Saturday, September 30, 2006

In Memory

Irving Fritz Carlson
June 8, 1913 - September 30, 2006
11:40 a.m.
Home With Jesus


Believe it or not, it is Saturday and Dad C is still hanging on to his earthly presence (at least as far as we know - no phone call yet this morning). He has been comatose, Hospice is there, but it is almost as if he's hanging on for a purpose. Only God knows if he can hear what's happening at this point. Thankfully, the nursing home finally moved him into a room where "Moving' on up to the East Side" isn't blaring from the roommate's t.v. set. It seemed wrong to me that a godly man who was so close to going home should have to be listening to old sitcoms. Maybe he is as reluctant to leave his Anna as she is to see him go. Maybe he's waiting for his son, daughter-in-law, all 6 of their children, and 2 of the great-grands to arrive tomorrow. They're coming a long ways and leaving this morning. Only God knows this mystery. Thank you all for your wonderful comments and your prayers. If you haven't read a granddaughter's point of view, go to Kristen's page at Thank you again for your prayers and thoughts. If you wonder what I'm talking about, see yesterday's post.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

He's On his Way Home!

On July 24 I wrote about my mother-in-law and entitled it "A Servant Heart." At the time, her sweetheart of 65 years had just been moved into a nursing care facility down the hall from her assisted living apartment. She carried hope in her heart that this was a temporary move for him, though the rest of us were certain it was not.

His quality of life has been negligible for quite a few months now. Today, he is slipping into eternity to meet with the Lord he has served and loved for so many years. It is only a matter of hours, and Hospice is caring for him. His sweetheart now finds it easier to be in her apartment than to be at his side when he doesn't know she's there.

I can't get really mushy about my father-in-law. He was not a mushy kind of guy. He has been a character all the years I've known him. He wasn't a sit-on-the-lap, saying "I love you" kind of grandpa. He used to scold the kids when they wouldn't eat all of their food. He did mellow greatly as he got older.

I would classify him as a stubborn Swede, the same as I classify my own dad! He was a Chicagoan who spent time in Sweden as a youth. He knew quite a bit of Swedish and never forgot it. His dad was a butcher in Chicago, but though he was a born and bred city guy, I always thought of him as a farmer at heart. He pastored small rural churches and always had huge gardens - keeping Mom busy canning in the late summer and early fall. One thing he did carry over from his butcher background, though, was his creation every year of Swedish potato sausage.

He was a musician at heart as well. He had a beautiful singing voice in his youth, and enjoyed playing the "mouth organ" or harmonica. In fact, he was making music with it just a few weeks ago - no matter that people were sitting around him trying to visit! He also had an antique zither that he loved to use as accompaniment to singing.

He was a maniac driver. I'll never forget when I was pregnant the first time, we were visiting them back in Wisconsin. I was in the back seat with my head in DC's lap so that I wouldn't throw up in the car, as he took the curves way too fast. I have heard many stories of when he was a young pastor and was on his way home for the day - you could see the dust flying down those country roads from several miles away. He actually had his motorized cart taken away from him a few months ago because he kept speeding down the hall and running into other elderly residents! Not a good thing with people shuffling behind their walkers!

He was also an amateur fixer-of-everything. Some of his inventions and solutions to problems were hilarious. He also loved to create his own medicines and frequently diagnosed his own illnesses with the prescription to match. I'll never forget the day I went to visit them and the house absolutely reeked of garlic - he was making his own garlic salt and he had enough to salt everything in the state of Colorado!

As he aged, one of the things he began doing was talking to the pastor in the middle of the sermon - mostly in the smaller evening services, fortunately. He was so used to being in the pulpit, I think, that he couldn't stop "preaching." Then he would fall asleep (or "rest his eyes") during the rest of the service.

When they moved from the apartment to assisted living, we took many of their things to our house, where they reside in our basement. I was going through them recently and found so many notes that he had made for sermons. Many were for radio broadcasts. I would have liked to have known him when he was young and on the go, running from appointment to appointment, coming home at night to his young family, making them laugh, being a wonderful dad.

