December 12, 2009

Preparations for Your Coming

Just thought I'd give you a heads up about my progress here. This may or may not interest you, but I want to make you as comfortable as I can while you're here. I trust God to take care of the rest in his kindness to us.

BED: Nakita explained that the mattress they had was the one they decided to replace because it made them roll to the center somewhat, so I thought it probably wouldn't fit our needs here. Coincidentally, I inflated our airbed and took a nap on it on the floor. It had lost its air under Kayli, so Jerry had patched it. It was far more comfortable than the mattress on the hide-a-bed, so I think we will use it on the frame with plywood under it. It's kind of cold when you first get in it and I don't know how to warm "air" except with body heat, but I think this will work fine with all our big warm blankets.

CAR: Janell offered her car for your use the entire time you are here. She said it's a hybrid SUV-type. What a sweet gift! Amy photographed the booster seat we have, but I haven't heard if she sent it to you yet. I'd do it myself, but Dad has my camera in his backpack! (Speaking of my hunter-man, he just called and said he got a fat doe this morning!)

FOOD: I know you have a specialized diet for Ayden, so I won't stock up on stuff we may not use. My heart is full of gratefulness to God for my at-home work. My first paycheck comes this week and I've designated its entirety to caring for your needs while you are here. Just let me know how I might serve you. I'm not as efficient as I will be, so it takes long hours to get the reports right. I do a little happy dance every day that God has answered my prayers for work that I love and for my husband who supported me to get my education. I've often said I must be the most blessed woman on earth, to have such dear men in my life - although we all know God doesn't play favorites!

WEATHER: I'm sure you must be watching the weather here. We had a serious ice storm yesterday while I was in Eugene enjoying my first self-imposed day off (shopping for stocking-stuffers)! I crawled along Hwy. 99 for half an hour and still hadn't left Eugene. Then I was detoured back to where I started to find an alternate route. I always loved roller-skating as a child. I do NOT love skating on an icy road that wants to slip gently off! I kept thinking, as I commanded my neck and back muscles to relax, that maybe I was at the point now where I might walk the rest of the way if I had to. (How long would it take to trek cross-country 20 miles?) This morning I determined I will pray earnestly for easier weather while you are here!

Now I must get back to the medical reports. Please call if you have any concerns or to just give me a friendly reminder to take a break again! I love you more than dark chocolate, warm (no, HOT) fires, geese flying south, and gas in my tank. See you soon if God is willing!
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November 27, 2009

I read the most fascinating account of Anabaptist and Mennonite history and now I’m grieved that I can’t find it again. In simple terms I was lead through European church history. I learned about the birth of faith that differed from the mainstream in the 1500s, saw pictures of current Mennonite believers without head coverings (I didn't know that could be!), read excerpts of the book Martyr’s Mirror, and devoured the history of the church in the U.S.

Then I decided to do some housekeeping in my computer and cleaned out my cookies and browsing history. I can’t find that informative site now. Rats.

I’ve always been intrigued by early church history. One of my favorite courses in high school was Renaissance and Reformation, where I learned about the corrupt politics of the ruling “church.” In my Jr. High years my Sunday School teacher gave me a book entitled Not Regina, by Christmas Carol Kaufman. It was a tale about a young Anabaptist convert and her escape from persecution.

What does all this mean to me now? Only that it could be part of the answer to my prayer for unity among believers. What would display our purpose to be his more appropriately than for interaction and understanding to happen between us?

Jesus prayed, “…that they may be one, even as we are one (John 17.22).”
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November 25, 2009

Hi, Tami-the-Mennonite

I received a quick response from my request for Mennonite friends from a woman named Tami. My problem: I don't know how to respond to her any way except THIS WAY!

Helllooo, Tami! I think that the best way for us to communicate would be for you to once again leave a comment here on my blog and include your email address. Instead of publishing it and making it public, I'll delete it and respond to you privately. Does that sound good to you?

Tami said she would respond to my questions, so here are a few that I ponder:
1. Are all Mennonites farmers?
2. Do they hear that question often?
3. Is there a network where I might be able to trace the Mennonite family I met in Mexico last winter? I don't know if I would follow through with trying to find them, it's just my curiosity at work. They were visiting a Mennonite community and school in the Yuma, AZ area, but their home was somewhere on the east coast.

God bless the Mennonites!
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November 20, 2009

Has the Mennonite Faith Changed, Or Have I?

The Mennonites I encountered growing up always aroused my curiosity. My observations made me sure they must be a humorless, fearful people. Being a bit shy myself (which probably means I thought too much of myself), I didn’t try to initiate conversations with them. In the Bi-Mart on River Road they would catch me watching them. I would smile, they would smile back. Their facial expressions seemed so serious, even fearful, and I presumed anxious to get back to their safe little communities. At least, that’s how I perceived them.

I liked it that the girls were always in dresses, but I thought it odd that they wore sneakers with skirts. I suppose I would have ignored that if they had acted like they were more comfortable standing next to us in the check-out line. I knew their clothing was related to their faith, and I admired them for that. But I wondered, if they know God, why do they seem so depressed?

Now I’m wondering, did something change?

A year or so ago a home school mom directed me to Dorcas Smucker’s blog. As I read her stories, I realized this was a woman much like me, in fact, very much like me!

Had I been judging an entire community by a small handful of people who may be just having a bad day, or something? I have certainly been guilty of stuff like that. When Jesus said that we judge people by their outward appearance, he was probably just stating a fact. We do! He wasn’t necessarily trying to correct us. It’s just a fact.

Last winter I spent 4 straight days crossing the border with my husband to take care of his dental needs in Mexico. Getting back to the US side took about 4 hours, so the second day I decided to leave him in the chair and get a head start on the long wait. As I approached the end of the line I prayed an odd prayer. I asked God to let me meet some Mennonites. I have contemplated many times that I would like to sit and chat with Dorcas, but she is rather out of my reach and I don’t want to bother her; so maybe I thought I’d meet some Mennonites in Mexico? Right!

