Monday, December 28, 2009

A New Look

I made a few changes from the Christmas background.  I believe the best change I've made is to make the actual size of the fonts LARGER, so you don't have to kill yourself trying to read this blog.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

It's A Wonderful Life

It's Christmas Eve Eve and I've just finished watching It's a Wonderful Life.  Remember how I wrote a post or two ago about our financial situation?  Well - this movie addresses this issue in spades, and they are 100% correct.  Money is not what is important in this life - it is our impact for the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Merry Christmas everyone!!  The Lord and Savior of mankind was born (perhaps not on 12/25 - but who cares, it's a symbolic date) and fulfilled His mission to save mankind.  We are not condemned.  We are loved and we are saved.  Whatever problems we may have in this life, they are only in this life - and they are just a testing ground for us to show our faith in the Lord.  Amen?   Amen.  Merry Christmas everyone!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

On a Different Subject or Two

First, the good stuff - I'm making a loaf of "Grandmother Bread" according to the recipe found here on Suzanne's "Chickens in the Road" blog.  I didn't link to the actual recipe because I am not making it by hand, but using a bread machine, and so I'm using this "converted" recipe found on Suzanne's forum.  It is contained in the fourth comment down.  My sister-in-law sent us some home made wild plum preserves and some blueberry marmalade that I'm going to try on a fresh toasted and buttered slice of this bread when it's cooked and cooled a bit.

Second, an article I read here on Baldilocks blog.  It addressed something I've believed since Obama "won" the election.  I don't believe he won the election - I believe his "win" was perpetrated by unmitigated voter fraud.  The article I am referring to explains that the reason our "representatives" in Congress no longer even try to put on a facade of caring what the voters want is because they're not afraid of losing their seats.  Voter fraud will make sure they all retain power and the power of the people is gone.  This is the first article I've seen where someone comes out and says what I've believed for over a year.  I've seen plenty of blog posts where the person says, "wait until 2010", or some such thing, but it seems there are others who think along the same lines I do.  It's rather frightening and very sad - and perhaps the Tea Party movement will amount to something bigger after all.  Read the whole article - and weep.

Third - in a previous post I expressed the lack of knowledge of the stand on slavery of one of the two southern antebellum theologians named James Henley Thornwell.  I read this speech given on the dedication of a church for use by black people in 1850 - and I certainly know now that he defended slavery.   I could not finish reading it, it was so anathema to my way of thinking.  In one sentence Thornwell declares that all believers are equal in the sight of God as far as salvation - both black and white.  In the next sentences he is defending the right of slave owners to keep their "property".  Just too bizarre for me, but interesting nonetheless.  It's almost like the SS in WWII convincing themselves that Jews were less than people in order to remove them from the earth.  In other words, you can use words and Bible verses to back up whatever the heck you want to believe, and you can even convince yourself that you are right.  Frightening to think that Christians, even theologians, men who spent their lives studying the Word of God, could defend the practice of slavery.  At one point in the speech, he talks about removing all trace of vice from the personal practices of Southerners in order to stay in God's good graces so that He would guarantee that they come out ahead in the contest for power with the North that even at that time was brewing.  He must have had his head buried in Southern soil, for most slave owners had access to a whole bevy of female slaves who had no recourse to law or protection, and who became bearers of their bastard children.  You just can't put a nice front on that - it happened and men - any men - who have unlimited power in any sphere are very likely to abuse that power - it is the sin nature of man.  Absolute power corrupts absolutely.  No matter how Christian the behavior and belief of the slave owner, no matter how compassionate to their slaves, I've not read of one who allowed them to learn to read.  Perhaps there was one or two somewhere who allowed this - but they knew that if the slaves learned to read, they would no longer be ignorant and easily mastered.  The other thing that amazes me is the statement in so much antebellum southern writing that "the slaves are happy" because they made statements to that effect.  Well, of course they did.  Masters who believed that they knew what their slaves were REALLY thinking at any time were fooled into a false sense of thinking of themselves benevolently.   In any case, I wanted to set the record straight on some of my southern reading.  While I absolutely do believe that the South had the right to secede constitutionally, I also absolutely believe that allowing slavery in this country right from the beginning was the Great Flaw in our governmental design and the great experiment that America represented to the world.  I'm always looking back, especially in these times of governmental abuse and tumult, to the Founding Fathers to see how perfect it was then.  And it WAS good, but the Great Flaw was allowing slavery - they left Pandora's box cracked open when they left slavery in.