He could pray! I loved to hear him pray. When we would visit them before they moved out here, they always had devotions with breakfast. He literally prayed around the world for every missionary he'd ever met, for the country they worked in, for every grandchild, every relative. The kids would get antsy, but that never bothered him! One day recently he was sitting in the corner in his big recliner as the rest of us were visiting. You never knew whether he was sleeping, ignoring, or didn't hear what was going on. This particular day I asked him what he was doing. He said, "I was just thinking about how to improve my prayer life." Wow! That gave me a start. If he hadn't figured it out yet, what hope is there for me??

He will be missed by his 3 children, their spouses, his 9 grandchildren, his 11 great-grandchildren, parishioners from many churches, members of our church, residents of the apartments. But he will soon join those who have gone ahead of him, including one of his grandsons. We do not want him to stay here just for us.

Good-bye, Dad.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Wordless Wednesday


Helping Grandpa Clean the Ice Chest

Monday, September 25, 2006

Birthday Musings

Today I am 59 years old. I’m not squeamish about saying my age. I just can’t believe it came so soon! It has gone so fast! When I look at pictures of people in the paper, for instance, who are famous or infamous and are my age, I often wonder, “Do I look that old?”

My mom and dad were only 18 and 21 when I was born. Dad was in the Navy, stationed in Memphis. Mom was staying with her parents in Monticello, Minnesota until after the big event and I was born in the big city, Minneapolis, 50 miles away.

Dad hitch-hiked from Memphis to Monticello around the time I was due. Unfortunately, I was late and he had to report back to the base. Doubly unfortunate, he had been granted additional time by his superior, but he didn’t get the word in time. Fortunately, the superior was a really good guy and let him go back home when I finally arrived.

I have been thinking a lot these past few days about the things that have occurred in my body in the last few years – things I don’t feel old enough for yet. Here they are, in no logical order:

~~Brown spots on my hands. At least they’re not on my face! I saw this commercial last night for some product that’s supposed to make our faces look like we’re 20 again, fading all those brown spots.

~~“I’m sitting on the floor playing games with the grandkids, and I can’t get up!” When did the ability to pop right back up from the floor go away?Arthritis, possibly, well probably.

~~Loss of good vision – that goes on and on. I’ve worn contacts for 37 years. A few years ago I had to add reading glasses to the mix – over the contacts, with bifocals on the side. The power of the reading glasses increased every few months. Finally, I had at least 7 pairs of 1.75 reading glasses scattered all over my world – on top of the microwave, on the lamp table in the bedroom, in my den where I have devotions, in my purse, at work. Add to that reading sunglasses, regular sunglasses for driving, sunglasses to go over the bifocals (really ugly!), and it got to be just too much to keep up with. So I gave up on the vanity and dumped the contacts. Now I have a pair of bifocals and a pair of bifocal sunglasses.

~~More about vision – when I’m getting ready in the morning, I put my glasses on after applying my miniscule amount of make-up and combing my hair. Hmmm. I looked much better in the pre-glasses fog! And my shower looked much cleaner before I looked in there with my glasses on!

~~Loss of short-term memory. As you can tell by what I write, my memory of the “good old days” is pretty good. I just can’t remember my mom’s phone number when I go to call her. Or what I came downstairs for! Or the great word that I was going to say next – it’s just gone!

~~I make funny sounds in the night – according to my husband. I have to believe him – why would he make up such a disgusting story when he loves me so much?? I wake up numerous times during the night, so rest isn’t the best. Oh, the joys of the M word!

~~I’m tired! I enjoy my job, where I spend half of the work week. And I love my grandkids passionately, with whom I spend the other half. But there is a God-given reason that children are most often born to the young.

~~And then there’s the weight thing. It goes on much more easily than it comes off at this stage of the game. The more I think about it, there might be a connection here with the reason I’m tired and why I have a lack of energy. There is a definite correlation between how often I go to the gym and how I feel. I’m too tired to go, so I don’t. Then I feel worse. If I just get there, I feel so much better. What a conundrum. I absolutely refuse to resize my wedding ring!

NOW for the good news – I am the eldest of five siblings and I have the least gray hair!!

