Thursday, December 24, 2015

behold

"Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world."
"Unto us a Child is born.
Unto us a Son is given.
He shall reign in all the earth;
He shall be called Emmanuel."

from George Frideric Handel's The Messiah


Monday, December 21, 2015

the weather and more

The weather outside has been strange. So warm that we've had to 
mow the grass and I picked a dandelion on the 
way to get Christmas cards out of the mailbox. 
 But a cold spell arrived suddenly and it dropped to the 20s. Delightful, but
we hear it won't last and are expecting a warm  Christmas.
I had to go outside to feel it for real
as we waited for our dinner guests to arrive. 
Loving window views as I do, I took a look inside my own windows,
and into the snowman's world as I lit the candles for dinner.
 Earlier in the week "Littlest One" came for a day
and loved exploring all of Grandma's Christmas stuff that she's too
young to remember from last year. She's so into pink right
now that before her nap we had a little pink ice-cream.
Merry Christmas!

Joining in Mosaic Monday.

Friday, December 18, 2015

something new

There's something new at my house … not the plates, nor the napkins or placements.
Not the cutlery, though I've just noticed we were using the English charity 
shop cutlery we use when our regular stuff is all in the DW.
 No, it's my place at the table. After years, and I mean years, of
looking at the wall while I eat, and the garage out the window,
I have moved to the other side of the table.
Previously I sat where I did as it was easy to jump up to the stove or sink.
Now I have to walk a few steps further, but my view of
our pretty yard and my beloved kitchen is sweeter.
 This all came about because (LOL) of the sun's reflection on the
garage which bothers my eyes because of my blossoming cataracts.
I can't get over how it feels like there is something new at our house…
It's amazing how much I am enjoying such a small change!

Monday, December 14, 2015

December views


Sort of a couple of busy weeks in review …
Joining Mosaic Monday.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

not white at all



I just noticed this is my 1502nd post. I am amazed. I can't imagine counting to 1500, let alone writing that much. It will soon be 10 years since I nervously pressed "publish" on my first post. For a time there was a blogger who had a meme for bloggers to republish favorite posts. So I admit it isn't a pure 1502 posts ---there are a few repeats among them. And now I'm repeating a favorite again for readers who didn't "read me" back then.

I am reminded often at this season that people hurt during the holidays. Not every family has a rosy time; people are lonely; families have crises.

A young woman in our mentor group delivered her long awaited baby boy two nights ago. They knew he was missing most of his brain and would not live long outside the womb but they have celebrated each hour and day that he has lived and are grateful for the time with him until God calls him home. Can you imagine her mix of joy and sorrow at a time when everything "seems" bright and merry?

Some of you may have read this before: the story of our hardest, but our sweetest Christmas.

Even though it was years ago, I remember the time as clearly as if it were taking place today. We were a young family, just settled down to life in West Africa, when our world came crashing down around us. The Gardener got very, very sick and turned yellow.

Due to a recent military coup, borders were closed and grocery store shelves were empty. The Gardener couldn’t even get a blood test to tell for sure what was wrong. We lived near the university and knew the dean of the medical school, so he made house calls to check on him though there was nothing he could do.

Those were dark days for us as Christmas approached. We tried to make the best of it with our two small boys, while we watched Papa get thinner and thinner. The bile under his skin caused severe itching and relief only came with a scalding bath followed by a cold shower and then a sit under the ceiling fan––a routine not always possible with frequent power outages and lack of water. We were about out of food.

God gave me words of comfort and peace as I'd sit alone in the evenings, often with only light from an oil lamp. He reminded me of Isaiah 40 again and again. "He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak…They will soar on wings like eagles…"

God’s grace amazed us. A knock sounded at the door one evening just before Christmas. Linda, a Peace Corps friend, greeted us with a special piece of meat wrapped in shiny tinfoil and a festive bow. Mmm, it was delicious. An adventuresome friend showed up with a cooler with meat and sack of potatoes bought in a neighboring country (he’d gotten across the border in a desolate area). What a treat. And the Gardener needed protein.

Not long after that, a friend traveling through our city walked into our house with a gunnysack over his shoulder. He dumped the contents out on our kitchen counter. My eyes opened wide when I realized they had shared with us from their “special times” stockpile. What stood out the most was a can of powdered lime drink. Now Papa could have at least a sort of fruit juice. The tiny ants marching around the glass at his bedside didn’t irritate me as they usually did––I was so thrilled to offer him such a treat.

When a truck pulled up to our door I was certain it was a mistake, especially since there were two small barrels for us on it. It didn’t make sense until we learned they had been flown in from London from friends who used to live near us. Having heard of our situation, knowing what the closed borders would mean for our food supply, they knew exactly what to send us. Imbedded in my memory is the thrill of unwrapping foods fresh off English grocery shelves––beautiful, clean packages of flour, sugar, and powdered milk with special holiday treats tucked in. We were overwhelmed at God’s tender care for us.

