Monday, December 28, 2009

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Eve

Art Drawing for Santa.....check

Cookies for Santa....check

Hot Cocoa for Santa....check

Carrots and Celery for the Reindeeer....check

Olivia tucked into bed fast

The Silent Monks Sing

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


The other night, I caught the end of an interview on FOX News with Annie Laurie Gaylor, the Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation. During this interview, they showed a spot in a public space which displayed a Christmas Tree, a Nativity Set and a placard sign which read, "At this season of THE WINTER SOLSTICE may reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth and superstition that hardens hearts and enslaves minds. - Placed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of its State Members"


I wish I had seen the entire interview. Obviously, the sign was a big part of the story. Ms. Gaylor shared that she was a third generation "free thinker." She was proud of the fact that her parents did not "indoctrinate" her with with religion. My, oh my....she has no idea what she is missing.

When the interviewer asked if she could pray for Ms. Gaylor, she replied, "You can pray, but it would be a waste of your time because there is no god who is going to hear or answer your prayers." The entire interview was disturbing. I found myself weeping for Ms. Gaylor. She is deceived...and doesn't have a clue. And then I thought about the many people who are influenced by this Freedom From Religion Foundation and then I got angry.

If you're reading this...and you're a Christian, say a prayer for Annie Laurie Gaylor.

Ah ha...I found the interview on YouTube:

Pray. We all need to pray - more than we do!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The the details...

This morning while I was spending some time with the Lord, I happened across the following video. As I watched, I was especially impressed with the last two photographs. From the intricate beauty of the flower to the majesty of the stars in the heavens, He created it all. Created for His glory, for us to enjoy. It reminded me that He is a God of details. He cares about the smallest things in our lives, yet is the Keeper of the Stars! Oh, how blessed we are to be called His! Glory in the Highest!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fun in the snow!

After Olivia made this huge snowball (the beginnings of her snowman), Brillo Man started up the tractor and pulled her around the property on her sled. She had a blast! She told me that her Dad is "The Best Dad in the whole wide world!"

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Greatest Gifts....

This morning I woke up and donned my Christmas sweatshirt in anticipation of joining the elementary students at Olivia's school for what I hoped would be a morning full of fun and shopping at Santa's Workshop. Honestly, I wish I could say that I was looking forward to the experience with a joy-filled heart...but I must admit I was dreading it just a bit. Frankly, I didn't know what to expect, having never volunteered at Santa's Workshop in years prior.

When I arrived, the tables were filled to overflowing with gifts for every age group. Bibs and bobbleheads, screwdrivers and ice scrapers, crayons and candles - even a huge stack of T-shirts proudly printed with the Pittsburgh Steelers logo which Wendi, the elf-in-charge, had managed to snag from a JCPenney's sales rack at a mere $1.99 each! (Marked up to $2.50 for the sale - the school makes a small profit and there will be a lot of happy Steelers fans on Christmas morning!) I was amazed at the large variety of items that had been donated and watched quietly from my post as "Elf-in-charge-of-wrapping-breakable-items-to-insure-that-they-survive-the-bus-ride-home" as the children streamed in with excited exclamations!

"Look at all those toys on that table, do you think I can buy something for me too?!"
"This is going to be super!"
"My Mom HAS to let me wrap these presents because I'm the one doing all the shopping!"
"I can't wait! How much am I allowed to spend?!"

....those were just a few of the things I heard as the kids got their first glance of the huge array of gifts spread before them.

As the minutes ticked by and I wrapped dozens of breakable ornaments, candle holders, coffee mugs and picture frames, I was blessed by the conversations I had with each child who visited my table. One young boy handed me a Christmas mug with its matching ceramic coaster and said, "I'm buying this mug for my Grandma Sue because she gets up very early every day and has a cup of coffee and reads her Bible."

I stopped and looked up from my wrapping as he continued to name each person for whom he had chosen a gift and shared with me the reason behind each purchase. I don't remember any of the other gifts or any of the other reasons, because I was so struck by his comments about his beloved Grandma Sue. And I wondered if Grandma Sue is aware of the awesome legacy she is leaving in her precious Grandson's heart...teaching him the importance of God's Word through her actions. I wonder if she knows how a simple cup of coffee and time with God and her Bible is touching lives around her. Not just the lives of her family, who see her devotion, but also the lives of those wrapping up breakable items at the school's Santa's Workshop!

Grandma Sue reminded me to pay more attention to the legacy that I'm leaving my daughter, Olivia. I pray that Olivia recognizes, as she observes me, the importance of serving the Lord. I'm afraid that I fall far short in so many more ways than I care to think...

So Lord, thank You, for this reminder to pay more attention to the legacy that I leave behind, for that indeed, is the greatest gift I can give my daughter.

Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely
so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen
or let them slip from your heart
as long as you live.
Teach them to your children
and to their children after them.
-Deuteronomy 4:9

Monday, December 07, 2009

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

My Niece - The Violin Virtuoso

My sister's daughter, Rachel (age 14) playing a solo in the Stow Youth Symphony Orchestra in Stow, Ohio. Lori tells me that my other niece, Julia (10), has been invited to play her guitar with the orchestra as well and will begin rehearsing with them in January. I'm almost as proud of them as their Mom and Dad!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

There are no words which are able to express my Thankfulness to God.

Today I am thankful for so many things, for my family and friends, my home, my health, His provision for my every need...and the list goes on and on. But most of all I am thankful for God's amazing grace in the gift of His Son.