Have a wonderful week.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Teen Challenge

I've spoken a lot about Teen Challenge in the last few posts. I thought it might be helpful to explain a bit about it, since some haven't heard of this program.

I first heard of this organization back in the early 70s when my husband and I were teen sponsors in our church. We took a group of teen-agers over to the eastern part of the state one evening for a rally with David Wilkerson. Dave started this program in 1958 when he felt called by God from a pastorate in rural Pennsylvania to the roughest part of New York City to work with lost and broken kids. You can read his story in his book called The Cross and the Switchblade.

Fast forward to about 4 years ago when I heard that the son of an old friend had gone to Teen Challenge. I didn't know the whole story, but knew that it usually involved drug addiction if you went there. Three years ago, our son needed help and we tried to steer him in TC's direction. He was not interested at the time, because he would have to take a year of his life to get well. It will be two years in December when things were at a point that he finally realized his need of major help and decided to take this giant step of faith. Usually a person has to be at a point of death or jail to be ready to do this program.

You can go to to learn more about the philosophy, the locations, and basic information about Teen Challenge. It is not only for teens; in fact, most of those who go are adults. Our son went far away from home so that he would not be tempted to bolt and go back to his old friends and habits. It was a very difficult time for all of us. He ended up staying for 18 months, but it was worth every difficult moment. God took over in such a mighty way. Those who go to a TC setting are called students. And that is exactly what they are. They study for hours every day on a Bible-based curriculum. They spend many other hours a day in some sort of work activity. His particular work assignment was fund-raising at store fronts all up and down the eastern seaboard. He could write a book about those experiences! There were many times when he wanted to give up and come home. But prayer and encouragement from many sources kept him strong.

TC is a probably not for everyone. As I said before, you have to be at the very end of yourself and your man-made solutions. God works in mighty and miraculous ways when He is allowed to. We give Him all the praise. We also have tremendous gratitude to those who prayed for and supported him throughout this time of healing and deliverance.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Random Ramblings

It is a gray, drizzly fall day in Colorado. I love fall in Colorado. It's not as colorful as Minnesota or the Ozarks, but the weather is wonderful. It is usually very sunny, but we're not complaining because we had about 10 drops of rain all summer. The main color of fall here is a bright yellow. The aspens are nested among the evergreens in the hills and when the sun catches the patches of yellow, it is a wonderful sight. We do have a few red bushes and trees, but not too many. Midwestern transplants are not impressed with the coloring.

We've had a very busy few days. Saturday was a great celebration of our beloved DIL's graduation with her second bachelor's degree. The family, about 18 of us, got together for lunch and all of her favorite foods, at least American foods. She's from Kenya and misses the foods of her childhood. But we did manage to get a beautiful Black Forest cake which was just as she remembered. That evening we cheered her on as she graduated. The ceremony was so touching, with stories of hard fought victories to achieve this goal. God was glorified in several of the stories. It was awesome.

Monday evening we went to Denver to attend the first-ever banquet held for the Teen Challenge program down there. We attended the banquet last year at this time in Massachusetts, visiting our son there for the first time in 9 months. It is a wonderful memory. We owe so much to Teen Challenge. Our delivered prodigal son and his faithful wife went with us to Denver and it was wonderful to watch him see TC from this side. We heard great speakers who had graduated from TC years ago and have gone on to excel in their fields. We also heard wonderful testimonies from current and recent students. I love their mission statement:

To provide youth, adults, and families with an effective and comprehensive Christian faith-based solution to life-controlling drug and alcohol problems in
order to become productive members of society.

By applying biblical principles, Teen Challenge endeavors to help
people become mentally sound, emotionally balanced, socially adjusted, physically well, and spiritually alive.

All of this was accomplished in our son's life and we are so grateful to God for his mighty grace.

I told you this was going to be random.

I'm re-reading books that I read years ago. They were written in the 80s and 90s by Boede Thoene. They chronicle Hitler's march across Europe as the Jewish people were forced to leave. They make me angry, but I can't seem to put them down. The first book in chronological order is Vienna Prelude. There is a conversation between a mother and her son in the one I am currently reading, Jerusalem Interlude, that really struck me:

"I do not doubt God's future justice . . . I only wish it would come now. Today."

