Tuesday, May 31, 2011

What's In A Poem? Oh, Everything

I was having lunch with my daughter on Saturday when and I asked about her literature course she was taking. She said it was all right. She mentioned Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. I told her I know some of his poems. I began to recite "The Building Of A Ship." I started off wrong and began again. Soon I was sailing and finished without too much trouble. I told her I knew "The Arrow and the Song" also by Longfellow. They do that one on the Disney Channel and show various cartoons from their storehouse of films and shorts. I am very impressed with the results. Oh, if my little grandson, Ty, could only grasp how wonderful it all is.

When I was in seventh grade, we were required to speak poems. We could chose what we wanted. I find that I can say a few of them even now. I'm so glad the teachers made us do that. How else would I have this love in my heart for poetry?

Last spring, when I took my Ty to the park, as I pushed him in the swing, I recited "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson, "The Cupboard" and "Someone" by Walter de la Mare. I also love "I'm Hiding" by Dorothy Aldis. These poems are from a very old Little Golden Book from my childhood. It is falling apart. The selections are excellent and I love the Victorian drawings.

Perhaps with all of the important computer work kids need in school and all the mounting history and math and everything else they teach, they might find one day a week to learn some poems. All the knowledge they learn can help them in life and increase their opportunities, but poetry feeds the soul and once learned, you have it for life.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Own Special Room

Have you ever had your own room? When I was a little, we three girls were put together in a small upstairs bedroom. It was a bit crowded. Then I went to college and I had four roommates in my freshman dorm room. It was a big room, but we had to share closets , desks and chairs that were meant for four people. (One girl left early.) That helped the other side of the room, but not mine.
During that year, something wonderful happened. My mom and dad moved to a bigger, nicer house and that summer, I finally had a room of my own. Mom took me shopping for my pretty turquoise flowered bedspread. I had a little old fashioned wash chest from my grandmother's farm that I put my lamps on. We got "farmhouse" white lace curtains for the window. Oh, it was so wonderful. During the school year, I still shared a room in a dorm, but in the summer, I had my own place at last.

When I graduated, a sorority sister and I moved from Ohio to Michigan and got teaching jobs there. I have been here ever since. We looked everywhere for a place to stay. In those days, there wasn't much housing out in the middle of nowhere, which was where we started up our professional lives. Finally we found a darling cottage on a lake which we could use for the school year. Then we would have to go home for the summer. We each got our own rooms. Mine had a high bed and a 50s style vanity with a huge round mirror, drawers on either side, a stool in the middle and a flat place on top for whatever. There were two gorgeous cut glass lamps for me and I added my own doilies under them. I had a box for special keepsakes and a hamper for my clothes with a top where I always put the classic novel I was reading for the day.

I loved the movie Oliver! that was out then and I put pictures from that movie on my walls. I loved my adorable little "attic" room and I had it for four years.

Then I got married and I was happy to decorate and share our wonderful new room. After 30 plus years at the house we had built, we got a manufactured home. Now I share a room and also have a darling extra room or two for fixing up and making special. I hope everyone has a chance to have their very own place, at least once in their lives.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Take Me Away On This Fine Day - To The Beach

As I wait for our weather to warm up, I begin to think of one of my favorite things in the world to do. I can't get enough of finding a beach and running along the water in my bare feet. I have been to beachs in California, Florida, one in Michigan between where I live and up north, and Myrtle Beach, my favorite. One spring we went to Myrtle Beach and it was so cold my husband could barely golf. I determined to enjoy myself and ran the beaches, my feet turning bright red from cold in the process. I can spend several hours just walking along the shore, jumping the waves and enjoying all of the beach cottages along the way.

Another thing I love is collecting shells. Most of the big ones are broken or have holes in them. You can get much better ones in the little shops, but what is the fun of that? So when I do find a baby sand dollar, or a shark's tooth (well, it looks like one in my fossil book,) or a pretty scallop, I am thrilled. I take these treasures home in my baggies and display them in a pretty jar or just lying by a candle.

Seabirds swoop over the waves and run in the sand. They are so lovely. I take pictures of them in flocks flying, sitting on old weathered posts, or of their tiny footprints in the sand. They just make my heart sing.

I love the piers, old ratty, seen better days piers. I photograph them from underneath, from the sides, and the top at an angle. Sometimes you can find a wonderful seafood restaurant at the end of one of them.

When I see pictures of beaches in other blogs or in magazines, I just want to run, get into shorts and a comfy top. I take my shoes off and open up my arms and smell the spray and wade in. Weather and water cold or warm, there is a seashell out there waiting for me to find it. It is my ultimate treasure hunt.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Seeking Rest

There is a scene near the end of The Lord Of The Rings where Frodo is recounting all of his hurts and he sounds so weary and asks where he will find some rest. His friend Gandalf was silent. I can just see him sighing inwardly, knowing what was to come. Frodo ended up going to The Grey Havens, a beautiful place. It is sort of an afterlife, not heaven, but perhaps similar.