Before long our doctor friend told us we needed to go home to get better care. It was unsettling to abruptly leave a home and work we loved. But we had learned the valuable principle that God does not make mistakes and knew that He cares deeply for us; and so we trusted Him. We didn’t leave before celebrating Christmas the best we could. We made clothespin ornaments representing each family member to put on our little tree. They are falling apart now, but we still hang them on our tree every year. And when we do, we remember all that God taught us the year our Christmas was yellow.

Monday, December 07, 2015

hanging out at my house

simple decorations
Fun to photograph.

A quick crochet experiment that turned out as I had hoped.

At our mentor meeting this month I showed our young women
some of the ornaments I've made through the years and we
guessed the decades. This is a favorite one, back when we were
painting wood ornaments like crazy.

And we made these two easy and fun new ones.

Two favorites that hang on our tree.
Holland and the world.
Connecting with Mosaic Monday.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

a new constant

My BIL pumps up the tires, and I hop on my sister's bike for a spin around their neighborhood. The weather is changing in this muggy Florida and a cooler breeze whips through my short hair as I sail along the wonderfully flat terrain. I love bike riding but other than a recumbent at the gym, I haven't been on a bike since my knee replacement.

I feel like a kid when I ride my bike. I look down and can almost see my old green bike with fat tires. I remember enthusiastic bike rides in the past, and how I'd chug up a hill and race down the other side. As I ride this particular late afternoon, thinking about being a kid and my old green bike, the bright sun slips lower in the sky. As I turn a corner, it's fully in my eyes, blinding me in spite of sunglasses.

Reality check. It's those blooming cataracts. And with my new knee I'm not riding as fast as I used to. That young green bike girl may still live inside, but the outer body is aging.

In this season of life change seems to be the new constant. I continually seek grace to accept life now with a few limitations while at the same time using my age to good advantage, remembering amazing adventures and difficult lessons learned in these years I've been blessed with.

Adaption is something to be considered as I ride a bit more cautiously into the blazing sun. I may need to add a visor on my head. It'd be an innovation, but that might be a good change.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

the season has arrived

"'Tis the season" seems to have arrived in a big rush this year with our American Thanksgiving being so late in the month. It's almost time to flip the calendar page and December will be here.  I try to get our decorations up right after Thanksgiving so we have four weeks to enjoy them--since it's a lot of work--or seems more so each year!

I appreciate help putting the ornaments on the tree and this year when the grandchildren were here for Thanksgiving they became my little assistants.


I assume there will be a density of ornaments at the bottom of the
tree but not so much this year. It was all about climbing
the ladder, and they took turns going up with a fistful of ornaments.
It was a busy day.
At the end of the day after everyone has left, I actually enjoy cleaning
up the kitchen. I turn on some music, organize the mess, 
take my time, and find it all relaxing.

Joining Monday Mosaics.

Monday, November 23, 2015

a butterfly in fall


     From a cocoon forth a butterfly
     As lady from her door
     Emerged--a summer afternoon--
     Repairing everywhere.
    Without design, that I could trace.
    Except to stray abroad
    On miscellaneous enterprise
    The clovers understood….
                           from "The Butterfly's Day" by Emily Dickenson
    Photo by my sister, butterfly in her fall Florida garden

      

Thursday, November 19, 2015

flying fingers

I've gotten pretty good at texting. I like it because it's almost always read where
you don't always know about an email. I'm amazed at how quickly my fingers 
now fly over those little keys. 
(Checking it over is a must before sending for sure.)

It's quick and efficient. I've never liked talking on the phone, and you can communicate 
and get a lot accomplished through texting. 
It allows the recipient to read it when they have time, rather than being 
interrupted by a phone call. If I had to do a phone call instead of each text, 
I'd get so much less done in a day … and probably go "batty."

I looked back at my texts this week before I cleared some away. 
They included a question about breastfeeding; a recipe; "Love you" from one son 
and picture of the grands from the other; quick discussion with my sister about a movie; 
 update on a sick friend; cancelation of a coffee date; a question about 
table decorations . . . and more. 
But by far the favorite one of all:
A very young friend was facing out-patient surgery this week but before that happened 
she fell and broke her arm and is sporting a fancy cast. Her caring and sensitive 
older brother made her this Get Well card with carefully counted legos. She is to remove 
a lego each day, and by the time the last one is gone, it will be time to have her cast removed. 
What a thoughtful young man, and I'm so happy his mom texted it to me. 
She knew I'd love it. He may have learned his thoughtfulness from his mom! 

