read this that the one thing consistent about me is my inconsistency.  

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I'm praying everyone else did too.  More about that later.  I had to do little preparation or cooking this year.

Now to push forward to Christmas in one month.  Whoever set up the dates for these two holidays didn't put thought into how much preparation must be squeezed into so short a time.  Is it real history, or fickle men, we have to thank?   Maybe someone with more time than I can figure it out.  If memory serves me right, it's  some of both.

"When they went to bed, only their bodies rested;  their minds went on thinking, deciding, wondering..."   ~Katherine Mansfield  (Taken from 100 Years oWomen's Wisdom by Angela Beasley Freeman)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What's Going On Here?

As you've probably noticed, I'm not content to set up my blogspot and then leave it alone.  When I put the picture of crafted halloween stuff at the top of my blog I thought it was seasonally cute.  But I got tired of it really quick.  Plus, it was directly oppositional to my philosophy of halloween. 

The traditional American halloween is alright for kids, you know, letting them have fun and getting an orange or black pumpkin full of treats that will most likely last till Christmas or Easter.

Several years ago I decided to adopt the more Christian observation of All Saints Day.  It's a time to remember the deaths of saints, known or unknown, in the Catholic Church.  As a protestant I have chosen to commemorate the deaths of martyrs of the Christian faith, as well as relatives and friends who have died. 

I still hand out treats to the cute trick or treaters.  Usually I try to find something other than candy to give them.  Microwave popcorn and bubble gum are popular as well as Hot Wheels and toys you can get in the party isle at Walmart.

Wikipedia has the history of Halloween which you can read by following this link  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Halloween

Getting back to my blogspot.  As in a lot of areas of my life, I get bored with the sameness of things.  Variety is the spice of life.  I wanted to share this quirk of mine with whoever reads my blog and wonders what's going on with all the changes. 

It might be my perfectionism that also motivates my tendency to change things around me.  If something on another blog catches my fancy I want to try it too.  I'm always looking for that "just right" addition that makes my blog a place I want to come back to again and again.

When I was in junior high and high school, which was when I finally had the "girl's room" to myself, I rearranged the furniture at least every other month.  It was a way of having a fresh start, a new perspective, a starting over, putting the past behind me.

I'm aware of the psychological possibility that it's easier to change things outside of myself rather than work at changing myself from the inside out.  However, God has placed just enough obstacles and/or trials in my life to necessitate change.  I'm not sure I like or understand His sense of humor.

Change is hard work, especially when I don't accept change and end up digging in my heels and resisting it.  Thank God for his patience, mercy, and grace. 

I sometimes make the mistake of thinking I've matured enough to accept that change is inevitable and I'm ready to go along with whatever surprises life throws at me.  Ha!  Then pride or fear rear up and bring me face to face with my human fallibility. 

Perhaps my resistance to change actually has a physical component to it which would explain the chronic pain in my feet.  (You're supposed to laugh with me here, but perhaps it's too relevant to be a joke).

My friend, Red, likes to say, "The only constant in life is change."  So, we might as well get used to it, right?  Recently this came to my attention about change:  Change is inevitable [Red is right]...you can either roll with it or be rolled over by it.  Choose the former. 

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  Philippians 4:13

But there is one sure thing, in a world of change and shifting foundations, we can have security in "Jesus Christ [who] is the same yesterday, today, and forever."  Hebrews 13:8.  He never changes.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Time for...what?

Has it really been over a week since I posted?  Time seems to slip through my fingers like falling leaves.  Only sometimes time slipping by isn't as colorful as the beautiful leaves. 

I can't get my "act" together like I used to. In the good old days I kept a calendar/planner which helped me manage my time faithfully.  But when I had to quit working sooner than I had planned my time management slowly fell apart.  Now, I can't seem to keep up.


I know I've slowed down considerably, physically that is.  My mind still goes 199 miles or more a minute.  This keeps me from settling down and focusing on one thing at a time.  My body isn't keeping up with my mind like it used to.  

mindmap  time management home work help for teens linda randall squidoo
(http://www.bling.com/  Search "time")
Do I need more motivation or do I need less things to do?  What am I going to cut out?  Writing and reading blogs?  Don't want to.  Cook less?  I'm already doing as little as possible, especially when hubby is on the road most days.  Less T.V.?  Not a problem as I rarely watch most of that stuff and nonsense anyway.  Visit my grandchildren less?  No way!  Shopping is hardly a problem as it wears me out after an hour or two.

I'm considering a dishwasher would help me save time.  I could certainly get more time for what I enjoy doing if I had a housekeeper to clean, cook, and load the dishwasher (if I had one).  Our granddaughter is too young and my daughter is expecting her fourth and doesn't have the time. 

I must give my hubby a lot of credit.  He helps as much as he can on the days he doesn't have sales appointments.  I enjoy making meals when I know he's going to be home for them.  Soon we'll be getting a freezer, and I'm looking forward to cooking ahead and freezing casseroles, bread, and desserts that can be warmed up quickly for our meals or for guests.

Something I've always thought would help me be more efficient and give me more time is decluttering our home.  Getting rid of stuff and nonsense that needs cleaning, moving around, or is lost when I'm looking for it would free up time to do more enjoyable things.  But decluttering takes time.  When would I do it?

(http://www.justkidsstore.com/prod/bon-bebe/hurry-up-i-m-late-for-my-nap-onesie/white via http://www.bing.com/
When my thoughts start going around in circles and too much stuff and nonsense starts cluttering my mind I feel like the best action I can take is to lie down and take a nap till it all goes away!  Did I just hear a collective gasp?  I'm just kidding, of course.  Altho' I could probably take less naps...but what would there be to look forward to? 

