Sunday, November 23, 2008

How To Have A Real Thanksgiving

(Before I begin, I'd like to say "Happy Birthday!" to Ellen. I'm thankful for your friendship! You might read this days after the fact, but I thought of you and prayed for you today. Hope your day was great!)

On to the lesson at hand.

I think I mentioned that I am descended from some of the original Mayflower Pilgrims. John Alden, Priscilla Mullins, and Priscilla's parents, William and Alice Mullins are my ancestors. If nothing else, you might be familiar with the names of John Alden and Priscilla Mullins from the poem by Longfellow (another descendant) called "The Courtship of Miles Standish." Within this poem is the well-known line, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?" Whether the events of this poem ever occurred is not at issue. The fact that many know their names because of the poem is my point. These are my 10th-great grandparents. I like studying their lives, for the most part. Some things I read disturb me, though.

In this world of political correctness, to which I will probably never adapt, I'd like to say that I don't care what foods the Pilgrims ate. I don't need all the details, except a few important ones. For instance, I need to know who they thanked at their feast. Are people really arguing that these "Puritans" who left England and went first to The Netherlands and then to America didn't thank God on that day? I find that hard to believe!

The current argument is that the celebration was to thank the Native Americans for helping them through the hard winter. Of course they thanked the Native Americans! But they thanked God also! True Christians always thank the Lord for sending the right persons along at the right time in answer to prayers for deliverance, and they also thank the people that God used to provide that deliverance. I don't see the contradiction. But to say that religious people didn't thank God at all is absurd.

I also need to know the "why" they gave thanks and I just gave you a very, very b-r-o-a-d hint.

Thanksgiving didn't originate with Pilgrims who traveled to the New World on a ship. It didn't originate with Native Americans either. Giving thanks has always happened within the hearts of thankful peoples. For instance, the Bible is full of poems of praise written by thankful Jews.

Do you know what the aforementioned thankful people had in common? They were survivors.

When the Children of Israel were miraculously taken through the Red Sea they sang a song rejoicing in God's deliverance (Exodus 15:1-21). When Deborah and Barak defeated Sisera they sang a song of praise for God's deliverance (Judges chapter 5). David wrote songs of praise when God delivered him from his enemies. Psalm 18 was specifically written as a praise to God for delivering him from Saul. Psalm 30 was written to thank God for delivering him from death. The Pilgrims of Plimouth Colony saw half of their number die that first winter. They had a feast celebrating that they had been delivered from death themselves.

So how can you have a REAL Thanksgiving? Follow these simple steps:

1. Think back over the hardships of the last year. Did you have anything bad happen? Did any loved ones die causing you grief? Did you experience any accidents or serious illnesses? Any sins that caused heartache and pain? Write those things down.

2. Did the Lord deliver you through any of these horrible events? Is He still helping you deal with some things on a daily basis? Can you see the hand of God at work in your life? Try to see God's sustaining grace during each event you listed.

3. Make a list entitled "Things For Which I'm Thankful."

Most of us do step #3 annually, sort of an advance penance for overeating. The list usually includes our salvation, family, health, church, food, and similar items. These things are not bad ones but they are not specific enough. Sometimes our hearts aren't in the writing of the list, especially when we're trying to get past this little chore so we can get on with the feast-and-football festival.

If you still don't understand my point let's engage in a little role-playing exercise. Say "thank you" like you are talking to the person I've described in the following two scenarios. Your response is in italics:

A. A person holds a door open for you so you say, "thank you."

B. Your child is trapped in a burning house but as you watch in terror a fireman runs up and places your rescued child in your arms. You say, "THANK YOU!!!!!"

Do you get my point now? It is a matter of perspective. Same words, different intensity. Go rewrite those lists. You are a survivor! This Thanksgiving thank God for His deliverance and say it like you really mean it. That's how to have a real Thanksgiving.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Really? I HATE playing this game!

I couldn't resist. Pastor Dad came upstairs this morning and asked me if I had taken the quiz that Lou had on her blog. I told him that last night I was too tired to take quizzes more complicated than "How long have I been sitting on my backside today?" Or "How far have I ridden in a car the last 2 days?"

He told me what board game he is and I thought I'd better take the quiz so that I can engage in polite conversation with the rest of my family, all of whom seem to have already taken the quiz. Here are my results:

You Are Chess

You are brilliant and shrewd. You can often predict what people will do in the future.

You thrive in complex situations. You deal with contradictions well.

You can have many streams of though going on at your mind at once. You keep track of things well.

You are very patient. You have lots of endurance, even when your energy dwindles

I hear all my family laughing right about now.

Predict future events? Thrive in complex situations? Well, I am a wife and mother and pastor's wife. Enough said.