"We mortals have a small and troubled view of time, Samuel. . . If the wicked could have one glimpse of their eternal future, perhaps they would repent. . . And if the righteous could have one glimpse of their eternity with God, they would no longer fear what evil men might do to them in this life. No. I think we might pity the wicked man for the price he will pay for his sin."

But we're like the son, I fear. We want to DO something. We (at least I) often have a hard time waiting for God's timing.

Finally, in this smorgasbord of thoughts this morning, I am again going to quote a song from choir practice last night. I wish you could have the music, too. It is "A Heart of Praise," by Kenn Mann.

One priceless gift,
Your life you gave,
There's no way on earth I ever could repay.
You've always been my closest friend,
Lord there are no words that I can say.
So I'll offer up to You all I have,
A heart of praise.

Lord, I'm forever grateful
For the ways You've blessed my life,
You've proven You are faithful.
In laughter or in sorrow,
Every tear You've wiped away.
Lord I'll worship You forever,
And give to you a heart of praise.

Lord, with my voice I'll always sing.
Let my song become to You my offering.
A sacrifice, Lord, I give my life
To the One who gave His precious life away.
So I'll offer up to You all I have.
A heart of praise.

When all is said and done,
and my life on earth is through,
Let me please be remembered as Your servant
Who gave to You,
A heart of praise.

Lord, I'm forever grateful
For the ways You've blessed my life,
You've proven You are faithful.
In laughter or in sorrow,
Every tears You've wiped away.
Lord, I'll worship you forever,
And give to you a heart of praise.

Have a wonderful day with a heart full of praise!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Songs that Blessed Me Yesterday

I love Sundays. Often they are not really restful, but they are blessed. One of the songs we sang yesterday morning was "He Giveth More Grace." Interestingly, there was an article in our weekly periodical that told a bit of background for this great song. Jeanne Zornes tells the story of Annie Johnson Flint who wrote the words. She died in 1932. (Hubert Mitchell put it to music in 1941). Annie was orphaned at age six and raised by adoptive parents. She started writing poetry at age nine. She suffered from arthritis and by early adulthood was an invalid. In her constant pain, she knew how God "giveth and giveth and giveth again" or how God promises strength for the day. She also wrote "God Hath Not Promised Skies Always Blue."

Here are the words I love to sing:

He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater;
He sendeth more strength when the labors increase.
To added affliction He addeth His mercy;
To multiplied trials, His multiplied peace.

When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources,
Our Father's full giving is only begun.

His love has no limit;
His grace has no measure.
His pow'r has no boundary known unto man.
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus,
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again!

In choir we sang the great newer song (1998) written by Roger Bennett, both words and music. He was a member of the Cathedrals, and is to this day struggling with leukemia. The song is simply called "Healing." When I sing it I think of Kevin and his healing from drug addiction. He is a new creation. All things are new. Here are the words:

The night was so dark, I felt in my heart my song had come to an end,
My spirit was willing but my body was weak,
I thought this is the way it would end.
But Jesus came in like a thief in the night,
He touched me and I was made whole,
My song did not end, it started over again,
And I want everybody to know
The story of my healing, O healing,
The Great Physician ministered healing to my soul;
The ills of my body were healed by the stripes on His back,
The Great Physician ministered healing to my soul.

My happiness gone, my day turned to night,
My soul was barren and dry;
The things of this world had all let me down,
Satan had me living a lie,
But then Jesus came, He heard my heart's cry,
He touched me and I was made whole,
His grace set me free, His love lifted me,
And I want everybody to know
The story of my healing, O healing,
The Great Physician ministered healing to my soul;
The ills of my body were healed by the stripes on His back,
The Great Physician ministered healing to my soul.

If you're in the valley of the shadow of death,
You think that your time is at hand,
Don't think for a moment He's forgotten your name,
At the crossing of Jordan true healing begins!