I stepped up onto the curb and adjusted my hat. Too much sunlight on my skin gives me hives, so it took me awhile to be ready to look around. When I finally lifted my head, standing beside me were two women with head coverings and a man with a short beard. Whoa! Now what do I say?

Since blog entries are supposed to be brief, I’ll just say that before we were separated a couple hours later we had exchanged stories and names, I had turned down their invitation to a school dinner, and I felt I had made some very wonderful friends.

Basically there is, as my husband likes to say, “more research required.” Yes, I'm asking for some more Mennonite friends, Lord!
~+~+~+~+~+~+~+~+

November 2, 2009

Grandma's Patchwork

Outside My Window...the bright moon won't let my animals sleep!
I am thinking...and praying for my Facebook friends who have the flu.
I am thankful for...my husband for filling up our woodshed last weekend.
From the kitchen...the smell of fried catfish and peppermint tea.
I am wearing...a hefty plaid fleece shirt.
I am creating...a big smile on my cousin Jeanne's face. I sent her a package today with a swatch of patchwork from our Grandma Kocher's box.
I am going...to leave the dishes on the counter tonight.
I am reading...more from Foxe's Book of Martyrs, by John Foxe.
I am hoping...that my appointment to complete my training for my transcription job isn't canceled (again) on Wednesday.
I am hearing...sounds of hope after a few days of battling depression. I am so sensitive when I alter my progesterone cream prescription, even slightly, that it can throw me for a loop!
Around the house...I'm thanking God that this is my home for now.
One of my favorite things...washing my feet with soap and warm water before bed.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I'd love to make a big pot of stew. Also, I need to retype the lyrics to some of our new songs for worship.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...Something of my grandma's:


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October 26, 2009

My Review of Denim Riding Skirt

Originally submitted at Chadwick's

Denim Riding Skirt 6,6,6,6,8,8,8,8,14,14,14,12,12,12,12,16,16,16,16,14,18,18,18,18,4,4,4,10,10,10 DARK DENIM,DARK DENIM,LIGHT DENIM,LIGHT DENIM Long denim riding skirt sits at the natural waist. Imported. Sweeping hem for a great flattering shape Back zip and button close Misses 35''...


Just what I was looking for!

By Kathy D. from Eugene area, Oregon on 10/26/2009

 

4out of 5

Fit: Feels true to size

Waist: Feels true to size

Length: Feels true to length

Pros: Comfortable, Flattering, Nice Color, Nice Fabric

Best Uses: Casual Wear

Describe Yourself: Casual Dresser

Comfort vs Style: Comfort Driven

I should have trusted my own instincts when I read reviews that stated this skirt should be ordered in a size bigger than usual. My mistake was that I thought the comments meant bigger than the measurements posted! So I ended up with a wonderful garment far too big for me. However, I alter most garments to fit my shape anyway, so taking this skirt in (3 inches) is no hassle. I am very happy to find a longer denim skirt that doesn't have a fly on the tummy! What woman needs that? The fabric drapes nicely and is very comfortable to wear.

(legalese)

My Happy Place

Outside My Window...the evergreens are waving in the wind and the clouds are promising rain. (OK, here it is!)
I am thinking...selling our home will be hard, but an exciting adventure as well.
I am thankful for...our many years of laughter here, including the antics of my grandsons wrestling their dad and grandpa last night.
From the kitchen...we're still cleaning up dried pumpkin guts tracked around by Noah.
I am wearing...my most comfortable clothes to fully enjoy my day of rest.
I am creating...a plan to trust God better - letting go of my grip to allow Him to lead me into new things.
I am going...to stay home and catch up on housework before I start my work with Oregon Medical Group.
I am reading...Seed From the East, by Bertha Holt, and Foxe's Book of Martyrs, by John Foxe.
I am hoping...I will not forget God's promises to me again - promises of freedom and peace.
I am hearing...His sweet reminders of those promises. Staying up late last night, I read journal entries and scriptures that brought comfort to this woman's heart.
Around the house...I see things I don't need any longer. They'll be sold or go to Goodwill.
One of my favorite things...not having indigestion! This has been an almost daily occurrence lately.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I am closing up my business, Closer Look Proofreading (.com) and selling my reference books on Amazon.com. Tomorrow, if God wills, I will start training for my new transcription account.

October 2, 2009

Dog and Boy Training

My third son was not like me much. He thrived on constant companionship, where I was definitely a person who relished solitude. He would talk to anybody in the store, where I would usually try to avoid excessive contact. If I would turn the shopping cart down an uninhabited aisle and involve myself in choosing the best jam, he would talk to the cans of corn. His self-confidence was more than I had ever seen in a human being, and trying to follow his train of thought made me to wear a question mark on my face every day. I imagine that he thought that was my normal expression, his clueless Mom!

He was more than ready to start kindergarten, since his brothers had been in school for 3 years, after all! His first day he spent more than his normal 10 seconds in the bathroom and came out with his largest self-satisfied grin. He had his Sunday shirt on with his clip-on tie. His hair was slicked down; I should say it was mashed down, and his belted pants were pulled up high over his tummy exposing his bony ankles below their hem.

I gave him a squeeze as he sat down to breakfast and asked him about his choice of clothes. He leaned over and tactfully informed me that this was how the girls would like him.

How does he come up with this stuff?
I asked myself. Oh, well, it’s his first day. I’m glad he’s enjoying it!

But Seth thought he should wear his tie every day, even trying to attach it to a t-shirt. Fearing that he’d be ridiculed, I suggested that maybe the tie should be for special days only, like Sundays. When I mentioned it might get dirty, he agreed.

It was a precious school year, with just Seth and I enjoying our weekday afternoons together. One day, after handing him his daily cheese sandwich, he went outside to play with our puppy Max. I listened to his interactions with the playful pup for awhile before I realized my son needed some dog training coaching.

I called him into the kitchen and explained, “I hear you saying no to Max a lot, Seth. I don’t think he will learn what that means if you don’t praise him sometimes. Why don’t you try saying no less, and praising him more? Then he can learn what makes you happy with him?”

“OK, Mom!”