The contradictions are usually in my own head. Good thing I can deal well with them. :)

The endurance when energy dwindles? Well, if you've read the two previous posts I guess we "could" conclude that if this isn't a bull's eye it is at least in the neighborhood of being on target.

Not sure I can keep track of things well, although I have been known to find items (like keys) that others in the family were supposed to be keeping track of well. Not going to name any names here. YOU know who you are! And there are several of you!

But if any of you (and I don't care who you are or how much I love you) challenge me to a game of chess you are likely to get the board and pieces thrown at you. So much for that part about patience!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Road Trip! Chapter 2

Oh, my! Am I tired! In the last 2 days we've logged 500 miles in the car and there was no beach or family at the end of the trip. Bummer!

I am so-o-o tired that I can't bear the thought of getting in the car again to go anywhere, not even to see Sgt. Dan and Lou on Tues. Stop that hysterical laughter, Dan. I can hear it from here. And don't cry Lou. Of course we're coming! I'll be able to sit for a mind-numbing long time again soon. It is just that I've got the just-got-off-the-horse feeling right now.

I told our friend, Donna, via email earlier today that I've been having problems with insomnia. Well, Donna, I think I've found the cure. I don't think I'll have any sleep problems tonight.

I didn't even do the driving today. No, don't panic! 13-year-old Bear didn't drive, although I'm sure he would've been happy to oblige. Pastor Dad rearranged his whole day just so he could suffer with chauffeur us to the game. We drove 175 miles ONE WAY so that we could stay to watch 2 of our teams play like kids who had ridden in cars 175 miles ONE WAY and then we got back in our cars and drove home. Whew!

I did the math. I've been sitting for about 10 hours straight. First, I sat for 3.5 hours in the car going north. Second, I sat for over 2 hours on wooden bleachers. And then I sat again on the return ride of 3.5 hours. We left home around noon and returned around 10 p.m. See? I'm good at math. And that's about as complicated as the computations can be that I can do right now.

No one got to whup up on anyone today, thankfully, since I've already hinted at the fact that the 2 teams we watched lost. But there were no blow-outs. The Bear's team lost by 5 points. The ball acted like it just didn't want to go through those hoops today. Our JV team lost by a few more than that but only because they put in second and third string players at the end. I'm sure the coach thought about how angry some parents would be if they came all that distance and their child didn't even get to play. We won't know until later how our other 2 teams did. We weren't sticking around to find out first-hand.

The opponents today were another homeschooling group like our own. Last year they made the trip to our town and we beat them due to their apparent travel fatigue. I'm noticing a pattern here.

Think I'm going to head off to bed and dream of days when homeschooling actually means doing schoolwork, playing sports means badminton and volleyball in my in-laws' backyard, and riding in a car for a back-aching long time means that loved ones we haven't seen for awhile are at the end of the trip.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Road Trip! Chapter 1

There will be several over the next couple of weeks. Stay tuned for future installments.

Today's trip was for the Bear's first basketball game of the season. Said game was about 90 minutes north. He fell asleep in the car on the way (and on the way home, too - I must be boring company). When he awoke going we were in the midst of a blinding snowstorm with white-flocked evergreens as scenery. We were about 10 miles from our destination.

He asked, "Where are we?"

"In Siberia, I think," was my reply. He just grinned. He's used to my quirky answers. He wanted to know if I could get him back to the state of Ohio in time for his game. Yessiree, and with time to spare.

While we were slowly picking our way along in traffic I was listening to the local Christian radio station. They gave the weather report. 50% chance of snow! Uh, fellas? You might want to look out your windows and change that to 100% now. I'm pretty sure it is a safe assumption.

We arrived early enough to watch our jr. high girls team whup up on their opponents. "Whup up on" is a term we homeschoolers use. You won't find it in any of the study manuals for the ACT or SAT, or in any curriculum's vocabulary lists, but it is a useful term. It was especially useful tonight.

The girls and the boys were able to whup up on their opponents, each team winning by about 40 points. Homeschoolers may not be socialized but they know how to play sports! And on teams, too!

There were some "uh-oh" moments, like when the opposition scored their first points several minutes into the game when one of our players made a basket on the wrong end of the court. Okay, maybe not all homeschoolers can play sports. Just kidding. This boy is not a rookie, so it was nerves, plain and simple. He's a good natured kid and a talented basketball player so he was able to gather his wits about him and go on to score many more points for our team. And no, it wasn't the Bear. If it was, do you think I'd be telling you about it? I think not!

Tomorrow, Bear and I are headed 3 hours north into a neighboring state. Good thing some of us are stay-at-home moms with nothing else to do but drive our offspring all over kingdom come. (sigh)

Next Tuesday Pastor Dad, the Bear, my parents, and I will be driving 10 hours to spend Thanksgiving with Lulu and Sgt. Dan.