The ills of my body were healed by the stripes on His back,
The Great Physician ministered healing to my soul,
The Great Physician ministered healing to my soul.

Have a great week with a song in your heart!

TOTALLY UNRELATED ADDENDUM: Kristen from is trying to get 125 comments on her 125th post. Please help her reach this goal. Thanks!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Ode to Mrs. B.

This isn't really an ode, because an ode is a poetry style. Since I'm more into prose than poetry, I will not be writing an ode. But it seemed a proper title for a tribute to Mrs. B. That's what we called her. She was my favorite teacher EVER.

I have had many good teachers. I loved school. Many of them I remember clearly. But my fond memories of Mrs. B. rise above them all.

We were living in the Twin Cities area for two years, attending a very large school. I had great teachers there. I didn't really fit in socially, so I worked very hard in my classes and excelled academically instead. I didn't like biology, but for some reason I was going to be my biology teacher's assistant the next year. This meant I would type his tests and grade them, and grade homework as well. I was excited about this opportunity. It made me feel important.

That summer, Dad accepted a call to a church in Nebraska. I was always adventurous and ready to move. Especially this time, for reasons too long to go into at this time. We moved to Omaha, but quickly discovered that we had missed the huge school boundary line by one block. We would be taking the bus to a small town outside of Omaha, and it was a very small town school. I rather looked down my nose at this idea. I discovered that I had really been looking forward to the academic advantages of the big school in Minnesota.

The first day of school arrived. I discovered that I had a grand total of 82 people in my new junior class. I was in Mrs. B's English class. That very first day of class, Mrs. B told us she was the adviser of the school newspaper and needed a junior to "groom for the editorship" the next year. Hmmm, I said to myself. That sounds like fun. For some reason, I raised my hand. One other girl raised her hand as well. I knew I would never get the job, because I was the new kid and everyone else had been together since kindergarten, it seemed. She looked at the two of us and asked us to talk to her after class. Imagine my surprise when she offered to let us co-edit the paper the next year, and be members of the staff this year. I jumped at the chance.

At dinner that night, I was telling my exciting news. My dad said, "So, which would you rather be - a big fish in a little pond, or a little fish in a big pond?" Interesting thought!

I had Mrs. B. in English for two years and also for journalism. My co-editor became my best friend. We had the greatest time interviewing the poet laureate of Nebraska, Mari Sandos; going to a Goldwater rally where Ronald Reagan spoke; holding a mock election. We even went downtown Omaha to try to get an interview with Richard Nixon - and succeeded! I have the autograph to prove it. That is another whole story!

But Mrs. B. also taught us to love good literature. We read Shakespeare, Canterbury Tales, Silas Marner, and many other classics. We did major projects which made them come alive. She taught us to look at the world with different eyes and write what we saw. My confidence grew. She was the kind of teacher that you visited on vacations from college to tell her how well she had prepared you for the future.

We thought Mrs. B. was old. She and I reconnected years later and kept in touch with Christmas letters. When I went to my 30th reunion, two friends and I went to visit her. We had a delightful visit, and it really brought us up short when we realized that at the time she taught us, she was the age we had now become!

Last year I went for my 40th reunion. My good friend and I were able to locate her once again, this time in a nursing home. She was now blind. How sad for someone who loved nothing more than to read books and to write letters. She didn't enjoy books on tape. It was amazing, though. We felt like she could see into our souls as we visited with her that day.

I found out yesterday that Mrs. B. died last week. She was 88. I am so thankful that I kept that connection and visited with her one more time. Never wait until it's too late if you have the inclination that you need to contact someone.

*TOTALLY UNRELATED ADDENDUM: Kristen from is trying to get 125 comments on her 125th post. Please help her reach this goal. Thanks!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

BA, Anyone?

