Sunday, October 29, 2006
I Googled her name and, lo and behold, there were many listings for people with that last name. All of them had some connection with Iran. Believe it or not, there was an obituary for a man in Minnesota named Ahmad Aliabadi, who had died at age 94 in March. His daughters were listed as Maryam and Ellie, with their husbands' names as well. I then Googled "Minnesota Phone Book" and found both Maryam and her mother listed in the Minneapolis area. I was so excited!
I was able to reach Maryam on Saturday. Understand that it's been 44 years since we rode the bus together to school, and it was only for that one year, our sophomore year in a large school in the St. Paul area. Maryam went on to graduate from that school when I moved to Nebraska. I doubt that she ever thought of me again. But in the way of my mind, I began thinking of her and wondering about her life. As I mentioned, I was sure her father had been killed in the blood bath following the banishment of the Shah from his country. When I asked her about that, she told me her father had gone to India to visit her younger brother just at that time, and his life was spared. What a miracle.
Maryam went to college in Minnesota for undergrad, then went to grad school in Iowa. That is where she met her husband, who was also Iranian. They went back to Iran for 25 years, where she taught at the university. She was kicked out and brought back so many times, because of her father's politics, that they got very tired of it and about 5 years ago went back to Minnesota. She became a citizen 4 years ago, and her husband is still trying to accomplish that goal. They have only one child, who was born when she was 41. She couldn't believe I was a grandma 3 times. I couldn't believe she wasn't!
What a delightful visit we had on the phone. She began to remember more and more of that year as we talked. We didn't get into anything spiritual, but I pray that we can at some point.
So - now I have so many reasons to go to Minnesota this summer. Of course, my roots are there and I still have some family living there. My cousin and her husband will be coming home on furlough from their mission work in Mali this summer and we plan to visit her. I now want to go visit Maryam.
Several years ago, after reading a Good Housekeeping article about reconnecting with old friends, I found my best friend from grade school in International Falls, Minnesota. Her name is Mary and I found her mom living in the same house as always, these many years later. She gave me Mary's phone number and we've kept in touch at Christmas time ever since. She lives in the Twin Cities area as well. Turns out she had read the same article and was thinking of me as well.
Then of course, there's Diane, Partners in Prayer for our Prodigals, who has become a dear friend through this wonderful medium. I need about 3 weeks to see all my old and new friends and my family members up there this summer!
It's been a good week-end, culminating with a hymn sing at our church tonight. What a blessing. I wish for all of you a wonderful new week. Did you enjoy gaining that hour last night? I sure did!
Friday, October 27, 2006
My parents have a dachshund named Mandy. I let myself into their house the other day when they were gone, only to find Mandy lying on one of their recliners, listening to classical music. He has a good life!!
I never liked it when anybody called my sweet little Fritzie a "wienie dog." But here I am calling him that very thing. It just made for a good title.
We had several dogs when I was growing up. I don't remember particularly bonding with any of them. But when I was college age, Mom and Dad got a little dachshund named Tuppence (she had been Penny when they got her, but Tuppence seemed more sophisticated - a British coin instead). Tup gave them several beautiful litters of pups, and I adopted one of those my first year of teaching. Unfortunately, she didn't adapt well to being by herself all day, and became accustomed to eating my shoes - only one of each, of course. At that time, I had good Italian leather shoes that I wore to teach school - high heels on my feet all day. No wonder I have bad feet today!
I ended up giving Mindy away to a loving family and stayed petless for quite a while. That changed after I was married and had children and they were growing up afraid of all dogs. We started watching the paper and one day found an ad for a litter of dachshunds for sale (DC was also fond of this breed and had one as a kid). He made the trip over to the house and there were two left. One ignored him completely, and the other one headed right into his lap and into his heart.
It was a Wednesday night just before dinner when he made the trip back with the money (far more than we ever intended to pay), and brought this wonderful gift into our home and our lives. We had to go to choir practice, so I tried to devise a way to keep him safe and off the fairly new carpets while we were gone. Nothing doing. He got out of everything I tried. I ended up taking him to church with me under my coat. He was so tiny!
One Sunday morning we were outside showing him off to some neighbors when a tomcat came around, thinking he had found his breakfast. He headed straight for Fritz. Thankfully, I already had my purse over my shoulder, which I wielded at that cat's head and sent him packing.