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Weekend

Here is Alana with her before (lower picture) and after (above) pictures when she gifted the tooth fairy last Friday.
Look what the UPS man brought! Already assembled, no batteries needed, self-propelled, complete with blue eyes, blond hair, button nose, and the cutest smile. We love that little doll!

Alana loves to play soccer.  Her team's first game was Saturday morning.  She made two goals, so she got to wear the shirt all day.  She's a fast runner and has a strong kick with an accurate aim.  I know 'cause when she was practicing at home I was on the receiving end of one of her balls and--well, it kind of stung, "Ouch!"

Dean took Amy out for dinner Saturday evening for her 34th birthday.  We entertained the kids for them, or rather the kids entertained us.  It's fun to be a part of their bath time, getting them clean and fresh for Sunday School on Sunday morning.  They were all asleep by the time their dad and mom came to pick them up.  They slept through the process of getting them buckled in their seats, and slept through the reverse process when they got home.  Guess we still have the energy to wear them out, huh?

We had one of the kids' favorite dishes last Saturday night--Spaghetti! I couldn't believe how much our little April ate. The best way to eat is with your spoon in one hand while you stuff the food in with the other hand.

She kept saying and signing, "More. More," at least four or five times, like a little bottomless jug.

Saturday afternoon we had a gully-washer.  The rain poured down for about 5 minutes.  It was nice and cool after that.  We needed some rain to clear the air of summer.  Hopefully, we've seen the last of ninety-degree temperatures.  We're looking forward to a beautiful week of fall weather here in Kansas.

At the grand children's house, there's a horizontal laundry chute from the front bathroom to the laundry area.  A tunnel with lots of possibilities, that is, when it's empty.

This time Derek was a puppy while Alana was the mother-dog. Even April got involved by "arf, arfing," along with them.  Altogether they sound like more than just three pups.  There's never a dull moment around those three.

Alana takes her age seriously which means she usually plays the dominant role.  Wonder how much longer that will last?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall, Books, and Grandchildren

The first day of Fall came and went. It hasn't made a huge dent in the Kansas weather, although temperatures in the 80's are better than 90's. The winds finally blew in some rain, below an inch, which was very welcome. I drove home from my daughter's farm in a heavy shower Thursday night. I managed to keep moving without incident. I'm not as used to driving in the rain at night, but since we moved thirty miles from our daughter it's necessary sometimes.

I commemorated this Fall by going to one of my favorite places in Wichita, after a doctor appointment. I could spend hours at Bookaholic just browsing. They take books and give trade-credit, selling them for half off the original price, and giving half-credit for the marked-price of books I want. The prices may not be as good as our local resale bookstore, but the local store doesn't give credit for donations anymore.

I knew what I was looking for, the Holly Clegg cookbook that Cindy mentioned in her http://realpersonproductreviews.blogspot.com/ Her honest review and the facts she shared about the book sold me. I'll for sure continue looking for it because I didn't find it at Bookaholic.

I didn't come away empty-handed, however. I found a book by Emilie Barnes, Time Began in a Garden. It's similar to another one of her many books I have, If Teacups Could Talk. These are both coffee-table quality books, but I usually have them on the night stand by my bed or wherever I want to pick them up and read for inspiration and comfort.

I found another book I've been wanting to own: Life Recovery Bible. I didn't find the Bible, but the New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. This will suffice because, If I have to, I can use the complete Life Recovery Bible from our Church Library. I usually hesitate adding another Bible to my already extensive collection, but the Topics indexed, the Relections and Insights at the end of each book, all tied to the Steps of Recovery, are what I've been looking for.

Lastly, I bought a book I think I or my daughter will enjoy in planning menus and cooking activities for the children, The Pampered Chef Kids in the Kitchen. I haven't invested in a lot of Pampered Chef products, but Amy has quite a few. It's a little awkward for me to read the recipes around all their listed bold-faced products, but the recipes are tempting enough to try. If I get tired of it, I'll pass it on to the grandkids when they read enough to use it.

Enough about books.

Yesterday, I went to spend the afternoon with Amy and the kids. She spent most of the afternoon resting and napping while I entertained the three cuties and picked up in the family room. I put some toys away that more often end up cluttering than being used purposefully for play. I hope they stay locked up in the cupboard so I don't have to go through the same aggravation next time I'm there.

While I was there, the 5-year old was struggling with a lose tooth. She wanted it out so she could enjoy eating an apple and roasting ears. But the fear of the process, be it pain or a few drops of blood, was scaring her. Both parents tried to talk her into giving up this useless little tooth, that was just hanging on by a thread, but had no luck.

Later, when she and younger brother were playing a game of "puppies," she suddenly exclaimed, "Derek, you knocked my tooth out." I thought, oh, oh, for Derek. But, no, Alana was delighted that he had accomplished what no one else could. Little brothers are alright sometimes. The tooth went into the fairy's pillow where I'm sure there will be a prize in return.

A couple of days earlier she lost her other front tooth. That means that there's a big gap in her smile. Daddy said that she should be singing that old song, "All I want for Christmas," which prompted Mommy to get out a Christmas CD. Alana practically had it memorized by the time I left. I know what I'll be singing the next time I visit.

I tried uploading cropped pictures from Picasa 3, but copying the pathway refers back to the uncropped photo.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Arts & Crafts Fair; and Twins?, etc.

I'm just warning you, this got kind of long.

It's been a crazy, busy week. I guess that's what makes the time go fast. I haven't been so see the grandchildren since last week. So wouldn't you know that this would be the week April began, not just taking a few steps without help but, walking on her own. Her mom said she's going all over the place. I missed it. I'm going to see that sweet, growing toddler and her siblings tomorrow. It seems kids change so much when they start walking and gain that level of independence. Out of our arms and into the world, or so it seems.

