Thursday, February 24, 2011

Random Ramblings

My friend, Becky, calls it a Brain Dump. I have always called it Random Ramblings. Whatever you may call it, it means that I don't have enough brain power going on to write a post on one subject that would make any sense. It's hard to put cogent ideas together when you have little ones around all the time. Also hard to get the checkbook balanced, the refrigerator cleaned, and the laundry kept up.

So -- I'm going to try to clear the hard drive of all the trivia that is there, and hope you don't get bored stiff.

One thing that really frustrates me about myself is that I write wonderful phrases in my mind - and then can't remember a word of it when I finally get to the computer. I seriously need to get myself a mini recorder so I can capture my brilliance.

I had two semi-normal weeks - as normal as possible around here. Kristen's job schedule varies from day to day, so the old word "flexibility" continues to be a huge part of my life. But then sickness hit again, and we have again had the girls 24/7 for the last two weeks. I am thankful to say that Kristen is finally starting to feel better, so HOPEFULLY tomorrow they'll get to go home. The girls also have been sick at various times during this two weeks - remember how miserable Care Bear was during her school Valentine party? It got much worse after that, but she's finally on the mend.

My friend, Midlife Mom, recommended this book. I got it from the library last week and I can definitely pass along the recommendation - very inspiring. If you haven't seen the story on Youtube, Google "Team Hoyt" and you'll definitely want to read the book. (As you now, I do find time to read when I am exercising at the gym and the littles are in the gym nursery - oh, that reminds me of something cute. On the way to the car after exercising the other day, I asked the girlies if they'd had fun in the nursery. Emma says very matter-of-factly, "It's not the nursery, Grandma, it's the GYM." The nursery is at church, I am thinking).

Life with the little is more interesting every day - three years old is such a fun time - especially times 2. Listening in on their conversations between their Polly Pocket dolls makes me giggle - but I must do it sereptitiously or they are upset that they are being "laughed at." Grandpa is their special buddy and they were having devotions with him the other night, "reading" from their Gideon New Testaments.

Often we are amazed to realize they are doing things exactly as their older sisters did at their age - today they were making boats or cars out of this common item - interesting, since they have so many toys. (It's also interesting that they never have clothing on their dolls).

Lest you think they are always angelic and adorable, let me disavow you of that notion, unfortunately. Our new door between the kitchen and the garage is far too easy for them to open and escape from the safety of the house. We had some unusually spring-like days last week - this is not something we normally do in February!

Miss Feisty bought some horrible sparkly, perfumed, sticky nail polish with her W-Mart gift card - they love it! Their great auntie loves to give them manicures when they are over at her house, so they think they know how to do it!

I tried an interesting new recipe yesterday to share at our Wednesday night meal at church. I wanted people to guess the secret ingredient. The girls helped make the "from scratch" cake, and it was cooling way back on the stove when Feisty came running up with the news ----

I don't know how they got to it, but thank the Lord none of the burners was hot! I had to take the cake anyway, so I added this sign.

Oh, by the way - the surprise ingredient?? SAUERKRAUT!! Nobody guessed. Here's the recipe, if you're interested.

And I'm not going to prove this to you with pictures, but suffice it to say that the old carnal nature is alive and well - when they get really mad, they clench their teeth - and twice their teeth have been embedded in my flesh - I have scars on my leg and on my arm. Hard to believe, I know!

But mostly they're turning into bright, fun, delightful conversationalists that are a joy to be around.

I've had a "word of the year" for the last two years. The first year's word was "flexibility" and I'm still dealing with that every time I turn around. This year the word has been on my mind, and I keep bumping up against it, but I haven't formulated a post about it yet. This year's word is "CHANGE."

We're experiencing a lot of change in our church lives right now. We've enjoyed our new pastor so much and he's facilitating a lot of the change. We feel good about it, but it's tough at times. We know there's a lot more coming, and we've become a bit comfortable with what's changed so far, so it's a bit disconcerting to think of more.

I want to see change in my own personal life, and as God shows me what needs to change, I will ask Him to help me do it.

A change we're thrilled about is obviously the change in Kevin's life. We are hoping to do a sequel to the story we wrote when he came home from Teen Challenge the first time. If you were with me back then, I began blogging just at the time he came home and Diane of Partners in Prayer for our Prodigals threw a cyber "Welcome Home Party" which was so exciting and wonderful.

Diane and I have kept in touch all of these 5 years, and have met IRL in Minneapolis twice. (Here we are last summer when I went to Minnesota for my uncle's funeral).