Lately, I find myself thinking of that scene and wanting somewhere to escape, too. There have been so many big weekends and work to do in between. The events were wonderful. It was all good. But my mind is again reeling with mental details, notes, the calendar, a bulletin board, whatever will help. I used to long for the weekends because there was usually a bit of down time. Now most of that is in the work week. For a little longer, the schedule will be full. Then I hope to do some creative, impromptu things.

During this time, I have been learning to enjoy the day, no matter how full it may be. I have been sleeping well. I have been in tune with God. I listen to a wonderful uplifting teaching tape when I can. I focus on the moment and not the end of the day. I am trying to do that.

Hebrews 4 is all about the Lord's rest. "For we who have believed do enter that rest..." verse 3. "There remains therefore a rest for the people of God. For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest..."verses 9-11 NKJ.

I know that the fictional character didn't have anything like what I have. It isn't "not being busy" that counts. It"s taking God's strength and rest with you into your day. That is what I am trying to do now. Praise God, it works very well.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A Chance to Help, A Chance to Share

The Metro Detroit area is conducting a campaign called E.A.C.H. This stands for "everyone a chance to hear." They are having many evangelical churches all work together to share the Gospel during this spring season. It started with a huge march in Detroit.

There is also a campaign associated with it called 2 Word Story. It goes like this: Saved? Saved, Loved? Loved, Forgiven? Forgiven, etc. Those of us involved wear black T-shirts with "2 word story" in white and various pretty neon colors have our chosen words. This part of the work started on Easter Sunday and lasts for 40 days. We have already had one event where all sorts of helping hands worked throughout the area, doing jobs that needed to be done, wearing our shirts and explaining our 2 word testimony as we could.

I had the opportunity to help in a food bank. It was loads of fun. I got to sort to my heart's content and I met lots of very nice people. My shirt said: Alive? Alive. I just chose it on a whim as I was in a hurry and it turned out to be my testimony.

( Are you alive? Are you sure? At one time, I thought I was alive. It turns out I wasn't completely because even though my body and mind were alive, my spirit was dead. I went to church, I was baptised and confirmed, but it wasn't until I met Jesus as my Lord and Savior and was Born Again that my spirit was alive and I was whole. It made a difference in my life and in my Bible reading. Things made sense. I wasn't afraid of what would happen if I died because Jesus gave me and is giving me eternal life. Now I'm truly Alive, Alive, Alive!)

We all hope that this E.A.C.H. program bonds churches and helps many to hear a short one minute Gospel. Of course, we desire that it will start many conversations that lead to changed lives. Please pray for me to be able to share my testimony many times and for the whole campaign to be a success. Many people have worked very hard to see this come to fruition. May it happen for God's Kingdom.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

You Can Disagree With Me On This One... Go On, Let Me Hear Your Side

Today I'm going to talk about THE BIG HANDBAG TREND. I'm sure you have seen them in the magazines and in the stores. They have been out for several years and they seem to be getting bigger. Even petite stars like Reese Witherspoon use them. I once got a Coach bag at a garage sale for the outrageous price of $30. I found out that even empty, it was too heavy for me. It was only moderate size, too. So how can people carry those enormous things that look like leather beach bags and not ruin their shoulders and back? How?

I found a very cute "name" straw purse at a church rummage sale for the slim price of $1.00. It was in great shape. It is roomy, about 9" by 13" in size and it's about as large as I can go without doing damage to some vital muscle group.

I have tried to see how other people (maybe you) can find them attractive. Some have elegant lines. Mostly they just look flat and hang there, probably because the owner can't bear to put anything much inside. If you are tall, then the look does get better I think. I'm for anyone using fashion in a way that pleases them as long as it is somewhat discreet, but though I have tried, I just don't get THE BIG HANDBAG TREND.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Sweet Life Sans Sugar

When the New Year was approaching, I made a decision to give up sugar, for the most part. That means that I didn’t want to eat dessert three times a day the way I had been. I could, however, have a dessert on occasion, if I truly wanted it. Also, since I had already given up diet coke and I didn’t want to get back on that, I decided to allow myself a sweet drink, especially at restaurants. I love water, but it just isn’t a treat to miss a tasty drink with my meal. I allowed sugar free desserts, but I wanted to keep them to once a day and only a few times a week. I was basically not eliminating sugar, just cutting way down.

It turns out that I lost five pounds over the first few months. I had more energy at first, too. I think I have even been sleeping better. These are the benefits and there seem to be few problems.