Fritz became a huge part of our family, for such a tiny little creature. He was very affectionate and liked to be very close to each of us at different times.
He truly exhibited the best thing about pets - unconditional love, no back-talk, total forgiveness, and such eagerness to see you at the end of the day. He knew when we were coming down the culdesac, would be up on the chair watching out the front window, hear the garage door open, and be at the back door before we could get there.
He was also very helpful! Here he is serving as a weight for me as I did my daily exercise with a video (note the bags of beans I used for weights - recommended by Debbie Reynolds as I exercised with her each day).
When we traveled, he went along. He wasn't content to sit in the middle of the front seat beside us, or in the back seat with the kids - no, he had to be right on my lap - no matter how hot it was that day!
When Kristen came home from anorexia treatment at Remuda Ranch, which she discusses HERE, Fritz was her constant companion, and made her recovery much easier.
Fritz lived to be 14 years old, slowing down and going gray at the end of his life. He had his own bed in the basement, which he loved, but had to be carried down there the last few weeks of his life. He exhibited old age as many of us do, with gray hair, but never lost his fun personality:
Fritz died in his little bed, peacefully, on Valentine's day when he was 14 years old. It was the day after Kev's birthday, and we were thankful it wasn't a day earlier. He's buried in our back yard. He will always be in our hearts. We have never replaced him. He is irreplaceable.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
For some reason, this reading of some of the Middle East history, together with the news all day every day about Iraq and Iran, and the fact that my niece is married to an Iranian young man, has led me back in my memory to early high school in Minnesota.
We were living in a suburb, out on a county road with only about 6 houses near us. Across an empty field, there was a subdivision of many more houses. We had to ride the bus to school and in that way my sis and I became acquainted with Maryam and Elli Ali Abadi. Maryam was my age and Elli was hers. They were living with a U of M professor, because their parents wanted them to go to school in America. We learned, as we became better acquainted, that their father was the Deputy Prime Minister of Iran - 3 pegs below the Shah. Remember what happened to the Shah? He escaped because of his health and ended up over here, but all of his regime was killed. I am sure their father was among the victims.
I am certain Maryam and Elli were Muslim, but we didn't discuss that. I remember meeting their mother, who was very beautiful. She didn't wear anything to cover her beautiful face. The thing that stands out the most in my memory is riding the bus every day and talking to Maryam. I didn't try to convert her. But I did plant some seeds. I was in teen quizzing at the time at our church and really enjoyed it. This was before quizzing became as big as it is today, and there were not workbooks written yet. I was a new typist, and spent hours going through the book of Matthew, creating over 100 questions of my own (or maybe it was Acts, I can't remember for sure). Every day, Maryam would help me study by asking me the questions. I was a pretty good quizzer, and I can never forget the wonderful things I learned. But I often think that this was possibly the only time Maryam was exposed to the Holy Scriptures. I wonder where she is and what has happened in her life.
All of this leads me to the future - and how much longer our Lord can wait before His return. Even so, Lord Jesus, come!!
IF YOU DIDN'T READ YESTERDAY'S POST, PLEASE GO BACK THERE AND TAKE NOTE OF THE URGENT PRAYER REQUEST. THANK YOU! MICAH AND HIS FAMILY THANK YOU.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Friday, October 20, 2006
I did a meme this morning and it just disappeared into Blogger-land. It didn't even get a chance to be published - Blogger just ate it. So now I've had to try to recreate my answers. It's unbelievable - I can't remember some of the things I said a few hours ago! So frustrating. But I'll give it a try. I was tagged by Kristen, so here goes.
1. Things that scare me:
* Water (as in drowninig)
* Breast Cancer
2. People that make me laugh
* My grandkids (especially Care Bear at this time in her life)
* Some of my blogging friends
* Hawkeye (Alan Alda) on old Mash reruns
3. Things I hate most
4. Things I don't understand
* Thong underwear
* Cell phones in church, in the car, in the airport, in restaurants, etc. etc. etc.
5. Things I am doing right now
* Recreating this list that I did earlier this morning and Blogger ate
* Trying to remember what I said earlier this morning on this post!
* Watching the clock until I take the kiddoes to my mom's and go get some medical tests done (nothing to worry about!)