What a blessing this friendship has been. She now has an on line ministry to parents of adult prodigals which is far-reaching. She has a weekly broadcast on Blog Talk Radio and she asked Kev if he would be willing to be interviewed for last Friday's program. This he did, and it was an amazing experience. I listened live as he was downstairs in my house talking to Diane on the phone. I have since found out that though only 35 people actually tuned in to the live broadcast at noon Central time, as of today, 550 people have listened to the archived broadcast. Wow! That is so exciting.

If you would like to listen to the broadcast, you can go here to do so:

Kev will be speaking at our church Sunday night, and then the next Saturday will head back to Maine to resume his work with the Teen Challenge center there. Angie will have at least one interview out there on March 25. Please pray for the Lord's will in their future. Exciting days are ahead for them. But it will be a big change for Angie, since she's lived here ever since she left Kenya to marry Kevin - almost ten years ago. Ten years ago??? How can it be??

Whew! I feel so much better now! Maybe my mind will work better and I'll be able to come up with a cohesive post one of these days soon.

Have a great week-end!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Just for Fun!

This is corny, I know. But I got it in an e-mail, it made me laugh, so thought it might do the same for you ---

Why is the third hand on a watch called the second hand?

2. If a word is misspelled in the dictionary, how would we ever know?

3. If Webster wrote the first dictionary, where did he find the words?

4. Why do we say something is out of whack? What is a whack?

5. Why does "slow down" and " slow up" mean the same thing?

Why does "fat chance" and "slim chance" mean the same thing?

7. Why do "tug" boats push their barges?

8. Why do we sing "Take me out to the ball game" when we are already there?

9. Why are they called "stands" when they are made for sitting?

10. Why is it called "after dark" when it is really "after light"?

11. Doesn't "expecting the unexpected" make the unexpected expected?

12. Why are a "wise man" and a "wise guy" opposites?

Why do "overlook" and "oversee" mean opposite things?

14. Why is "phonics" not spelled the way it sounds?

15. If work is so terrific, why do they have to pay you to do it?

16. If all the world is a stage, where is the audience sitting?

17. If love is blind, why is lingerie so popular?

18. If you are cross-eyed and have dyslexia, can you read all right?

19. Why is bra singular and panties plural?

20. Why do you press harder on the buttons of a remote control when you know the batteries are dead?

Why do we put suits in garment bags and garments in a suitcase?

22. How come abbreviated is such a long word?

23. Why do we wash bath towels? Aren't we clean when we use them?

24. Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

25. Why do they call it a TV set when you only have one?

26. Christmas - What other time of year do you sit in front of a dead tree and eat candy out of your socks?

27. Why do we drive on a parkway and park on a driveway?

I dunno, why do we?

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Fun and Games

Mommy couldn't, so I spent a lot of time celebrating Valentine's Day in school classrooms yesterday. It was fun. When I spend time in classrooms, without fail I come away thankful for teachers, and grateful that I'm not one any more. Both the girls have been blessed with wonderful teachers ever since they've been in school - yes, public school.

Miss Feisty's teacher this year is a young mom with kids in the same school. She is very soft spoken, kind, and loves Feisty. I attended Feisty's conference last night and she's growing by leaps and bounds in her reading and math abilities.

The room mothers did a terrific job on their Valentine party. They had two fun projects, and good healthy snacks (I know, I know, but it's the way of the world in this school - which is good). They got plenty of the other kind of stuff from each other!

One of the mothers brought these cute mail boxes from Oriental Trading Company for the kids to decorate.

Then they made these adorable headbands, or crowns, if you will.

She has a wonderful mentor who comes in every Monday to spend time with her and love on her. This was her normal time to be there, so it worked out really well - Feisty had lots of help and love.

They made their snacks - fruit cabobs. Miss Feisty concentrated so hard on making hers just right. She doesn't like strawberries, but she used quite a few to make it really pretty.

I went home for a few hours, then back in the afternoon, just before school was out for the day, for a quick party in Care Bear's classroom. Unfortunately CB wasn't feeling her best yesterday (and is home today, much worse - probably should have stayed home yesterday, but didn't want to miss the big doin's). I felt bad for her, because she wasn't herself at all.

This teacher is very young, very energetic, creative, and dearly loved by the kids. She's so petite that it's hard to spot her at times among the kids. They were out for recess when I got to the room. I've been there several times, and each time I am overwhelmed by the amount of stuff she has hanging and pinned up and stacked all over this room. Every square inch is taken up with learning opportunities and fun "stuff." It seems a bit overcrowded, but the kids know exactly what everything is and what it is for. She has a knack for classroom control that is awe inspiring. She talks so fast, but has certain words that just bring them to attention immediately. Impressive.