Some time later I felt that special mommy sense that tells you it’s time to check on your child, and I found Seth on his knees with his hands folded, muttering something. I put my ear closer to the kitchen window and heard “praise you, praise you, praise you...” Max’s head was cocked sideways, obviously wondering what this new game was.

My head was cocked too, with that 'clueless Mom' look on my face.
',',',',',',',',',',',

September 23, 2009

Shouting Freedom!

No house payments. No debt. It looks like a possibility this week, and it floors me! Literally! I'm laying on the floor! OK, I'm up again. While I was there I did some leg raises, because I'm very efficient, you know.

We've talked about selling our home periodically, but since Jerry's gone on a hunting trip this week research has become my primary project. In my prayers and meditations I've wondered if we should sell and just plan on living in a trailer for awhile. The idea of financial freedom is intoxicating!

Jerry and I have worked so hard to live simply and spend carefully in order to keep me at home and take care of our greater treasure - our children. Now it looks like there's a bend in our road.

FREEEDOMM!!!

This scripture has been on my refrigerator for about 4 weeks now,

"The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11"

Because my heart is in tune with the entire chapter of Isaiah 58 (my work for needy children, caring for the poor, fasting, seeking his pleasure not mine), I believe the Lord will guide me always.

Guide me, dear Lord.

September 10, 2009

She Got Real Little!

In the eyes of my 4-year-old little girl Amy, an airplane was an amazing thing. We walked down the long, wide hallway at Mahlon Sweet Airport with our friend (also named Amy) and her luggage. We sat on a hard seat in the waiting area and tried real hard not to be boisterous. She hid behind my leg when a stranger looked too long at her over his magazine.

Running down the walk outside, we tried to get to a spot in the parking lot where we could see our friend's plane climbing into the sky. I managed to direct Amy's eyes toward the right cloud. Then she saw it!

The plane got farther away. She kept getting distracted with a bug on the pavement, so I made her look again. Then farther. I got her to look again. I pointed out that the plane was getting harder to see, and I reminded her that Miss Amy was inside it.

After a while we couldn't detect the plane any longer. I love asking young children thoughtful questions, so I asked her what happened to Miss Amy.

My daughter searched the clouds, then matter-of-factly answered, "She got reeeeal little!"

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August 26, 2009

Six-Year-Old Fun

My oldest grandchild, Ayden Paul, turned 6 last month! Happy Birthday again, Ayden! He lives more than 2000 miles away and I don't get to see him very often, so we need to come up with some long-distance fun!

Six years old is a great age for silly stuff, so I found some knock-knock jokes for him. I usually don't care for knock-knock jokes because they can be "in your face" rude, but here are two that I think are ok:

me: knock knock
you: who's there?
me: vitamin
you: vitamin who?
me: vitamin in, it's time to party!

Here's another one:
you: knock knock
me: who's there?
you: cow - go
me: cow - go who?
you: no, silly, cow go MOO!

So grab a kid, share some chewing gum (not already chewed, of course), and have some silly, jokin', lovin' time! Grandma's orders!

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August 19, 2009

Muscle Mama

Grunt, groan, strain, wobble. That's me, lying on my back on the floor, working to lift my leg at just the right angle to stretch a muscle in my thigh (I can't remember the name of it right now).* I keep hearing the portion of scripture in my mind "strengthen the feeble knees" as I'm working, but I don't think this is exactly what it means. Does it?

While I hold my leg aloft, I'm counting seconds and pumping my arms with lightweight hand weights strapped to my wrists. And so I won't put it off, I'm doing all this as soon as I crawl out of bed in the morning!

The purpose of all this? A wind of change. My former foster daughter is here this week. (I've got to find a better label for her than "former" - it just doesn't describe how important she is to us.) We're enjoying our chores and shopping trips together. I'm going through a season of fasting from one meal a day, and taking more time for prayer. Closets and files are getting reorganized. Unnecessary things that have gathered in corners of our home are finally being addressed.

I've gotten lazy in some ways, too busy in others. I think all my parts relate to each other more than I know. Working my thigh muscle stabilizes my knee. Fasting dramatically affects my prayer life. Praying restores peace and clarity of thinking. Clean closets restore order. Organized files improves efficiency.

And laying on the floor? Well, we all need to lay around sometimes!

*vastus medialis oblique

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August 12, 2009

Almost Free

It's amazing what you can find for almost free these days.

I found a step for our tent-trailer at Goodwill – $1.99. With my tentative knees, this was a welcome addition to our camping equipment. No more “falling out” of the doorway!
And a pretty red cotton sweater – $6.99.
A rooster for my hens – free.
A couch on Craigslist – free.
Tomato plants are blooming on my back deck. I found them late in the season – half price.

Chicken feed can be expensive, but since my birds roam about and eat more than half of what they need in my yard (including weeds!) – almost free (well, kinda).
More eggs are coming than I need - can't determine cost yet, but almost free! At least the entertainment value of keeping chickens is – free! They continually amuse me. Far healthier for my mind than watching TV.

Red Bartlett pears are growing on my tree – free.
Dragging hoses to water the yard and pear tree gives me a workout – free.
Our well pumps clean water – almost free!
A 2- and 3-lb set of hand weights (one from Goodwill) to help my tendinitis improve – $7.99. Way better than prescription rehab!
Any book I would like to read can be ordered from our library – free.
We’ve received an education about raising chickens, investments, computers, copyediting, writing, Oregon history, literature, and zillions of other things from our library – free. (I put in a purchase request for Dorcas Smucker’s books so now anyone in our area can enjoy her stories!)

Staying in touch with 238 friends and family every day on Facebook – almost free.
Another workout: walking 2 miles to sing, pray, and get the mail – free.

Our home is simple, but our lives are rich. Many nights I can stand outside and enjoy more stars than I will ever count – free.
And the grins of recognition on my grandchildren’s faces? That's priceless!

