Thursday, May 27, 2010

Little Houses

There is a row of houses on the route where I take my grandson to the park. These aren't just any houses. They are older, well-kept houses. I am in awe of how lovely the paint looks and the porch decorations, the flower gardens and the lawns. Loving hands were very busy to make them all look so nice. Along another street, perpendicular to the row of neat houses are places where the trees are just shedding their spring attire. At the peak of their time, they were gorgeous. Now I want to stop and think of these little streets in a small town in Michigan. I wonder how many such streets there are all over the United States. I know times are hard, especially here in this state. All the more reason to appreciate and enjoy those who do have houses and who keep them so lovely.

On the nightly news, we hear of murders in the cities. We hear of tragic national news. It can't be helped. It makes me happy to know that somewhere, there are people who can go about their daily lives and carry on and give joy to others, just by taking care of what they have.

Little towns. Happy homes. Busy people. Just some of the little things that make our country great.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Princess

So Saturday Dawn had her bridal shower. It was a long awaited event for me. She started life by being wheeled into the night in an ambulance (just like Madeline in the story book.) Later, at age 10, she was in the hospital again with the diagnosis of diabetes. She has worked long and hard for everything she has. And she has done all of this with a terrific sense of humor. So I was thrilled when she showed up, looking just like a Disney princess at her big event. We all had a wonderful day with friends and loved ones. This was her first and only shower and I think she was a bit overwhelmed with all of the gifts and attention. What a happy day. And so nice that her fiance could share the fun with her.
Hope you notice the adorable large cupcake cakes that her friend Laura made. Delicious.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No and Yes

My grandson is nearly one year old now. He is so cute walking around all of the furniture. He likes to reach into a basket which holds some of Mommy and Daddy's things. I have started saying the word "NO." My voice is as expressive as the word. He doesn't like it. I figure he needs to hear it sooner or later. I also put actions to the word by moving him somewhere else. It's so funny because he has three big bins of toys that he can explore, but he wants to get the stuff he isn't supposed to have. They do learn early, don't they? He is truly an adorable, sweet, and cooperative little boy. There is just something about forbidden fruit.

I have heard that you should say "yes" oh, 10 times for every "no." While I believe in being positive and say, "what a good boy," all the time, saying "yes" is just not practical. When he reaches for a toy, do you say "yes?" Or do you when he walks with his hand held? So the other day, I tried it just for fun. Whenever my Ty did anything good, I said "Yes" and I even clapped. He smiled, but it just isn't something most people do. I know what the purpose of the saying is, but really now.

I wonder if God watches us and says 'no' when we want something that we shouldn't have and just waits to say 'yes' to us for something He is more than willing to give. I think He does smile. And maybe, in his heart, He is saying "Yes" and even clapping because we got it right.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Those Stories

This has been a busy season for me with my daughter getting married in July. At least once a week, we have to hurry over to the mall and get something. That my daughter wants me to go along is part of the fun. I have a blog idea I want to work on when I have time. It is a ministry I was part of some time ago and I need to combine several of my writings to do it justice. I just don't have time now. So I was doing my usual Tuesday housecleaning and said to the Lord, "I truly don't have anything to post." I went on about my business.

Now cleaning is one of those things where my mind relaxes and plays with ideas. I'm not trying to do anything. It just does all the work. So before I knew it, I had the genesis of an idea for a blog. I love that. It happens to me all the time.

On one of our shopping trips, I was saying to Dawn, my daughter, how I kept telling stories at family get-togethers and I realized they were not, shall we say, "fresh ideas." I said, "I think I tell them because I'm afraid that I will forget some of those little things you kids did when you were small." That would be a tragedy to me. As much as I love my children now, and I do treasure their grown up personae, their baby selves are still as precious to me as if they were still young.

Once at Aglow, a speaker said, "Sometimes your children hear from Heaven." She was right. We were then in the Y2K stages of 1999. She showed me that my son, Joe, was right when he said not to worry. Now I felt the same truth ring out as my daughter said, "But you have all those pictures."

Oh, course she was right as well. In every photo, I can remember vividly how each child felt, how my husband felt, what was going on at the time of the picture. It is just a gift I have that I guess I had forgotten. So I can look at my multiple picture albums and remember all the little stories and enjoy each one, and even recall incidents that had not yet formed into stories.

Now I am determined to "ponder these things and treasure them in my heart" and the need to tell will be a lot less.

My family is a wonderful group of loving people. They are generous and forgiving. I look forward to talking with them about today and their future. That's a good place to start.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fun With Research

Here is an article I wrote a few years ago for young people. It doesn't cover the latest high-tech methods, but I think it still has some value.