Sgt. Dan, are you reading this? I'll bet you just can't contain your excitement that I, your mother-in-law, am coming to visit! Perhaps you'll want to get one of those tickers on Lou's blog that tells how many days it is until my arrival. And it better not be set to count down the days until I leave. Understand?! And no raw meat either! I like all my entrees to be sporting a nice tan, thank-you-very-much! I'll give you the rest of my instructions upon my arrival. Have a pen and paper ready. Okay? See you soon! XXXOOOXXX

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Results Are In

The DNA results, that is!

For a genealogist, DNA research is a dream-come-true. Now that it is inexpensive enough for the layman (like me) to afford, it is a tool that can help break down some brick walls. In order to do a surname study one must have a Y-chromosome, and I obviously don't have one of those. That's why my dad had his arm twisted agreed to take it for me.

There is a lot of hype that one must cut through in order to use the results ("About 22 million years ago your ancestor moved from . . ."). A real working knowledge of world history is helpful, but is still between 6,000 and 10,000 years, subtract from that the years between Adam to Noah and . . . you get the picture. Migration patterns are a little easier within the framework of thousands of years and not millions.

Long range, DNA can be used to pinpoint the part of the world one's paternal ancestors are from because slight mutations in the chromosomes tend to be regional. (Think "all prospects for marriage are to be found within your own neighborhood.")

Short range, DNA can be used to break down brick walls. For instance, the fartherest I can trace my surname is to an ancestor born in VA in 1810. It is my goal to find someone ANYWHERE who matches closely my DNA (or my dad's actually) so that we can try to find common ancestors.

Virginia is a big state, especially in 1810! It encompassed all of what is now WV, too. And my maiden name is an extremely common one. I think you see my problem.

I "think" I previously pinpointed the area of VA where my ancestor was born, but since we had a little thing called a Civil War back in the 1860s that devastated many of VA's records, and since states didn't keep birth records back then anyway, all attempts at breaking down that wall have been unsuccessful.

Searches through that area revealed that the people with my surname in the late 1700s - early 1800s were from England or Germany. The Germans Anglicized the name, which further complicates things. One of the things I wanted to find out was whether I should be looking more in the English settlements or the German ones.

Turns out that my paternal heritage is neither English or German. It is Scandinavian?!

Surprised? So was I.

Grandpa used to say we were Dutch. I always thought he meant German as in "PA Dutch" because he has one traceable German line anyway. Turns out he probably knew what he was talking about.

Guess this explains why I like cooler weather better than hot weather, and why my complexion is so doggone fair. My ancestors hardly saw the sun anyway. They would've been at home in our neck of the woods lately.

Perhaps I'll start looking for a pair of those wooden shoes to add to my wardrobe. :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

The Family Jewels

They are worth millions.

Before anyone attempts to rob us of some fortune they think we're hiding I'd best explain. Our real treasure is in Heaven where thieves can't get it so don't bother trying. There's a pretty tough guard on duty so nothing you dish out can beat His power.

But we've got something here at our house on earth worth millions. My jewels alone are worth over 27 million. Pastor Dad's are worth over 28 million. And therein lies the problem story.

A few months ago my mother gave the Bear her old computer because we talked her into getting another one she wanted a new one. Her old one now sits in our family room next to this one, the one that I'm on right now, because we are cautious people who believe a computer should be in a public place where anyone walking by can see what is on the screen.

If you walk by the Bear's computer you will see wallpaper courtesy of the USMC. It changes from time to time but always remains on that same theme. And except for the occasional checks of email and Facebook, that is about the extent of the Bear's time on "his" computer. If anyone ever did a fingerprint analysis of the keypad and mouse few of the prints would belong to the Bear. In my pre-blog days my fingerprints would probably have been the dominant ones.

Bear's computer wasn't in the house too many days before I found the addictive game of Super Gem Drop on it. It took weeks to get the hang of it, but get the hang of it I did! I wiped my parents' names off the board totally. (The "Clear Scores" option helped.)

I'm one of those crazy mathematicians that likes tessellations (Go look it up!), geometry, and anything else that involves tiles, patterns, and pretty pictures. This game so consumed my imagination that I dreamed about it! I devised combinations and configurations so as to achieve high scores.

And what was Pastor Dad doing all this time? He was lurking. Every night he'd entice me with sweet words such as, "Come play that game and let me watch you. I find it relaxing." And silly me, I'd do it willingly. He'd sit in his chair looking over my shoulder and I'd test my theories. A few times he tempted me with chocolate and got me talking about my strategies. That sly guy knows that chocolate loosens my tongue. If I'm ever privy to national secrets the first person who offers me a Hershey's bar (my contraband of choice) will know all.

A couple of times I had some housework that needed attention and couldn't spare the time. I remember telling him, "If you like the game so much why don't you play it instead of just being a spectator?" So he did. And he beat me. Okay, it took him a few weeks, but HE BEAT ME!