I am waiting for someone to begin a support group - Bloggers Anonymous. At that time, all of us who have known each other anonymously can meet face to face! Face it - we have an addiction. I wonder how soon it will become a part of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition). I can see it now: Blogmania, a recently diagnosed mental disorder with the following symptoms:

  • Computer is on 24/7
  • You are running to the computer every few minutes
  • Laundry is piling up
  • Meals have become the frozen variety
  • Conversation with mate revolves around what you read in cyberspace
  • Blogger problems become bigger than life
  • Your mind is always thinking of what to write next
  • Depression occurs if there are fewer than 7 comments on any given day
  • You are sleep deprived from staying up reading hundreds of messages

Of course, this is an exaggeration, and meant to be a bit tongue in cheek. Seriously, it does become addictive. But there are so many good things about this new mania:

  • I have met so many wonderful people from so many places - Canada, Chili, Australia, every state I've lived in.
  • I have found so many kindred spirits who know my Jesus.
  • I have seen miracles through the prayers of these new friends.
  • I have laughed and cried, both with tears running down my cheeks.
  • I have discovered people who have such a gift of words.
  • I have found astounding spiritual truths from new acquaintances.
  • I have been challenged to be a better Christian.
  • I have become better acquainted with family members who are bloggers also.
  • I now look at everything that happens as a potential post. It has opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at things.
  • My memory has been jogged and I realize what a wonderful life I have had.
  • I was reduced to happy tears when so many people welcomed our prodigal home. God is so good!
  • So many of us will someday meet, if not in this life at least in the next.

Tell me what you think - want to join?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where Were You When . . . . ?

There have been defining moments in the history of our lives and of our country that I have experienced. As we commemorate this horrible day in the life of America, I am drawn to those other watershed days as well. September 11, 2001 - I was on my way to work. Kristen and I rode to work together in those days and we dropped her stepson off at day-care and headed across town. The first tower was hit. My first thought was that it was a small plane and the pilot had somehow gotten off course. Between the time I parked my car and got into my office, the second one had hit. My son called to see if I knew what was going on - he couldn't get to class because he couldn't keep his eyes off the news.

I go back in my mind to November 22, 1963, the day President Kennedy was shot. I did not like him personally or politically. In fact, as an 8th grader I had become very politically aware and had campaigned against him as fanatically as an eighth grader, who is not even old enough to vote, can do. But I was just as sad and stunned that day as the rest of the world. What was happening to us? I was in 11th grade algebra class. The class clown came in and told us the president had been shot. We told him to quit - that it wasn't funny to say something like that. Little did we know that the innocence of our youth was shattered that day, and would be much more so as Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were subsequently killed in the aftermath. What dark days those were.

Where were you the day of the Challenger explosion, which killed astronauts and the first teacher in space, Christa McAuliffe? I was working in an elementary school at the time, serving lunch. I walked in at 10:15 to find the entire school in the sunken library - with not a sound to be heard. That was the most amazing feeling - complete silence in an elementary school. I had walked that day, so had not heard the news. Another jolting tragedy.

Where were you on the day the Murrah Building was bombed in Oklahoma City? I was here at my desk when I began to hear bits and pieces of the news that April morning. I knew that my brother worked in a federal building down there, but had no idea which one. There were many tense moments as I tried to reach him - which of course was impossible. I finally learned, thank the Lord, that he was two blocks away. But the blast was so powerful that he was thrown across his desk and hit the wall on the other side of his office. If he had not been thrown out of his desk chair, he would have probably been killed, because the window and casing came in and landed right on his desk.

Where were you when the Columbine High School slaughter happened? Again, I was here at my job. I went to the student center for lunch and found more students than normal were gathered around the t.v. sets, again in total silence.

All of these events have changed us as individuals and as a country. It has made us more fearful, more cynical, more sad. Our hope is in the Lord, who made heaven and earth. He knows what is in the hearts of men and what will happen. As my husband reminded us yesterday in Sunday school class, we need to be ready for eternity, because it can happen in a heartbeat when we least expect it. This is not meant to be maudlin or depressing, but to make us think about our mortality and the immortality of our hope in Jesus.

God bless you all.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Love is a Very Embarrassing (oops Splendid) Thing

Kristen, here , has posted a very embarrassing moment. She has asked us to join her in the revealing of ours as well. It took me awhile to come up with one, because I think I tend to suppress such moments - it's definitely not that I don't have any!