What Kind of Father Am I?

A long time ago, shortly after I became divorced, I did the Prodigal Son routine for a short time.  I went to a "far country" and lived riotously for a short time.  The Lord did not prevent me from making self destructive decisions, but He soon arranged for me to reap the consequences of my actions.  My riotous living was cut quite short and I went through a very low and depressing time.  In the midst of that time, as I was praying and throwing myself figuratively on the mercy of the Lord for the umpteenth time, a phrase came into my head, "What kind of father do you think I am?"  I believe that was the voice of God, the still, small voice in my head.  In the midst of my agonizing, He asked me this question, to which I really had no definitive answer.  The question floated in the back of my mind for years, as my situation changed, improved and the bad time passed.  I would toss around answers from time to time, but the truth was that I felt He was distant, uninterested, uninvolved, quick to give judgement and all powerful - not a mixture of traits that would inspire one to call Him, "Father" or "Dad" or to go to Him for advice or to confess one's own foibles and stupidity and expect to be comforted or understood.

No less than 10 years later, I was sitting on my bed and talking to the Lord, pondering the question again, and I "heard" the voice again interrupt my thoughts - "The kind that will never let you go" was what it said.  I'm still chewing on that thought and what it implies.

Now I am in a different stage of life, and it is another valley of trouble.  Suffice it to say that my husband and I are in a very precarious position financially - one false move and we are in deep trouble.  God forbid that one of us should lose our job in the upcoming year.  The worst part of this is that we have done a great deal of this damage to ourselves - we have been the Prodigal Son again in a different way.  When we contemplate the situation, we feel great angst, worry and fear for the future as we are no longer young or able to bounce back from setbacks or even to find new jobs, really.  Our civilization honors the young and dishonors the old and at a certain age, it is not a good idea to be looking for a job - unless, of course, you are a child of God,  and thus..."we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (ESV, Romans 8:28).  Important - God's best for us may not include finding a new job, but Romans 8:28 is true, nevertheless.  Whatever God brings into our lives as His children is to mold us into a reflection of His Son.  He will provide whatever we need to accomplish that aim, including the physical needs of the body like shelter and food and rest.

Every day I am a flawed human being who often makes some wrong decision, whether it is to sleep through my morning quiet time instead of seeking the face of the Lord, or whether it is some other sinful thing I do, whether a sin of omission or commission - if there is anything I am good at, it is being flawed.  Like Paul, I can cry out, "For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin." (ESV, Romans 7:22-25)

Today, as I pondered our situation and happened to turn to the story of the Prodigal Son in my Bible reading, I thought about who the Father was in that parable:

*  He let the son take his inheritance and go - our inheritance, figuratively, is spiritual
*  He waited for the son's return, but did not interfere or rescue - we return, after each sin - spiritually.
*  Once the son turned back towards home, the father met him at the door, not waiting to be      approached, but also not going out in search.
*  When the son returned, he no longer lived in want - when we return spiritually, when we seek His face, we are comforted by His promises, we trust in Him and His provision and do not fear tomorrow, whatever it may hold.
*  When the son returned, the Father rejoiced, totally accepted him and loved him as before, as if the sin had not occurred.  

It seems to me, in my limited understanding, that "the kind who will never let you go" will go on being my Father regardless of what I do, until I die.  My salvation is sure.  In addition, the "kind that will never let you go" is also the kind that never gives up as long as there is breath.  He will continue to mold me to the image of His Son, work His will in my life, work with who I am, who He knows me to be, who He allowed to be created and who He accepted in salvation.  He will never give up on me in frustration and say, "forget this one and move on."  Never.

Lastly - one of the most important points - in the parable, Jesus called one "Father" and one "son", to describe the relationship between the two.  From our flawed human relationships, we know how powerful and how loving a father/son relationship can be.  We know what it is to be a helpless baby dependent on our human father for sustenance and love.  Human fathers run the gamut from great to totally evil. In Christ's analogy, however, the Father is God, who is perfect and who is love itself - no better Father can be had, and He is truly, in every only good sense of the word - our Father, whom we can depend on and trust to the end.