The bright papers on the bulletin board are compliments written by the kids to each other and posted there.

When I taught school, the teacher's desk was large and was centered in the front of the room. Here's her tiny little space. I love the question.

For some reason, she had no mother helpers this time, so she had everything incredibly well organized and pretty much did it all herself. They were divided into 3 groups - CB's first stop was the snack station - juice, granola bars, and many varieties of goldfish crackers.

They then went to a work station where they ate and chose an activity - CB chose to do a Rebus message. They didn't have much time, so she only got about a third done. Do you think you could finish it??

The second station was a craft project. They had fun with the googly eyes - the teacher was amused.

The third station was passing out their cards to each of their classmates' decorated boxes.

CB received this awesome balloon and candy machine from her mentor.

The last few minutes were spent looking at the Valentine cards they received - much different than the ones of our youth!

Thought she wasn't feeling well, she managed a lovely smile with her teacher, Ms. G.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Great Cloud of Witnesses

Hebrews 12

1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.

I've been thinking a lot lately about the saints who have gone to heaven from our church. I think of them as I drive around town and pass the houses where they used to live. They were all "prayer warriors" and our church and our personal lives were diminished when they went home to be with the Lord. I miss them all.

Mrs. Stinnette lived in this house by the railroad tracks with her husband, a former pastor of our church, until he died quite a few years before she did. She always called him "Mr. Stinnette." They moved back here after retirement, as many of the former pastors have done (including my parents). I don't know of anyone who called her by her first name, Faye. She was a forever Sunday school teacher - I remember the day Kristen went from the nursery to her class at age 3. She was the one who kept track of the "Cradle Roll" babies for many years - she went on countless visits to new mothers in town, inviting them to be a part of our church with their new babies. She was eminently interested in missions, partly because her daughter and son-in-law were the first missionaries of our denomination in Columbia, before his way too early death.

One of my favorite memories of Mrs. Stinnette was when her eyesight became too bad in her 80s to continue driving. My experience is that most of our elderly loved ones fight this change in their lives with great resistance. When she failed the driving test because of her eyes, she drove her car home (not quite sure how that was allowed), put it in her garage, and never looked back. Her biggest concern was how she was going to continue to "take care of the old lady" she had been employed by for a very long time.

Heaven was richer the day Faye Stinnette entered those gates.

Joe and Maizie Anstett lived in the above house for many years - Joe was extremely proud of his yard and garden and I think he would be very sad to see what has become of it since he died and Maizie had to go to assisted living until her death at age 102 last year. Joe and Maizie had been married for 75 years before he went home to Jesus. She missed him greatly, but continued to be a cheerful, sharp minded, delightful, talkative lady, fun to visit. Her little tiny suite was filled to overflowing with pictures of her large, loving family and mementos of all sorts that they had brought to her. I loved visiting them when they both lived in that small area, after they had to leave their home. Joe was such a sweet man - he always asked about our kids and was genuinely interested. Joe would try to tell a story, but never got very many words in before Maizie would chime in and correct him. He was the most patient, loving man - and they made a delightful couple, testament to great love and endurance.

Across the road from Joe and Maizie's place is this house, occupied for many years by Floyd and Violet Hicks. Floyd was a godly man, but very very quiet. Violet, or Grandma Hicks as everyone called her, was a bright spot in our congregation. She had been around forever - she and Faye Stinnette used to spend many days each week visiting folks who they wanted to see come to church. She had a very large family and loved to cook for them on Sundays - inviting others to join them - what was one or two or three more?

Violet lived up to her name in a very concrete way - everyone who came to our church got a visit from her with an African violet - new babies were welcomed the same way, with a plant for the mothers. I remember mine well, and it lasted for many years. I wish I still had it.

I can still envision her sitting in the third pew, organ side of the church. Whenever the congregation was asked to choose a favorite song to sing on a Sunday night, she would, without fail, choose "Living by Faith." And she did. I know she and Maizie and Sister Stinnette are up there in heaven having a grand time.