6. Things I'd like to do before I die
* Go back to Hawaii
* See my grandkids grown and living good Christian lives
* Lose weight again!
7. Things I can do
* Walk and read at the same time
* Play the piano and organ (though not that well!) and sing alto
* Make killer caramel rolls and apple pies
8. Words that describe my personality
9. Things I can't do
* Anything with a ball
10. Things that are good to listen to
* Good music
* Anyone who needs to talk
* God's Holy Spirit
11. Things not to listen to
* Heavy metal music
* Dirty jokes
* Negative people
12. Things I'd like to learn
* To be quiet
* To maintain a weight loss (sensing a pattern here?)
* To play piano without the music in front of me
13. Favorite foods
* Fresh Bread
* Mexican Food (Could this be why I have the second one in #12?)
14. Things I drink on a regular basis
* Diet Dr. Pepper
* Hot tea
* Water (bottled)
15. TV Shows I Watched as a Kid
* Leave it to Beaver
* Perry Mason (every Saturday night while we ate hamburgers on t.v. trays)
* Dr. Kildare (I had such a crush on Richard Chamberlain - I was so sad when I found out he's gay!)
16. Persons I'm tagging for this meme
* Diane (Partners in Prayer, if she can do it from Argentina)
* Diane (in Arkansas)
* Pea (up there in Canada)
I'd do the fancy linky thing, but Blogger's being too poopy today and it takes too long!
Have a great week-end!
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Monday, October 16, 2006
Almost 2 1/2 years ago I sprained my ankle badly at work. Long story and I won't go into details on my clumsiness. Suffice it to say that I went through weeks of P.T., but it still is very weak and subject to reinjury. This I did the day of Dad C's funeral. I've been suffering with it ever since. Then last Thursday morning, I bent over wrong and popped something in my back - pain from right under the rib cage in the front clear through to the back. I spent most of the week-end on my back with ice on my foot and heat on my back. I'm much better today, thankfully. I am so grateful. I have a new empathy for friends who suffer with chronic pain. But the question that has been plaguing me is this: Why does Ibuprofen help one pain and not the other? When it concentrates on my ankle, it can't help my back??
We live in a very nice "large small town" with a lake in the middle of town. It is on the way to the mountains and makes for a beautiful drive through town. Many people come out on vacation, drive through our town, go back home, and move here. It doesn't matter that they don't have a job, can't afford a house - it's pretty, so they move! We occasionally see a pelican or two or three on the lake. Last week I was excited to see a whole flock of them waiting just on the edge of the water. They were there all day, so when we finally had a chance, DC and I drove over there to get some shots. Some guy decided to bring his dog down to the shore to scare the pelicans off. I was able to get a couple of good shots as they swam across the lake.
One of the joys of my life is driving down the road with the grandkids in the minivan listening to the "Jesus CD" or the "Jonah CD" or the "Na na na na CD". I love it when they're singing along at the top of their voices. I love to sing with them, but Feisty usually tells me, "Don't sing, Grandma."
Feisty was potty trained (we thought) in time for our vacation we took all together in July. She had no accidents the entire week we were gone - even on the road! But she has sadly backslidden. My question: Why would you rather go around with poop in your pants when you know how to do otherwise???
Care Bear is such a character. She doesn't miss a trick. The other day I told her I needed to write a message before we left on an errand. I told her it'd just be a minute. She says, "One minute, or five minutes?" Busted!
She's quite the artist. I referred to her modernized etch-a-sketch type toy a couple of posts ago. Here is a picture she drew that day before she "rewound" it. It's a mommy turtle and her baby.
She was drawing another picture, this time of a jungle. She said, "I've never been to a jungle, though." I asked her how she knows how to draw a jungle if she'd never been to one and she said, "From Diego." That's Dora's cousin, for those of you who don't get to watch kids' t.v.
Off the subject of the grandkids - you know that I work at a large university and love to "people watch" there on my lunch hour. Today I had a good chuckle as I saw this girl walking around, thinking she was really gorgeous, I think. She had the ridiculous, expensive jeans with torn knees. Over the jeans, she was wearing a lovely lace dress. I can't quite figure out the logic!
That's what's been on my mind lately. I hope it doesn't make your head spin to read my random thoughts.
