Shhhhhhhh…they’re sleeping

We are in the throes of Winter. And I LOVE it! We live in the part of the Midwest that is usually just too far South for the real snows but too far North for the icy weather.

Most of the time. But this year, we are enjoying what I like to call Real Winter.

You know, cold temps, frozen precip, MEASURABLE snowfall???

And I really do love it. Being a girl from the North (Wisconsin and North Dakota) married to a guy from Alaska, somehow our variable weather here in Missouri does not generate much of a Winter.

Generally speaking.

But this year is looking a whole lot better for those of us who are partial to the white, fluffy stuff.

A few weeks ago on a Sunday, we enjoyed a single snowfall of over 12 inches. It was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

My sweet husband, who has a modified version of shoveling (let’s just say I am a bit more thorough and particular), agreed that since we were expecting so much snowfall, it might actually be worth shoveling the ENTIRE driveway and front porch midway through the storm, as opposed to merely removing a walking path to the street…

I know. Seriously. Why would anyone need more than a single, narrow path to the street when your driveway slopes 45º toward the house…

Maybe to GET THE CAR  OUT OF THE GARAGE and UP THE HILL???

But I digress…he had to fully shovel twice, and still the snow came down. The weight of the snow would not have been safe to shovel for people like him who are blessed with a tiny, metal screen-like straw inserted to hold the major coronary artery open…you know, shoveling and heart attacks and all that.

Midway through the snowfall,  after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

Midway through the snowfall,
after shoveling the first 6-7 inches

A greater portion of the day was spent cooking and watching the snow fall and hearing absolutely nothing.

Our massive Newfoundland/Lab/Chow mix dog, Joe Bear, did not want to come inside. Or STAY inside. Between the snow and the smells from the kitchen, he made numerous trips in and out to check on the progress.

Joe Bear: Why'd you make me come inside???

Joe Bear: Why’d you make me come inside???

But the next morning, the beauty of the fallen snow was an amazing sight. And the winds that followed the snowfall made the landscape look as though a sculptor had been at work. A divine Sculptor, indeed.

Wind carved drifting

Wind carved drifting

Ripples in the snow

Ripples in the snow

Our entire world was covered in a very thick blanket of white. St. Louis was totally shut down. Most schools did not reopen until Friday, using many snow days with that single snowfall. Buses could not make it through the streets and most side streets in many municipalities went without benefit of a snowplow for days.

But I was very nearly entranced by the beauty of the snow.

And the ice crystals on the windows.

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

Crystals formed on the inside of the door

More crystal formations on the glass

More crystal formations on the glass

It had been so long since I had seen that kind of beauty. I just stood at my door and looked out the window. Little Froglegs came and stood with me. Just looking silently.

Then he said softly, “Nana, I am so sorry all your flowers died.”

I was surprised. Here I was, reveling in the beauty of my covered yard, under that fluffy blanket of snow, and my little tender hearted guy was sad about my dead flowers.

“Oh, it’s all right, buddy. It’s like a picture. You know how Jesus died for us on the cross, but then He came back to life and now He lives in heaven? My garden will come back to life in the Spring,” I explained.

Froglegs was quiet for several minutes, just looking out the door with me. Then he said, “I understand, Nana. I really do! I get it!”

In spite of the frigid temperature outside, my heart was warm standing there with my Froglegs. It was a beautiful moment to share. And the reminder of the Spring yet to come. My garden will enjoy the benefit of that blanket of snow, and Froglegs will have a memory of that important lesson learned from that big snowstorm of 2014.

My Winter Paradise

My Winter Paradise

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Froglegs Had a Dream…

Froglegs is growing up. Fast. Way too fast.

The boy is seven now, and tomorrow is his last day of First Grade. I know…such a huge milestone. Do you remember all the things you learned in First Grade? What was the most important thing? For me, it was READING.

And for Froglegs, learning to read has been liberating and validating as the Big Brother.

Sean and Cadance

Somehow reading is a lot more fun when you read to your little brother…do you see a little bit of hero worship here???

Froglegs used to be a little stinker. He still CAN be, but he has adopted a new role…man of the family. Without a dad, he feels a lot of responsibility for his brother and sister. He almost panics when they are out of sight. That is an awful burden for a seven year old. But Froglegs is adamant about watching out for them and making sure that they tow the line on staying safe.