The next time I feel the need to offer such a challenge I hope someone claps their hand over my mouth to shut me up. Since there is only the Bear and Pastor Dad to do it I don't see much chance of that happening. So now Pastor Dad is so addicted to the game that I have to find other ways to occupy myself.

And that's how all of you got stuck with me! :)

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Bear Gets His Kicks

Bear participated in his taekwondo school's tournament today. We were there for about an hour and walked out with two awards. Pretty big accomplishment, I'd say! (I, personally, didn't win any awards, you understand, but I did get to carry the trophy to the car.)

The thing is, it is a miracle that we got there. The owner and master instructor owns schools in two locations. He told me that the tournament was going to take place in the other location than the one we usually attend. We've never been to that school and have only a vague idea of its location. I went to the school's website prior to leaving the house in order to get the address. Imagine my surprise when I saw our school's address given as the tournament location!

I asked the Bear about this change of plans. Our conversation went something like this (please read the "Me" parts in an incredulous tone and the "Bear" parts in your best "Well, duh, Mom" voice):

Me: Didn't Master G tell us that the tournament was going to be at the other school?

Bear: Yeah.

Me: It says here that it is going to be at your school. Did you know about this?

Bear: Yeah.

Me: When did all of this change?

Bear: I don't know. He told you it was going to be at the other location a long time ago. (Meaning that I should've just assumed that things had changed. I guess I should brush up on my clairvoyance skills. After all, how could it possibly be anyone's fault but my own that I didn't know about the change of plans?)

But once we got where we were supposed to be, and on time, too, everything went okaay. By that I mean that when the Bear did his form he was doing great until he slipped and fell. The Bear is so good at forms, though, that he still came in second place! Incredible!

Forms were followed by sparring. This is the event that always has my heart in my throat. Before the event the students stand around in little groups talking amongst themselves while watching other competitions. These kids are friends, or at least friendly, with each other. In a matter of minutes they will become warrior opponents kicking and punching each other for all they're worth. Understand now why I'm always such a basket case during the proceedings? I am the Bear's mama and everyone knows you don't mess with a Mama Bear! And I don't care how much I like you or your mama either!

I took several videos of the 2 round match but I watched them and found things in each that I don't want to share. The background noise is deafening at intervals, including places where I am yelling at my child telling him to get in there and be aggressive, not some of my finer moments if taken out of context.

But "get in there" he did and you can see the video of him being awarded first place. The reason it was taken from behind is because there was another contest mat in front of him and in order for me to get a decent picture I would've had to have been standing on that mat with other teen-aged gladiators who were about to be unleashed. They had protective gear whereas I had none. Besides, I had a new camera to protect. :)

Here is a photo of the Bear, the first place trophy, and his proud instructor (with school emblem removed). Ah, Grasshopper! You have learned well! Notice the red targets where his opponents are to punch or kick in order to score points.

In my own defense I would like to explain our reasoning for allowing our children to take a martial arts class.

  • Master G is a wonderful Christian man who does not teach our children anything that contradicts the Bible. His motto could be "real men read the Bible."
  • Taekwondo is a self-defense course and is only to be used for such except in controlled tournaments such as today. The only way to get practice is to be aggressive with each other in a non-threatening environment (which doesn't exist when there are Mama Bears on the premises).
  • It teaches discipline, flexibility, and strength. (I personally think it is important to have your child under your own discipline before somebody teaches him moves he can use to beat you up every time he disagrees with you! I've met a few little kids in class that I wouldn't want to take home because their parents think it the coach's job to restore discipline to their family. Honey, if you can't do it, some other adult isn't going to be able to do it either.)
  • It is the Clark Kents of the world (such as our Bear), and not the Lex Luthors, who make the best Superman-types!
  • It makes you a babe magnet! Or that's what I heard today (from a man who has a black belt, a wife and four small daughters). I'm hoping this won't be the case for many years yet. Still, having a young man with a black belt courting your daughter might make some dad feel safer sending his daughter out into the world with said young man. I'll let you know how this works out in about 20 years or so.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Camera Doesn't Lie

I'm so thankful to have a camera of my own again so that I capture the moment. But I'm not too fond of anyone capturing my moments because I've never liked pictures of myself. I'm sure this is something that all of us feel at some time or other. Suffice it to say that this is not something new to me. I have camera phobia. Some reasons are legitimate, and some obviously are not. But there it is and I won't elaborate further.

Today we had our Puppy Play-date as announced in yesterday's post. Yes, it went well. Yes, the dogs were happy to see each other. Yes, Pepper is tired now (hooray!). And yes, I had two shadows following me everywhere again. It was great!