As you can see, I am still working on "What kind of father do you think I am" "The kind that will never let you go."  I have obviously still not worked through it all and may  never completely  comprehend it.  I still don't really have a feeling of "abba father" when I think of God, or feel the urge to climb up in His "lap", but I do have a certain knowledge that He is Creator of the Universe and what He says goes.  I do have a certain knowledge that He loves me, this I know from His Word, and that I belong to Him.  I also have a certain knowledge that His attributes include perfect love - this I also know from His Word.  If you put all that together - He is my Father, He is all powerful, He loves me and He is in charge of my life - well, that is enough for me for now in this season of life.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A Treasure Trove of Information

I have discovered a Treasure Trove of info through Google books.  Google has been scanning old, out of print books for viewing on the internet for a few years now.  There are obscure books that you would never imagine have been included in the scanning, but they have been.

For instance, here is one rabbit trail I've followed.  My husband has a subscription to "The Chronicle of Higher Education".  Occasionally there is an article that he knows I would find interesting and he saves it for me to read.  Recently, it was an article called, "Secretive Scholars of the Old South."

The article revealed the existence of a pro-Southern school called "The Abbeville Institute".  Now, when I say, "pro Southern", I don't mean pro-slavery, although some of the people they study were pro-slavery.  The subjects are fascinating.  One is about "Reconstruction", another is about Southern theologians who were pro-South and at least one who defended slavery.  The two theologians are James Henley Thornwell and the other was Robert Lewis Dabney.  Perhaps both of them were pro-slavery.  I don't know as I haven't read enough of their writings yet to determine this, although I know for sure Dabney was pro-slavery.  I have always been fascinated by Southern defense of slavery, since it is something I cannot fathom.  How could they have been committed, saved Christians, which so many of them were, and believed that slavery was A-OK with God - even a theologian held this belief.    These were good Protestant theologians, men who had sound doctrine in most every aspect.....except for slavery.  The Abbeville Institute, in being pro-Southern, covers subjects that today are politically incorrect.  Today it is totally politically incorrect to say ANYTHING positive about the ante-bellum or just post-bellum South.  The fact that they did believe in a true Republic, as opposed to a Democracy, which is what the Founding Fathers had in mind;  the fact that the Constitution did NOT forbid secession (I don't believe it did) - all this is discussed at length, and Southern authors are quoted all the way from the late 1700's to today.  I was talking to my husband about what I've read, and I think that if the South had rid itself of slavery - not very likely since it's agricultural base was slave-dependent - but let's say it found a way to free the slaves before declaring itself a Confederacy separate from the United States - I think the Lord would have allowed the South to win the war.  The only reason the South lost was because they insisted on slavery, which is evil.   In any case, this is my opinion at present.  With more reading, this could change.  I've always thought George Washington's attack on citizens who made their own whiskey from corn and sold it - claiming that only the Federal Government had the right to do that - was completely wrong and unfair (The Whiskey Rebellion).

So, in looking for the first wrong move our Founding Fathers made, the first turn down the wrong path, I'd have to say it was allowing slavery to be accepted in the Constitution - claiming slaves (and thence, giving them and the institution legitimacy) as 3/4 of a person for representative purposes in state government.  If only....if only they had stopped that right at the beginning.  Can you imagine what our history might have been?

Anyway, I read some of Dabney's writings, all available on Google books, in defense of slavery and found, for myself, the holes in his logic.  He wanted to believe it was alright, so he found Scripture to justify himself.  It is a trick many people use - make the Scripture fit the purpose they have in mind.

The reason I'm writing this post, though, is not just about having discovered the Abbeville Institute or ante-bellum theologian defenders of slavery - it is because you need not purchase reprints of these writings or even try to locate original volumes.  Google has scanned all this and so much is available - all at no cost.  This, to me, is the intense blessing of the internet.  What I used to have to go to the library and do research to find out, I only need to do a Google search now to come up with all the information I could possibly want or absorb.

Ante-Bellum Southern Authors:

Ante-Bellum Southern Theologians:

This general website about the South has a wealth of references:

The most interesting thing I've read on "The Southern Homefront" so far?  The diary of a northern girl who came south to Edisto Island to teach the freed slaves still residing there.  You can read it here - it's a quick read and very interesting:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Some People Shouldn't Sing Christmas Songs