My prayer today is that you recognize His bountiful blessings in your life and pause for some time, amidst the hubbub and busy chaos of the holiday, to give God thanks.

Have a blessed day my friends - I love you all!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Keep On Coming

I was reading my Bible this morning and came across this verse:

Therefore, also now, says the Lord, turn and keep on coming to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning [until every hindrance is removed and the broken fellowship is restored.] Rend your hearts and not your garments. (Joel 2:12-13 Amplified)

I am reminded once again of what the Holy Spirit continues to impress upon my heart....that God has so much more for us. He desires a pure bride - a spotless church - a holy life, fully consecrated to Him. I think that perhaps most of us don't even fully understand what that means.

In Revelation when Jesus is speaking to the seven churches, He says to each one of them, "I know you by your works." That's not to say that we aren't His children because of His grace alone - for no man can be saved through works. But I say to you today - do not take His grace in vain!

Recently I heard a teaching by John Bevere. He used an illustration which I thought was so appropriate to showcase the somewhat apathetic attitudes of us Christians. There was a man who lived at the base of a volcano. The news was spread that this volcano was about to erupt and that anyone who was within 150 miles of its base would be destroyed. The man is panic-sticken, because he has no way to get away from the volcano! His SUV is in the shop and if he started walking right now and didn't stop there is no way that he could get 150 miles away within the next 24 hours. Shortly, there's a knock at the door. He opens it to find a man standing before him holding out a set of keys. He asked about the keys. The man told him that he was giving him a brand new vehicle. Wow! Are you kidding! This is awesome! But why are you doing this? Just because I care about you and love you so much and I want you to be able to escape from the destruction of the volcano. Wow. He thanked him and then immediately got on the phone and started calling all his friends. Can you even believe this? This guy just GAVE me a set of keys! I have access to this vehicle and it's going to get me far away from this place! I'm saved! Do you believe it? I'm saved!! When he finished telling the story to one friend, he called another and then another. Pretty soon he realized that 23.5 hours had passed and he had been so busy shouting about how he had been saved that he hadn't bothered to get in the vehicle and drive to safety. He would die.

Those keys are just like the grace of God. We have been given this wonderful gift of gace. Grace to empower us to live the life that God's truth demands. What are we doing with that grace? Remember what Jesus said to the churches in the Book of Revelation. "I know you by your works." We must continue to persevere - to reach the lost - to draw nearer to God - to work for His Kingdom. He has so much more for us to do - and so many more blessings to give.

It is we who hold the keys. What are we doing with them?

They would spend the night stationed around the house of God,
because they had to guard it;
and they had charge of the key for opening it each morning.
-I Chronicles 9:27

Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven,
but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
-Matthew 7:21

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Tonight is my talk at the Sheakleyville Nazarene Church (women's meeting...all women are invited - 6:30pm.) I'll be sharing the story of my life.

One really cool thing is that at various times in my life, the Lord just drops a scripture into my lap - one which always pertains to my situation and speaks directly to my heart. I'll open up His Word at some random spot and bam...there it is...speaking directly to me.

Recently, while praying about tonight's meeting, and feeling a little nervous (don't know why...never been nervous before when I've shared my story...but at any rate...) I have been having some problems with my MS lately - one of which is clarity of speech. I lose words in the middle of a sentence and at times have trouble finishing my thoughts. Cognitive issues. I'm hating it. So...I was praying specifically that the Lord would allow me to speak to this group of women with flawless speech - that the words would not get lost in my head somewhere, but that I would be able to bring His Word without faltering. Also, I've been battling a sinus infection and would very much like to sing at least one song tonight. So I prayed about that as well. After I finished praying, I opened my computer and went to Pat's blog where I read this verse:

I am the Lord your God,
who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth
and I will fill it.
-Psalm 81:10

God is good! I'm trusting that He will fill my mouth and what comes forth will be to His glory!

If you're close by and can come tonight, I'd love to see you there. If you're far away, I covet your prayers!!

Monday, November 09, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday Brillo Man!

I love you with all my heart!

Monday, November 02, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Happenings

Today was the Halloween Parade at school. Olivia was Dorothy - and Bentley thinks he's Toto! She skipped her way through the gym as most of the other children walked. I think she was "following the yellow brick road!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Brillo Man Update

Brillo Man is doing okay. Surgery went well. The surgeon spent about 20 minutes with me afterward explaining in detail all that he was able to do to fix Randy's hip. He's confident that it's a good fix and that this hip will last him the rest of his life. Being a Christian, we also talked at length about the Lord's goodness and he prayed with me and gave me a hug before he left. I feel so blessed that we were directed to him - God is good. He's in the details.

I do ask that you continue to pray. I had to leave the hospital at 7 pm in order to be at church by 8 pm to pick up Olivia and get her home and tucked in bed. During that time, the nurse didn't give Brillo Man any pain medication. He called me in tears saying he was in the worst pain he's ever experienced in his life. The nurses weren't answering his calls and he was understandably very frustrated. I learned that they were switching his pain meds around and were waiting for the anesthesiologist to write the order. In the meantime - Brillo Man had no morphine drip - no dilaudid - no nothing! ugh. He needs me there to be his advocate...

Anyway...he's in the Lord's hands - which are the best hands in which to be, eh?

Thanks for your continued prayers!

Updates to follow as I'm able.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Prayer Request

Hi all ---just a quick reminder to pray for Brillo Man - hip revision surgery on Wednesday morning. We have to be at the hospital at 5:30 am. ugh. Mom has opted to come here and stay overnight. She will be making sure Olivia gets to school. My dear friend, Dawna, will pick Olivia up from school, feed her dinner and see that she's on time for church and Little Saints practice. I will be in the next town - just 20 miles away - at the hospital - praying my husband through this surgery!