Have a great week!
Friday, October 13, 2006
DC and I were 25 and 30 when we were married. That was considered old maidhood in those days. We'd never heard of the ticking biological clock at that time, either, but that is what was happening to me. I began to be very eager to have our first baby.
I'll never forget the little butterfly tickle as I felt her for the first time that morning as I tried to motivate myself to get out of bed and get to work. I worked in a bank at that time and there were 12 of us pregnant out of 100 total employees. We had the greatest time sharing stories as we came back from our monthly, then weekly appointments.
The day that stands out the most starkly is the day I got a call at my desk about mid-morning. I had been in for my monthly check a few days earlier. They wanted DC and me to come by at lunch time to visit with the doctor - no explanation why. I truly didn't think of it as ominous - I don't know why. We met each other at the doctor's office and waited for far too long in the waiting room. Of course, the doctor had been called out for a delivery just as he was to talk to us.
When he finally called us into his office, he cut right to the chase. He told us that the blood test they'd done a few days before indicated that I had contracted rubella. This is a type of measles that can cause deafness, retardation, and any number of other serious problems with the baby. I asked if I could have had rubella without knowing it - I hadn't had a moment's illness during the pregnancy, not even morning sickness. He told us that we were "not too late to terminate the pregnancy." This was also before abortion was a hot button topic. But DC and I looked at each other, knowing without saying the words that we were going to have this baby, no matter what might be wrong with her (though we didn't know then that it was a girl, because this was also before ultrasounds). She was kicking me the whole time, as if to say, "Mommy, I'm okay!"
They decided to do another blood test. I held the nurse's hands so tightly as she stood with me during the blood draw. This nurse was special to me for years, right to the day she retired. I still miss her when I go in for my yearly check-up (at the same clinic with the same doctor who eventually delivered her).
That was the longest week-end of my life. This was a Friday. I went back to work, though I don't know how I did it. My boss was a fine Christian and he had prayer with me, right in the lobby of that bank. What a blessing!
Monday finally came and they called us with the result - a lab error! No sign of rubella or any other problem. She was born several months later and was the most beautiful baby girl - Kristen from http://kristenssocalledlife.blogspot.com/ is that little baby who was telling me that she was okay.
I could not find a single picture of myself during this pregnancy. I can't imagine that we didn't take any. But here we are when she was about 5 weeks old. I haven't worn my hair this long before or since.
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
In those young days, I did my best creative thinking in the middle of the night. I composed papers for school, letters I needed to write, and youth group lessons - in those days we didn't have youth pastors to direct our activities; we had to create them. We were each assigned a Sunday night to give a "lesson." If one was really lazy, she/he could have a "Bible quiz," which mostly consisted of hollering out a verse "address" and the first one up to read it aloud got a point. It was a great way of learning where things were in the Bible, but lacked a lot in lesson value. I always wanted to do a better lesson than the one I did before. And I did my best planning in the middle of the night.
One middle of the night the summer after my senior year, I was asleep trying to figure out how I was going to afford to go to college. I know - it was pretty late to be thinking about this. But in those days you didn't get a lot of help from school counselors. I heard my parents talking and found out they were discussing the very same thing. I went back to bed and wrestled with the thought my dad had voiced, "Maybe you should stay home a year and work to get some money saved up." No, No, No. I didn't want to stay home another year. I had been looking forward to going to this particular school for two years and had been counting the days. As I struggled with this idea for a long time that night, I began praying about it. I finally got to the point of surrender when I told God I would stay home if that was His will. At that point of surrender, I began to see the advantages of staying home another year - I could have some money! I could pay for tuition! I could have some new clothes! As morning dawned, I was at peace. The miracles began happening that day. Church people started calling (I was the p.k.) and offering things I needed. They had a "shower" for me. I got everything I needed from the shower and from unexpected sources - my younger brother and his friend even got involved and bought me a winter coat and towels. Talk about a faith booster! My lifelong scripture promise became Matthew 6:28-34: "And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
You'd think, with my membership to this club, that getting up with babies would have been a snap. Not so.
As time moved on and things got tougher in the growing-up family years, that club membership involved lots of worrying. I know, I know, "why worry when you can pray?" But worrying is one of my worst faults. And I had lots to "be concerned" about. Isn't that what we Christians like to call worry, since the Bible clearly states it is not God's will for us to worry?