And how he loves his brother and sister…when he isn’t trying to throttle them for something. But somehow, he just needs to let them go to Sunday School without him…seriously, they will be ok.

But the reason I am blogging today is because of his dreams. For a little boy, he has some pretty mature dreams. And that is not really a blessing…

Last week, he had a very bad dream. Not the monster kind, or the zombie kind. No. This dream was very realistic and very bad. He dreamed that his little brother died. I know. What an awful dream, no matter how young or old you might be.

He was moaning and thrashing in his sleep, and breathing really fast. His mom was afraid he was having a seizure, but he woke up and out spilled the description of the bad dream.

My daughter tried to comfort him, but he was not to be comforted until both his little brother and sister were in bed with him.

He told his mom, “Put Dancing Eyes in bed, right next to me, not by the edge. I want to be able to check on him.”

So, all four “slept” the remainder of the night in that not-so-very-big bed…and Froglegs continued to check on Dancing Eyes until morning came.

When Froglegs woke up, he told me about his dream. This Nana gave him an extra big hug and reminded him that there is Someone else who truly watches out for all of them…his Heavenly Father.

Froglegs is learning that even in the absence of his earthly father, he has the perfect Heavenly Father watching out for him. He is omniscient–He knows and understands everything. He is omnipresent–He is everywhere. He is omnipotent–there is no end to His power. Those attributes bring a lot of comfort to a little boy with a big heart with a huge chunk of hurt.

As we discussed his dreams and how much his Heavenly Father loves my dear little Froglegs, he said very softly, “But Nana, I really want a dad.”

And I just hugged my little grandson a little tighter and didn’t say anything else.

It’s All About the Attitude

I am finding myself too often consumed by the daily distractions of my life to sit and ruminate on something, much less write about it. I thought about taking a hiatus from my blog just because I cannot keep up with my personal expectations for myself.

Do any of you suffer from that? Are you constantly failing in your own opinion of yourself? Well, I often suffer from that virus.

So I told Superman that maybe I would not write for awhile. He, of course, was all about encouraging me to not give up on writing completely but just give myself the right to not post every. single. day.

Those of you who have faithfully been following me know that I am not keeping up with my original goal. I just can’t.

So I thought, why not write just once a week? He said not to commit to that often or limit myself too much either. He is a smart man. I am blessed to have him for my confidant and best friend.

When you care for children all day and have grandchildren living with you, there isn’t a lot of time to just BE. That time to have peace and quiet and do the things that only you can do. And so often that makes me feel like a failure.

I don’t have the same energy I had when I was raising my own children. There is a very strong argument that could be made regarding having your children while you are still young and fit enough to run and play.

But I still play. And never could really run…asthma went undiagnosed for too many years and I always had so much pain in my chest when I did try to run. Anyway, I digress.

I like to be silly with my little friends. We dance to silly songs and run in circles and play follow the leader. Doesn’t that sound all nice and rosy?

But as is the case so often with humans, there are times when little people get selfish or temperamental and need a little course correction. An attitude adjustment.

I try to make the corrections relevant and easy to understand. Apparently, that can be annoying.

Curly Top used to be this angelic child. Sweet and innocent and compliant. Whoever stole that from her, please return it. Immediately.

This week, on two subsequent days, that little Diva shared her attitude with me. I feel called to share it with all of you. Just a wee bit of insight into the developing personality of my only granddaughter.

That child who is so sweet can really spark a fire with her little mouth and attitudes.

She was sitting on the couch being annoying. Not really being naughty, just whiny and complaining and uncooperative. I suggested that maybe she needed a nap.

And without dropping a beat, she said, “I don’t think so!” With all the attitude you can imagine. Her mother and I looked at each other and it made us raise our eyebrows.

The following day, she and the other cherubs were running back and forth through the house, stopping and starting at the front door. (Apparently there is a code that determines who gets to be in which spot at the front door. And the spot by the door knob is prime real estate.)

Curly Top believed that prime real estate was her designated space. And pushed the others out of it. Hmmm, that seemed to be a great opportunity to discuss kind treatment and gentle hands and nice words.

“Curly Top, you need to gentle with your hands and say kind words to your friends. It isn’t nice to be selfish and mean to your friends,” I said, looking her in the eyes.

No response. She turned her face away. I turned her face back to look at me and held her chin in my hand.

“Do you understand?” I asked.