July 28, 2009

Shopping on a Hot Day

Since I'm currently between projects, I have employed myself in the useful endeavor of saving money! Shopping for an ergonomic keyboard and a new mouse followed this plan:

1. Go to Office Max and play with the display models, taking them off the shelf and tapping lightly on each one, grabbing the mouse and clicking the buttons repeatedly until I am satisfied that somehow I have learned something from these actions.

2. Go home and research the customer reviews on each model (nearly 220 of them) at Amazon.com.

3. Carefully decide my favorites and go back to Office Max to rule out the ones I don't want.

4. Write down prices to compare.

5. Go back home and put in my order at Amazon.com.


I followed this very scientific procedure this week and bought a Logitech keyboard set for $44.95, including shipping. (The list price at Office Max was $129.00.) I don't think Jerry would exactly call my method scientific, but that's ok--I'm on the warpath now to find him some mossy oak pants for his bowhunting season!

Amy and I are also reviewing Consumer Reports magazine online to find the best value in room air conditioners. In our little town today the temperature reached 108 degrees! Our strategy is to live in front of our little lonely air conditioner when the house is hot until they go on sale. We'll see if we can hold out.

My friends in Zambia must know that I am quite a wimp in the heat. Before we had the air conditioner, Jerry would come home from work on a 90-plus degree day to find me soaked to the skin working on his dinner with a wet bath towel over my shoulders. I wanted so much to be tough, like the Little House on the Prairie stories, but its effect was real. I would squint my eyes when asked a question, and answer with indecisiveness; and my muscles would melt and make it difficult to cross the room. What a wimp!

On days like today, God hears my thankfulness for electricity and appliances MANY times!

When in fellowship sweet we shall sit at His feet, or we'll walk by His side in the way. What He says we will do, where He sends we will go. Never fear, only trust and obey.

July 23, 2009

I’m Coming Back!

I google searched for exercises to help my tendinitis this week (elbow and wrist pain) and started right in with stretching and gingerly working the tendons that hurt. Yea, it’s helping!

It’s been about 6 weeks since I left my transcription job in the LCC Health Clinic. I had basically worked myself too hard, wanting so badly to do well that I wasn’t listening to the complaints from my joints. Gripping the mouse, almost strangling the poor guy, and pounding on the keyboard to get a few more lines done before the deadline only caused more self-induced stress.

Now the wrist braces are off, the elbow strap is gone, and I’ve restarted my workouts in the pool. I am so thankful for movement, thankful that I can be well again, thankful to Jesus for progress.

My “word for the day” is unwind. Just like I open up my fingers and straighten them against their stiffness, I need to unwind my mind from the concerns of life. I imagine our bodies and our minds are more connected than we know.

On a Sabbath Jesus was teaching in one of the synagogues, and a woman was there who had been crippled by a spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not straighten up at all. When Jesus saw her, he called her forward and said to her, "Woman, you are set free from your infirmity." Then he put his hands on her, and immediately she straightened up and praised God (Luke 13:10-13 NIV).

July 12, 2009

Skateboarding Grandma

A bulky black wrist brace adorns each arm and an elbow strap hugs my sore right elbow. Rising out of the car is difficult until I get my legs under me, and I move about a bit stiffly at first. My knees are unsteady from a sports injury, and my wrists and elbow hurt from typing too much.

But believe it or not, after my 4-year-old granddaughter Alyssa looked me over briefly the other day, she asked,

"Grandma, where's your skateboard?"

July 9, 2009

A Grandma for Six Years (smile)!

Click to play this Smilebox greeting: Happy Birthday
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All that I accomplished this morning from 7:30 to 10:30 was creating this work of art - my grandson's birthday card (click on PLAY above) and cleaning up a pile of doggy poo. Guess which was more fun! (you've got to be kidding...)

Thank you, Lord, for giving me children and grandchildren. Thank you for their wives who love You and are wonderful mommies! Grandma gets to celebrate, too! (doin' a silly little happy grandma dance!)

July 3, 2009

A Bucket, A Child, A Cherry Tree

Offer a child a bucket and a cherry tree, and you've got a special day!

Throw in an old friend (I found her on Facebook) and offer her daughter some chickens to supplement her existing flock. Then take the bold step to invite the whole family over to pick them up. This was the recipe I'd proposed, and they bravely took me up on my invitation, not knowing if I'd be pleasant company or not! (Her daughter had never met me, for we had parted ways shortly after her birth.)

What a fun day! Tummies and cheeks full of cherries, popsicles on a stick, chickens in our Coop da Ville, a wobbly ladder, two grandmas enjoying non-stop "visitin'."

My daughter Amy remarked how nice it was to have children around again. She, who had prayed and asked God for a sister when she was 5 years old but wanted to change her mind when we started collecting foster children!

Ya know, we both enjoyed giving ourselves away that day. A good reminder to "live for others" instead of for ourselves - we were amazingly blessed. I think they were too!


June 26, 2009

The Quiet House

On our last field trip to Salem I overheard a young “mother of many” sighing. With managing her tribe, homeschooling, housekeeping, afternoon sports and all, she lived in constant activity. Of course she wondered how life would be when the children were grown and she’d have hours of quiet to herself. You know, the kind of quiet where you aren’t concerned about what they’re up to since they’re so quiet!

I just smiled. “It’s pretty nice.”

I don’t hear my foster daughters’ giggles any more, but the memories are sweet. I don’t wonder if nail polish was just spilled on the carpet or if the youngest made it to the toilet in time (and remembered to close the door).

The laundry gets all the way done, folded, and put away now. And meals are what Jerry and I like. I can call my mother and arrange to spend the afternoon shopping for my niece’s bridal shower gift with her – and spend as much time as we need. I can linger with my arms around my Dad and tell him how important he is to me. They get more of my attention now, which they so patiently waited for all these years.

Thank God for the changing seasons! When I was younger than 50, I enjoyed His blessing on my endeavors. When I am older than 50, I enjoy His blessing on my new endeavors. I still lean hard on His arm when I am weak or disappointed. I continue to look for His direction when I’m bewildered. He is still my closest friend in the night. He alone comprehends my joy when I look into my grown son’s eyes. These things will not change, but He is faithful to bring me through changes.