Aging has not been kind to my sleep habits. The trip down the hall, which I avoid as long as possible, causes wakefulness, which causes my brain to start buzzing, which causes me to be unable to sleep. It's not very spiritual, but middle of the night t.v. puts me to sleep immediately. I do try to take notes of what is going on in my mind so I don't forget it when and if I ever do go back to sleep. Some of my best blogs are created in the middle of the night sleeplessness!
King Xerxes chose to get up and read when he couldn't sleep. He read some history of his kingdom (probably thought it would bore him back to sleep). Esther 6 tells the story. According to the Message version, "He ordered the record book, the day-by-day journal of events, to be brought and read to him." In this history reading, he was reminded of the time Mordecai had exposed a plot to assassinate him. He asked what great honor had been given to Mordecai for this. When he learned that nothing had been done, He called Haman in and asked him what Haman would advise for someone who should be given a great honor. Of course, Haman was sure the king was talking about him, so he came up with a great plan - "Bring a royal robe that the king has worn and a horse the king has ridden, one with a royal crown on its head. Then give the robe and the horse to one of the king's most noble princes. Have him robe the man whom the king especially wants to honor; have the prince lead him on horseback through the city square, proclaiming before him, 'This is what is done for the man whom the king especially wants to honor!' " The king ordered Haman to do it for Mordecai - what mortification for Haman! What glory for Mordecai - and for God who used this man, through his niece, Esther, to save the Jewish nation.
I love this story. I especially love the verse, "Maybe you were made queen for just such a time as this." I love the song that was written from this verse. I love to think that something I do someday may be God's answer "for such a time as this."
I really wish I could turn off my brain as easily as I can turn off the t.v.! But I really, really wish that I could use my sleeplessness for something important, and I need to be paying better attention to what that might be.
FROM THE MOUTHS OF BABES IN THIS TECHIE GENERATION:
Anakin was looking at a world map (his greatest interest right now) and asked me, "Grandma, where's Hong Kong?" Care Bear piped right up, "Is it a video or a CD?"
Then she was playing with her new drawing toy she got for her birthday, an updated modern version of Etch-a-Sketch. She wanted to erase what she'd drawn, and said "I need to rewind this."
Cracks me up!
Monday, October 09, 2006
I have hung onto an article (by someone named Robert Clements) for several months now. It is on my mind today as we head into the season of excess - too much food, too much stress, too much spending of money on too much "stuff." It tells of a mother and daughter who hugged each other as the daughter departed from the airport. The mother said, "I love you. I wish you enough." Someone asked her what she meant by that. This is what she said: "I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright. I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more. I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive. I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger. I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting. I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess. I wish you enough hellos to get you through the final good-bye."
I know that God can help us find "enough" to cope with our stress and strife. I wish you enough to get through whatever you face this week.
Friday, October 06, 2006
Yesterday I was reading in Proverbs, as I have been doing all this year. It was Proverbs 4, for the 4th day of the month. It was verse 18 that struck me as so appropriate for this day, and it epitomizes this godly man:
The ways of right-living people glow with light; the longer they live, the brighter they shine. (The Message)
Apparently at the very end of his life, he was a blessing to the nurses and aids who worked with him. One day, when he was hunched over in his chair and couldn't sit up any longer, he asked one of the workers to kneel down at his feet. She was a bit taken aback, but she did as he said. He put his hand on her head and prayed for her, blessing her for all she had done for him. It had a profound effect on her.
People sent beautiful flowers, of course. Mom's wishes were for all monetary contributions to go to missions. That makes sense, knowing how they prayed for missions every day. But I want to share a couple of the outstanding arrangements, which were sent by DC's and his sister's employers.
I've mentioned before that I work at a large university. It was the ag school for many years. Because of its roots, it still has a rather ag feel in some ways. There is a huge horticultural presence and every year they plant the most fabulous array of flowers in an experimental setting. I took quite a few shots the other day and hope you can get a sense of how beautiful this spot is.
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I have to go back to work tomorrow now and try to dig out from under the e-mails, voice mails, and snail mails. But hopefully I can write tomorrow evening.