“Okay!” she replied, with a great deal of sass and completely devoid of sincerity.

I tried again.

“Say it with a nice voice,” I said, still holding onto her chin.

“Okay!” she growled, still with a great bit of sass, but less vehemence.

A third time. “You need to have a gentle mouth. Say it with a nice voice,” I said as I continued to look her in the eyes and hold onto her chin.

“Okay,” she responded. It wasn’t very sweet, but the sass at least seemed to be gone.

I turned from her and as I walked away, she muttered, “Finally!” with the sassiness of a thirteen year old. I couldn’t believe it.

She sounded just like a certain child of mine did…it brought back a lot of memories.

But that child, who can be so full of joy and laughter, is a little sinner, just like me. And her stinky attitude is exactly like mine when my attitude needs some readjusting.

I find that when my attitude stinks, it is because I am just not thinking about the things I should be thinking about. There are so many things that generate a right attitude, it shouldn’t be that difficult to have the right attitude, but we allow things to sour us.

That is when it feels like God takes hold of my chin, looks me in the eyes, and says to me:

Philippians 4:8

…whatever is true, whatever is honorable,
whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—
if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.

If I am dwelling on the truth, the honorable, the just and pure…If I am thinking about the lovely and those things that deserve commendation…If I make certain that there is moral excellence and praiseworthiness, won’t I have a right attitude?

I find that as I get older, I just don’t have time to dwell on the negative. I can’t afford the cost. I fail. I fall short.

But God daily pours out His love, His grace, His mercies over me. No matter how I fall short, He is there, faithfully forgiving me and demonstrating to me, over and over and over, how much He really loves me.

Even if I don’t write in my blog every day.

Philippians 2

So if there is any encouragement in Christ,
any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit,
any affection and sympathy, complete my joy
by being of the same mind, having the same love,
being in full accord and of one mind.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but
in humility count others more significant than yourselves. 
Let each of you look not only to his own interests,
but also to the interests of others.

Have this mind yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God,
did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped,
but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant,
being born in the likeness of men. 
And being found in human form, he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to the point of death,
even death on a cross.  

Therefore God has highly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,
so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

Do you need to adjust your attitude? Where do your thoughts dwell?

The Costco Butcher

(I know Easter has already passed. Tell that to my internet connection that keeps kicking me offline when I want to be online. I am behind, but I decided to post my Easter thoughts at this late date regardless.)

On the Saturday before Easter, my husband took me on a date to Costco.

Yes. Costco.

And yes, it was a date.

We don’t have a lot of time to ourselves, so stealing away to a place that offers free samples of tasty treats, great deals on all kinds of cool stuff, and GLUTEN FREE DOG FOOD should certainly be on the top of anyone’s Top Ten Date Ideas, right? I know, you’re jealous of my life…

So we made our way through the humongous Six Flags over Groceries and Stuff, and eventually walked through the meat department. There is something to be said at finding a pork loin that is almost three feet long…I cut it into thirds so it would fit in my pan…

But as I looked over the selection of meat, I saw the butcher walking through the meat department. He was wearing a white uniform and what probably started as a white apron. The apron was now very blood-stained, bearing the marks of the butcher’s workmanship. It wasn’t the first time I had ever seen a bloody butcher’s apron, but this time it got my mind going.

The following morning, I was again reminded of the butcher in his bloodied apron. It was Easter Sunday, and I was thinking about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. As I thought about the soldiers who nailed Jesus to the cross, my mind was filled with images of them being splattered and stained with His blood. His sacrifice was not a neat and tidy job. It was truly a bloody and torturous death. And in much the same manner as the butcher bore the bloodstains of the slaughtered animals, so would the soldiers have borne the stains of the Savior on their bodies and clothing. I wondered how they felt? Did it cause them any fear? Did they feel nothing at all? Were they even aware of WHO they were killing?

My memory of the blood-stained butcher is stamped in my brain. Even stronger in my mind is the image of my slain Savior who died at man’s hands to offer the final sacrifice for sin. There is no longer any suitable offering for sin…Jesus completed His work at Calvary. Not only was the sacrifice sufficient, but in rising again and being ascended into heaven, we see the work of Christ complete as He now is seated at the right hand of the Father.

There is nothing left that any of us can do to make His sacrifice more effective or more complete. He bore the payment for sin in His own body that I might live. Freely live a life of hope and grace and mercy and love. 

