Monday, April 30, 2007

A few of my favorite things....

Inspired by kaymac, here are a few of my favorite things...

  • Watching the Great Blue Heron fish on our pond every morning.

  • Listening to Olivia's laughter.

  • Seeing Brillo Man come in from a few hours of riding the John Deere --all muddy and tired --knowing he's been outside doing one of HIS favorite things --DIGGING ANOTHER HOLE!

  • Playing Scrabble against the computer and winning!

  • Doing Crossword puzzles.

  • Talking on the phone to faraway friends.

  • Singing praise songs to my Lord!

  • Watching the kingfisher swoop down from his perch and grab a meal from the pond.

  • Listening to the doves coo.

  • Watching American Idol (did I say that? --it's true --I'm hooked.)

  • The smell of freshly cut grass (of which I haven't experienced yet this year because the mower needs new blades).

  • Changing from 'real' clothes into pj bottoms and a comfy, old T-shirt.

  • The flowers and new leaves of spring!

    Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. --Song of Solomon 2:12
  • Saturday, April 28, 2007

    An Education From Guideposts

    This morning I read an article in the current issue of Guideposts Magazine. It was with shock and disbelief that I read a story about a young Japanese girl and her family who were ordered to leave her farm and everything they knew to be held prisoners in a government internment camp. A camp with surroundings so different from the lush strawberry farm they were forced to leave behind. This 'herding' of Japanese Americans came shortly following the bombing of Pearl Harbor during WWII.

    What was so shocking to me is that throughout all my years of education, I NEVER ONCE heard of these camps (numbering approximately ten) which were used to hold these people prisoner for over three years. In my reading, I learned that President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988 which in part, hoped to make restitution to Japanese Americans whose rights were violated during that time.

    Mentioning this to Brillo Man, he shared with me that he had once visited the Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. My online search of this center revealed that today, ironically, is the date of an annual pilgrimage which Japanese Americans make to remember and honor those who spent time in these internment camps.

    So today's blog is about honoring all those who suffered needless shame and loss of their homes and land and all their possessions --only to be detained for what I consider no good reason.

    My prayer is that we all treat one another, irregardless of race or ethnicity, with dignity and respect. Let's all vow to live by The Golden Rule....Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

    Monday, April 23, 2007

    Miss Jan

    Here's what it's all about...

    ....Saturday evening, Miss Jan telephoned us saying that she received Olivia's lovely drawing of the cats and flowers and yes, she would really enjoy attending church with us...could she please have a ride?

    Olivia was SO excited! She jumped up and down over and over again saying, "I can't believe Miss Jan is coming to church with us!"

    After church, we took Miss Jan out to lunch and then drove her back home. Before we parted, she gave me a huge hug and said, "You are a Godsend."

    God is good.
    All the time.

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    Did I say something about a seque?....

    So...Olivia and I were running errands this afternoon. We had to stop at two different banks and the post office to take care of personal business and business busines....At the second bank stop, I opened the van door and you know how sometimes the door doesn't open all the way --but then does open all the way and the last few inches you have no control over because of the way the door is made --it just is out of your control? (Am I making any sense to anyone out there?) Anyway...I opened the door --and then it jolted open another few inches and managed to bang into the new SUV parked next to me --- arrgh! Oh MAN! Of course, it took a little chip out of the paint on the brand new SUV. Now what to do? It was a small chip - less than the size of a pea, greater than the size of a Sharpie Marker point, about the size of your average ladybug. As I examined the ladybug sized speck of paint loss, I said to myself, "Self, just keep going on --into the bank --deposit the company check --get back in the van and drive away. The ladybug speck SUV driver will be none the wiser." But of course --I couldn't do that. I had to stop and write a note and put it under the ladybug speck SUV's windshield wiper saying that the door got away from me and took a small chunk of paint with it.... First I had to find a scrap of paper --then I had to find a pen --then I had to corrale Olivia who was, at this point, jumping up and down and spinning like a ballerina in the middle of the sidestreet. All of that took time. Time that I could've been in the bank, depositing the company check so we could move on to stop number two - the post office.

    When we finally arrived at the post office. Standing out front was a woman who had just offered to watch another gentleman's dog as he went inside. Olivia was, of course, drawn to the dog - a cute little white poodle --or maybe it was a bichon frisce (or however you spell that breed). Anyway --she noticed the dog. The woman asked her if she would like to pet the dog. No way. Olivia was going to look --but no touching. We have a big springer/lab mix as part of our family. His name is Chauncy. But forget about getting near any other dog. She is petrified.

    So --we went into the post office and got in line. Olivia proceeded to tell me that she thinks she needs a smaller dog so she can learn how to take care of smaller dogs because she already knows how to take care of bigger dogs. In the middle of our conversation, the woman who had been watching the gentleman's dog came inside and stood next to us in line.