Tomorrow, Saturday, is the big annual Arts and Crafts Fair in Hillsboro, Kansas, our old hometown. I remember the first year it started, and how it ballooned in the following years. Several years ago they had to block off more streets to extend out from the center of town. There were four booths deep, two back-to-back in the middle of the streets, and on the sidewalk in front of the businesses on both sides of the street. The highest number of booths were almost 400. That would make the 275-300 expected this year seem few in comparison. During the 41 years of the fair, the times it rained can be counted on one hand (that's according to my memory). That's a pretty good record considering how fickle Kansas weather can be. Most amazing is to see the Hillsboro population of 3,000 swell to 30-50,000 on this one day. At times you can hardly walk because of the crowd. It takes a lot of preparation and people to make it work, with parking and shuttle busses, emergency personnel and vehicles available, etc.

All the vendors have to have products they made with nothing store-bought. It's interesting to see what hot new item shows up each year. One year, and several years following, weather vanes were the craze. Paintings, wire art, wreaths, clothing and quilts, pillows and stuffed animals made from old chenille spreads and quilts, baby things, kitchen and Christmas decor, jewelry, wood, pottery, and candles are always popular. It's fun to see with what people keep themselves busy, and the high quality of workmanship. I hope to pick up some Christmas gifts.

Did I mention the 25-30 food concessions? German delicacies and meals are the order of the day with some non-cultural additions like funnel cakes, curly potatoes, walking tacos, Kettle popcorn, snow cones, caramel apples, to name a few. One of our friends makes gallons and gallons of New Year's Cookie, or Portzelke, dough and fries them all day long to sell singularly or by the dozen. Vrenika and Sausage with home-baked bread and Cherry Moose, pronounced "mose," or home-made pie is a popular menu. The sausage is made in Hillsboro and has a rich smoked flavor rather than being spicy like Italian sausage. Bierachs are also a favorite lunch or snack item. Green Bean Soup, made with ham shank or hocks, and Borscht (not the beet Borscht, but made with beef or chicken, vegetables and cabbage) are popular with Zwiebach (two buns, a small one baked atop a regular one). Peppernuts are a real treat for old and young alike. There are many different recipes but my favorite one is made with molasses and lots of spices including anise. They all range in size from as big as half a thumb to as small as the tip of a little finger. I'm reminded that I still have some dough in the freezer from last Christimas I need to bake. They average in cost from $6 to $8 a pound. My mouth waters just thinking about it all.

If you would like to see more go to: www.hillsboroartsandcraftsfair.com

Our daughter, now ten weeks pregnant, came to a doctor's appointment last Wednesday. She made sure the doctor checked the heartbeat to see how many there were since her father-in-law is a twin. I guess it's more likely to have twins if a mother or grandmother was a twin or birthed twins. Since it was too early to hear the heartbeat they did a sonogram and found only one.

We were beginning to seriously wonder about twins since the two oldest children had been mentioning twins in their discussions of the baby. Alana was asking Mom how old April would be when the new one comes. Amy told her two, almost to the day or within a week of April's birthday. Alana then said that the next baby should come in two years after the last one. Amy asked her if she didn't think four kids were enough. to which Alana replied, "If this baby is a twin there will be five." For a five year old she does pretty good math already. Then Derek, the three-year old was wondering if the baby would be a girl or a boy. When Amy said if it was a brother then there will two girls and two boys in the family, Derek said, "yeah, or if it's twins then there will be three boys and two girls." I hope a sonogram is more reliable than a stethoscope.

Some parents have been surprised when a twin was hiding during pregnancy. Dean & Amy's friends went to have one of those 3-D sonograms done which was done at a studio instead of a doctor's office. I've seen those advertised and they look pretty awesome where one can get a really good picture of the facial features and the babies activities in the womb. How cool is that? When this couple, who had 2 or 3other children, went for the 3-D, the photographer said, "You do know that you're having twins?" Would they have been surprised and unprepared at that birth!

On Wednesday we went to the funeral of our son's girlfriend's step-dad. He was a nice man who enjoyed life with humor and making memories with his family. Some people know how to have fun and he was one of them. My hubby is ornery like that.

Sunday evening we're looking forward to hosting our Community Life Group from our church. I think I'll make home-made ice cream, angel food cake or brownies, with cold cuts, veggies, and crackers. We have a time of study, discussion, sharing our joys and concerns, and praying for one another and others. No one is exempt from stresses and struggles. Thanking God for his blessings and asking for guidance and protection are a wonderful privilege I would never want to take for granted. May God bless your day and your weekend.

"What joy for the nation whose God is the Lord, whose people he has chosen for his own." Ps. 33:12

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where have all the Hymns Gone?

When all five of us children were at home together we would gather around the piano and sing hymns and gospel music.  Our oldest sister would play hymns from the book. Sometimes our middle sister would play gospel songs by ear (without the book) and we would all harmonize together, even though some of us didn't read notes. 

After we married and established our own homes, we still gathered around the old piano when we met at home for holidays and birthdays.  We sisters often sang as a trio in church, and we still occasionally sing together, including our sister-in-law, just for old times sake.  Those gospel hymns spoke to us as meaningfully as the Bible.  They were called "gospel" for a reason because most of them were a condensed version of the gospel. They were easier to memorize than verses from the King James version of the Bible.

Many churches have gotten away from singing the old hymns.  Younger people have been influenced by the contemporary Christian recording artists.  Short, repetitious praise and worship songs dominate our worship services.  Maybe I'm just an old curmudgeon, but sometimes when we repeat a phrase over and over, over and over, I'm trying to figure out what's going on--is it that we are so stressed that we can't remember the phrase from one breath to the next?  Or maybe our minds wander (my mind has been known to do that) and we've forgotten we sang that same phrase three or four times. 