I stopped at Starbuck's this morning for an Eggnog Latte.  Today is not only Friday, but I have a break from work until January 4, so I'm feeling quite cheerful about that.  As I was waiting for my latte, I noticed a stack of cards advertising "Pick of the Week" - a free service Starbuck's offers through Itunes.  I'm not sure, but it seems they offer the songs no one would want for freebies.  This week's pick?  "Must Be Santa" by.......Dean Martin?   Nope.  Frank Sinatra?   Nope.  Rosemary Clooney?  Nope.  Bob Dylan? got it.  Grainy voiced, barely carry a tune, great for deep blues type music Bob Dylan.  If Santa were a skidrow bum, beard grimy with dirt from sleeping face down all night on a filthy sidewalk, clutching a cheap mostly empty bottle of ripple.......Bob Dylan MIGHT be the appropriate choice for "Must Be Santa".  Since I can't recall the tune or lyrics of this song, perhaps it IS about a reprobate Santa, discovered by Mr. Dylan as he stumbles over one of the black boots stretched out on the sidewalk and rolls the passed out drunk over, only to Must Be Santa!!! 

Monday, December 14, 2009

Drive Thru Before There Were Any

In my previous post, my sister left an Anonymous comment about my father picking me up at Bay's Drug Store on North Street in Middletown, NY.  My poor father was my chauffeur to and from many different jobs in my teen years.  There was Gilman's Cleaners, which still exists and has the exact same sign as when I was 17 years old, a full 36 years ago.  My job was to prepare the log for the delivery driver.  I took my time as I got paid by the hour, but you can only make writing a list last so long.  One of my favorite memories was having to walk to work in 15 degree temps while it sleeted and snowed outside.  It was too dangerous for my father to drive in, so I bundled up and walked - to and from - work.  Gilman's was a good 2.2 miles from my home (I just checked Google maps and it was exactly 2.2 miles).  I remember how quiet the streets were, the neon signs of businesses blinking in the falling snow.  As I passed homes, I could see the warm lights on in the windows (I was walking in the evening after it was already dark).  I always loved to imagine each home as a cozy place of happiness - imagination is a lovely thing - it can take you anywhere and paint life with beautiful colors.  I still remember very clearly the feeling of walking that night in the snow and cold.  Luckily, it was not windy, so that made the wind chill the same as the temperature, which, although it was quite cold, I was very warm in all my layers, walking briskly and crunching over the icy sidewalks.

I also worked at Bay's Drug Store.  That was my first job when I was 15 years old, not counting the babysitting I did before that time.  Over the years I worked at the brand new mall - in practically every clothing store.  I still have plastic pants hangers from the Barbara Moss teen clothing store I worked in.  They allowed us to take home extra hangers now and then - and I still have them.

One thing I did that drove my poor father nuts and my daughter did to me once she came along.  When he had to pick me up, I was never waiting outside for him.  I was always impatient and would go back inside and talk or do something else.  Invariably when my father arrived, I didn't know it and he would be irritated as he waited for me.  One spring day, my father got tired of waiting for me.  He was ticked off and decided he would come in and bellow for me.  He did this and I was contrite and apologetic (although I did it again the next time - can you just slap me?). As we walked out the door, a sight met our eyes.  My father had evidently pulled up and parked parallel to the store on the opposite side of the street.  When he exited the vehicle, he slammed the door so hard that he unknowingly threw it into reverse.  As he walked into the store, behind him, the car backed up and curved (since he turned the wheels into the curb).  The large 1970's boat car managed to fit between two other parked cars on the other side of the street as it turned at right angles and went quickly and with some force into the Newberry's store glass window.  There it stopped and parked amid the broken glass.  People had stopped and stared.  A crowd was gathering.  No one was hurt - thank God - or a humorous story would not be humorous at all, and my life would be different.  No other car was damaged - just Newberry's window and various and sundry articles that had been in the window.

This is what met our eyes when we exited Bay's Drug Store.  Now, in order to understand the magnitude of this, you must understand that my father was the Drivers Ed teacher for the local high school, and he often taught during the summer at other high schools in the region.  To say he was well known would be an understatement.  To say this was embarrassing to him would also be an understatement.  To say that he probably had to restrain himself from choking me on the spot would also be an understatement.  And the final understatement?  I stayed well clear of him for days.  I said not a word - not even sorry - on the way home because I knew he was so angry if I made a peep, I might really regret it.  I don't think I made him wait after that.

I'm surprised he didn't tell me to walk to work after that - and perhaps sometimes I did.  I don't remember.  My parents and I were remembering this event the other day when I was up visiting them.  My dad is quite old and infirm now, and he laughs at the memory, as does my mom.  But back then?  No one - believe me - no one was laughing, except maybe my sister......