    She looked at Olivia and said, "What do need to learn how to do?"
    Olivia looked at me - her eyes questioning whether or not she should speak to this stranger. I gave her the okay to talk and she shared with this woman that she needed to have a small dog at her house.
    The woman said, "Have you ever thought about a cat?"
    "Oh No - Chauncy doesn't like cats."
    "Oh...I really like cats. By the way, my name is Jan, what's your name?"
    "It's so nice to meet you Olivia." - as she extended her hand for Olivia to shake.

    She then proceeded to share with Olivia that she had three grandchildren who lived out of town and it would be so nice if she had someone close by, like Olivia, to be her adopted grandchild.

    At this point, I asked her about her family and we spoke a few moments. Then, ever so easily, I said, "Jan, do you attend church anywhere?"
    ", I haven't been attending."
    "Well, Olivia and I would love to have to you join us this Sunday at our church if you would like to come."

    By this time, it was her turn at the counter. She walked up to the counter and started to write an address on a card --which I assumed was something she was mailing. She then turned and handed me the card --which had her name, address and phone number and with tears running down her cheeks said to me, "Why don't you send me something about your church." ----and then she asked for a hug.

    I gave her a hug, Olivia shook her hand and ran excitedly out of the post office.
    "Mommy! Let's send her an email!"
    "Well, Olivia, I don't know that she has a computer --but we can mail her a letter."
    "Yeah, and I'll draw her a picture of some cats. Maybe she'll come to church with us Mom!"

    ....going out in tomorrow's mail will be a lovely picture of some cats and some flowers drawn by Olivia, along with a note to Miss Jan --inviting her to church on Sunday morning, Of course, we'll pick her up if she needs a ride.

    And all I have to say is thanks for the ladybug speck of paint loss on the SUV --for had I not taken the time to write that note --we never would've met Miss Jan today at the post office.

    The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD...
    -Psalm 37:23

    Tuesday, April 17, 2007

    The Perfect Segue

    This evening at Praise Team practice, we sang "Amazing Grace". That hymn always gets to me ---especially when I get to verse five..."When we've been there ten thousand years, bright shining as the sun, we've no less days to sing God's praise than when we'd first begun." I mean, can our meager minds even grasp the concept of FOREVER?!

    Years ago in Girl Scouts, I used to play this song on the guitar:

    The Land of Oden

    In the land of Oden,
    there stands a mountain,
    Ten thousand miles, in the air

    From edge to edge
    This mountain measures,
    Ten thousand miles square

    Once every million years
    A little bird comes winging
    Sharpens its beak
    and quickly disappears

    And when this mountain
    has worn away
    that in eternity will be
    But one single day.

    In the land of Oden,
    There stands a mountain
    Ten thousand miles in the air
    In the air
    In the air.

    I don't know about you --but that thought just boggles my brain. Once every million years a bird comes and sharpens it's beak on a mountain that's ten thousand miles square and when the mountain FINALLY wears away---it will be as if only ONE day has passed in eternity.

    FOREVER. It's a long time.
    A long time to be rejoicing with Jesus.
    An even longet time if one is separated from Him.

    Earlier today, we had a computer repair guy come to the house to replace the mother board on a company computer which was still under warranty. This computer guy was here quite a while. He sat in the living room and worked while Olivia commenced entertaining him. She drew him a picture, offered him some applesauce and the use of her very own calculator "just so he could finish his taxes". It was even okay with her if he took it home and used it, just as long as he promised to bring it back the next time. Then she started singing. She loves to sing --and will sing for anyone who will listen and even those who won't.

    She broke out into a song which is on our friend, Dawna's CD ---

    Do you know Him today?
    Please don't turn Him away...
    Oh --Ohhhhh Jesus....My Je-ee-ee--sus...
    without Him how lost I would be..."

    I sat there and prayed while she was singing --for the computer guy. Of course, not knowing if he was a Christian or not. Assuming he was not ---as he never commented on any of the dozen or so Christian songs she chose as part of today's concert....

    Then this evening, at Praise Team we sang Amazing Grace and I shared with my fellow praise team members about how mind boggled I always am when I try to wrap my mind around the concept of ETERNITY....and how it's going also be an eternity for those who don't know the Lord ---spending it apart from Him....and I immediately was convicted for NOT speaking up and saying something to the computer guy after Olivia sang. The perfect seque. And I missed it.

    My prayer is that I will be more diligent in remembering eternity....and sharing God's saving grace ---with EVERYONE. It's my job as a Christian. Why do I not jump at every chance? This chance today passed me by. I didn't even recognize it --other than to pray. Perhaps that's all the Lord wanted me to do --perhaps Olivia's song was all the Lord wanted our computer guy to hear.

    Or perhaps not.

    "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:19,20

    Sunday, April 15, 2007

    What Stays in Our Brains

    My friend Pat recently ended a blog post asking if anyone remembered the words to the Schoolhouse Rock song, Conjunction Junction What's Your Function?

    That got me started --reciting all the poetry, prose and politcal stuff that I was required to memorize in the 5th and 6th grades.