I took pictures to document the day. At one point I forgot myself entirely and asked Pastor Dad to get my camera to take a picture of the dogs and me. Once the pictures were uploaded I watched the slide show results. Mistake!

There were a couple of pictures of me lying on the couch with the dogs fussing nearby. THAT'S WHAT I LOOK LIKE?!!! Good grief!

Okay, first, I've got a cold. That accounts for the red nose and the fact that I was lying down to begin with. Second, like I said, I was lying down. That accounts for my hair and clothes being all mussed up. Third, I was looking downward toward the dogs because they were fighting over who got the honor of napping on my legs. Does looking downward account for the sagging cheeks and double chins? No, probably the 20 extra pounds that I've been unable to lose would account for that. Again, good grief! We're at the beginning of the holiday season, not the end! I shudder to think what the shutter will reveal once the holidays are over and all the fudge is gone! (For most people the holidays are about gifts. For me they are about goodies.)

All of this made me think of the verses in James about the man who sees his face in the mirror and then goes his way forgetting what he really looks like (cf. James 1:23-25). He's a hearer and not a doer. Cameras are a lot like mirrors. They don't lie about how you look at a certain moment. Only if you are (un)fortunate enough to be "caught" will you have visual proof of reality because unlike mirrors, photos tend to hang around awhile for all to see. Just go to any Cracker Barrel restaurant and look at all of the old ones on the walls! Photographs never go away. They are just sold at auctions!

The Lord reminded me of some things that He'd pointed out recently in His Word. In His quiet voice He asked me, "Did you forget about what I showed you that you look like spiritually? I KNOW you heard me when I told you about your blemish (I think He actually said "sin") marring your spiritual appearance! Are you going to do anything about it?"

Well, I've got two options facing me physically. I can either break all the mirrors and cameras in the hopes of never seeing myself again or I can start back exercising. The first option won't change me, it will only change my perception of me. I'd have to put blinders over the eyes of everyone else to keep them from seeing the real me though. The exercise option would actually work to fix the problem whereas the first one would just pretend no problem exists.

I've got the same options facing me spiritually. I can either ignore the Lord's convicting Holy Spirit or I can repent and allow Him to help me make necessary changes in my life.

I'll catch you later. There's work to be done!

And no, I won't show you the picture!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

That Was Then. This Is Now


Pooh Revisited

When we last viewed pictures of the Princess and the Bear frolicking among the Winnie the Pooh characters in the Hundred Acre Wood, they were 7 years and approximately 1 month old respectively. Someone alerted me to the fact that another member of the family is connected with Pooh these days. That would be Fergie. (You do remember Princess Fergie of Great Britain, right? Well, this is not THAT Fergie.)

Meet the Princess's Fergie, not Princess Fergie. She used to live with us until the Princess married and took her dog, Pepper's playmate, with her. (Fergie always did a wonderful job of keeping Pepper in line, even though Pepper is 10 times Fergie's weight. A "Puppy Play date" is scheduled for tomorrow to reacquaint the doggy cousins.)

Fergie used to have long hair. Said hair got unruly so she went to the beauty parlor for a bath and grooming.

She is part chihuahua and part terrier. The little scrapper once looked more like her terrier kin than her chihuahua ones. it was a bit of a shock to actually find a chihuahua body under all that hair!

Someone used to have a picture from her long-haired days on their blog, but I couldn't find it tonight. I'm not even sure who it was. Senior moment, folks. They are coming more often these days.

We used to jokingly call the puppy pair "Shaggy and Scooby."

The groomer tied a Pooh bandanna around Shaggy's, er, Fergie's neck. The Princess held her in an attempt to get a good picture of it. No such luck. Fergie was not in a Glamour Shots mood. She seemed a bit too humiliated to even have her picture taken at all.

Even Bear spent a few moments trying to get the pup to cooperate.

I finally managed to get a blurry shot of the bandanna. A bouncing Tigger seems appropriate for both dog and character.

It has gotten quite chilly here in our neck of the woods. I wonder if Fergie questions why they took her hair and gave her an inadequate blanket in its place. I also wonder if Pepper will recognize her little buddy tomorrow. Guess I'll find out then. I promise not to make this a saga. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

We Remember

It is November 11th. It is 11 o'clock. We remember.

Two of my family's doughboys! (But just two. There were more, including my husband's grandfather.)

Monday, November 10, 2008

In Which Pooh Goes Analyzing

Gail pointed out that many of the nicknames in our "family blogs" have a decidedly Winnie the Pooh flavor. Yes, and I think there is a good reason for it. Pooh used to visit our house regularly. Some of us heard his little voice so much that we began to think of him as one of the family. It seems natural for us to give nicknames in his honor.