Switching gears here, I need to mention Chris in Mauritania. He was killed this weak by Al-Qaeda, shot down in the street by extremists who exalted that they’d taken care of an infidel for Allah. He leaves behind his wife and 4 children.

My son and his wife knew them in the late 1990s, and I saw on Facebook yesterday that there are many people praying for Chris’ family as they return to the states.

To share the news of God’s love with others is worth the risk. I am so glad that there are people like Chris who took that risk for me.

Hold them, Jesus.

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June 12, 2009

To Just Be, or Not to Be

The junior high school librarian saw me steal quietly up to the counter gripping a large white book. She knew its name. She knew my name. This was the ninth week I had come in to have her stamp the check-out card “RENEWED.”

Nervous and shaking like some sort of addict, I closed it quickly and covered its title with my jacket, hoping to draw no attention to it or to me.

A New You. How I desperately wanted a new me! I devoured its advice, practiced its exercises, studied the hair-do and make-up techniques, even traced some of the drawings to file away in my notebook. But nothing really changed. The length of borrowed time on the book was renewed, but I wasn't!

Week after week of studying A New You, I was still the old me. I began to worry that someone might find out that I wasn’t perfect by now, or at least a bit improved. What a hopeless race to nothing!

I'M SO GLAD I'M NOT IN JUNIOR HIGH ANY MORE,

but I still struggle with being content in my present state. I should know better, but I have to continually let go of my selfish ambition to BE something, and rest in who God has made and what He has given. I don't have to prove myself to anyone, just keep on loving Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love my neighbor as myself.

That is all. That is the best me!

May 28, 2009

Broken-Toothed Fan

It's been knocked around a few too many years, I suppose. The box fan that sits on my bedroom windowsill looses a piece of its plastic every time I bump it with the sliding window. It's easy to stick my fingers into its mouth to retrieve the pieces and toss them. But the bottom line is - it keeps doing its job!

Why throw some old things away? It's in my bedroom on a high windowsill, so my grandkids won't be sticking their fingers into it and injuring themselves. We have a lot of windows and a lot of fans to help us stay cool in the summer, so I could make do without it; but why should I? Sure, it's dusty and grimy, and broken in many places, but for now I find that charming.

It smiles its jagged smile at me when I'm laying in bed enjoying its breezes. It reminds me that my surroundings don't necessarily need to have the appearance of perfection in order to be appreciated (and perfect).

This week I am wearing two wrist braces to promote healing in my wrists and right elbow. The pain has only worsened the past few weeks, even after trying different strategies and positions at work to relieve the stress on my joints. Now I must put a halt to it all and take a break, before it causes more extensive damage. Aside from my homework and a little e-social activity (Facebook, email, and blogging), I will avoid working much with my hands for a time.

That might be really tough for me. I enjoy being a "doing" person, like my father. I love to put my hands to a task and see immediate fruits for my labors. I don't enjoy backing off and taking the easy way physically. It seems I've been doing that a lot lately... Surprisingly, though, I am not distressed by it! There's nothing wrong with living with my imperfections. I may be missing something, like my fan is, but I still get the job done.

I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever: with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. Psalm 89:1

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May 14, 2009

My Face is Falling

My mirror image tells me I'm mad about something, or tired, or ornery. Can you believe that I was just whistling a little tune and thinking about some happy times? My face betrays me!

It has happened to every woman before me, and yet it surprises me. The muscles in my face just aren't holding it up the same way they always did. Though it's nice they are relaxing (I guess), it makes me look mean!

People look at me differently now when I drive down the highway. I thought it was just because I'm not as interesting to look at with gray in my hair. That's mostly true, but when I glance in my rear view mirror and see a crotchety face glaring back, I know I wouldn't want to spend too much time looking at that expression either!

I will be more careful to not judge an older person's outward expression too harshly.

The Simple Woman

FOR TODAY May 14, 2009
Outside My Window...my dog stares back from the pasture - not believing I would DARE to put her out there alone today.
I am thinking...I need to confess to my dear family and friends that yes, I have neglected the important things in order to pursue too much work and education this spring.
I am thankful for...long-term, faithful relationships.
From the kitchen...the plants in the windowsill are slurping up the water I just gave them.
I am wearing...comfortable clothes to do my homework in.
I am creating...a heart at rest though I have regrets.
I am going...to make a "to do" list to prepare for our weekend bonfire party. We will sit around the bonfire pit with our guitars and watch the children play.
I am reading...Basic Mathematics and Medical Transcription: Fundamentals and Practice.
I am hoping...I can maintain that place of peace when my guests are here and they see that I have neglected my housework.
I am hearing...Jesus saying to the storm, "Peace, be still..."
Around the house...the rivets on the Levis are bouncing inside the clothes dryer walls, and I am refraining from writing my initials in the dust on the piano.
One of my favorite things...an excited chicken running across the yard.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Turn my heart back to trusting God in E V E R Y thing!
Here is picture thought I am sharing...(unable to upload picture today)

May 2, 2009

The Veins in Mother's Hands

The shiny brown pews in the church were solid wood, and too temptingly slippery for any wiggly little boy to stay still on. Little girls didn't wiggle as much, 'cause if they did the skin on their bare legs would screech like fingernails on a chalkboard!

My young mother patiently taught us to sit still and listen to the sermon. Sitting quietly was a tall order for sure, but she was patient and wise. Once in awhile she brought something in her purse to help; like a jar of bugs for my brother to gawk at, or a pad of paper for me to doodle on. I was keenly aware of my father's gaze from the choir, so I worked hard to impress him with my quiet reverence.

I remember my mother's hands folded in her lap, and how the veins on them would stand out as she rested them there. To entertain myself I would trace the veins and push on them under her skin. This would irritate her, and she'd draw them back.

As she grew older I watched her hands change. And when her mother, my dear grandmother, passed away, I determined to reach out and touch her hands. I told myself, "these are the hands that spanked my Uncle Paul" and "these are the hands that stitched little dresses for my mother." "These are the hands that held mine when she taught me to pray." Now they were cold, lying still across her breast. Now she won't need them any more, I thought.

