Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Can you ever go back to your old school again?

Ok, so here is my last blog regarding those two years I spent getting educated at the Tripoli School.

My first grade teacher, Mrs. Cummings, was young and had a plastic hand. I found it fascinating, her hand molded into one constant shape, held for eternity as if she was reaching out to shake your hand. As a kid, I naturally had no idea what had happened to her real hand, or even how far up her arm the fake one went as she always wore long sleeves. Whenever we watched a movie – the ancient kind on those big metal reels – she would hold her hand over the reel just as the movie ended. As the film pulled out of its reel, it would snap her fake hand, twhak, twhak, twhak, until the projector came to a stop. Is that a disturbing memory?

Tripoli School as it is today, no longer used as a school. You know what they say - you can never go home again, but I guess you can buy fireworks there.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Still Waters

Sometimes there is so much going on in my head, that I feel like a pinball machine. I went to an awesome concert Friday night, the Cat's Pajamas. I would love to tell you all about that. Yesterday I worked the concession stand at a fundraiser for Kinship. We were supposed to get a bunch of snow today, but so far nothing's happening out there. Why do I stress about getting the house cleaned every weekend, coz by Monday night, with all the cats and the dog in the house, you can't even tell I vacuumed. Why do I have all these cats? I just want it to be summer and I want to go on vacation. How are we ever going to be able to afford to put a new roof on the house this spring? Maybe we should cancel vacation. Are either of my kids going to ever get jobs? I put my winter work tops away today and brought out my spring ones. Was that jumping the gun? My husband has 3093 songs downloaded on the computer. It would take eight days of listening non-spot to hear them all. I can't believe that there have even been that many songs written, and I know that there are many, many more that we don't have. What is really hard to believe is that I know all of the words to most of these songs. How is that possible when I can't remember to pick up a gallon of milk on my way home from work?

Arrggh! Is your brain that full? Or is it just me? And this is nothing compared to where my brain goes when I try to get to sleep at night!

Lord, give me peace not as the world gives but only as you may give. Let not my heart be troubled nor let me be afraid. (from John 14: 26-28)

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. Psalm 23:2 New King James Version

Thursday, February 23, 2012

We are children

Like a bird in the wind, like a tree in the storm

Like the breath of a child from the moment he’s born

To the very last day when the curtains are drawn

We are children of the world. By The BeeGees

The children from the prison in Ayacucho, Peru. Yes, they live in the prison with their mothers who are inmates. But the thing that always amazes me about kids is that they don't know any better. They think the prison - or whatever sad abode they call home - is the greatest place to live. God probably made little boys and girls that way on purpose.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What torments did you endure as a child?

Hmm? What else can I tell you about Kindergarten, besides that I barely passed nap time?

Does anyone remember those tunnels they had for little kids? It was like a giant slinky covered with cloth which you were expected to crawl through. Somebody, probably with a degree in early childhood development, decided that this was a good thing for five-year-olds to do. But I think that is what started me on the road to claustrophobia.

Or perhaps it was when my dad brought home this huge old safe. It had to be the size of an average oven. My sister Pat swore that it was so big (or I was so small) that I could fit inside of it. So naturally I had to crawl inside it. Which would have been ok, except that Pat said that it really didn’t count, we really didn’t know that I entirely fit inside of it, unless she shut the door.

Really? Can you say “STUPID”? It was an air-tight safe for heaven sakes! And Pat was my best friend. Wow, I was hard up for friends! So, naturally I said, “sure, close the door.”

OK, well I am here today, aren’t I? But perhaps that moment of oxygen-depravation explains a lot. That and the torment I endured that day.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Beauty in the strangest places

One snowy day a month or two ago, I looked out one of the bedroom windows and this is what I saw. Beautiful, I said to myself. Who would have thought that the lid to the septic tank could be so attractive covered in fresh snow?

I look around at all the things we have in the world, all of the things that God has given us. Many of them are necessary, our food and drink, our clothing and shelter. There are lots of other things which are convenient, which make our lives easier, such as electricity.