I wanted to do this several other times. I have fasted sweets as a devotion and did well. But to do it as I lifestyle, I just didn’t think I could. Then all of a sudden, I tried it and it worked. One thing that helps is that I don’t have any breakfast muffins or donuts in the freezer. I don’t eat candy anymore. (I made it through Easter without a pang and I used to love Easter candy.) I also don’t eat regular ice cream, cookies, or cake. They just aren’t in my house. I have taken up eating oranges and almonds with raisins as a treat. That is my fun thing to eat. With the almonds I’m even getting protein.

We’ll see how this works, whether I can keep it up for a whole year and then forever. I hope so. Especially since my rules are flexible, I think I will succeed. The funny thing is, even though I formerly had quite a sweet tooth, I don’t feel deprived. It has been a real blessing.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Song

“The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.” Have you heard that expression? It’s from a poem by William Ross Wallace. I wrote a song along those same lines some years ago. The chorus goes like this: “What you sing to the cradle echoes down eternity and you can’t stop the song once it’s begun. For the light of the song has a life of its own and the strength to bring every child home.” I believe those words with all my heart.

I Samuel 1:27 says: “For this child I prayed and The Lord has granted me my petition…” I was twenty-six when I got married and twenty-nine when I had my first child. I cannot remember a time when I didn’t want children. After a very trying pregnancy, the Lord gave me the desires of my heart. So you see, that child is so very precious to me. I also received my special wish – a little boy. When he was a small baby, I would rock him in the chair and sing him to sleep. I sang all my favorite hymns: This is My Song (Finlandia,) Song of Joy, Be Thou My Vision, and Above the Hills (a hymn to the tune of Danny Boy.) He fell asleep and I was so full of sweet bliss, I sang on and on.
Those songs, dear Mothers, are deep in his spirit. They’re in his mind and in his heart. Wherever he goes, the song goes, too.

When my second child came along, I was absolutely certain that I could not love this new baby as much as the first. My mother said I could, and as the second child of my family, I knew she could, but I had my doubts. Once he was in my arms, (another boy, oh happy day!), I was in love all over again. I laughed at myself. How silly of me and how wise of God to know what He was doing when He created a mother’s heart. My songs went on to this child and he got daytime songs and new Charismatic songs such as “Bullfrogs and Butterflies.”

Later, my husband and I were blessed with a girl. It was with much happiness that we received my daughter, Dawn, into the world – on my birthday! Happiness and sorrow because she had to be sent out into the night in an ambulance (like Madeline in the Ludwig Bemelmans’ children’s books.)

Oh course, I loved her so. Though she was thirty miles away in an N.I.C.U. in the hospital, we visited her about every other day for a month. When I couldn’t see her or didn’t know how things would turn out, I felt an ache I had never known. I was losing her infancy and there was no way to ever get it back. And though I barely know her, I missed her terribly.

When Dawn was a teenager, she told me she had a dream where she was in a big white castle and she was alone and then I came and took her home. For you see, when we visited her there, after the nurse took the gavage feeding tube out, I held her and loved her and sang to her. I sang hymns and “Delta Dawn”. The song tells about a “mansion in the sky.”

My children are now out of their teens. Dr. James Dobson, in “Coming Home,” said about the teen years: “Get them through it.” We did, by God’s grace, get them all through it. I loved all the life stages: infancy, babies, toddlers, school age, teens and now young adults. My children aren’t perfect, for they are human. We did try to “train (them) up in the way (they) should go,” Prov. 22:6 and take them to church. I believe God will fulfill that other part of the Proverb, “when (they) are old (they) will not depart from it.” We have had sicknesses, an accident, rocky places, beautiful weddings, and tons of good times. I still look forward to what my children will be.

My heart is for my children, my family, and being a mother. For me, Mother’s Day isn’t about the dinner, the gifts, or the flowers, even though I’m delighted that these lovely traditions are still being observed here, in the 21st century, to honor mothers. Mother’s Day is about my children and how much I love them.

Never underestimate the importance of your role in your children's lives. Susanna Wesley stopped every day, threw her apron over her head and prayed. It was her way to get a quiet time. She had 19 children. One of them, Charles, became a great hymn writer and another, John, became a preacher of the Great Awakening. When people ask what woman you admire, my answer is Susanna Wesley. Really, ladies, you don’t know what great person lives right in your playroom. Even your problem teen could grow up to be a Saint Augustine. Don’t listen to contrary trends that diminish your value. To put it bluntly, You matter. The things of God you put into your children are valuable beyond all knowing. The song you sang to the cradle will go on and on and bless countless generations. And if you didn’t sing to those babies, sing out now. Sing the Song, loud and strong!

Be joyful, and have a wonderful Mothers’ Day.

Scripture references: NKJ