When the Bear was smaller (my son, not Pooh) he had a video collection of every single Winnie the Pooh cartoon that Disney marketed. Said videos played over and over again until they were worn to shreds! Or maybe I just reached the point where I couldn't take them anymore and they disappeared. I'm not sure anymore. But I think I can still sing every Pooh song word for word, and do sometimes on Fridays when the girls and I are practicing our repertoire of silly songs in the car.

Anyway, I think Bear's love for Pooh began in utero or soon after. Since Bear was the youngest of our four he shared a bedroom with the Princess, or at least he did after the whole "new baby in the house" thing had worn off enough that he no longer woke the whole family with his demands to be fed. Then he just woke me {groan} while everyone else pretended not to hear him.

Princess had a Winnie the Pooh bedroom decor and the new baby, boy or girl, had to go along with it. We should probably be thankful that her room wasn't done up in Barbie or some such other "girlie" thing at that time because the whole new-baby-in-the-house-and-budget thing didn't leave much money for redecorating. And we should also be glad that they got separate rooms before his sports memorabilia took over the walls! All's well that ends well, I'm told.

So when Bear got to be a toddler Pooh came to visit us so often via video that we began to notice personality traits among the characters. We would go so far as to judge a person's temperament by the Pooh characters. "Yes, he's definitely an 'Eeyore,'" we'd sagely say to each other about some acquaintance. Or, "definitely a Tigger." Remember Tim Lahaye's book about the temperaments? We'd found something we could actually understand! The temperaments for preschoolers and their parents a la Pooh!

A few months ago we were having breakfast with another pastor and wife. (Yes, breakfast. Occasionally I get out of bed before same. THIS was even on a Saturday morning before 9 a.m!) She was wearing a wonderful sweatshirt adorned with none other than Winnie the Pooh! I oohed and aahed over her attire.

Her husband, meanwhile, was rolling his eyes. I think he said something like, "Not another Pooh fan?!" This elicited many comments from all of us, including Pastor Dad who felt it his duty to introduce him to our temperaments-according-to-Pooh game. His wife knew immediately what we were talking about and took the opportunity to begin a round using some of our mutual friends as examples. Her husband was still somewhat confused, mainly because he is not as familiar with all of the personalities of the Pooh characters as we are, but he soon caught on.

All went well until we began analyzing each other. Whereas Pastor Dad and I always saw ourselves as the Christopher Robin and Kanga characters (the wise, mature child who takes care of everyone, and the mother-who-lovingly takes care of her home and child) our friends saw us as Owl and Rabbit (the know-it-all, and the always running-too-and-fro grouch).

Ouch! I don't think I want to play anymore! And I don't like breakfast anyway either, so there!

Now, pardon me but I'm leaving in a hurry because I've got to take Bear to basketball!

Friday, November 7, 2008

"Biggest" Homeschooling Obstacle

Besides dragging myself out of bed in the morning,
and dragging the Bear to the table,
THIS is the biggest obstacle we encounter in our homeschool.
(Yes, we feel blessed to be able to say that.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Can We Be Serious For A Minute?

This entry is a bit different from my usual. I can't promise you that this will be funny or even the least bit humorous. I have my funny times but I also have my serious ones, too. Like I said earlier today, I talk to myself. Sometimes I have to give myself some pep talks. I'm doing that now. Feel free to pass this one up if you're not up for it.

Our story begins.

Twenty-three years ago Pastor Dad and I loaded up our possessions and moved far away from home because he had taken a church in another state. At the time, I never thought about what effect that move was having on our parents who had to watch us drive away with their grandchildren in tow. To me, it was a big adventure. To our parents, it was heartbreak.

In 1985 there were no personal computers, no e-mail, no instant messaging, no cell phones, and no free long distance. We were only moving 325 miles away from home but we might as well have been moving to South America as far as accessibility to and communication with our family was concerned.

What does all of that have to do with today and the mood I'm in right now? Plenty.

First of all, I am the parent now who has one of my children living far from home. That would be my second child, our Little Lulu (who now calls herself "Lou" so as not be associated with the cartoon character for whom she was nicknamed). She is the author of the "Adventures of a Humble Housewife" blog whose link can be found on the sidebar. I cannot begin to tell you how thankful I am for the advances in technology that allow me to call her, e-mail her, read her blog, etc. from hundreds of miles away almost daily. Wow! Thank you, Lord!

Next, there is our third child. Her nickname really is "The Princess" due to the fact that she is one compact little ruler. This child had her heart broken into a million pieces about 6 months ago and none of us thought that "all the king's horses and all the kings men" would ever be able to put it back together again but Humpty Dumpty is back there sitting on his wall. He's somewhat cracked and battered (aren't we all?) but he is there. Getting him there required that Pastor Dad and I have our hearts broken in the process, though. Until recently, I had no clue what this felt like. I hope I'll be better able to empathize because of it.