I've had plenty of times when I've fallen (on ice, into a huge hole on campus, off my bike, etc. etc.), and immediately start looking around to see if anyone's watching before I assess my injuries. But this one I had forgotten until my husband reminded me.

Now DC is one of the sweetest, most thoughtful guys in the world. He buys great gifts and plans great surprises. He would never do anything to intentionally hurt or embarrass me. I didn't think, anyway! I really don't think he intended for this to embarrass me. But it did!!

Our church used to always have a Valentine's banquet. We used to go to a restaurant and rent a big room, then began having them catered at church. One of the last "outings" was in a neighboring town. It was a very well attended function this particular year. As everyone sat around long tables and visited, waiting for the dinner to be served, DC brought out a beautifully wrapped package. My Valentine gift! I couldn't figure out quite why he was giving it to me in such a public place - I still can't!

I opened it and immediately turned the color of this very bright red piece of Victoria's-Secret-Worthy lingerie. Yikes! I held it up, BRIEFLY, and crammed it back into the box. I was on the verge of tears. I wish I could find the picture someone took of the occasion, catching the horrified expression on the sweet, very conservative, my-mother's-age woman who was watching me open the gift.

Suffice it to say, I stuffed the box under my chair and began to try very hard to change the subject of the conversation. I suppose it hurt his feelings, but I took it back the following Monday. It was not something I would ever wear. I know he wished I would.

I will settle for flowers and/or chocolates any day!

Go on over to and link your most embarrassing moment. Should be fun!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Yardful of Memories

On July 1, I wrote about the day we moved into this house 28 years ago. I mentioned that I wanted to stay here long enough for my grandkids to climb the trees. This is a dream that has come true. There are many memories in our yard.

The spring after we moved in, we began landscaping with a vengeance. We had contracted with a nursery in town to create a plan for our yard, and we in turn would buy a percentage of the trees and bushes from them. We ended up buying almost everything from them, if I remember correctly. DC was very busy that spring with his job, so it fell upon me (a totally indoors kind of person), to plant the trees and bushes. I had two small children, but I would faithfully get out there every morning, dig 5-6 holes, and run to the nursery to pick up that many bare root bushes. It was an extremely wet spring that year and every time we'd prepare for a big project, the rain would come and make muck out of our dirt, also filling up any holes we had dug or trenches that had been prepared for the sprinkling system. I remember the day that we finally put in grass seed, trying to beat the coming rainstorm, thinking it would be great to have God give the pre-lawn its first good watering. Well, He sent a gully-washer, and every newly purchased seed ended up against the patio or around the newly-planted trees. We had a great crop of grass in totally inappropriate places! We tried again.

I described the adventure of planting of a very tall sapling in the previously linked post. Needless to say, it became my favorite tree in the yard. Here is a picture of it - a Marshall Seedless Ash.

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A few years later, DC's parents went back to Wisconsin to the old home place, in the woods up north. Unbelievably, they brought us home two trees for our growing yard. How those trees made the long trip without dying is a miracle in itself. One was a Blue Spruce, about 2 feet tall. It now stands at least 30 feet. What a great memory for my husband of his childhood at his grandma's place. The picture is on the left below. The other one they brought was a maple of some variety. It stands at the corner of the house and is pictured on the right below.

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Amazingly, the next spring, wild flowers and wild raspberries began to sprout around that maple tree - they had come out here from Wisconsin in the ball of dirt that surrounded the roots. They made it through that 1200 mile trip, through replanting, through winter, and came back to life in the spring. God puts amazing spunk into his plants! DC transplanted some, and especially the raspberries thrived. Feisty is standing in front of the raspberry patch, some of which are surviving wild ones. The rest are domestic. Are they delicious!! Feisty is also standing beside a fledgling apple tree. Another great story to follow.