Hebrews 9:11 ff

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.

For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant

For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things,
but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.
Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly
since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all … to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.

 

 

Birthdays and Anniversaries and Special Days…

February 9th…

Not a national holiday.

Not a religious holiday.

Not my birthday. But it IS my nephew’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Sean!!!

Not my wedding anniversary. BUT…it is the first anniversary of MY BLOG!

But those, as special as they are, do not come close to my number one reason for loving this day.

February 9th is a special day because…

Still so happy together

Still so happy together

On February 9, 1979, my now-husband of almost 33 years promised to marry me with a little ring from Woolworth…symbolic and pure…and its worth was not borne in the cost of the ring, but rather in the cost of that promise.

Little did he know what all that promise would bring to his life…a mixture of great joy and great sorrow…trips to unexpected places…laughter and tears…a life of changes for a man who liked things to stay the same.

With that promise two lives began a lifetime of change as we have been woven together into something we never could have even imagined. Neither one of us really resembles the people we were at that time–not physically nor in any other way.

Gone is his afro–and pic. Streaks of gray are now faintly visible. Gone is the mustache (he kept THAT for a lot of years!) and wide leather watch band that he custom made for himself.

Gone are the crazy clothing combinations (well…that may be an exaggeration since just yesterday he dressed as if he were color-blind…). His ginormous glasses are a bit more contemporary these days.

As for me…let’s just say that I am a more well-rounded individual. In more ways than one. 😉

Just yesterday, Curly Top assured me in her tender, special way–“I am the Curly Top, Nana. You have gray hair.” Ahhhh…the honesty.

But the things that I loved about him so many years ago, I still love today. He is FAITHFUL. He is FORGIVING. His love is UNCONDITIONAL (and believe me, I have tested that one more than once). His smile is still always on his face.

Those things matter so much to me. My love for him is based on things that endure and grow, not on things that disappear or fluctuate. Each and every day I know he will remain true to me because he continues to remain true to His Savior and Lord.

Family members still laugh at all of our “special anniversaries”…the first meal…the first, second or third ring…first kiss…we have a lot of special days. And I hope we never forget any of them. They are mile markers of the love that has grown and mellowed. It is a love that endures.

I think it is very important to celebrate the big moments, days and years. Every single day should be worthy of celebrating another day of life. So often we squander the opportunities to celebrate those little things and we take for granted those little, seemingly insignificant details that make up our daily lives. They need to be celebrated, too.

We forget the miracle of every. single. breath.

So join me today…celebrate the most wonderful gift. Life. Abundant life.

2 Corinthians 9:8

 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

1 Timothy 6:17

 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God,who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

Ephesians 2:1-10

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy,  made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

A little bit of this and that…

I have been MIA for a few weeks now. Illness and other things just seem to come between me and my computer…

Like Froglegs and Mario…

Like Dancing Eyes and Luigi…

Like Curly Top and ABCMouse…

And a bunch of other interruptions….

BUT, although I have not been writing over the last few weeks, I HAVE been busy…

Taking my first ride in an ambulance…yeah, I am ok, but it was scary for awhile. Nothing like respiratory problems in the middle of cold and flu season in a house full of germ magnets and spewers! I am researching my own bubble suit as a preventive measure…

(You know, it is a good thing to be friendly to the EMTs and paramedics…they stick you with needles in the back of a moving ambulance and you really want them to do it right the first time…thankfully, my guy did a great job on the first try…)

After several doses of steroids and other medicine, I am now back on my feet, and not coughing like I swallowed a fur ball.

Once I started feeling better, I began working on some very special projects around the house that have been taking shape in my brain for…oh, a few years. (My daughter is glad to see some of the fabric leaving my storage and becoming something else)…it’s kind of like a wedding…something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue…I will be sharing pictures over the next few blog posts.

And I have been reading…catching up on the flight out of Egypt by the children of Israel in Exodus…I have a number of thoughts percolating in my brain that have not quite taken shape yet, but a few verses in particular have really caught my attention:

Exodus 36:1-2

“Bezalel, Oholiab, and all the skilled people are to work based on everything the Lord has commanded. The Lord has given them wisdom and understanding to know how to do all the work of constructing the sanctuary.”

So Moses summoned Bezalel, Oholiab, and every skilled person in whose heart the Lord had placed wisdom, everyone whose heart moved him, to come to the work and do it.