Third, there is my youngest, the boy we call "Bear." He's the baby of the family but doesn't seem all that spoiled in spite of the fact that he has three adoring, doting, older sisters, and three adoring, doting, young nieces. The Bear recently made his "calling and election sure." What a thrill it has been for me to watch his young faith grow. If we are chatting about something and the discussion goes in a Biblical direction (which isn't unusual when you homeschool and share your faith with your children constantly as instructed in Deuteronomy chapter 6), Bear will go and search the scriptures to see if the things I've said are so. This doesn't insult me. This pleases me! He is like the Bereans of old. His goal in life is to be "one of the few, the proud, the Marines!" Can you feel my shivers of pride and apprehension?

Then there is my first-born, Karen, whom most of you know already because she is the one who introduced me to the world of blogging. I saw Karen at church last night and she looked like the weight of the world rests upon her shoulders. But you know what? It does.

I've stood where Karen stands so I know a bit about what she's feeling, or at least, I think I do. If I've totally missed the mark I hope she'll forgive me the blunder. I've made many in her lifetime and she has forgiven me each time so far. Here is what I think she's feeling.

Do you know what really motivates us? It is parenthood. I can only speak for myself when I say this, but I'm sure I'm not the only one who felt it: my whole perspective on life and liberty changed when I became a mother. I suddenly cared about the America I left my children. I no longer could play at being a mother like the two teenaged girls I saw tonight with their school-assigned mechanical babies. My little ones and their world were mostly my responsibility.

We know our citizenship is in Heaven but understand that God expects us to be good citizens of the country where He placed us until He takes us to our Real Home. Therefore, we believe in getting involved. We campaign, we vote, and we fall hard when we lose. This is because we feel a vested interest in the proceedings. We're not innocent by-standers. Karen is the only one of my children who has children of her own (so far!).

So really, what does all this rambling have to do with my leaving twenty-three years ago? Just this. My worries for my children aren't any different than the worries our parents had when we left home for another state. It is just that when we hit a wall the folks back home didn't always know about it. Because of technology I seem to know things about my children's problems and emotions a lot quicker than our parents knew about us. Therefore, we try not to overreact, but we try not to ignore either. But once a parent, always a parent. I am just as concerned for my children as our parents were for us. Those of you who are parents understand.

I wouldn't trade the blessings of this medium for anything! Because of computers I can renew acquaintances with Allyson, one of the girls from that city that used to be so far, far away. I've known her since the day she was born. Literally!

I can also share the lives of sisters in Christ that I've met in the past, those I've never seen before, and even some I see often. Meeting with friends and family almost daily while still wearing my pajamas is great.

Let's hold each other up in prayer! We don't have the answers to all of life's problems, but we know the One Who does!

We can bear one another's burdens! God bless each one of you.

Am I Crazy?

I heard you!!!!! Guess that means we're done now. Catch you again in a few days.

Just kidding.

Of course I'm crazy. Certifiable, in fact. And for good reason.
  1. As an only child I spent much of my formative years talking to myself.
  2. I'm married. That means I've spent the last 30 years talking to myself. Just kidding. I wanted to see your reaction when you read that, honey.
  3. I married a man who was already in the ministry when we married. Now, this is probably the craziest thing I've ever done. I feel sorry for those women who married architects, doctors, or lawyers only to have their husbands experience the call of God and go into full-time ministry. That wasn't me. I signed on willingly. That should've been reason enough to have me committed years ago.
  4. I had 4 kids! Enough said.
  5. And I homeschool(ed) them. Poor kids! They got the same old mean teacher every year. And I got the same trouble-makers in my class year after year. Their ages are spaced out in such a way that I would not have an empty nest for a long time, I will have home-schooled for 27 years from start-to-finish (with no 401k!), and about the time I train excellent baby-sitters they decide to leave to start their own families. On the flip-side, I've never had more than 2 teenagers living with me at any one time. Child #1 turned 20 exactly one week before Child #3 had her 13th birthday. How's that for planning?!
  6. I'm schizophrenic. Not really. But writing in this blog sure makes me feel that way. The real reason our names remain anonymous isn't to protect the innocent (like kids and grandkids), but to protect the guilty (namely me) from being removed from polite society or our church. This venue is where I choose to talk to myself. It was quite a shock to find out anyone besides my husband and two oldest children was reading it! I don't act (or talk aloud) like this most of the time. The way I deal with reality is either to laugh or to cry. I found that I like laughing a whole lot better.
  7. I believe the Bible to be true and I believe in a literal 6 day creation by Divine Intelligence, namely God, as per the book of Genesis. So, yes, Sarah Palin and I have a lot in common, except that I never entered any beauty contests, lived in Alaska, went to college in Hawaii, hunted, or a host of other things. But since the media thought she was crazy for her creationist beliefs I guess that applies to me as well.
  8. Before I walked to the computer to type this post I warmed up some chicken noodle soup for the Bear and me to eat for lunch. I told him, "I'll be right back. Eat what you want of it and I'll eat the left-over when I return." Guess what I'm having for lunch? A pb and j sandwich. Forget what I said in #3 above about the craziest thing I've done to date.
**A word of warning: Not only am I crazy, but I am now crazy and armed with a camera of my very own! (Thanks to all of you who sent money for my birthday!)