But sometimes, I look around me and just think that God put these things here for the beauty of them. Pink and purple flowers. Fireflies. The vibrant oranges and reds of autumn leaves. Oh, sure you can tell me all about the chemical reactions that cause all of that, but it doesn't have to be that way. God could have just as easily colored our world in drab brown. He could have given all of our birds the same tune, He didn’t have to give fresh home-baked bread that amazing aroma. We could meet our nutritional needs without ever having to taste our food.

God wants us to take pleasure in the simple things in life. He wants us to sit back sometimes and just enjoy the artistry of the cover to the septic sytstem.

They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty— and I will meditate on your wonderful works. Psalm 145:5 New International Version

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Random Kid Thoughts

“I think babies are great. OK, maybe babies aren't great – they’re messy, but little kids are tons of fun. I love little kids and it seems they all go through the messy stage first. But they’re just so neat when they can talk and say embarrassing things to distant relatives. And they can draw really modern art pictures and you can hang them on your fridge with little penguin magnet things.”

More inspiring, though random, thoughts from my sister Pat. I wouldn't have survived giving birth to two babies without her. Their little voices raised in the “Aunt Patti’s here” chorus when she would pull into our yard. They were so blessed to have her, even if it was only for a few short years. Their pictures are on the other computer - the one that is acting up - so these are the "little kid" pictures I had available.

My kids were so much more blessed than these orphans that I spent a day with while I was in Peru. They were so cute, but it was so sad. Will they ever see their hand-colored masterpieces on anybody's refrigerator?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wow, this is where I was really long time ago

There we are. The Tripoli School kindergarten class of 1968. When I first dug this photo out of the basement archives, I thought I only remembered one of the kids. The boy on the far right in the back row. He passed away quite suddenly a few years ago. But as I looked at all the cherub faces, a few names came back to me, a few stories. The girl on the end in the front row who could walk on her hands, her friend down near the other end who tried to keep up with her. The boy I had a crush on in first grade (not going to point him out, I don't know what I was thinking at the time). Oh, and can you find me?

Along with this picture, the archives contained my report cards. In Kindergarten, the only thing I ever got marked down on was "relaxing during rest time". I'd keep playing with my plastic horses or talking to the other girls. Hard to believe. Coz now I can nap anytime anywhere. Just give me ten minutes of relative quiet and I am out. Guess I am still making up for the time I lost when I was five.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

home for sale

“A time is coming and in fact has come when you will be scattered, each to your own home. You will leave me all alone. Yet I am not alone, for my Father is with me.” John 16:32 New International Version

This weekend, my daughter moved. Again. I may have lost track, but I think this is the fifth time that she has moved in a year. And I think that for all but one of those moves, I was there hauling something up and down the stairs. It seems she has a talent for finding places with many steep narrow steps.

I hope that this newest apartment she is renting works out as she signed a one year lease.

On the other hand, I have been living in this house for twenty-one years. I hate the thought of having to move. Being so entrenched in my house, I can’t imagine ever packing up and moving on.

It’s easy for me to say that this house is my permanent home, but it’s not. My permanent home is in heaven. And someday I will go there to live for all eternity with my heavenly Father. And there won’t be any heavy boxes to move up the stairs. Everything I need will be there waiting for me.

Lord, thank you for giving us places to live, food to eat, clothes to wear and all the other physical comforts you have supplied us with on this Earth. And thank you even more for preparing our places in heaven.

As I was on my way home from church just now, writing this blog in my head, I wondered what picture I would post. I had pretty much decided to borrow something off of the internet, when I drove past this sign, not a quarter mile from my house. I know that it seems so simple or that an unbeliever would say it was a coincidence, but for me it is one more way that God shows me He is there.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hello, it's me!

Hello, it's me, Betty. I don't know what's up with Mom tonight. I can't tell if she is lazy or has a headache or is just bummed out about something. All of her four-legged kids know how important her blog is to her, though, so we thought we should write something. And since I have been the one cuddling up to her the most lately, the others elected me to post something. As if I have anything to say?