I must admit that some of these contemporary songs do wrap their melodies and words around my heart, and I thoroughly enjoy singing them with my fellow Christians in spite of the lack of harmony in them.  One song, which I'm going to share the lyrics with you, I loved the first time I heard it.  I think the wistful, mellow voice of the writer and singer, Chris Rice, and the inspired words of "Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus)," found a place in my heart beside Amazing Grace and I'll Fly Away because it has the same divine quality as the old songs.

Having heard the song numerous times, what solidified it in my heart was one Sunday morning when a group of young people who witness through miming did an interpretive mime of "Come to Jesus."  The exaggerated, yet fluid, movements and soulful facial expressions executed in perfect union drew out the yearnings of my heart. It was then I realized this song is my spiritual autobiography and condenses the complete gospel message of the Bible.  What more can be said, except to encourage you to sing it often and hide it in your heart.

Chris Rice - Untitled Hymn (Come To Jesus) Lyrics

Weak and wounded sinner
Lost and left to die
O, raise your head, for love is passing by
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus
Come to Jesus and live!

Now your burden's lifted
And carried far away
And precious blood has washed away the stain, so
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus
Sing to Jesus and live!

And like a newborn baby
Don't be afraid to crawl
And remember when you walk
Sometimes we fall...so
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus
Fall on Jesus and live!

Sometimes the way is lonely
And steep and filled with pain
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain, then
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus
Cry to Jesus and live!

O, and when the love spills over
And music fills the night
And when you can't contain your joy inside, then
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus
Dance for Jesus and live!

And with your final heartbeat
Kiss the world goodbye
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side, and
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus
Fly to Jesus and live!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Thoughts About September 11th

Saturday, the United States will be commemorating one of the worst days in our lives.  A story of a war that was declared on our nation, a story of life and death.  A story of survival, faith, and hope.

Even though I didn't lose anyone I knew on September 11, 2001, I will never forget that day.  I was home following the news and, like everyone else, trying to figure out what happened and why.  There are so many stories that still continue to be shared about that day.  Stories of miracles, of faith and hope rising out of ashes, and of course, stories of grief and surviving that grief with a strong faith in God and His Son, Jesus Christ. 

Some of those stories have made their way into The Guidepost magazine that I receive once a month.  Guideposts, and its sister magazine: Angels on Earth, are also readable online.  I thought I would direct you to a story of miraculous survival from a blind man and his dog that I read on the Guidepost website.  They were in the north tower when the first plane exploded into their building.  Here is the link:  http://www.guideposts.org/hope-and-faith/blind-man-relies-hope-and-his-dog-september-11   May God be with all those who lost loved ones on that day.

I can't imagine the kind of mind, or minds, that would plan such an atrocity.  One thing I'm sure of is that it doesn't come from a God of love.  Not the God of love I know.  The Bible says that God is love and that love casts out fear.  So how can terrorists claim they are acting out of direction from the God of their religion?  Because of their own fears they act to perpetuate fear in others, thereby creating a false sense of power in their own minds and in the minds of others.  Is it not fear and the greed for power, and especially for land, that has fueled most wars on the earth since the beginning of time?  

I'm not a historian or a politician and both history and politics of the world are complicated.  I have no answers concerning the whole mess.  But, the answer for me is to trust the God of the Bible.  That is too simple for some people.  And yet, the simple fact of God sending His Son to show us his love is what gives me peace.  

However, our faith in God and following Jesus is what Jesus told us would bring on persecution--Matthew 5:11, 12.  Persecution has been a reality for Christians all over the world, but I've always considered Christians and our churches in the U.S. to be impervious to persecution.  From the reading and research I've done, I believe September 11th has changed that.  The terrorists behind September 11th want a one-world religion.  Americans are "infidels" not only because of our godlessness, but because of our Godliness.  Christians are especially infidel because we have divided our loyalties to the One God by also believing in Christ and the Holy Spirit, a Triune God. 

Christians have enjoyed tolerance in the U.S. because of the Constitution that was written by our earliest Christian fathers. But as people fall away from the authentic Christian faith and amendments are added to the Constitution,  it's obvious that the levels of tolerance have dropped. Therefore, we can see from stories in the news that the persecution of Christians has increased in the U.S.  

The stories of Christians standing on their faith in Christ through the 911 attack prove that we have a huge number of individuals who are equipped to withstand and overcome persecution--a "great cloud of witness," Hebrews 12.  Seeking these stories and spreading them around can help all of us as we aim to strengthen our commitment to faith in Christ.  My prayer for all of us who claim Christ as our Savior and Shepherd is that we will be able to continue in our faith as we face an uncertain future. 

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Long day

I want badly to write something to post but am too exhausted to think after a busy couple of days.  Will be going to my daughter and the grandchildren Thursday, and hope to be back on Friday or Saturday.  God bless you today.

Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. 12 In those days when you pray, I will listen. 13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. 14 I will be found by you,” says the Lord.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

This, Too, Shall Pass

For all who are experiencing discouragement, troubles, or loss:

For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure.  ~2 Corinthians 4:17

May you be comforted in knowing that this difficult trial will have an end.  God has ordained that all things will come to a conclustion.  As painful as it seems right now, none of this will last forever.  As God's grace prevails, the struggle will end at just the right time, and you will rejoice in a bright, new day.

The process of change is in your hands, dear God, and to you, there are no surprises or accidents.