Did I mention that karma bit me?  My daughter did the same thing to me, but she was far worse.  Not only did I always have to go in after her, I had to then find her because she was never anywhere near the door where she was supposed to be.  Don't they say "what goes around comes around?"  Well, in my case, it did with a vengeance. although I never wrecked anything with my car while going to find her, thank God!!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Small Town Memories

I grew up in a small town in upstate New York.  I was born in the mid 50's, so I remember the small downtown area that my mother frequented.  There was Tomkins and Greens for beautiful clothes and shoes.  There was Hanford and Horton for paper and writing implements and stationery.  Tomkins was two stories.  When you walked in the front door, you saw two semi-circular staircases towards the back of the first floor, that led to the second floor, which was a kind of loft.  It really had somewhat of the design of a present day two story mall store, except instead of escalators there were real staircases that hugged the wall on either side of the first floor.  There were several tables with various goods such as makeup, hose, women's hats and gloves, handkerchiefs - an entire table of handkerchiefs that could be monogrammed.  There were well dressed ladies - one of whom was Mrs. Tomkins - to wait on customers.  There were glass cases full of articles of clothing, as well as racks of clothes towards the back.  That was just one store.

There was Newberry's and Woolworth's where there was a full luncheonette counter where one could have grilled cheese sandwiches that were delicious and came with a pickle.  Both these stores were five and dimes, and had a tremendous variety of merchandise, toys as well as articles for grownups.

Green's was another fine clothes store.  The best was Carson & Towner's - they were the  "Lord and Taylor" of our town and "Kastles" the best of the best.  The prices were high, but the staff was extremely helpful and customer service was everything.

I can still remember walking into the downtown area from our home - perhaps it was a half mile.  Sometimes we took the little bus that came to within a block of our house.  The bus let us off in front of the library - a great granite two story building with huge granite steps and giant floor to ceiling windows that remained open in the summer to let in the cool evening breezes.  This library had been a former home of one of the elite in town, and was donated to the town for use as a library.  There was a huge fireplace on the first floor that was no longer used.  There were huge real wooden shelves and reading areas, much like a Barnes and Noble today, but with real wood and real character - no coffee, however.

When the bus would let us off, we would have to go around a corner to get to North Street and the main shopping street in town.  I would be grasping the hand of my mother as we got ready to round the corner onto North street.  In the winter, there was, inevitably, a biting, cold wind that took my breath away as soon as we rounded the corner.  I always had to tuck my scarf up around my mouth and nose so as not to get my breath torn away - and gasp - as the freezing wind tore at my garments.  Once we rounded the corner, it became manageable and the wind wasn't so bad - it just "hung around" at that particular corner for the sole purpose of sucking the breath of unsuspecting small children.

When I was older, my dad used to take me for hot chocolate to Bay's Drug Store - at their luncheon counter.  All the drug stores and five & dimes had luncheon counters.

Once the 70's came, I was a teenager, and the town built it's first mall.  I worked in so many of the stores in that mall - and it never had the character of downtown.  By the time I got married, that mall was becoming obsolete.  In 1993, I spent the summer with my parents, as I was getting divorced, trying to get my feet under me - and they were also trying to sell our house, the one I grew up in, and move permanently to Florida.  It was a summer of change for me.

There was a new mall by that time.  What waste.  The old mall had closed and was empty.  What had once been a thriving presence where everyone shopped, as had been the downtown area before it, was now a big, empty comcrete structure covered with graffiti  - and crumbling.  It made me feel old to see it, since I had worked in so many of the stores there as a teen.

I think times HAVE changed - and not for the better.  Hence, the look back at yesterday.  I am convinced that it isn't just maudlin sentimentality that makes me look back and think that times were better.

Here are some old photos from Thrall Library historical collection of Middletown, NY, where I grew up:

First is Thrall Library, where I borrowed every horse book ever written and where I learned to LOVE books:

Next is a view of North Street:

This is North Street but farther down from the center of town.  Down where Hanford and Horton's was in the 60's and 70's.

The firehouse at the top is where I took my "babysitting course" when I was 13 years old.  It was offered on the 2nd floor and covered all one would need to know when one is in charge of children for an evening.  First aid was the primary purpose, and I did learn and acquire a certificate from taking this course.