Thanks for your prayers! I love you all! I'll try to post an update on Wednesday evening - if not, for sure on Thursday.


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Bentley and Wholehearted Friendship....

Here's Bentley - at his "post" by the front door - ready to bark at whatever bug happens to fly through his line of vision!

"Bentley!! If you don't stop barking you're going to drive me nuts! I'm about ready to give you away! You don't need to bark at every little bug that buzzes by the door!!"

"NO MOM! I want a dog!!"

"I want a dog too, Olivia, but Bentley is driving me nuts with his barking today."


"Olivia, that's just silly. You don't need a dog in order to be friends with Cassie. Besides, I thought the two of you were wholehearted friends again."

"Mom, it's in her rulebook....I...NEED...A...DOG!"

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Flu Update

Well, we did go to church this evening and 3/4 of the way through the service, they came and got me to say that Olivia was sick. Complaining of a headache, ear and stomach problems.

Brillo Man has a very important pre-surgery doctor's appointment tomorrow and I have a very important neurologist's appointment. I'll be dropping Olivia off at my Mom's on the way to Pittsburgh. Please pray for a hedge of protection around Mom so she doesn't get sick! ...and for Brillo Man and myself too. If Randy gets sick, he would have to postpone his surgery and if I get sick --I get way sicker than most people when I'm just sick with the regular flu....and don't want to see what the swine flu will do to me!

I'm praying Psalm 91 over my family!!!

Thanks for your prayers!

Buying Stock in Hand Sanitizer...

Okay - just got an email from Olivia's teacher saying that Olivia "is complaining a LOT about head and ear and stomach. Just a heads up in case she is on her way to swine city." Ugh. Swine Flu is going around here in our school system. Why they don't close the schools for a week is beyond me....but anyway...Olivia came home from school and is very hoarse - has a sore throat and a stomach which is "feeling crummy."

Our dilemna is this: This evening, her church group, Little Saints, is having a practice. If she misses the practice, she won't be able to perform at The Harvest Party which our church is hosting on Halloween. She LOVES Little Saints. She agreed to go lie down and take a nap - which indicates to me that she is REALLY not feeling well.

I just want to drown us all in bleach!!! I'm on the CDC's list of "at high-risk of complications of serious illness" with this N1N1 because I have MS. ?! Makes no sense to me because with MS, my immune system works triple-overtime to attack my central nervous system....and I'm not often you would think that my increased immune response would be good to battle this swine flu virus. Apparently not - according to the CDC.

Okay --According to His stripes I am healed. I say "phooey!" to swine flu!!

Oh...and Olivia's Art Work pictured above has absolutely NOTHING to do with this post!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Wholehearted Friendship

"Mom, Cassie and I are wholehearted friends again!"

"You are?!"

"Yes, because we both have decided that it's the best thing."

"Well, that's awesome, Olivia! Remember the other day when you cried and cried because Cassie said that she wasn't going to be your friend anymore and I said that very soon she would change her mind?..."


"See...isn't it good that she's decided to be your friend again? You'll have to remember that the next time that she says she's not going to be your friend...remember that soon enough things will be back to normal and you'll be best friends again."

"Not BEST friends, Mom, we're WHOLEHEARTED friends!"

"That's even better!"

"You want to know why we're wholehearted friends?"

"Yes, why?"

"Because we've both decided that we hate Darren."


"Olivia, it's not nice to hate anyone. Jesus wants us to love everybody."

"I know Mom but he tore up the horse that I drew for him. Just how am I supposed to get past that? huh?! Jesus didn't like it very much when Darren tore up my horse drawing!"

"Jesus might have been disappointed in Darren, but Jesus still doesn't want you to hate him. You need to forgive Darren for tearing up your horse drawing."

"Okay - but I'm only going to forgive him this time. ...he does it again and he's going to get hit with Kung-Fu because my friend Dylan knows Kung-Fu and he's going to stand up to the crazy boy bully at recess so he'll for sure stand up to Darren!"

"Who is the crazy boy bully?"

"I don't know his name. I just call him crazy boy. NOW do you get it why I can't be friends with Darren?!"


" doesn't matter. I have to draw Cassie a picture because she's my wholehearted friend..."

"...and besides, Darren thinks I'm stupid because I got a library book about tomatoes. Well guess what?! Someday when I'm a famous tomato farmer THEN he'll be sorry!!"

Movie Monday - Dr. Pepper

Thursday, October 15, 2009

See Spot Run.

We're studying Olivia's 2nd grade spelling words for tomorrow's spelling quiz:

One of her words: appreciate

Whatever happened to Dick and Jane and Sally and Spot?!

When I was in 2nd grade, I was reading, "See Spot run. Spot runs fast.
Run, Spot, run!"

Appreciate?!?! ugh.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Saturday, October 10, 2009

He Provides...all the time!

Many of you know that I'm on a short-term disability leave from work due to some not-so-fun complications of my MS. As my salary is now greatly decreased, we're left to come up with some creative ways to bring income into the house. Since starting a three-ring circus was not an option (although there are days when I feel that we could do that!)...

...I decided to go back to my ebay selling.

Selling on Ebay takes a LOT of time. But --I'm not working - I have a LOT of time.

I poked my head into the garage...what treasures might I find in there?