The first thing you will want to do is to get a topic you love, one you’re passionate about. Give yourself a month or two to glean information. Be as narrow on your topic as you can be because as you find articles etc, the topic just naturally wants to branch out. It grows and you must constantly prune it. Save the “branches” (because you love this topic, remember?) for another project.

Look on the computer for your topic. Get books and take notes. Most students are great at this part. I’m going to go on to what comes next. Wait and let ideas come to you. As you mull over your topic, ideas will seem to come “out of the woodwork.” Write any ideas down that come to you. Have a little notebook with you and one at home. (Just a hint. If it isn’t spiral, you won’t have to deal with all that mess on the edge.) No idea is too small. Get them down. Collect them in a project box. Date all your notes. If you heard something on the radio or TV, get the source. Be specific - time, date, show, host of show, and if it was a quote from someone else, etc. Wherever you go, normal things will seem to apply to your topic. (I'm telling you this is true.) Write down the analogies and your response at the moment of inspiration - sermons at church, newspaper editorials, comics, road signs. Keep your eyes open. (You know how if you have a blue car, the whole parking lot seems to be blue cars and if you get a new white van, there are no blue cars but tons of white vans?) Ask your mom. It’s like that for your topic. You will see it everywhere and in unexpected places if you are ready and you respond by writing it down.

So when it is time to do the paper or speech, organize the material the best you can by sections or points. Do an outline. You need a beginning that is point 1, and then you do points 2,3,4,5, and say 6 for an ending. Write big numbers in highlighter for whatever section the notes fit in. Write these right on the margins of your paper. On a long article you may find that paragraph one of the article fits in with #4 idea and then the next paragraph is a #3 idea. You don’t necessarily want to follow the articles in the order they were written. In fact, you want to make it your own. I pray first so my ideas will be organized. I love the mess on the table. Spread it all out where you can see it in piles. (One challenge I love is to see a huge mess and trust God to put the whole thing in order – whether cleaning up a room, doing a paper, or clearing the dinner table from a big meal.) God always puts it together for me. He created order out of chaos when He created the world and He can do it in all areas of my life. It is pure joy to see Him work through the things we do.

On your little pieces of paper you’ve collected, write a number. You might use a #7 for miscellaneous notes and ideas and a #8 for “other projects.” Now put it together, one step at a time. Do your # 1’s. After reading them all, create an opening.
Do your #2’s. Cross out each section with one X in a light color so you can still read it. It will now be out of your way. Work your miscellaneous ideas in as you see fit. Finish your ending. Make it strong. Maybe one of your wonderful power-thought analogies will work. Gather and paperclip your papers and put them in a folder. Save the “new project” notes in an envelope with the topic and date listed on the top.

Now you have your first draft. Do it again and refine, rework, take out and add. Type it and hand it in or speak it. Save your original notes until you are sure you won’t need them. Then toss them out and save your finished copy.

You have done more than just book learning for this report or speech. You have made your passion real to someone else. You have communicated! Congratulations!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mouse Or Lion?

Last night I was reading my Bible and I came across Isaiah 45:19 NKJ about God not hiding things from us. I sort of remembered I had a similar scripture somewhere else in the Bible. I looked through several likely places. Then I decided to look in my card box. I have great scriptures there. I got out one category after another. I did find what I was looking for. It was Isaiah 45:19 in The Living Bible. “I publicly proclaim bold promises; I do not whisper obscurities in some dark corner so that no one can know what I mean. And I didn’t tell Israel (put your name in here) to ask me for what I didn’t plan to give! No, for I, Jehovah, speak only truth and righteousness. TLB” That was what I was looking for. It is awesome. By the time I had found it, I had looked at most of my cards. Of course you may guess what happened. My faith rose up as I read and quoted scripture after scripture, saving the ones I wanted to use in prayer time. I did some blog work and then prayed. My prayers soared and I didn’t even need my list.

Now, I nearly always read my Bible but last night, I did something else. I thought about a scripture and made selections. I wanted to use that Word. I determined to get back in the game. These scriptures are for me.

Back at The National Day of prayer, there was a woman preacher who prayed about the media. She praised along with the dancers with power and verve. Her prayer was full of passion. I hadn’t seen anyone like her in a very long time. Too often, because I am short, I feel somewhat mouse-like. Inside, I’m more like a lion. When I speak and read my scriptures, that lion wants to roar. Imagine a tiny little person with confidence in the Lord, roaring out the Good News. That’s what I want to do.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Banners and Doors and Lots of Prayer

My friend, Jo Ann, had asked me to go with her to Lansing, Michigan for the National Day of Prayer. She was in a group that was going to be playing shofars for the first time in the local ceremony. A shofar is a rams horn. It is believed that this is the instrument mentioned as trumpet in the Bible. It does many things, one of which is a call to attention.

