~~~~~~~~~ "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

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.