We are collectors of many things...we never pass up something that's in resellable condition if we see it on the side of the road...brakes on...flashers on...van in park...GO!

We've been known to go dumpster diving. (We were out one day diving through the dumpster at our local furniture store hoping to score some very large boxes in order to pack up a very large item which had recently sold when I pulled out a BRAND NEW pair of Men's Tennis Shoes --they still had the tag on them and the paper stuffed in the toes!!! ?!?! The thing that really puzzles me is that The Good Shepherd Center is right down the street....why didn't they donate these?!)

Brillo Man used to go out scrapping before his hip got so bad that he can no longer do a lot of heavy lifting.

I am Queen of thrift shopping.

And I volunteer regularly at our local Good Sherherd Shepherd Center where I am fortunate enough to spot some great bargains before the Treasures store opens and can set them aside to purchase after my shift ends. (By the way...I donated those tennis shoes.)

All of these "treasures" that we find along the way have to go somewhere...they're in the garage...and in the shed...and in the other shed... Our neighbors can attest to the fact that until recently our van sat outside for two years because our garage was full of stuff to sell! We finally sold the commercial size dryer that was in there - someone drove from Iowa (or was it Idaho?) to pick it up. He got a great deal for his tent-washing business (I didn't know there was such a thing as a tent-washing business) and we regained the space in the garage - as well as a couple of extra dollars for groceries! (And I'm parking in the garage again!)

Just last week while volunteering at The Good Shepherd Center, my friend and coworker for the day (Dawna!) was setting out a White Hobnail Chenille Bedspread....Hmmm...let me see that...It was marked "Double Size" - I bought it. When I brought it home I noted that it was 100% cotton and was in very good condition with no stains.... I listed that baby on Ebay - yesterday it sold for $27.38 --my investment: $1.00

Several weeks ago I attended the library book sale and purchased four bags of books on "everything-you-can-fit-in-a-bag-for-$4.00" day. Filling 1/4 of one bag was a set of young teen romance series books...Sweet Valley High. I picked up 37 of them. They sold for $45.50! Someone got a great deal on those books which MORE than made up for my entire investment of $16.00 ...and I still have plenty more books to sell!

An old copper, hand-hammered tray which Brillo Man picked up when scrapping one night just sold yesterday for a little over $13.00. It all adds up...(in fact this month our Ebay sales total over $1000.00) and with every sale I praise God for His provision for our family.

My all-time best finds have been the book that I purchased at a firehouse booksale. The book was a 1945 copy of Alice in Wonderland - had some great prints in it and was in very good shape. It sold to a book collector in The Netherlands for $38.00. My cost for the book: 10 cents! Another favorite find was at an auction - everything in the box for $1.00 - I bought the box. In the bottom were three antique hat pins. Two were not fancy - plain black beads adorning the top...the third had an enameled bead which read "Slippery Rock State Normal School 1898" An alumnus from the now Slippery Rock University purchased all three hat pins on Ebay for $68.00!

Okay --gotta dash--time to check my Ebay listings! Five items I'm selling are ending today and my "Lot of EIGHT Sterling Silver Bracelets L@@K! Great Gift" is up to $10.49 - my investment: $0.00 --found in a box in an apartment in a nearby town which Brillo Man cleared out for the apartment manager. Someone is going to get a great deal! (Any silver lovers out there? Sara?)

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Eagle Eyes

Olivia's "eagle eyes" at top performance, she glanced out the window..."LOOK MOM! It's an eagle!" We grabbed the binoculars...sure enough - it was a bald eagle. We went outside and watched it for 15 minutes or so - thought perhaps it would swoop down into the pond for a fish, but it never did. You can click on the photo to supersize it. I was across the pond when I took the photo so it's still small - but you can definitely see that it's a bald eagle! We see them every now and then. Once I was privileged to see one swoop down and grab a fish for breakfast!

So here is Brillo Man today...out on his John Deere...completely oblivious to the fact that an eagle is high above...watching over him with great interest. (Interestingly, if you measure from the top of the eagle's head to the tip of its tail - it's the same distance as the top of Brillo Man's hat to his waist! A huge and majestic bird indeed!)

"...A great eagle with powerful wings,
long feathers and full plumage of varied colors
came to Lebanon (Greenville).
Taking hold of the top of a cedar (hemlock.)"
-Ezekiel 17:3

Friday, October 02, 2009

Something to Check Out:

Started by some Christian women --another Sisterhood - this time it's
The 9.12 Moms - A Sisterhood of Mommy Patriots

You don't have to be a can be a Grandma, an Aunt, etc. It's something of which you may want to be a part. Prayerfully consider it!

School Picture Day

Today is school picture day. I chose to snap a few photos of my own as I know once picture time arrives, there will be no curl left in Olivia's on this dreary, rainy day in Greenville! ....I'm headed off to the kitchen to whip up tonight's dessert - a recipe from my dear Scarf Sister Trish! I trust you all are having a wonderful day as you recognize God's blessings in every minute! ...just look for'll find them!

Monday, September 28, 2009

His Blessings Never Cease to Amaze Me

Where do I start with this story? the beginning, I guess....

Two weeks ago, I called my pharmacy to order another month's supply of Copaxone, the drug that I inject daily for MS. Lo and behold, the request was denied by my insurance company. ?!? Since one month's supply of this medication cost over $3,700.00 there is obviously no way that I'm paying out of pocket for this drug.