    In fifth grade, one of my three teachers (each taught different subjects and we switched rooms throughout the day --broke up the monontony for all involved) was Mrs. Stewart. Mrs. Stewart was one I considered your typical spinster - ready to retire any minute - teacher. Very brusque. Very strict. Very cut and dry. Very politically minded. Watergate was the current event of the year that I was in grade five and Mrs. Stewart encouraged us daily to "watch the news! This is history in the making!!" I didn't watch the news. I was more interested in riding my bike to Faith Country Chapel and back (probably a ten mile round trip?) unbeknownest to my parents who couldn't believe it when I told them that Bobbi Jo and I had ridden clear out to FCC. Anyway...I digress.

    Mrs. Stewart had a long list of things that we were required to memorize in order to pass fifth grade. Here is the abridged list:

    The Gettysburg Address
    The Preamble to the Constitution
    All 50 states and their capitals
    All the US Presidents and Vice Presidents
    The helping verbs
    The Blue and the Gray by Francis Miles Finch
    Paul Revere's Ride by Henry Wadworth Longfellow

    There were many more --the above are just the highlights. I can recite all of the above -to this day - with the exception of the presidents and the state capitals. There are some that I miss.

    In sixth grade, Miss Gilchrist also required us to memorize things. Here are just a couple of the dozens of things that I memorized in order to pass sixth grade:

    The Children's Hour by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    Hiawatha by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
    Come Little Leaves by George Cooper
    September by Helen Hunt Jackson

    To this day, on the first of September, I nauseate anyone who will listen as I begin reciting the poem by Helen Hunt Jackson --and I keep reciting it --OVER and OVER again --each and every day --many times a day --until October 1st, when I put the poem to rest in my brain until the next year when I see that yellow golden rod and corn turning brown which always puts me in the "poetry zone". I've actually had friends over the years who have taken the long way home to avoid driving past the corn fields because they don't want to hear me repeat one more line of that poem.

    I intend to teach Olivia the poem so that long after I have gone to my heavenly home, she may carry on the tradition of nauseating all those around her.

    What did you have to memorize in school?

    Thursday, April 12, 2007

    Illustration Friday Theme: Green

    The Mantis
    copyright Deborah Erskine
    Gouache on 140lb Cold Press Watercolor Paper

    Blog buddies have seen this before--but it fit the theme
    for this week's Illustration Friday:


    Today's post is all about snacks.

    (simply because I have nothing to write about again and just glanced to my right and noticed a box which I now use to hold some of my artist pens which says, "SNACKS, 12 Chocolate Chip Muffins")

    At this moment, I'm wishing that there were muffins in that box - instead of 28 different colors of Sharpie pens and various other artist implements.

    If there were muffins in that box, I'd be eating one right now. And it wouldn't be a 'snack', it would be my breakfast (since I haven't eaten yet today).

    So --my questions for you are:

    1) What is your favorite snack?
    2) What is your favorite breakfast food?
    3) Do you ever eat "snacks" for breakfast?
    4) What is the capital of Belgium?

    (I threw that last one in there just for fun --because in case you didn't notice --it has nothing to do with snacks and everything to do with green vegetables, which is what we all should be eating instead of muffins.)

    By the way...if you come to my house and request a chocolate chip mini muffin, it will be served just like the one above --on my good china. pfffttt. right. Hey, we've got Dora Dixie Plates...they're cute and disposable. No dishes.

    Monday, April 09, 2007

    Fried Eggs? brain....

    I have been trying to think of something to post that would be worth reading.

    I'm sorry to say that I can't come up with anything. My brain is fried. Since taking on the added responsibility of processing loans for Brillo Man (the mortgage broker), I find that I have very little time to myself to do the extra things I like to do --like blogging! And then, when I am able to steal away a few moments --which is rare --my brain is so fried from all that left-brain activity that I just can't think.

    So --I'm left with nothing interesting to post.

    The good news is our snow is almost all melted. (What was with the four inches of snow we got this past weekend? There were times when it was 'white-out' conditions. Definitely colder and more snow than we had at Christmas. And it was Easter. Figure that out.

    No wearing of the Easter outfits in church on Sunday. Olivia's white sleeveless dress with an overlay of colorful butterflies just wasn't going to cut it --even with the white sweater that Grandma purchased to go with.

    Anyway...that's all I have to say.

    Nothing interesting.

    I told you.

    Get over it.

    Friday, April 06, 2007

    The Story of Easter

    As I was sitting at the computer doing some work for my husband's business, I overheard Olivia playing and talking to her imaginary friend Dorothy in the living room.

    "Dorothy, I wonder if this was the cross that they nailed Jesus on....and I think this must have been the stone that they used on the tomb."

    I looked in to see her picking up and holding some things that I have sitting on a shelf.

    "I'm glad they don't have to nail me to a cross. Jesus did it all for me."

    ...I sat here with tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, so blessed that our four year old understands what Jesus did ---just for her. Just for each one of us.

    May God bless this Easter season to each of us impressing on our hearts the amazing Passion of Jesus Christ. May this be the most real Easter season of our lives and the starting point to greater blessings and service for the God we love.

    From us to you -- Happy Easter!