My own hands are changing. Their skin isn't so smooth any more, and their grip is weakened. Sometimes it's difficult to find a comfortable position to rest them in.
My hands have a scheduled number of days, then they will be still.

Lord, here are my hands. I offer them to You to do Your work, until the day we don't need them as they are any more. My life is in Your hands.

"They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings as eagles. They shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint. Teach me Lord, teach me Lord to wait."

--the words to a song taken from Isaiah 40 that my Uncle Paul's family taught us.
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April 16, 2009

Annie Toes Dog



I think it's spring fever that caused me to start too many tomato, zucchini, and red poppy plants on my windowsill. I have ten pullets (immature hens) in my hen house, which should bring far more eggs than a family of three would need. Maybe I'm just living out my determination to never back down from starting new projects just because I might die (or something) before I complete them. Is there such a thing as an "overachiever" hormone in an over-50 woman?

We adopted Annie from the animal shelter last week. Why not start another project? I've never allowed an "indoor" dog before, so now I'm learning another new thing. Training her will be fun, though we've got to be patient with her timidness.

Perhaps I will sell eggs, or chickens, or vegetable starts. They're all intertwined, you see. The chickens can help eat the garden (so will the deer and rabbits), the dog's scent will deter critter-predators to some degree, and eggs from the farm are just too nice to pass up. I'll still get my hours of part-time work in and finish my homework. Why not try?

My husband came up with the name Annie. My 5-year-old grandson suggested "Toes." He noticed all her toenails are black except for one. Such an observant guy!
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An After Easter Story

I remember my father singing in our church's Easter cantata (a musical story). Usually it was a repeat performance - where he'd sing the voice of Satan the tempter harassing Jesus. I used to hate it that he sang it every year (it seemed), but he had the deep, rich baritone voice the part called for!

In our Christian school it was my sons who were chosen for the part of Satan or of vices like the character of "drugs and alcohol." Our drama staff explained that because my boys were so well grounded, it was felt my boys wouldn't relish the part in an unhealthy way.

My oldest son is one of our worship leaders and playwrights. Well, this Easter Sunday he hung on a cross for the third time. But this time he was the thief that repented and I got to see him walk off into paradise with Jesus.

Whew! Glad he finally made it!

8=8=8=8=8=8=8=8=8=8=

April 7, 2009

Hired!

I just found out today that I will start work in the clinic as a Medical Transcriptionist on Thursday! I'm hired!

I get to work with a's and b's and c's and d's... and get paid for it! This excitement is voiced from an old girl who falls asleep with her nose in a dictionary - one of her favorite books!

Besides that, I finally enrolled in the math class that I knew I would need to take thirty-five years ago. This definitely illustrates a turn in my life. I waited for the right time to strengthen my numbers-handling (and procrastinated), and here I am!

In the clinic I will be supporting the care providers by helping create and maintain health records. I feel that I fit the role of "supporter of others" very well.

Right now I need to run and support my husband's desire for warm cookies tonight.

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April 2, 2009

Is This Being Double-Minded?

I wasn't going to do it, but I registered for classes again today.

This is an example of jumping on an opportunity that presents itself--that could possibly change the course of my life. It's not black or white, right or wrong. It's just an opportunity! I was offered a paying position in the campus health clinic as a medical transcriptionist! I could only accept it though, if I were a current student.

Three days ago I was searching for our next dog from animal shelters, planning to transplant my windowsill tomatoes, and rewriting recipes in my homemade cookbook. Now I'm a student again, just like that!

So maybe my whining about not being able to be a strong professional in both fields was just air leaking from my brain.

I'm not whining now!

I am a solid medical transcriptionist for health documents, and a good copyeditor for book publishing. The manuals and guides are different; but I have, and can learn them.

I finished proofreading the manuscript just last week and had no prospects for work coming in. This opportunity was right on time! If it seems like I'm double-minded; deciding to stay home one week, then changing my mind the next--maybe it's true! I honestly thought I would be home spring term.

I remember though. I did ask God for productive, meaningful, profitable work. Here it is, knocking on my door!

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Imagine this: Your grandmother goes into the administration office at your high school and waits in line with your friends for her turn to talk to a counselor! That was me! I needed a copy of my dusty old transcript from the vault...

March 30, 2009

My Husband's Girlfriend

I've heard Dr. Laura Schlessinger ask ladies that call in to her radio talk show this excellent question.

"Are you your husband's girlfriend?"

I sincerely appreciate what she is saying, though at first it catches me off guard--I don't want to think about my husband having a girlfriend. And when I look at the silver streaks in my hair (the natural kind) it's hard to talk to that face in the mirror and say "girlfriend."

But it's true! My personal happiness is not my husband's responsibility, and I need to be reminded of that sometimes. I need to remember that it really is quite nice being his girlfriend and thinking along those lines again. Loving him, listening to him, acknowledging who he is and what is important to him. I should know by now what makes him smile; we've been married 31 years!

This man of mine likes me to bring up his favorite subjects: deer and elk hunting, football scores, pizza toppings. He likes walking in the front door and smelling dinner, or better yet, cookies baking! He may not comment on these things, but he absorbs the pleasure he receives from them. And he knows after all these years that I do these things for him - not necessarily for me.

It's been a bit rough adjusting to cooking just for two, and I haven't been as kind to him as I was when we had a house full. Nowadays I'm reminding myself that God answered a lot of my prayers when I married this man, and looking after just him is an honorable job description indeed!

When my youngest child turns twenty in two months and my children are all adults, they'll just have to deal with the fact their aging father has a girlfriend!

tee-hee!

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March 26, 2009

Word of the Day: Buttinski

It means: a person given to butting in; a troublesome meddler. Yes, it's in the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary that I use for my proofreading and copyediting!

I wonder what my mother would have done if she'd heard me call my little sister a buttinski!