Sunday, November 15, 2015

if walls could talk

"If walls could talk, we've often thought, what stories they would tell.
"But if we're slow to grasp the message of an open front door,
a clean-scrubbed floor, or a hand-made object comfortable with its age
and imperfections, perhaps we're not listening well.
"The language of a house is visual.
"The soul of a house is memory. And it speaks to the heart."
~from Simple Country Pleasures in
Country Living Magazine, March 2001

Joining in Mosaic Monday.

Monday, November 09, 2015

story teller

 I mentioned last week that I had a favorite piece of art at the 
Meijer Gardens that we visited in Michigan.
I was immediately drawn to this sculpture of an old man telling a young girl a story.
 I'd like to think it's a grandfather.
Love how she's holding his pinkie and she looks enthralled
as she listens intently.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Ahead of Her Time

Amy Carmichael was a woman ahead of her time. Back in the 1890s she worked hard
and fought long against what we now call human trafficking.
She went to India as a young woman and saw girls (especially)
being used as temple prostitutes. Little by little, one by one, she began to rescue them.
Eventually she established a home where as many as 900 children
lived out their childhood. She also started a hospital on the grounds.
And so we gathered around Bonifice's table on a rainy Monday morning.
Our friend in Germany took us on a tour of her new flat
before leading us via Skpye in discussing Amy Carmichael's biography.
This is a fairly new biography of Amy and some of us had read
others, as well as books that Amy has authored.
But no matter how much we read about her, we never get over
amazement at her sacrificial life ... how she mothered so many
children, how she never went back home to England for a visit, how she spent many
years in bed after a fall in her early 60s, how she never drew attention to herself ...
Our leader posed challenging questions because
Amy's was a life that demanded that.
Amy did much of her writing during the last 20 years  of her life, 
when she was mostly confined to her bed after an accident.

"Gone, they tell me, is youth,
Gone is the strength of my life,
Nothing remains but decline,
Nothing but age and decay.

Not so, I'm God's little child..
Only beginning to live;
Coming the days of my prime,
Coming the strength of my life,
Coming the vision of God,
Coming my bloom and my power."
A.C. 1935

Sunday, November 01, 2015

the gardens

We enjoyed a day at the Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Masterpieces of art and nature mixed together naturally
in horticultural gardens and sculpture parks.
Autumn colors were peaking and gave a wonderful setting for it all.
Of course I enjoyed the children's area the most.
In each mosaic there is one image from the children's park.
I think you can easily guess which ones.
I'll be back another day with my favorite sculpture.


Wednesday, October 28, 2015

familiar

I even looked it up. 
The word "familiar" has its root in "family."
And that's why when I visited my cousin's house--for the first time--on
our recent trip to Michigan, it all felt familiar.
I knew it would. 
Because her parents and my parents lived their last days in the same retirement 
place, we saw a lot of each other after years apart since childhood.
She's been to my house quite a bit and 
I knew we had similar tastes and interests.
But I don't ever get up to where she lives.
Except for this month.
And stepping into her house felt so familiar.
Such a good feeling on several levels.
A delightful lunch like our moms would have served.
A craft corner far better organized than mine.
A sampling of our grandmother's china.
A little token from her recent trip to Europe …
jumped me right back to childhood memories and 
collecting sugar cubes from restaurants …
So much that looked familiar. That looked like family.
Her sister happened to be in town too, so we had a
grand cousin reunion together. 
Our parents' generation now gone, we are 
thankful to be keeping connected!




Saturday, October 24, 2015

will it make a difference?

I've been known to worry a time or two. And maybe (lots) more. 
Even though I know it is an absolute waste of time and emotional energy. 
It accomplishes nothing good.

I went with the Gardener to see B*idge of Spies yesterday. 
I had read how good it is so I expected to enjoy it but was surprised at how much I liked it.
I got a lot out of the film on several layers.
It was just that kind of a movie. The kind that sticks with you.
It was artsy, beautifully filmed, superb details, and so 1950s that I see "black and white"
as I remember the movie. (I had to look at a preview to be sure it actually was in color!)

It was based on the true story of a Soviet spy on trial in the US. 
There was so much in it that I recognized from my idyllic childhood during the 50s.
From pink and blue bathrooms to big hats (as seen on my dad in photo above)
 to school air raid drills and fear of the atomic bomb 
we children thought of as we fell asleep at night.

(I'm not spoiling it by telling the story here; 
just some side things I took note of and appreciated.)

As to worry? 
That subject seemed a repeated theme as the lawyer 
(an actor we all love)
kept asking the spy if he was worried or afraid.

"Will it make a difference?" the spy would reply, 
or something similar to that, each time he was asked.
We all probably have a thing or two we could worry about; 
right now I've got something looming on my mind. 
This is a good reminder.
Worry does not make a difference.



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