I called my insurance company to inquire as to why the medication coverage was denied and was told by a representative that I was in the system as being on Medicare Part A. And?! So?!...
...well, apparently, if I'm on Medicare Part A then Tricare (Brillo Man's retired military benefit health insurance) requires that I have Medicare Part B. I dropped part B when I went back to work because I was no longer on disability - therefore, I thought I didn't need it. Not.

Okay - so let me get back on Medicare Part B - what's the premium?, I'll pay it.
Can't do that - the open enrollment period isn't until January and even then the coverage won't take effect until July!

Okay - then let me withdraw from Part A. Can't do that either - it will stay on my record for at least two years (is this like a misdemeanor or something??!?!!) and if I voluntarily withdraw in the meantime then I will be required to PAY BACK to Medicare EVERYTHING for which they have paid since I originally went on disability (and Medicare) in 1996!!!! You've got to be kidding me!!! Nope.

Okay - there has GOT to be something that can be done here....

In the meantime, Brillo Man is livid and on the phone with a Tricare representative - ranting about how he served our country faithfully and how he expects that our government, in return, will take care of his family. At which point the representative reminded him that "Tricare is not health insurance, it's a government run health plan." (DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED!!!)

So - for the first time in my life, I currently have no health insurance. Great.
My medications alone would cost me $4000 per month. ....enter Giant Eagle Pharmacy - They just started a $4 prescription plan... blood pressure medicine will qualify. Now I just have to figure out how to get my Copaxone.

I called the Allegheny Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (NMSS) --is there anything they can do to help?

They sent an email with a whole bunch of links to services - but I don't qualify for any of them.... okay... I just wait. Lord, this one is all yours....

Two days later I received a call from someone at the NMSS. There is someone who has a 30-day supply of's the number...give her a call.

I got on the phone and talked to Shirley - the most precious woman. She said that the medication belonged to her son who in addition to MS is suffering from terminal cancer. He has refused all medications and she doesn't want this supply to go to waste. Because we lived two hours apart, Shirley overnighted the medication to me and is refusing to allow me to reimburse her for the postage. She's an angel in disguise.

God is good - He has met my need - and I'm believing that I will have no need for any health insurance until we get this whole insurance mess straightened out. (By the way, someone at the Social Security office is now working to "push through" my enrollment since I went and paid the premium for Medicare Part should go into effect within the next few weeks and I won't have to wait until next July!)

Just when you think that it can't be fixed...God fixes it.

Please pray for Shirley and her son, Ken as he faces a huge battle ahead. God is able!

Movie Monday - Pirates Who Don't Do Anything

Friday, September 18, 2009

Today's Word: HUMOR!

Okay...where was in my "5 Word" thing?...Humor. What can I say about humor? I'm not feeling particulary humorous today.

I'm cheating - go here to watch this: Wedding Ceremony - My Waffle Wedded Wife I'm guessing you'll laugh. Or at least smile. I laughed. In fact, I laughed until I cried. I could be that bride. Well, no, I couldn't. I'm not that thin. But I can envision myself laughing like that should Brillo Man have made such a faux pas on our wedding day.

These things made me laugh today: I made up a little ditty song this morning when I woke Olivia up for school --reminding her of good bathroom goes something like this..."wipe, flush, wash, brush" (Trust me - it was funny.)

Bentley stood on the seat of the van whenever I got out to give Olivia a hug and kiss and put her on the school bus. What's so funny about that?...he honks the horn - over and over - beep - beep - beep - beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep! (Good thing we live the in the country and have few neighbors to awaken!

I watched a recorded episode of "So You Think You Can Dance" and laughed at some who THOUGHT they could dance. Not.

Bentley is wildly dashing about the living room trying to catch a fly. He's been at it ALL day and hasn't caught the fly yet. I'm tempted to get the fly swatter, but that would mean Bentley would have nothing to chase and I would have nothing at which to laugh.

Olivia got off the school bus in crying hysterically because "Cassie told me that I can't be best friends with my best friend Krysta because Cassie said I can only have one best friend and she wants to be my best friend but she doesn't get it that I can have a bunch of friends and Cassie is just turning out to be something like a bully , I think! ....Can a girl be a bully?" (I was laughing - on the inside!!! - Olivia never knew I was laughing - but I was. Trust me.)

Humor - sometimes I don't take the time I should to appreciate the humor in life. I tend to take things way too seriously and often times I have to remind myself to lighten up. Because after all....a merry heart doeth good like a medicine! (Proverbs 17:22)

Gotta go get the fly swatter before Bentley drives himself nuts chasing that fly...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Word of the Day: Pennsylvania

Of all the places I've been in my life, I can honestly say that there's no place I'd rather live than here in the beautiful state of Pennsylvania. And I suppose it's good that I feel this way because I have lived nowhere else but Pennsylvania all my life. I've moved from one western Pennsylvania town to the next and I can say that I never tire of the magnificent beauty of our State.

We have the honor of being represented by the second star on our nation's flag - the second state to join the Union - beat out by Delaware - by only a day or two, I believe. (I never was very good at remembering historical facts!) And we've got Philadelphia where the Declaration of Independence was signed in Independence Hall. And of course, there's the Liberty Bell and the Betsy Ross House and many other great places to visit. If you haven't been and you ever have the chance - I recommend a visit to Philly. It's a beautiful city - filled with history and lots of ART! One of the most well-known sculptures, the original "LOVE" sculpture by Robert Indiana, makes its home in Love Park.

In the southwestern corner of the state is Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has been my home on more than one occasion. I lived in the suburbs there from a very young age through First Grade when my Father took a teaching job in New Castle. It was there that I lived the remainder of my growing up years in the house where my Mother still lives today. After college I got my first job in Pittsburgh - and it was then that I fell in love with that great city. There is so much to see and do there and it's a city with such diverse neighborhoods and culture that there is something sure to please everyone!