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If you look very carefully, you will see, on Feisty's left, the apple tree. It's about 5 feet tall. Four years ago in July, Anakin was eating an apple. He was 4 at the time. After he finished, we had a great discussion on how apples come to be. He asked if we could plant the seeds from the middle of his apple. We threw them in the ground in the flower bed right beside the patio. Lo and behold, one week later, they both sprouted. They grew so much each summer that I finally talked DC into transplanting the stronger one so that it wouldn't get too big to move and destroy the flower bed. Anakin wonders when he will get to eat an apple from it - probably about the time he goes to college. The wonders of God's plan!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Evidence of God's Power

KevAng1 KevAng10

Labor Day week-end five years ago was so exciting for our family. We were having a wedding! Our son had spent time in Africa in school and had fallen in love. Not something we expected when we sent him there for an adventure! She became his Swahili tutor, and soon became much more.

He came home and she stayed there for her senior year of college. He went back for her graduation and brought her to America. There is a very long story in between these two sentences, including the hiring of an immigration attorney, fighting with the American Embassy in Kenya, sending endless documents proving their legitimate relationship (that she wasn't just coming to America to "live the good life" and would divorce him shortly thereafter), struggling with more issues at the embassy, finally receiving a fiancee visa for her to come. They had to be married within 90 days of her arrival in the U.S.

She lived with us, he moved into an apartment on campus where he would attend school a few miles north of us. We spent many hours getting acquainted, planning the wedding, shopping for the wedding, and all of the things the mother of the bride normally does. Unfortunately, her mom didn't get in on any of it. They weren't even able to attend. Her dad sent a wonderful message that was read as my son's uncle "gave the bride away." They recited their vows in Swahili as my brother officiated the ceremony.

The wedding was lovely. The marriage struggled. They, and we, have been to hell and back in the last five years. We are so grateful to God that they are still married and that life is on its way up once again.

This is our prodigal that you have prayed for and welcomed home. He told me this week that they are enjoying each other so much again - they have literally had to start over.

Only the grace of God has brought them and us to this point. I asked her once if she wouldn't like to forget he ever existed and go back to Africa. She said, "Oh, no, I made a commitment!" She has stuck with him through thick and very, very thin. She lived with us, worked full time, and went to school while he was at Teen Challenge. She has another degree ALMOST under her belt - she'll graduate again later this month. He is going to school again, having maintained a 3.7 or above gpa in spite of all the trauma of his life.

Praise God with us!

Friday, September 01, 2006

Random conversations with the kiddoes

The other day when the girls and I walked with the double stroller to pick Anakin up from school, he immediately noticed the miniature pink Care Bears in their hands. The ensuing conversation:

A: Where did you get those??
CB: We got them at Burger King.
A: You went to Burger King without me?? That's not fair!
Me: Well,. A, you're in school at lunch time.
A: You shouldn't go without me.
CB: We went to Sean's this morning to play!
A, with fingers in ears: Don't tell me fun things you do without me!
Me: Do you expect us to stay home and twiddle our thumbs all day because you're in school?
A: Yes. There's nothing fun at school.
Me: Well, A., that's your job now, to go to school and learn lots of stuff.

Growing up can be the pits!

Care Bear after her bath this morning: I'm freezing cold!
Me: That's why we wipe off your skin with a towel, because wet skin makes you feel cold.
CB: No, that's not the way it goes - I read about it in a big book!
Me: Well, let's put on your clothes and you'll feel warmer.
CB: No, not those. I need jeans and long sleeves!

Summer has gone and fall has come very quickly. I went and got the gift I was going to give her tomorrow. She's so excited - she says the pants look like cotton candy!

Feisty is just being feisty - nothing profound today, just every day conversation with a bit of screeching mixed in. I did call her "Scooter Wooter," and she corrected me with her real name (which I can't say!)

Ooops, I spoke to soon - she just hollered down here to me, "I'm too little for this!" I decided I'd better check to see what that meant. She had dragged out the box of 48 granola bars from Sam's that I hadn't opened yet and was trying to get one to eat. They're quite independent today! Earlier they got the Goldfish crackers from the high cupboard, with the help of a chair.

In the tub CB asked me: Grandma, when were you little?
Me: Well, CB, 55 years ago I was your age! ( See previous post celebrating her 4th birthday)

Yikes! Reality check there.

They've admired their combed hair in the mirror and now we're off to the library for story time - we'll be late if I don't hush. Have a great long week-end!