  (From Holding Hands With God, Gary Wilde, contributing writer)


Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Life's Surprises

Whenever I have a long or short pause between posts it's because I'm having computer problems (not this time as my ISP is working for now), I'm just way too busy and too tired to think and write.  Other times I'm having a foray into a large or small struggle with depression which I don't like to talk about.

When I'm too busy to write I think about all kinds of creative ways I could write about living and dealing with chronic pain, diabetes, and the depression and/or anxiety that accompanies these physical manifestations.  That is until I do have the time to write.  Anyone who has experienced depression or the blues knows what a block it can be to writing creatively.  Anyway, who wants to hear it?  Maybe on a different blog.

Another reason for a pause in writing on my blog is receiving a surprise or shock to my sensibilities that throws me off-balance and, being the obsessive thinker that I am, I have to take some time to recover my equilibrium.  This is not the way I used to be before the chronic pain and diabetes came into my life, when I was plenty busy with work and other enjoyable activities.  I used to utter an, "Oh, well, that's life," and go on. 

The point I'm getting to is, our daughter and family were at our house a couple of weeks ago and dropped a big surprise on us.  Well, it was and it wasn't. If you know what I mean?  You'll know as soon as I get to the point.  Without further ado here it is--our daughter handed us this picture:

I started asking my daughter why she was holding the #4.  And then it dawned on me!  Now some people are probably a lot quicker than I am.  Also, I should have known something was up when her hubby made an out-of-the-blue comment about us not having a recent family picture of them around the house. They're good when it comes to catching us by surprise.

Why should I have been surprised after having suspicions a couple weeks earlier, when I noticed our daughters mid-section pooching and thinking, "I'd bet all my money (which isn't much) on it, that she's pregnant.  I quickly put it on the back burner 'cause even then I was having a difficult time wrapping my mind around the idea they would have another child soon.  I thought, "Their life as farmers and parents to three is very busy now."  "What would it be like with another baby," I wondered.  Chaotic, that's what!  But blessed, I'm sure.

What tickles me is that the 3-yr. old son has the same expression as his daddy.  The oldest one has a kind of oh-well-it's-just-another-brother-or-sister look on her face, and the baby hasn't a clue of what will be hitting her in about eight months.  I usually feel somewhat sad for the baby having to adjust to a new sibling.  They've hardly had the time to capture their mommy's and daddy's hearts when they must move over to share their needs with another.  Is two years long enough to solidify in a child's mind that they are still the twinkle in their mom's and dad's eyes, or have they gotten enough of mom and dad to think, "oh, what a relief.  Now mom and dad will concentrate on someone else while get a break from their smothering so I can grow up?"  But what-if this baby turns out to be April's birthday gift on April 27, 2011??

Well, there you have it.  How my mind does go on in life's situations. I probably create most of my own troubles, hardly giving God a chance to calm me down to empower me with gratitude for all that life has to offer.  Yet, nothing's going to stop me from loving baby April in the next 8 months and thereafter to teach her she has a solid place in our world, being loved and loveable.  That's the way I've felt with each one, but as you know when a new baby comes into our lives he or she takes command of the whole family in a way we've hardly anticipated even though we've been through it several times before.  Oh dear, there I go again, borrowing trouble from the future.

I ask your prayers for Amy as she sludges through the fatigue and hormonal complexities of these first months of pregnancy.  I can only help her out a couple afternoons a week.  Pray for me to calm down and trust God to meet her needs through others.  Her mom-in-law lives much closer than me and is a big help.  Her hubby is like most at this time, wondering when this phase is going to be over.  He helps as much as he can.

They're into Fall harvest which is more involved than wheat harvest in the Spring.  It keeps the women busy preparing and taking lunch and supper out to the field and cleaning up afterwards.  It's hard work lugging all that stuff to and from the van, including buckling and unbuckling several children into the car seats.  Harvest demands long hours of the farmer when the farmer's wife is a harvest widow.  Our son-in-law is good to his family.  He takes at least one or both of the oldest out in the tractor or combine with him (air-conditioned cabs are a God-send), and takes time to tuck them into bed when he can.  The expectant father tends to have his stresses too, especially when there are one or more of the children restless at night and sleep is an illusive dream.  He needs prayer too.

When I go help our daughter I usually go mid-afternoon through bath and bedtime for the kids.  Pray for a divine strength to carry me through those strenuous hours.  As I always say, this too shall pass--maybe not having babies, but these early years requiring all the energy two parents, and two sets of grandparents, can handle. I don't know how families with ten or more kids do it!  It proves hard work doesn't kill us and that we keep going by the Grace of God, I'm sure.

That's my wish and prayer for all of you today, the Grace of God be with you.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Where are we going?

I'm reading an interesting book from our church library:  Making Life Rich Without Any Money, by Phil Callaway.  Not any money??  That takes me back to childhood when everything I needed was provided by my parents, and the only money I thought I had to have went for candy and trinkets.  I guess it's good to get my thinking straight and realize that Callaway is trying to convince me that my happiness or peace of mind doesn't depend on money.

I can't resist titles like this.  I'm usually living on the edge of my budget because it seems as if there's never enough money to last the month.  Yet, there are people who are living off of less than what I and my hubby make together.  I'm not sure I could live on my social security alone--I'd have to be boarding at some kind relative's house.  My net social security wouldn't pay the rent on a one-bedroom apartment in most places, and after prescriptions and some necessary personal stuff, I would barely have enough to eat to stay alive.  Now there's a weight-loss diet that would insure success.

Back to Callaway and the book.  I like the way he mixes humor with an edge of seriousness instead of the other way around.  Here are some of the titles from the short chapters in Part One, Rich People Know the Speed Limit:  Speechless in Seattle, Fiddler On the Sly, The Smarties Guide to Finances. 