I was not in this group so, as a veteran of Lansing celebrations with the Aglow organization, I went on the Internet to try to find a group to hook up with. Several tries yielded no fruit so I decided to just give the day to the Lord and see what happened.

We got there in fine time and got a great parking place. Jo Ann met her group and they practiced. They all had assigned seats. I looked around. I didn't see any group of ladies that looked promising. So I stood in a great spot for the festivities. School children gave the pledge of allegiance to the flag. Then a wonderful troupe of dancers praised God with such invigoration, emotion and beauty. In the background were banners of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Then the shofar group went on stage. They did two loud blasts outward and then two long ones inward. Later in the session, whenever a great point was made or many amens, the shofars blew the wonderful sound which accentuated whatever was spoken or prayed.

Then there was prayer. Before this ceremony and afterwards, rooms in the capital were used as various groups prayed most of the day, following the printed pamphlet, or as led. The prayer in the presentation covered what my friend Cindy calls the gates: the church, the government, business, the schools, and the family among others. Then the dancers came back for an encore.

While the dance went on, I roamed around looking for anyone who might be Aglow ladies. I found some and they were so sweet. I didn't know them. They invited me inside for further prayer. That's what I wanted to do from the beginning, but it was too late. We needed to go.

On the way home, we were looking for a good restaurant. While near Flint, I mentioned a place where I used to go for Aglow meetings and which just happened to have a fabulous buffet. We found it. But the place where the ladies and I, in bygone times, used to eat lunch, was changed so as not to be recognizable. There was another room that we had used on occasion before. They had a salad bar, but no buffet. We both had the chili which was as great as ever. Just the way I remembered it. On the way out, I ran up to look at the room where - oh my -such glorious things had happened. In our old Aglow room the Holy Spirit was always present. I went up for prayer nearly every week. I got to serve as treasurer even though I had never been one. I played my tambourine, we sang and I heard some of the best messages ever by the mostly lady speakers. All of this came back with that one peek into the empty room furnished only with tables and chairs. I didn't go in. Well, there was no reason.

Somehow I feel like that wonderful Aglow door is gently closing. I really have to look ahead and see what else the Lord has for me. I need a place that stirs me like Aglow, where I can be useful and grow. It's out there. Yesterday was a little push from behind. The Lord is up ahead and he is beckoning me on. Unsure where, I go because He is smiling and I think He is saying, "you haven't seen anything yet."

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Down Memory Lane Again

I saw an ad on the back of the newspaper my husband was reading. It said in big letters: HOME SHOW. That took me back a ways. When I was young, we had a large roller skating arena in town. At the very top was one of those lovely disco balls, only this was way before the 80s. Every year, merchants set up shop in little booths inside the place. There were so many aisles, it was easy for a little girl to get lost. My sisters and I loved to go. When you entered, someone always gave you a shopping bag with their advertisement on it. We would go from exhibit to exhibit and pick up all of the free pamphlets and little samples they had. As we went along, we might collect several balloons, a ruler, a yardstick, a soda jerk hat, key chains and other items. When it was over, we left and at the exit, a saltwater taffy vehicle was always there to attract people hurrying on their way. Once, we got a box. The best part was watching the machine in the vehicle pulling the taffy. It made it look much better than it tasted. At least that's what I thought.

At home, the paper treasures were put in with my school stuff. I used them all to play school with my dolls. I was always the teacher. Dolls needed new materials every now and then.

One year my mom and dad won a pig. Yes, a pig. It was displayed on ice in a freezer which was what was advertised. You guessed the weight and the closest guess won. How lucky can one family get?

When we were teens, my best ever girlfriend Carol and I would go to the home show. As we got our bags and started down the aisles, Carol got a great idea, "Lets turn our rings around and
pretend we're married." Agreed. So as we walked along, picking up items like wall paint samples or dehumidifier brochures, she would stick out her hand so the huckster couldn't help noticing it. I'm sure he was impressed. I did it too, but I never was as brave as Carol when she was doing a scheme.

At the end of that time, I kept my bag for awhile. I looked it over and over. I put it in categories. I put the best stuff on top. After some time, I threw it out. This may seem dull, but kids didn't have all the entertainment they do now. I had to get mine when it came, in the form of a bag full of goodies.

My husband and I didn't go to this home show. I didn't even mention it. It wouldn't be fun anymore. Now I have lots to do and a bag of stuff would only mess up my house. Still the huge words on the back page did send nostalgia through me like a dart. So glad to have done it, so glad I don't have to do it now.