I was born in an old pig barn in Minnesota. Isn't that fascinating? But the pigs had been gone for at least ten years and miniature horses live there now, so at least it didn't smell TOO bad. My Minnesota mom gave me and my brother Barney to my adopted mom. Unfortunately, Val lost Barney but that is a long story. And sad, coz Val cried alot, but Mom was almost like - he was just a cat. Really? Would she say that about me? I think she just wanted Val to feel better.

Anyway, so I am currently the "middle child" in the house. Fred and Dino are older and Ches and Alice are the babies. And I don't even want to count Brewster. He is supposed to just be a guest, but we all have this sinking feeling that he is never going home.

Oh, oh, Mom seems to be rousing and it's getting late, which means she is going to start rounding up me, Ches and Fred. It is pretty funny at this time of night. Mom and Dad stalk us and herd us and do all kinds of weird things to catch us and put us out for the night. Mom keeps saying that she's going to blog about that, but she needs pictures first - coz you know how she is about pictures on her blog - and we just can never get together for a picture. Mom's so funny.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

How many times have you read your favorite Book?

My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3 (New International Version)

On September 1, 2008, I set a goal for myself. I was going to read the Bible in its entirety. I was going to get through the whole thing no matter what it took.

There are books and on-line apps and all kinds of other suggestions out there about how to read the Bible. There are one year plans and two year plans and a myriad of other options. None of them seemed to fit me. So I just plowed into it.

On February 1, 2012, exactly three years and five months later, I was done. I had finished the Bible, cover to cover. And now what? I am going to start all over again.

Why, you ask? Why would you read the Bible again? Wasn’t once enough? It took you three years!

Well, for starters, there is a lot that I didn’t understand, a lot that I would like to reread to see if I get it this time. There are other passages that are so rich and moving, that I want to reabsorb them. Even though I have written them down in my notebook, I want to rediscover them and read them again in context. I also have five different versions of the Bible; maybe I should read through each version.

And as I shared in the introduction to the book I wrote, The Christmas Story in 40 Days, shouldn’t you want to continue to get to know the ones you love? If reading and rereading God’s word brings me closer to Him, shouldn’t I continue to keep His book open and within easy reach?

Lord, thank You for sharing Your word with us. Thank You for allowing us to grow closer to You, for being our Friend, eternally. Amen

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A New Tradition: How I Celebrate Groundhog's Day

Many years before he moved in next door to me, my friend and co-worker Ron Cortte lived and worked in the Bush of Alaska. He shares the story of how the native women would hang their laundry outside, year round. The clothes would freeze solid and then the women would bring them inside their smoke filled houses to thaw around the wood fire. When asked why they bothered to hang their laundry outside in the first place, the women would answer that they liked the smell of the fresh air on their clothes.

Since I don’t drape my laundry around the wood stove after I bring it in, my clothes usually retain the fresh air sensation after hanging on the line all day. Thus, I decided to put a load on the line this morning in anticipation of another unseasonably warm February day. The forecast was for temperatures pushing forty, but there was no guarantee that the sun would shine. Which meant that when I got home from work and brought the pile of t-shirts in the house, they were indeed fresh smelling, not frozen, but certainly not dry either. What’s a girl to do? I threw them in the dryer. Sigh.

Here’s another burning question. It was Groundhog’s Day today. The rodent in Pennsylvania saw his shadow but the one here in Wisconsin did not. So do we have six more weeks of winter or not? Really? Let Pennsylvania have as long a winter as they want. I say here in the balmy just-barely-frozen tundra, we can say good-bye to winter in five weeks and six days.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Word Count Wednesday

I haven't posted a word count on my writing project in quite some time. Sunday night I finished it off at 44,570 words. Enough for a book? I suppose. Maybe. But for now it is finished. A good feeling, but it also means I have to start something else.

Hopefully by the weekend I will be all fired up and go back to writing my novel about my little lost boy in Kenya. There are so many stories in my head that it is hard to stick with just one.

Any stories in your head? Not that I am looking for ideas, just asking.