In northwestern PA, sits Erie - right on the shores of the great lake. I did my clinical internship in Medical Technology at Hamot Medical Center - its parking lot literally dipping into the bay of Lake Erie. It too, is a beautiful city and Presque Isle State Park is a great summertime destination for anyone who enjoys the beach.

Now I'm in Greenville - halfway between Pittsburgh and Erie. One of three 'Greenvilles' in the state. Why there are three towns in the same state with the same name is beyond me. The problem was that they didn't consult me before they named the town! At any rate, I wouldn't want to live anywhere besides where I am now living. We are blessed with a beautiful home which sits on a five-acre pond. The Great Blue Herons fish outside our backdoor each morning and the tree frogs, bullfrogs and crickets sing us to sleep each night. No matter where I travel - there's nothing that feels quite as nice as returning to our home in Pennsylvania. Dorothy said it best in The Wizard of Oz, "There's no place like home!"

Even the sparrow has found a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may have her young— a place near your altar,
O LORD Almighty, my King and my God.
-Psalm 84:3

Tune in next time for Word #3

I'm playing along....

Okay - I'm always looking for new subjects about which to blog. Pat said she'd send the words - I would just have to do the writing about the words. Frankly, this would have been much easier had she just done the writing as well and then I could have just cut and pasted the whole thing into my blog. But something tells me she would not have complied.

So - here is my first word and what I have to say about it!


Music takes up a huge space in my heart. I wish I could say it takes up a huge space in my life but that's not the case any more. It all started when I was a kid. I took piano lessons for a few years - not nearly long enough. And I regret that I didn't stick with it and play longer because these days I do more 'plunking' than playing and I don't even do that enough. Our piano sits in the living room with more dust on the keys than fingers. I've threatened to find a teacher for Olivia --someday I will do just that.

I also play the guitar although not very well and I don't know many chords and find that it's far easier to slap a capo on the strings and change the key so that I can play the song in the chords I do know and still be able to sing in a range in which I'm comfortable rather than learn more chords. I think I know about five or six of them. Huge repetoire, huh? But it was enough to play every Girl Scout song known to man (and girl!) around the campfire. I spent a lot of hours playing and singing around many, many campfires. Good times!

Which leads me to the REAL big part of the love of music for me: singing. I love to sing! When I was a child, I often imagined myself as Julie Andrews twirling and singing on the mountaintops in The Sound of Music. If there was a choir, I was in it. My greatest accomplishment was trying out for the Eastern District Youth Chorale and actually making the cut! Yahoo! This choir was made up of kids from all over Pennsylvania and Delaware (The Eastern District of the Assemblies of God.) Sadly, I was unable to go on tour with them as our family just didn't have the money at the time to pay my expenses - but it was nice to know that I made it into this most auspicious choir! I had gained a new respect for myself as a singer and knew then that I was just as good as the people in our church who were often called upon to sing. And I did tour Pennsylvania with our church chorale during the bicentennial year - 1976 - that was a blast!! Visiting Philadelphia and seeing the Liberty Bell, going to Independence Hall, etc. was especially memorable during that year of our nation's celebration!

Since then, I have been privileged and honored to be part of the Praise Teams at two churches which I've attended in the past. I've been asked to sing more "specials" than I can count. And it's been such a blessing to be able to sing for the Lord!

These days, I'm no longer on a Praise Team as my church has no need for a new member. So my singing for the Lord is done mostly within the solitude of my van. I pop in a CD or turn on the radio and off I go down the road - singing at the top of my lungs - praising my God! An audience of One. That's the best!

Tune in tomorrow when I'll share my thoughts on Word #2.

My heart is steadfast, O God;
I will sing and make music with all my soul.
-Psalm 108:1

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Today's happenings....

The girls are here - in from New York.
Olivia is THRILLED to see her sisters!
I'm thrilled to have a break from the constant chattering and boundless, endless energy that Olivia brings with her wherever she goes! Her sisters will be happy to entertain her for the next two days!

We will be picking up a small trampoline which we bought from our friends. Something else for Olivia's boundless energy!

So far, we're just relaxing and enjoying each other's company.

...just a lazy day here in the Erskine home!

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


Okay, so my sister has introduced me to this great website where you can list ten books or more and then start swapping with other people all over the United States (and its territories.) By the way...if you should happen to sign up to join this free website (all you pay is postage to swap any book - PLEASE enter my email address ( d_erskine[at] ) under the referral information so that I can get a credit for a free book!

Anyway...I've been doing a lot of reading. I have more time to do that since Olivia has started school again. In fact, I'm getting a lot more accomplished than I usually get accomplished now that she's in school --her room is almost clean - still sorting through some clothes and toys, items are being listed and sold on Ebay and I'm stacking wood! ahem. Again...I digress...

Two nights ago - I couldn't sleep. I started a book which I got from the swap entitled, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize - this novel is one in which you will be so drawn that you'll wish but hate for it to end. I could not put it down. I finished it before 24 hours was up and don't recall the last time I read a book in 24 hours or less. One reviewer said this (and I couldn't agree more:) "A work of such terrible beauty that you will struggle to look away. You will read on, absolutely convinced, thrilled, mesmerised."

As I am not the best at writing book critiques, I leave you with the following which I borrowed from another source. Read the book. It's a good one. All I can say is God help those who may have to endure what the characters of this book endure.