These were craftsmen, highly skilled in their trade. But more importantly, they were filled with God’s wisdom and understanding. The construction of the tabernacle required more than just skill. It required the correct heart-itude…

It is a wonderful thing to be skilled to do something special. But that really isn’t enough, is it? God wants more from us than just our abilities. He wants those whose hearts have been moved and who have come to do the work HE has laid out…

I am continuing to think about these verses and will spend a little more time fleshing out my thoughts and before sharing them with you. I know there is a big lesson for me and I don’t want to take a short cut…

There is something familiar about Mr. Monk…

We got rid of cable several months ago. Somehow, paying for TV seemed a bit much as I watched the bill get higher and higher.

So, we went cold turkey and hooked up an old-fashioned antenna, got a Roku little doohicky and signed up for Netflix and Hulu Plus.

WHO KNEW all the cool things you could watch without waiting for them to air?

I watched all the Psych episodes, beginning with Season 1, Episode 1…it was so cool to watch the story lines systematically, without waiting. And without COMMERCIALS!

Then I watched both seasons of Downton Abbey…like a British soap opera, but very interesting to watch in conjunction with the history of the time.

And now…we are all watching Monk. My husband has never laughed so hard in his entire life. And that in itself is a reward for watching that poor, neurotic, multi-phobic person trying to master his fears while solving heinous crimes AND making us laugh.

Curly Top comes running at the beginning and the close of each episode. She has choreographed the theme song, “It’s a Jungle Out There”…I know, I know…

But I have been working on a series of crafting/sewing projects while watching the episodes, and as I was squaring up fabric to cut into smaller squares, I got to thinking about Mr. Monk and the “fun” he would have with some of the fabrics…especially the ones that are flawed and screened off-kilter…or the ones that attract lint…or the ones that were cut unevenly…

Can’t you just see him? Writhing, almost as if he were in pain? I can.

And then I started thinking about what Bible story would best sum up Mr. Monk. It took me awhile, but I think I found the perfect parallel story for Mr. Adrian Monk.

Naaman. Remember him? That king, such a valiant warrior. But he had a little problem. He had L E P R O S Y. Yikes!

This king was afflicted with a definite  celebrity-kill affliction. It wasn’t a disease that would remain hidden. Not for long.

It was contagious. People would flee from your presence if you had it.

King Naaman had a mighty big problem. (And I can just see Monk…with his wipes and disinfectants and assortment of sanitizers…poor Natalie!)

King Naaman had his own Natalie…or at least his WIFE did…she had a little Hebrew girl as a servant.

This child was a child of faith. She knew what was wrong with her master, and she knew who could help him. The prophet of Israel.

King Naaman went for his consultation with the prophet. Let’s just say the king was underwhelmed.

II Kings 5

So Naaman went with his horses and chariots and stopped at the door of Elisha’s house. Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, “Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed.”

But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the Lord his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.

IMG_9729

Yep. That’s how we are. We are all set for the magical wave and the abra ca dabra. The idea of dunking seven times in a filthy river just doesn’t seem like the cure we are seeking. We are, after all, prisoners of our imaginations.

The story could end right there. Monk writhing with the idea of such filth. Naaman preparing to lose his reign because of his disease–mostly his pride, at this point.

But the story doesn’t end there…

Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

Then Naaman and all his attendants went back to the man of God. He stood before him and said, “Now I know that there is no God in all the world except in Israel. So please accept a gift from your servant.”

The prophet answered, “As surely as the Lord lives, whom I serve, I will not accept a thing.” And even though Naaman urged him, he refused.

Naaman submitted to the prescription. And he was healed of his leprosy. Was it that the water was miraculous?

No.

Naaman stepped into the water by faith, believing that God would heal him, not the water.

In the television series, we see Monk being forced to confront his fears. He actually is a very brave man, but all he can see are his weaknesses. And like Monk, all Naaman could see was the dirty water of the river Jordan, not the One who used the water to heal.

Naaman ultimately recognized the Source of his healing. That is was an act of God in response to Naaman’s step of faith.

I am just like Naaman…wanting some wild miracle when all God is waiting for is my tiny step of faith…How often do I insist on the magic instead of that simple seed of faith needed?

Are you paralyzed by your own imagination? Is the muddy river Jordan waiting for you to take a step?