In the chapter titled, "Fiddler On the Sly," Callaway tells the story of the famous violinist, Joshua Bell, who plays a million-dollar Stradivarius. He normally draws packed-out concerts and earns $1,000 a minute. In the interest of observing human behavior Washington Post asked Bell to stand, in jeans and baseball cap, at Washington's L'Enfant Plaza Station near a shoe-shine stand and busy newsstand.  He plays some of the "most elegant music ever written" for 45 minutes as 1,097 people hurry by. 

Callawy writes, "The results are painful to watch....In the 43 minutes that Joshua Bell plays, seven people pause for at least a minute to hear the virtuoso play.  Twenty-seven give money. One thousand seventy speed by.  Many have cell phones to their ears.  Some nurse coffee.  Hardly a soul bothers to look....Only one of the 1097 recognized Bell. His total take was $32.17,"  which included a twenty from the one who recognized him.  Bell later said with a laugh, "'That's not so bad, considering.  That's 40 bucks an hour.  I could make an okay living doing this, and I wouldn't have to pay an agent.'"

I'm wondering, what would I do?  I love music, yet how much time would I actually take, while hurrying to an appointment, to stop and listen to a street musician?

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Tomorrow and Sunday I'm going on a mini-vacation at my friend's house.  I'll revisit some of the old abandoned farmhouses in between here and there. 

It may be hot, but I'll be refreshed when I step onto her shaded deck and enjoy the south vista where her husband takes off and lands his ultra light.

We'll sip an iced drink beside her Koi pond and take a walk down memory lane--over 45 years of memories since we met at business school in Salina, Kansas.  Our empty nests have been a big plus for us, because now we can meet more often than only once or twice a year!

Moi on the left, Joan, aka Red, on the right.
Sisters in Christ

"There are 'friends' who destroy each other, but a real friend sticks closer than a brother."
Proverbs 18:24

A true friend is one who thinks you're a good egg
even though you're slightly cracked.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

We had to say Goodbye to Koko

How do you feel about mourning a family pet when it dies?  What's the big deal?  How does the death change your life; the life of other pets in the home?  Given the choice to treat the pet at all costs or to euthanize it would you be able to decide what's best for the pet, or would you try to keep them alive as long as possible? 

Our dear Himalayan cat had been in frail health since February.  But this week she started showing signs of increased ill health and stress.  She started wheezing several days ago which gradually kept getting worse.  Monday night she was very restless and obviously distressed from breathing problems.  She was still drinking water and eating soft food, but appeared weak and listless.  I spent several hours through the night observing and comforting her.

Tuesday morning we decided to take her to the vet who confirmed that Koko was seriously ill.  She suggested several things that could be causing Koko's symptoms, including cancer of the lungs.  Would that have explained why Koko lost her meow a month ago?  But she could still purr just fine even in the vet's office.  Sometimes purring seems to be a coping mechanism.

Cats are very stoical, withdrawing into themselves without complaint until they're too sick to hide their suffering.  I hate watching a cat, or any animal, suffer and increasing their suffering by putting them through a barrage of tests and treatments that only add to their stress.  Now if she had been only two, or even ten years old, we may have consented to some tests and treatment if healing was a possibility.  But how much time could we have borrowed for a fifteen-to-twenty year old cat?  And what quality of life would she have had?  Why would we put a pet we love through that?  Just because we couldn't let her go?  I believe we're being selfish, not loving, when we can't let go. 

The vet said it isn't at all cruel to euthanize.  We were prepared to hear the worst when we took Koko to the vet and had pretty well decided that euthanizing her might be necessary.  It was hard.  We stayed to comfort and pet Koko till she was gone.  The struggle for each breath was gone.  We brought her home and buried her beside Tabby in the backyard.

I cried off and on throughout the afternoon.   When we have a pet as many years as we had Koko they become a part of the family.  There are so many things in life that are uncertain.  A pet becomes the one constant that's always there to share in our worry and stress.  I frequently hug my cats who always seem to know when I need their warm and unconditional presence to comfort me. 

Because of our pets consistent presence in our lives along with the routine of caring for them, they are greatly missed when they're gone.  Who will be there to greet me at the door when I come home?  What will I do to fill that time I spent feeding, playing, grooming, and, well, talking to them?  What will be the "glue" that helps hold our family reunions together at holiday gatherings?

Bunny, our remaining cat, appears to be grieving.  When we lost Tabby a couple of years ago, Bunny went around the house looking for her former playmate.  If I remember right, it took her about three months before she was back to her playful self. 

Yesterday I decided to let her see Koko lying inert and unresponsive in the box.  She sniffed and watched Koko for a few minutes.  The rest of the afternoon she was solemn as she followed me around the house.  Even though Koko and Bunny didn't play together, when we were gone for a few hours or longer, they were there for each other.  It will be interesting to observe Bunny's behavior in the weeks ahead.

Koko is on my mind constantly during this time of getting used to her being gone.  I look for her in all the usual places: on one of the couches, behind the rocker, in the bathroom getting a drink, or at her dish grabbing a snack.  The last few days I would find her in unusual places like under the grandfather clock;  I sensed she was looking for a place to die, a natural behavior of dying animals.

Finally the realization hits me, that I will never see Koko again in this life.  But I do expect to see her in the next life.  On what do I base the belief that we will see our pets in heaven?  Romans 8:21-22 reads, "All creation anticipates the day when it will join God's children in glorious freedom from death and decay.  For we know that all creation has been groaning in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time."   Isaiah 11:6-9 depicts a new earth where Christ's perfect peace will dwell.  I look forward to it with anticipation.    