I had to make a special trip to photograph the house above, because it's not in my usual route around town. But I couldn't leave out Alice Campbell - a tiny little woman who had once been a missionary to China. She always sat in the second row on the organ side and her presence was known - she always asked for the chance to give her testimony of what God was doing for her in her life. I treasured her prayers and counted on them. In fact, if it weren't for her, I'm not sure I would have married DC - she told me one day that she had assurance from God that it was okay to marry him. I always thought she had a hot line to God! She had not had that same sense about my previous boyfriend!

When Sister Campbell was unable to live by herself any longer, she graciously went to the nursing home. She continued her ministry there, delivering mail and cheering the other residents every day. What a blessing she was.

Then there were Gladys and Esther, two wonderful maiden ladies who made a home together. What delightful ladies they were. Esther was a Latin teacher in her career days. She was shy, lovely, and I always wondered why she never married. She was generous and sweet, and I knew she was praying for me. Gladys was a nurse and did not retire until she was past the prescribed age. After she retired from "working", she became the nursery attendant and loved on our kids for quite a few years. Oh, how they loved "Grandma Gladys." I actually concocted that name because I didn't want my kids to call her Gladys and Miss Ehlers was way too formal for her. Grandma Gladys she was to everyone, and still is when she's remembered. I miss her still. When Gladys died, our pastor at the time was brand new. He honored her at her service with the most amazing insights he gained by looking through her Bible.

Last but certainly not least - Ray and Ethelyn lived in this apartment complex the last years of their lives. Ray and his first wife came to our church when their little church closed down. It wasn't long before his wife became ill and died. It became amusing to watch, as the time went by, the elderly unmarried ladies giving him the eye. He was quite refined and handsome, and very very nice. The one who won his eye was Ethelyn. She had spent her youth raising her younger siblings, then married at a much later age than the norm. Her husband was much older, and not in good health. I'm not sure how long they were married before he died, but I know it was not an easy life for her. She had never had the chance to just really love life - until she and Ray were married. What fun it was to watch her glow with love for Ray. Talk about another prayer warrior.

I have been blessed to have known all of these saints who have gone on before us. I love to think that they are keeping tabs on us down here. I don't know if that's possible or not, never will in this life. But I know that their lives have left a profound legacy to us in our church. They left some very large shoes to fill.

Saturday, February 05, 2011

The TC Graduation Week-end, Part II

This was a quick trip, to say the least. Out on Friday, back home on Sunday. But we made the most of our Saturday. We headed in to Boston right after breakfast in the hotel.

DC made a model of Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution, when he was a boy. We went to see it several years ago when we visited Kevin out there the first time, but it was Columbus Day and we soon discovered that they take Columbus Day much more seriously out East than we do out here in the West - at least everyone gets the day off. So it was closed that day.

The other three went down into the bowels of the ship, down three levels, but I couldn't bring myself to do it - I'm a wuss, what can I say?

I especially love this shot of the ship with the silhouette of the city skyline in the background.

We asked one of the employees in the gift shop if there was a good place for lunch within good walking distance. He said there really was only one place, and it was only a few blocks away. We were so happy we asked and went to eat there ---

The Warren Tavern was probably the first building erected in Charlestown after the British razed the town during the Battle of Bunker Hill on June 17, 1775. It was founded by Captain Eliphelet Newell in 1780. Newell had been believed to have been a participant at the famous Boston Tea Party and as an ardent patriot and admirer of Dr. (general) Joseph Warren, it is natural that he named his tavern after the fallen hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Other famous visitors included Paul Revere, who had been a close friend of Warren's and stated often that the Tavern was one of his favorite watering places. Later after the Revolutionary War, General George Washington, on a visit to Charlestown to see his old friend Benjamin Frothingham, stopped here for refreshments.

The food was delicious, the atmosphere was cozy, and it was very family friendly - I loved how many young families walked there for Saturday lunch. The clam chowder was wonderful, and I got an appetizer for my meal - Phillie cheese steak egg rolls - different and delicious!

"Don't shoot until you see the whites of their eyes" - historically reported words stated at the Battle of Bunker Hill. The memorial has 247 steps to the top, but we weren't allowed in that day - weather related, most likely.

The view from the hill down into the city --

There was so much snow - the residents of these townhomes had a hard time getting their cars in and out - some hadn't even tried.

- - - and I think they've gotten more since we were there --

We went back to Brockton to the hotel, took it easy for a couple of hours, then went to a seafood restaurant Kev had been to before - nothing fancy, but good lobster --

I've learned during these last two trips, something I suspected before, that I am not a fan of seafood - shrimp is about it for me. I tried stuffed haddock this time, but it didn't cut it for me either. But I love watching Kev enjoy his lobster and steamed clams.