March 20, 2009

The 97¢ Profit

In the garden at sunrise, I shoved my buckets along the dirt path picking every green bean in sight. It was a mad race with time. They were growing like crazy, and would soon be too fat for my liking. And the sun! Not only did direct sunlight annoy me, it slowed me down; and I was on a mission. I was determined to bring in a good harvest and not waste my beans!

Dump the beans in the sink, wash the beans, pick out the best beans, chop the beans, pack the hot jars, pour salted water in the jars, seal the jars, lower them into the boiling pot, screw the lid on the pot, set the timer...

I labored all day long picking, cleaning, chopping, packing, removing, and wiping up the mess. The sun burned hot outside and my face burned in my kitchen. Peanut butter sandwiches for lunch with the kids, and I was back at it.

My satisfaction was real when I surveyed the 24 pints of beans lined up on the counter at the end of my day.

After a simple dinner (who had time to cook?), I made a quick run to the grocery store for milk. Hey, the green beans are on sale! Let's check this out!

All said and done, after a full day of hard labor, I had saved 97¢. My beans are better, I comforted myself... Help me to invest my life and my time wisely, my God.

March 16, 2009

FOR TODAY (March 16, 2009)...
Outside My Window...the fir trees are quietly waving at me, stretching their fingers in the warm sun after the drenching morning rains.
I am thinking...God is allowed to change my schedule!
I am thankful for...deepening friendships: Nina from Junction City, Musonda from Zambia, and Pam and Laurie from Eugene.
From the kitchen...no husband, no daughter to make dinner for tonight, so I think I'll make rice.
I am wearing...my hair down on my shoulders.
I am creating...more excuses not to be working on the manuscript.
I am going...to change that plan. A good swim work-out will do the trick!
I am reading...too many posts on Facebook.
I am hoping...my husband and son make it home from Florida tomorrow.
I am hearing...the same songs over and over on Christian radio.
Around the house...it's time to clean the carpet.
One of my favorite things...ten noisy, hungry 4-week-old chicks in my shed. I may have ten too many layers! Maybe I'll sell some when they mature.
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I want to proofread 25 pages per day to make my deadline.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...One-week-old chick

March 11, 2009

College or NOT?

Which way to go? Back to college or work on my proofreading/copyediting business?

I received a call from the "Learn and Earn" office at LCC yesterday asking why I hadn't registered for spring term yet. She told me that I was eligible for up to $1400 in work hours to help me pay for school. So, I spent the last 24 hours re-evaluating, weighing, worrying, fussing, vacillating. And yes, praying.

It's very tempting...

After my husband built an all-nighter fire and closed down the stove, we made our way to bed. As I snuggled down and began to contemplate my choices, I just knew.

I didn't "hear the voice of God", I just knew.

My heart is in my home. This spring I am home. I have a garden to plant, chickens to raise, recipes to perfect and a business to build. I have a husband to love, children to encourage, friends to enjoy, and grandchildren to play with. I learned so much during fall term, then took a break winter term; now it's time to work on what I've learned. I will proofread manuscripts and make pies. I will call and email and write and build nesting boxes for my chickens. I will wash my grandson's face and study The Chicago Manual of Style.

It's so nice to be home!
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March 10, 2009

How to Start Your Summer Garden

If you've never tried gardening and would like to give it a go, here is a simple step-by-step to getting started!

WEEK 1: Look on the back of your seed packet for planting season suggestions. Plan on allowing 4-6 weeks for the plants to grow indoors before placing them outside in your garden.An inexpensive planting mix can be bought at Walmart for around $3. I like to start my plants in my ice-cube trays to see how well they germinate. Stir water into the mix and fill the trays loosely. Use a toothpick or small stick to make a shallow hole to put 2-3 seeds in and cover with a thin layer of the mix. If you like, you can make little flags with toothpicks and sticky notes so that you don't forget which seeds are which! Wait several days to water again so that you don't drown the seeds. Don't let the soil become bone dry, but since the ice-cube trays are quite shallow you may need to water every other day.

WEEK 2-3: You should see little sprouts come up after the first week. If not, you may need to scrape away a bit of the top layer of soil.

WEEK 3-4: Ice cube trays aren't roomy enough for very long! When things are getting crowded you need to thin out the weaker or smaller sprouts from the healthier ones, then transplant them into bigger pots. My husband brought home some used pots from a landscape business, but before they arrived I planted my zucchini starts in plastic cups. I knew they would go crazy, but I didn't expect them to be little giants already! (He thought I may have started my garden too soon - we got some snow this weekend!)

WEEK 5-6: Hopefully you have begun thinking about your garden soil and are getting ready for planting! In my area, this won't be happening for another few weeks. We have heavy muddy clay to work with, so we're going to add a sandy soil mixture and till it into our garden. We also have rabbit and deer issues, along with hungry chickens that will be roaming around in another few months, so we're going to put in some new fencing. If the weather isn't conducive to planting when you'd planned, you may need to transplant the starts again; but let's hope not!

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February 26, 2009

Happy Chick-a-mama Showing My Chickie Pictures

Meet the birds!

Now you know I'm off my rocker, if you'd ever doubted it. I can think of nothing profound to say to explain why there are chickens on my blog. I just like them.

Ten little pullets are growing, scratching, screeching, and messing in a warm box behind my office chair. They always seem to have something to say - kinda like Woodstock in the Peanuts cartoon. The one on the below right is probably a Silver-Laced Wyandotte. I'm pretty sure the golden one is a Buff Orpington.

February 23, 2009

The Chickens Are Coming! The Chickens Are Coming!

FOR TODAY February 23, 2009...
Outside My Window...the trees are sloughing rain off their drowning branches.
I am thinking...why drive 20 miles to get in a swimming pool when there's all this water around me?
I am thankful for...my old "car that gets me thar." It has 236,000 miles on it and rarely needs shop time--and we haven't had a car payment for 10 years!
From the kitchen...a chunk of salmon is thawing.
I am wearing...smears of chocolate on my front teeth.
I am creating...a slowly growing but satisfying savings account.
I am going...to get a drink of water - I guess the sound of the rain is making me thirsty!
I am reading...the book of Ephesians.
I am hoping...I can demonstrate to my husband how thankful I am for him!
I am hearing...the rain. And more rain.
Around the house...I have vacuuming to do and a huge cardboard box to set up for the new arrivals.
One of my favorite things...The chickens are coming! The chickens are coming!
A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: I would like to make play-doh french fries with my granddaughter and sew pieces together for my daughter's comforter.
Here is picture thought I am sharing...