A man and a boy, father and son, "each the other's world entire," walk a road in "the ashes of the late world." McCarthy (No Country for Old Men, 2005) envisions a postapocalyptic scenario. Cities have been destroyed, plants and animals have died, and few humans survive. The sun is hidden by ash, and it is winter. With every scrap of food looted, many of the living have turned to cannibalism. The man and the boy plod toward the sea. The man remembers the world before; as his memories die, so, too dies that world. The boy was born after everything changed. The man, dying, has a fierce paternal love and will to survive--yet he saves his last two bullets for himself and his son. Although the holocaust is never explained, this is the kind of grim warning that leads to nightmares. Its spare, precise language is rich with other explorations, too: hope in the face of hopelessness, the ephemeral nature of our existence, the vanishing worlds we all carry within us. McCarthy evokes Beckett, using repetition and negation to crushing effect, showing us by their absence the things we will miss. Hypnotic and haunting, relentlessly dark, this is a novel to read in late-night solitude. Though the focus never leaves the two travelers, they carry our humanity, and we can't help but feel the world hangs in the balance of their hopeless quest. A masterpiece. -Keir Graff
(Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.)

Monday, September 07, 2009

Friday, September 04, 2009

The Party Rocks On!!

Part Two of WoodstAck: Olivia joins us.

Brillo Man and I accomplished a little before Olivia arrived home from school. Brillo Man loaded the wheelbarrow - pushed it to the stacking area and then I sat in a chair and stacked while he sat in another chair and rested. It was a team effort! The entire time I was pondering the comment that the driver made when he delivered the wood, "My Mom and I stacked a pile this big in two hours!" ...well, good for them. It will take us two weeks!!

"I told Olivia that we would pay her five cents for every piece of wood she stacked."
"What? We'll go broke!!"
"I doubt it."

"Olivia, Dad and I have decided that we'll pay you five cents for each piece of wood you stack. But you have to count by fives and you have to remember your final number." (Trying to sneak in some elementary math...)
"Okay, five, ten, fifteen, Bentley, go away, twenty, twenty-five, I'm taking a break now...(post break)...120, 125, 130. Okay. I'm done."
"I told you we wouldn't go broke."
One dollar and thirty cents. That's a lot of wood stacking!

Brillo Man decided that the garden cart and the wheel barrow needed air in the the tires, so he and Olivia hopped on the tractor and rode to the front of the house to get the air compressor from the garage. (See what happens when you get old?)

That cart rolls so much easier now. Just look at how fast Brillo Man is loading that wood!! ("Are we done yet?")

(Please note the ladder in the background is STILL LEANING on the side of the house --been there since that bird built the nest in the Spring...who wants to bet that it will still be there next Spring for the next nest??!?!!!)

Stay tuned for more coverage of WoodstAck...

Thursday, September 03, 2009

We're Havin' a PARR---TEEEEE!!

A wood stacking party....who wants to come?

That's a BIG truck!

Brillo Man can be seen escaping...he says "I'm gettin' outta the way!

Here it comes!

That truck was holding a LOT of wood!

It's almost over Brillo Man's head!

He says..."Let's go in the house and take a rest before we start!"

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

The 1st Day of 2nd Grade

2nd Grade....already....

...where does the time go?...

...The bus is coming!...

...Hey! Don't I even get a hug?!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Movie Monday -The Duck Song

In our house, all you have to do is ask, "Got any grapes?!" and Olivia cracks up!! When we want to turn a frown upside down...."Olivia, ya got any grapes?"


Thursday, August 27, 2009

Book Review

I picked up a book yesterday at Ollie's Bargain Outlet....a great place to shop for great deals...unfortunately there is not an OBO anywhere near my home and the only time I go there is the rare occasion when I accompany Brillo Man to the Butler VA...anyway, I digress (what else is new?)

The book: The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne.

I have copied the following reviews from Amazon - mostly because there is SO much that I could write about this book - I'm wanting to highlight paragraphs on every page - and I couldn't possibly decide which quote is the best or the most fitting way to describe how life-changing this book could be to us Christians if we would just stop and do what the author suggests. He urges us to be truly Christ followers.

I'm halfway through with the book and don't want to put it down --so now I'm going back to reading.... My advice - read the book! Here's the review:

From Publishers Weekly:
*Starred Review* If there is such a thing as a disarming radical, 30-year-old Claiborne is it. A former Tennessee Methodist and born-again, high school prom king, Claiborne is now a founding member of one of a growing number of radical faith communities. His is called the Simple Way, located in a destitute neighborhood of Philadelphia. It is a house of young believers, some single, some married, who live among the poor and homeless. They call themselves "ordinary radicals" because they attempt to live like Christ and the earliest converts to Christianity, ignoring social status and unencumbered by material comforts. Claiborne's chatty and compelling narrative is magnetic—his stories (from galvanizing a student movement that saved a group of homeless families from eviction to reaching Mother Teresa herself from a dorm phone at 2 a.m.) draw the reader in with humor and intimacy, only to turn the most common ways of practicing religion upside down. He somehow skewers the insulation of suburban living and the hypocrisy of wealthy churches without any self-righteous finger pointing. "The world," he says, "cannot afford the American dream." Claiborne's conviction, personal experience and description of others like him are a clarion call to rethink the meaning of church, conversion and Christianity; no reader will go away unshaken.