Here is a picture of the only thing in this house crazier than I am and the only living thing that doesn't run away when it sees the camera coming. It is Pepper the Devil Dog. The fire in her eyes is not from the demon trying to get out, or at least I don't think it is, but because I took about 10 pictures before I got one of her that was farther away than 10 inches from the camera. She was the one moving closer, not I!

Monday, November 3, 2008

An Old Dog and New Tricks

My education has been advancing nicely these last few weeks, like say, since I took up blogging. I discovered this is another good way of utilizing the ol' brain cells to help ward off senility, which is good since working Sudoku puzzles has lost its charm.

Not all of what I've learned recently concerns blogging, though. Several things have contributed to my continuing adult education.

Here is another one of my unscientific lists. This one is about things learned, or re-learned this weekend:
  1. People will give trick-or-treat candy to anyone, including boys who go around dressed as themselves. Or maybe the Bear was actually dressed as his friend, Eric, and Eric was dressed as the Bear. Awesome!

  2. If a boy hides his candy, it will take his dog roughly 30 seconds to find it.

  3. When the dog finds hidden candy she will most likely grab a Kit Kat bar, because she has made it her life mission to destroy anything having to do with a kat, er, cat or maybe because she just loves chocolate. Who knows? We asked her (in an attempt to be scientific) but she wouldn't comment. She is still undecided, too, in whom she will vote for in the election tomorrow. She just knows that since she lives in Ohio it is her right as a resident to do so. The fact that her state issued "license" is for a canine should not be a problem.

  4. Adults trick-or-treat! This astounds me. Really. I'm not talking about people holding bags for their children. I'm talking about a loud, obnoxious, rude lovely woman shoving a bag up under my nose politely asking for a piece for herself. I have a suggestion for adults like her: buy twice as much candy as you expect to give out to the neighborhood kiddies and keep the leftover half for yourself. Make sure to get a nice variety. Works for me!

  5. I learned how to make letter strikethroughs. What? You already noticed?

  6. I thought my fat black cat, Lucy, died about a year ago, soon after we acquired the dog, but I found out that she is living in Iowa with Darcy of "Life With My 3 Boybarians!" Don't believe me? Go over and watch her You Tube video called "My Video Blog." I was at her site learning "blog things" and came across the video, which I watched, obviously.

  7. If someone has a hurricane come through their area unexpectedly it is against the law in our municipality to burn the resulting tree debris in a galvanized drum but it is perfectly acceptable to burn it in a rusting outdoor firepit on your driveway while handing out trick-or-treat candy. Said municipality was supposed to send a truck around to grind up the branches into mulch but didn't. We don't need it now, so don't bother.

  8. Giving a child a cell phone does not guarantee that his mother will be able to reach him to ask where he is but does guarantee that his friends can always contact him to ask the same question.

  9. I learned that taking a DNA sample is not as easy as it looks on CSI. It takes 3 swabs to 3 different parts of the mouth for a total of 90 seconds to get an acceptable submission. My dad had agreed to take a DNA test so that I can participate in a genealogy surname study. I think Dad is still speaking to me, but I'm not sure. Dinner at Bob Evans might've helped make amends.

  10. Moving the clocks back one hour does not guarantee an extra hour of sleep. Um, can we try it again next week? I promise to do better!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Sweet Pea Teaches Theology

My grandchildren are brilliant! Even 20-month-old Sweet Pea can teach Theology 101. Or maybe the Lord just uses little Sweet Pea to teach her Gram some lessons because her Gram has such a hard head. Out of the mouth of babes, and such-like.

I have a tendency to grumble. No, really. And when things are not going my way I say to myself, "What did I EVER do to deserve this?" Some of you are getting ahead of me now so someone has probably taught you this same lesson. But I will continue because I think some of you probably need to be reminded again like I did.

I have had a few episodes lately where I asked that question. Then this morning as we were arriving at church to go on door-to-door visitation a minivan pulled up carrying my three granddaughters and their parents. As I was walking toward the church I could hear little Sweet Pea exuberantly jabbering something - who knows exactly what - because she had seen her Gram (me) and her grandad.

The Lord spoke softly to my heart, "What did you ever do to deserve THIS?" Touche.

And as a corollary lesson He taught me what it means in Psalm 100 when it tells me to make a "joyful noise."

Because thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips:. . . Psalm 63:3-5