February 16, 2009

How I Learned to Speak

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. Proverbs 17:28 NIV

This was the scripture that I used as my excuse for not speaking. Can you imagine, a teenager with nothing to say?

The problem was, I had too much to say! I just couldn't decide which of my thoughts to speak. I was overwhelmed with word and subject choices. And as I was worrying over the decision, the fast-talkers would yabber away and leave me "deciding" in their dust!

When I DID say something, I'd often go to that place of FEAR! What if I said the wrong thing? What if I was misunderstood? What if I appeared foolish? What if...? My grandfather had teased my grandmother forty years ago about her "what if" worries. Now here I was, carrying on in her place! My silent times became more frequent, until I noticed that I was only getting quieter.

The longer "I held my peace," the harder it became to speak. The less I practiced communicating, the more embarrassed I became at my attempts. I wasn't overly worried about it until a Bible study revealed that the heart issue was my pride. I was AFRAID that I'd be found to be imperfect, so I hid in an excuse called "shyness". I also learned that "shyness" is just another form of selfishness (in most cases). Instead of making an effort to show I cared about people or their feelings, I closed up in my self! Guess what that got me? I was misunderstood! A friend confided in me that she had initially thought I was a snob!

But I really DID care about others. I just cared about me more!

So, after repenting and prayer, I found a way to learn to speak again.

I had collected names for years--making plans for what I would name my future children. I liked researching their root meanings and looking for scriptures to illustrate an encouraging principle related to that name. I even chose a couple of names for what I thought would be a perfect husband's name for me! (Don't tell him his name wasn't on the list)

I confess right here that I was snobby about my sources. I didn't want someone's interpretation of names, like you see in many baby name books. I wanted the historical, ethnically correct version, if possible.

When I was ready, I put my little "meanings of names" list in my back pocket. I felt equipped to have one meaningful thing to say when I met someone. It worked! In those moments when conversation was strained, I pulled out my list and asked, "Do you know what your name means?"

If it was a difficult name to make positive, like the name Barbara - which comes from the same root as "barbarian", it was a little more work. I would show her that it also means "stranger", and give her the scripture that tells us we are strangers in this land, and that our forever home is in heaven. (In that sense we are ALL "barbarians.")

Look at this - now my profession is words! Wow!

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February 9, 2009

My Blog is Feeling Old

I guess I took January off from blogging. When I returned, it just looked tired and old--past its prime.

Are there too many chickens here? Do I need an overhaul?

Amy, help me!

Maybe I have metamorphosed into something other than a "hearing heart". I dunno. Hey, that's what I get for trying to write when it's bedtime. Anyway, it's true that I have been considering building a new place to keep my notes.

Change is in the wind.



I found this picture in a National Geographic magazine (November 08) while sitting in a dentist's office in Mexico. If you are a bow hunter like my husband, you recognize right away what's going on here. I guess you've got to put your arrows somewhere!

January 29, 2009

Thoughts on Growing Old

I have spent the last 14 days in the company of retirees in the warm climates of Mexico, Arizona, and southern California. Today I hopped and stretched, jogged and danced, kick-boxed and dove, and generally enjoyed the water in the warm pools of Desert Hot Springs. I definitely don't "fit in" here - with the older babes that seem to move in slow motion, not disturbing the surface of the water (or mussing their hair-dos).

But then, I don't fit in with the high school swim team crowd that uses the pool back in Oregon either. They buzz around me in the shower room, texting and discussing important issues (like the "he likes me, he doesn't like me" debates). The old gals talk about their favorite doctor or restaurant. The young ones are concerned with homework.

An observation here: I think all women are concerned about their body shapes and hair arrangements. That sure seems to be universal - at any age!

Where do I fit?

The lingering thought I've been entertaining the last few days is that it is a demonstration of God's grace that we grow old and die.

How's that for a mind-blower!

It appears to me that in the Genesis account when God stations an angel to guard the tree that would give humanity eternal life - He is protecting our chance for eternal life!

Look around you. Would you actually like everything to be as it is now - forever? Would you like your health, your relationships, the government, the economy, your job, all these things to always be the same as they are now? Not me! I want the difficulties, the heartaches and the pain to die!

I'm so glad God put that angel there. I'm so glad that I will see "a new heaven and a new earth" - and a new me!

I'm listening to the aging ones around me voice their concerns. I want to learn wisdom from them, and I want to be an encouragement to them. I don't know the answers. I don't know how to die. I've never done it, but I know I need it.

Like Jesus said, if the seed doesn't die, it can't bring forth life and abundant fruit. I don't want to be short-sighted and only think about the moment of death, but I want to remember its purpose, real and purposeful and joyful LIFE!

Like I'm looking forward to seeing my family back home again, I'm also looking forward to seeing the ones I love that have gone before me.

I'm coming, family!

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January 7, 2009

My Happy Anniversary #31

SIMPLE WORDS FROM MY HUSBAND:
I am thinking...how you enjoy the quiet of the night, and I enjoy the quiet of the morning.
I am thankful for...31 years with the woman I love.
From the kitchen...hot coffee.
I am wearing...old jeans and a long sleeve T shirt.
I am creating...this comment in hopes that it will bless you.
I am going...to finish some projects and then watch the Duck bowl game.
I am reading...the Gospel of Luke.
I am hoping...that hope and revelation will reach a young man who desperately needs both right now.
I am hearing...the ticking of the clock, the whir of my computer and the song in my head, "I'm Tradin' My Sorrows".
Around the house...all is quiet and at rest.
One of my favorite things...the sound of your laughter and the thought of growing old with you (well two of my favorite things).

I love you Kathleen,
Jerry

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