From Booklist:
*Starred Review* From dressing the wounds of lepers in Calcutta to living among the homeless in Philadelphia to visiting families in Iraq, social activist Claiborne strives to live an authentic Christian life. In his view, he is a radical in the truest sense of the word, returning to the roots of Christianity by living as Jesus did and doing "small things with great love." A partner-founder of the Philadelphia-based faith community Simple Way, he presents an evangelical Christianity gentler and more inclusive than is usually seen, especially in the mass media. He describes Simple Way as a new culture that relies on radical interdependence and consists of grassroots organizations, intentional communities, and hospitality houses. Although the book isn't an autobiography, in it Claiborne reports much about his life: growing up in the Bible Belt, becoming a Jesus freak, moving to Philadelphia despite his family's misgivings, and helping the homeless there. Then he boldly requested an internship with Mother Teresa in Calcutta. She simply responded, "Come." Besides illuminating his own faith journey, Claiborne is insightful on the huge U.S. cultural and economic divide: the problem isn't that wealthy Christians don't care about the poor, he says, it's that they simply don't know the poor. A moving, often humorous account of a life of faith lived to the fullest.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Our Entertainment

Olivia entered the room dressed in Brillo Man's clothes, plopped herself into the recliner chair and proceeded to mimmick Brillo Man.

"Olivia, it's my turn to watch the TV, please hand me the remote."
"Olivia, I'm going to go lay down."
"Olivia, you can't have another fudgesicle."
Then she stood up and her pants fell down..."Oh, oh, I'm losing my pants!" (That was something she planned! - Brillo Man is always losing his pants!!)

It was hysterical!

It wasn't quite as funny however, when she reappeared ten minutes later dressed in MY clothes and proceeded to do the same thing!

Friday, August 21, 2009


Pastor Jeff Stockford of Calvary Assembly of God in Orlando- affectionately known to me as "PJ": - my former worship pastor - I was so privileged to sing with him on his team when he was the associate pastor and worship pastor at CrossWay Church in Cranberry Township, PA.....I love this man - a forever friend!

You can hear more at his website.


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Self Portrait

My dear friend, Carol says this:

"It's very intense looking.
Reminds me of Andy Warhol."

I think she may have a point.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Something New from something old...

The other day, I learned something new. I'm currently reading Curing MS: How Science is Solving the Mysteries of Multiple Sclerosis and just when I thought that I couldn't learn anything more about the disease that plagues my body, I read that 90% of the people with MS who have Relapsing-Remitting MS will develop Secondary-Progressive MS. This "shift" in the disease process usually occurs by the time the patient has lived with the diagnosis 25-30 years. Guess what? I have had MS at least since age 26. (Probably sooner as there are some things that happened prior to age 26 that I can look back upon and say, "yeah, that was probably MS...") I've been "officially" diagnosed since age 30. Today I'm 49. So it's at least 23 years that I've been dealing with this illness. And today I'm living right smack dap in the middle of an exacerbation which began back in March and has continued...steadily worsening over the weeks to the point where I had to quit working on July 15th.

Have I "crossed over" from relapsing remitting to secondary progressive? I hope not. It is possible? Yes. In fact, It's highly probable. Will things get worse before they get better? Don't know. Will the current drug therapy and physical therapy do anything to help my current physical situation? Don't know that either.

Here's one thing I do know without a doubt: God is still on the throne. Sure, there are moments when I am so stinkin' frustrated that I can't do the things I want to do...when my body won't move the way I tell it to move...when my legs don't work and I can't walk...or I take a step and fall down because they quit working altogether. But I still know: God is on the throne. Whenever I am trying to form a sentence in my brain and can't find the words to speak it from my lips...when I don't have the strength to open the gallon of milk...when my mood swings so far to the other side that I find myself screaming at my daughter or nagging my husband for no good reason...when I can't sleep even though I'm completely exhausted...when I pick up my cup to take a drink and completely miss my mouth...(Yes, Sara, I know how that happens!)...when all of that...and a million other annoying things occur...I still know: God is on the throne.

I can choose to wallow in self pity. Or I can choose to take joy in the fact that when everyone else looks up in the sky and sees one hot air balloon flying by...I am blessed to see two - because maybe that day, I have double vision. A blessing? Perhaps not. But it's all in how I perceive things to be.

God is still on the throne. Whether or not He chooses to heal me, or whether or not he allows this disease to go from relapsing-remitting to seconday-progressive...He is still on the throne.

And THAT is what I know!

...I saw the LORD sitting on his throne
with all the host of heaven standing around him
on his right and on his left.
-I Kings 22:19b

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Aerobics!!! Yeah!!

Conversation in our home:

Deb: "Olivia, please push that folding chair over here so I can do my exercises that I'm supposed to be doing for Physical Therapy homework."

(Deb sits down on the couch, extends her leg and places her foot on the chair in front of her.)

Brillo Man: "Is that an exercise?"

Deb: "Yeah, can't you tell I'm burning calories?"

Brillo Man: (walking away...)"Yeah, I see that. I'm going to get an ice cream sandwich out of the freezer. Anybody want anything?"

Olivia and Deb (in unison): "I want a fudgesicle!"

Now...before you laugh...believe it or not...when I sat down with my foot on the chair, I actually WAS doing my PT homework! Because of the increased spasticity in my legs, I am unable to straighten my legs completely. In fact, it's impossible - and very painful when I try. So...I'm supposed to sit with my feet elevated and allow the force of gravity to help straighten my legs. Burning calories. Hardly. Critical to my rehabilitation for MS. Yes. So there!

And yes, that's me in the photo. yeah. right. ...although that IS the current color of my toenail polish and I DO own a laptop...