This is a view I remember.  You see the corner on the left?  That is the wind corner.  That is where Orchard Street met North Street.  The old Thrall Library building is on the left out of the picture.  When we came around that corner on the left, the North wind would meet us on North Street.  As you look down the street, there is a Woolworth's sign and farther on was Tomkins and Green's, Newberry's and Bay's Drug Store, where I had my first job at age 15.  

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ten Random Things About Me

Brenda at Coffee, Tea, Books and Me has tagged anyone who wants to be tagged with the subject of this post.  So here we go:

1.  I went to school to be a Medical Lab Technician.  I absolutely loved the classes, but once I got a job at a Dr.'s office, reality set in.  The Dr. pair that I worked for had me check off and charge for blood and urine tests that were never performed - we didn't have the equipment.  This was primarily on Medicare patients (this was back in the late 70's).  They underpaid me and I worked with some of the most nasty and vicious women I've ever worked with in my life.  The person I replaced as lab tech was the favorite person and best friend of the group of 3 women that ran the office and the 1 nurse that assisted the doctors.  They literally hated me the second I walked through the door - and I was a total rube, so I brought some of the treatment on myself.  One hilarious occasion - one of the doctors was an Iranian Jew who was madly working as many patients in as he could (2 every 10 minutes) so he could afford to get the rest of his extended family out of Iran - the Ayatollah had recently taken over.  He had a patient named Mr. Fuchs and the doctor had a thick  Iranian accent.  He also always forgot to zip up his pants after using the men's room.  So this crazy doctor ran around the hallways with his pants unzipped half the time - and this one day there was a full hallway of people waiting their turn, when he came out and called for Mr. Fuchs - use your imagination as to how he pronounced it.  Right.  You've got it.

Perhaps I just should have continued going to school forever.  We took classes where we separated our own chromosomes from a drop of our blood, made and dyed representative slides of various organs (the organs came from a lab mouse, poor thing), we "played" with microscopes all day and studied bacteria and viruses.  It may not sound great to you, but I thought it was fascinating.

2.  I collect old books, mostly Christian and history books.  I have purchased novels by Christian writers of the 19th century and love to read those (I haven't read every one of the books I own - I've paged through them, but some of them are just to look through now and then).  One of my favorite authors is Edward Payson Roe, who was born in the same county as I was - Orange County, NY.

3.  I'm not afraid to pick up just about any insect (except a - ew, ew - roach) and look at it up close.  Even a bee if it lets me.  I'm fascinated by wildlife and I love to photograph insects and flowers as close as I can get for great detail.  I recently wasted money we can't afford on purchased a bee keeping outfit, complete with veil, long gloves, smoker and box that has to be put together.  We have had a bee's natural hive in a bush in our back yard for over 7 months now - and I would love to be able to smoke them and get closer to them - even medicate them if they need, for varroa mites (this medicine is delivered through food.  I don't pick up each little bee and give them a tiny drop of medicine)

4.  I have a pet Cockatoo named Beasley.  Also a Lovebird named Mrs. Greenberg, although I have since discovered that Mrs. Greenberg is a Mr., as is Beasley.  They are best buds and hang out together all day in Beasley's cage.

5.  I was raised Roman Catholic, but became a believer in college in 1974.  I think by that time the "Jesus Freak" movement was on the wane, but I caught the tail end of it.

6.  One of the first Christian authors I read was Joni Eareckson Tada.  I read about her diving accident at age 16  (I'm not sure of the exact age, except that she was a teenager) which left her a quadriplegic.  Reading her story scared me to death.  I thought "she's a Christian and THIS happened to her?  What will God "do" to me??"  I had the idea that God protected His children from the vicissitudes of life.  I have since learned that He will never leave us or forsake us, and that He walks with us through the vicissitudes of life, but His children do not have an easier life than non-believers.   I was so shocked by Mrs. Tada's book that I wrote her a letter and asked how she could be happy in spite of what had happened to her, how she could love a God who could allow such a thing to happen.  Somewhere I have the letter she wrote back to me.  She felt sorry for ME (which surprised me)  because I couldn't understand and was so afraid.  I have to find that letter - I know it's here somewhere.  She signed it and it is precious to me.

7.  Sheesh - it's hard coming up with 10 semi-interesting things about myself.  It's tougher than I thought.  How's this - I am of Polish (my mother's side) and French Canadian/English descent (my father's side).