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Pets We Keep or That Keep Us

Our calico, Bunny, in a pensive mood.

I love all kinds of animals but will tolerate only three kinds to live in our home: cats, fish, and birds.  I love cats because I grew up on a farm with many cats and kittens.  As a child, I played with them everyday.  However, our mother didn't allow animals inside our home--except in winter when dad had to warm up a newborn calf. 

It was fun to play with kittens in the sweet-smelling hay in the barn loft, or among the hay bales.  The kittens would play hide and seek through tunnels between the stacks of hay bales.  In Spring or Summer we would sit on the swing or in the soft green grass holding one cat or several soft cuddly kittens, watching cloud pictures in the sky, or dropping cracker crumbs near an anthill.  Watching the ants scramble to move pieces of cracker five times their size into their underground home gave me more pleasure than playing a game on the cell phone or computer.  That was the real deal.

We knew it was time to let the cows into the barn for milking, when the cats all gathered in or around the barn door where several old bowls or small discarded cooking pans would soon be filled with warm, frothy milk.  My brothers practiced hitting cat's mouths with a stream of milk straight from the cow's udder.  Then the cats would sit for awhile and, using their front paws, groom the last drops of milk from their face and whiskers.  That was, and still is, the ultimate picture of contentment.
Bunny is about to eat this flower--not if I see it!  I believe it's the nature of a calico to stay ornery all of their lives.  At least that's true of many of the ones I've known.  Bunny is a teen in cat years.  Maybe that explains her erratic behavior, like trying to take a bite of this beautiful red geranium bloom.  Because the screened-in back porch is the closest our cats will ever get to experiencing the outdoors, we have a pet-door which Bunny uses everyday.  KoKo doesn't know, or isn't humble enough, to push her way out, but she'll wait for me to prop it open when all she needs to do is hop out or in.

Another of Bunny's tricks is to attack my feet by trying to wrap her paws around my ankles, or nipping at my heals.  She's sneaky about it and surprises me when I least expect it.  When my feet are particularly painful I'd better wear my shoes or slippers around Bunny!   
KoKo is about 19 years old and retired, although on occasion she will keep newspapers from flying away.  When our daughter adopted her as a half-grown kitten she hid under the bed for several days.  She's never tolerated other cats very well, rejecting any attempts other cats have made to play with her, fixing a haughty stare on them.  Then when they get frustrated and start bullying her she becomes the hurt victim.  Her eyes look gold in this picture, but are actually a beautiful deep blue.  I've not been able to capture their real color on camera.

Because of her martyr complex Koko's health began to fail when another kitten (Bunny) came to join our home where we also had a mature neutered male tabby.  The kitten and tabby got along famously and joined forces to taunt KoKo for being too uppity to play with them.  By the time our daughter moved to an apartment I encouraged her to take KoKo with her.  Once KoKo was by herself and queen of the house she gained weight and thrived, exhibiting a gentle and loving personality.  When I took her back the tabby had died and she and Bunny have worked out an uneasy truce between them.  Ongoing tension is created when they vie for their mistress's  (that would be me) attention.

KoKo (named after one of the cat's in Lillian Brown's books) always had the typical Siamese or Himalayan meow, but last winter she began yowling--loudly--anytime of the day or night.  We took her to the vet because we thought she might be in pain--which was how she sounded.  But the vet couldn't pick up on anything immediate and wanted $150 or more to do some tests.  She seemed to settle down, or maybe I was unaware that she was losing her voice.  Now, she can only whisper except when she purrs.  I'm hoping I'll know when it's time to put her to sleep.  It's unusual, I understand, for a Himalayan to live beyond 15 years. 
My sister's cat, Candi, lives near K.C.  She's sassy and it takes her awhile to warm up to me 'cause she doesn't see me often enough.  When my other sister, our sister-in-law, and I went to visit, I slept in this bed which was her usual spot.  I was hoping she would sleep with me overnight, but no, she slept on the other bed with my sis.  I felt miffed.  She was rather aloof towards me that whole visit.  That's the way of a cat.  I saw a behavior in her that I've never seen before.  Before lapping a drink she dips her paw into the water and licks it off her paw several times.  I wonder what my sister gave her to drink one time to earn that kind of distrust from Candi?   
Farm dog, Earl, wraps his leg around those he loves or nails them down with his paw.  He's very protective of his family, threatening strangers (to him) with a bared-teeth growl and a stance that says, "Don't cross that line."  He wandered onto the road when he was a youngster and got sideswiped by a car which has left him with a back-leg disability.  Earl used to follow the farmer's implements with his unique limping run for many miles.  He wouldn't ride in the truckbed when it was offered to him.  He's given going to the fields to hunt game, and looks longingly and sadly after the tractor as it disappears from sight.  The family may have to think about getting a puppy soon. 
Above is one of the 15, or plus, cats our daughter has on the farm.  They are all named, just as mine were, but I have to ask our 5-year old granddaughter to remind me who they are.  Farm cats live a naturally short life except for a few hardy ones that survive the hot summers, cold winters and stalking habits of larger wild animals such as coyotes and hawks.  Most of the kittens that survive are the ones the mothers keep hidden until they're too old to be tamed.  Farm life certainly isn't kind to pets, a lesson I learned as a child, and which our grandchildren are learning; the lessons of life and death are real in the school of farm-life. 

My daughter's favorite cat??  No, this is not a favored cat.  Shadow was a kitten who was found as a stray in another small town.  She may also have been a pampered housecat.  How was this spoiled kitten supposed to associate with a gang of hardened farm cats?  First, she ignored them and kept herself busy trying to squirm her way into the house through the back door everytime it opened.  But her suppressed anger at the trials life has handed her, doesn't surface until she gets pregnant.  Then she initiates an attack by swatting and hissing at whatever unaware cat ventures too close to her and her space.  She has also attacked some of us, biting me on the ankle and going after our daughter a couple of times.  Thankfully, she's left the children alone.