8.  I have 2 older sisters and no brothers.  I am the youngest child of my parents.  My sisters are 6 and 8 years older than I.  My parents were hoping for a boy on the third try - but they got me instead.

9.  My first marriage lasted 14 years (long long years) before my ex left (and I'm glad he did).  My daughter, like most children of divorce, suffered the brunt of the separation and only now, at age 25, is finding life interesting and exciting, instead of frightening.  I have been worried and sad about her for many many years until my prayers are being answered recently.  Now for the prayer to be answered that she return to her "first love" - Jesus Christ.

10.  My husband and I are birders (yes, I remarried - both my present husband and myself were married once before and divorced).  We love to try to make our back yard as inviting as possible to birds and butterflies.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Christmas Decorating

Not only did I decorate my Christmas tree, but I organized all my Christmas ornaments and the boxes they are stored in, so that when I have to put it all away, it will be much easier.  I finally got out every box of Christmas type "stuff" I have and went through it all, discarding anything broken or that I really didn't like.  There wasn't too much to discard, but it felt good to know what I have.  In past Christmas seasons, I would just get out the one or two boxes I knew the ornaments were in - and all the rest of the accumulated decorations I would just ignore.  Not this year - I pared down a bit, organized, and put lots of pretty and fun things out that I ordinarily was too tired or harried to bother with.

Here are some pictures of the various corners of our living room, which is where all the decorations and the tree are.

First, the Christmas tree in the corner.  It is blocking a bookcase, but it is the only place to put it.  In the front, you can make out three funny squirrel faces - that is one of those "press the button" singing and dancing decorations.   It is of three squirrels and they are very cute as they sing and wave their arms. 

Next, the area over my husband's chair.  There is a shelf on the left where the manger scene is and I just put lights wrapped with fake pine greenery all around that shelf and the one to the right.  I know you can't see any detail, but the lights are pretty, right?  The lights around the ceiling are up all year round.  I can't bear to be without colored lights - so the ceiling ones are permanent.

Under that is the bookcase/entertainment center.  I pretty much put lights on just about everything - and I displayed every Christmas basket, mechanical toy - you name it.  I'm ready for Christmas, folks!!  Now all I have to do is purchase a few small gifts.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Comforting Ministry of a Friend

I've changed the look of my blog for Christmas.  If you look at my last post, I was feeling pretty down in the dumps, but a friend of mine - a blog friend - convinced me that to choose joy is a victory in the spiritual battle of the Christian life.

So tonight after work (I worked until 6:30pm, at which time it is very dark here in South Florida), I drove around and looked at Christmas light displays.   Christmas music - some of my very favorite - played on the CD player in the car - and I prayed as I drove and listened.  I also thanked God for my many blessings, which is always a sure way to get rid of negative thoughts.  Most of all, I thanked God for Brenda of Coffee, Tea, Books and Me, who is a light in a dark place and without whose blog I would flounder indeed.

Driving around and gazing at Christmas light displays has been a seasonal habit of mine since my daughter was quite small.  I would gather her up in her pajamas, wrap her in a blanket (if it was cold out) and off we'd go, Christmas music playing - at that time, in cassette form, in the car. 

Well, tonight, after I drove around a bit, I went to the place where we usually buy our trees.  It is a Catholic Church and they always have a refrigerated truck and the trees are each resting in buckets with water.  Everywhere else, the trees are gasping for water and are kept in the hot sun.  In all the years we've purchased our tree from this church, it lasts until February at least.  Now I don't have it in the house after January 4th, but we put it in our back yard and put bird seed on the branches or peanut butter - and it becomes a haven for birds and squirrels.  Once the needles fall off - which takes a long time - we take the branches off and use the trunk somewhere in the yard, whether as a border or another bird feeder holder - there are any number of uses for our old Christmas trees.

After I dragged the tree in tonight, I threw some lights on it quickly, which will be rearranged tomorrow in a more correct manner.  I just wanted to put some lights on it to let it know it's an honored guest - and to have it in the background while I put on a Christmas movie.

I've chosen joy, thanks to Brenda, and I'm not running away from Christmas this year at all. 

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Christmas Season

I hate to be a negative Nellie, but - is it really the Christmas season already?  Is it time to put lights outside and a big tree up and drag the decorations out, etc. etc.  Can I just slink off somewhere for about 4 weeks and lay low until it's over?  Sorry folks, but the spirit, she is not even willing this year - and the flesh?  Forget it.