I believe Shadow may have been abandoned at too young of an age by her mother, because she was a lousy mother with her first couple of litters, leaving them to fend for themselves before they were ready.  Her mothering has improved but her kittens seem to have short lives.  Perhaps her neglect keeps them from developing a survival instinct. 

I took pity several years ago on one of Shadow's abandoned kittens, which was a tiny black, orange, and white calico that ran around the farmyard with the bravado of a little lioness.  Something in her spirit cried out to be rescued and given a chance to grow up.  I told my sis (who had just lost her husband) that if she didn't take this kitten home with her it would never survive.  The rest is history.  Tiera, that scrawny little kitten, is a beautiful calico with a playful and charming personality.  She has satisfied my expectations about her potential to fufill a purpose with her indominitable spirit.  She is a perfect fit as a companion to my widowed sister.

I grew up with pet birds.  Our mother usually had a canary in a cage that hung in the south living room window above her indoor garden of house plants.  The canary's lilting songs chased away any gloom that might try to reside in the house.  But canaries are delicate and short-lived. 

When our mother discovered from a sister that parakeets are hardier and playful, she had to have one.  We had several parakeets that we tamed. They would ride around the house on our shoulders, or heads (less tolerated), as well as sit on the table by the warm toaster to tuck their little head under their wing and take a nap.  Sometimes we would let them nibble on some food between our lips, including gum, of all things.  We lost a couple of parakeets when someone forgot they had it on their shoulder and walked out the door.  One of them was rescued by our brother who spotted it high up in an old elm tree.  He, along with our sister who followed with the cage, climbed up and coaxed it onto his finger and into the cage.  What we don't do for our beloved pets.

Those two little characters in the above picture are B.C., on the left, and Buddy.  They are kept by our son's girlfriend.  I kept B.C., Precious, and Sweetie for three years because Tammy couldn't have them where she lived.  I had to keep their cage safe from predators in the house, our cats.  That safe place was on top of the refrigerator.  Precious died of a broken heart when B.C. rejected his love for that of Sweetie.   Sweetie eventually died and was replaced by Buddy.   When we go visit our son and Tammy, B.C. remembers me and reaches for my finger between the cage bars to give me a love bite.  Nobody knows for sure how old B.C. is, but we're guessing around eight or nine years.  That's a pretty ripe old age for a domesticated parakeet!

Somedays we get tired of cleaning up after the cats, removing their fur from furniture and clothes, and taking care of the litter boxes.  Yet, we're grateful for the companionship and the comic relief that our cats provide when life gets tense.  God knows we need them.  Thank God for pets whatever and however, they are.  I pray that all of us will respect the pets and animals God has entrusted into our care. 

Genesis 1:31  "Then God saw everything that He had made and indeed it was very good."

Friday, August 06, 2010


I've been tweeking my blogspot the last few days. Take a look around, visit some of my favorite-other blogs and websites. I try to have some fun while I'm online.

I was surprised, when I did Yahoo and Google searches with the title of my blog, that it didn't pop up. It seems there are a lot of folks out there who have the same wanderlust, using wonder and wander interchangeably in all kinds of combinations. I'm beginning to wonder if I have entitled my blog correctly, even though I still like it, especially with it prefacing the Bible verse from I Chronicles. Perhaps I need to stay true to the title though; do a little less wandering and more wondering.

I've liked the word "wandering" since I was a youngster and heard my sister's high school glee glub sing the song, "The Happy Wanderer, " by Frank Weir, for the first time. All these years I've looked for a way to memorialize the happy associations with this word, which is why I decided to use it on the blog.

Here are the words for those who want to remember: (http://www.lyricfinder.org/)

I love to go a-wandering, Along the mountain track,

And as I go, I love to sing, My knapsack on my back.

Chorus: Val-deri, val-dera, Val-deri, val-dera, Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,
Val-dera, My knapsack on my back

I love to wander by the stream, That dances in the sun
So joyously it calls to me, Come join my happy song.

I wave my hat to all I meet, And They wave back to me
And blackbirds call so loud and sweet, From ev'ry green wood tree.

Oh may I go a-wandering, Until the day I die
Oh, may I always laugh and sing, Beneath God's clear blue sky.

Val-deri, val-dera, Val-edri, val-dera Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, Val-dera
Beneath the clear blue sky, Beneath the clear blue sky.

I still get happy chills when I sing it. I loved it because I had never been anywhere outside of Kansas, but I always wanted to sit beside a gurgling stream in the cool mountains. Thank goodness we've vacationed in Colorado numerous times and wandered happily beside a mountain stream.

Did today's blog title pique your curiosity? If you comment or give feedback on blogs than you're familiar with the verification words that need to be mimicked before you can post your comment. I've been having fun making definitions for some of these words and thought I would share some of them with you.
For instance: cardeer is what you get when you cross your car with a deer. Here are a few more:

Locat: cat under the couch;
Menni: plural for Mennonite;
Fentist: professional fence builder;
Moperst: a street where mopers go to live;
Culters: people living around cul de sacs;
Witales: stories about Wi experiences;
Weecider: a tiny drink of cider.

You get the idea. I think I need a life!

Speaking of happy wandering, here are a few things our grandkids love to do as they wander/wonder through childhood.

Every kid has got to do the stretchy smile to get it on camera. I hope I'm around to show it to her boyfriends.
What would childhood be like without a swing set.?
This is what to do when you're bored.....

Anyone up for a game of Leapfrog?